Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sudbury According to Tony Clement: The Valley of Death

(originally posted at

Having to blog about the short-comings of Tony Clement is a pretty lousy way of spending my evenings, I think. Having to blog twice about Clement in one day just royally...well, I don’t want to be impolite.

The Mayor of Greater Sudbury, former NDP MP John Rodriquez, continues to try to invite Tony Clement to come to our fair city for a tour (read: re-education programming). Clement, wisely, has so far resisted any and all invitations, probably knowing that if he ever set foot in these parts he’d be tarred and feathered so quickly it would make your head spin.

Tony Clement, as you may know, is the current Minister of Industry, and in that capacity, he recently shot down a funding request by Montreal’s gay and lesbian arts festival, Divers-Cite, even though his Ministry had given funding to the festival in the past. Clement is also the Minister responsible for the federal Northern Ontario development agency, Fed-NOR, and in this capacity, he’s been involved in a long-running dispute with provincial Liberal MPP Rick Bartolucci (more of an actual shooting war than a "dispute" really...these two guys like to mix it up and shoot from the lip) who has labelled him the Minister responsible for FED-NOT for the funding requests Clement has turned down in this community.

To gall Sudburians further, the Conservative government announced a few months ago that it would be funding a centre of mining excellence in downtown Toronto on the U of T campus, even though Fed-NOR had refused to pony up any funding for the Centre of Mining Excellence here in Sudbury, despite participation by the Ontario provincial government (to the tune of $5 million dollars) and both Sudbury mining giants Vale Inco and Xstrata (formerly Falconbridge), each in for $10 million each.

Clement’s contempt for Sudbury extended to his outright refusal to go to bat for laid-off Xstrata workers this past winter, even though it was quite evident to everybody that swiss-owned Xstrata had violated a commitment they had made to not lay off any workers in Sudbury for a period of three years, which was part of an agreement which allowed the Swiss national firm to take over ownership of Falconbridge. Clement, not one to take criticism lying down (but perhaps ok with lying in general) went completely out on a limb by telling Sudburians to be happy that he’d wrung all sorts of concessions out of Xstrata to keep a particular mine open...even though these plans had been on Xstrata’s books for years and were common public knowledge for even non-mining people like me who just happen to absorb this kind of info by virtue of living in Sudbury.

And this past week, in the midst of what is presumed to be a very lengthy strike by Vale INCO workers, Clement has the nerve to tell Canadians that if it wasn’t for Brazillian mining giant Vale SA (now Vale Inco) coming to INCO’s rescue a few years ago, Sudbury would be a "Valley of Death". These comments have generated a few head-turns locally, and not just from the union. In fact, heads have turned so much that it’s looking like a scene from the movie "The Exorcist" playing itself out again and again here. Everyone is taking this opportunity to wonder if Clement really believes the nonsense that he’s saying and is therefore so out of touch with reality that it does no good to try to bring him back to down to earth, or if this is just the latest attempt to kick Sudbury when its down, because we refuse to elect Conservatives here again and again.

The Globe & Mail has a telling article in today’s Investor section:
Andy Hoffman and Jacquie McNish, "Clement’s takeover hangover", The Globe & Mail, July 22 2009

In the article, the Globe quotes former Inco CEO Scott Hand as saying this about Clement: "He’s either sadly misinformed or he’s ignoring the facts because back in 2006 we were a very successful company. There were lots of companies trying to buy us, not just Vale." Hand, of course, was shown the door by the Brazilians shortly after acquisition, as were most of INCO’s senior management here in Sudbury and in Toronto.

Here in Sudbury, the strike is by United Steel Workers Local 6500 is likely going to be a long one. Let me tell you something about USW Local 6500: these people know how to strike, and I mean that with all respect, as I myself have marched on a picket line in the past. Elsewhere in Ontario, strikers are losing the local public relations wars (I’m thinking here of Toronto and Windsor, where public service employees are on admittedly, public service unions usually start in a disadvantaged situation to win any media war). Here in Sudbury, there is so much support for the union, it’s not even funny (although there are notable detractors).

