Lucien Bouchard's unexpected resignation from the federal environment portfolio was a stunning-enough political blow to the Mul-
roney government. But many environmentalists saw his departure as an even worse strike against the cause of a cleaner world. “It is a disaster," said Elizabeth May, a representative of the Sierra Club of Canada. Indeed, Bouchard’s timing left several key initiatives incomplete. Among them: a new act outlining federal responsibilities to assess the environmental impact of major construction projects, and Ottawa’s plans for an environmental review of Quebec’s vast James Bay hydroelectric megaproject. Bouchard was also in the midst of turning his vaguely defined environmental green paper, released in March, into concrete programs. Said May: “There is an awful lot that is
at the critical stage at the same time.” Indeed, there was no question that Bouchard’s appointment to the portfolio in December, 1988, provided the environment department with an unusually strong voice in the cabinet. His close personal friendship with Mulroney, as well as his role on the influential priorities and planning committee of cabinet, which sets the government’s legislative agenda, gave him enormous political power. As well, Bouchard was widely regarded as the most powerful intellect to hold the environment portf viron-
ment critic James Fulton: “The environment has le ”
facing Treasury Board president Robert de Cotret, Bouchard’s interim successor, will be to rec ers of Bou-
char e environment. cted-
ly on May 16 in the course of an international meeting on the environment held in Bergen, Norway, comn
of carbon dioxide, a byproduct of the burning of fossil fuels that is contributing to the buildup of so-called greenhouse gasses in the ear s over
the next 10 years. 1 , de Cotret
must ! green
ly shaky national economy. And although de Cotret, also a member of the priorities an . influ-
ence. he will also continue on in his old job. Tha vhim
enough time for the demanding environment portfolio. Indeed, some observers said the er been
Said Fulton: “It means two lost years.” Withp mental
problems among voters’ main concerns, it is time that the government can scarcely afford to lose.
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