Posts from our progressive community

Making an Example of Fort Mac

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 05/19/2016 - 09:49
The Fort McMurray wildfires have garnered attention around the world. Indonesia may be ablaze from one end of the country to the other but all eyes are on Canada.

Some think that the Fort Mac fires should be seen as an invaluable lesson to others.

"The Alberta wildfires are an excellent example of what we're seeing more and more of: warming means snow melts earlier, soils and vegetation dries out earlier, and the fire season starts earlier. It's a train wreck," Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist from the University of Arizona, said.

The global fire season increased in length 19 percent between 1979 and 2013, resulting in a rash of large fires from the late 1990s to the start of the 21st century. However, the total amount of land lost globally to these blazes has decreased, at least in part due to improved firefighting techniques. However, in the United States, the amount of land consumed in these fires has risen dramatically. The 10-year average, which stood at 3 million acres 30 years ago, sits at 7 million acres today.

A Small Step in Defence of Evidence-Based Thinking

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 05/19/2016 - 09:36

Whatever happened to critical thinking - reasoned, rational, evidence-based thought? That it's gone, or at least it's been suppressed, is plain for all to see.

Interesting report in today's Washington Post. A group of climate science types decided to expose the denialists for the scheming liars which they are.

We've spent the last decade, perhaps 15+ years, in a he said/she said rut. Research is done, statistics are produced and then the fun begins. One side says this proves X. The other side says, no, that's not right - look here, this proves Y. And, with that, there is no proof, merely a debate and we're all free to take sides.

Now these climate scientists have arranged what you might call an elaborate "blind taste test." They've taken the statistics that both sides are using and dress them up to appear as something else, something other than climate data. Then they take each side's arguments, adapt them accordingly to suit the non-climate scenario, and submit them to experts in non-climate fields.

During the test, the researchers featured such a statement, along with the corresponding climate data — but they changed the labels and wording, making it appear that they were displaying information about entirely unrelated topics, such as agricultural output or business profits. They then asked the expert participants to answer a series of questions about whether they thought the given statement confirmed or contradicted the accompanying data; whether the statement seemed misleading; and whether the statement was appropriate for use by policymakers or industries...
“Across two groups of experts and across six different scenarios, contrarian claims were judged to be misleading, inaccurate, and unsuitable for policy advice,” the researchers wrote in the paper. “Conversely, mainstream scientific interpretations were found to be accurate and suitable for policy advice overall.”

“It’s a huge effect,” [the University of Bristol's Stephan]Lewandowsky added. “They are about as far apart as anything I’ve seen.”

As an added test, the researchers asked the participants to predict what the masked data should look like in the future — and in general, the experts made predictions in line with what’s been projected by mainstream climate scientists.

“So no one thought the Arctic was going to recover — they thought it was going to continue melting, because that is what the data show,” Lewandowsky said.

Some are criticizing the study for its methodology but, ultimately, the criticisms don't really matter. The study would only be truly relevant in a society governed by evidence based, rational, reasoned, critical thought. That ship has sailed and it's well over the horizon.

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 05/19/2016 - 09:24
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Peter Mazereeuw reports on the growing opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership which may result in it never coming into force. And Jerry Dias reminds us why we should be glad if that movement wins out over the corporate forces who assembled it behind closed doors:
(T)he far more insidious part of the deal has nothing to do with trade or tariffs at all.

It is the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system that would give corporations the right to sue governments for passing laws that hurt their ability to earn a profit -- even if those laws are in the public interest.

Think about that. A government gets elected to pass the laws that its citizens want -- and then gets sued under an international trade agreement for doing exactly what it was elected to do.

Think that won't happen? It already has.
Testifying before hearings into the TPP in New Zealand last week, Osgoode Hall law professor Gus Van Harten said that while ISDS provisions have existed in trade deals before, the TPP marks a watershed. That's because the TPP, along with a proposed trade deal between Europe and the United States, would expand coverage of ISDS provisions from 20 per cent of the world economy to up to 90 per cent .

That means that virtually the entire world economy would be ruled by these undemocratic ISDS tribunals, which put corporate profits ahead of public policy, the environment or labour rights. In fact, ISDS is a one-way street, with only private industries given the right to sue, while protecting them against state or citizen lawsuits.

