Enviros: New Premier Failing Campaign Promise

Environmentalists say the new government of Ontario has failed its first green challenge. The liberals under premier Dalton McGuinty could not keep a promise to protect a swath of ecologically sensitive land north of Toronto. And as the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Dan Karpenchuk reports, environmental activists say they’ve been betrayed and are losing faith in the new government:

Transcript

Environmentalists say the new government of Ontario has failed its first green challenge. The
liberals under Premier Dalton McGuinty could not keep a promise to protect a swath of
ecologically sensitive land north of Toronto. And as the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Dan
Karpenchuk reports, environmental activists say they’ve been betrayed and are losing faith in the
new government:


The Oak Ridges Moraine is a tract of land north of Toronto that includes lakes, forests and
wildlife habitat. When he came to office, Premier McGuinty said he would halt development of
6600 homes in the moraine.


“We’re going to do what we’ve committed to doing, we’re going to protect that space.”


But when McGuinty’s government told developers to stop, they threatened to sue. So the
government cut a deal allowing for about 900 fewer homes than before. Activists like David
Donnelly of Environmental Defense Canada were furious that an election promise was broken.


“We think this was both an environmental and a symbolic promise to try and stop sprawl in the
Oak Ridges Moraine, in some of the most sensitive lands in all of Ontario.”


But the Liberals say 900 fewer homes still means more green space. They could have passed a
law to take back the land, but would likely have faced lawsuits that could cost taxpayers billions
of dollars. Environmentalists are now asking: if the new government was naive about this issue,
what else is in store for the next few years?


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Dan Karpenchuk

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Greening the Republican Party

Liberals often claim the environment as an issue that gives them leverage over conservatives, but Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Mike VanBuren says conservatism should equally embrace environmental protection as a fundamental part of its vision for America:

Transcript

Liberals often claim the environment as an issue that gives them leverage over conservatives. But Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Mike VanBuren says conservatism should equally embrace environmental protection as a fundamental part of its vision for America.


Rush Limbaugh calls me an “environmental whacko.” I’m one of those people who believe in saving energy, preserving wild areas, and treating the earth as a finite resource that should be handled with care. I get alarmed when I hear about air pollution, food contamination, and oil drilling under the Great Lakes.


Rush seems to hate this. He likens me to a nazi extremist. He says I don’t understand the world’s bounty, or the simple principle of supply and demand. Worse yet, he’s convinced I’m one of those “whining liberals” who use environmental scare-tactics to push big government.


The funny thing is, when it comes to most social issues, I’m a fairly conservative guy. There are few so-called “liberal” ideas that I support. Yet, I often find myself walking hand-in-hand with left-leaning Democrats in battles to protect our natural heritage.


I wonder why that is. Shouldn’t Republicans join the fight? After all, there are few things more “conservative” than trying to conserve our resources for future generations.


I know there are some members of the so-called “political right wing” – whatever that is – who feel as I do. REP-America, for example, is a national grassroots organization that claims to be “the environmental conscience of the Grand Old Party.” Members believe we can preserve our environment – and boost our economy at the same time.


But many Republican leaders don’t seem to be listening. They want to scrap laws that have cleaned up air and water, preserved natural areas, and prevented the extinction of native species. What’s that all about?


Anybody with the smarts to get elected ought to be able to see that more – not less – needs to be done. While significant environmental progress has been made during the past few decades, we can still benefit from cleaner air, water, soil and food supplies. And reducing wasteful consumption today will bring greater benefits tomorrow, including greater economic performance?


You’d think more conservatives would be leading the way to safeguard these natural resources – rather than fighting against the liberals who are. If ever there was a bipartisan issue, this is it. Few modern social concerns are as vital to our health, recreation and economic prosperity.


Human progress should not be measured solely on the basis of dollars and development, but also on what we have preserved and protected.


Republican Theodore Roosevelt called conservation “a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of ensuring safety and continuance of the nation.”


Roosevelt, of course, may have been the first “environmental whacko” to be elected President of the United States. Maybe it’s time for another one – along with several others at all levels of government.


And there’s no good reason they couldn’t be conservatives.