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Justin and Christy's Pipe Dream

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 6 heures 51 min

What have those two been smoking? Justin Trudeau, Christy Clark and the stoner's dream of vast wealth to be had flogging liquid natural gas (fracked) to Asia.

It culminated in a photo-op vaguely reminiscent of the Wizard of Oz. There was natural resources minister, Jim Carr, as the scarecrow.  Fisheries minister Dominic Leblanc as the tin man. EnviroMin, Dame Catherine McKenna, as Dorothy, and, in their midst, Christy Clark as the cowardly lion. They were all bundled up to Richmond, B.C. to stage the announcement of federal approval for the Petronas/Lelu island LNG project.

The announcement sparked a wave of criticism and anger, especially among British Columbians growing a bit tired of Justin's bullshit.

But I suppose Trudeau must have thought it was worth it. Wait, what's that? Petronas, the Malaysian energy giant behind the project, confirms it's looking to get out of the deal.

Petroliam Nasional, or Petronas, is weighing options for the project as its finances have been squeezed after crude oil prices have collapsed by more than 50 per cent since mid-2014.

Additionally, the economics of the project have been called into question as LNG prices for delivery into the main markets in northeast Asia have slumped more than 70 per cent over nearly the same time period.

...Other options are also being considered, including putting it on ice, as finding a buyer in current market conditions would be difficult.

Petronas signed on for the project in 2012 through acquisition of Canada's Progress Energy. That year, LNG prices climbed as high as $18.17 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), but have fallen to $5.75 per mmBtu since then.

Were these nitwits in Ottawa and Victoria blindsided by Petronas? Now they're left with egg on their faces, looking like a gang of naive incompetents. Okay, maybe more than just "looking like."

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - il y a 13 heures 32 min
Assorted content to end your week.

- Lawrence Summers discusses the economic damage being done by a top-heavy income spectrum - as the effect of major stimulus programs may have been wholly outweighed by the decline in middle-class incomes.

- Meanwhile, Canadians for Tax Fairness points out the impending tax court case which will bring Cameco's offshoring of profits under scrutiny.

- Zhaocheng Zeng and Benson Honig discuss the positive effects of a living wage for employers and employees alike. And Arindrajit Dube points out the connections between improved minimum wage levels, general wage increases and a reduction in poverty in the U.S.

- Peter Zimonjoc discusses the Pembina Institute's latest report charting a path toward a clean energy economy and a serious reduction in Canada's greenhouse gas emissions.

- Meanwhile, if we needed a reminder as to why it's essential to make the transition away from dirty fossil fuels, David Shield reports that tests are showing continued contamination in the North Saskatchewan River from Husky's oil spill. And Chris Mooney examines how the Arctic region is being transformed beyond recognition.

- Finally, the Star rightly demands that the Trudeau Libs work with the NDP in repealing Bill C-51, rather than siding with an unnecessary and unaccountable security state against the public. And Jim Bronskill reports that CSIS was already using bulk datasets with no consideration for personal privacy - while also keeping its own responsible minister in the dark about overseas operations.

Xenophobia And Political Ambition

Northern Reflections - il y a 14 heures 30 min
Bob Hepburn warns that those of us who think that Kellie Leitch is on the political fringe, whipping up wing nuts, should think again. Xenophobia is gaining political traction all around the world. After his recent visit to Britain, Hepburn reports that:

In Oxford and Portsmouth, well-educated middle-income people, the type of voters I thought would see the advantages of being closely linked with other European nations, talked to me about why they voted to leave the EU.