The TPP, in other words, is a lop-sided deal that favours the rights of corporations over the people, a reflection of the blind faith placed in so-called free trade by our former Conservative government. - Fernando Arce reports on the plight of migrant workers lacking any protection from Canada's federal government. And Desmond Cole sees the issue as one of the most stark examples of our seeing workers as disposable.

- Meanwhile, Anna Mehler Paperny reports on a continued pattern of immigrants being shut away in solitary confinement for years at a time due to the belief that option is easier than providing treatment.

- Chantal Hebert writes that Maryam Monsef's utterly senseless talking points on electoral reform are burning bridges to people who were more than willing to work with the Libs on a fair electoral system. And Jeremy Nuttall talks to Nathan Cullen about the obvious problems with the Libs' self-serving committee design.

- Finally, Eric Pineault comments on the trend toward extreme oil extraction - and the need to start building our economy on a more stable and less dangerous foundation.

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 05/19/2016 - 09:09
Here, on the CCPA's recent report on the continued shame of child poverty (particularly on reserve) and the Wall government's lack of any interest in changing the reality that over two-thirds of Saskatchewan children on reserve live in poverty.

For further reading...
- The CCPA's previous report from 2013 covering similar issues is here.
- The Wall government's throne speech - complete with climate denialism and zero mentions of poverty among other lowlights - is here (PDF). And the single mention of First Nations involves one power contract encompassing only one First Nation.

Of Danger and Betrayal

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 05/19/2016 - 09:08

Imagine you lived in south London. Bermondsey, down by the docks. It's 1941 and the night is full of the drone of German bombers overhead as you hustle the kids down into the coal cellar for shelter as the floor shakes from the bombs blasting your neighbourhood.

Now, imagine that you learned on your way to work the next morning that your government was selling the Luftwaffe the fuel they needed to fly those bombers over your house night after night.

Then you read a story in the morning paper that your government said they couldn't stop the sale of all that aviation gas, not right away. It would be too devastating to the economy. Besides, they needed the revenues they pocketed from that avgas in order to fight the Hun. Your country's victory, they said, depended on keeping the German bombers and tanks and submarines full of fuel.

How long do you think it would take you to locate a pitchfork and a torch and join your neighbours as they marched on Westminster?

Well, of course, this isn't 1941 Britain. It's Canada, 2016. It's Canada and, for that matter, the world. The danger overhead isn't squadrons of Heinkels but greenhouse gases. The threat isn't defeat, surrender and subjugation; it's plague, pestilence, famine, war and extinction.

And, of course, Churchill would never have had a policy like that or made such preposterous arguments. If he had he would have been banged up in the Tower for high treason awaiting his end.

And, of course, we don't have a Churchill, we have someone who had a famous father on the strength of which we expected great things. In these immensely dangerous times we (well, not I) put him in control.

Now he tells us that the way to defeating our existential menace is to double down on what's fueling it. We must build more pipelines - failure-prone metal tubes - so that we can increase the extraction and export of world destroying fossil fuels, among the very worst of the lot, and get that to tidewater, rolling the dice that the inevitable supertanker disaster(s) won't happen on his watch.

The real high treason in this is that he knows, beyond any doubt he knows, that what he intends to do will foreclose any prospect that Canada will meet it's already paltry emissions reduction promises, Stephen Harper's laughable commitments.

And then he looks us straight in the face and tells us that this is for our own good. Going ever blacker will make us green. Jeez, I think I've got a pitchfork in the garden shed.

No Encouraging News Here

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 05/19/2016 - 08:03
For those of us who follow such matters, this news is not really surprising: 2015 was the hottest year on record:

Recommend this Post

Very Encouraging News

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 05/19/2016 - 07:08
While this is not, strictly speaking, a political story, it does involve former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who seems to have escaped the death sentence that advanced melanoma traditionally has been, thanks to what many are calling a breakthrough drug:

Recommend this Post

Ontario set to curtail free speech

Dawg's Blawg - Thu, 05/19/2016 - 05:20
In honour of a friend who seeks to foster dialogue on Israel and Palestine by “raising the issue and lowering the temperature,” let’s have a look at a pernicious Bill now steamrolling through the Ontario legislature, but concentrate on some... Dr.Dawg

Entertainment And Politics

Northern Reflections - Thu, 05/19/2016 - 04:45

So you think Canada would never elect a Donald Trump? Think again. Debra Van Brenk writes:

Conservative voters would be more more likely to choose outspoken TV personality Kevin O'Leary as their party leader among a field of seven declared and potential candidates for Stephen Harper's old job, a Forum Research poll suggests.

