Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Canada's Outlier Status

Well, this is bauble budget day, the day the Harper regime makes its big pre-election push to convince us that all is right with the world, and that our natural selfishness is something we should revel in, not revolt against. It is a day in which further plundering of the federal coffers is presented as a triumph of respect for all "hardworking Canadians" who deserve to keep more of their "hard-earned money." It is a day in which the collective needs of the country and the world are ignored.

Fortunately, not everyone is so easily distracted by the promise of shiny new things. One such individual is Omar Aziz, who, writing about climate change, says that Canada, under Stephen Harper,
is an international pariah. Among rich world countries, Canada is the largest per-capita emitter of GHGs, according to the World Resources Institute. The advocacy group Climate Action Network ranks Canada’s climate strategy as the fourth-worst in the world, ahead of only Iran, Kazakhstan, and Saudi Arabia.
There seems to be no prospect of improvement on this sorry record:
Ottawa will fail to meet the emission targets it pledged at the Copenhagen conference in 2009, just as it failed to meet the UN’s March 31 deadline to submit its emission targets ahead of the upcoming climate change conference in December.
Increasingly, our country is becoming an international pariah:
Having met U.S. President Barack Obama’s Envoy for Climate Change, I am certain that Washington is taking the Paris negotiations very seriously. Canada, meanwhile, looks like it will show up to the Paris conference with almost nothing to offer but talking points, despite the fact that Canadians consume more energy per capita than Indians, Chinese or Americans. This is both a shame and a sham.
Compounding Canada's inexcusable inaction is the heavy hand of Harper censorship:
Ninety per cent of government scientists feel that they are not allowed to speak to the media about their research; almost as many fear retaliation if they do. If you are wondering why climate change reporting in Canada has been so vacuous over the last few years, it is because new rules put in place by Stephen Harper in 2007 limit what Environment Canada scientists can say. The position of National Science Advisor was eliminated in 2008. It should come as no surprise then that media coverage of climate change has been reduced by 80 per cent. If the brilliant government scientists working on this issue are muzzled, the public has little access to the very people it should be hearing from.
Mind you, that hardly excuses the ignorance that many embrace on this subject, given the wealth of information that is available literally at our fingertips. If we are oblivious to the coming peril, it is by our own choice.

The heavy lifting being done by other provinces and countries puts the Harper inaction to shame:
British Columbia has put in place a carbon tax, Quebec has a cap-and-trade system, Ontario announced a similar policy earlier this month, and Alberta has an imperfect but necessary regulatory scheme. The European Union has an ambitious emissions trading program and the United States and China signed a major climate accord last year. China is also piloting seven cap-and-trade programs, including one in Shanghai.
Aziz notes the irony of a federal regime so obsessed with security that it ignores the threats posed by climate change:
Climate change is not simply an environmental concern; it is a national security concern, which is precisely what the Pentagon now calls it.
The effects of climate change will permanently damage wildlife, agriculture, oceans, coastal inhabitants, transportation systems, disease prevention efforts, food and water supplies, public health, and nearly every facet of modern life. The poor and disadvantaged will face the harshest consequences, both in rich countries and in developing ones.
Back in 2009, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called climate change the greatest challenge facing the world. Nothing has changed in the intervening six years other than even more egregious contempt for action from a federal government locked in an ideology for which we, our children and our grandchildren will pay a very grievous price.


  1. '...egregious contempt for [climate change] action from a federal government locked in an ideology for which we, our children and our grandchildren will pay a very grievous price.'

    What is the ideology that the Harper Government is following? I would like to read a detailed analysis of that. Is it evangelical Christian-ethnic religious ideology (for votes) and/or free-market corporate ideology (for money)? I am certain that it's a fairly twisted ideological story.

    The Harperite talking points always go to the extreme on the subject of security. But, to paraphrase Gwynne Dyer, when asked what the greatest threats to global security are, always says 'climate change, climate change, climate change'.

    Harper has sold himself, and the country, out to some bizarre ideology that he hides behind a curtain. In the end, Stevie-Joe turns out to be merely a delivery boy for grocery clerks.

    1. While there is undoubtedly a fanatical religious element within the party, Anon, that sees the earth as given by God to man to have supremacy over, in my view the main driver of Harper policy is the free-market, neoliberal agenda that embraces an equally fanatical belief system is which the market can do no wrong, and everything that smacks of government oversight or control reeks of incompetence and inefficiency. That kind of absolutist thinking has traditionally been the domain of the stupid; the Harper regime has 'elevated' it to high political ideological art.