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Ottawa to Unveil Green Initiatives

Source: The Globe and Mail
By: SHAWN McCARTHY
Monday, June 4th, 2001

OTTAWA -- The Liberal government is set to announce over the next two weeks nearly $250-million in environmental spending, with projects aimed at water quality, energy efficiency and reducing smog. Liberal cabinet ministers are expected to make a series of announcements this week, to coincide with Environment Week, featuring projects totalling about $145-million.

Environment Minister David Anderson and Natural Resources Minister Ralph Goodale also hope to unveil a $100-million effort to reduce smog at a "smog summit" to be held in Toronto on June 11. In a statement issued this weekend, Mr. Anderson defended the government's often criticized environmental record. He said the federal government will increase funding for municipal water systems and will also work with provinces and territories to establish a national standard for wastewater treatment and water purification facilities. Canadians have been shocked in the past year by two breakdowns of municipal water systems -- one in Walkerton, Ont. and another more recently in North Battleford, Sask. New Democratic Party Leader Alexa McDonough recently condemned the federal Liberals for allocating roughly $15-billion to debt reduction this year while not doing enough to help municipalities upgrade their water systems. Liberal cabinet ministers say the government has allocated hundreds of millions of dollars in new environmental spending since the 2000 budget and is prepared to do more.

To mark Clean Air Day on Wednesday, Ottawa will unveil a program aimed at reducing federal emissions of greenhouse gases to 30 per cent below 1990 levels by 2010. The target is meant to set an example for the country as a whole and is well beyond Canada's Kyoto commitment to reduce greenhouse gases to 8 per cent below 1990 level by 2010.Last week, a Vancouver think tank, the Suzuki Foundation, warned that Canada will not be able to meet its Kyoto targets if it allows massive development of tar-sands oil projects in Alberta and coal-fired electricity generation. But Prime Minister Jean Chrétien has insisted the country will meet the targets, though the government has provided no clear timetable or plan for doing so.

In his weekend statement, Mr. Anderson said the government will address climate change through promotion of energy efficiency, the funding of innovative technologies and international co-operation. Government sources said this week's announcements will span the spectrum of environmental issues, including air pollution, protection of species at risk and climate change. Of the $145-million to be unveiled this week, about $100-million will be repayable loans made through the Technology Partnership Canada fund, which provides research and development assistance to companies looking to commercialize promising technologies. Today, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion will announce two TPC investments in the Montreal area.