Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Blessed Are The Benighted

My good friend Dave in Winnipeg often rails sardonically against the twin curses of intelligence and critical-thinking. If you start the following video at about the 50-second mark, you'll see that some have 'blessedly' been spared such affliction.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Words Mean Little Anymore

While I realize it is not healthy to obsess over things over which I have no control, I find myself consistently astounded and dispirited by the dystopian reality we now inhabit. While the world has been deteriorating for many years, I find it hard to deal with the fact that we now live in a world which, were it a movie script, would be rejected by all major studios as so preposterous that it would have no chance of box-office success. A script that showed such complete contempt for the audience's intelligence would be a very tough sell.

And yet that is precisely the world that Donald Trump and his ilk inhabit and cultivate, a world where the president and his enablers utter the most outrageous falsehoods shamelessly and fearlessly. We have descended into a world where words have lost their meaning.

The Star's Daniel Dale keeps a running tally of Trump's mendacity which you can filter by topic. I urge you to visit the site. As well, today's Star explores this phenomenon,
the most comprehensive picture yet available of what historians say is an unprecedented avalanche of serial lying.
The following news story features Trump in his full mendacious 'glory,' his absolute contempt for truth and, by extension, people, made manifest:

Although it is likely apocryphal, the Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times," has never seemed more relevant or more biting.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Feeling Like An American

Now that Ontario is in the thrall of Doug Ford and his Regressive Conservative Party, I am beginning to understand how sane and balanced Americans must feel having an obscene fool as their national leader. It makes everyone look bad.

While Ford and his merry band of obsequious MPPs secured their majority thanks to a minority of voters who were filled with "passionate intensity" while the "best lacked all conviction" and chose to vote in smaller numbers, all of us, because we live in a democracy,' must bear the shame and ignominy.

The tail wags the dog here in Ontario. And make no mistake - just as Trump plays to his base, Ford et al. have every intention of tailoring their time in office to the demands of the minority who elected them. Just take a look at yesterday's Throne Speech:
The Tories will ... free police from “onerous restrictions that treat those in uniform as subjects of suspicion and scorn,” [a return to carding and loose SIU oversight?] end “unaffordable green energy contracts,” and expand beer and wine sales to convenience and big-box stores.
Ignoring the fact that extensive consultation paved the way to the revised 2015 sex-ed curriculum, this benighted new government
... will replace the 2015 “sex education curriculum with an age-appropriate one that is based on real consultation with parents.”

In a sop to the social conservatives who helped him become Tory leader in March, the new premier’s administration will use the 1998 sex education syllabus, which predates Google, same-sex marriage, and social media, until a new lesson plan is developed.
Crazed evangelical leader Charles McVety is delighted, observing that
students can now “go and learn how to tie their shoelaces and do arithmetic and read and write and do what they should be doing in school instead of learning things that belong, really, in post-graduate studies.”
Others were not so kind:
Green Leader Mike Schreiner countered that Ford has “declared war on the modern world.

“I mean, to have no climate change plan and to take our sex-ed curriculum back to 1998 is taking the province backwards,” said Schreiner.
That old curriculum was woefully antiquated, in no way addressing the problems and concerns bedeviling 21st century children:
The 1998 health and physical education curriculum describes a society that few elementary school students would recognize. It does not mention the words cyber-bullying, social media, race, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. It only once mentions the word Internet, and only to say that kids can use computers to surf the “World Wide Web” for information.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture that our 'new' government has some mighty 'old' ideas and beliefs.

On a personal note, it is very difficult for me to be anything other than contemptuous of my fellow Ontarians. But that, I suspect, will be the subject of a future post.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Amerika's Formula For Success

As noted the other day, the United States or, as I like to call it, Trump's Amerika, no longer even bothers to conceal its contempt for the rest of the world. It's disgraceful threats at the the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly against Ecuador for sponsoring a resolution to encourage breastfeeding, thereby reducing the profits of the corporate behemoths that produce baby formula exemplifies its shameless corporate thralldom.

Today, Star letter-writers weigh in on the magnitude of Amerika's crime against newborns:
The World Health Organization estimates that 800,000 child deaths worldwide each year could be prevented by breastfeeding.

A 2016 Harvard study found that 3,340 infant and maternal deaths a year could be prevented by breastfeeding in the U.S. alone. In Third World countries where destitute moms dilute formula, often with dirty water, the rates are much higher.

They want their infants to look like the pictures of healthy babies on the advertising they are given by sales people dressed as medical professionals. So why would Trump threaten to withdraw military and other aid to Ecuador if they put forth a resolution supporting breastfeeding at the World Health Assembly?

Because Third World countries are areas of major growth for Nestlé and Abbott Nutrition, and they are big Trump supporters.

It is once again time to boycott the products from both of these companies, like we did in the 1980s. It helped then. Let’s make a difference now.

Gail Rutherford, Toronto

It is indeed stunning, but probably not surprising, that the Trump government would threaten countries with punishing trade measures to support American business interests against a breastfeeding policy that experience and science have proven to saves lives. Baby formula kills when mixed with polluted water that can be the only water available.

The U.S. is going back to the days when the American government would wage wars and depose elected governments to support an American company. We must acknowledge that Trump is at war with the rest of the world — except for the other strongarm dictators.

Ian McLaurin, Port Perry, Ont.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Signs Are All Around Us

How's that climate-change denial thing working for you these days?

Forecast: Expect more of the same and worse in the days, weeks, months and years to come.

Monday, July 9, 2018

American Thuggery

By almost any metric, the United States is a rogue nation. The depth of its depraved thuggery was recently made evident to the world:
A resolution to encourage breastfeeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered this spring in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly.

Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother’s milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.

American officials sought to water down the resolution by removing language that called on governments to “protect, promote and support breastfeeding” and another passage that called on policy-makers to restrict the promotion of food products many experts say can have deleterious effects on young children.

Then the U.S. delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations.
Captured by neoliberal forces, the once admired country resorted to mafia-like extortion to try to get its way:
Ecuador, which had planned to introduce the measure, was the first to find itself in the cross hairs.

The Americans were blunt: If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.
Health advocates frantically sought another sponsor for the resolution, but none could be found as sundry countries cowered before the American behemoth. Then in a turn that amply demonstrates the inversion the world is currently experiencing, an unlikely ally came to the rescue:
It was the Russians who ultimately stepped in to introduce the measure — and the Americans did not threaten them.
The move to thwart maternal health benefits is part of a much larger pattern of strong-arm tactics from a nation clearly unmoored from moral underpinnings:
The Americans also sought, unsuccessfully, to thwart a WHO effort aimed at helping poor countries obtain access to life-saving medicines. Washington, supporting the pharmaceutical industry, has long resisted calls to modify patent laws as a way of increasing drug availability in the developing world, but health advocates say the Trump administration has ratcheted up its opposition to such efforts.
God bless America? Not on your life.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

When Is A Scab Not A Scab?

When (s)he is a 'replacement worker'.

