Recycling For Conservatives

July 1st, 2014 | J. Hodgson 

“Being green is like the family secret  the eccentric uncle we have living up in the attic that we don't talk about. But, like Russell Kirk said, ‘nothing is more conservative than conservation'.” - Monte Solberg, former Conservative MP

It’s no secret that “The Environment” as an issue has been thoroughly hi-jacked by leftists. It’s too bad, because the sensible elements of environmental custodianship are inherently conservative. Think back to the Ducks Unlimited banquets or the old school farming organizations that had a vested interest in maintaining a healthy landscape. Even if you harken back to Brian Mulroney trying to stop acid rain by curbing sulphur dioxide emissions, you can see a proper role for conservatism in environmental stewardship. Little by little the green groups got infiltrated by leftists and now we have environmentalism as we know it today: extreme civilization-hating leftists delivering anti-Conservative messages to the general public.

Fortunately, the majority of Canadians aren’t on side with the zany alarmists that tend to plague the Conservative Party. Normal people care about the environment, but their attention and understanding of government policy is nebulous and half-hearted. They don’t really care about buzz issues like “Global Warming” or “Climate Change”. We know this because actions speak louder than words and Canadians have made no effort to reduce their ecological footprint...with one exception.


“This readiness to assume the guilt for the threats to our environment is deceptively reassuring: We like to be guilty since, if we are guilty, it all depends on us. We pull the strings of the catastrophe, so we can also save ourselves simply by changing our lives. What is really hard for us (at least in the West) to accept is that we are reduced to the role of a passive observer who sits and watches what our fate will be. To avoid this impotence, we engage in frantic, obsessive activities. We recycle old paper, we buy organic food, we install long-lasting light bulbs—whatever—just so we can be sure that we are doing something. We make our individual contribution like the soccer fan who supports his team in front of a TV screen at home, shouting and jumping from his seat, in the belief that this will somehow influence the game's outcome.”  - Slavoj Zizek, frustrated Marxist

Canadians of all political stripes understand the symbolism of recycling. People will drive massive trucks, fly on planes routinely, crank the heat in their homes and take 45 minute showers, but they care about the environment because they recycle. They feel like they’re Captain Planet when they pull up to a parking lot 30 minutes from home and throw a laundry basket worth of cardboard into the blue bin. They’ll stand in line for 20 minutes with $10.00 worth of returned pop cans and feel like they’re an ecological Superman for “doing their part”. 

Municipal governments can slap any fee they want onto the backs of residents in the name of recycling and those same people will be happy to comply, even as much of the recycled material heads off to special sections of regular garbage dumps.

As with so much of the modern environmental’s all about feelings. Recycling trumps many other symbolic environmental optics for a couple of reasons.

First of all, recycling is grossly overrated, but not entirely useless. This is why normal thinking people who can’t bring themselves to turn off all the electricity in their homes during Earth Hour, will still participate in recycling.

Secondly, recycling harkens back to a more frugal age that we associate nostalgically with our grandparents generation. “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” is a classic call to principle and character as much as thrifty materialism.

Lastly, as every homeless person knows, empties equal cash. With a monetary value on pop can recycling, people have been trained to associate all recycling with cash value. This allows them to believe that it must all be a net benefit.


If Conservatives want to own some real estate on the environmental landscape then I suggest planting a flag on the hilltop of recycling. The Conservative Party should launch a Federal push towards recycling as a key part of their environmental messaging. Canadians understand it and respond to it, because it’s something functional they can do. It’s also much less costly than attempted solutions to other environmental issues, such as so-called Global Warming. The Conservatives can own this specific issue and undercut the opposition branding of the Conservative party as one that doesn’t care about the environment. 

I suggested this idea, in roughly the words of the article and received this response from Leona Aglukkaq, Minister for the Environment:

Thank you for your email message of date January 17, 2014, suggesting the

need for increased recycling to reduce the amount of garbage entering landfill

sites. I regret the delay in responding.

Our government shares your views on the importance of taking action to

minimize the quantity of waste.

In Canada, the responsibility for waste management is shared among the federal,

provincial, territorial and municipal governments. Municipal governments are

responsible for collecting and managing waste from homes for recycling,

composting and disposal, while provincial and territorial authorities are

responsible for the approval, licensing and monitoring of waste management


For its part, the Government of Canada has a role to play in waste management

when there is a potential for release of toxic substances to the air, land or water.

It is also responsible for the control of waste management activities on federal

lands, and the international and interprovincial movement of hazardous waste

and hazardous recyclable materials.

Environment Canada recognizes that recycling and composting are important

components of the environmentally sound management of waste. To this end,

important progress has been made in Canada to increase the accessibility of

recycling and composting programs.

Despite increased recycling and composting, the quantity of waste disposed

of in Canada continues to rise. This is why federal, provincial and territorial

governments are also working collaboratively, under the auspices of the

Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, to address issues of joint

priority, such as diverting end-of-life products and packaging from landfills

through extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs.

In general, EPR programs give manufacturers, importers and/or first sellers

responsibility for the environmentally sound management of their products and

packaging, which includes funding and managing recycling operations. In 2009,

the Council approved the Canada-wide Action Plan for Extended Producer

Responsibility and the Canada-wide Strategy for Sustainable Packaging. These

documents can be found by visiting the Council's website at and

clicking on "Our Work" and then "Waste Management."

As the provinces and territories are leading efforts to establish EPR programs,

you may wish to contact your provincial/territorial government to inquire about

availability in your area. Additional information about EPR programs in

Canada is available on Environment Canada's website.

Finally, further details on waste management in Canada can be obtained from

the Department's website at, by selecting "Pollution and Waste"

and then "Managing and Reducing Waste."

Thank you again for providing me with your insightful views on a matter that is

important to our government, and I extend my best wishes.


The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, P.C.,

I don’t think she quite got it, but most citizens don’t e-mail strategy to Ministers, so fair play for the diplomacy. Nevertheless, if Harper wants to do some greening-up before the next campaign, as he clearly does, then he should consider moving into this municipal area. It will pay dividends beyond its meagre costs by resonating with voters in the same way his targeted tax credits have in the past.