Another edition of my latest Facebook Wall Posts. Enjoy!
Who Stands on Guard for Democracy in Canada?
Op-Ed published in the Victoria Times-Colonist, from Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May regarding the use of parliamentary powers by the Conservative government which thwart democratic conventions and principles. This is a great summation of how things are continuing to trend in a lousy direction for those concerned with the health of democracy in Canada. I'm actually worried what might happen if the Conservatives don't form the next government. Will they use their Senate majority to continue to block bills, including those championed by the government (but opposed by Conservatives)? Honestly, I think it's quite likely. Harper has seized on parliamentary tools to advance his ideologically-motivated causes. Prorogation of parliament in the face of a confidence vote; stacking budget bills with environmental legislation which has no place in a budge bill, knowing that the opposition wouldn't have the courage to oppose him on a confidence matter; and now using the unelected Senate to do something he was powerless to do in the Commons (because his Party does not command a majority -- either of seats or of votes from Canadians). These tools exist, sure; but there's a reason that others haven't used them to achieve their own ends. The reason: it all bodes ill for democracy, and the health of our democratic processes used to be something all political parties took seriously. Clearly, that's no longer the case.
Your Tax Dollars At Work in Other Countries: Lobbying Against Protecting the Environment
We know that the Conservative Government has been doing duck all to deal with the tar sands envrionmental track record (save and except for burying $300 million in the ground in the most expensive carbon reduction strategy ever proposed anywhere on earth, a.k.a. "carbon capture and storage"). What you might not know is that our government has been actively campaigning in other nations for policies which discourage environmental protection measures. What on Earth? Well, seems that the Conservatives are starting to get a little concerned that some nations might be ready to slap a premium or tariff on dirty oil from the tar sands. Environmental tariffs could be a tool used by other nations, perhaps under international agreements, to help reduce overall global emissions. Canada, of course, is trying to undermine any sort of global agreement to combat climate change. So, our tax dollars are being spent in other countries to lobby their governments to be as dirty as we are. What a wonderful thing for Canada to be doing in this time of "bare cupboards" (Finance Minister's Jim Flaherty's term for interest groups and opposition parties which might be thinking that there is money around somewhere for pet projects to be funded with. Hmmm…I guess it's ok to fund those pet projects when they agree with the ruling Party's ideology. I guess the major international tar sands producers somehow aren't a special interest too, again based on ideology, and not on fact).
Conservatives "Out of Touch" with Canadians on the Need for Climate Change Action: The Surprise Is Just How Out of Touch They Are
Wow. This article reports on some fascinating polling figures from Environics Research, regarding just how far the Canadian public wants to go in the battle against climate change. Some highlights: 85% indicate that climate change should be tackled by industrialized countries. 70% would agree with redirecting military spending in Canada towards emissions reductions. The poll concludes that our Conservative government is vastly out of step with average Canadians when it comes to climate change. No big surprise to hear that, but these numbers were a surprise. I've not investigated the methodology behind this poll, but I'm taking the numbers with a grain of salt right now (was the poll conducted entirely online? Those kind of polls tend to favour results which are championed by younger Canadians, and action on climate change would certainly fall into that category). If anyone knows more about this poll, feel free to enlighten me through the Comments.
Good News from the Cons? Don't Count On It.
Some good news from the Conservatives for a change? I'm not holding my breath, but here's an interesting article which suggests that the Conservative government, through Natural Resources Canada, might be working towards a national renewable energy plan. Of course, it's all very hush-hush. I wouldn't expect such a plan to just address renewables, though. Likely it will feature Carbon Capture and Storage, the most expensive of all proposed schemes to reduce carbon from the atmosphere, as a centre piece of any plan. This article refers to the need to begin pricing carbon, and identifies the most efficient way of doing so through the use of a carbon tax. As long as such a tax, if passed on to the consumer (which would be the likely outcome) is offset by reducing our other taxes (such as income taxes), that would make sense to me. But I don't think Harper is going to flirt with the notion of reducing my personal income taxes. He'd rather reduce corporate taxes for his big-business buddies, all in the name of investing in innovation. That seemed like a good idea in Ireland, too, up until recently (Ireland has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the industrial world, which may have contributed to their Celtic Tiger success story -- and certainly has contributed to the bare coffers which have now necessitated Ireland to go cap in hand to the EU and the IMF for a $100 million bank bail-out). While any sort of national energy plan would be better than what we have right now, one that doesn't put a price on carbon won't be much of an improvement over nothing. Given the massive government subsidies provided to the oil industry by Canada, it's time to put the focus where it belongs: on renewables, and the need to disinvest from dirty energy production.
Resource Scarcity and Our Economic System: Time to Head for the Hills?
An axcellent article from Jeff Berg, founder and Vice Chair of Post Carbon Toronto. Berg discusses resource scarcity and how the next centure is going to define itself in the post-fossil fuel age. Although he reiterates ideas we all are all likely aware of, he does so with an economic bent which makes for good, if ch...allenging reading. His analysis as to why it's going to be very difficult, if not well nigh impossible, to steer the global sheep in the direction it needs to go, is very well done. Those darn "sunk investments" are going to be a problem which likely won't be overcome, that's for sure. Although Berg doesn't quite say where all of this will leave us, the answer appears to be pretty obvious. He laments that we've known about this predicament for years, and explains why we've continued to do business as usual despite this knowledge. His certainty that business will continue to be carried on as usual, even in the face of the kicking and screaming masses, is food for some very problematic thought.