I have always loved the word 'scab'. A fitting description of strikebreakers, it is a word that conjures up ugly imagery, imagery quite appropriate for those who act without integrity by engaging in strikebreaking behaviour, which are essentially shameless public declarations of individual extollment of the self over the collective good. There can be few lower forms of human than scabs.

During his time as Ontario Premier, Bob Rae passed legislation that banned these scourges, legislation that was repealed when Mike Harris, devoid of any semblance of integrity, became the next premier. Tellingly, subsequent Liberal governments were quite happy to continue his neoliberal labour view. Scabs therefore are alive and well in Ontario.

And yet, despite the fact that we live in a time when collective-bargaining rights are under regular assault by scabs and their enablers, the word itself seems to have disappeared from our lexicon. The euphemism, replacement workers, is an anodyne that attempts to conceal the ugliness of the act of strikebreaking. One is reminded of Orwell's observations about the insidious use of euphemisms:
Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements.
Tamper with the language and you tamper with the reality.

Take a look at the following article, about an ongoing strike at a Goderich salt mine.
A rural community is rallying around salt mine workers who have been embroiled in a strike since April, a disagreement that has involved wooden pallet barricades, demonstrations and busloads of replacement workers.

The workers at the Goderich mine have been off the job since April 27.

Unifor Local 16-O represents the workers, and alleges Compass Minerals has been flying in replacement workers from New Brunswick to break the strike while demanding concessions that include mandatory overtime, reduced benefits and a weakening of contracting-out provisions.

In a letter to the community on June 28, Compass Minerals said it has used contractors to produce salt to fill long-term orders, and had little choice to do so in a competitive market.

The strike ramped up when workers blockaded an access road to the mining site this past week to express their frustration over the use of replacement workers. Photos posted on Unifor Canada’s Twitter showed wooden pallets stacked high in a barricade on the road. Videos also showed Unifor national president Jerry Dias walking out the replacement workers from the mine as onlookers chanted “Don’t come back!”

Representatives from local Unifor unions across the country have rallied at the picket line with the Goderich workers and flooded social media with solidarity. Lana Payne, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director, shared an open letter on Twitter that had been written to Laura Araneda, CEO of Vic Drilling, the company Payne says has been allegedly flying the replacement workers from New Brunswick to the Goderich mine.

“By crossing the strike line and doing the work of striking miners, Laura Araneda’s replacement workers are undermining the bargaining power of fellow miners,” she wrote. “The fact is, there is always somebody willing to do your job for a lower wage in more dangerous conditions.
Now do a quick reread, this time replacing the term replacement workers with scabs.

You can see how language choices have a great impact on how we perceive things.

Perhaps the ugly reality about scabs is best reflected by Unifor national president Jerry Dias:
“Crossing a picket line is shameful behaviour that cannot be tolerated,” ... no job is worth stealing food from another worker’s family.”
I close with a video that should leave anyone who has ever crossed a picket line feeling deep, deep shame.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Calling All Steadfast Canadians

Being pro-Canadian instead of complacent and meek in the face of American tariff oppression can take many forms. Perhaps the strongest expressions of how we feel are to be found in our purchase and travel choices.

Tim Harper reports that many are making those choices:
If Canadians are, in a typically understated way, spending their vacation dollars at home, taking a few extra moments at the grocery store to determine where that ketchup was made or buying Ontario rather than California wines, a national statement is being made this summer.
While technically not a boycott, it is a means of condemnng the Trump administration and its mistreatment of traditional American allies.
It is not a boycott to decide to holiday in New Brunswick rather than Maine.

If I decide to forego an annual baseball and beach jaunt to the U.S., or as TVO’s Steve Paikin wrote, the U.S. doesn’t deserve his money, or Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson or NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh courteously decline an invitation to a July 4th party thrown by the U.S. ambassador in Ottawa, we are not bringing the White House to its knees.

Nobody shouted their decisions from the barricades. We’re not boycotting. We are making individual decisions.
Increasing numbers are making those individual decisions:
A Nanos Research poll published by The Globe and Mail Thursday showed 73 per cent of respondents were “likely or somewhat likely” to stop or cut back travel to the U.S.

Another 72 per cent said they were “likely or somewhat likely” to stop buying American products and 68 per cent said they were “likely or somewhat likely” to stop purchasing goods from U.S. retailers.
Others are taking even stronger measures. Martin and Carole Lajeunesse, co-owners of a restaurant in Quebec, decided that national integrity needs strong expression:
Martin ... suggested they pull the American wines from their menu. They asked the server who runs the restaurant’s Facebook page to post a notice, and she wrote, in French, “In solidarity with our Canadian jobs, LaLa Bistro suspends the sale of wines from the United States for an indefinite period of time.”
And the resistance is spreading:
Many Canadians who’ve had it with Trump just crave a chance to do something, almost anything. For instance, in Halton Hills—a collection of communities northwest of Toronto that adds up to a municipality of 61,000 people—the town council voted unanimously for a resolution to “encourage residents and businesses with the town to become knowledgeable about the origin of the products and services that they purchase [and] consider avoiding the purchase of U.S. products where substitutes are reasonably available.”
Individual empowerment is not just a lofty ideal. Everyone can realize it:
In Ottawa, labour lawyer Scott Chamberlain ... on a recent grocery trip for his family, ... found himself standing in front of a display of oranges from the U.S. and others from Morocco, so he picked the Moroccan produce, then decided to see if he could buy an entirely “Trump-free” grocery cart. “It wasn’t out of anger . . . it was more out of solidarity,” he says. “I was really proud that people set politics aside to put a common front together to support Canadians. It was an attack on all of us.”

Chamberlain has altered his travel plans, too. He has family in the Maritimes whom he visits three to four times a year, but now instead of driving through New England, his family will stay in Quebec and New Brunswick hotels.
Merideth Broughton, a paramedic living an hour north of Calgary in Torrington, Alta., has made the same decision. She had planned to travel throughout the U.S. Midwest with her dog Scout this summer:
But between the trade tariffs and the horror of detained migrant children, Broughton just won’t do it. “I can’t in good conscience contribute to that economy or that government,” she says. Instead, she and Scout will stick to the Badlands of southern Alberta and wander through Saskatchewan to visit friends and family.
Want to get in on the action? Here are two videos that may help inform your choices:

Thursday, July 5, 2018

An Encouraging Development

Is momentum building? Let us hope so. As the following video explains, major restaurant brands are planning to ban plastic straws. (I suggest you turn off the sound in the following, as the overly-dramatic music is a bit much}:

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

To Go, Or Not To Go

I have written elsewhere on this blog about the decision I and others have made to boycott travel to the U.S. as long as Donald Trump and his peculiar brand of madness hold sway. I am happy to report that Steve Paikin has come to the same decision:
[I]t’s been a Paikin family tradition for many years to travel to the U.S. for a baseball road trip with my dad and as many of my kids as can attend. We’ve done Boston, Cleveland, New York , Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and others.

