We, as citizens, have to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to protect the environment. It just happened in Ontario, where Highland Companies announced it was withdrawing its plan to build a massive open-pit limestone quarry in the rural countryside north of Toronto. People power won! And it wasn't the first time it's happened in Canada.
Most people understand the concept of financial capital. We pay for things we find valuable. But how much is our natural capital worth? According to the David Suzuki Foundation's research, the 7,000-square-kilometre Ontario Greenbelt provides at least $2.6 billion in non-market benefits each year. We wouldn't let a bank get away with losing our life savings. We shouldn't let decision-makers off the hook when they allow our natural wealth to be squandered.
We need a balance between ecology and economics, between the effects of the tar sands and the money it makes. However, this approach does not conform to the narrow and myopic world view of the Harper Conservatives. The Conservative majority rests on less than 40 per cent of the vote, yet for them this justifies demonizing and dismissing the other 60-plus per cent.
This week an all-out war has been declared on environmentalists -- from Suzuki's foundation coming under attack to a viral American video opposing green energy. What is most maddening is that the new anti-environmentalist approach has become a war on actual fact, being interpreted by audiences as simply a war of conflicting opinion.
There's been a lot of buzz around possible oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, including a proposal to drill in the Old Harry area. We need to keep strong laws to ensure we protect these places that give us so much and help define us as Canadians. But how good are we at protecting what's at the core of our identity?
Half the world's oxygen is produced in the oceans yet the federal government recently rejected millions of dollars in funding for a collaborative effort to establish a marine spatial plan and network of protected areas in Canada's Pacific North Coast waters. Why? Because it might restrict oil tanker traffic.