One of the union’s "tactics" (my term, not the unions) appears to be playing up the fact this latest strike is not about Local 6500 vs. Vale’s about a third world mining conglomerate vs. Canadian values. At first, I was rather reluctant to see this as more than just a media play to gain sympathy for the hearts and minds of Sudburians. Big, Bad Brazilians trying to eliminate all of the gains the organized labour movement have made over the decades is certainly the sort of drama which resonates in the media.

Lately, though, I’m beginning to think that maybe the Union isn’t just engaging in media warfare, and there is actual a significant element of concern here, particularly for those who consider themselves small "g" greens (not to mention the big "G" Greens like me).

Clement, with his "Valley of Death" alternate-reality comments, was echoing earlier comments made by Roger Agnelli, CEO of Vale Inco, in a Dow Jones story, where he said of pre-takeover INCO: "If we hadn’t bought INCO, perhaps now it wouldn’t even be alive."
(Reported most recently in the Sudbury Star editorial: "Industry minister must explain the inexplicable", July 22 2009:

Vale Inco has continued to suggest that current mining practices in the Sudbury basin are not sustainable, yet they paid over $19 billion dollars in 2006 to acquire the "unsustainable" INCO. Yes, the price of nickel was going through a bubble, and the bubble has now burst, but Vale Inco continues to post profits each quarter. How is making money for its shareholders unsustainable? Maybe it has more to do with not making enough money, which means cutting back on the price of labour in some way.

Mining is a dangerous job, and those who go underground are, in Canada, compensated fairly well for putting their lives at risk doing their jobs every day. Safety improvements have led to a decrease in lives lost in Sudbury, and INCO can proudly claim to run one of the safest mining operations in the world. It’s as a result of the partnerships which formed between employer and labour (not always harmonious by any means) which have led to this outcome. Don’t misunderstand me: there’s still a long way to go to achieve a truly sustainable mining operation in my opinion, but INCO and its unions have been heading in that direction for a long while now. It seems to me as if the Company now wants to take steps backwards, to keep mining in the Sudbury basin more in line with what their other international experiences have been.

And this is of particular concern to me, because the sorts of mining practices which Vale Inco engages in elsewhere are certainly not to be admired by anyone who is concerned about the destruction and devastation which can be caused by hard-rock mining. If we are to move towards more sustainable mining practices, we can’t be taking these steps backward. I believe Canadian-owned INCO understood that, and I point to a number of the partnerships they entered into with the Sudbury community as evidence. While Vale Inco continues to engage the community in these partnerships on the one hand, it’s content to hit us all over the head on the other by audaciously claiming that mining here (in Sudbury of all places!) isn’t sustainable in the long term under current conditions.

Rather than going around making completely false statements to the media during a strike between a Sudbury local and a Brazilian-owned conglomerate, wouldn’t it be more worthwhile for our Federal Minister of Industry to actually do something in an attempt to resolve the situation? Clement is leading the charge against U.S. Steel to honour the agreements it made with the government of Canada when it took over Hamilton-based Stelco, but when it comes to Vale Inco (and Xstrata-Falconbridge before that), Clement is content to posture and carry on in his own little world of spin and denial.

I’m getting tired of the Honourable Tony Clement and his Conservative deniers.

Conservative Party Has No Respect for Diversity

(originally posted at

Ah, here we go. Stephen Harper and his Conservatives continue to show their true, socially-regressive, colours, by revoking funding for Montreal’s Diver-Cite festival after the Toronto Pride fiasco hit home with the social dinosaurs in the Party. I use the word "revoke" here as Divers-Cite had received federal funding in the past, from the same federal Department now headed by Tony Clement, so clearly there has been an established relationship between Economic Development Canada and the Divers-Cite festival.

But, Con MP Brad Trost and the other dinosaurs in the Conservative Party have just scuttled federal funding for this important Quebec cultural event. Politically, this won’t play well in Montreal and Quebec for the Conservatives, which is a good thing, because our Federal government’s lack of participation in Divers-Cite is an absolute shame as well as being hypocritical in the extreme.

