Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cruel Times

Creative Revolution has a remarkable post about... well, it's about a lot of things that I've been thinking about recently. Peripherally, it's about the recent shooting rampage at that Unitarian Church in Tennessee that was apparently inspired by the venom spewed daily on the American airwaves by right-wing vipers like O'Reilly, Hannity and Savage.

More fundamentally, it's about hate, and fear, and cruelty, and it wonders aloud who might stand to gain from us tearing each other to pieces.

Crime and the police state = private prison Industrial complex? Occupation and the Military Industrial complex, and never ending, no bid-corporate wars. Hating your neighbour, divide and conquer....Someone is making money off all this hatred. Someone, is cashing in on all this festering, obnoxious, divisiveness.

Its all just show-business though. It's just a joke?..No one would ever act on any of this hateful rhetoric? Perhaps not in a vacuum, but as I have outlined, there are many, many things happening here all at once.

It's upsetting. It's complicated. Go read it.

Barbara Boxer is My Hero

You may recall this incident back in January down at the U.S. Senate Environment Committee. At the time, Senator Barbara Boxer took EPA head Stephen Johnson to task for his decision to deny the State of California a waiver allowing them to independently impose stricter GHG emission standards under the Clean Air Act. This, despite the unanimous recommendation by his own staff that the waiver be granted.

At the time, Johnson was taking some pretty extraordinary obstructionist measures to cover his own ass and the asses of his bosses in the Whitehouse - including covering relevant documents with reams of white tape.

Today, Sen. Boxer and her fellow Committee members finally decided they'd had enough and formally called for Administrator Johnson's resignation.

"Mr. Johnson has consistently chosen special interests over the American people's interests in protecting health and safety. He has become a secretive and dangerous ally of polluters, and we cannot stand by and allow more damage to be done. We have lost all confidence in Stephen Johnson's ability to carry out EPA's mission in accordance with the law. I call on Administrator Johnson to immediately resign his position."

On top of all that, they are also calling upon the Attorney General to investigate "inconsistencies" in Johnson's testimony that could potentially lead to charges of perjury.

In sworn testimony before the Committee, Administrator Johnson stated that he based his decision on California's failure to meet criteria required under the Clean Air Act, and said that the decision was "mine and mine alone."

... However, former Associate Deputy Administrator Jason Burnett testified last week that Mr. Johnson had in fact determined that California had met Clean Air Act criteria necessary for approval of the waiver, and had communicated to the Administration that he intended to grant the waiver in part. Mr. Burnett further testified that Administrator Johnson only reversed course and denied the waiver after White House officials informed him of President Bush's "policy preference" for a single regulatory system - even though the Clean Air Act clearly contemplates a dual system in cases where the statutory criteria for the waiver are met.

Wow. It's all starting to come apart, isn't it? Makes you wonder how many other Bush loyalists who were 'just following orders' might find themselves facing charges in the months and years to come.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Salt Spring Dispatch #3: Vancouver, then Home Again, Home Again

I'm home now, but I did want to leave you with some thoughts on my adventures in Vancouver on Monday and Tuesday.

First, let me just say that while the idea of spending three hours on two different ferries just to get to the mainland seemed a little daunting when we first worked out our itinerary, the ferry itself was so luxurious that it seemed more like a short cruise on luxury liner. On the way out, anyway. The trip back was on a somewhat older, shabbier ferry, but still quite comfortable.

We decided to spend a night at the Ramada on Pender, which is a beautiful old hotel (especially on the inside) located just on the edge of a somewhat sketchy area of town. Still, as long as you're in before dark it's quite nice, with the most awesome used/antiquarian bookstore ever on the corner.

We arrived too early to check in, so we decided to head straight over to Stanley Park and the Vancouver Aquarium which is HOLY FRICKIN' HELL EXPENSIVE!! Seriously, SEVENTY BUCKS for two adults and a teenager?! Plus the requisite crazy expensive lunch? When we managed to see everything there in about two and a half hours? Ugh.

Ok, so the otters were really really really cute. Not quite as cute as this when we were there, but still...

