Conservatives finding no benefit in scrap with Young

Times-Herald Editorial Staff
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The Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) is learning a valuable lesson this week.

Neil Young performs during the Farm Aid Concert event Sunday, Oct. 4, 2009, in St. Louis. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kyle Ericson

Sometimes, it’s tough — and, indeed, ill advised — to go round-for-round with a rock star.

In comments he made during a Massey Hall press conference in Toronto, Neil Young set his crosshairs on the CPC’s involvement in the Northern Alberta oilsands.

“It’s all marketing. It’s all big money. This oil is all going to China ... and Canada’s government is behind making this happen. It’s truly a disaster,” said the venerable musician.

His comments drew the expected retort from the Conservatives, this time from Harper spokesperson Jason MacDonald, who touted the jobs and other economic benefits of the oil sector before taking a jab at Young over his chosen profession.

“Even the lifestyle of a rock star relies, to some degree, on the resources developed by thousands of hard-working Canadians every day,” MacDonald said in an e-mail he wrote to the Canadian Press. “We will ensure that companies abide by conditions set by independent, scientific and expert panels.”

If this were any other government, the public might be likely to take the Harper staffer at his word.

But this is not any other government.

The Harper Conservatives have consistently been seen as behind the curve on environmental legislation and lacking any serious drive to improve this country’s record on the issue, and the public is taking notice.

According to a recent Harris Decima study based on focus group research and prepared for Environment Canada, “few focus groups ‘could name a specific advancement’ the federal government had made in recent years to combat climate change,” the Ottawa Citizen reported.

Couple that with an apparently aggressive campaign against science — as detailed in an episode of the CBC’s the fifth estate titled “Silence of the Labs” — and the CPC’s record becomes even spottier.

The evidence, as it mounts, becomes increasingly convincing.

Whether it is a calculated campaign against environmental sustainability, or simply the side effect of a political agenda focused elsewhere, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Harper regime to argue against their failures in the environment portfolio.

The hyperbole of a man who might be Canada’s most recognizable rock musician is simply the tip of the iceberg, and hardly the most convincing part of the argument.

But the fear and anger with which the Conservative Party has reacted to Young’s remarks is not serving to debunk them.

All Times-Herald editorials are written by its editorial staff.

Organizations: Harper Conservatives, Massey Hall press, Canadian Press Environment Canada Ottawa Citizen CBC Conservative Party

Geographic location: Canada, Toronto, Northern Alberta China

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