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A "Whole of Government" Effort on Climate Change Challenges

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 11/12/2015 - 10:23
It's amazing how many voices are coming out of the woodwork demanding that Justin Trudeau do this or do that and damned smartly too. Jesus, I didn't think the Dippers would take their entirely self-made election drubbing that hard but apparently I was wrong. I know this won't quiet them but they should really give it a rest.

You see, C-51 isn't the pressing issue of the day. Neither, in fairness, is the TPP. What matters right now, to the virtual exclusion of anything short of an existential threat to Canada, is climate change. That is what matters right now.

Next month world leaders will convene in Paris for what many experts consider mankind's last best chance to reach an effective pact on a mitigation/adaptation plan that could avert runaway global warming. We're hoping to give ourselves a reasonable chance of not pulling the trigger on natural feedback loops that will cause uncontrollable, unsurvivable global warming and a host of equally cataclysmic events such as ocean acidification.

Harper revealed the nihilistic face of neoliberalism through his efforts to thwart any meaningful action on climate change during Canada's decade of darkness. He didn't give a shit how abbreviated your grandkids' lifespans might be.

Good news. Harper is gone. Trudeau is in and the new prime minister is making climate change this government's top priority.

All Liberal cabinet ministers have been charged with ensuring the success of thenew government’s commitments on climate change, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion said in an interview Wednesday as he prepares to engage the country’s diplomatic corps in the international fight against global warming.

...Mr. Dion said that the effort will be much broader, suggesting all major economic decisions will face a climate-change test.

“The old system was to give the file of the environment to the minister of environment and say to her or him, ‘Deal with it, be the hero of the environmental groups but don’t bother us because we have jobs to create and an economy to grow,’” he said. “That will not work. … [Ms. McKenna] will succeed only if all of us [in cabinet] have a green orientation and sensitivity.”

Mr. Dion served as environment minister under former prime minister Paul Martin, and he controversially campaigned on a proposed carbon tax when he was Liberal leader in the 2008 election in which the Conservatives secured their second minority government. He is clearly thrilled to be back in a position where he can pursue an environmental agenda.

“The reason we worked so hard is because we have a plan for the country and we wanted an opportunity to implement it. And for that, we needed a mandate,” he said. “Within this mandate, you have the ability for Canada to be part of the solution to climate change and not only part of the problem. And that’s fantastic.”

To succeed in a world battered by global warming, he said Canada needs to adopt more energy-efficient lifestyles and business approaches, switch from fossil fuels to renewables and adapt to more extreme weather events that cause flooding and other damage. And that requires not only a federal effort, he said, but provinces, municipalities, corporations and individuals taking action.

Mr. Dion pledged that Canada will work for an ambitious agreement in Paris, likely to be reviewed after five years to ensure the world is on track. He said Ottawa will pursue a North American climate and energy accord with the United States and Mexico. And he said the country’s diplomatic and aid effort will focus on the instability and human tragedy that will result from the growing climate crisis.

Think for a minute that Mulcair would have done half as much? If you do, you're delusional.

Could Stephen Harper Be Forced To Testify At the Duffy Trial?

Montreal Simon - Thu, 11/12/2015 - 07:19

When we last saw Stephen Harper he was running or waddling quickly down a corridor, in a desperate attempt to escape the media.

Or as portrayed in this Le Devoir cartoon, crawling out the back window for the same reason...

But according to some parliamentary experts, he could soon be running for his political life.

Should Mike Duffy decide to summon him to his upcoming trial, and he can't use his parliamentary immunity. 
Read more »

A Sordid Story

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 11/12/2015 - 06:58

While it is yet too early to tell how the new Trudeau government will handle the environmental and climate change file, early indications are promising. Minster Catherine McKenna has said that with regard to future pipeline proposals,
assessments will be “based on science” and ensure Canadians can participate in the hearings. During the campaign, the Liberals slammed the review procedures – put in place during Conservative rule – as inadequate and pledged that pipeline assessments would include upstream impacts of crude extraction.Lord knows that the oil interests cannot be trusted to police themselves, as the sad and corrupt tale of Nigeria, Shell Oil, and the late Ken Saro-Wiwa amply demonstrate.

Saro-Wiwa, a passionate Nigerian environmental and human-rights activist, has been dead for 20 years, executed on trumped-up charges, the apparent victim of collusion between a corrupt military and Big Oil.
It was Shell that Mr. Saro-Wiwa was campaigning relentlessly against in 1995 when Nigeria’s military government arrested him. And it is Shell that continues to operate about 50 oil fields and 5,000 kilometres of pipelines in the Niger Delta today.Although he died for his cause, that cause is yet unfulfilled:
The lands of his Ogoni people, in southeastern Nigeria, continue to be contaminated by oil, and thousands of people are still reported to be exposed to the pollution, despite repeated promises of a cleanup.

