Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Harper Ends Party Subsidies

20/05/2011 Leave a comment

Ottawa to cancel party subsidies with next budget – Need to know –

This means the Liberals are finished for sure. The entire left is being defunded – this has been Harper’s plan for years. Implications of this move include:

  • additional barriers to entry for new political parties (e.g., the Green Party)
  • a weaker left
  • large donations will have more impact (which go mostly to the Conservatives). In other words, money’s voice will get only louder.

Not good for Canada.




Summary: “Big Oil’s Relentless Lobby” – The Montréal Gazette, 4 Dec. 2009

23/06/2010 Leave a comment

Here is the first of what may, depending on response, become a MUAG usual – article summaries. Basically, I’ll take articles from what I judge to be reputable sources that I think have important bearing on issues. This has two purposes: first, it will help “get the word out”, and second, I will be helping myself organize my ideas. As this is a summary, expect it to be a little disjointed – these are expansions on point-form notes, after all.

So with that out of the way, the inaugural issue of MUAG Summaries: “Big Oil’s Relentless Lobby”, from the Montréal Gazette, 4 December 2009. The topic today is, as you may have guessed, climate change.

Big Oil’s Relentless Lobby

Since 1996, there have been 1570 climate change lobbyists in Ottawa. Over the  years, their client list has grown from just 13 to 109 organizations, companies, industry associations, and other groups.

34 of these are fossil fuel producers and these 34 organizations have employed approximately one-third of all climate change lobbyists. The other employers of climate change lobbyists include manufacturers, power utilities, agriculture, transportation, environmental groups, and health groups.

According to Stéphane Dion, the environmental minister for the previous Liberal government from 2004 to 2006, the pressure to weaken climate change legislation is “almost daily”. We have yet to take any measurable action to curb GHG emissions – in 2007, Canada’s GHG emissions were 32% above Kyoto targets.

Most of our emissions problems are centred in Alberta. It contains 10% of Canada’s population, 70% of Canada’s oil production, and produces approximately 33% of our GHG emissions.

Says a 20-year veteran lobbyist employed by Suncor and Shell Canada: “lobbying the province of Alberta is virtually unnecessary since the government is entirely on the industry’s side.” This means that the most powerful climate change lobby in Ottawa is Alberta. In addition, big oil executives have access to highest government officials, while environmental groups are often dismissed out of hand as being “leftists”.

Four of Suncors’ six registered consulting lobbyists are former senior policy advisors to the government. Furthermore, an anonymous senior government official says there is an “unspoken link [between big oil and government]”: “the oil executive can call (the Prime Minister) and say, ‘You don’t do this or else you will suffer. We’ll beat you in your riding’ type of thing.”

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) has “enjoyed access to the highest officials”, the record shows. Of the total 51 active lobbyists registered by CAPP, 17 previously worked for the government – one of whom was a senior aide to Harper when he was leader of the opposition. CAPP members Suncor and Shell Canada, despite CAPP’s climate-change-denialist position, are seen as being “more progressive” than other oil companies due to their acceptance of climate change science.

The lobby to secure financing of big oil’s carbon capture project (as a means to reduce emissions), the Integrated CO2 Network (ICO2N), is made up of six lobbyists, three of whom were senior policy advisors to Harper. Carbon capture could reduce canada’s emissions by 2.6 per cent, says ICO2N’s website. The expected cost of the national push required for such a reduction: about $16 billion.

And there ends the summary… This is really an important article – the role of lobbyists in both Canada and the US is little understood, despite lobbyists having a big hand in shaping political goings-on.

The article is a Gazette collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and part of their project: The Global Climate Change Lobby. The entire series is located here.



Hold the Line

28/04/2010 Leave a comment

I’m going to start this post with a cheesy quote from a favourite TV show of mine.

Hold the line until the light,
Hold the line against the night.

-“The March of the High Guard”, from the show Andromeda

I will also say that I am a pacifist.

Within the context of this post, I interpret the quote as a call to “hold the line” against those who would strip people of their basic rights and freedoms. Freedoms and rights that we take for granted, like the right to an education (however reluctantly we accept it), or freedom of religion, or the right to a fair trial. It’s a call to fight for those freedoms until they are realized, and fight for those freedoms when they are threatened.

Specifically, I’m talking about Afghanistan. Simply put, we aren’t done there yet, and I believe the imminent recall of troops on active combat duty will prove disastrous for this war.

Perhaps I should qualify my previous statement – I’m a pacifist, but I also try to be practical in my beliefs. If we talked our problems out like rational creatures and lowered all our horrific ordinance for just a little bit, that would be a better world.

Unfortunately, violence is a useful tool. Some would rather take by force than compromise and negotiate. And on a world populated by human beings, an army is a necessity. Read more…

Um, Excuse Me?