Their main reason? Too many immigrants in recent years from the continent, many of whom they felt didn’t want to “be British,” who didn’t respect “British culture” and “British traditions” and who could be potential terrorists.
They also wanted to “send a message” to the political elite in London, who they felt ignored their concerns about immigrants working in jobs that once were filled by old-stock Brits.
The same thing is happening throughout Europe and the United States:
Similar anti-immigrant sentiments are rampant across Europe and are altering the political landscape from Greece to Germany, France and on to the United Kingdom.
The same xenophobia is a driving force behind Donald Trump’s campaign for the U.S. presidency, with his rallies fuelled by crowds roaring their approval whenever he vows to build a towering wall along the Mexican border to stop illegal immigrants.
In Europe, countries such as Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria are fed up with other nations demanding they take in more refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria. Greeks are trying to prevent migrant children from attending schools with their sons and daughters and talk about “a different look” now in Greek schools.
And, in Canada, the same sentiments are just under the surface:
The lone public poll on Leitch’s proposal found 67 per cent of Canadians, including 87 per cent of Tory voters, like the idea of screening newcomers for “anti-Canadian values.” The Forum Research poll for the Toronto Star also found 57 per cent of Liberals and 59 per cent of New Democrats like it.
It doesn't matter that potential immigrants are already heavily screened. What matters is that xenophobia is the handmaiden of political ambition.

The Senseless Cruelty of Donald Trump

Montreal Simon - il y a 15 heures 37 min

In my last post I looked at how Donald Trump's visceral misogyny and disgusting fat-shaming could cost him the election.

Along with his racism, his xenophobia, and his dangerous demagoguery.

But what makes him such a monster is one character flaw that stands out above all the others.
Read more »

Will Donald Trump's Misogyny Be The Issue That Destroys Him?

Montreal Simon - il y a 15 heures 51 min

It was the final exchange in a 90-minute debate, but it may be the one that will destroy Donald Trump's chances of getting anywhere near the White House.

For when Hillary Clinton brought up the story of the one-time Miss Universe Alicia Machado, and how Trump had treated her.

And all he could say was "where did you find this, where did you find this?"

It was a carefully laid trap.
Read more »

The Next Time Your Surly Old Uncle Insists Climate Change Isn't Man Made

The Disaffected Lib - jeu, 09/29/2016 - 23:04

Here's a complete answer to those annoying gits who claim that climate change isn't man made.

Step One

Show them this list.

Global warming and severe storm events of increasing intensity, frequency and duration; both cyclical and sustained droughts and floods; sea level rise; ocean acidification; deforestation; desertification; the freshwater crisis; the accelerating loss of biodiversity; pest and disease migration; species extinction and migration, especially the collapse of global fisheries; accumulating waste and pollution of all descriptions; the energy crisis including the transition to clean alternative energy; nuclear proliferation; the spread of terrorism and organized crime; overpopulation and unsustainable consumption of natural resources.

Step Two

Ask them to select, out of the 8.7 million species of eukaryotic life on Earth, one species without which none of these catastrophes would have happened. Just one.

It's the one that has exhausted once viable fertile farmland around the planet, turning it into sterile desert. It's the same one that has destroyed vast swathes of the Earth's forests. The same one that has rapaciously destroyed one global fishery after another. It's the same species that has spawned nuclear proliferation, terrorism and organized crime. The same one that has grown in numbers from a record one billion to a record seven plus billion in less than three centuries. That's the species that is driving global warming and climate change. That's the species without which Earth wouldn't be in this mess.

That's mankind.

Welcome to the Anthropocene

The Disaffected Lib - jeu, 09/29/2016 - 22:53
This time it's Windsor, Ontario. Insurers won't carry the losses any longer. Governments are expected to make good "once in a century" calamities that now arrive every few years. That can't last. It won't.

Welcome to the Anthropocene.

The Tyee Asks - Has Justin Out-Harpered the Conservatives?

The Disaffected Lib - jeu, 09/29/2016 - 12:41

I'm sorry to you Liberal faithful but it's a more than fair question. What happened to all that stuff about the Liberals being progressive? Oh dear.

The key players in Stephen Harper’s government would have been high-fiving after the month Justin Trudeau’s is finishing up.

In September, the Liberal government took a hard line stance with a public union, held steady to the Conservatives’ greenhouse gas targets, approved a liquefied natural gas plant and pipeline assailed by environmentalists and Indigenous groups, and some say signalled it may extend, rather than curtail, powers to spy on citizens granted by the Harper government’s controversial Bill C-51.

