Jim Prentice: the current face of the typical Canadian enviro minister

CBC is reporting from a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks that shows former Environment Minister Jim Prentice's interest in regulating the tar sands more strongly, particularly after realizing the global perceptions of the industry and the weakness in provincial & federal government laws. See the story: "Prentice was ready to curb oilsands: WikiLeaks" This comes after a new report showing weak monitoring of chemicals released in the area persists.

Jim Prentice recently resigned as minister, from the government and from his seat in Parliament. Shortly before that, he took a B.C. wilderness tour with David Suzuki which was covered by CBC with Evan Solomon.

If there's any connection here that Prentice was pushing for stronger action and got on the government's bad side, it wouldn't be anything new for Canadian environment ministers. The position has always been at the whim of the rest of the government - the cabinet - or more likely, the Prime Minister's office. The position is expected to push environmental considerations for projects of all other ministries. If the minister gains strong interest in the environment, the person is often turfed from the role - particularly if a given PM doesn't see connections between environmental and socio-economic sustainability.

You could have asked the late Charles Caccia how it works. He was a Liberal who fought for the environment under Pierre Trudeau's government - but mostly as an MP because he wasn't Minister for long. The position and the ministry is not very stable in its work and continues to lack integration with the work of other ministries - so the environment remains a stand-alone consideration.

When an environmentalist (Stephane Dion) became leader and ran for Prime Minister, it didn't work out so well either.

Prentice was replaced by John Baird, who's never shown the slightest care about environmental problems. Canada's federal environmental record continues...

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