19/04/2010 Leave a comment

I was relaxing in the sun by my bed in rez, reading Rick Mercer’s The Paperback Book (which is pissing funny, by the way), when I read this:

Basically, every member of Parliament in this country wants to go [to Afghanistan]. This is retail politics 101. You get off the plane, … you get your picture taken …, you come home, you get a bump in the polls.

It’s also why Stéphane Dion has been asking to go for a very long time. And this past week, the Tories finally said yes. So off Dion went. And boy did he make a balls of it.

The Tories, of course, loved [it], but while Dion might have put his foot in mouth, what the Tories did was far worse. When politicians visit Afghanistan, it’s always a secret. Those are the rules, written by the military. The military are very, very, touchy about this. they don’t want the Taliban to know when politicians are visiting because then they become a target. And shag the politicians; remember it’s the soldiers who are guarding the politicians you have to worry about.

So Dion, true to his word, never told a soul he was going. His staff didn’t even know he was going. [my emphasis] But the Tories, they said, “The hell with the military,” and they had a cabinet minister, Helena Guergis, release details of the visit. Sure, Canadian military lives were put at risk, but I guess that’s the price you have to pay when you’re facing re-election in Simcoe-Gray (Rick Mercer, The Paperback Book, 258-9).

(The rant is from 2005, in case you’re confused by the name “Dion”) I was really, really offended. The Conservatives took the low road here. They toyed with peoples’ lives for a stupid little political game. Not only that, they also sent a message that they’re completely fine with an opposition MP dieing because of them.

I’m sure even the Republicans wouldn’t pull a stunt like that. Not cool, Harper. Not cool at all.



The Gay Marriage “Debate”

17/04/2010 2 comments

I’ve thought for a good long while (read: as soon as I heard about the “debate”) that the answer was pretty obvious. First, what right does the government have to tell two consenting adults what they can or can’t do in the bedroom? Second, if two homosexual adults decide they would be much happier if they were married, what right does the government have to tell them “No, we think you wouldn’t be, so you can’t.”? To the extent of my knowledge, these are the arguments against gay marriage – often presented in a more sophisticated form, but these are the bones of said arguments:

  • If we let gays marry, there would be a fundamental breakdown of society. People would stop having kids because they’d be too busy screwing their own sex to procreate.

Because obviously, if we legalized marriage, there would be an epidemic of homosexuality. Joe the Plumber and Johnny Canuck the Lumberjack would marry and start getting it on. The only reason they’re straight is because they can’t marry other men.

From what I’ve read, people who identify as homosexual make up between one and two percent of the population of Canada; averages in other Western countries are similar. Who people can marry has no impact on how they identify in terms of sexuality.

  • Marriage is a religious institution, and by the holy texts of most religions, it can only involve one man and one woman.

Wrong – marriage is only sometimes a religious institution. You can be married by a Justice of the Peace; no holy figure necessary! Whether a faith will marry same-sex couples is up to it.

This one takes the cake – the same argument, in secular form.

  • The definition of marriage is one man and one woman. Therefore, no same-sex marriage.

No big deal – we’ll just call the editors of the dictionary.

A ridiculous debate, IMO. The only reason there is a debate is because religious people have conflated the notions of religion and marriage. Marriage can be a secular institution, too. There is no good argument against gay marriage. Period. End of story.



Senate Reform

14/03/2010 2 comments

Of all the “reform” topics in politics, Senate reform seems to get the most attention. Some people call it elitist and want an elected Senate, serving set terms. Some people like it just the way it is. Some people want it abolished completely. Most Canadians, displaying our stereotypical amount of political involvement, are ambivalent.

One of the reasons I think it gets so much coverage is the fact that Read more…

Canada at Copenhagen: Help or Hindrance?

12/12/2009 Leave a comment

According to George Monbiot, a columnist for The Guardian, we are not only a hindrance:

The tar barons have held the nation to ransom. This thuggish petro-state is today the greatest obstacle to a deal in Copenhagen.

Personally, I agree with him. One only needs to look at the shameful performance of the past governments (both Liberals and Conservatives) to see that.

But you know what really angers me? The fact that the tar sands are even viable operations.

It’s not the high price of oil. No, it is much, much worse than that.

Last year, Stephen Harper’s government gave over TWO BILLION DOLLARS of federal subsidies to the tar sands operations. That, and not the price of oil, is why this atrocity is continuing.

Personally, I think that is really sad.

A) The landscape and the environment are being destroyed. But, even more importantly:

B) People are getting CANCER from the oil sands – heavy metals and toxins are leeching into rivers and the groundwater from the tailings ponds.

And once the groundwater is contaminated, it takes a long time to purify. A really, really long time.

Come on, Canada. Wake up.



—-The full article can be found here.