For good measure, Trudeau’s Liberals also suggested making it easier for businesses to bring more temporary foreign workers to Canada, taking a position even Harper had backed away from after abuses of the federal program hit the headlines. The Conservatives tightened restrictions on who can hire foreign workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Earlier this month, a Liberal-dominated Parliamentary committee released a report recommending easier access to the program for businesses. 
If you're a devout Liberal, I feel deeply sorry for you. After the better part of a decade spent fearlessly castigating Stephen Harper for these very same things, now it's your boy who is carrying on Shifty Steve's mission. How must that make you feel?

Who Needs the Pundits' Take When We've Got Samantha Bee

The Disaffected Lib - jeu, 09/29/2016 - 12:19
The presidential debate in a nutshell

Let's Stop Digging this Hole

The Disaffected Lib - jeu, 09/29/2016 - 11:58

Shortly after I started my blog, 2005 if I recall correctly, I began putting together a list of the major challenges confronting mankind, indeed all life on Earth. Let me see if I can recall it from memory - global warming and severe storm events of increasing intensity, frequency and duration; both cyclical and sustained droughts and floods; sea level rise; ocean acidification; deforestation; desertification; the freshwater crisis; the accelerating loss of biodiversity; pest and disease migration; species extinction and migration, especially the collapse of global fisheries; accumulating waste and pollution of all descriptions; the energy crisis including the transition to clean alternative energy; nuclear proliferation; the spread of terrorism and organized crime; overpopulation and unsustainable consumption of natural resources.

As I assembled my list I realized all of these problems had to be connected, inter-related. I would regularly challenge my readers to identify the common threads that ran through them even as I lacked the answers myself.

Slowly it emerged that what linked all of these troubles and woes was the manner in which we, mankind, had become organized - socially, politically, economically, industrially, even militarily. Go back to the pre-industrial era, remove just one species, and none of these existential threats occurs. Turn the clock back 200 years, eliminate humanity from the mix, and the world would rapidly return to a state of natural equilibrium. The world would remain in the gentle geological epoch called the Holocene. Wowser.

What flowed from that epiphany was the realization that our modes of organization - social, economic, political and industrial - had outlived their utility to mankind even as they increasingly served the narrow interests of a very small and select group of humans. We had created our own plague.

In Jared Diamond's book, "Collapse," I found the compelling argument that we face a host of existential threats that are so powerfully yet subtly interconnected that, to have any hope of solving any of them, we had to accept the remedies necessary to solve them all. If you've got five guns pointed at your head, removing the bullets from one or two won't be of much help.

The problem with our modes of organization was how well they served mankind across most of the span from the industrial revolution until quite recently. Most of it was rooted in our mastery of cheap energy - first wind power, then coal and finally oil. Without that there would have been no industrial revolution. But thanks to people like Watts we were able to redesign civilization, expand and grow. Growth of every description.

Here's an example. It took until the early 1800s (1814 is often used) for mankind to grow to one billion in number. That's almost all of the 11,000 year history of civilization. Then look what happened. A century later that number had doubled. When I was born, a few years after the end of WWII, the global population stood at just over 2.5 billion. Today, in the span of less than one lifetime, we've trebled that again to 7+ billion heading, we're told, to 9 billion or more. There aren't many lifeforms that grow that way - bacteria and cancer the exceptions.

Our modes of organization facilitated this incredible growth and, in the process, achieved a powerful inertia that propels them along today. We still cling tenaciously to this dogma of perpetual GDP growth. Even Adam Smith, in his 1776 classic, "The Wealth of Nations," knew that the sort of growth we pursue today could not last more than a century or two before we would have to revert to some form of "steady state" economy.

Every prime minister that I know of has been a faithful disciple of growth. In the west we've settled on 3% annual growth as the ideal. What madness. I can illustrate this by using any of the compound interest calculators on the internet.

Let's start with Year One. The total GDP in Year One is 1. Now let's grow that by 3% per annum. Year Two will be 3% greater than Year One. Year Three will be 3% greater than Year Two and so on.