After the aquarium it was on to the totem poles and the drive around the park where we managed a fleeting glimpse of the Big Hollow Tree that is now completely fenced off awaiting the final decision on its fate. And all the while I was seized by a burning desire to rent a bicycle and ride the whole way around the seawall. Go figure.

Then we checked into the hotel, and hooked up with a couple of The Beaver's ink stained wretches, Alision and Bob, along with Bob's S/O who, along with my husband, made sure that we didn't spend the entire time talking about politics.

This was the first time that I had actually met other bloggers IRL, and it was absolutely wonderful. Alison and Bob are even better in person, and I hope this won't be the last time I have the pleasure of their company. You guys are welcome here any time.

Meanwhile, we had set the boi loose with fifty bucks and specific instructions to head West instead of East. He of course headed east - straight into East Van, Chinatown, and eventually to the other side of a bridge somewhere. Still, he managed to make it back safely without getting mugged for his backpack or getting addicted to heroin. As he reminded me, he's a big boy now (turning sixteen next week), and since we've now left him on Salt Spring for an extra two weeks, I guess it's high time I learned to trust him to his own devices.


On Tuesday we spent at least an hour getting lost in the jumble of McLeod's Books, where I picked up a nice Penguin paperback of 'Nineteen Eighty-Four', plus a firsthand account by one of Burgoyne's troops of events leading up to the Battles of Saratoga in 1777, the first of which was fought on my ancestor's farm. Fifteen bucks total. Score.

We were going to go do the Capilano Suspension Bridge, but after getting fleeced at the aquarium we decided to check out my sister's old neighbourhood instead and go shopping along The Drive.

'The Drive' is Commercial Drive, and it's a very interesting place from a local economy perspective. It's an old Italian neighbourhood that is now filled with cool restaurants and funky book, music and clothing stores. My sister tells me that its total lack of corporate franchise stores (except for Starbucks, of course) is due almost entirely to a concerted effort by the local community. I am very curious as to how such a thing could actually be accomplished on a local level, since it's exactly the kind of thing we could use here in Milton. Hmm...

On Salt Spring Island, "local" is practically the local religion. Local food, local wine, local wool, local crafts... local jobs.

It all makes perfect sense on an island, of course, where anything non-local will cost you half a day's travel and a rather expensive ferry ride. What surprised me is how pervasive this attitude was off the island. Even in Vancouver, where most of those cheap Asian imports first make landfall in our nation, local wines and beers top the list in every watering hole, the sustainable fishery debate is alive and well on every menu (damn you, tasty salmon!), and you can find entire neighbourhoods where corporate franchise stores are not only absent but actively banished by the community.

Except for Starbucks, of course.

I have no idea what effect (if any) this love of the local is having on BC's economy, but I can't help but wonder if they might be on to something. Imagine if we started putting a premium on local products and services here in Ontario, instead of forever chasing the elusive greenback. Sure, some things might be more expensive, but would that not be balanced by higher wages from local jobs?

More on this later.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Salt Spring Dispatch #2

The last three days have been spent on one adventure after another. Sunday it was a trek across Vancouver Island in our Quest for the Pacific Ocean, which took a little longer than we had anticipated.

We planned to take the ferry from Vesuvius Bay to Crofton, then cut across the island to Port Renfrew. We were told that the roads were rough but tolerable, and were advised to get a 'better map' than the rudimentary one in our tourist guide. We did, and were suddenly presented with a plethora of choices for routes overland, all of which appeared to be of identical quality. So we made what seemed a logical choice: we picked the most direct route, which happened to follow a river valley rather than wending its way through hill and dale.

The fact that the road was called the “Old Port Renfrew Road” also seemed to imply that it would eventually get us to Port Renfrew. You'd think.

It all went well until we passed the Provincial Park. Up to that point, the road was unpaved but perfectly serviceable. After that, things degraded. It got narrower. The gravel got coarser. Culvert repair operations meant that we had to gingerly traverse patches filled with big, sharp rocks that threatened to disembowel our rental PT Cruiser. We started passing open metal gates which seemed to indicate that either the area flooded regularly or that we were on private property.

