“We love the environment,” Stephen Harper and the Conservative government said today. Ok, maybe that’s not a direct quote, but it’s pretty close. In reality, Harper and the Minister for the Environment unveiled a new conservation plan in New Brunswick today, promising to spend $245 million over five years to protect, conserve and restore ecologically sensitive land all over the country.
Before we tell you what it all means, let’s break down the plan. The government is going to purchase sensitive land, support volunteer conservation programs and partner with relevant organizations to make nature beautiful again. That actually sounds pretty nice. There’s $100 million to Nature Conservancy of Canada, $50 million to restore wetlands, $50 million to support volunteer efforts to preserve animals and their habitats, and other such allocations.
So we are going to save the obviously destroyed environment of Canada, a country with no forests or mountains or wetland intact. But more important is why the Conservatives would launch a conservation plan at this point. Well, they did promise it in the 2013 Speech from the Throne. They have also mentioned about 1000 times how much they care about the environment. So maybe they do have a real reason to launch one. The timing is still interesting though.
Prime Minister Harper’s press conference from New Brunswick happened at 12:30 PM today. That coincided very suspiciously with NDP leader Thomas Mulcair testifying in front of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, where he was getting grilled on the subject of satellite offices and spending money illegally, or something. Clearly it can’t have been that important, because Harper decided to launch a $245 million dollar conservation plan.
It looks like a game of media-hedging. In case Mulcair was really good on the stand, the Conservatives would have something positive in the news cycle. If Mulcair looked guilty, the Conservatives made new friends in New Brunswick and had another “we love the environment” notch to add to their belt. Not that that’s the only reason the Conservatives are launching a plan to protect our eco-systems, it’s just a nice bonus in the game of cat and mouse all parties must play with the press. Yes, we are the press reporting on their relations with the press. Yes, this is meta. Deal with it.
The conservation plan itself is a solid step in preserving areas of the country we often don’t pay attention to, mostly because they don’t have air conditioning in the outdoors. The next question is, how will the opposition parties find a way to make a conservation plan sound bad for the environment?