Let's assume an adult lifespan to be 50 years - 30 to 40 years of working, the remainder retirement. Over the course of that first 50 year term the economy at 3% annual growth would swell by a factor of 4.38. That's 4.4 times as much economic activity. 4.4 times as much production. 4.4 times as much consumption. 4.4 times as much waste and pollution. Wow, that's really something - 438% growth in GDP.

Add another adult lifespan, make it a full 100 years. At the end of that century of 3% annual growth, GDP would have grown to 19.22 times the entire GDP of Year One. How about 3 adult lifespans? Now you're up to 84.25 times bigger than Year One. 4 lifespans? You're up 369.26 fold. 370 times as much economic activity as you had in Year One. 370 times as much production and consumption. 370 times as much waste and pollution. Just for a giggle, how about three centuries of 3% annual growth. Brace yourselves. The GDP in Year 300 would be 7,098.5 times bigger than it was when you began at Year One.

The biggest problem with even modest exponential growth is that we have a decidedly finite planet, our one and only biosphere, Spaceship Earth. It's all we got, you and me and every other living creature. Just the one.

Some time in the early 1970s we hit a wall, the point at which human consumption of Earth's renewable resources - air, water, biomass - exceeded our planet's carrying capacity. Since then we've been in a state of what scientists have named "overshoot." They've even pegged Earth Overshoot Day. When I first stumbled upon it, Earth Overshoot Day fell in late October. Yet we've been rapidly increasing our consumption, rapaciously wading through the planet's resource reserves, something called "eating your seed corn." This year Earth Overshoot Day had moved up to early August. That means we exhaust the Earth's production of renewables on August 8th and go after the seed corn for the remaining five months of the year. We're getting to the point where we need 1.7 planet Earths worth of resources. Sort of like taking home $1,000 a month and spending $1,700. It doesn't end well.

The worst part isn't that we're doing this. It's that we have made ourselves absolutely dependent on doing it. We can't stop. We have neither the political will nor the public will to doing anything but continue, year by year, ever faster. Sort of like the closing scene in Thelma and Louise where you've just slammed the pedal to the metal as the cliff edge draws ever closer.

So what are the solutions? I could say there isn't any. I thought that until a friend put me on to Thomas Homer-Dixon and his 2006 book, "The Upside of Down." THD is a professor and the former head of the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Centre for Peace, Conflict and Justice at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.

Like me, Homer-Dixon doesn't see any easy way out of our predicament. This eminently level-headed thinker sees two options. One is Jared Diamond's hypothesis, collapse. The other is something akin to a civilizational equivalent of a crash landing -  seat tray and back in the upright position, shoes off, bend over and brace for impact sort of thing. THD thinks, if we prepare for it correctly, this landing could be hard but survivable. He argues that we have to accept decline as a best-possible outcome, certainly preferable to outright collapse. He sees it as a way to discover our "reset" button and liberate ourselves from what I have described as our outdated modes of organization. We have to start anew, re-invent our civilization.

Homer-Dixon's caution, however, is that to have much chance of a survivable, crash landing we must do the essential preparation in advance which starts with acknowledging what confronts us and resolving to prepare for it. We're not there yet, not even close.

Maybe the way forward begins by having these conversations. I hope so.

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - jeu, 09/29/2016 - 09:30
Here, on how a recent spate of announcements signals that contrary to their campaign commitments in both theme and detail, there's been little difference between the Trudeau Liberals and the Harper Conservatives in substance.

For further reading...
- The point is one being made by plenty of other observers as well in various contexts, including Ross Belot, Karen Mahon, Terry Milewski, Jeremy Nuttall, Lawrence Martin and Tom Parkin.
- By way of a reminder, the Libs' election platform is here (PDF), and my review of it is here.
- For more on the individual stories, Laura Payton reports on the Libs' decision that Stephen Harper's emission targets are good enough for them, as well as on Jane Philpott's announcement that the Cons' health funding levels won't be revisited. And on the former point, Derrick O'Keefe laments the Libs' liquid natural gas "carbon bomb", while on the latter the Council of Canadians calls out the lack of action toward a national prescription drug plan.
- Andrew Kuraja reports on the Site C permit approval, while Jorge Barrera contrasts that position against Jody Wilson-Raybould's supposedly committed activism against the very same project.
- Kristy Kirkup reports on the Libs' delay in complying with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal's orders on services for on-reserve children.
- And finally, Alison Crawford reports on Wayne Smith's decision to resign as Statistics Canada's Chief Statistician due to political meddling in its operations.

