Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tabuns in Burlington

Peter Tabuns’ was once a municipal politician. From 1991 – 97 he represented an east Toronto ward.

He was defeated in 1997 when a candidate with a similar name – Larry Tabin - siphoned off Peter Tabuns votes.

According to Wikipedia, Tabin, who ran no real campaign, was put up to running by some of Tabuns’ constituents who were unhappy with his leadership in stopping smoking in restaurants and bars. These constituents, it is alleged, owned eateries and watering holes on the Danforth.

Today, Tabuns is the Member of Provincial Parliament for Toronto Danforth and Energy and Environment Critic for the Ontario NDP.

Burlington Presentation

This week he escaped from a Queen’s Park debate venturing out to suburbia to speak to a largely partisan group in Burlington. Interestingly, he drew on his experience as a local politician.

“Politicians are simple people. They respond to rewards. They respond to punishment.”

This was in answer to a question about engaging people in order to address our environmental problems.

As a Councillor Tabuns observed colleagues moving off positions when there was significant public pressure. Some would call this gutless, unprincipled even. Others, your blogger included, would call it representing the people.

Tabuns Argues for a Move Towards a New Energy Economy

In a nutshell Tabuns’ analysis is this:

*Our environmental problems are not new.

*People are tired of government inaction on the environment.

*The “do-nothing” duo of McGuinty and Harper aren’t making the necessary investments to move us to a new economy and new jobs.

*This new economy should emphasize renewable energy and replace excessive hydroelectric power with conservation measures, move to co-generation and eliminate waste of energy.

*Various estimates demonstrate that ‘renewable is doable.’

*We can solve the problems but we need to put pressure on governments who “don’t take these issues seriously.”

Tabuns cited examples from other jurisdictions (Pennsylvania, California, Denmark and others) that are taking these matters seriously and acting.

Iowa farmers, once skeptical of wind power, now see it as a “second harvest.” Portugal has no oil of its own so has made the installation of solar panels part of its building code. In California energy savings are increasing disposable income.

Back to the idea of taking action. Tabuns quoted American Steelworkers who believe that “ if you are not at the table then you’ll be on the menu.”

Peter Tabuns is challenging us to get to the table.