As food prices skyrocket, "feeble" G20 considers talking about it

Rotting corn damaged by severe drought on a farm near Bruceville, Indiana, August 16, 2012.(AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB)

Earlier this week, the Financial Times reported that G20 countries were considering how and when it should step in some sort of co-ordinated way to deal with rapidly rising prices of corn and soybean, two fundamental crops central to the diet of much of the world’s population.

Citiing unnamed G20 officials, the Times indicated that the G20  was ready to convince an emergency forum after the U.S. Department of Agriculture slashed its latest corn crop estimates last Friday. The Times did not mention Canada specifically but, of course, as one of the leading G20 economies and as one of the world’s largest food producers, Canada would be keenly interested and, presumably, involved in these discussions. Continue reading As food prices skyrocket, "feeble" G20 considers talking about it

Liberal MP McKay: Harper’s ideology has little to do with his faith

Liberal MP John McKay, a devout Christian and one of several in his caucus who voted against same-sex marriage, has no love for Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. But he says suggestions made by several journalists that Harper’s evangelical Christian beliefs animate his politics is not only wrong but offensive to evangelicals:

I have some sympathy for Lawrence Martin of the Globe & Mail who had the temerity to suggest that there might be a link between Prime Minister Harper’s evangelicalism and his anti-evidence, anti-science attitudes. While I think that he is wrong – profoundly wrong – he does express a commonly held misconception about evangelicals that gets endlessly repeated and therefore takes on a force of truth; namely that evangelicals as a group oppose scientific inquiry and rational thought. This is not true, has never been true but evidence of its untruthfulness seems to never get in the way of those wishing to make an argument.

Mr. Harper’s anti-rational, anti-scientific public policies do not generate themselves from his membership in the Christian & Missionary Alliance Church.

Read the rest: Harper’s ideology has little to do with his faith | iPolitics.

The Flaherty Retreat: The Invite List

The Department of Finance just provided the “invite list” to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s sixth annual policy retreat, held this year as in other years, at the beautiful Wakefield Inn and Spa in Wakefield, QC, just up the road from Ottawa. This meeting is closed to the press and public and is held under what are known as Chatham House Rules. Here’s the names of the 22 people Flaherty is meeting with this afternoon.

Continue reading The Flaherty Retreat: The Invite List

What would a PQ victory actually mean?

If Pauline Marois and the Parti Quebecois did form a government after Quebec goes to the polls on Sept.4, just what would that mean for the national unity issue? Would Quebecers, in voting in a party dedicated to separation be sending a signal that it approves of the whole sovereignty-association project? What about the rest of the Canada? Would it take a PQ victory as a sign that Quebecers want out of Confederation?

Ok. Lots of questions, there. And pollster Angus Reid today has some answers [pdf].

Bottom line: A PQ victory may mean absolutely nothing for the national unity file. “Few Canadians, and even fewer Quebecers, would interpret a victory by the Parti Quebecois in next month’s provincial election as consent to seek sovereignty,” the pollster says in a release out this morning.

Overall, just 29 per cent of survey respondents agree with this statement:  “A PQ victory would mean that Quebecers want to become a sovereign state.” Just 20% of Quebecers, though, agreed with that statement.

The pollster gave survey respondents a choice of agreeing with the statement above, i.e. PQ victory=desire for sovereignty, or agreeing with the following statement: “A PQ victory would mean that Quebecers want a different provincial government than the one they have now.” Across Canada, 45% chose that statement as closer to their views while 65% of Quebecers said that’s what a PQ victory would mean. 15% of Quebecers were unsure between the two (logically, you could agree with both statements) while 26% of Canadians were unsure.

Angus Reid polled 1,505 Canadians in an online survey Aug. 13-14. The pollster says the sampling variability or margin of error of 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The Conservative patronage trough

So this is great — if it all turns out to be true. Blogger The Sixth Estate has the name, rank and serial number for the 1,135 Conservative donors and sympathizers who have received patronage appointments since 2006. (Versus the 78 Liberals, 4 New Democrats, 1 Bloc Quebecois and 1 Green Party member who have received a federal government appointment since then).

