On Sunday I noted that Canada’s National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy just warned, very gently and politely, that the federal government isn’t pushing hard enough on climate change and should begin imposing some form of charge for carbon emissions very, very soon. I described the group this way:
The NRTEE is a federally-funded think tank with a board of business leaders and smart environmentalists and lawyers, ranging from the ubiquitous Mark Jaccard to the chief operating officer of Suncor, an extremely major player in Alberta’s oil industry. Although the top people have a noticeably Liberal-red tint (the last president of NRTEE, David McGuinty, is now the opposition Liberals’ environment critic and the current chairman is Glen Murray, the largely well-regarded former mayor of Winnipeg but a failed Liberal candidate there), the organization itself is a thoroughly respectable source of ideas and forecasts on the environment file.
All this is true. But the Conservatives’ most recent three appointments to the NRTEE’s board are worth noting:
- Francine Dorion, vice-president of environment and technology for Abitibi Consolidated, a major forestry company;
- Richard Prokopanko, vice-president of corporate affairs for Alcan, a major aluminum producer;
- Wishart Robson, climate-change adviser to the president of Nexen, a major oil and gas company heavily invested in Alberta’s oilsands.
I’m sure these are all good people, and they all appear to have distinguished records of moving their employers to more sustainable footings. Nevertheless, they all work for companies that, faced with the choice between polluting like hell or going bust, would have a fiduciary responsibility to pollute like hell. The quality and tone of the NRTEE’s advice will deserve very, very close monitoring.
It’d certainly do the Tories’ credibility on this challenging file some good if they could bring themselves to name the most sensible person they can find from the ranks of Greenpeace or the Suzuki or Pembina foundations to fill the next slot that comes up. But then, they seem pretty tone-deaf to things that do their credibility good.