It's encouraging that Jack Layton is focusing on the tar sands early in the campaign. It was creative to take the NDP campaign plane to 5000 feet so media could film toxic tailing ponds from the air. It was useful too to take the tour to Fort Smith, N.W.T. where the connection was made between the tar sands and contamination of drinking water for aboriginal communities throughout the Athabasca and Slave river systems.
Layton called for "No New Approvals" of tar sands projects. In doing so, he joins more than 60 civil society organizations, including Alberta treaty chiefs and the Alberta Federation of Labour. So far, governments have never turned down or delayed a single tar sands project application.
To mitigate the immense greenhouse gas emissions from the tar sands gigaproject, the Harper government says it's placing its bets on carbon capture and storage. But carbon capture technology is unproven and untested, especially for tar sands. A close look at the regulations Environment Minister John Baird trumpeted earlier this year shows carbon capture will only apply to new tar sands projects in any event and not until 2018 at the earliest. Of course, waiting another decade to get started is ridiculous, given the seriousness of the climate emergency.
A moratorium on new tar sands projects now would be far more effective. It would be a good start towards a real plan to deal with the tar sands disaster. Layton's call for no new approvals is an excellent start to the NDP campaign.
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