...about the farmer who claims to have the smartest donkey in the world. "I can teach this donkey anything," he tells a credulous city-slicker.
"Show me," replies the city-slicker. "Teach your donkey how to be environmentally friendly."
"Sure," says the farmer, so he takes up a big 2-by-4 and whacks the donkey across the snout with it.
"Why did you do that?" asks the city-slicker.
"Well, first thing you have to do is get the donkey's attention."
As I was reading the Calgary Herald's Saturday morning editorial, I was reminded of this joke, with Alberta standing in for the donkey. Because Ed Stelmach's new environmental plan, for all of its weaknesses (intensity rather than hard targets, a loopy sounding plan to build a CO2 pipeline), is essentially a home-grown Kyoto, with carbon taxes and cap-and-trade schemes and the whole magillah. As the Editorial says, who would have thought it possible?
And despite these weaknesses, the Alberta plan will be built so as to "interact" with forthcoming Canada-wide regulations, which will themselves eventually be linked up to a set of N.A.-wide regulations. I would not be surprised if we wind up with something very much like the Kyoto Accord functioning across a good portion of the planet in 10 years, even if politicians are careful to call it something else. And although it may start by regulating emission intensities, once a regulatory framework is in place it should become possible to tighten the screws until we are getting real emission cuts.
So I am allowing myself a brief moment of optimism on this issue.
And gratitude really ought to be extended to politicians like Mark Holland and Stephane Dion, who wielded the metaphorical 2-by4 that got donkey Alberta's attention. But do you think they'll thank us Easterners? Well, Chretien kept them out of that crazy Iraq war when folks like Ralph Klein were aching to kill for the American Empire. If there was any justice, Ralph and every cowboy in Calgary would have marched out to wherever in Quebec they kept J.C. and kissed his ass in gratitude. But did that ever happen? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooo, it did not.
But its okay. We Easterners do it all out of Love.