A report released this month by Amnesty International concludes that the giant oil multinational Shell has failed to clean up the pollution from its southern Nigerian pipelines and wells. Shell is the biggest international oil producer in the Niger Delta, which is the biggest oil-producing region in Africa – and one of the most polluted places on the planet.And while Shell Oil has made its mea culpa over what transpired in the land of the Ogoni, the fact is it has done little to reverse the harm and environmental despoliation it has caused:
[A] 38-page Amnesty International report says it is Shell itself that is breaking its promises in the region. Amnesty’s researchers visited four oil-spill sites that Shell said it had cleaned up years ago. They found soil and water still blackened and contaminated by oil, even though people were living and farming nearby. “Anyone who visits these spill sites can see and smell for themselves how the pollution has spread across the land,” said a statement by Mark Dummett, an Amnesty business and human rights researcher.

One contractor, hired by Shell to help clean up a spill site, told Amnesty: “This is just a cover-up. If you just dig down a few metres, you find oil.”It is an egregious corporate failure that has not gone unnoticed by Amnesty International:
“It is heartbreakingly tragic to see how 20 years after the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa … we see very little has changed: the oil spills have not stopped, and Shell still has not cleaned up this huge environmental degradation,” said a statement by M.K. Ibrahim, the Amnesty director in Nigeria.

“In the 20 years since Saro-Wiwa was executed, thousands of villagers in the Niger Delta have still not been able to drink clean water, nor farm on their land, nor fish in their waters,” he said. “This oil pollution is wrecking lives.”And government corruption, it would seem, continues, as reflected in the customs seizure of this:

The above, called the "battle bus," is a
full-sized steel bus, created by British-Nigerian artist Sokari Douglas Camp in 2006, [which] carries oil barrels on its roof and is emblazoned with one of Saro-Wiwa’s most stark and enduring phrases: “I accuse the oil companies of practising genocide against the Ogoni.”Intended to inspire Nigerian youth to be vigilant and hold the government and oil companies to their promises of environmental remediation, the sculpture has instead
become a symbol of the ongoing censorship of communities in Nigeria and it has also made explicit the links between the violence and corruption and the influence the oil companies . . . have in the region.”Back here in Canada our new government, unlike the old with its virtual blank-cheque mentality for all things resource-related, will indeed do well to keep in mind the true nature of the oil multinationals and legislate and regulate them accordingly.Recommend this Post

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 11/12/2015 - 06:55
Here, on the opportunity posed by the change in Canada's federal government - as well as the risks involved in letting the moment pass without an activist push for meaningful change.

For further reading...
- Nora Loreto makes much the same point with a particular focus on Canada's labour movement.
- Susan Delacourt notes that Justin Trudeau is going so far as to ask for public involvement in at least some areas - though the more important ones for activism may be those where he isn't willing to make a public appeal.
- And as I noted in this post, data on voter turnout is here for this year's election, and here for previous ones.

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 11/12/2015 - 06:53
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Seth Klein discusses the need to deal with climate change with the same sense of urgency and common purpose we've historically associated with major wars:
Canada’s experience in WWI and WWII serves to remind us that our society has managed a dramatic restructuring of the economy before. During both world wars, our economy had to be entirely re-tooled for a new common purpose: scarce resources were deployed for the task at hand, Victory Bonds were sold, profits were restricted to prevent war-time profiteering, new taxes were levied, household consumption shifted and quotas we applied on some goods, core industries were directed to produce the goods and services needed, people grew “Victory Gardens” and dramatically switched their transportation from private automobiles to public transit –– coincidentally, actions that also reduced emissions. And in the process employment grew dramatically.

While the threat today may move in slower motion, is the climate crisis we face really all that different?

Only now, we need a federal government that can lead us not into battle against other nations, but rather, into the fight for our collective future.- But Tyler Hamilton reports on the billions Canada continues to hand to the fossil fuel industry in subsidies, while Charles Mandel points out that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is designed to limit what we're able to do to rein in climate change. And John Klein exposes the Saskatchewan Party's disappearing promises when it comes to greenhouse gas emission reductions.

- Meanwhile, Thomas Walkom notes that Justin Trudeau doesn't have the same sense of urgency about the global problem of climate change that he's expressed when it comes to his promises on refugees - which is a problem however important (and beneficial) the cause of helping today's refugees. And so we probably can't expect Canada's failing grade on climate change to improve anytime soon.

- Finally, Paul Waldman points out how the U.S.' Republican presidential candidates are ignoring the facts as what's actually produced economic growth in the past in order to pitch yet more faith-based tax giveaways to the rich. And Pete Evans reports on David Madani's finding that the hope of a secure income is little more than an illusion for an increasing number of Canadians, while Andrew Prokop discusses how the TPP may only make matters worse (despite some spin about labour protections which likely won't be enforced).


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