Jamie Baillie’s Unforced Error on Energy – Update

Writer Parker Donham, on his blog Contrarian, agreed with us on Jamie Baillie and his Conservatives’ approach to Nova Scotia’s renewable energy targets, writing:

Granted, the climate of public (and media) hostility to Nova Scotia Power makes the utility an almost irresistible target for politicians aiming at the premier’s office, but Baillie’s demand for easing up on renewable energy targets sounds to me like a short-term anaesthetic for long-term pain.

This brought a response from Baillie’s chief-of-staff Rob McCleave, who claimed the Tories weren’t against progress on renewables, but simply wanted consensus-building, and a consideration of renewable energy’s impact on people. Donham, a friend of Baillie’s, disagreed:

Of course, reasonable people can disagree about the pace, but politicians should avoid pandering to the public impression that we can keep power down by sticking with carbon-intensive fuels. We might for a year or two, or even five, but we would be courting medium- and long-term economic disaster.

The problem for Baillie and the Conservatives is that they have spent so much time and effort taking one quote from a government document out of context to try to rally people against renewable energy that McCleave’s private argument isn’t Baillie’s public argument. Here’s an excerpt from Baillie’s speech at a Conservative fundraiser two weeks ago:

They cranked up their own renewable targets to the most aggressive in North America, patted themselves on the back, passed the cost on to you and me, and then told you you need to bite the bullet and pay more finally confessing that it’s 2% more on every bill.

Darrell Dexter and Danny Williams at Renewable Energy Agreement

Today – A plan. Tomorrow – Good Green Jobs, Stable Power Rates and Renewable Energy

Now take that stance on renewable energy targets and compare it with Darrell Dexter’s speech at an NDP fundraiser two weeks ago:

Yesterday, despite wide public support for a move away from fossil fuels, renewable energy development was stalled, with no solution in sight and a terrible sense of failure as coal prices climbed 75 per cent.

Electricity from Newfoundland and Labrador was a distant hope.

Today, Nova Scotia has set, and is meeting, the most aggressive renewable energy targets in North America, creating hundreds of new jobs… massive new investment… and a major reduction in greenhouse gases.

We are finally getting our families off the roller-coaster of fossil fuel prices that drive the cost of electricity.

The Lower Churchill project undertaken by Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, with the federal guarantee, is the linchpin for a new era of regional progress.

Tomorrow, Nova Scotia will be able to offer the stable electricity pricing that is a major asset for any enterprise that wants to avoid unpleasant surprises, and any family that wants a better household budget.

Amusingly, Jamie Baillie has introduced a bill this session called the Next Generation Act, which would require government to assess the long-term sustainability of policies over a 40 year period. You can believe in protecting future generations from climate change, or believe we should go slow on renewables. You can’t believe both.