Given the prevalent attitude towards environmental issues, it's sometimes easy to forget that the Stephen Harper government has an Environment Minister. But it does, and he'll be coming to Guelph sometime later this month as reported yesterday by the Guelph Mercury.
Peter Kent will be giving a talk about the future of water conservation in the Great Lakes, as outlined by the Federal government, at Cutten Fields in an event sponsored by the Guelph Chamber of Commerce on Friday January 25. Tickets are $30 for Chamber members, $45 for non-members, and more information on the event is available at the CoC's website.
So what's Kent going to talk about? The CoC website describes it thusly:
Canadians have been clear that their priority for the federal government is economic growth and job creation. They also demand a pristine Canadian environment for future generations. Here in Ontario, the Government of Canada has made significant investments in initiatives to clean-up and protect the Great Lakes Basin.
Please join us as Canada's Environment Minister, the Honourable Peter Kent, lays out the Government of Canada's plans for these and other initiatives that strengthen both environmental protection and the country's economic prosperity.
That sounds interesting, except the notion that the Federal government has equal interest in both environmental protection and economic prosperity seems a bit far-fetched. Part of the Idle No More demonstrations as of late have been driven by the notion that the Feds, through measures in two omnibus bills, have put in place new rules to ride roughshod over environmental due diligence in order to hasten resource development.
It also seems odd that Kent would talk publicly in Guelph, and not just because of the Royal City's reputation as a granola-eating, hippie-indulging city of the Green millennium. In recent months, one got the feeling that Guelph, as a city, was urbs non grata for Conservative members; in fact, trying to get Peter MacKay to come to town to accept an award from a local high school has been a scheduling feat of surprising difficulty. Some have chalked that up to the usual protest that accompanies the visit of any high-profile member of the Conservative caucus in Guelph, others have narrowed that more specifically to local reaction over robocalls.
On the other hand, maybe Kent's appearance in town is testing the waters. After all, despite the Chamber's rather flourid justification for Kent's visit he is still, after all, the Environment Minister, and thus an arm of the Prime Minister's Office with an entrenched political and ideological stance of "What, Me Worry?" in regards to global climate change, greenhouse gases and other environmental issues. In other words, a Peter Kent visit is as inoffensive as your average episode of Family Matters: Urkel pops by, screws up, offers amends and learns absolutely nothing by the time we move on to the next episode.
And it should go without saying, but for $45, I hope there's a talent portion of the presentation. Or a nice sandwich.
UPDATE: Predictably, an organized protest effort has been started out of the U of G (conveniently across the road from Cutten Fields). A Facebook page has been set-up for the Peter Kent "Un-welcoming" Party via Guelph OPIRG.