About 2/3 of the way across, an hour since our last sight of pavement, we came upon a gate that was closed.

It was a beautiful spot, teetering halfway up the San Juan River valley. But there was nowhere to go and nothing for it. So we back-tracked the entire way, and three hours later arrived at our destination via the coastal route (or as the locals like to call it, “Sooke way”).

Tired, hungry, almost out of gas, we were desperate for any sign of civilization, but our first impression of Port Renfrew was hardly favourable. Still, we found gas (at the usurious rate of $1.58 at the marina), and after asking the locals were directed towards a place called “The Coastal Kitchen” for lunch.

It was like an oasis. Spacious, funky decor, and a menu full of seafood and pestos and focacia sandwiches with sweet potato fries - huge, delicious. Nummm. And then it was on to the beach and, at last, the open ocean. For the first time in my life, I stepped into the Pacific. And then stepped out again because it was really rather cold.

On the way back, we found the real overland route which had apparently been recently paved. After spending half a day getting there, it took all of an hour and a half to get back to the ferry.

Monday we travelled to Vancouver for the ritual 'Fleecing of the Tourists', but I'll save that story for another day.

Today is our last day.

A Few Things I've Learned in BC

2)What a “through fare” ticket is and why I would want one.
3)If you don't like the weather, drive for ten minutes and it will be different.
4) Not all “roads” marked on a map are actually roads in the traditional sense of being able to take you from one place to another.
5)Appreciate the journey, because sometimes that's all you get.
6)Food tastes better when you know its story.
7)When you are on an island, local is the default.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Salt Spring Dispatch #1

Greetings from Salt Spring Island, BC!

I have never been to the west coast before. Never been west of Chicago, in fact, so there are all sorts of little things that keep letting me know that I am someplace very different. The trees. The mountains. The smell of the air.

Even the deer look a little... different.

My husband says they're just the same, but I think they're smaller and redder.

We went for a walk down by the ocean yesterday and found these things hiding behind rocks to get out of the sun.

I didn't think living things came in that particular shade of purple.

We also wandered around downtown Ganges and watched this fella having a grand old time rolling around on the dock in the warm sun. Just like my cats. Only bigger.

My only complaint about BC so far is that everything costs so much more than back home. Particularly the car rental rates, which turned out to be double what we would have paid in Ontario. Not something you want to find out as soon as you arrive (yeah, my bad for not reserving).

The cost of the ferry has also caused us to re-think a few of our plans, but I am still determined to hit Vancouver even if it means an expensive three hour ferry ride and a hotel room so we have time to actually do stuff while we're there.

So, Vancouver's on for Monday-Tuesday. Today we were going to cross over to the big island and drive up to Tofino, but the morning got away from us. Maybe Sunday.

Any suggestions for our itinerary are welcome. We're here 'till Wednesday.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Politics of Omar Khadr

I am a mother. Specifically, I am the mother of a fifteen soon-to-be sixteen year-old boy.

So when I watched the video of Omar Khadr released today, it was impossible for me not to see my own son sitting there. In fact, ever since the Toronto Star published excerpts of 'Guantanamo's Child' back in March (which have now disappeared from the cache while this photo lives on in my blog and brings me many, many hits), I have had occasion to imagine my own son in that situation. Dragged out of his home by his psycho parents, shot and nearly killed, isolated, sleep deprived and probably worse, raised in a prison...

The very thought of it makes me physically nauseous.

All of which makes me wonder, what the FUCK is wrong with people? Is there some gene missing from your average conservative that makes them incapable of compassion or empathy? Because believe me, I can guarantee that every single person who has posted a blog post or an article comment like this...

Why are we as a country even responsible for this man? He left this country to fight for a terrorist force that lives to control others. By doing so he turned his back on everything Canadian and everybody that holds those values dear. Let him rot down there and be done with him.

... voted for Stephen Harper in the last election.

Really, is this who you are? Is this what conservatism is all about? Is this what Christian-based values are all about? Spewing venom upon children raised in a poisonous environment and forced to fight for a cause that they neither understand nor have the capacity to object to, incarcerated in an illegal prison roundly condemned by every country on the planet outside of North America?