We’re not going to do it this year.

....when President Donald Trump began slapping tariffs on Canadian goods for reasons of “national security,” it felt wrong. It was an intellectually dishonest move. How could the country that fought alongside the U.S. in World War II, in Korea, and in Afghanistan be a national-security threat? It makes no sense.

Even most Americans seem to recognize how misguided the tariffs are, given the negative impact they’re having on innumerable U.S.-based businesses. And when I saw the federal Liberal government and the incoming Progressive Conservative provincial government speak as one on the stupidity of this policy (with the support of all other major parties), I thought: Okay, that’s it.

America, you just don’t deserve our money.
Even though as individuals we may doubt we have much influence, money, as they say, talks:
We will not spend hundreds of dollars on your baseball tickets. We will not spend hundreds of dollars on your restaurants and hotels. We will not spend hundreds of dollars on your gas. We will not spend hundreds of dollars at museums or at the theatre. We will not spend hundreds of dollars on souvenirs and gifts.

I think it’s time I looked at product labels of all kinds much more carefully. California wines? Not anymore. I’ll try some local brands, from Niagara-on-the-Lake or Prince Edward County. And maybe I should make the extra effort to purchase groceries at local farmers’ markets rather than buy American brand-name stuff at the supermarket.
On a personal note, since Trump imposed those absurd and insulting tariffs on us, I have decided (reluctantly) to extend my boycott to bourbon, (there's no liquor like it) and will instead begin exploring some of our Canadian whiskies. As well, although it is impossible to avoid American goods, I am trying as much as possible to purchase Canadian.

In light of the deteriorating connection to our southern neigbours, we must ask ourselves a fundamental question:

Do we regard ourselves simply as citizens of a globalized world, or does being Canadian still mean something to us? Your answer will no doubt tell you whether taking a stand against what the U.S. now represents is a worthwhile endeavour.

Monday, July 2, 2018

UPDATED: It Can Be Done

"Where there's a will, there's a way," my mother always said. The question is,"Does that will exist?"

These two videos offer a glimmer of hope:

UPDATE: If you crave even more good news about a ban that, if enacted, will improve the health of coral reefs, click here.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

She Stands By Her Man

When we talk on the phone, my good friend Dave in Winnipeg often talks about the twin 'curse' of intelligence and education. Life would be so much easier, he says sardonically, without them.

I was thinking about Dave last night as I watched an NBC News report detailing the actions of one of Trump's legion. As a group, those people are indefatigable, and, to use a word favoured by the religiously insane, 'convicted' in Trump. And it becomes immediately apparent that the woman in the following video has 'escaped' the curses Dave speaks of.

Viewer Advisory: Do not watch if you have just eaten.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Neoliberal Friends With Benefits

Kinder Morgan couldn't have a better friend than Justin Trudeau:
Texas-based Kinder Morgan made a seven-fold return on the sale of its Trans Mountain pipeline system to Canada's federal government, according to a new report that also warns the federal budget deficit could jump by 36 per cent because of the purchase.

The project has an estimated $7.4 billion price tag, of which Kinder Morgan says it has already spent about $1 billion. But the IEEFA report estimates that the company has only put about $600 million into the project so far. It estimates the company will make a 637-per-cent gain on the $4.5-billion sale.

The federal government is on the hook for about $11.5 billion in costs, including both the purchase and the remaining cost of construction, the report estimates.

"This transaction and the cost of further planning and construction could add a $6.5 billion unplanned expenditure to Canada's budget during (fiscal year) 2019," the report stated. "This would increase Canada's projected deficit of $18.1 billion by 36 per cent. to $24.6 billion."
The magnitude of Liberal ineptitude is stunning:
"There is every indication that the Canadian government has bought the pipeline at a high price and is likely to resell it for far less than it will pay to build it," Tom Sanzillo, the institute's [Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis] director of finance, said in a statement.

"Canada is weakening its finances by taking on unlimited costs to buy an unneeded pipeline with an uncertain future and giving an unusual profit to a U.S. company," he added.
But hey. That's what happens when you elect a neoliberal government. But Justin still has nice hair.

Signs Of The Times

Monday, June 25, 2018

Trump's Amerika: "A Toxic Mix Of Senseless Cruelty And Corporate Greed"

The private-prison industry stands to make a fortune from Trump's immigration crackdown. This toxic mix of senseless cruelty and corporate greed means big profits.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Truth About Carbon Pricing

The taxation levels for carbon set by the federal government will likely prove wholly inadequate in getting people to modify their behaviour to combat climate change. However, given the exit of Ontario from its cap-and-trade program by the incoming populist and reactionary Doug Ford, the truth is, it's better than nothing:

This Star letter-writer, I think, has the correct perspective, one that should give us all pause:
Think of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions in terms of a leaky roof, with each country responsible for fixing its portion. Canada, with only 1/200th of the world’s population, has to fix only that little patch of roof.

However, the average Canadian emits about 20 tonnes of GHGs per year, compared to 6.9 tonnes in Europe on average, 7.7 tonnes in China, and 1.9 tonnes in India. That means Canada’s share of the roof is leaking three times as fast as Europe’s and 10 times faster than India’s!

Ford’s elimination of the price on carbon, the one tool proven effective in controlling emissions, is irresponsible.

We are all under the same roof, and we all have to do our part.

Alan Slavin, Otonabee, Ont.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Is This Really Something To Be Proud Of?

I find myself these days thinking about the beasts that have been unleashed upon society. In the United States, of course, it is Donald Trump who has made it acceptable to openly hate, mock, exclude and even kill. In Ontario, citizens have selected Doug Ford as their new premier. While both Trump and Ford masquerade as "for the people," they are really devoted only is unleashing the beast that resides in all of us, the most selfish and destructive aspects of humanity, for their own gain. All they have to do, as time goes on, is to find new targets for their diabolical agenda.

I was out walking, and a question occurred to me: What is it that people feel when they have had ample opportunity to spew their bile, vent their prejudices, vituperate a particular group or cause, or given the middle finger to succeeding generations by vociferously opposing any measures that might help mitigate the climate change that is quickly overtaking all of us? At least when we do something positive, whether it be a contribution to a cause, support for an issue, a personal kindness or gesture that recognizes and acknowledges our shared humanity, we are left at least a little enlarged, a little bigger inside for what we have attempted, maybe even a little more fulfilled.

What do those who choose to embrace the darkest paths feel?

Perhaps an appropriate frame, if not an answer, can be found from an episode of Breaking Bad, a series about a high school chemistry teacher who turns his resentments and the fact that he is dying into a crystal meth empire, one that ultimately costs countless lives. It was a show I was addicted to (no pun intended, well, okay, maybe a small one) despite the fact that it was the darkest meditation on human nature I have ever seen.

In the following scene, Jesse Pinkman, seduced into the crystal meth business by his former teacher, Walter White, have a discussion:
And this is where Jesse now found himself. Sat in his partner's living room, trying to set himself free from the life he could no longer be a part of, with Mr White not willing to allow him to go.

