Canadian Budget 2009 and the Environment

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The federal government invites Canadians to submit their comments on the upcoming January 23 budget. Common thinking says that in lean times, environmental concerns get short shrift. But does it need to be this way?

Pundits anticipate the government will announce serious infrastructure spending. Instead of focusing entirely on the usual beneficiaries (transportation, government buildings, public utilities, etc.), why not also set significant funding aside to invest in something that will benefit the country in the long term, reduce our GHG emissions, and make us more competitive economically?

Let’s invest in fossil-fuel independence and green technology. Many in the United States are clamoring for this very thing. In Canada, the chorus is growing. The Pembina Institute called for stimulus to focus on energy efficiency, renewable energy and public transit. Sustainable Prosperity, a group dedicated to “making markets work for the environment” will announce its plan soon.

The voices are there, but will this Conservative government listen? I’m inclined to think yes. The opposition parties will certainly make some noise about this (if they haven’t already), and Canadians can make their own priorities heard by commenting on the budget.