Independent
journalism that swims
against the current.
Today's Big Story

Is Green the New Health Care?

The papers say Stephen Harper has woken up to the environment. But can green issues really swing an election?

Richard Warnica 5 Jan 2007TheTyee.ca

Richard Warnica is a senior editor at The Tyee.

image atom

Wedged under the banner headline above the fold on the cover of today’s Globe and Mail are two pictures: on the left, the jowly half grimace of John Baird, the new Conservative Environment minister; on the right, a map of Canada, splashed entirely pink except for tiny corners in the far South and North.

The map is a climate model. It displays the areas of the country predicted to be warmer or colder than average over the following month. And the fact that it has more pink than a frat boy’s polo shirt means January is going to be very hot indeed.   

The Baird headshot sits next the model – under the headline “PM charts a greener course” – because his appointment is supposed to signal the PM’s recognition that climate change is serious, or at least worth serious votes. 

“We’ve clearly determined we need to do more on the environment,” Harper is quoted as saying in the Globe story. “We recognize that particularly when it comes to clean air and climate change, that Canadians deserve a lot more.”

So what does this all mean? Is Environment the new health care? Will it be the issue that dominates the hearts and minds of the centrist Canadian voter in elections to come? 

Maybe. Baird’s move, from treasury board to environment, has universally played as a promotion. The Globe ran an A1 story on Baird’s close relationship with the PM’s wife, while the Post wrote about the Ontario minister’s “meteoric” rise in politics. In any other Canadian government, ever, moving from a money ministry like the treasury to the green file would have been seen as a big demotion.

What’s more, stories on sustainability and the environment have moved squarely into the mainstream. Thanks in part to Al Gore’s An Inconvinient Truth, scientific doomsayers don’t own the climate change issue anymore.

But there’s a big difference between an issue people care about and an issue people will vote on. In a column bluntly titled “The man sent to kill the issue” the Post’s Andrew Coyne argues that the Baird appointment is meant to assuage centre voters. But the environment, he says, is not the type of issue many people swing on.

“The issue of the election? Don't bet on it,” Coyne writes. “The point of Mr. Baird's installation is to ensure it does not become an issue. Like a hockey coach on home ice, Mr. Harper has the advantage of the last line change: Mr. Baird has been sent out to check Mr. Dion. But the intent is to neutralize, not to polarize.”  [Tyee]

  • Share:

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Comments that violate guidelines risk being deleted, and violations may result in a temporary or permanent user ban. Maintain the spirit of good conversation to stay in the discussion.
*Please note The Tyee is not a forum for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, denying its existence or minimizing its risk to public health.

Do:

  • Be thoughtful about how your words may affect the communities you are addressing. Language matters
  • Challenge arguments, not commenters
  • Flag trolls and guideline violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity, learn from differences of opinion
  • Verify facts, debunk rumours, point out logical fallacies
  • Add context and background
  • Note typos and reporting blind spots
  • Stay on topic

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist, homophobic or transphobic language
  • Ridicule, misgender, bully, threaten, name call, troll or wish harm on others
  • Personally attack authors or contributors
  • Spread misinformation or perpetuate conspiracies
  • Libel, defame or publish falsehoods
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities
  • Post links without providing context

LATEST STORIES

The Barometer

What Environmental Impacts Are Most Concerning to You This Summer?

Take this week's poll