Friday, April 27, 2007

The planet and the war...

I support the mission in Afghanistan, but I wanted to mention that I think there's a great slogan out there for those who don't.

Harper wants to take us out of Kyoto, and keep us in Afghanistan.

Try winning seats in Quebec with THAT plastered everywhere.

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Compromise time???

So, I know the NDP, Liberals and Greens don't necessarily totally agree on the environment. They all have different ideas, and different assumptions about how important the issue is, and what needs to be done. However, they also all know that the Tories' plans are essentially a farce.

I believe the opposition parties all basically agree on the amended Clean Air Act, so I wonder if it would be possible, for the sake of the environment, for the opposition parties to advance ONE UNIFIED ENVIRONMENTAL PLATFORM (perhaps the new CAA, or a negotiated platform based on that) for the sole purpose of stopping the Tories? I'm a big fan of cooperation between the opposition parties to bring down the Tories (which I know not everyone is) but even if they didn't all cooperate on everything, is THIS something they could agree on?

It seems to me, if the opposition parties are all over the map, the Tories might end up looking "reasonable" even though in reality, we all know that's crazy talk. But if the choice (on the environment) is the plan supported by the Tories, or the plan supported by absolutely everyone else in Parliament (and the Greens), that's a pretty stunning repudiation, and shows just how horrible the Tories' plans really are, doesn't it?

Is it possible we could get unified opposition on this issue, for the sake of the environment?

If not, how am I supposed to believe ANY of them really think this is a serious issue? If you're willing to sit back and let the Tories do what they're about to do, don't come telling me you care about the environment. If you let the Tories get away with this, your rhetoric is BS. What's more, you know it. Either we fight out the environment issue now, or we wait until things are so bad even conservatives can't deny the problem anymore.

And given Tory abilities to deny the obvious, I'm just not willing to wait that long.

Either stop the Tories, or admit you're giving up on the environment, but don't come telling me how dire things are if you're going to let this stand. I'll still believe it's vitally important, but none of these politicians will be able to convince me they're sincere about it if they don't act now.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Canada's New Government...

Where's the Canadian report on human rights in prisons in Afghanistan?

Government response to Ottawa Professor's access to information request on January 29th: Silence.

Government response to the G&M March 7th: "There's no Canadian Report on human right issues in prisons in Afghanistan".

Government response to a G&M reporter March 22nd "I'm telling you, no such report exists! Here, I'll write that down for you."

Government response to access to Information request from January, after Ottawa professor complains to Information Commissioner that the 30 day waiting period is well past and he hasn't heard anything: "Fine, here's the report (although we've censored lines like "military, intelligence and police forces have been accused of involvement in arbitrary arrest, kidnapping extortion, torture and extrajudicial killing.")

Globe and Mail's response: "Good thing we got the uncensored report from an anonymous source, so we can tell Canadians what the report that doesn't exits (accept that it does) actually says.

Now, I support the mission in Afghanistan, but the shenanigan's above?


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Coyne's theory on the 20% reduction by 2020 announcement...

We'll have to see if tomorrow's announcement clears things up, but Andrew Coyne has an interesting theory about what the wording of Baird's announcement of a 20% reduction in GHG emissions from today's levels by 2020 actually means.

The long and the short of it is that Cayne suspects that what Baird might have said was NOT that the plan calls for emissions to be 20% lower than they are today by 2020, but that the plan calls for a reduction of 20% of today's levels (a 150 Mt reduction) to the level that emissions are PROJECTED to be at in 2020. So, not 20% lower than today's level 13 years from now, but lower 13 years from now (by 20% of today's levels) than what the levels would be if we did nothing. Coyne points out that a "reduction" calculated this way could (almost certainly WOULD) actually mean HIGHER emissions in 2020 than we have today.

I can't imagine this is so, but we'll see. (Can the Tories be that stupid???)

If the announcement means that emissions will be 20% lower than today by 2020, then the Tories have committed to getting our emissions down to basically 600Mt by 2020. If it means emissions will be lowered by an amount equal to 20% of today's emissions, from where they'd be otherwise, emissions are almost certain to be ABOVE today's level (of 750Mt) in 2020. Kyoto, basically calls for Canada to reduce emissions to 563Mt over the average of 2008-2012.