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - jeu, 09/29/2016 - 09:17
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Valerie Strauss discusses the disastrous effects of corporatized education in the U.S. And Alex Hemingway examines how B.C.'s government (like Saskatchewan's) is going out of its way to make it impossible for a public education system to do its job of offering a bright future to all students.

- CJEM reports on a new survey showing just how many Saskatchewan residents are on the edge of a financial cliff if not already on the descent - with more than a third of those surveyed already unable to pay their bills, and over 60% having at best minimal ability to absorb any additional expenses.

- Colin Freeze and Jim Bronskill report on Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien's annual report - with Freeze focusing on his call for legislation governing metadata, and Bronskill on the total lack of regard for Canadians' privacy in the analysis and application of Bill C-51.

- David Bush critiques the Canada Post Task Force's study which looks to set the stage for worse service at higher prices, rather than seriously evaluating options such as postal banking which could reverse both of those outcomes.

- Finally, Andrew Coyne suggests that the Senate's authority to disrupt public business should match its non-existent legitimacy. And Carlito Pablo reports on Maxwell Cameron's view that we should expect decisions to be made by representatives elected through a fair and proportional system.

That's When It Gets Tough

Northern Reflections - jeu, 09/29/2016 - 06:18

The pundits are increasingly sceptical about Justin Trudeau. Nevertheless, Gerry Caplan writes, the public's love affair with him continues. Even columnists for The Toronto Star -- which generally supports his initiatives -- are beginning to show their cynicism:

Take a column this past weekend by the scrupulously non-partisan Susan Delacourt. Like so many of her peers, Ms. Delacourt did not at all appreciate Stephen Harper’s open contempt for the press gallery. So for most reporters, Mr. Trudeau’s openness and accessibility was a breath of fresh air. Now his shtick has turned to hot air.
Mr. Trudeau’s press conference last week, Delacourt wrote in last Saturday’s Star, “was a remarkably answer-free encounter with the parliamentary press gallery, in which one had the sense the Prime Minister was trying to prove that he could smile and speak for 20 minutes without saying anything.” She offers this warning to the PM: Voters can “take only so many platitudes and winding, wordy detours around hard truths.” Harsh stuff.

And, likewise, for Tony Burman, the bloom is coming off the rose:

Similarly, Tony Burman, former head of CBC News, ridicules Mr. Trudeau’s speech at the UN last week (to a hall two-thirds empty, it was not often enough noted). Mr. Trudeau was peddling his usual “We’re Canadian and we’re here to help” rhetoric. Mr. Burman comments acidly: “If only life were that easy.” And a Globe cartoon shows Mr. Trudeau as all sizzle, no steak.

Smiling images will only get you so far:

These scornful and disappointed observations seem to me to encapsulate much of the reaction these days to Mr. Trudeau’s endless sunny days. Nothing is as easy as Mr. Trudeau always implies, from pipelines to reconciliation with our indigenous peoples. Yet he must produce something, indeed many things, in the next few months, or he’ll be a laughingstock. But of course he risks being a laughingstock if he fails to live up to his own hype. This is a man who increases expectations every time he speaks, who can’t seem to distinguish between aspiration and reality, and he’s doing himself no favours.
 All political honeymoons come to an end. And that's when it gets tough.


Donald Trump and the Rise of Adolf Hitler

Montreal Simon - jeu, 09/29/2016 - 05:15

Although Donald Trump used to sleep with a copy of Hitler's speeches on his bedside table, I've tried to avoid comparing him to the Nazi dictator.