Finally, Walt spoke up again, his words hard and determined. And upon hearing them, Jesse knew he was fighting a battle he couldn't win.

"Jesse, you once asked me if I was in the meth business or the money business.” Walt looked up from his glass, and eyed Jesse. “I'm in the empire business.”

Jesse gaped back at him, and managed a small shake of his head. Bringing a hand up to cover his ever worsening head ache, he replied, “I don't know, Mr White. Is a meth empire really something to be that proud of?”
And that is the same question I pose here, in this later part of my life, looking at a world gone mad:

Is your embrace of a darkness that does nothing other than to weaken and to destroy really something to be proud of?

Friday, June 22, 2018

This Is What They Are Fleeing

While Trump and his apostles demonize the migrant families seeking sanctuary in the U.S. as rapists and drug dealers, here is a part of their reality the profoundly intolerant choose to ignore:

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Distemper Of Our Times

For one who naturally inclines toward dark brooding, these are not good times. But then, if people follow the news and keep themselves reasonably well-informed about our headlong plunge toward environmental and climate disaster, I cannot imagine too many being in a celebratory mood. Except perhaps in Ontario, where the populace turned its back on anything resembling responsible and mature government by electing Doug Ford and his 'Progressive' Conservatives.

Now they are starting to get what they paid for, although the long-term cost may ultimately lead them to buyer's regret. As Martin Regg Cohn reports,
The premier-in-waiting has declared an end to carbon pricing in Ontario — no cap and trade, no carbon tax, no fuss, no muss, no nothing. No matter.

Never mind Earth’s rising temperatures. Ontario’s gas prices are coming down, and that’s a Ford promise (forget rising world oil prices).

Ford vowed in the campaign that he is “for the people.” His victory surely proves his grasp of the political environment — if not the planetary one.
Populist that he is, he seems quite happy for citizens to pay upwards of $30 million in a Supreme Court battle against a federally-imposed carbon tax:
Win or lose, he triumphs either way. If the federal carbon tax is upheld and imposed in Ontario, Ford will earnestly claim that the devil (the Supreme Court) made him impose the carbon tax dreamed up by that other devil (Prime Minister Justin Trudeau). The Thirty Million Dollar Man will cast himself as the Thirty Million Dollar Martyr.
And what about the money from the cap-and-trade that was used to combat climate change? Gone.
The program’s website was been reduced to one page Tuesday. Under the headline “The following programs are closed,” the site now lists everything from residential solar, window and insulation rebates to smart thermostats and programs for businesses.
Also about to be terminated are the rebates for buying electric vehicles, which paid out as much as $14,000 to defray consumer costs and encourage non-polluting transportation.

Of course, some might argue that Ford Nation and the other quislings who voted for Dougie and his brood are simply taking their inspiration from the United States, which shows no signs of retreating from its own madness under Trump. The Hill reports the following:
President Trump is repealing a controversial executive order drafted by former President Obama that was meant to protect the Great Lakes and the oceans bordering the United States.

In his own executive order signed late Tuesday, Trump put a new emphasis on industries that use the oceans, particularly oil and natural gas drilling, while also mentioning environmental stewardship.

The order encourages more drilling and other industrial uses of the oceans and Great Lakes.

The order stands in contrast to Obama’s policy, which focused heavily on conservation and climate change. His policy was written in 2010, shortly after the deadly BP Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling explosion and 87-day oil spill.
As my literary hero Hamlet said, "The time is out of joint." Too bad so many are busy worshiping the golden calf to notice.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Days Like This

There are many days when I think that words no longer fork any lightning, and this blog would be more useful if I simply aggregated, without commentary, news items that seem important to me. This is one of those days.

Should you wish to read about this dreadful desecration, please click here.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

This, From The 'Greatest Country On Earth'

I guess when you live in that bastion of democracy, the United States of America, you must be mindful, shall we say, of an unwritten set of rules:
Rob Rogers has been working as the editorial cartoonist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for the past 25 years. On Thursday, he was fired.

A little less than two weeks ago, the The Inquirer ran a story about how the Post-Gazette had been shutting down Rogers’ cartoons since March, when Keith Burris took over as editorial director in a merger with the Toledo Blade.

It is unusual for a staff cartoonist to have an entire week’s worth of political cartoons spiked. Signe Wilkinson, the Inquirer and Daily News’ Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, said she has had just one cartoon killed in her tenure — a drawing that was spiked from the Inquirer but ran in the Daily News.

Rogers’ cartoons were replaced in print by the work of syndicated artists and three cartoons by Toledo Blade staff cartoonist Kirk Walters. In last Tuesday’s paper, under a cartoon about gun control by syndicated cartoonist Robert Ariail, Rogers was listed as having “the day off.”

What was wrong with Roberts’ cartoons? He posted them to his Twitter account. Maybe we can find a pattern?

I guess Rogers did not get the memo that freedom of speech is not absolute, especially when it comes to holding 'Dear Leader' to account.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Short-Term Gain For Long, Long-Term Pain

I will readily admit to readers that I am not by nature one who sees the glass as half-full; however, since the June 7th provincial election of Doug Ford, which revealed that far too many of my fellow-citizens are quite happy to enter into Faustian pacts, my natural tendency toward brooding pessimism has intensified.

And With Good Reason.

A post-election analysis reveals how debased the electorate has become:
Ontarians handed Doug Ford a strong Progressive Conservative majority because they feel he best understands their pocketbook struggles and trust him to take quick action on excess government spending, says a revealing post-vote study by Navigator Ltd.

“If on the first day he calls in the auditors and cuts 10 cents off the gas tax he’ll be off to a very good start,” said Jaime Watt.
Despite the kind of magical thinking his promises require, voters responded with enthusiasm to Ford's vows to offer an array of money-saving schemes with no plan to pay for them, other than a promised $6 billion in efficiencies, code for massive cuts that those with even a mdicum of critical-thinking skills understand.

But probably the most depressing aspect of the Navigator study is that Ford supporters don't really give a damn about anyone but themselves:
Voters were less concerned with longer-term issues like infrastructure, pharmacare and anything aimed at the next generation — a factor that could have implications for upcoming municipal and federal election campaigns...

With an attitude like that, Ford Nation will be in its glory, at least for the short-term. At the start of July, Ford intends to recall the legislature to end the York University strike and
implement his planned 10-cents-per-litre reduction in gas prices.

He is hoping to achieve that by cutting the provincial excise tax and scrapping Ontario’s cap-and-trade program with Quebec and California.

While withdrawing from the climate change pact could take 18 months, Tories believe the taxes can be cut before Ontario exits the greenhouse-gas reduction program.
Turning his back on climate change abatement and adaptation will undoubtedly elicit paroxysms of joy, but, as the saying goes, be careful what you wish for:
Antarctica’s ice sheet is melting at a rapidly increasing rate, now pouring more than 180 billion tonnes of ice into the ocean annually and raising sea levels a half-millimetre every year, a team of 80 scientists reported Wednesday.