I look forward to tomorrow's announcement. I think getting to 600Mt by 2020 might actually sway some voters versus Kyoto's (simplified) 563Mt by 2012. Kyoto's been damaged enough PR-wise that I think a lot of people might think a reduction from 750Mt to 600Mt by 2020 is good enough, compared to a reduction from 750Mt to 563Mt by 2012, given all the scare tactics surrounding what implementing Kyoto would supposedly cost.

If Coyne's right about what the announcement really means though, then I don't know how the Tories can spin this.

"750 to 600 by 2020" sounds somewhat reasonable next to "750 to 563 by 2012".

"750 to (750+X) -150 by 2020" most certainly does not. Especially since "X" is almost certainly more than 150.

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People are so stupid.

I don't understand how people didn't realize the Sheryl Crow toilet paper thing was a joke. Did people even read the entry? Did no one consider that she's spending all her time lately with Larry David's wife?

C'mon people.

The human race is making me question our collective intelligence.

If you read the post, you knew it was a joke. The post continues: When presenting this idea to my younger brother, whose judgment I trust implicitly, he proposed taking it one step further. I believe his quote was, "how bout just washing the one square out."

She's talking about washing toilet paper here people. Toilet paper. WASHING it. People didn't realize it was a joke?

She then goes on to talk about her new clothing line with "detachable dining sleeves" for people to wipe their mouths on rather than using napkins (then they can detach the sleeves when the get home and wash them) and that "I think this idea could also translate quite well to those suffering with an annoying head cold."

Later, she points out that her request to have the June Taylor Dancers added to the tour was denied.

Again, c'mon people.

She was using humour to try to get people thinking about an issue of great importance.

I'm just shocked that this went around the world as a "what an idiot Sheryl Crow is" news story.


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Friday, April 20, 2007

What does Jack want???

It seems to me, there are three possible scenarios in which Jack Layton could find himself after the next election (in order of likelihood today):

  • Jack Layton as leader of the third party in a Tory minority.
  • Jack Layton as leader of the third party in a Liberal minority.
  • Jack Layton as Leader of the Official Opposition in a Tory majority.
Jack needs to decide which scenario he wants.

Right now, the third option is pretty unlikely, and involves the Liberals losing right-leaning Liberals to the Tories ("If Jack Layton can work with Harper he can't be that bad, and this Dion guy is too lefty for me") and on the left to the NDP ("Jack says there's no difference between the Tories and the Liberals, so I'll vote NDP"). Unfortunately, this also seems to be the scenario Layton is gunning for. Work with Harper, trash the Liberals. Harper ends up looking reasonable, and not so far out (if Jack Layton can work with him...) and Dion ends up looking insincere (Dion's no different from Martin, he'll change his spots if he becomes PM...).

As someone who voted NDP the last two federal elections, I hope Jack changes his mind. If he doesn't, I hope he doesn't succeed. NDP increases will seem a pretty hollow victory after a couple of years of a Stephen Harper majority.

I fear Layton's plan is to save Canada by letting Harper burn it down. What's worse, I question whether Layton even sees it coming.

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Liberals, Greens and the NDP, ruining an opportunity...

So, the Liberal party, under Stephane Dion, is probably currently as "progressive" as it has ever been. There's a greater possibility of the Liberals adopting NDP policies than ever before. A greater possibility of the Liberals killing off their conservative wing, and finally moving from "kinda progressive and better than the Tories" to "actually progressive". And, OF COURSE, this happens at a time when the Tories are in power, and the Liberals are just weak enough that the NDP can get delusions of grandeur.

So what do we get? A world in which the NDP leadership is more interested in dragging the Tories to the centre than in dragging the Liberals to the left. A world in which the NDP will negotiate with the Tories to change the Clean Air Act enough that they'll support it (and keep the Conservative government alive) but won't even answer the phone if it's the Greens calling. A world in which the LIBERALS are talking about electoral reform and cooperation, while the NDP shouts for the status quo, calls bipartisan cooperation "undemocratic", and works with Stephen Harper, but not Elizabeth May.

