Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Industry Insider Disses Tory Green Renovation Plan

From The Star, comments re the Tory answer to Energuide:

Another industry insider questioned the Conservative government creating the new program, which is officially called the "ecoENERGY Efficiency Initiative. "The only real change is the name and it is abysmal. I can't even remember the full thing. Rebranding is a colossal waste of money," he charged.

"All in all I give the thing a `C' for program improvement and an `F' for partisan stupidity," he added.

The EEI? The EcoEI? Can't even come up with a good acronym for this one. On the other hand, maybe your not even supposed to remember it. Maybe you're supposed to forget it as quickly as possible, and think about tax cuts...the homosexual agenda...elitist judges upholding the constitution.

Man that Harper's a genius!

Mr. Dithers Got More Done

Buried deep in this CBC story is an interesting fact:

Since the Conservative throne speech in April 2006, the Harper government has introduced 47 government bills and passed only 13. This compares to 93 introduced and 54 passed by the previous Liberal minority government of Paul Martin over a period that was just two months longer.

Martin, for all his perceived indecisiveness, was batting over .500 when it came to success in passing legislation. Harper, with a much thinner agenda, has thus far barely managed to clear the Mendoza Line.

Do It For The Starlets

...if you don't like children, or don't like your children in particular.

I wouldn't normally pay much attention to a celebrity sponsored "Let's All Fight Climate Change!" site, but Global Cool has links to a nifty list of concrete actions individuals can take to cut energy use, including buying compact fluorescents, turning the temperature down a degree, washing in cold water, and so forth. Most are pretty common-sensical, and good ideas even if you aren't worried about climate change. For example, its always a bad idea to fly, because your plane could lose a wing and you could end up screaming for a good five minutes while it tumbles out of the sky and into an alligator infested Florida swamp! And if you wash in cold water, then use a rack for drying purposes, your pants won't shrink and you can put some moisture back into your household's dry winter air. There's even a few suggestions I hadn't heard of before, like stacking the food in your freezer properly.

The site has also managed to attract some fairly decent musical talent, like the relatively hot Karen O (pictured above) of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and a couple of schlubby looking dudes that claim to be from Broken Social Scene (but look more like roadies).

Meanwhile, California may move to ban conventional light bulbs by 2012 and replace them with compact florescents. Good on them if they do. Since the bulbs contain mercury, it will be interesting to see how the disposal issues are handled.

Meanwhile, Gary Lunn may be telling Parliament that Tar Sands production won't swamp his government's green initiatives, but he's telling the Chinese something else entirely. As this Globe Story points out:

The promise of production from Alberta's oil sands appears to grow exponentially the farther Conservative cabinet ministers get from Ottawa.

And by the time they reach China, all caution is lost.

For the H.O.C. production ramps up to no more than 3.1 million barrels a day within the next 10 years; for the Chinese it gets to 4.6 million.

Another Species Of Denial

As part of the official U.S. response to the IPCC report on Global Warming, the Bush administration is demanding that scientists scientists to develop technology to create a "global parasol" and block sunlight as a last-ditch way to halt global warming. Ideas include injecting sulphur particles into the atmosphere and launching a giant reflecting mirror. In yesterday's U.K. Gaurdian, George Monbiot dissects these proposals (bolding is mine):

Every scheme that could give us a chance of preventing runaway climate change should be considered on its merits. But the proposals for building a global parasol don't have very many. A group of nuclear weapons scientists at the Lawrence Livermore laboratory in California, apparently bored of experimenting with only one kind of mass death, have proposed launching into the atmosphere a million tonnes of tiny aluminium balloons, filled with hydrogen, every year. One unfortunate side-effect would be to eliminate the ozone layer.

Another proposal, from a scientist at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research, in Boulder, Colorado, suggests spraying billions of tonnes of sea-water into the air. Regrettably, the production of small salt particles, while generating obscuring mists, could cause droughts in the countries downwind. Another scheme would inject sulphate particles into the stratosphere. It is perhaps less dangerous than the others, but still carries a risk of causing changes in rainfall patterns. As for flipping a giant mirror into orbit, the necessary technologies are probably a century away. All these fixes appear more expensive than cutting the amount of energy we consume. None reduces the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which threatens to acidify the oceans, with grave consequences for the food chain.


Instead of trying to persuade us that man-made global warming is a myth,[the Bush administration and the oil companies] are seeking to divert us into doing everything except the one thing that has to happen: reducing our consumption of fuel. It is another species of denial.

George Bush's purpose - to insulate these companies from the need to cut production - is unchanged. He has simply found a new way of framing the argument.

I fear that in the Canadian context, specifically in the context of employing nuclear power to clean up the tar sands, the Harper government is engaged in a similar diversionary campaign, since under the most favorable circumstances ( a smooth approvals process; no local opposition to the plan in Fort McMurray or surrounding towns ), construction would not likely begin for another decade.

That's ten years of sitting around and doing nothing but pollute.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Another Quebec Poll

Federal this time, with a translation and commentary provided by none other than Paul Wells:

The Tory numbers in Quebec — up from 21% to 23% since November — are less impressive than the numbers posted by Stéphane Dion's Liberals, up from 20% to 29%. Probably it would be cruel of me to link to this reminder of what everyone was saying six weeks ago."

