Dion talks emissions policy, future of nuclear energy

BRANTFORD, ONTARIO - The Conservative's new Clean Air Act "is probably useless," says federal Liberal leader and former Environment Minister, Stephane Dion.

Mr. Dion was responding to Northumberland/Quinte West MP Rick Norlock's suggestion that instead of criticizing his government's plan Mr. Dion should get "off the sidelines" and work with the Conservatives to discuss the changes he would like to see incorporated into the new legislation.

The local member should know the existing Canadian Environmental Protection Act already has the capacity to regulate emissions, Dion said.

"We don't need the (new) Act," he stressed.

The Liberal leader made his comments via a teleconference recently with Osprey Media reporters during an election-style tour through Ontario. His latest stop was in Brantford.

The Conservatives don't have a comprehensive plan and after ignoring the environment, they've suddenly become aware of its importance to Canadians. So they are making announcements of initiatives with new names but repeating what's already been done by the Liberals, Dion contends.

"It's a game they are playing."

Canadians are too bright to fall for it, he added.

Still, Mr. Dion said, the Liberals are collaborating as much as possible... to make the Act work.

Conservative Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn announced that $230-million will be invested by the federal government over the next four years to make Canada "a clean energy superpower." It's called the Eco Energy Technology Initiative and the mandate is "cleaning up conventional energy production," he is quoted as saying in a published report.

Mr. Dion promised that under a Liberal federal government Canadian companies would be regulated to decrease emissions by about 10 per cent, he said. Those that exceeded the target could sell the excess to companies that failed to meet it.

It's a carrot-and-stick approach with those achieving the best success, earning cash rewards from others that don't, Mr. Dion explained.

While Conservative Natural Resources Minister Lunn says there is an opportunity to pursue nuclear energy and he is "keen" on doing so, Mr. Dion said that there must be public debate about dealing with waste from that power source and that he is hesitant about expanding nuclear power until that takes place.

"I don't rule it out (though)," the Liberal leader said.

Asked if he favoured the 2005 plan for long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel bundles within the northern Canadian Shield, Mr. Dion said he could not respond to the question.

On other fronts, Mr. Dion reiterated his commitment to sustainable development, fiscal responsibility and social justice.

He also promised that a Liberal government would:

- partner with the provincial government to help the homeless and families with daycare needs;

- create an independent land-claim body like the U.S. to speed up processing First Nation land claims; and reduce passport fees.


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