Climate change cloud

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The Harper government has not – we repeat, not – begun laying off staff or deep-sixing climate change programs started by the previous Liberal government, or so says a spokesperson for Natural Resources Canada.

Really? That’s not what enviros busy trying to read the winds are figuring. Sierra Club’s senior policy adviser, John Bennett, charges from Ottawa that “friends of mine got calls and were told their contracts would not be renewed.”

But ministry talking head Emma Welford, says Sierra is blowing hot air. Welford says that under normal circumstances all applications for the next fiscal year would have been reviewed by now, but the January 23 election put all reviews on hold. Government officials, she says, only began calling enviro orgs at the end of March to notify them that all programs would be in stasis while applications for funding for 2006 are being reviewed.

“No programs have been cut, and no jobs have been lost,” says Welford. “It’s not necessary to speculate on what could happen.”

The Clean Air Foundation’s Stephanie Thorson says there were negotiations months in advance to provide bridge financing to mitigate the gap time in funding approvals, but it did not come through.

She says the call she got last week “wasn’t a cancellation notice [of programs/contracts], but a non-renewal notice.” Sounds fishy, but she’s still hoping the feds will come through.

Over at the One-Tonne Challenge, spokesperson William Cook is also less fatalistic about funding prospects than Sierra’s Bennett. “Everyone knew that the fiscal year was ending March 31. Right now we’re just waiting to see what happens.”

So the end of the world as we know it under the Harper Conservatives is not here – at least not yet.

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