• The Bloc, meanwhile, is in serious trouble: 34%, six points below its very weak showing in the 2000 election. Probably it would be cruel to remind everyone that Gilles Duceppe is headed toward his seventh Quebec election, and his fifth as Bloc Québécois leader, and that his career in electoral politics has now lasted more than twice as long as Lucien Bouchard's.

• But. As La Presse points out, most of Dion's gains have come at the Bloc's expense, where the uphill climb for the Liberals is steep indeed. In dozens of mostly-francophone Quebec ridings, the Liberals performed so badly in 2006 that even a nine-point swing doesn't begin to make up the gap between Grit and Bloquiste. (Remember that Chrétien won only 19 seats in 1993, with 33% of the popular vote.) So while Dion could, if this poll became reality, expect to win back a few low-hanging fruit like Jean-le-Ber in the Montreal region, serious Liberal gains in Quebec are still not quite in reach.

Leave it at that. My attempt to switch templates went went awry this morning, and while things are mostly back to normal, I still grieve for the site-meter data I lost. January was going to be my best month ever for visits. Now I can't prove it.

Charest Leads In Two Polls

...according to Reuters:

A CROP poll for Montreal's La Presse newspaper put support for the provincial Liberals at 37 percent, compared with 34 percent for the Parti Quebecois, which wants the mainly French-speaking Canadian province to break away from Canada.

A Leger Marketing survey in Le Devoir had the pro-Canada Liberals at 34 percent and the Parti Quebecois at 32 percent.

If Charest sees this and drops the writ, then you probably won't see a federal election in 2007 at all, because Ontario goes on October 4 and we'd be having wall-to-wall votes. On the other hand, if Harper drops the writ, or "arranges" it to be dropped, then his chief Quebec ally Charest will probably have to wait until '08 for roughly the same reasons.

Interesting too in that, given Quebec's political demographic, a two or three point lead may not be enough for Charest to win (at least not a majority). In 2003, the Quebec Libs took it by a much larger margin.

Jack Wins Day One

Because its hard to argue with sentiments like these:

“Let’s get moving. Will the prime minister instruct his team to get moving on real action on climate change?” Layton asked.


He accused the Conservatives and Liberals of bogging down review of the Clean-Air Act by calling a large number of witnesses to a committee that is examining the bill.

"They should get a delay of game penalty, for heaven’s sake. Let us get moving," Layton barked.

The big loser was THE WHITE GORILLA, whose act is already getting old.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Canadian Phone Company Encourages Public Masturbation!

Another first for Telus! They'll be selling porn to their cell-phone subscribers on a "pay per download" basis, charging on average 3$ or 4$ per "item".

I have no idea why anyone would want to watch pornography on a screen two inches square, while (for example) riding public transit. But then I'm from an earlier generation that came of age downloading .jpegs from "newsgroups".

And we were too discrete to view the stuff on any but our work computers. I don't understand the youth of today.

h/t to Slashdot. Be sure to read the comments. A number of readers are considering a move to Canada because of this (note: our strip-clubs are better too).

They're Gonna Show These During The Superbowl?

Messaging aside, the now infamous Tory attack ads look like they were put together by a grade-schooler using sound equipment from 1940s Czechoslovakia. And this is probably insulting to grade-schoolers, as I have seen far cleverer stuff on YouTube.

It will be truly bizarre to see these bargain-basement efforts up against Pepsi and Budweiser, and I imagine the response of most Canadian football fans when they come on will be that its a good time to take a whizz.

They reek of a quickie hack job, and it makes you wonder if the Tories have all that much cash to spend after all. It sure ain't up there on the screen.

Henry Morgentaler, Crime Fighter

Yesterday was the 19th anniversary of R. v. Morgentaler, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that essentially legalized abortion in Canada. Reading this Morgentaler retrospective in the Halifax Chronicle Herald, I was struck by the following quotation (from 1999):

"It is accepted wisdom that prevention is better than a cure," Morgentaler says. "To prevent the birth of unwanted children by family planning, birth control and abortion is preventative medicine, preventing psychiatry and prevention of violent crime."

Commonsensical, you would think, but in fact when Steven Levitt and John Donohue presented evidence that the legalization of abortion during the 1970s in the United States correlated well with a decline in crime that took place during the late 1990s, they stirred up enormous controversy.

However, Levitt and Donohue's theory has since been confirmed, and even replicated in a Canadian context. Given Morgentaler centrality to the struggle for legalized abortion in Canada, it is only logical that credit for the falling Canadian crime rate should at least partially go to the good doctor. Certainly, he has done more than the raftloads of "get tough" legislation that have been put in place since 1988.

Order of Canada, anyone? He deserves it way more than this guy.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

What Poll Is That, Sheila?

Sheila Copps weighs in on the Marc-Yvan Cote mini-scandal:

Conservatives, now edging ahead of the Liberals in Quebec polls, would love to run another campaign against Grit "corruption." So why did Dion step into a minefield that can only do him damage? Dion is nothing if not naively honest. The reality is that he can no more return the memberships of banned Liberals than Paul Martin could have revoked them. The Liberal Party has a constitution and no one person can actually ban Liberals for life.

