More Than Just Hot Air

Last Thursday our government unveiled the centerpiece of our environmental agenda the Clean Air Act. Despite the ensuing rhetoric from the opposition and other groups, a close examination of the legislation will show that concrete measures are being taken to improve the air we breath and affect meaningful climate change. Ultimately its success or failure will depend on the commitment of Canadian industry and families. We all must take responsibility to care for and protect our climate.

Our community has already taken proactive measures to ensure better air quality. We have set the pace for implementing sustainable and effective technologies and are an example to other cities across Canada. The federal government recently acknowledged this fact by sending Kelowna's Environment Manager Mark Watt to Mexico City to showcase some of our environmentally sustainable technology. We can be proud of initiatives such as the Mayor's Environmental Expo, Ogo Gro, our Smart Transit Plan and the electricity generation taken from the methane produced by our city's landfill. These are just a few of the many ways that we as individuals and local communities can take part in reducing Canada's impact on our environment.

There are many things to celebrate in this legislation which are not receiving media attention. Our government is committed to consumer-driven energy efficiencies and alternative fuels. We will be providing tax incentives in the future to reduce the cost of low emission and hybrid vehicles. We have already made a commitment to increase the minimum level of ethanol from 1% to 5% by 2010. This in addition to our existing promises for infrastructure to improve transit and our transit user tax credit. All parts of the first ever comprehensive Canadian environmental strategy.

The vast majority of media coverage has instead focused on the deadlines imposed by this legislation, most specifically the targets of cutting
2003 greenhouse gas levels by 45% to 65% by 2050 and bringing into force legislated caps on emissions from cars by 2010. There has been much criticism of these goals under the assumption that no action will be taken until these years are closer. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

While we fully understand that industry participation is the only way we will meet our targets our Conservative government is not content to allow industries to self-regulate their progress. The Clean Air Act makes a significant change to the regulatory process. In short it gives complete regulatory power over all industries to the Environment Minister. So now when Rona Ambrose sits down with the heads of the major green house gas emitters she will have their complete and undivided attention because she has the regulatory authority to set the targets.

So after the Environment Minister has consulted with industry leaders over the next four months we will lay out our short term targets.

What is clear is that businesses today know what will be expected of them in the future. Thus they will be motivated to purchase environmentally sustainable technologies today to spread the cost of those technologies over as many years as possible. In this way our government is ensuring immediate and continuous action on the environment while doing so in a responsible way to ensure our policies don't adversely affect Canadian industry and consequentially Canadian workers.

Therefore I hope that you can look at the details of this legislation and see it for the precedent setting and comprehensive plan that it is.
Kyoto was important for putting climate change at the forefront of national politics but the targets were unrealistic. For the first time the government of Canada has outlined a regulatory framework that is both achievable and realistic in its expectation.

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About the Author

The Honourable Ron Cannan was first elected as Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country in January, 2006. He was subsequently elected in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections. He is a member of the Conservative Caucus.

On September 13th, 2012 Ron was summoned to be a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and will provide advice to the Government as a member of the Priorities and Planning Sub-Committee on Government Administration.

Ron successfully uses his experience and knowledge as a long-time Kelowna City Councillor and regional government representative to be an effective and enthusiastic champion for his riding and his constituents.

His greatest satisfaction comes from helping local organizations and citizens obtain the support they require from Ottawa. 

He is also dedicated to doing what it takes to ensure that the growing and vibrant communities in his riding continue to thrive and prosper.

He is proud of the partnership and cooperation between federal, provincial and municipal governments which have resulted in significant infrastructure projects including upgrades to Highway 97, expansion of the Kelowna International Airport, a new horticulture strategy for fruit growers, obtaining a full service passport office for Kelowna and addressing critical economic issues such as labour skills shortages.

He works closely with the local Chambers of Commerce and once a year arranges meetings for the Chamber with Cabinet Ministers and senior policy staff in Ottawa to move forward important local issues such as crime prevention and labour skills shortages.

He is also an ardent champion for important community initiatives including homelessness, mental health, women’s resources, and support of arts and culture.

On Parliament Hill, Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade since 2006 supporting initiatives which will broaden the economic opportunities for local businesses and businesses Canada-wide.

In previous parliamentary sessions Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee for Government Operations and Estimates, Veteran’s Affairs, Human Resources and Social Development, the Scrutiny of Regulations Committee, and the Standing Committee for Fisheries and Oceans.

Ron is also involved in a variety of inter-parliamentary organizations: he is Vice Chair of the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group, and a member of the Canada-Taiwan Friendship group.

As Chair of the Conservative Wine Caucus, Ron works with his colleagues across the country to promote the wine regions of Canada.  Ron tabled Motion 218(formerly Motion 601) which supports direct to consumer purchasing of Canadian wine. His motion became Bill C-311, sponsored by MP Dan Albas, seconded by Ron, which was passed into law on June 28th, 2012.

Prior to entering politics, Ron developed a diverse business background as a small business owner and had several years experience in marketing and sales management working with corporations including Coca-Cola, Costco and Corus Entertainment.

Very active in his community, Ron has been a Director for both the Central Okanagan Regional District and the Central Okanagan Hospital Board. Ron also served on the Okanagan University College Access to Training Advisory Board, the Glenmore Elementary School Parents Advisory Council, and the Kelowna Christian School Fund Raising Committee. He was co-founder of the Okanagan Volunteer Festival. Currently Ron is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Kelowna and, along with his wife Cindy, was the honorary Chair of the 2012 Canadian Cancer Society Daffodil Ball.

Ron lives a family-oriented and active lifestyle with his wife Cindy. He is the proud father of three daughters and grandfather to three grandsons. His hobbies include music and sports.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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