For 15 years, voters and those they elect have ignored the Environment Commissioner

Some in Canada will think it perfectly appropriate that Canadian governments have paid little heed to Canada’s environment commissioner annual warnings that Canada just hasn’t been getting it done when it comes to climate change. Others will find this review depressing that we have not got it done on climate change.

Whatever your view: Given the fact that we’ve had five general elections since 2000 (2 won by the Liberals, three by the Conservatives) and no party has been punished for failing to meet their own targets, it’s pretty clear that our politicians have gotten the message about how much heed they should pay the Environment Commissioner: Continue reading For 15 years, voters and those they elect have ignored the Environment Commissioner

The Harper record on climate change: Believers and big spenders!

Corn pile at Greenfield Ethanol

On Friday, the latest report from the Integovernmental Panel on Climate Change will be released. It will be controversial. Here, for example, is colleague Lorrie Goldstein arguing that the real purpose of the IPCC is not scientific but “to re-distribute global wealth.”

Lorrie and many of my colleagues will, no doubt, be taking on the scientists and established opinion about climate change .

As for me, I’m more interested in following the politics of it all. The opponents of the Harper government love to holler that the Harper government are climate change deniers. Really? Well, bad news for those folks.  Here’s an interview I did at the end of 2011 with Peter Kent, the Conservative MP who was, at the time, Stephen Harper’s environment minister. I asked him flat-out — first question —  if his government believes that human beings are causing global warming and whether or not we can do something about it: Continue reading The Harper record on climate change: Believers and big spenders!

NDP MP Brian Masse makes the New York Times

Ian Austen, who reports for the New York Times about Canada,  only quotes opposition MP, New Democrat Brian Masse, in a piece that takes a look at one of the side effects of Alberta oil.

“Here’s a little bit of Alberta,” said Brian Masse, one of Windsor’s Parliament members. “For those that thought they were immune from the oil sands and the consequences of them, we’re now seeing up front and center that we’re not.”

Mr. Masse wants the International Joint Commission, the bilateral agency that governs the Great Lakes, to investigate the pile. Michigan’s state environmental regulatory agency has submitted a formal request to Detroit Bulk Storage, the company holding the material for Koch Carbon, to change its storage methods. Michigan politicians and environmental groups have also joined cause with Windsor residents. Paul Baltzer, a spokesman for Koch’s parent company, Koch Companies Public Sector, did not respond to questions about its storage or the ultimate destination of the petroleum coke.

Coke, which is mainly carbon, is an essential ingredient in steelmaking as well as producing the electrical anodes used to make aluminum.

via Mountain of Petroleum Coke From Oil Sands Rises in Detroit –

NDP convention: 2-04-13 Resolution on Support for the Forestry Industry

2-04-13 Resolution on Support for the Forestry Industry

Submitted by Burnaby—New Westminster, Gaspésie-Iles-de-la-Madeleine

WHEREAS the evolution of the market for forest products over the last decade has had an important impact on the forestry industry, including: the declining demand for newsprint; the lower number of construction projects; the dispute with the United States over the export of softwood lumber; and the rise in international competition combined with a strong Canadian dollar and high fuel costs;

BE IT RESOLVED that the NDP reaffirm its opposition to the softwood lumber agreements –signed by the

Liberals in 1996 and by the Conservatives in 2006 that are still preventing the expansion of our industry; 

BE IT RESOLVED that the NDP work in consultation with provinces and territories to put forward a strategy to revive Canada’s forestry industry, with the objective of creating value-added jobs, developing our forests in a sustainable way, and respecting aboriginal rights;

BE IT RESOLVED that this strategy include measures to diversify the secondary manufacturing of timber through programs in support of research and development;

BE IT RESOLVED that the NDP call on the government of Canada to expand international markets to Canadian wood, especially in Asia.

MP Francois Lapointe ( Montmagny—L’Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup) spoke in favour of this motion.

