This is a guest post by Dr. David R. Boyd, an adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University and author of The Environmental Rights Revolution: A Global Study of Constitutions, Human Rights, and the Environment. Originally published at iPolitics.
Is Stephen Harper the worst prime minister that Canada has ever had, from an environmental perspective? The evidence is mounting that this is indeed the case, despite some early glimmers of hope. Given the deteriorating global environment, this failure of leadership could not have happened at a worse time.
That Canada has become an international laggard in environmental policy and practice is now an incontrovertible fact. In 2009, the Conference Board of Canada ranked Canada 15th out of 17 wealthy industrialized nations on environmental performance. In 2010, researchers at Simon Fraser University ranked Canada 24th out of 25 OECD nations on environmental performance.
Yale and Columbia ranked Canada 37th in their 2012 Environmental Performance Index, far behind green leaders such as Sweden, Norway, and Costa Rica, and trailing major industrial economies including Germany, France, Japan, and Brazil. Worse yet, our performance is deteriorating, as we rank 52nd in terms of progress over the 2000-2010 period. Even Prime Minister Harper has candidly admitted, “Canada’s environmental performance is, by most measures, the worst in the developed world. We’ve got big problems.”
For several years, the Conservatives blamed Canada’s environmental problems on the previous Liberal government, and their own lack of progress on a fractious minority parliament. Now that it has a majority, is the Conservative government attempting to solve environmental problems with stronger laws, higher standards, larger investments, and tougher enforcement?