The melt rate has tripled in the past decade, the study concluded. If the acceleration continues, some of scientists’ worst fears about rising oceans could be realized, leaving low-lying cities and communities with less time to prepare than they had hoped.
But what do facts mean to the people devoted to a provincial Wizard of Oz? Probably as much as they do to those who see no paradox in a prime minister who says that we can meet our climate-change goals at the same time we buy up and expand pipelines to extract more bitumen from the tar sands of Alberta.

Clearly, we are no longer in Kansas.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

How Do You Get In A Fight With Canada?

So asks Seth Myers. To which he answers, "That's like holding a grudge against a Golden Retriever puppy."

Or, to put it even more succinctly,

Monday, June 11, 2018

First-Past-The-Post: An Ontario Horror Story

Has Justin Trudeau not betrayed his promise of electoral reform, perhaps all provinces would be seriously considering it for their own jurisdictions, not just British Columbia and Quebec.

And now Ontario is about to reap the full horror of the first-past-the-post system: a clown (no doubt accompanied by seltzer bottle and whoopee cushion) about to plant himself in the premier's chair. Despite that province having rejected an opportunity for reform in 2007, The Star's Mitch Potter suggests that result could have an impacct on people's thinking:
Thursday’s outcome in Ontario — with the clear majority of voters, nearly 60 per cent, now on the outside, looking in — makes the province prime hunting ground for activists now looking to enlist the province in the reform momentum taking hold elsewhere in Canada.

“We see a shining silver lining in this terrible mood in Ontario, where you now have a government most of the people don’t want that will be doing things that most of the people don’t want,” said Réal Lavergne, president of Fair Vote Canada, a grassroots organization of 70,000 people coast-to-coast that advocates for proportional representation.

“We don’t wish that upon the people of Ontario, but we will hit the ground running, we will parlay it. There’s an opportunity to help people better understand how the status quo distorts the ideal of equal and effective votes for all.”

Fair Vote Canada held its annual general meeting in Ottawa on Saturday, poring over the entrails of the Ontario results. The organization itemized the shortcomings, noting that 52 per cent of Ontario voters essentially elected no one at all.
Such widespread disenfranchisement, and its resulting effect of voter alienation, does nothing for the health of a democracy.
And finally, it is clear that Ontario's dire state, laid bare by a bit of numbers-crunching by letter-writer Tony D’Andrea of Toronto, cries out for remediation.
Albert Einstein, who knew something about time and place, said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

So, welcome to electoral insanity — the Ford Nation brought to Ontario by its first-past-the-post style of democracy. Thus Premier-designate Ford, who was just elected by 40 per cent of voters who didn’t care that he doesn’t have a plan, has now been empowered to reverse or nullify the progressive plans of the 58 per cent who voted for Ontario to not become the populist regressive Nation of Ford.

Such is the sorry state of politics in Ontario. Once again, the legitimate power to rule determined by FPTP means that there is a disconnect between a majority government and its corresponding match with actual Ontarians.

Actually, since only 58 per cent of the eligible individuals cast their votes, it means that just 23 per cent of them voted for Ford. Consequently, his victory is representative of less than a quarter of the population. Yet Ford has a mandate to do whatever he politically chooses to do. And, although this is not illegal, it most certainly doesn’t add up democratically.

There is an urgency for the public to hurry up and discover that the math governing our elections makes a travesty of our democratic principles.
As one can see, not all horror stories are confined to the realm of fiction.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Vox Populi

While many will be fixated on the latest soap-opera installments that politics now regularly yields, such as the outrageous behaviour of Trump at the G6+1, or the strange elevation to power of Doug Ford in Ontario, others are not so easily diverted, as these letter-writers demonstrate:

As an atmospheric physicist and an active climate-change researcher, I find the conduct of the Justin Trudeau government in this regard disgusting and appalling. If we are looking for a visionary leader who would lead us from a fossil-fuel-based (and environmentally destructive) economy to a sustainable and clean low-carbon economy in Canada, then Trudeau is not that person.

When Trudeau was elected, there was a sense of hope in doing our part as a nation to really start reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I have followed the United Nations’ COP meetings with a great deal of interest, and Canada promised achievable objectives in the Paris Agreement. These objectives do not seem achievable now.

Kaz Higuchi, environmental studies professor, York University, Toronto

I find it appalling that the government is using taxpayers’ money to benefit a corporation. This makes me realize how influential the corporations really are and how insignificant are the voices of Indigenous people and the thousands of others opposing this pipeline.

How can the government turn a blind eye to the harmful effects this pipeline may pose? Oil spills are an inevitable consequence.

I wish there were some mechanism to determine how I want my taxes used. I am definitely not paying them so a corporation can build an oil pipeline to endanger the environment of a province with some of the most beautiful coastlines in the country.

Sneha Singh, Mississauga

Pierre Berton’s The Last Spike captured a moment when the Canadian government was in the railroad- building business. Now, Ottawa has entered its pipeline era. Will, at some point, Berton’s book get a sequel, perhaps The Last Spill?

Ken Luckhardt, Etobicoke

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Golem Of Ontario

I just finished reading a book by Jordan Tannahill, entitled Liminal. Here is an excerpt that, given the Ontario election results, seems an appropriate parable. I offer it without further commentary:
He mentioned being totally transfixed by an old Yiddish story about the Clay Boy, a variation of the golem, in which a lonely elderly couple made a little boy out of clay. Much to their delight, the clay boy came to life and the couple treated him as their real child. But the clay boy didn't stop growing. He ate all of their food, their animals, and eventually the elderly couple too, before rampaging through the village.
Thus endeth the lesson.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Note To Justin

Because it is 2018, instead of buying leaky pipelines on the taxpayer's dime, maybe you should enter the modern era and emulate China:

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

His Hypocrisy Is Breathtaking

Perhaps he is counting on a fawning international press and a somnolent Canadian public. Perhaps he is counting on those who put partisan loyalties above all else. Or maybe he thinks his dazzling smile will continue to beguile. It may be any or all of these that are leading the Prime Minister to believe that his arrant hypocrisy on climate change will go unnoticed. Whatever it is, one thing is undeniable: Justin Trudeau has absolutely no shame.

As reported by The Globe and Mail (article not available online unless you subscribe or have access to the digital replica through your public library), Canada's leader plans to tell the rest of the G7 at the upcoming summit to step up their game on climate-change mitigation:
The G7 leaders are being urged to accelerate action on climate change, given that current commitments under the Paris accord are insufficient to meet the goal of limiting the increase in average global temperatures to less than 2-degrees Celsius.

However, Mr. Trudeau’s climate leadership credentials are under attack after last week’s pipeline deal, which aims to bolster the fortunes of the emissionsintensive oil sands sector.

