Preston Manning: A project for all Canadians
When I first started talking to people about the launch of Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission, someone asked me a tough question: Who is the villain in this story? It took me off-guard at first. But then I realized, the answer isn’t a “who,” it’s a “what.” And that “what” is a mindset. It’s a belief that economic prosperity can only be gained at the cost of environmental health. Or, inversely, that making progress on environmental goals means sacrificing economic ones. I don’t know a single Canadian who likes pollution and environmental degradation. Nor have I met anyone who is opposed to innovation, investment and better jobs. But I have met people, of all stripes, who are convinced that we are trapped in a zero-sum game of environment vs. economy. This, more than anything, is the hurdle we need to overcome to start moving the conversation beyond the problems to the solutions.
The good news is, there are strong and powerful voices helping push that discussion forward. Perhaps this will surprise you (and perhaps it won’t), but one of the most inspiring voices belongs to Preston Manning.
We talked to Mr. Manning about what he sees as both the opportunities and challenges for the Commission in turning around this mindset, in engaging Canadians in a dialogue not about “if we can do this” but about “how we do this.”
As Mr. Manning rightly points out, what we need is a conversation on the details. And those details need to be grounded in the realities of everyday Canadians in regions and cities across this country.
Over the next five years, as we delve into issues from carbon to congestion, water to waste, these are the conversations we aim to have. As economists, we hold the conviction that our economic prosperity is underpinned by our environmental health. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and do the research needed to put practical options on the table for Canadians and our policy-makers. Because, at the end of the day, reconciling our economic and environmental goals isn’t about villains or heroes. It’s about doing what makes sense.