But among voters generally, not just those likely to vote Tory if an election were held today, former cabinet minister Peter MacKay leads the pack. 
All it would take would be a party of crazies -- people who are seething with resentment and not very bright -- to make it happen. And a culture that confuses entertainment and politics. Consider the field of potential Conservative leaders:

Forum asked more than 1,500 randomly-chosen adult Canadians who would be the best Conservative leader from among a field of seven that includes party stalwart Jason Kenney, the already-declared Maxime Bernier, interim party leader Rona Ambrose and former cabinet ministers Lisa Raitt and Kelly Leitch, the latter of which was a children's orthopedic surgeon in London before entering federal poltiics.
 O'Leary is as prepared as Trump to change his positions:

And just as Donald Trump's actual political leanings confound some in the U.S. Republican party, O'Leary's take on politics has to be decidedly unsettling to established Conservative candidates. O'Leary has said his main aim is advocating for tax-paying Canadians and he hasn't even ruled out running for the Liberals for the next election.

Something to think about.


Justin Trudeau and the Loser Party

Montreal Simon - Thu, 05/19/2016 - 03:15

They have gone after his wife, they have gone after his kids, they have gone after his mother.

They have tried to sabotage his legislative agenda, by turning our parliament into a monkey house.

And today Justin Trudeau finally lost his temper.
Read more »

The Office of Religious Freedom is Finally Buried

Montreal Simon - Wed, 05/18/2016 - 20:56

Well it took a while, and as you can see the Cons weren't happy about it.

But the Trudeau government has finally buried the so-called Office of Religious Freedom.
Read more »

Has Slick Lost It?

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 05/18/2016 - 16:34

A bizarre spectacle in the House of Commons during the debate on the Liberal government's blatantly unconstitutional assisted dying legislation.

Video shows Trudeau crossing the floor, taking the Tory Whip, Gord Brown, by the arm and ushering him back to his seat. There was apparently some further scuffling in which Trudeau allegedly elbowed NDP MP Ruth Brosseau. That led to a shouting match between Trudeau and Angry Tom Mulcair following which Trudeau apologized "unreservedly" to Brosseau. It's not apparent from the video that the Brosseau incident was intentional.

CTV's Don Martin explained that Trudeau saw that the Tory Whip was being blocked, apparently intentionally, by several NDP MPs to prevent Brown from taking his seat.

At one point Liberal MPs rose from their desks and a number crossed to the opposition side of the House.

This is pretty bizarre. A prime minister crossing the floor to take the Tory Whip, like some errant schoolboy, by the arm and send him back to his seat. Is Trudeau cracking up? Does he imagine he truly is the Dauphin?

As for Ms. Brosseau, she seems to have all the dramatic skills of a World Cup footballer.

Sorry but the CBC clip wouldn't embed. Follow the link above and watch it for yourself. What do you think?

Trudeau's Stealth Dilbit Pipeline Campaign Continues

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 05/18/2016 - 14:10

We know when it comes to hazmat pipelines running across British Columbia, Trudeau is dealing from the bottom of the deck. The NDP's Nathan Cullen aptly summed it up:

“The Liberals swore on a stack of Bibles to fix the Conservatives’ failed environmental assessment process,” said the party's environment critic, Nathan Cullen. "The Kinder Morgan pipeline is exactly the kind of project that needs a serious and credible environmental review.

"This is a Conservative pipeline under a Conservative review process, with just a Liberal fig leaf hiding over top of that fact. So where are all the BC Liberals that promised to do things differently? Will just one BC Liberal stand up today and justify the unjustifiable?”

Meanwhile, our suddenly slack-jawed environment minister, star of the Paris climate summit last December, Catherine McKenna has turned into a windbag just full of weasel words.
Federal Liberal cabinet ministers stickhandled around accusations of breaking election campaign promises on Tuesday, as they were pressed by media and opposition members of Parliament about pipeline projects in Western Canada.

The two major pipelines in play, Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain expansion and the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, both involved meaty promises from Prime Minister Trudeau during the election campaign — first, that he would fix a flawed federal review process for new energy projects, and second, that hewould stop Northern Gateway.

But with rumours suggesting that the Enbridge pipeline may yet live, Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna declined to give a straight answer on whether the government had changed its mind:

"Transport Minister Garneau is looking at ensuring marine safety, which is really key," she told National Observer after a discussion about climate change with high school students in Vancouver. "The prime minister has also been very clear about Northern Gateway — it’s not appropriate that it goes through the Great Bear Rainforest."

