I enjoyed the talk on CBC Radio's The Current this morning about the resignation of Canada's Environment Minister Jim Prentice. The panelists, Alanna Mitchell, Toby Heaps and Jennifer Ditchburn all had slightly different takes on his resignation and I do too.
Alanna said that Prentice was a terrible environment minister, based on his record. Toby said he will apply his knowledge of the clean energy industry to his new role as a banker. Jennifer said Prentice may be biding his time before returning to politics, maybe to take a run as the Conservative leader eventually.
What do I think? All and none of the above. My summary:
1. Yes, Prentice's record is pretty dismal, but being a bad environment minister in Canada has long been a race to the bottom--it's hard to think of much that any of them in nearly 40 years has accomplished without having been forced by public and activist opinion to do the right thing. I think Prentice is a skilled, temperate person who did have a few accomplishments but was basically playing out a bad hand.
2. Wouldn't it be nice if a former environment minister applied his great knowledge and connections in the energy industry to build clean energy business in Canada? I'm with Toby on this--and I'm sure Prentice does have a lot of depth here--but do I think it will happen? No.
3. Will he come back? Won't he? Does he want to? Why don't we leave the guy alone for a while? He said he wanted to give public life about 10 years, he has given it nine. Whether you agree with his policies or politics or not, my observation is that almost all of these people work extremely hard and all we do is crab at them. We should be more generous about recognizing the service these people devote when they choose to have us criticize them incessantly--and we will. Jim Prentice's politics aren't the same as mine, but I think people like him add a lot to public life and we should appreciate that.
By the way, it's interesting that nobody thinks Canada's environment will be better off now.