Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thursday News Round-Up

Those pesky Conservatives have sure been busy busy busy over the past couple of days. Where to begin...


Here we go. Remember a couple of days ago when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty inexplicably took it upon himself to criticize Quebec for trying to bring in tough new California-style greenhouse gas emission standards?

Now we know why:
Ottawa moves to emulate U.S. on new fuel mileage standards

OTTAWA — Canada's auto makers as well as consumers are keen to see new fuel economy standards applied on a national basis, says federal Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon.

"Industry and the average Canadian, they all want to have a national standard," Mr. Cannon said this morning at the unveiling of a 60-day consultation process aimed at developing a fuel-economy target by 2020.

The goal is a target that "achieves at a minimum" recently enacted legislation in the U.S. Congress calling for auto makers' fleets to average 35 miles per gallon, or 6.7 litres per 100 kilometres, by the year 2020.

Mr. Cannon conceded that some provinces have struck out with their own fuel-economy programs but said he believes a common standard can be worked out in the talks.

Quebec, for example, has said it wants to move to more stringent standards such as those being proposed in California

But Mr. Cannon pointed out that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has launched a court challenge against the California measures and that it makes more sense to use the U.S. Congress legislation as the benchmark. The new U.S. standard falls well short of the regulations proposed by California.

One would hope that Harper wouldn't take it any further than simply suggesting that provinces stick with the federal standards, but given his recent fondness for draconian, bully-boy measures whenever his will is defied, I wouldn't put it past him to try to force the issue.

In which case Quebec can do what Arnie and the State of California are doing: sue the bastards.


The National Post (The National Post?!?) has published an op-ed piece that soundly criticizes Harper and Lunn and suggests what we bloggers have been saying all along - that this has nothing to do with the 'health and safety of Canadians' and everything to do with getting Keen out of the way of the government's plans to privatize AECL.

We also have op-eds in the Star and the Globe and Mail saying essentially the same thing. But of course most people don't read newspapers or blogs and there's nothing about the privatization scheme or a profit motive in any of the 30 second news 'stories' on the TV, so chances are nobody will notice.

BTW, correct me if I'm wrong, but it occurs to me that 11:00 p.m. is the optimal time to put out a press release if one wants to ensure that it does NOT make it onto the front page of the paper the next morning. Funny, that.


Last week's story about MacDonald, Dettwiler's sale of its satellite and space technology division to U.S. firm Alliant Techsystems (ATK) managed to leave out this little nugget:

The company they sold this stuff to makes, among other things, LANDMINES.

Aside from the obvious ethical problems with having technology funded by Canadian tax dollars being sold to a major arms manufacturer, there's the little matter of that anti-land mine treaty Canada signed on to that might just make the whole deal illegal.
ATK derives more than half of its $4 billion US in annual revenue from military contracts, including cluster bombs, depleted uranium rounds and landmines.

In December 1997, a total of 122 governments signed the Mine Ban Treaty in Ottawa — the most comprehensive international instrument for ridding the world of anti-personnel mines.

Lloyd Axworthy, the foreign minister when Canada signed the Ottawa protocol, said he believes the sale contravenes the provisions of that treaty.

"It [ATK] is a major arms merchant that is creating some of the dirtiest weapons in the world," Axworthy said Wednesday.

"The transfer of public money into a company making landmines is clearly banned under the treaty so this would be a clear case of non-compliance," he said.

And the government's response is... about what you'd expect:

Federal Industry Minister Jim Prentice, who will have to review the sale, declined an interview with CBC News. His spokesperson said Prentice will review the sale based on whether it's good for Canada.

"Good for Canada" means "Good for Canadian shareholders and corporate profits", of course. Time to give Scott Brison a call.

(H/T to Blast Furnace Canada Blog)

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