John Fraser and Conservative Environmentalism

In June 1984 John Fraser delivered an address at the annual convention of the Indiana Division of the Izaak Walton League of America. (The IWL, founded in 1924, is one of the oldest environmental groups in the United States.) A former federal Minister of the Environment – he held this post during the brief Joe Clark government – Fraser’s address focused on the transnational threat posed by acid rain. I was particularly interested in what he had to say about the relationship between conservatism and environmentalism. As Fraser noted:
If it is a conservative instinct in America to defend the Constitution - because within it are found the great laws that maintain and secure the community, how conservative it then is to defend the environment - because without that life itself is at risk. I say these things because sometimes here in the United States there seems to be a misunderstanding of what conservatism really is: too often those who would destroy the environment are labeled conservative - and sometimes those destroyers attach to themselves a conservative label. The real conservatives are those whose instinct is conservation. You are all the custodians of a tradition of American conservation and it is in both your great national parties.