For whatever he is Trump isn't Hitler, and to suggest he is only insults that murderous maniac's many victims.

But after reading a review of a new book about Hitler's rise to power, I must admit I might have to reconsider that position.
Read more »

Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and the Battle for the Millennial Vote

Montreal Simon - jeu, 09/29/2016 - 04:08

I'm glad to see that another poll is suggesting that most Americans believe Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in their first debate.

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds that a majority of Americans believe Hillary Clinton won the first presidential debate on Monday.

The poll found that, out of 2,000 responders, 56 percent thought the Democratic nominee won the debate, as opposed to 26 percent who said the same about Republican Donald Trump.

But while Clinton did perform well, and did at the very least halt Trump's momentum..

She did make one very big mistake. 

Read more »

Into the dark

accidentaldeliberations - mer, 09/28/2016 - 16:27
Apparently provincial finances have joined monthly job reports as areas where if there's nothing to be spun in the Saskatchewan Party's favour, Brad Wall is making a concerted effort to hide what's going on from the public. (Go on, just try to find the government's monthly jobs release containing this news - in contrast even to this.)

But what's worse is that if the Sask Party really thinks it can get away with government-by-putting-fingers-in-ears-shouting-la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you, there figure to be plenty more bad-news areas going unreported.

[Edit: fixed links.]

Clinton Bags More Endorsements

The Disaffected Lib - mer, 09/28/2016 - 11:00

The Washington Post endorsed Clinton for president weeks before the first debate. The New York Times took a little longer but came to the same conclusion. Okay, it is Donald Trump after all. Not a tough call.

But what about reliably Republican newspapers? Papers like the venerable Arizona Republic? It's never endorsed a Democrat - until now.

"Since The Arizona Republic began publication in 1890, we have never endorsed a Democrat over a Republican for president. Never. This reflects a deep philosophical appreciation for conservative ideals and Republican principles. This year is different. The 2016 Republican candidate is not conservative and he is not qualified," the editorial in the Republic, the state's largest, says.

The Arizona Republic isn't some outlier either. Other conservative papers including the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News and the Cincinnati Enquirer have also rallied to Clinton.
The BBC notes that Trump has yet to receive the endorsement of a single major publication. Not one.

We Broke Through - And We're Here to Stay

The Disaffected Lib - mer, 09/28/2016 - 09:57

There was a great stir a couple of years back when atmospheric CO2 levels first spiked through the 400 ppm mark, a harbinger for ever more global warming to come. It was an on/off thing affected by seasonal change. It was - back then.

It's no longer an on/off thing. We've passed 400 ppm and we're going to stay past it for the rest of your natural life and then a bit more.

In the centuries to come, history books will likely look back on September 2016 as a major milestone for the world’s climate. At a time when atmospheric carbon dioxide is usually at its minimum, the monthly value failed to drop below 400 parts per million (ppm).

That all but ensures that 2016 will be the year that carbon dioxide officially passed the symbolic 400 ppm mark, never to return below it in our lifetimes, according to scientists.

September is usually the month when carbon dioxide is at its lowest after a summer of plants growing and sucking it up in the northern hemisphere. As fall wears on, those plants lose their leaves, which in turn decompose, releasing the stored carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. At Mauna Loa Observatory, the world’s marquee site for monitoring carbon dioxide, there are signs that the process has begun but levels have remained above 400 ppm.
Now keep this to yourself. We don't want you telling Justin, not after he's just tossed a giant carbon bomb in British Columbia. And we wouldn't want to rattle him when he's about to rubber stamp our corrupt National Energy Board's approval of the Kinder Morgan bitumen pipeline. That would never do.

Welcome To the Age of the Id

The Disaffected Lib - mer, 09/28/2016 - 09:42
It's the sleaziest, most despicable and effective political weapon to be had. It's fear or, more specifically, fearmongering. It's gotten Donald Trump to the point where he's a serious challenge to Hillary Clinton for the presidency. It's worked magic for ambitious thugs in Europe and elsewhere.