I just marched through the streets of downtown Sudbury this past weekend, accompanied by my beautiful wife, our foster son and Sudbury Green Party Candidate Fred Twilley, in celebration of Sudbury’s diverse LGBT community. In this community, the Pride March isn’t a parade in the sense of what takes place in Toronto or Montreal. Instead, it remains largely a political statement to the community that diversity is natural and normal, deserving of respect. For the most part, I believe that message resonates with Sudburians.

As a result, seeing my federal government cut funding for an important community-building event such as Divers-Cite really galls me, because clearly the decision was made based only on the Conservative Party’s lack of understanding about Canadian’s level of tolerance and acceptance. Well, I for one am complete intolerant of this attitude and I am ashamed of my government for taking this backward step.

I want to state that I realize that not all small "c" conservatives feel the same way that the Conservative Party feels. I’m sure that many small "c"’s are equally appalled, either because they know it’s not the right thing to do, or because they realize that as a result of missing federal funds, the Divers-Cite festival won’t generate as much economic activity for the Montreal economy as it might have. Again, I appeal to these small "c" conservatives to abandon Harper and his Cons, because their brand of conservatism does not represent your progressive ideals.

Sometimes our government has to do the right thing, even if it requires sticking its neck out. I would suggest that our government has just shown Canadians that it is not willing to do the right thing even when it was not required to stick its neck out in any way, given its past commitments to Divers-Cite.

I am proud to be a member of a Party which understands that our diversity is something to be celebrated.


Steve May’s Green Party blog: Toronto Pride Week Under Attack By Conservatives

Jennifer Ditchburn, "Montreal gay festival won’t get federal cash", The Toronto Star, July 22 2009.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Do Canadians Really Think that Majority Governments Are Preferrable?

(originally posted at

A recent Harris Decima poll suggests that Canadians are growing tired of minority governments in Ottawa, and are longing for a return to majority government rule. Dave Breakenridge of Sun Media suggests an alternative view: that Canadian’s lack of satisfaction with minority governments might have more to do with the lack of civility our elected officials have for one another. I tend to agree with Breakenridge.

Canada’s parliament is dysfunctional. Partisan political games have become more important than accomplishing the good and necessary works which Canadians expect of our elected officials. There is little recognition by any of the currently elected political parties that a degree of co-operation and decorum is necessary to achieve results through considered compromise. Instead, the Conservatives, Liberals, NDP and Bloc are keen to play games in an attempt to score political points in order to sway public opinion.

A majority government might be one way of fixing a broken parliament. It would, however, be a dangerous fix, as it is very unlikely that a majority of voters would be able to definitively choose one of the established political parties over the others. More likely, a majority government would be returned through a "false majority" vote, where only a fraction of ballots, potentially as little as one third, are cast for the political party receiving the so-called majority. This is because Canada’s electoral system served the country well when there were only two parties to choose from, but is woefully inadequate where multiple parties are vying for votes. In our current first-past-the-post system, the party receiving the largest minority of votes is the one which receives the first opportunity to form the government. This probably doesn’t come as news to most Greens, but many Canadians are surprised to discover that "majority" governments aren’t really representative of the majority of voters.

Recently, in comments made to the Globe & Mail, Prime Minister Stephen Harper provided his opinion that there are no good taxes. Jeffrey Simpson, rightfully, expressed complete and utter amazement that a Prime Minister of Canada could be so very dismissive of taxes, which are the fundamental building block of our civilized society. It’s one thing to get upset about paying taxes, but to willfully suggest that there are no good taxes (and by extension that taxes do not accomplish anything positive) is an absolutely mind-boggling opinion for someone to hold. It’s beyond mind-boggling when that person is the Leader of our government. How representative of Canadians’ viewpoints is that stunner?

