Posted by: jmtoriel | November 17, 2010

My letter to PM Harper

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

Last week, on Remembrance Day, I proudly took my 2 yr-old daughter to participate in the ceremony at Victory Square (Vancouver) to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of our Canadian soldiers, including my WWII veteran grandfather, Hon. Col D Duncan Grosch, who landed with the Regina Rifles on Juno Beach with driven purpose and commitment to free Europe from Nazi occupation. He suffered a near-fatal injury that he had to endure his entire life.

Today, I am ashamed of being Canadian. While I welcome your commitment to “take actions that make a difference” on the environment, there is very little this government has to show for it. This is simply unfair for my daughter and the next generation of Canadians that will be greater affected from the further instability in our climate due to man-made climate change. As I believe you are aware, now is the time for urgent action to prepare for the upcoming IPCC COP-16 Conference in Cancun and this poor display of democracy from the Senate — or lack thereof — further defeats the purpose of accountability and responsible government, over pertinent issues of the environment and human health that the elected majority MPs clearly passed in the House of Commons. You are going against your own word and denying the majority of Canadians the right to discussion and debate before the most critical international meeting in Cancun.

Science clearly indicates that delay is not an option. I also expect you share our concern that rhetoric and good intentions will not address our major economic, social and environmental challenges – only action will. If you do not agree with Bill C311, I urge you and your government to launch action that is immediate, clear and quantified with timelines for implementation — which you have yet to do.

Canada needs a plan and we need leadership — now.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution
Make an unequivocal recommitment to the Kyoto Protocol. It is not in the interest of Canadians to abandon our international commitments.
Put forward clear, measurable short-term and long-term targets for reductions in Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, which set our economy clearly on a path towards 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
Place a requirement on industry, including large final emitters, manufacturers of appliances and equipment and others, to reduce greenhouse gases through regulations that set aggressive binding emission targets and performance standards applying, at the latest, to the period beginning in 2008. For the automotive sector, greenhouse gases should be regulated in a manner at least as stringent as California’s regulation. I urge you to ensure that the regulation takes effect in 2010 when the existing Memorandum of Understanding with the auto sector ends, or by 2009 if the auto sector fails to fully implement the terms of the MOU during its implementation.
Commit to publish drafts of greenhouse gas regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) within three months.

Air Quality
The federal government should take the following steps under existing law through the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to clean Canada’s air:

Set clear and federally enforceable national and regional targets and timelines for the reduction of emissions that cause smog, including sulphur and nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds. On air pollutants that cause smog, the federal government can regulate ambient levels in line with the Canada-wide standard of 65 parts per billion over an eight-hour period.
Implement a federal action plan to achieve these regional and national targets for these substances, including reductions in emissions from key sources, such as coal-fired power plants, transportation, and industrial facilities, with detailed monitoring and reporting of the results.
Implement a national mercury emission reduction strategy for Canada, reducing the use and release of this extremely toxic air pollutant.
Establish mandatory Canadian vehicle and engine fuel efficiency standards compatible with California’s Clean Car Bill – Canadians will save money at the pump and reduce smog.

Make an unprecedented investment in completing the systems of protected areas on land and sea in order to properly protect and conserve Canada’s ecological integrity, biodiversity and natural heritage with particular attention to areas most at risk from climate change, starting now with protection of sites in the Mackenzie Valley and habitat protection for migratory birds and species at risk.
Work to restore healthy populations of Canada’s ‘at risk’ flora and fauna by developing and implementing effective recovery strategies through the Species at Risk Act. These strategies must identify critical habitat and outline steps to protect it.

Toxic Substances
Make a commitment to strengthen CEPA to ensure that Canadians and their environment are properly protected from the harmful effects of toxic substances. Specifically, mandatory timelines must be in place at each stage of regulation, from assessment to regulatory actions, to ensure accountability in the law. As emerging legislation in the European Union requires, a greater onus should be placed on industry to provide information about their substances before they enter the market, rather than the current burden that is placed on government, which must determine whether products are dangerous before putting in place precautionary measures. Consumer products, which current laws do not effectively regulate for environmental effects, should be explicitly brought under CEPA’s authority. And the Act should be amended to included specific protections for vulnerable ecosystems such as the Great Lakes and the Arctic.

Fiscal Reform
Announce a timely shift of the federal government’s estimated $2.2 billion/yr in subsidies to the oil and gas sector towards environmental protection, energy efficiency, and low-impact renewable energies. An environment plan that meets these expectations will produce tangible reductions in pollution and improve the health of Canadians, and of the environment, in the near and long term.

I’m not shifting my shame to blame, but you are making it extremely difficult.



  1. You can do the same by sending a letter to the PM here:

  2. Well said, thanks. It’s a dark day for those of us who are aware of the time ticking away on our ability to address this issue.
    Please consider joining/spreading the word about the Million Letter March – although it is an American initiative, there is a Canadian branch of Citizens Climate Lobby getting started – and remember Harper has tied our policy to the Americans!
    Here’s the website:
    and the link to the Canadian Facebook page:!/event.php?eid=164022403614867

    Maybe, just maybe, Harper has awakened a Green Dragon with this blatant thwarting of democracy!

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