Canadian environmentalists argue the Liberal government’s support for the Trans Mountain pipeline and growth in the oil sands is inconsistent with its international commitments on climate change.
Yanick Touchette, a policy adviser with the International Institute for Sustainable Development co-authored a report assessing the level of subsidies given by G7 governments to the fossil fuel industry. Although it was written before before the Trudeau-Morneau acquisition of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, the ugly truth is that the
Canadian government support for the oil and gas industry is the highest in the G7, when measured by size of the economy...
“It’s all the more reason to provide more transparency regarding the overall picture of support to the oil and gas industry … and come up with a plan how Canada plans to meet its commitments to remove inefficient [fossil-fuel] subsidies.”
Not of this is escaping the notice of some very influential forces:
A group of international investors – including some prominent Canadian institutions – are calling on the G7 leaders to increase their efforts – “with utmost urgency” – to reduce carbon emissions and encourage investment in low-carbon energy sources in order to meet Paris targets.
Ceres, an American non-profit that contributed to crafting the statement on behalf of institutional investors, is led by Mindy Lubber:
Ms. Lubber suggested that Mr. Trudeau’s support for the oil sands pipeline is misguided both financially and from an environmental perspective.

...she argued the government-backed pipeline could become a money-losing venture in the long term as the world moves to reduce its use of fossil fuels.

“We are convinced that more money put into the oil sands, in the tens of billions of dollars, are very likely to become stranded assets,” she said in an interview.
All the signs are pointing in a direction opposite to what Mr. Trudeau's braintrust has told him is a viable path forward. Like Icarus flying too close to the sun, this decision, and the one who made it, appear headed for disaster.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Another Protest Against Kinder Morgan Pipeline

This time, it is in front of the constituency of Trudeau's Justice Minister and Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould:

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Our Naked Prime Minister

Disingenuous, Dishonest, Cynical. Calculating. Choose any or all of those adjectives, and you will have an apt assessment of Justin Trudeau and his decision to nationalize the Kinder Morgan pipeline that will ultimately see an almost tripling of bitumen transported to Canada's West Coast. It is a move that does not well with either Thomas Homer-Dixon or Yonatan Strauch. Neither is afraid to declare that the emperor has no clothes.

Their argument is compelling:
Continued investment in the oil sands generally, and in the Trans Mountain pipeline specifically, means Canada is doubling down on a no-win bet. We’re betting that the world will fail to meet the reduction targets in the Paris Climate Agreement, thus needing more and more oil, including our expensive and polluting bitumen. We’re betting, in other words, on climate disaster. If, however, the world finally gets its act together and significantly cuts emissions, then Canada will lose much of its investment in the oil sands and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, because the first oil to be cut will be higher-cost oil such as ours.

Heads or tails, we lose. That’s the idiocy of it. We can’t have our lucrative oil sands profits and a safe climate, too.
Both Homer-Dixon and Strauch see through Trudeau's lie than we can have our climate cake and eat it too:
Canada has no plan to meet its 2030 Paris Agreement emission targets, because it’s virtually impossible to do so if the oil sands’ output rises to Alberta’s cap of 100 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year....Scenarios to limit warming to 2 degrees, the Paris Agreement’s bottom-line target, clearly show that oil demand must decline.
When considered against rapidly-rising world temperatures, Trudeau's crime has a magnitude that puts him beyond even a modicum of sympathy:
We’ve already jumped from an equilibrium climate – the benign and largely stable climate that allowed our species to propagate and prosper over thousands of years – to a climate regime that’s constantly on the move, with temperatures shooting inexorably upward.

The German climatologist and oceanographer Stefan Rahmstorf puts it bluntly: “We are catapulting ourselves way out of the Holocene.” If humanity stays on its current climate trajectory, he goes on, “we will not recognize our Earth by the end of this century.”
It will become a world in which any efforts at adaptation will be puny and pitiable:
... adaptation measures such as better flood protection or a little economic tinkering at the edges, such as a modest carbon tax, don’t remotely cut it. We face an implacable imperative: Humanity either undertakes fast and deep cuts in its carbon emissions or, some time later this century, civilization starts to unravel.
The prognosis is grim. It is time for all who care about succeeding generations and the radically-changed existence they will inherit to see Trudeau for what he ultimately is: an enemy of the planet.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled: The Reverend Jim Bakker Has Your Back

Worried, my friends, about the coming Apocalypse? Cast the devil of doubt out. Banish those fears. The Reverend Jim Bakker shows you how:

Live: Pipeline Protest From Whistler

Clearly, Mr. Trudeau's "sunny ways" do not dazzle everyone.

Justin Trudeau: A Reality Check

While Canadians are rightfully applauding the retaliatory tariffs the Trudeau government will be imposing on the United States, my concern is that distraction will diminish the outrage that same government's nationalization of the Kinder Morgan pipeline has engendered. Far too many people, it seems, are incapable or unwilling to hold two conflicting opinions simultaneously, our preference for absolutist thinking often winning out.

Solid journalism and astute letter-writers, it is hoped, will keep the climate-change betrayal of Justin Trudeau in the public's eye and mind.

Today's Star does its best on several fronts. Here is what a Millenial has to say:
After the crippling rage and ensuing cynicism I’ve harboured since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s callous electoral reform betrayal last year, I didn’t feel anything at all when I found out he was buying a $4.5-billion pipeline.

How silly of me to think that, in 2019, I would finally be able to vote for someone who would take our carbon budget seriously, and have it actually count toward something other than a tally of the other conscious voters who also wasted their ballot.

When Trudeau went to Paris, he made a major commitment to the rest of the world on our behalf. It was a commitment that his Liberals evidently had no intention of keeping (much like electoral reform), as he preached sanctimoniously to other countries of its critical imperative. Trudeau has made self-righteous liars out of all of us, and many don’t seem to care.

How silly of me to think that Canadians would eventually be embarrassed by the global community’s disapproval of our myopic selfishness, as we refuse to even stop growing our oil industry, let alone phase it out.

I am 34 and live in Toronto. A large portion of my meagre paycheque is depleted by riding expensive public transit, buying expensive vegan groceries and renting a tiny, overpriced apartment. But I don’t mind forking over the money because I feel like I am doing my part to help tackle climate change. After all, our governments are busy subsidizing more important things with their share of my cheque, I’m told. How silly of me.

Once a year, I try to take a camping trip to get away from the grind and pretend that I am living in harmony with nature for a few days. This month, I’ll bring my tent to Burnaby Mountain, along with some hard-earned cash that I have set aside to help pay the salaries of those who will arrest and fine me when I get there. At least I can say I helped create jobs, right?

Alykhan Pabani, Toronto
Other writers express similar cynicism and disappointment about a man who promised so much and delivered so little:
Your pro-pipeline editorial states: “To be clear: The new pipeline should be built, or more precisely, expanded.”

I am at a loss as to why the Star would make such a statement when this particular investment in, and expansion of, the Trans Mountain pipeline flies in the face of the Justin Trudeau government’s platform to help Canada (and the world) transition to more of a green-energy economy.