We know that Harper rules his Party with an iron fist. What might happen should he ever be given a majority government, particularly in a false-majority situation? What do you think he might do when it comes time to address the structural deficit he and his Party have created through their tax cuts and bail outs of the auto sector? Do you think he’s going to want to generate additional revenue by raising taxes, or by taxing pollution?

Right now, Harper and the Conservatives don’t even want to admit that they’ve created a structural deficit because to do so would mean that they might have to come clean about what they’re going to do to get rid of it. The sale of government assets and massive spending cuts to services and programs are what they do not want to talk about (unless those programs are giving money to "gay" cultural events such as Toronto Pride). So instead of laying out a credible plan, they pretend that the problem doesn’t exist. Kind of like what they’ve been doing with the climate change crisis.

Meanwhile, we still don’t know what Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals are really all about, other than they’ve given their unmitigated support to developing the Alberta tar sands without anything more than lip service regarding the stemming of environmental degradation. Right now, the only thing Ignatieff seems to have going for him is that he’s not Stephen Harper. And, in my opinion, that’s not nearly enough of a reason to give him the time of day. Take a position on something, man! As the old saying goes, it’s like trying to nail jello to a wall.

It’s clear that we Canadians deserve better government. Our government should be representative of the way in which ballots are cast. While government might be able to conduct business more easily in a majority situation than in a minority, we need to keep in mind that such a government would not be representative of the political will of Canadians. A better outcome for Canadian voters would be to do away with our out-dated first-past-the-post electoral system, and to elect members of parliament who have expressed a desire to work together to find solutions rather than attack one another for partisan gain.

Here are some related links to this blogpost:

Jennifer Ditchburn, July 13 2009, The Globe & Mail: "Canadians grow weary of minority governments"

Harris-Decima News Release, July 12 2009: "Canadians say its time for a majority government"

Dave Breakenridge, "Point of View", July 13 2009, The Sudbury Star (SunMedia): "Let’s go next time with the majority"

Jeffrey Simpson, July 15 2009, The Globe & Mail: "A very scarey PM: ‘I don’t believe that any taxes are good taxes’"’t-believe-that-any-taxes-are-good-taxes/article1216778/

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Canadian Federation of Students & the Supreme Court: A Victory for Free Speech re: Political Advertising on Public Transit

(originally posted at

Let me start this little blogpost by referring to conversations which I engaged in with fellow students back in the days when I attended University. That was quite some time ago now. I recall that a number of my fellow classmates used to question the wisdom of paying student union dues. Part of the answer always given was that union dues went, in part, to support the CFS, the Canadian Federation of Students. Many of classmates wondered openly just what good the CFS ever did for anyone anyway.

I haven’t thought very much about the CFS lately, it’s true. Not until this week, anyway. Looks like the CFS has done all Canadians a huge favour by chalking up a win for freedom of expression in this great nation of ours. Apparently, back in 2005, during a British Columbia provincial election campaign, the CFS wanted to buy some ads from a local transit operator. Due to the transit operator’s policies to not sell advertising which might be controversial, the CFS was denied the opportunity to express its opinions.

The CFS was apparently unsatisfied with this result, thinking that maybe they, or their message, was being discriminated against. After all, transit vehicles are semi-public venues, are they not? The transit operator in question receives funding from public-sector sources. What’s up with a policy which denies freedom of expression? Sure, sometimes organizations which want to express their points of view can be controversial, and no everyone wants to hear about it. But this is Canada, isn’t it? We’ve come to understand that not everyone holds our own point of view, and we’ve come to expect to hear the alternative points of views of others. Banning statements made by organizations by denying them the opportunity to purchase advertising simply because their message might offend someone or cause controversy is problematic for many of us.

I ride the bus. A lot. Goodness knows public transit is one place where you’re going to hear the alternative views of others! But I digress.

Well, years later, and after a recent Supreme Court of Canada decision, turns out the CFS was right. They were discriminated against. Partisan advertising which might be political in nature (the CFS wanted to urge students to vote in the election) should be allowed on public transit vehicles. Transit operator policies which prohibit such advertising are unconstitutional, as they infringe upon Charter rights.