Garneau should get himself into a small boat and go out onto the Hecate in one of its Biblical storms. Then he'll learn all he will need to know about "marine safety" and Trudeau will be able to find himself a new transport minister.

No, Justin, Don't Screw With he Vets. Don't.

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 05/18/2016 - 12:05
I hope this isn't as bad as it sounds. From CBC News:

The federal government is taking veterans back to court to try to block certain benefits for injured and wounded soldiers, despite a Liberal campaign promise to better support them after an era of Conservative cuts.

"It's a betrayal," said Donald Sorochan, the lawyer representing the six Afghan war veterans who initiated a class-action lawsuit over pensions and other benefits.

"They have turned the Liberal election campaign into a lie. I sat at tables [during the campaign] with some of the people who are now in cabinet. Those ministers have been turned into liars by the Department of Justice," he said Tuesday, noting the election platform explicitly promised that no veteran would have to "fight the government" for the support and compensation they have earned.

...The plaintiffs have argued in court that the government has a sacred obligation to its injured soldiers and that the lump-sum payment wounded veterans receive under the New Veterans Charter — as opposed to the pension that was previously offered to veterans before 2006 — is inadequate compensation, as they receive less money over the course of a lifetime.
...Government lawyers outraged veterans by asserting that the federal government has no extraordinary obligation to those who have fought for the country, and therefore the litigation has no merit.

Harper veteran affairs min Erin O'Toole also removed the lead government lawyer, Paul Vickery, from the case and replaced him with Joel Watson, a litigator from the private sector and himself a former veteran.

But Sorochan told CBC News that the government lawyers have told him they will now revive the argument that the government does not have a sacred obligation to veterans — to try to kill the class-action lawsuit once and for all.

The Liberal government has also put Vickery back on the case.

When are the Liberal rank and file going to give Trudeau and Co. a smack upside the head?