When we expand our investment in fossil fuels by a massive amount, we are obviously moving Canada away from transitioning toward a green economy. Canada has already generously supported the oil industry in a multitude of ways through enormous subsidies, etc. By expanding pipelines and thus promoting the expanded use of fossil fuels, instead of shrinking our dependence on oil, we perpetuate the status quo, which has our planet sitting at the verge of collapse.

If our federal government intended to expand its investment in green technologies and help us transition to a more environmentally feasible energy base, it would not have blown the bank to support this pipeline. Where will the money come from to support green industries and initiatives?

When the sustainability of our planet and our children’s future is at stake, Trudeau’s boldest move should have taken a completely different direction. I am so disappointed.

Fran Bazos, Newmarket

It is no surprise that a deal has been made for a pipeline to transport fossil fuels for financial gain. It seems there is no political party standing the slightest chance of forming a federal government that is prepared to turn its back on the enormous wealth buried below Alberta soil — no one prepared to leave the pristine boreal forests in the ground where they belong.

The resulting toxicity to the land in which we live and breathe, native land rights and the increased world dependence on non-renewable energy sources seem to have no influence on the decision-making process. It’s big business that dictates decisions and the policymakers will ride roughshod over anyone who gets in the way.

Timothy Phillips, Toronto

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has obviously forgotten, or disregarded, what most scientists have preached repeatedly, that keeping fossil fuels in the ground is essential if we are to save our planet. He is planning to ship our dirty oilsands to be burned in Asia, and then claim that Canada is adhering to our commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change. Ethical?

Ross McCallum, Toronto
Finally, Jennifer Wells offers a history lesson on Kinder Morgan and draws this conclusion:
As for history, what it shows is there was a time and place for pipeline talk. The prime minister is gambling on the merits of using the expansion as a bridge to a climate-conscious future. That might have worked decades ago. Today it leaves the young PM sounding very ’80s

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Nathan Cullen's Peerless Takedown Of The Hapless Justin Trudeau

Enjoy (or not, depending upon your political/philosophical/environmental orientations):

Meanwhile, Star letter-writers offer some much-needed reality checks about Trudeau's betrayal:
Your editorial highlights the political risks in the Justin Trudeau government’s decision to buy the Kinder Morgan pipeline, but there is also a major economic risk involved.

If the government had read the fine print of Kinder Morgan’s security filings, it would note that the company warned its investors last year about the threat posed by successful action on climate change, in response to a formal complaint from Greenpeace on inadequate disclosure of climate risk.

According to the filing, serious progress on achieving the Paris climate agreement’s decarbonization goals would reduce oil demand and thus oil companies might not be able to honour their contracts with Kinder Morgan or sign new ones.

So Ottawa has bought itself a pipeline that only succeeds economically if the Paris agreement fails. Quite the Faustian bargain.

Keith Stewart, Greenpeace Canada, Toronto

Not only is this pipeline in direct violation of the constitutional rights of Indigenous peoples, but the bottom line is there is no viable market for bitumen transported by tankers. It’s not a product the world wants to buy.

HSBC and other big players know this and they are divesting from Alberta’s difficult oil because it’s not a valuable product, and even they are saying loudly that they want to steer clear of the oilsands because of the heavy consequences to the environment and Indigenous rights.

It’s shocking to see Paris climate “rock star” Justin Trudeau showing his true colours.

David Quigg, Toronto

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

UPDATED: Call Him By His Real Name

I hope Justin Trudeau has a vivid imagination and total recall. That way, he can revisit the fall of 2015, depicted above, a time, you may remember, when he was exultant, having won his a majority government after posing as a man who was going to bring Canada into the 21st century. It was a time he fooled so many of us. With any luck, he will not do so again.

That the clown prince/neoliberal stooge's gambit in buying out the Trans Mountain pipeline is not going over well is evident on a number of fronts. Following are but a few illustrations of that fact:

Star letter writers offer this:
As an atmospheric physicist and an active climate-change researcher, I find the conduct of the Justin Trudeau government in this regard disgusting and appalling. If we are looking for a visionary leader who would lead us from a fossil-fuel-based (and environmentally destructive) economy to a sustainable and clean low-carbon economy in Canada, then Trudeau is not that person.

When Trudeau was elected, there was a sense of hope in doing our part as a nation to really start reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I have followed the United Nations’ COP meetings with a great deal of interest, and Canada promised achievable objectives in the Paris Agreement. These objectives do not seem achievable now.

Kaz Higuchi, environmental studies professor, York University, Toronto

I find it appalling that the government is using taxpayers’ money to benefit a corporation. This makes me realize how influential the corporations really are and how insignificant are the voices of Indigenous people and the thousands of others opposing this pipeline.

How can the government turn a blind eye to the harmful effects this pipeline may pose? Oil spills are an inevitable consequence.

I wish there were some mechanism to determine how I want my taxes used. I am definitely not paying them so a corporation can build an oil pipeline to endanger the environment of a province with some of the most beautiful coastlines in the country.

Sneha Singh, Mississauga

Pierre Berton’s The Last Spike captured a moment when the Canadian government was in the railroad- building business. Now, Ottawa has entered its pipeline era. Will, at some point, Berton’s book get a sequel, perhaps The Last Spill?

Ken Luckhardt, Etobicoke
Across the country, the sense of betrayal and incredulity at this asinine purchase was palpable:
“We are absolutely shocked and appalled that Canada is willingly investing taxpayers’ money in such a highly controversial fossil fuel expansion project,” said Grand Chief Stewart Philip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, in an emailed statement. “We will not stand down no matter who buys this ill-fated and exorbitantly priced pipeline.”

On Parliament Hill, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May called the purchase “an historic blunder with taxpayer dollars,” citing a document from the National Energy Board that says Kinder Morgan bought the existing pipeline from its previous owner for $550 million in 2007 — a far cry from what the Texas company will get by selling it to Ottawa, she said.

She also accused Trudeau’s government of writing a “blank cheque” for the pipeline’s construction costs, which Kinder Morgan has previously pegged at $7.4 billion.

“It seems completely insane,” May said. “I’m quite certain that this will go down as an epic financial, economic boondoggle.”
Environmental groups were equally unimpressed:
The Council of Canadians, meanwhile, attacked Ottawa’s purchase as a “Big Oil bailout” that would not remove obstacles to the pipeline expansion. Greenpeace, in its own statement, said Trudeau’s government has “signed up to captain the Titanic of tar sands oil pipelines, putting it on a collision course with its commitments to Indigenous rights and the Paris climate agreement.”
Columnist Gary Mason calls it a Faustian bargain:
Environmentalists who once applauded Mr. Trudeau and his enthusiastic embrace of the Paris climate targets feel deceived. Celebrity crusader Naomi Klein promised the PM on Twitter his decision would “haunt him” everywhere he travels now. He was called a climate fraud by influential activist Bill McKibben.
But the immediate and long-term political fallout is only part of Trudeau's problem:
The government’s chance of finding a private investor to buy the project before the end of summer is unlikely. The threat of lengthy, potentially violent protests and the impact that had on creating a reliable construction timetable is one of the reasons Kinder Morgan wanted out. Any new investor is going to wait until Ottawa gets most of the dirty work done, gets the project built through the most contentious areas of B.C., before feeling comfortable enough to take it on.
Clearly, if the feds ultimately succeed, the only happy campers will be the investors who buy it back from the government.