A delegate  complained that this motion supports the “forestry industry” not the “workers in the forestry industry.”

Motion passes.


NDP Convention: 2-02-13 Resolution on Updating the Federal Water Policy

The NDP Convention in Montreal debated the following resolution:

2-02-13 Resolution on Updating the Federal Water Policy

Submitted by the Quebec Section

BE IT RESOLVED that the NDP support updating the Federal Water Policy.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Policy must be updated in a manner respectful of provincial and municipal jurisdiction and First Nations over water management.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the policy’s core principles should include the notions already part of the NDP policy—that free universal access to clean water is a human right, and integrated water management must ensure that reserves of clean water are adequate to maintain aquatic ecosystems.

MP Jamie Nicholls spoke in support of this

NDP Convention: 2-01-13 Resolution on Coastal and Marine Area Protection

The NDP Convention in Montreal debated the following resolution Saturday morning:

2-01-13 Resolution on Coastal and Marine Area Protection

Submitted by Dartmouth—Cole Harbour

WHEREAS, Canada has the longest coastline in the world and Canadians expect and deserve healthy oceans and marine areas for present and future generations.

BE IT RESOLVED, that the following clause be added to section 2.1 of the policy book.

New Democrats believe in:

Canada’s commitment to protect at least 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020 as committed to under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

MP Robert Chisholm (Dartmouth) speaking in support of this motion.

Motion passes.

Pick a fight with the auditor general? Great idea, Premier Clark! A real vote-winner!

Environment Minister Terry Lake
VANCOUVER – BC Environment Minister Terry Lake, pictured here in July, 2012, is picking a fight with B.C. Auditor General John Doyle. (CARMINE MARINELLI/QMI AGENCY)

I have a bright shiny loonie in my pocket that I promise to give to whoever can point me to an example of any government anywhere in Canada that wins a showdown with their auditor general. I start from the assumption that, if you are a prime minister or a premier and the auditor general says your government is screwing up, it’s likely best to quietly agree, say you’ll fix the problem and move on, even if you don’t agree, rather than pick a fight with your auditor general. The reasoning here is that voters tend to believe auditors general and they tend not to believe politicians. I fully recognized that there is a great variety in abilities of auditors general across the country and a great variety in politicians but, when these two worlds collide, it matters not and so, I give you this First General Rule of Politics: Auditors General Are Always Right.

And yet, in British Columbia, the B.C. Liberal government of Christy Clark, likely in its final weeks in any event, has decided to essentially declare that B.C. Auditor General John Doyle is incompetent, doesn’t know what he’s doing, and got it all wrong when he concluded that the B.C. government approach to making itself ‘carbon neutral” is not only a monumental waste of taxpayer money it is failing to reach any of the policy objectives that money was supposed to buy. Continue reading Pick a fight with the auditor general? Great idea, Premier Clark! A real vote-winner!

Suzuki for Murray. Take that, Trudeau!

David Suzuki
David Suzuki, seen here in Edmonton in 2012, says Joyce Murray should be the next federal Liberal leader. (DAVID BLOOM/EDMONTON SUN)

Earlier today, David Suzuki, the environmental activist, endorsed Vancouver-Quadra MP Joyce Murray in the federal Liberal leadership race. Here’s the letter from Suzuki, released by the Murray campaign: Continue reading Suzuki for Murray. Take that, Trudeau!

The Politics of Carbon Pricing

Like they did in 2008, in the 2011 general election campaign, Jack Layton and the New Democrats put an election platform before Canadians that included commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by, among other things, doing the following:

We will put a price on carbon through a cap-and-trade system, which will establish hard emissions limits for Canada’s biggest polluters to ensure companies pay their environmental bills and to create an incentive for emissions reductions;

In its costing statement for its election campaign commitments, the NDP said the federal government would receive the following revenues as a result of its cap-and-trade system: Continue reading The Politics of Carbon Pricing