Straight Talk
BRIAN LILLEY - Tories must reverse bulb ban


One of the biggest mistakes a politician or political party can make is thinking that by pleasing their enemies they will turn them into friends. It simply doesn't work.

Enemies are enemies and quite often by trying to cozy up to people who hate you and will never vote for you, the end result is you will alienate your core supporters.

Which brings me to the Conservative government's decision to follow through on their promised light bulb ban.

The one that nobody asked for.

As of Jan. 1, the 75- and 100-watt incandescent light bulbs are no more. What is left on store shelves is all that there is.

As of next Jan. 1, the same will happen to the 40- and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs. Consumers will be left with the much more expensive halogen, LED or the most common replacement - the toxic compact fluorescent bulbs.

The promise to ban the bulbs was made in 2007 with the claim the government was moving to address climate change. The Conservatives had hoped to soften their image by pleasing green groups that were attacking them relentlessly.

It didn't work.

The green groups continue to attack the government relentlessly and will do so even if every single one of their demands is met. They simply want Harper out.

So politically, the Conservatives get no benefit from making this move.

The green activists who would normally applaud any move on climate change deride the light bulb ban as not doing anything for the environment.

And base Conservative voters are annoyed at the government telling them how to light their homes.

Pierre Trudeau famously said the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation, but Stephen Harper's Conservatives have decided to set the mood lighting in our boudoirs.

Not all Conservatives, though.

More than one MP has told me this is an issue that has driven plenty of phone calls and e-mails to their offices from Canadians upset at the light bulb ban.

Now, one Conservative backbencher is stepping up to do something about it.

Cheryl Gallant, the longtime MP for Renfrew-Nippising- Pembroke, has launched a campaign and petition drive to convince her own government to turn things around.

Contact politicians In mid-December, after hearing from yet another upset constituent, Gallant launched The website aims to use social media to let more Canadians know about the ban and allows them to contact the politicians in charge of the file - Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq and Health Minister Rona Ambrose.

Hopefully these ministers will listen to Canadians across the country who reject the idea that a totally safe product, such as the incandescent light bulb, should be regulated out of existence for no good reason.

Not only are the replacements extremely costly, the most common replacement, the CFL bulbs, contain mercury and have elaborate requirements for clean-up and disposal.

The bulbs cannot be thrown in the trash and if one happens to break, you need to evacuate the room, let it air for 15 minutes and then clean it up without using a vacuum or broom, both of which will spread mercury through your house.

The Conservatives have gained nothing from the ban, but as they look to the 2015 election they could gain plenty by admitting they made a mistake and reversing course. That move would put them offside the green activist, but put them squarely on the side of average, hardworking, middle-class Canadians.

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