Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Linda Duncan Emerges Victorious in Edmonton-Strathcona

Rahim Jaffer sent packing

One of Canada's underrated political giants is out of work today, as the NDP's Linda Duncan has managed to unseat Rahim Jaffer in Edmonton-Strathcona.

"Every corner of this community tonight said they wanted a different voice for Alberta and I'm ready to give it," Duncan announced. "There will be a real load on me to speak for the alternative voice in Alberta."

At one point, Jaffer had actually delivered a victory speech while enjoying a 1,000 vote lead. Duncan closed the gap, however, and managed to emerge victorious by 400 votes.

Duncan, an environmental lawyer, will face numerous challenges in the new Parliament.

Perhaps most paramount among them will be finding a way to make the government responsive to her environmental concerns. Not only will she be dealing with a government whose views on environmental regulation her party has utterly dismissed, she'll also have to face what she has acknowledged as a jurisdictional deficit on the part of the federal government.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle is one that all pro-environment federal MPs and candidates share -- that of the Canada-wide Harmonization Accord on the Environment, in which provincial governments have been ceded the bulk of jurisdiction over environmental affairs.

The argument, in essence, is that the provincial governments are best-situated to deal with environmental concerns.

This, naturally, significantly complicates efforts to do things such as living up to Canada's Kyoto obligations.

This confronts many pro-environment candidates, as as Duncan, with a key dilemma: their efforts may bear the most productive fruit at the provincial level, yet the most logical way to institute nation-wide standards for environmental protection is through the federal Parliament.

If Linda Duncan's persuasive voice can find traction within the House of Commons, she may be able to lead the charge in renegotiating the Harmonization accord and reasserting federal leadership and jurisdiction over the environment.

If she can't, Canada's bloc of pro-environment MPs may be fighting an uphill battle.

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