The Wind at Our Backs

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 05/18/2016 - 11:35

You can't do science with politics. Razors cannot slice glue. Science is a razor. Politics is glue. Everything, no matter how sharp, gets stuck in it.
The "climate change debate" illustrates the problem. There's really no debate about what we need to do. We got past that last December in Paris where it was agreed, much belatedly, that our "never exceed" temperature limit had to be 1.5C. That's 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Anything beyond that invites, perhaps even ensures, climatic calamity. 
1.5C it is then.
Everyone came away from Paris patting themselves on the back. Not sure why. What they left in Paris were national commitments, promises, by each nation of the cuts in greenhouse gas emissions it was willing to implement by specified dates. Such and such a percent by such and such year.
Unfortunately, when you add up all those promised cuts what you're left with is 3.5 degrees Celsius of warming and not to put too fine a point on it but that's not survivable for most life on Earth, including you and me and our kids and theirs.
The problem with a political approach to climate change is that it gets bogged down with man-made (anthropogenic) global warming. It's as though we're the only players at the table. That 1.5C is for us. We don't have to share it. That ignores who else is sitting at the table - nature.
Nature, represented by physics, geology, chemistry, hydrology, biology, zoology, botany, meteorology, glaciology, atmospherics, and every other Earth science, also has a handful of cards and that hand is also in play.
We don't know how Nature will play its hand. We do know that it's upping the ante.
That 1.5C goal reached at Paris? There's a hitch. We're already there. We've already loaded the atmosphere with enough man-made greenhouse gas that we've locked in 1.5C of overall warming. Every fossil-fuel generating station, every wildfire, every tank of SUV juice, every truckload of cement - that's all atop the existing 1.5C loading. Congratulations. We've set ourselves an ambitious target we have already exceeded. 
Don't worry, we're working on a plan and it's going to be a dandy. We'll have carbon taxes even as we ramp up the extraction and export of bitumen to world markets. Oh yeah, and we're still selling coal to boot.
But what about Nature? Well, what about it? The 1.5C target? That's all about preventing catastrophic, runaway climate change. What does "runaway climate change" mean? It means Nature, natural processes that we cannot control that will overheat the Earth. Science tells us these natural impacts can eclipse anything man-made.
Well, we're at 1.5C or we soon will be so what then? The mechanism of runaway global warming is thought to involve triggers known as "tipping points" that, when reached, will activate "natural feedback loops" that are unstoppable. Our best guess is that those tipping points will be passed at 1.5C of man-made global warming or at least that's the political narrative.
When this whole scenario was first floated (not all that long ago) it imagined the Arctic being ice free - by about the year 2100. No one imagined it could happen by 2016, more than 80-years sooner than anticipated. Oopsie!
So, what happened? Natural feedback loops, that's what happened. The Arctic warmed, sea ice thinned and then disappeared. In place of that white, reflective ice cover that once bounced solar radiation safely back into space, dark green ocean water began absorbing that solar energy, heat. The Arctic Ocean got warmer and it warmed the atmosphere above it and that set a whole bunch of wheels in motion.
There are knock-on effects, one feedback loop triggering others. As the Arctic warmed, boulders of frozen methane, "clathrates" a.k.a. "fire ice," lining the ocean floor and many lakes began thawing, releasing plumes of methane gas to the surface and upwards into the atmosphere. Methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2. It's not as long-lasting as carbon dioxide but it's persistent enough (about 12-years) to do a lot of damage.
Much of the terrestrial Arctic is comprised either of exposed rock or tundra, which is basically ancient peat. Peat, of course, is rich in hydrocarbons and makes a dandy fuel, ask any Irishman. Until now most of the CO2 held in the tundra has been safely sequestered by cold temperatures. However the warmer Arctic temperatures have been causing the tundra to dry out which transforms it into dandy fuel for wildfires. As you might imagine, we don't have much firefighting capacity in the Arctic, no way to extinguish tundra fires.
A tundra fire has three knock-on effects. The combustion releases CO2 to the atmosphere. The fires also produce "black soot" that is blanketing the surface, absorbing heat to speed up the melting of snow and ice. This is a big problem for the Greenland ice sheet, accelerating the melting which contributes to sea level rise around the planet. The third, knock-on effect is that, as the tundra burns, it exposes the layer beneath it, the permafrost. That is a huge methane trap. As it becomes the perma-no-more-frost, as it thaws, that methane is also released to the atmosphere.
So there you have a neat little bag of feedback loops. If you reverse engineer it, the existence of feedback loops evidences tipping points that were passed some time ago. There may be other, perhaps slower onset feedback loops that haven't come to our attention yet.
Two that are in evidence are the retreat of glaciers and the broken hydrological cycle. We have warmed the atmosphere. 15 of the 16 hottest years on record have occurred during this century. Heat melts glaciers. It also causes physical changes in the atmosphere. 
A warmer atmosphere is capable of holding more water vapour, a lot more as it turns out. That disrupts the hydrological cycle. Surface water is released to the atmosphere as water vapour through evaporation, perspiration and respiration by animals, and by plants through transpiration. It goes up into the air, condenses into clouds and then into rain and falls back to the surface where, among other things, it gives agriculture the water needed to grow our crops.
Once you have a warmer, wetter atmosphere it changes things. More water retained in the atmosphere means less water on the surface. This new reality contributes to precipitation changes. A warmer, wetter atmosphere is a more powerful atmosphere capable of triggering severe storm events of increasing frequency, intensity and duration. Bummer. Gives new meaning to "it never rains but it pours." Some places get sustained and severe drought. Other places get increasing precipitation, sometimes floods (thinking of you, Calgary). Some places get cyclical droughts and floods which, due to the soil compacting of drought can lead to destructive flash flooding. Double bummer.
Today's broken hydrological cycle can play utter hell on one of our most important carbon sinks, our forests. Trees absorb a lot of CO2 as they grow. Even when they die they can rot and create humus for the soil, another form of CO2 that nurtures microbial growth - the "circle of life" thing. What keeps that all going is rain, precipitation.
Drought causes trees to dry out, even die off, which transforms the forest from immensely valuable carbon sink into disastrous carbon bomb. As the forest dries out it becomes fuel for wildfires (thinking of you, Fort Mac). These fires are also increasing in frequency, intensity and duration beyond our ability to control them. We're now dependent on rain to put them out. What a terrific time to have a broken hydrological cycle, eh?
Oh yeah, one more thing. Water vapour, of which we now have ever more in the atmosphere, thanks to anthropogenic global warming, is one of the most powerful greenhouse gases. There's more of it up there and it's accelerating the power of the atmosphere to trap solar radiation, blocking its escape back into space.
So, we've got these powerful feedback loops in play but the political narrative ignores them entirely. No, the political narrative focuses on how we cut, no "reduce," greenhouse gas emissions to stay within a target that we have already exceeded in order to avoid tipping points that we've already tipped that could trigger natural feedback loops that are already looping. Hmm, what's with that?
Well then what's the point of this political exercise after all if it's only Kabuki theatre? Ask yourself this. How would the public react if the government said, "Oh, to hell with it. What's the point?"

Wednesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 05/18/2016 - 10:15
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Miles Corak reviews Branko Milanovic's new book on the complicated relationship between globalization and income inequality. Dougald Lamont examines the current state of inequality in Canada. And Matthew Yglesias takes a look at research showing that inequality and social friction can be traced back centuries based on the income levels associated with particular last names.

- David Macdonald and Daniel Wilson study the appalling levels of poverty among indigenous children. And Kristy Kirkup follows up by talking to First Nations leaders about the poverty facing their members (both on and off reserve), while CBC notes that resource-sharing with First Nations leads to reduced poverty rates.

- Alex Himelfarb rightly points out the importance of an open and inclusive process to discuss electoral reform. But Neil MacDonald writes that the Libs appear to have stacked the deck to prevent that needed conversation from happening, while Alison documents Marc Mayrand's warning as to how much time will be needed to implement a new electoral system. 

 - Chris Hall reports that the Libs are still stalling on anything to do with C-51, as now even a first set of changes which wasn't supposed to require extensive consultation - including the implementation of any oversight - is being delayed.

- Finally, Kady O'Malley reports that the Libs are planning to put Parliamentary business entirely in the hands of Justin Trudeau and his cabinet.

Alberta's Top Court Shoots Down Trudeau Assisted Death Legislation

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 05/18/2016 - 08:55
The Trudeau government's watered down proposal on assisted death isn't going to pass judicial muster. In fact, the Alberta Court of Appeal, the highest court in that province, has ruled that the federal government's proposal is flouting ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Carter case.

A panel of three appeal court judges says the government is flouting last year's landmark ruling by the Supreme Court when it argues that assisted dying should apply only to those who are close to death.

It's also not complying with the top court's ruling, known as the Carter decision, when it excludes people suffering solely from psychiatric conditions, the judges say.

The judicial smack-down comes at a particularly inopportune moment for the federal government, just as it is trying to persuade MPs and senators that its restrictive new law on assisted dying complies with the Supreme Court's ruling and with the charter of rights.

The bill is expected to be put to final vote in the House of Commons, where MPs are being allowed a free vote, by the end of this week.

The law is the law, Justin, even for you and your government. This isn't the first time you've been warned. Your own MP, Rob Oliphant, who co-chaired the Commons committee into the issue told you he won't vote for your legislation because it doesn't comply with the Supreme Court ruling. Before Oliphant spoke out, B.C. lawyer Joe Arvay, said your bill is plainly unconstitutional and demonstrates how you allowed your government to become captured by special interests.

It's called the Rule of Law, Justin. Your soul mate, Harper, didn't like it either. Tough.

SHOCKER! Fake Clinics Lie

Dammit Janet - Wed, 05/18/2016 - 08:19

The Abortion Rights Coalition has released a major study into the online presence of Canadian fake clincs, or crisis pregnancy centres (full PDF report).

From the press release:

Anti-abortion counselling agencies in Canada often present misinformation on their websites or fail to disclose their anti-choice or religious agenda to prospective clients, according to a new study published today by the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada.

Crisis Pregnancy Centres (CPCs) are anti-choice agencies that present themselves as unbiased medical clinics or counselling centres, and which often claim to provide women with non-judgemental information on all their options when faced with an unintended pregnancy. However, CPCs are not medical facilities, most are Christian ministries, they generally will not refer clients for abortion or contraception, and many promote misinformation about abortion. CPCs in Canada have no regulatory oversight; however, 68% of them are registered charities.
Researchers identified 180 CPCs in Canada, and looked at the 166 of them that have websites.

Results were not surprising. Well, not to those of us who have made it our mission to get these fake clinics regulated, defunded, and stripped of charitable status.

They lie about abortion risks; they promote sexual abstinence and adoption as ideal solutions to unwanted pregnancy; they fail to disclose their religious agendas; they do not reveal that they refuse to refer for abortion or contraception.

In fact, the Canadian study mirrors much of what was reported last year in a USian report, titled "Crisis Pregnancy Centers Lie." (PDF).