Please, if there is a single conservative/Conservative who thinks that this is horribly, fundamentally wrong, please raise your hand.

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Thank You Sir, May I Have Another?

Stephen Harper just bought himself a province today. Cheap. So, how much is a province worth these days?

Oh, about $800 million or so.

N.S. to get $870M from feds in Crown share dispute

Nova Scotia will be receiving a windfall of about $870 million as part of a deal resolving the Crown share dispute over offshore oil royalties with the federal government.

... [N.S. Premier] MacDonald spoke to CTV Newsnet Sunday and said that the deal puts to rest a dispute that goes back to 1986, when Ottawa promised to compensate the province for giving up its ownership interest in offshore oil and gas revenues.

"I can't tell you how excited I am, not only for today's announcement, but for what it means for the future of our province," he said.

I'll bet you are. Still, $870 million is a big chunk of change. Gee, I wonder how the Conservatives are going to pay for all that...

Sask. drops legal challenge of equalization

Saskatchewan's government is dropping a court challenge of the federal equalization program, saying the case has been "the elephant in the room" in talks with Ottawa.

The government will withdraw a reference the previous NDP administration made to the provincial Court of Appeal, Saskatchewan Party Justice Minister Don Morgan said Thursday.

Morgan said the challenge has been hampering federal-provincial negotiations.

... There have also been suggestions from Prime Minister Stephen Harper that Saskatchewan drop the case. Premier Brad Wall has said Harper "made it clear" in a meeting in January that the legal challenge should be withdrawn. Wall said he took it under advisement.

... At stake is about $800 million in federal transfers annually, according to provincial calculations.

Mind you, that's $800 million per year, so there should still be plenty left over to buy BC, the rest of the Maritimes, and whatever they can bribe out of Ontario and Quebec.

As I mentioned in the comments over at Garth's place, the west doesn't need Stephane Dion and the Liberals to screw them. The Conservatives they keep electing are doing a fine job of fucking them over already.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Green Shift: Someone Talking Sense. Sort of.

After weeks of unsubstantiated accusations that 'The Green Shift' (or whatever we're going to be calling it) is nothing more than a back-door way of funding 'Liberal social programs', someone has actually gone to the trouble of trying to substantiate this position. Namely, Adam Radwanski of the G&M.

Is it really revenue neutral?

Short answer: Only if you accept the broadest possible definition of what qualifies as a tax cut. But then, that's pretty much the definition we've been accepting for years.

Straightforward tax cuts, in the form of reductions to business and income taxes, add up to roughly $9-billion in Year 4 of the Liberal plan. The rest of the more than $15-billion the party expects its carbon tax to generate would go mostly toward spending initiatives dressed up as tax benefits and credits - a $465-million supplement for low-income workers, a $150 supplement for every rural resident (totalling $749-million) to help pay their bills, a $600-million capital cost allowance for green technologies, another $400-million for R&D, an $800-million boost to the guaranteed income supplement for low-income seniors. Biggest of all is a nearly $3-billion child tax benefit - quite possibly a worthwhile expenditure, as are many of the others, but not exactly a tax cut in the traditional sense of the word.

No, I suppose not. Quite right. I still wouldn't call it a 'social program' either, but at least someone is looking at this with a level head for a change.

My argument would be as follows:

Tax cuts benefit those who make enough money to pay taxes. The richer you are, the more you benefit. Tax credits (specifically refundable credits) benefit those who DON'T make very much money. The poor. The self-employed. Those in the film and television industry.

And since the 'Green Shift Plan' (can we call it that?) incorporates both tax cuts AND tax credits, and will therefore return all of the carbon tax to rich and poor, individuals and businesses, in proportions that approximate their ability to absorb the additional cost, I'm not sure how that isn't "revenue neutral".

But kudos to Radwanski for making a well thought-out critique of the 'Liberal Green Shift' (can we call it that?). Again, this is what we call civilized debate.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Why Let a Few Facts Get in the Way of Sound Government Policy?

As we all shout "Hallelujah!" at Dalton McGuinty's apparent change of heart on mandatory ethanol levels in gasoline in Ontario, Stephen Harper continues to defend his government's unwavering support of biofuels because... well, just because.

