Baird bears all to The Gazette

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The Wave turned blue last Thursday, as the UWO Tories hosted a private reception with the Honourable Minister of the Environment John Baird.

Baird toured Western’s Biotron Institute for Experimental Climate Change research facility before entertaining eager young Tories at the meet-and-greet. The Gazette managed to snatch Baird away from his partisan hob-knobbing to ask a few questions about the government’s environmental policies.

Q. Students nowadays are environmentally conscious. What is the government doing to address environmental issues?
A. We’re regulating big industry and we’re finding big polluters to reduce greenhouse gases " that’s the biggest part of our plan. We’ve got strategies on eco-transportation to encourage people to get out of gas-guzzlers and into energy-efficient cars. We’ve got initiatives to promote renewable power, energy efficiency and conservation ... [and] we have a national goal of a 20 per cent reduction [in greenhouse gases] by 2020.

Q. Environmental issues have traditionally been seen as left-wing concerns. Is it possible to be both environmentally friendly and conservative?
A. Sure, look at Brian Mulroney. [Federal Green Party leader] Elizabeth May calls him the greenest prime minister ... [and French president] Nicolas Sarkozy, who’s a conservative, said the environment shouldn’t be the domain of any political party. It’s a real mistake when any issue becomes the domain of one party or one ideology, because it inevitably fails.

Q. What is the reasoning behind the Kyoto targets outlined in the recent Throne Speech?
A. We need to be honest about what we can do, and what we can’t. We’re focusing on real action that we can achieve. The Liberals promised they could get the Kyoto targets ... but we can’t do 10 years worth of work in a year or two.

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