Monthly Archives: February 2018

Patrick, Michael and Me

After a weekend at my first Manning Networking Conference I feel that I might be alone in the hundreds that attended the conference in believing that Ontario should have a Carbon Tax. Let’s just make this clear; I am not supportive of any plans by my local MP Catherine McKenna to implement a national carbon tax in lieu of any provinces NOT implementing some sort of carbon pricing.

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Former Leader of the PC Party of Ontario, Patrick Brown announced in Ottawa during the March 2016 convention that he would, if elected, move Ontario from the Liberal Cap and Trade carbon pricing to a price on carbon. His reasoning was that based on the BC carbon model he would be able to give back to Ontario residents. The current Cap and Trade plan does nothing to reward Ontarians. Cap and Trade benefits businesses and is merely a trading system of carbon credits between California, Ontario and Quebec. Businesses that have lowered emissions can sell credits to other businesses that need the credits to meet emission standards. The only thing seen by Ontarians is higher prices as the price of carbon is built into goods and services.

Many Conservatives will not agree with me, but there is no reason why a price on carbon cannot drive innovation in reducing emissions.  But as Ontarians and Canadians we also must recognize that what Canada, its provinces and territories do for reduce emissions WILL NOT solve the problem globally.  Unlike what Minister McKenna may feel, Canada cannot be responsible for what other countries can do.  To that end,   I feel a carbon price can be reduced as Canada meets emission goals.  Canada’s energy sector has a positive record of innovation that seems to be ignored by the federal government.  Success should be rewarded, not punished.

Thankfully I am not alone in the belief that a price on carbon can benefit Canada, Conservative Member of Parliament Michael Chong ran for the leadership of the party in 2017 with a Carbon Tax at the centre of his platform. He was dropped off the ballot in the 10th round. BUT, with a carbon price, he found support from enough Conservatives to finish fifth in a 13-person leadership race. Michael Chong made my top three on my ballot for the Conservative leadership.

Heading into the last week, Ontario PC Leadership Candidates Christine Elliott and Doug Ford had announced that they would scrap any plans for a price of carbon if elected Premier in the June election. By the time Manning started, the third candidate, Caroline Mulroney had also tossed a carbon tax to the side of the road.

I was trying figure out why all three potential leaders quickly dismissed the campaign promise to change the current Cap and Trade to a Carbon price. I know the reason they will give, “they only bad tax is a new tax”. However I wonder if any of the three have considered how a PC government could pay for the promises in the People’s Guarantee? Or as Steven Del Duca, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development and Growth, put it, “without the carbon tax, there is a $16 Billion hole in the PC Platform”. At Manning both Elliott and Ford talked about finding money via a program by program and Ministry by Ministry through value for money audits.   Even Mulroney stated that she would find “billions” in savings from the waste of Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals.

Here is my dilemma, I loved the platform, I loved what it would do for Ontarians. Where does the party go now? It is too late develop a new platform. Is our only play now to say “we’ll be better than Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberals?” Really, that’s it?

Unlike in 2015, I do not have a clear choice for leader of the Ontario PC Party. I have no one my gut tells me is the one. What can I do? Time is short as voting is in two and half weeks. I do not like having to choose a leader by a process of elimination, but that looks like what is going to have to happen.

The Manning Networking Conference brought each of the candidates in for a spotlight session, a little Q and A. I missed Caroline Mulroney but heard both Doug Ford (he impressed me) and Christine Elliott. I know she (Elliott) talks about all her experience and her supporter’s talk about her experience – but I would’ve rather heard her talk about her leadership.

For now, it seems like Patrick, Michael and me will have to search for someone who will see the value and the opportunity that a carbon price can bring to Ontario.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

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Day Zero

There are times when I feel sheltered from the news of the world. Last week was one of those times and I was shaken by the news report as I watched The National and a subsequent interview from Cape Town, South Africa. A 350 year old city was facing a day without water, WHAT? I was glued to the story. No Water.

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No water, a concern that once only would have been seen in Star Trek (the original) and was recently addressed in the episode entitled “17 Minutes” on the TV show Travellers (Season 2 episode 7). That concern is now a reality.

Watching the report was alarming to me, alarming because it no only affects 4 million people. Daily water consumption is being restricted to 50 litres per person. There is now a 50 for 150 campaign in Cape Town; 50l of water/person for 150 days. It won’t safe the city, but it will help avoid day zero.

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There are many reasons, but as the Premier Helen Zille, of the province of Western Cape writes, forecasts are unreliable, in an op-ed in the Daily Maverick as normal or more than normal rainfall was forecast last summer. 2017 ended up being the driest summer on record. The premier also writes extensively of the politicizing of water, something we see here in Canada almost daily – politicizing climate change. Read her fascinating column here: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2018-01-29-from-the-inside-from-hot-water-to-thin-ice-on-the-day-zero-trajectory/?utm_content=bufferf0734&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer#.WndgiGaZN-X.

Day Zero is not only about running out of water, its about circumstances that put our drinking water in jeopardy. There are communities in Canada and the US where the water is undrinkable and unusable. Boil water advisories are becoming more frequent and are in effect longer. Flint Michigan is the American example and California always seems to be on the edge of its own Day Zero. Our First Nations communities live under consistent boil water advisories; incredibly a 22-year boil water advisory will not end until later this year when the government invests $9 Million in a water plant in Neskantaga First Nations, 450 kilometers north of Thunder Bay. Multiple governments have failed the 350 members of that community.

In our own Ontario backyard we need to examine how our water supply will be managed and consumed. in 2016, Nestle bought a well near Elora Ontario, a small town not far from Guelph. Nestle planned to pump 1.6 million litres of water per day from the well for its Canada bottled water consumers. Nestle also pumps water in other communities across Canada including British Columbia. Nestle is doing nothing against the law. As we have seen with protests against pipelines, communities are very concerned with large corporations taking resources out of the ground.

All this has brought the delicate balance our water and natural resources to the forefront of my thoughts. We need to watch our actions, who we allow to take our water, ensure governments protect our resources; act to protect them from and have safeguards built in to contracts when corporations are given access to them.

As consumers of water, we know there is a lot of it in Canada, we should be wary of our consumption. It’s good to see the use of public water refilling stations at big events where we can refill water bottles and other containers. But all of this will mean nothing if we don’t learn from Cape Town and their count down to Day Zero. Little things to reserve our water will help, but as we see from Cape Town it is not enough if rainfalls decrease and drought becomes more frequent.

Cape Town went from overflowing dams to Day Zero in only four years. Day Zero in Cape Town is April 16th, only days ago it was April 12th; only the success of 50l in 150 days will push this day further and perhaps provide relief to the thousands of Cape Towners who now live with 90 second showers using reduced laundry, washing and flushing capabilities.

CBC Radio has been taking a ‘Day Zero’ contingency a bit further, considering the after effects of an earthquake along the BC Coast. Meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe hosts “Fault Line”, which examines what will takes place Day Zero of a major seismic quake. Taking the listener from the response immediately following the quake, call it Day Zero plus with the minutes, hours, days, weeks and months following the earthquake. I found listening to Fault Lines to be a “wake up” kinda scary. You can listen to the 6 episode podcast on the CBC Radio app or via cbc.ca/podcasts.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net