"There are several causes to the recent rise in food prices and biofuels is probably a factor, but we're convinced that the far greater factor is actually the rise in energy input costs for the production of food," he said.

"We're convinced"? Really? By whom? Based on what evidence? Because really, when governments around the world are being forced to re-think their biofuel policies in the face of studies like this one, and even the oh-so-capitalist World Bank is saying that biofuels have caused a 75% jump in food prices, one would think that even someone like Mr. Harper would find that convincing.

Apparently he finds these guys even more convincing:

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Green Shift vs. Green Shift

I originally had a bit of sympathy for this company, and certainly the Liberals could have handled it better. However, when Green Shift Inc. founder Jennifer Wright appears on CTV boo-hooing about how badly their business has suffered since all this publicity came their way, and all the emails they've received threatening a 'boycott' of her company (and you know who those emails are from), I get a little suspicious.

When she claimed that her company had all but vanished from the results of a Google search on 'green shift' under the onslaught of hits for the Liberal plan, you know I had to check it out...

Well whaddaya know. Look who's number one.

Cry me a river.

(posted by Jennifer Smith - not to be confused with Jennifer Wright)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Conservatives Hate Rural Voters

I don't usually do this, but April Reign has a brilliant post about rural politics that you really must read, especially given the noise coming out of the more right-wing denizens of Alberta these days.

Rural areas of Canada and the U.S. are strongholds for Conservative/Reform/Republican politics. Words like liberal, welfare, rights, environmentalism are bandied about like slurs, while abstract concepts like pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, making your own work, and loyalty to your country and used almost as religious mantras and identifiers of the true believers. Spin doctors are quick to latch on to this blind faith and give impassioned speeches about the farmer, the way things were, the heartland. But do they really have their best interests at heart? Time and again it seems the answer is no.

She goes on to draw a straight line between meat packers receiving a chunk of Alberta's mad cow aid money, potential plans to privatize Canada Post, and the relentless and ongoing dismantling of the Wheat Board as evidence of the myriad ways in which Conservative/Reform policies screw over farmers and other rural Canadians, all in the service of corporate profits.

I would love to see this one published in the Calgary Herald. After all, nothing is more convincing to a westerner than enlightened self interest.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Yo yo yo! (snort)

This embarrassing incident has been all over everywhere today, but for me what's even funnier than Bush calling, "Yo, Harper!" is the rather vigorous nose swipe right before. With his right hand, no less. The hand that he uses to shake hands with all those world leaders.

Watch closely now...

Nice. Classy.

Well, nobody can accuse these boys of being 'elitist', now can they?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Our Top Story: OMG Garth Turner Said Something Controversial on his Blog!

I wasn't even going to dignify this with a response, but as a Halton constituent and regular over at The Turner Report I felt that it was incumbent on me to explain something to those of you who may be unfamiliar with Mr. Turner and his blog:


Really. He does. At least once a week. So much so that when I first read the latest offending post, I didn't even notice or think twice about the "losers" crack.

I realize I'm stating the obvious here, but apparently the point has been lost on our national media in their frenzied efforts to turn this into some sort of Reverend Wright scandal. As usual, they have been so diligent in reading from the prepared script handed to them by the powers that be that they have forgotten to ask any of the important questions. Like, for instance, what could possibly have motivated someone, somewhere, to bring this particular post to their attention at this particular time when, as I said, you can pull intemperate and even offensive quotes from Turner's blog pretty much any day of the week?

Instead, they plod merrily along, reiterating and regurgitating the same identical CP article and replaying the same clips of Turner with Dion and Turner in his biker leathers and calling him the "Maverick MP" because that sounds clever.

This is what the big boys call "journalism".

Impolitical may have hit the nail on the lead by asking why John Baird of all people has been selected to be the PM's point man on this particular non-scandal scandal instead of Petite Pierre or any of the other usual sock puppets.
Look, bright shiny object over there says Baird

Don't be distracted by John Baird's hyperventilation, which seems to have reared its ugly head once again in this Globe report:
"G8 won't set emission targets: Baird."
Read that title, that's the big story. Baird, however, would like you to focus on a Garth Turner blog post from the other day and turn your focus toward Stephane Dion as he heads to the G8. Not. Gonna. Work.