None of this is to suggest that anyone should be able to buy advertising for anything that they want. There are other prohibitions on speech in the Charter which must be adhered to, and these limits on freedom of expression are, in my opinion, largely sensible.
What does this all mean for the Green Party? Well, I’m sure that many of our campaigns across the country have identified public transit riders as being those voters who we might want to target with Green messages before and during an election campaign. Some of us might have checked out our local transit operators policies on running ads on behalf of the Green Party, an EDA or a Green Party Candidate during an election, and we might have been told that due to their policies, they would not accept such advertising. As a result, it made reaching out to voters who might be sympathetic to our messaging that much more difficult.

With an imminent election call hanging in the air like a bad smell generated by a coal burning power plant, we Greens involved with election campaigns may wish to turn our thoughts again to advertising on public transit vehicles, now that the Supreme Court has provided some direction on this matter. Just something to think about. It’s good to know, now, that a picture of your local candidate with the message: "Vote Green" on a bus during a federal election campaign is something which public transit operators are now going to have accommodate.

And while we’re at it, let’s say thanks to the CFS for fighting the good fight, no doubt at great cost and frustration.

Here are some related links:

Judgement of the Supreme Court of Canada: Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority v. Canadian Federation of Students – British Columbia Component

Keep this tucked away in your back pocket for when you approach your local transit operator and ask to buy advertising.

Article by Paul Schneidereit, Chronicle-Herald (Nova Scotia) in which a related matter is discussed: banning ads on transit vehicles which promote atheism

Article by Mindelle Jacobs, Sun Media

Canwest News article:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Toronto's Pride Week Under Attack By Conservatives

(originally posted at

Here’s a disturbing article from today’s Toronto Star: "Pride Week, MP Under Fire After Tory Outcry" Looks like some of Stephen Harper’s caucus are concerned that Toronto’s Pride Week doesn’t provide enough bang for its stimulus buck. Or something like that.

Diane Ablonczy, MP for Calgary-Nose Hill and currently the federal Minister of Tourism (although that might change any moment now), is pictured in the Star article attending and event with Pride Week organizers, handing out approximately $400,000 on behalf of her Ministry. A "burlesque performer" also appears in the photo, and is referenced by someone quoted later in the Star article as a "drag queen". Apparently, this picture, and coverage of the event, caused a bit of stir in the hearts and minds of Conservative MP’s, although Brad Trost, MP for Saskatoon-Humboldt, raised only the issue of the effective use of stimulus funding.

Let me be clear about one thing here. Toronto’s Pride Week, along with Caribana, are probably the two most wildly successful events in all of Canada for injecting large sums of tourism dollars into the economy. Other events referenced in the Toronto Star article, like the Calgary Stampede and the Vancouver Jazz festival, pale in comparison in terms of the number of visitors they attract. Toronto’s Pride Week is clearly a big-time festival on the world stage. Perhaps the MP for Saskatoon-Humboldt, whose likely never attended Pride Week festivities, doesn’t have an appreciation for the sheer size of the injection Pride Week puts into the Greater Toronto area’s economy.

Which leaves us then with an MP posing with a drag queen handing out government money.
First, though, kudos where it’s due. The Toronto Star reports that Ablonczy was so impressed with Pride Week’s application that she just had to go in person to hand them the cheque. She probably didn’t think twice about anything other than what a wonderful photo-op that would be for Conservative voters in the GTA.

Clearly some within the Conservative Party are questioning the Minister’s wisdom to associate the Conservative Party with anything "gay". Nevermind that it wasn’t Conservative Party money being handed out to Pride Week organizers, but instead money from the Government of Canada. This type of back-lash from Conservative MP’s makes me more angry than I can adequately express in this post. It’s intolerance such as this, displayed by some of our elected leaders for crying out loud, that absolutely infuriates me.

