Protecting our environment and our prosperity

On December 16, I had the chance to support Stephen Harper and our Conservative government’s reasonable and measured approach to climate change. Standing outside the office of Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge in the freezing cold, with my fellow Conservatives, we demonstrated our support for the approach taken by our government. Opposite to us were supporters of the Green Party. The respectful exchange of ideas is important and empowering, and for the first 15 minutes or so there was an atmosphere of respectful engagement. However, some supporters and supporters of the Green Party who were present began to move in a more extreme direction. The inevitable attacks and cries of “racism” were joined with clever new slogans such as “Oilberta,” and the wonderful chant of “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Conservatives have got to go.”

This was standard for a protest of this sort. What was not standard was when supporters of the Greens started to kick the buckets we had brought for drumming. They picked them up and kicked them into the parking lot, so that only their message could be heard. These were somewhat surprising actions for “peaceful” people. One of the more classy Green Party supporters stole a bucket at the conclusion of the rally, and used it drum his message down the street.

Despite the disrespect and anger shown toward myself and my fellow Conservatives, I am proud to say that we remained calm and respectful, responding to the Greens with class and moderation the entire event. As conservatives, we believe in the right of every individual to find their own path and reach their own conclusions, and we support vigorous debate.

Many people mistakenly believe that the conservative position on the environment is to do nothing. This belief stems from thinking that the level of rhetoric and anger equals the level of commitment. Because conservatives are not running around screaming about the end of the world and doomsday scenarios, many feel that we are not concerned with this issue. Nothing could be further from the truth. Conservatives know that all of us, especially those of us who are young, will inherit the environment our parents’ generations have left for us and we know that we must work on shaping those decisions so we can all have the best future possible.

To build that future and lay a solid foundation, we must look at the environment with clarity and realism — not panic and extremism. When I asked one of the leaders of the Green Party protest what his ideas are to build a strong environmental foundation, he responded by saying, “We need to stop being a carbon-based economy.” This statement may work well as a sound bite or on a press release, but it ignores the realities of our current situation. To simply “stop using carbon,” as one present said to me, would, in my opinion, devastate the Canadian economy. Perhaps some of these activists believe that this cost is worth it, but try telling that to the recent university graduates and young families that are forced to live in poverty because their jobs have been wiped out.

As we have seen throughout history, humanity possesses both the ability and the will to find new and more efficient ways of growing our economies. These ways are not perfect by any means, but the trend is unmistakably positive. We must have faith in the ingenuity of the human spirit, and the potential of all of us to build a better world through technological advancement and increased efficiency, not draconian economic restrictions and job-killing carbon taxes. Conservatives approach the environmental question with the realism and level-headedness to advance real and positive change.

Our position is clear. Our conservative government has invested considerable amounts of money to develop the green technology programs of the future, such as [carbon capture][2]. We seek a reasonable balance between the importance of protecting our beautiful planet, and ensuring that we protect Canadian jobs and keep our economy strong. Now is not the time for extreme and unproven experiments, now is not the time for quick decisions made out of fear and panic. Now is the time for us to carefully weigh all sides of the issue, take our time and take realistic steps to protect our environment and keep Canadians prosperous. This is what our Conservative government has done and this is what our Conservatives will continue to do.

Spencer Fernando is a supporter of Stephen Harper and our Conservative government as they negotiate with the world to craft an agreement that works to protect our planet and ensure Canada’s economic prosperity for generations to come.

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