Thomas Walkom points out a flaw in the plan few want to acknowledge:
... the real weakness in Ottawa’s nationalization scheme is economic. The Trans Mountain expansion was conceived at a time when petroleum prices were hitting record highs and before shale oil had become an important source of energy.

In those heady days, it made some economic sense to build a pipeline devoted to developing Alberta’s high-cost oil sands for export. Now it makes less sense.
What’s more, as Alberta’s Parkland Institute points out, the Trans Mountain expansion was conceived at a time when there were fewer pipelines bringing tar-sands oil to market. Since then, the Keystone XL pipeline, which is meant to take heavy oil from Alberta to Texas, has been approved.
Educating oneself about important issues is a key responsibility of all citizens in a healthy democracy. To abdicate that responsibility is to encourage reckless, irresponsible government policy and action. Today, we reap the results.

However, for those informed on the issues, to say that Trudeau's name is mud is perhaps to date myself. How about updating it to bitumen?

UPDATE: In The Guardian, Bill McKibben says the only thing differentiating Donald Trump and Trudeau on climate change is that the former is not a hypocrite about his disdain for the environment. Considering the latter's lofty rhetoric, the analysis fits:
Trudeau says all the right things, over and over. He’s got no Scott Pruitts in his cabinet: everyone who works for him says the right things. Indeed, they specialize in getting others to say them too – it was Canadian diplomats, and the country’s environment minister, Catherine McKenna, who pushed at the Paris climate talks for a tougher-than-expected goal: holding the planet’s rise in temperature to 1.5C (2.7F).

But those words are meaningless if you keep digging up more carbon and selling it to people to burn, and that’s exactly what Trudeau is doing. He’s hard at work pushing for new pipelines through Canada and the US to carry yet more oil out of Alberta’s tar sands, which is one of the greatest climate disasters on the planet.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

UPDATED: Trudeau Betrays Canada And The World

If you know anything about the climate-change peril within which the world lives, you will see this announcement by Justin Trudeau and his cronies as nothing less than a betrayal of the entire world.
The federal Liberal government has agreed to buy the troubled Trans Mountain expansion project from Kinder Morgan to ensure the controversial expansion of an Alberta-to-B.C. crude oil pipeline gets built.

The price tag is less than the company’s estimated $7.4-billion projected cost but taxpayers will be on the hook for $4.5 billion according to details released by Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr at a news conference Tuesday.

Ottawa will take over the expansion and the existing pipeline and assets in a deal that will see Kinder Morgan immediately begin construction. But Ottawa will immediately seek new buyers in the private sector and has promised to also extend insurance to them for any politically-motivated delays.
Even the right-wing is appalled by this obscene parody of government responsibility:
The Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation condemned the move, saying it would saddle taxpayers with costs that should be borne by the private sector.

“This decision represents both a colossal failure of the Trudeau government to enforce the law of the land, and a massive, unnecessary financial burden on Canadian taxpayers,” the federation said in a statement.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May sees it for what it is:
“Kinder Morgan laughing all the way to the bank. KM gets $4.5 billion and walks away. Canada to raise money to build $7.4 billion project,” May said on Twitter.
Even the most ardent Liberal supporter must be starting to see the path this government is leading us down. It is one that culminates in greater debt and, more worrisome still, greater greenhouse gas emissions and despoliation of the B.C coast.

Hardly a legacy these renegades can ultimately be proud of.

UPDATE: If you watch even the first two minutes of Elizabeth May's response to the Trudeau betrayal, I think you will share my outrage.

The Second 'Thousand-Year' Storm In Two Years

Try telling the people of Ellicott City, Maryland, that climate change is a hoax.

The Washington Post, in a detailed analysis of this flood, has this to say about the role climate change played:
Climate change did not “cause” this thunderstorm complex.

However, climate change has probably altered the larger environment in which these small thunderstorms are embedded. Notably, the water vapor content of the atmosphere, as a whole, has increased and scientific studies have shown a statistically meaningful uptick in the frequency of extreme rain events over the eastern United States. Statistically, over the long term, these types of extreme floods are probably becoming more common, in areas that are normally rainy as a result of global warming.
Emerging patterns are undeniable, revealing climate-change deniers for the antediluvian fools they truly are.

Monday, May 28, 2018

A Few Impressions

I realize that Ontario's pending provincial election is likely less than riveting for those living outside the province; however, the fact that a demagogue like PC leader Doug Ford has been leading in the polls until recently should concern all of us.

As Canadians, we like to feel smug vis-à-vis the United States, saddled as it is with its choice of an imbecile for president. However, that smugness needs to be tempered both by the election of populist crack user Rob Ford, who was the mayor of Toronto, and the realization that brother Doug's robotic presentation of himself as "for the people" has yielded him quite a following. To ignore those realities does no one any service.

Last night's debate, featuring the leaders of all three major parties, was a study in contrasts. Both the NDP's Andrea Horwath and (outgoing?) Premier Kathleen Wynne acquitted themselves quite well (although I thought Horwath interrupted too frequently), displaying a poise and a depth of knowledge that one would hope for in a leader. On the other hand, Doug Ford relied on boilerplate promises to lower taxes and find efficiencies, at the same time 'guaranteeing that no one would lose their jobs.

And it got even better, as he
promised a 20-per-cent cut to the second-lowest income-tax bracket, an end to the province’s cap-and-trade system, and a 10-cent-per-litre cut to the gasoline tax.
Welcome to Magical Thinking 101.

To compound his amateurish bluster, Ford warned of dire consequences should the NDP form government:
“I travel around, I’ve talked to hundreds and hundreds of companies — they are terrified of the NDP coming in,” Ford told viewers during the raucous 90-minute televised debate.

“They’ve told me personally, ‘We will pack up and we will go down south in half a second.’ God forbid the NDP ever get in, they will destroy our province,” he said, predicting Horwath “would annihilate the middle class” and “bankrupt this province.”
To the thick-headed, this strategy (Hyperbole/Fearmongering 101) would surely strike fear and loathing of those godless socialists. To drive home his point about the perils of an NDP government, repetition being his forte, Ford Added,
“They will destroy our province, destroy our economy. That’s a fact..."
This has been but a brief reflection by one who has followed politics for many, many years. As a student of human nature, I find all elections fascinating, offering as they do a kind of Rorschach test of one's fellow citizens.

Elections help determine the kind of society we live in. For those who feel strongly (and everyone should) about such matters, their responsibility to cast a vote is undeniable. Otherwise, of course, you are letting someone else impose their vision.

Ah yes, the beauty of democracy.

For those who didn't see the debate and might want to dip into it, here it is in its entirety: