Impact of the federal budget

Where are urban communities reflected in the Federal Budget and whatever happened to that noble and necessary objective of post-carbon cities?  It’s not there. But, more than that, Budget 2012 delays and damages the very possibility.

This is a government that makes Kermit the Frog’s anthem It’s Not Easy Being Green a difficult one to sing.  Well before this Budget, so many voices in the choir are silenced.  Scientists censored.  Citizens concerned enough to act demonized as radicals and their representatives as hijackers.  Support for those seeking to decrease their own carbon footprint – and for those making a living from such progressive action – have been left in the lurch.

The Budget provides more tools to silence those who would speak up for sustainability.  The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) will be dramatically cut, downloaded, and “streamlined.”  Not good news for those advocating for a Federal Environmental Assessment for the Melancthon Mega-Quarry (discussed in my last BMN column).

Canada’s national youth program Katimavik, with its focus on a sustainable lifestyle, the learning of critical thinking skills, and community involvement, have been told to stay home – these positive initiatives are not part of the new landscape.  Our own riding will lose a household of young adults discovering this country and assisting our community with their volunteer efforts.

This budget closes down, as well, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE), created by Brian Mulroney’s government in the late 1980s. NRTEE has been a highly respected non-partisan panel, with representatives from diverse backgrounds within the world of business, social policy, labour and the environmental movement. Members come with varied perspectives, but have in common the belief that the environment and economy need not be at odds.  Their sin, it appears, was to critique our progress towards greenhouse gas emission reduction.

We have, the government suggests, “a mature and expanded community of environmental stakeholders [that] has demonstrated the capacity to provide analysis and policy advice to the Government.”  It is unclear who counts in this particular community but they must certainly favour unbridled resource exploitation, pipelines and hurried environmental assessments to have the confidence of this government.

This is a time when working to create sustainable communities can be isolating and demoralizing – and yet so very necessary.  More than ever, groups and individuals who are passionate about and invigorated by working towards a healthy, participatory community need to listen to, connect with and support each other.  On Saturday, May 12, I am hosting an event where constituents can share information and resources and join together in a common project to build hope-filled neighbourhoods that will last for our children. It is my hope that this meeting will give birth to a sustainability network in Beaches-East York.

For more information visit my website matthewkellway.ndp.ca or facebook group facebook.com/matthewkellway; call the office at 416-467-0860; or e-mail matthew.kellway.c1a@parl.gc.ca.


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