STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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Dion Needs to Deal with Tar Sands

Posted by mhudema on July 7, 2008

Liberal leader pitches green plan to green-minded youth from across Canada

Edmonton — Still dressed in a style fitting of his stop at the Calgary Stampede, federal Liberal leader Stephane Dion pitched his party’s environmental plan to a group of green-minded youth in Edmonton on Sunday.

Dion wore jeans and a checkered shirt as he spoke to roughly 100 participants at the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition conference at the University of Alberta, where he said Canada could make “megatons” of money selling eco-friendly technologies.

Several participants at the conference suggested his plan doesn’t go far enough, but Dion stressed that the economy is important too.

“We need to develop our economy but do it in a sustainable way. This is the challenge. It’s much more complicated then to be only a tree-hugger and not care about the economy,” Dion told reporters immediately after the event.

Dion told the conference that carbon taxes would be used to promote the eco-friendly technologies by forcing companies to find more efficient methods of operation. He said that would be good news for conference participants, who he said will find a new industry based on green technologies.

Conference organizer Paul Baker said a carbon tax is a start, but won’t do the full job.

“We definitely need not just the revenue coming from a carbon tax,” Baker said. “We need much more investment in Canada, and especially a province as rich as Alberta, with such a surplus, needs to take money and start investing in those technologies.”

Jessie Schwarz, an anti-oilsands campaigner for Greenpeace, noted Dion didn’t explicitly say how the Liberals would deal with Alberta’s oilsands. Schwarz said she was hoping for regulations to deal with development, or for the party to stand alongside those fighting to stop future approvals of oilsands projects.

Some political pundits have predicted Dion’s plan for carbon taxes would be a tough sell in Alberta, where many equate it with National Energy Plan in the early 1980s.

Brought in by the Trudeau Liberals in the early 1980s, the policy is still despised by many in Alberta who felt it siphoned oil revenue from the province and sent it to Central Canada.

Although Dion’s audience on Sunday was environmentally-minded and rather open to his presence, he said his green plan has received praise from other audiences.

“I’m amazed by the number of people who are spontaneously coming to me and saying you’re doing the right thing – it’s what we need,” Dion said.

NDP Leader Jack Layton visited the conference on Friday and signed the group’s “No New Approvals” for oilsands projects pledge.

Baker said the last-minute additions of Dion and Layton, who both requested to speak at the conference late last week, speaks volumes to the power of youth in Canada.

The climate coalition was formed three years ago in response to the UN Climate Change Conference in Montreal. Baker said the youth organizations that would eventually form the coalition felt Canada’s stance wasn’t strong enough, and they were particularly dismayed by Canada’s decision not to implement the reductions needed to meet the Kyoto protocol.

“These are the people that have to deal with the future they’re setting,” Baker said of the conference attendees.


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