If you take a look around the world right now, it’s hard to escape the feeling that
Donald Trump is the candidate who’s in sync with the zeitgeist. It’s a deeply depressing thought. But Clinton ignores it at her peril.

Much of the world currently finds itself in the grip of dark emotions. The democracies of the West seem to be suffering from a collective nervous breakdown. Anxiety about sluggish economic growth is fusing with fears about terrorism and migration to devastating effect. There’s a widespread sense that remote political elites are completely out of touch with the anxieties of ordinary voters.

In the United Kingdom, Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson deftly exploited these fears in their campaign to persuade Britons to leave the EU; Johnson has now become the U.K.’s foreign minister. France’s Marine Le Pen, who has made a career out of channeling resentment against immigrants, has a real shot at becoming her country’s next president. Hungary’s Viktor Orban has vowed to end liberal democracy in his country. Meanwhile, Germans have been voting in droves for a party called the Alternative for Germany, a nativist movement that’s been causing big headaches for Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Certainly some of reasons for the current populist revolt have to do with economics — the sense that an age of turbocharged technological change and free trade agreements has left too many behind. But purely economic explanations only go so far. What we’re seeing now around the world can’t always be reduced to rational thinking about economic self-interest.

Take that pesky fact that the illiberal surge has coincided in some countries with positive economic trends. In the U.K., one of the strongest pro-Brexit votes came from Cornwall, the county that has received huge amounts of EU subsidies. For voters there, worries about immigration and the loss of sovereignty to Brussels outweighed the potential damage to their pocketbooks. Poland has posted some of its region’s highest growth rates in the past two decades — but that didn’t dissuade voters from choosing a populist right-wing government with a disturbingly authoritarian streak last year. Clearly, growth wasn’t enough. The same goes for the Philippines, where a long-running economic boom has fueled a rise in crime, corruption, and government dysfunction, thus creating the perfect opening for Duterte.

Welcome to the age of the id. More than any other generation in human history, we currently inhabit a world of constant and unrelenting change, and many people are quite naturally responding with uncertainty and fear. They’re not looking primarily for someone who’s proposing rational policy fixes — they’re looking for security, reassurance, and trust, impulses that are all too often salved by strident promises of tribalism or nationalism.

In this world, voters are all too ready to reject the calm voices of reason and experience and to opt instead for a desperate leap into the arms of the demagogue, the leader who promises protection from all the messy turbulence of a world in constant flux. Voters gravitate to strongmen — and note that most of the leaders I’ve mentioned above are democratically elected — when they feel the need for protection: from change, from instability, from “the other.”

To his credit, our current prime minister has steered clear of the politics of fear. That was his predecessor's favourite flavour of political intercourse and it remains the stock in trade of upcoming Tories like Kellie Leitch. Yet the world serves as a powerful warning of what may be in store for Canadians if some effort isn't made at pushback. 

Couldn't They Have Placed a Conference Call?

The Disaffected Lib - mer, 09/28/2016 - 09:12
The timing couldn't have been much creepier. One day after the federal government announced approval of a major LNG "carbon bomb" in British Columbia, experts are gathering at the White House for the first, Arctic science ministerial meeting to focus on climate change and the far north.

America, thanks to Alaska is a genuine Arctic nation. I think Canada is too, eh? So, while we're tossing carbon bombs, the great minds in Washington are delivering a blunt message - "we've run out of time." Note that's not future tense. It's present tense as in, "we've run out."

In anticipation of the meeting, the Columbia Climate Center hosted a workshop in July in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund and other NGOs, which produced a white paper called 'A 5 C Arctic in a 2 C World.'

"We've run out of time," says Peter Schlosser, the centre's director and lead author of the paper.

Simply implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change — which was hashed out in a major international conference in late 2015 — will not be enough, he argues.

At some point we need to realize that Canada's government - yes, the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau - is caught in the throes of cognitive dissonance. It believes Canada can expand our fossil fuel production while pretending to cut greenhouse gas emissions. It's a joke, a lethal jest, but, then again, don't we all know that?
It's too bad Obama hasn't invited Justin to his party. Would a conference call have been too much to expect?


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