LETTERS: Talking out both sides of our mouth

Editor:

I am a proud Canadian. I believe in this country and the values I believe it stands for.

But, sometimes the reality of our laws tells me a different story. Specifically, I would like to speak about SNC-Lavalin and our environmental record – a strange mix, I know.

In Canada, we believe we should not give bribes for contracts. Thus when SNC bribes the Libyan government for contracts we charge them, it’s against our laws. However, according to SNC they may move their head office away from Montreal, with the loss of 9,000 jobs. I don’t imagine there are many people who disbelieve there are certain countries where only bribery will get you the contract. So why do we have this law on the books? Because we are Canadians and it is against our values to bribe for contracts. But, we want those jobs, don’t we? And what goes on in Libya should stay in Libya. So we are in a quandary of our own making. We are speaking out of both sides of our mouth.

As Canadians, we love nature and feel we have the right to clean water and clean air.

But, as I have discovered, we have no federal law protecting this right.

We think we’re great environmentalists, but look closer and you will see that we have been, as a country, an abysmal failure in protecting the environment.

Only 1.3 per cent of our coastline is protected.

We sign the Paris Climate Accord but do nothing – lots of rhetoric, no action. We are an anomaly; more than 150 countries recognize the legal right to a healthy environment. And laws do matter.

Most countries that have laws have a better performance record. The Conference Board of Canada puts us consistently near the last in environmental performance.

And yet the vast majority of Canadians agree environmental rights should be recognized in law. So the next time our political leaders want to do something to put our values into law, celebrate it and stand by that law.

Do not speak out of both sides of our mouth.

Judy Peterson, White Rock

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