Now look, I was never going to vote for Stephen Harper’s Conservatives anyway, but I’ve always considered myself to be more than a little concerned about the economic health of our great nation. Conservatives like to posture that they’re the only ones who know what’s best for Canada’s bottom line (which is an outrageous assumption for them to make, but it does appear to resonate with Canadians). What angers me is that Conservatives will continue to tell Canadians that they’re the best to manage finances, that the other Parties are only going to raise taxes, so you’ve got no choice but to vote for us. But part of the bargain when you vote Conservative is you’re going to get a bunch of socially regressive dinosaurs, who don’t really believe in tolerance.

Conservatives cry to the media and to the people of Canada that they do not have a hidden agenda. Well, they don’t. It’s right out there in the open for all to see. And this latest attack on Pride Week and muzzling Minister Diane Ablonczy is completely in line with their way of thinking.

Greens, we all know that we are an alternative to small "c" conservatives in terms of having a viable and sustainable economic plan for this country. And we know that those who consider themselves socially progressive would be very much at home in our Party. We must continue to poach former Progressive Conservative voters, it’s that simple.

Maybe Diane Ablonczy will be looking for a new home in the near future.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Toronto Star and the "Mainstream" (read: Liberal) Position on the Environment

The Toronto Star has a bit of a reputation for going on journalistic crusades every now and then, forcing issues into headlines which otherwise might not make the cut. More often than not, the Star’s investigative style of journalism has led to some real changes in government. Take the Greenbelt for example, brought about by the Dalton McGuinty Provincial Liberal government after repeated reports in the Star about the need to preserve agricultural areas in Toronto’s hinterland and the need to curb urban sprawl. What’s printed in the Toronto Star can end up being referred to in Question Period. Decision-makers are very aware that of the Star’s influence.

As a frequent reader of the Toronto Star, I’ve been noticing lately that they’ve been devoting a bit more coverage than usual to the issue of climate change. Could this be the Star’s latest cause?
Let’s hope so...and let’s hope not. The Toronto Star, while in my opinion one of the better mainstream media outlets in Canada, is not going to be taking up the torch to move its readers (and governments) far enough along the spectrum of thinking to get us to the point that we need to be at. In other words, the Toronto Star, often criticized as being a "Liberal mouthpiece", really is just that, and frankly should not be considered a friend of the Green Party on environmental issues (although James Travers at the Star has been pretty good about bringing issues regarding the democratic deficit to the attention of readers).

The editorial position of the Star is quite in-line with the Liberal Party. On first blush, it might sound pretty good to Green Party supporters too, but then the hair-splitting kicks in. Readers of this blog likely would be able to spot these nuanced differences between Liberal and Green policy issues without batting an eyelash. But how many of those Canadians who cast ballots for our Party in the last election understand that these little differences are actually extremely significant, and will lead to quite different outcomes if implemented?

One of the challenges our Party will face as we campaign in the next election will be to communicate our policy positions to Canadians. By and large, Canadians continue to rely on major media for their information, and clearly the way in which Canadians cast their ballots are influenced by the media. Some may suggest that a national election campaign is the very worst time to have a discussion about policy, given the media’s preoccupation with sweater-vests, pooping puffins and that sort of thing.

I certainly wouldn’t want to have to rely on the media to communicate Green Party policy to Canadians, much less how that policy differs from that of the other Parties. The whole issue of communicating with potential voters, though, is not one I’m prepared to tackle in this blog. What I’d prefer to focus on is why recent and expected messaging about climate change coming out of one of Canada’s major media outlets is going to be problematic for our Party, and the need to start thinking about how we are going to counter these perceptions.

Here’s a quick summation of the Toronto Star’s editorial position on climate change and energy. Keep in mind that this is only my own opinion of the Star’s position, and that since I don’t endorse this position, my own bias will have likely crept into the mix. Also keep in mind that a paper such as the Toronto Star will never be able to present to the public a completely unified "position" in the same way that a government or a political party is able to, so the use of the term "position" in this circumstance requires a little flexibility.


