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Sacrifices on the Green Altar

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02Aug

By: Graham Lane
Posted: Winnipeg Sun, July 29, 2016

Governments across the country bend over backwards to wash themselves in green. Trudeau threatens a
carbon tax. Here in Manitoba our last government committed billions of ratepayer money to export heavily subsidized
‘green’ hydro power to America.

While everyone can support being sustainable, why sacrifice our children’s’ prosperity on the altar of green
activists? Consider what is happening in Ontario.

Ontario’s Liberal government bought into the new green religion with the fervour of a new religious convert.
It has wasted billions on uneconomic (but supposed green) power sources, resulting in exploding electricity
prices that are pushing manufacturers to relocate elsewhere. While over-the-top green-driven utility rates
drive up household living costs, non-science based regulations imposed on agriculture unnecessarily push up
farm production costs. And, don’t we need to increase investing in Canada? No one in the Ontario
Government has ever asked: when will the cost of our green sacrifices be too much for householders and
industry to bear?.

The Doer-Selinger NDP government started Manitoba down the same “shoot yourself in the foot” path.
Fortunately, the new Pallister administration has a chance to be sensible as well as sustainable, though
there is the risk the PCs might let that opportunity pass.

For example, our new provincial government has promised to put a price on carbon. How will increasing the
cost of heating our homes (the cost of heating electrically already soaring), getting to work, planting crops,
and transporting food to the North help Manitobans? How would a carbon tax help our economy grow or
stop the outmigration of our new graduates to greener economic pastures (pun intended)?

There is a smarter green way, Manitoba can be both sustainable and prosperous. This will require our
government having the courage to buck the ongoing demands from the activists and refuse to sacrifice our
economy on the green altar.

We need to avoid making energy prohibitively expensive, and not follow Ontario’s lead. And, let’s avoid
regulatory red tape making it more risky to invest in Manitoba while giving the appearance of being greener
than green. We need to avoid moving away from science–based regulations for our industries, particularly
agriculture.

There are many practical things Manitoba can do to protect our air land and water. For example, well
maintained roads and streets would significantly reduce gas consumption. How about synchronizing more
traffic lights? Doing so might not sound as “green” as a massive new wind farm planted someplace on the
prairies, but would have a more lasting impact on Manitoba’s greenhouse gas emissions (and help you get to
work on time as well).

Protecting Lake Winnipeg? Don’t ban farm practices that haven’t a measurable impact on the nutrients in
Lake Winnipeg. Instead, adopt a clear policy to ensure that neither village, town nor city ever again dumps
raw sewage into our river systems. This would skip a flashy news conference but would actually reduce the
nutrients flowing into the Lake. Why not convince North Dakota to adopt the same policy?

We all want to take care of our common environment. But we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our
grandchildren’s economic well-being to do that. We can be practical, sensible and sustainable, all at the
same time. Smarter green should be the Manitoba way.

Graham Lane chairs Manitoba Forward (manitobaforward.ca).

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