Now, I understand why the NDP feels that the Liberals moving to the left endangers their partisan standing, but as an NDP voter in the last two federal elections, I'm disappointed that they don't see the bigger picture. Personally, I don't care about the NDP, or the Liberals, or the Greens. I care about Canada. I care about who we are, and what we stand for. I think there's currently a unique opportunity to purge the Liberal party of Canada of people who aren't liberals, without giving up the farm to the Tories. The Liberals, Greens and NDP could form a coalition government that would be historic, and put Canada on what I would see as a truly exciting path. And I get the feeling that for the first time in my lifetime, Canada's "natural governing party", the people with the most to lose in such a coalition, and for whom (being in second place in a minority Parliament, and having always felt within a breath of governing when in opposition) this would be most difficult to consider, might actually consider it. I for one don't care what party name Canada's government rules under, I care what policies they implement. I don't care which party wins how many seats, and who occupies what cabinet job, I care about the policies the government implements, and the course they set for the nation. I thought the NDP's willingness to work with the Liberals in the last Parliament was great. I'm much less happy about their willingness to work with the Tories in this one, and their stubborness in spurning the Greens and Liberals.

It's 2007, and the NDP would apparently rather be in third place cooperating with the Tories, than in third place cooperating with the Liberals and the Greens. It seems they'd rather pull the Tories to the centre (and keep the Liberals there) than pull the Liberals to the left. After decades of complaining that the Liberals were basically just the Tories in red, the NDP seems adamant that the Liberals REMAIN just the Tories, in red.

This may well keep the Tory government from drifiting too far to the right. It may also hand them a majority government. I suppose the NDP believes that by that time, they will have so moderated the Tories that a Stephen Harper majority wouldn't be that bad.

I beg to differ.

There's a historic opportunity afoot to realign politics in Canada, and deal a historic blow to conservative ideologues.

But it's not going to happen.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Promise made, Promise altered...

Apparently, the Tory's "wait times guarantee" for essential medical procedures will now only cover one procedure per province, varying by province, and will be rolled out sometime starting in 2010.

Besides mentioning this in order to recommend to everyone that they hold off on getting sick until the Vancouver Olympics, I thought people would like to read Scott Feschuk's HILARIOUS (as always) take on the unequivocal promises of the Canada'sNew Government (TM) which he suspects will follow the "no new taxes on Income Trusts" promise, the "no clawbacks to equalization" promise, and the "wait times guarantee" promise in moving swiftly from unequivocal to HIGHLY equivocal.

Seems as though these days the Tories can't discuss one of their election "promises" without using the words "seemed like a good idea at the time!"

UPDATE: Here (H/T to Scott Tribe) is the link to the CTV report on Harper's "keeping 20% of a promise, 3 years from now counts as a 'promise kept' today" announcement.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Harper's "nationalism"....

The whole "vendu" thing with the Tory ad from February attacking Dion as a "sellout" of Quebec's ambitions has got me thinking about Prime Minister Harper's "nationalism" and how he views this country. I think the bigger question about the characterization of Dion as a "vendu" is not whether or not it is dirty pool, but what it says about Tory plans for Quebec (and for Canada).

If Dion is not to be trusted because he "sold out" Quebec's nationalist ambitions with his strong federalist stances, then isn't the implication that Harper can be trusted to NOT sell out their nationalist ambitions? The implication of the ad, it seems to me, is that when Dion is asked "Canada or Quebec" he "sells out" by choosing Canada, whereas Harper will say "Quebec".

How will Harper, a supposed "federalist" acheive this? It would seem to me he'll do it by so de-centralizing the country that Quebeckers no longer feel the need to separate, because they'll already be quite separate enough, the federal government having been transformed into a revenue transfer agency for the provinces, with an army (and the Prime Minister into Tax-collector in Chief, and Minister of Defence). Dion is a federalist who believes in a strong, united Canada, with national goals, and national ambitions. Harper, I think, is a "federalist" who believes the provinces should be primary, and that the "nation" is just a means of keeping the autonomous province-states together for projects such as national defence.

I think Harper plans to destroy Quebec nationalism by giving Quebec nationalists so much of what they've always wanted that only the most die-hard rump of nationalist sentiment will remain. He'll make the federal government so meaningless to Quebecekers (and all of us really) and give all the provinces so much autonomy that "separation" would be truly meaningless, and nothing more than a symbolic gesture. Once all the provinces are essentially independent, there'll be no reason for Quebeckers to ask for independence. Canada will have effectiely become the "Canadian Union", an E.U. on a smaller scale, made up of smaller "nations" with a common defence force. Mario Dumont's going to get his "autonomy" without even having to work for it.

I think Harper's plan is to "stand up for Canada" by transforming the nation into a loosely connected confederation of autonomous self-governing states.

He's going to save the village by burning it down.

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