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Rob Altemeyer, MLA Wolseley
November 23, 2016

Concern for the Environment

The government's Throne Speech earlier this week was a major disappointment for anyone with even a passing concern for the environment or the future health of Mother Earth.

During question period, this very conservative government has repeatedly refused to answer our opposition questions or provide any meaningful information about where they stand on some of the most crucial issues of our time. Environmental issues we have raised include the unknown state of Winnipeg sewer upgrade projects, the stalled bid for a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the east side of Lake Winnipeg and, of course, climate change.

You would think, Madam Speaker, that seven months after the election this government would finally start to take action. Instead, the Throne Speech was filled with the rhetoric of austerity, a fatally flawed policy that calls for cuts to services, privatization, deregulation and layoffs. The track record of austerity around the world can only be considered successful if its true goals are to weaken environmental protections, further widen the income gap between rich and poor, and leave the economies of its victim countries even worse off than they were beforehand.

I would never claim, Madam Speaker, that our previous government solved every environmental problem, but we did make important progress. Climate emissions were increasing at a rate of 200,000 tons per year when we came to office. That number has now been reduced to just over 20,000 tons, a nearly 90 per cent improvement. Dozens of cities and communities across Manitoba upgraded their water treatment plants thanks to investments we made. Recycling rates have improved dramatically, and we added dozens of new parks and protected areas to the list of protected spaces for Manitoba's future.

This Throne Speech was the first in 25 years to not even mention protected spaces. Governments around the world are creating thousands of new green jobs so their citizens can fix the mistakes of the past. Manitoba can and should be part of this green evolution, but this government's Throne Speech is taking us in the opposite direction. Let's hope for all our sakes a different path is chosen in the years ahead.

Thank you, Madam Speaker.