Monday, August 18, 2003 Link To Herald The Halifax Herald Limited

Economy, environment linked - Kennedy

By The Canadian Press

Montreal - Anyone believing there is a choice between a healthy environment and a strong economy should know it's a "false choice," Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., said Sunday.

Kennedy, one of the Kennedy political dynasty in the United States who is renowned as an empassioned defender of the environment, made the comments at a Canadian Bar Association conference.

The nephew of slain U.S. president John F. Kennedy, lamented what he saw as a trend among lawmakers in the United States and Canada to soften environmental laws.

He also scoffed at the "inevitable" excuse that the time has come where it is necessary to choose between environmental protection and a strong economy.

"That is a false choice," Kennedy insisted.

"In 100 per cent of the situations, good environmental policy is identical to good economic policy."

Kennedy said the economy should be measured by how it produces jobs and how it protects and preserves community assets over the generations.

"If on the other hand, we want to do what they've been urging us to do in Ottawa and on Capitol Hill, which is to treat the planet as if it was a business in liquidation, to convert our natural resources to cash as quickly as possible, to have a few years of pollution-based prosperity, we can generate an instantaneous cash flow and the illusion of a prosperous economy.

"But our children are going to pay for our joy ride. And they're going to pay for it with denuded landscapes and poor health and huge cleanup costs that are going to amplify over time," he said.

"Environmental injury is deficit spending. It's the way of loading the costs of our generation's spending on to the backs of our children."

He said people only had to look at the poor state of countries that had not protected the environment, unlike the U.S. and Canada.

Kennedy, a former New York district attorney, said he believed that making polluters accountable is compatible with a free market economy.

"In a true free market economy, you can't make yourself rich without making your neighbours rich and without enriching your community. What polluters do is make themselves rich by making everybody else poor."

The association represents 38,000 lawyers.