“Stephen Harper once denounced this system as the Prime Minister rewarding his “buddies,” but while in office has been uninterested in changing the system. Instead he has continued to appoint party insiders and supporters at a frenzied pace, even to the Senate, which he once demanded be fully democratized through elected Senators with term limits. Since the May 2011 general election, he has even appointed several losing candidates to the Senate, so that they could have a seat in Parliament anyways after being denied one by the public.” Sixth Estate writes.

Continue reading The Conservative patronage trough

Annals of colonialism, pt II: Empowerment of First Nations is also their subjection

And will the profits of destruction

Forever make your eyes blind
Do you bow to the corporations?
‘Cause they pay their bills on time

God bless Elijah, with the feather in his hand
Stop stealing the Indian land
Stop stealing the Indian land
Stop stealing the Indian land

– Lyric from the lead track, “Fools Like You” from the 1992 Blue Rodeo album Lost Together

Cornell University anthropologist Paul Nadasdy has an interesting idea. The idea that First Nations should be ’empowered’ — thats the call to action in those last few triumphant lines of the Blue Rodeo anthem quoted above — may not be such a progressive idea after all. In fact, Nadasdy suggests that “empowerment” of First Nations might just be one more trick in the colonialist’s bag. Continue reading Annals of colonialism, pt II: Empowerment of First Nations is also their subjection

The War Museum's latest: The tank that launched Canada's Armoured Corps

Before restoration: Canadian War Museum's M1917 tank
BEFORE: This First World War M1917 tank was doing duty as a logging tractor near Bracebridge, ON before the Canadian War Museum acquired it in 1997.

The Canadian War Museum today unveiled the latest edition to its excellent LeBreton Gallery, the garage-like space in the building’s southeast corner that houses a very cool collection of military vehicles, artillery and one large jet plane. The latest edition is a restored M1917 Six-Ton Tank, one of only two such machines thought to exist in Canada from the 950 manufactured by the Americans at the end of the First World War. The tanks came off the line in the United States too late, though, to see any action in Europe. Nonetheless, this tank played a key role in the developed of Canada’s armoured capabilities in the Second World War: Continue reading The War Museum's latest: The tank that launched Canada's Armoured Corps

Galston: Dismantling the GOP’s Odious Philosophy of Voter Suppression

A piece from Brookings scholar Bill Galston out this morning:

Republicans should not be surprised if voter laws becomes a major topic of debate this election season—they will be the ones responsible for making it so. Over the past two years, the GOP has made a concerted attempt in a number of states to tighten voter registration procedures, cut back on alternatives such as early voting, and—most controversially—require would-be voters to show state-issued photo IDs as proof of identity. Because there’s such little evidence that these changes are needed to eliminate widespread voter fraud, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that many Republican legislators want to discourage voting among groups—especially minorities and the poor—that cast their ballots mainly for Democrats.

via Dismantling the GOP’s Odious Philosophy of Voter Suppression | Brookings Institution.

Joe Johnson gets a hunting license

In a fascinating and provocative essay titled “Boundaries among Kin: Sovereignty, the Modern Treaty Process, and the Rise of Ethno-Territorial Nationalism,” Cornell University Professor Paul Nadasdy argues that land claims agreements and negotiations between the Canadian government and Canadian First Nations have, at least in some instances, led to the “the rise of ethno-territorial nationalisms among First Nations.” Moreover Nadasdy presents the thesis that the very act of trying to transfer power, governance, and control from the so-called colonial power — that would be Canada — to First Nations is itself a colonizing act because, Nadasdy says, it “implicitly devalue[s] aboriginal forms of socio-political organization [and] it is also helping transform First Nation society in radical and often unintended ways. One of the most significant aspects of this transformation is the emergence among Yukon First Nation peoples of multiple ethno-territorial identities and corresponding nationalist sentiments.”

Continue reading Joe Johnson gets a hunting license