Nuclear energy is a necessary, if expensive part of Ontario’s energy mix. More investment in alternative energy, such as wind, solar, biomass, is necessary, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that the lights need to stay on and nuclear is the only form of greenhouse-gas free energy we have.

Climate Change

More action needs to be taken to address climate change issues. The Conservatives have been dithering, but the good news is Barack Obama is leading the way in the U.S. and Canada will be forced to follow. Obama’s climate change combatting initiatives will be good for North America.

Carbon Pricing

While Stephane Dion’s call for a "carbon tax" was a courageous and bold initiative of the Liberal Party, he failed to sell it to Canadians because no one wants to be taxed, and because Stephen Harper and the Conservatives were successful in portraying the former Liberal Leader as inept. The good news is that a North American cap and trade system will be a fine substitute.

The Tar Sands

The environmental destruction caused by the Alberta Oil sands is something no one likes to think about, so don’t. As much as we’d rather not have to worry about these dirty oil sands, the fact is that they are driving the Canadian economy. Pity the jobs are all in Alberta, but good thing the environmental degradation is out there too. Something is going to have to be done about cleaning things up in the near future. Let’s hope someone comes along with a big idea soon, and maybe carbon capture and storage is that idea.


Municipalities need better tools to build their own, greener futures, including new reliable sources of revenues. Urban sprawl is bad news, but we need to recognize that not everyone is going to want to live in a condo in downtown Toronto (even though they would love the experience if they ever tried it!). Choosing investments in public transit over new roads for cars is what our municipal governments should be doing, but we can’t lose sight that cars will remain king, so let’s keep those gas prices down.


In yesterday’s Toronto Star, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair waxed eloquently about the United States bold new initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 17% by 2020. To do this, Blair told us that we’ll need to increase our reliance on renewable energy sources, and that clean, nuclear energy will be the energy choice of the future. This was accompanied by an editorial telling all that there are finally some welcome changes in the wind on the climate change file as a result of the U.S. moving toward a cap and trade system.

Today, Star columnist Gillian Steward, former editor of the Calgary Herald, had nothing but praise for Ignatieff’s bold recognition of the prominent place in the hearts and minds and wallets of Canadians that the Alberta oil sands plays. She concludes that Iggy will benefit from capturing a decent chunk of Alberta’s votes as a result.

The Toronto Star would likely suggest that its position on environmental issues represents both mainstream and mainstreet thinking. It might even contrast its position with that of the Conservative Party and Government of Canada, as the Star can also clearly see the inaction taken on environmental issues. Certainly since the Toronto Star and the Liberal Party seem to be on the same page on environmental issues, one could stand to conclude that the Liberal’s environmental (I’m at a loss for a word here, since "policy" seems way too strong...direction? desire? motivation?) mojo is also reflective of a mainstream Canadian view.

(as an aside, I get a kick out of reading the climate-change deniers comments beneath any and every Toronto Star article which assumes that climate change is real...looks like the workings of Conservative Party hacks to me. I can’t help but wonder, however, if these comment sections in the e-news media are having much in the way of influence, or whether they’re just time wasters?)

I, for one, would suggest that the Liberals are representative of "mainstream" Canada on this issue. The Liberals, under Michael Ignatieff, as reported by the Star, are doing a fine job on environmental issues, although maybe a little more depth to his position would help flesh things out a bit, but no worry about that, that’ll come along after the summer bbq circuit is over.

Iggy is doing a great job. Full stop. Why? Because he’s not Stephen Harper (who hasn’t done a thing, except to obscure the whole issue). And because he’s not Stephane Dion, who failed to sell "his" bold vision of taxing carbon to Canadians. I mean, in this context, how can Iggy go wrong?

And for the Toronto Star, on issues related to the environment, Ignatieff’s "pragmatic" approach will certainly be the one the Star’s editors play up as it goes on its latest journalistic crusade. And we Greens, as a result, should be worrying. And figuring out ways to get our own message out. Because you and I both know that when it comes to taking action on the environment, there is no bloody difference between Michael Ignatieff and Stephen Harper.