The situation in the US is much more dire. There are many, many more of these fraudulent operations and an astounding number of them get significant government funding.

The Canadian study reports on CPC funding (pp 29–30 of PDF). It seems that not much public funding goes to these places, but what does must be stopped.

A majority of them have charitable status.
Many CPCs also enjoy charitable tax status, which significantly increases their ability to fundraise (Arthur 2005). Out of the 180 CPCs we identified, 68% (122) had charitable tax status. However, Canadian groups should not be eligible for charity status if they disseminate biased or inaccurate information that is disguised as “education” or “counselling.” (Arthur 2005; Canada Revenue Agency 2013).
Coincidentally, Amanda Marcotte wrote recently about an analysis of USian CPCs' own data.

Nicole Knight Shine looked at the numbers and concluded they fail miserably at their mission -- if their mission is to dissuade women from choosing abortion.

Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are billed as alternatives to abortion clinics, but new data suggests they largely fail at their mission, persuading less than 4 percent of clients to forgo abortion care.
Back to Marcotte:

The thing is that CPC centers know this. Shine’s numbers come directly from their own database, showing that they they are well aware that the vast majority of women who come in their doors will not be intimidated, much less persuaded, out of their abortions. So why do they keep plugging away at it, when they know full well they are terrible at what they claim they want to do?

It’s because preventing abortion has never been and will never be the actual goal of CPCs, no matter what their fundraising materials might say. The real purpose is to shame women for having sex and to spread stigma over abortion, contraception, and any non-procreative sexual activity. The vicious lies and guilt trips they lay on women are not the means to an end, but are the end itself. The point is not really “saving lives”, but making women feel scared, guilty, and anxious, as punishment for having sex.
It is this atmosphere in the US that makes the endless screwing around with abortion laws and restrictions possible and, seemingly, acceptable.

In Canada, we are -- so far -- successfully resisting any similar attempts to recriminalize abortion.

This new study demonstrates though that we must remain vigilant and aware of what anti-choice forces are up to. We must impede them any way we can. Regulate them, defund them, and strip them of charitable status.

And for anyone interested in reading or writing about abortion, the ARCC report is full of helpful links and resources.

Kudos to all involved.

On a personal note -- and in what might be a first for a "serious" study -- DAMMIT JANET!, a mere blog, is cited for our efforts in getting public funding yanked from a fake clinic in Ontario.

We are chuffed.

Bitumen's Days Are Over

Northern Reflections - Wed, 05/18/2016 - 04:51

These are hard days for Fort McMurray. But, Andrew Nikiforuk writes, there is another fire burning -- a slow burning one -- that will eventually bring the place to its knees. And Murray Edwards, the head of Canadian Natural Resources, has seen the future:

Murray Edwards, the billionaire tycoon behind Canadian Natural Resources, one of the largest bitumen extractors, has decamped from Alberta to London, England.

Edwards and company slashed $2.4-billion from CNRL's budget in 2015.
Since the oil price crash, by some accounts, Murray's company has lost 50 per cent of its market value.

(Cenovus, another oilsands player, got cursed with junk bond status.)
Edwards likely has read the tea leaves and understands that bitumen might not play a significant role in the secular age of stagnation.
Former CIBC chief economist Jeff Rubin has also seen the future:
Last but not least comes a pithy analysis by Jeff Rubin, CIBC's former chief economist. Rubin warns that contraction is the only future for the oilsands unless Canada wishes its economy to become "obsolete and non-competitive."

He correctly notes that 80 per cent of the increase in new global oil did not come from OPEC but from high cost bitumen mines and fracked U.S. shale deposits.
North American corporations, in other words, engineered the global oil glut.

Encouraged by easy credit, Big Oil flooded the market with difficult and largely uneconomic hydrocarbons.

The Saudis, the world's number one and cheapest producers, refused to scale back production or give up market share. Instead they precipitated a price free-fall.

When oil prices stood at $100, rash bitumen development made some sense. But when prices fell below $45 the gamble turned into Russian roulette.
Most of our movers and shakers haven't figured it out yet. But bitumen's days are over.


Why the Cons Can't Attract Good Leadership Candidates

Montreal Simon - Wed, 05/18/2016 - 04:02

Despite Rona Ambrose's desperate attempts to try to get more people interested in running for the job of permanent Leader of the Harper Party.

So far her campaign has been a dismal failure.

For after beating her drum, or kicking up her arms and legs for months.

This is all she has to show for it.
Read more »


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