(...) Paul Kurugman wrote a great column Friday about Rovian tactics, the politics of elevating obscure sideshows to frenzied levels of concern. All the while, important issues are relegated to the sidelines. Baird's frothing at the mouth today is a prime example of that phenomenon.

If you care, here's Turner explaining exactly what he said and why, as the CTV interviewer makes sure to keep the focus on his bike and leathers.

Not that Turner wasn't happy to oblige by wearing them for the interview. It's all about the show, man.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Hail the Almighty Tallest!

A rather amusing report on ABC News tonight examined the vital issue of the relative heights of the G8 leaders.

Guess who comes out on top?

Well. That's it then. There's no point fighting it any longer. We must bow to the inevitable and the laws of the Irken Empire.

All Hail Steve, oh Mighty Tallest, Ruler of Canada and the Universe!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Canada Needs a Consensus on Carbon: CCCE

I've never been a big fan of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, but you've got to admit - if they that something is good for business, chances are it's good for business.

So when CCCE head Thomas d'Aquino suggests that Canada needs to get its act together and decide on a single, national plan to deal with carbon emissions, one would hope that politicians and captains of industry alike would sit up and take notice. Especially when he is making these statements in front of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.
In the absence of an integrated national plan, d'Aquino said different levels of government need to do a better job of integrating and coordinating their approaches.

In the regard, d'Aquino said Canada needs to pursue what he called environmental federalism. "Priority No. 1 is to come up with some sort of cohesion in our national plan," d'Aquino said.

Even more remarkably, he goes on to say,
"The climate change change debate should not been seen as a threat, but as a huge opportunity for all of us."

Given that the CCCE represents, by definition, the interests of corporations rather than people, it's hardly surprising that d'Aquino is expressing confidence that Canada can reach a technological solution "rather than curtailing growth". And he sees pros and cons in both the Liberal and Conservative plans to limit carbon emissions.

Still, it was interesting seeing his concerns about Canada being hurt economically by this lack of consensus echoed only a week later by the CEO of Norway's StatoilHydro:
Speaking to the World Petroleum Congress, Helge Lund said the lack of a clear carbon reduction strategy has prompted the company to put off the upgrading portion of its integrated oilsands project until 2016, two years later than planned.

"Making an upgrader investment decision is a huge undertaking and the fact that there is uncertainty related to the future regulatory regime, including the cost of CO2, we need more clarity on that before we can make a final decision," he said.

Norway, of course, has a $60/tonne carbon tax, and Statoil has done very well there by becoming a world leader in carbon capture and sequestration technology.

The message from both men is clear. Business and industry, particularly the energy industry, fully expect to pay a price for carbon, one way or another. They just want to be told how much.

(crossposted from Canada`s World)

Get Smart

When I first heard that Steve Carell would be playing Maxwell Smart, I was thrilled. I couldn't think of anyone better suited to fill Don Adams' telephonic shoes.

I used to watch the show when I was a kid, and although the only specific scene I still remember was one involving a tarantula and a jar of mayonnaise, this new version brought it all back.

Carell is the perfect Maxwell Smart. He strikes precisely the right balance between slapstick bumbling and an almost accidental competence. Anne Hathaway does a good but overly serious '99' and Dwayne Johnson proves once again that he's far more interesting as a comedic actor than a wrestler.

My only problem with the new Get Smart is that the comic timing seems to be slightly... well, off.

I'm not sure if it's an issue with the writing or the editing, but many of the punch lines just seem to go on a beat or two too long.

The result is a very funny movie that could have been funnier.

I give it three stars.

(Murray agrees. We've got to stop doing that.)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I don't think this is the kind of "stimulus" they had in mind

President Bush Boosts Porn Industry With Economic Stimulus Plan, According to AIMRCo

An unforeseen and surprising beneficiary of the Economic Stimulus Plan, a plan that George Bush contends will "boost our economy and encourage job creation," has surfaced this week. An independent market-research firm, AIMRCo (Adult Internet Market Research Company), has discovered that many websites focused on adult or erotic material have experienced an upswing in sales in the recent weeks since checks have appeared in millions of Americans' mailboxes across the country.

According to Kirk Mishkin, Head Research Consultant for AIMRCo, "Many of the sites we surveyed have reported 20-30% growth in membership rates since mid-May when the checks were first sent out, and typically the summer is a slow period for this market."

'Stimulus'... the 'Invisible Hand'... 'Economic Viagra'... the jokes just write themselves, don't they?

(H/T to Red Tory)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Green Shift: Rational Discourse

With so many people, bloggers and otherwise, either defending the Liberals' 'Green Shift' plan uncritically or dismissing it out of hand - with their positions almost always based on party affiliation - I cannot tell you how refreshing it was to read the following from Devin Johnston:

St├ęphane Dion has asked Canadians to engage in an honest discussion of his "Green Shift" carbon tax proposal. I thank the Liberal leader for his maturity in engaging in an open policy discussion of a matter of critical importance to the country, unlike the Conservative government which has adopted the strategy of inaction and denial on the climate change issue, while using immature and dishonest rhetoric rather than substantive policy analysis in opposing Dion's proposal. While I ultimately conclude for reasons to follow that the proposal as it currently stands is bad policy, the potential exists for the Liberals and NDP to come together to create broader-ranging, multifaceted plan that makes better policy sense. I encourage both parties to seriously examine this "third option" instead of allowing their differences to prevent substantial action from being taken (as was the case on the Afghanistan file.)

He goes on to provide some of the most intelligent and thoughtful analysis I've read so far on this issue, discussing the pros and cons of not only the Liberal plan but the NDP plan as well, and making some concrete suggestions as to how the best elements of both might be combined.

Before proceeding to some of the pros and cons in general terms, though, it should be pointed out that there is nothing incompatible about these policy options. A hybrid system in which there is a hard cap and emissions under that cap are taxed is possible. Moreover, neither one of these options is viable in and of itself. Any basis policy framework aimed at reducing carbon emissions must also be supplemented by additional measures such as investments in green technology and low-interest loans for home retrofitting (just to give two examples.) Moreover, both increase the cost of goods and thereby distribute the burdens addressing climate change on to individuals, leaving lower income persons particularly at risk. Therefore, climate change policies must include provisions that soften the blow to the working poor, who are often not in a position to adapt to a less carbon-intensive lifestyle.

It goes on, with even most of the commenters making rational, productive contributions to the discussion. Read and learn.

This is how the grownups do it, folks.

My Canada

Happy Canada Day everyone!

In the year and a half since I started this blog, I have learned more about my fellow Canadians than I ever thought possible. Canadians I would never have had contact with otherwise, from Newfoundland to Victoria and all points in between. Not just the ones I agree with, but those whose opinions and attitudes differ radically from mine.

And although I don't always agree with or even understand their many varied points of view, I have learned to respect many of them and understand that, at heart, they love this country as much as I do. They want Canada to be better, just like I do - it's just that sometimes they have a different idea of what "better" is than I do.

Here is one articulation of how I see this country, both as it is and how I would wish it to ultimately be. You results may differ.

"The Just Society will be one in which all of our people will have the means and the motivation to participate.
The Just Society will be one in which personal and political freedom will be more securely ensured than it has ever been in the past.
The Just Society will be one in which the rights of minorities will be safe from the whims of intolerant majorities.
The Just Society will be one in which those regions and groups which have not fully shared in the country's affluence will be given a better opportunity.
The Just Society will be one where such urban problems as housing and pollution will be attacked through the application of new knowledge and new techniques.
The Just Society will be one in which our Indian and Inuit population will be encouraged to assume the full rights of citizenship through policies which will give them both greater responsibility for their own future and more meaningful equality of opportunity.
The Just Society will be a united Canada, united because all of its citizens will be actively involved in the development of a country where equality of opportunity is ensured and individuals are permitted to fulfil themselves in the fashion they judge best."

- Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1968