Anyone have any idea of what poll she's talking about? I know nothing of this and I thought I read them all.

h/t to Political Staples

Calgary Sun: Alberta Is Pusher To Oil Junky America

And, luckily, according to the crayon slingers at The Sun, the Yankees aren't likely to go Cold Turkey anytime soon, no matter what Bush Jr. might say about cutting gas consumption:

One [reason to breathe easy] is that every president from Richard Nixon to George Bush has tried to cut down on America’s growing consumption of oil, particularly imported oil.

All of Bush’s predecessors have failed.

And they have failed, according to The Sun, because American consumers are inherently undisciplined.

Besides, even if the U.S. shakes its habit, there's a plan in place to hook the Asians:

What’s more, the booming economies of China and India — with their almost insatiable thirst for oil — means any cuts in U.S. oil and gas use would not be felt by Canadian suppliers.

All of which is apparently cause for much relief, for "Oil is what drives Alberta’s economy."

From this it is easy to understand Alberta's reluctance to move on or even believe in Global Warming. For their leaders, failure to cut consumption means success, and success failure; the world is turned upside-down when seen through the prism of a one industry economy.

Whereas Ontario, with its diverse manufacturing base, tends to look for Opportunity in Change.

So it is useful to keep the following rule-of-thumb in mind when considering political issues in a Canadian context:

While Ontario MAKES, Alberta PUMPS (and Quebec JUST LAYS THERE, like a French sex bomb straight out of the shower, beautiful and useless and asking for candy).

Hillary Ahead Of McCain and Giuliani

While Newsweek summarizes their latest polling results with the headline "A Sorry State: Bush Hits New Low", the most important bit of news in the accompanying story, it seems to me, is that for the first time Hilary Clinton polls ahead of John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, her most likely Republican opponents in the race for POTUS 2008:

"With about half (48 percent) of voters nationwide saying their opinion of Bush will be at least “somewhat important” in determining who gets their vote in ’08, the two Democratic frontrunners have narrow leads over their potential opponents. In a mock election, Clinton tops McCain by six points (50-44 percent) and barely edges out Giuliani by three (49-46 percent). Obama’s lead over both McCain and Giuliani is by the exact same margins (48-42 percent against the former and 47-44 percent against the latter). The races are tighter with Edwards as the Democratic candidate: the former vice presidential candidate edges out McCain by four points (48-44 percent) and is in a statistical dead heat with Giuliani (46-47 percent)."

The GOP is in deep trouble, especially in the Senate where they will have to defend about twice as many seats (something like 20 to 10) as the Dems in 2008. The thinking is that if the country is still in Iraq by that time, their candidates are doomed. Meanwhile, Presidential front-runner John McCain is starting to look like a grumpy old man in television interviews. Watch for an angry outbreak soon, see if he swallows his dentures. And Giuliani is having his own problems.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Probably Easier To Just Do The Three Rs

From The Guardian:

The US government wants the world's scientists to develop technology to block sunlight as a last-ditch way to halt global warming, the Guardian has learned. It says research into techniques such as giant mirrors in space or reflective dust pumped into the atmosphere would be "important insurance" against rising emissions, and has lobbied for such a strategy to be recommended by a major UN report on climate change, the first part of which will be published on Friday.

The IPCC scientists have examined these options, and note politely that they are "uncosted". They're along the same lines as the lets-erect-a-sea-wall-to-protect-our-coastal-cities type solutions. They'll cost gazillions, probably won't work, and whose going to pay for them anyway? The same people who won't raise gas taxes half a cent because it'll allegedly destroy Western Civilization are going to find the money to launch a mirror a thousand miles from end to end? Is Exxon going to be funding it? Shell? Who?

h/t to Socialist Gulag.

Do You Think I Need A Breast Reduction?

And other "edgy" ads promoting Toronto as a tourist destination...

City councillor Michael Thompson calls them garbage, but they seem reasonably funny to me. The example below seems to have caused the biggest uproar:

But this one is my favorite:

The posters are destined for alternative weekly newspapers in the U.S., and are supposed to "break perceptions that Toronto is a bland, uninteresting city".

Of course having the ads pulled will just reinforce that impression, as well as raising suspicions that we're all a bunch of prudes up here. And god knows what kind of message would be sent to potential American tourists if they ever went ahead with Thompson's best known proposal: allowing police to search black men at random.

That would surely play well around Caribana time.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Roy Spanks Gwen: Justice McMurtry Beats REAL Women Complaint

The fact that Justice Roy McMurtry's daughter is gay and that he has been photographed with known homosexuals does not mean:

...that a reasonable, fair minded and informed person would have a reasoned suspicion of conflict of interest between [the] judge's personal interest (or that of [the] judge's immediate family or close friends or associates) and [the] judge's duty.

And therefore Justice McMurtry was correct in declining to recuse himself during the 2003 Halpern case, which effectively established same sex marriage in Canada. Or so argues the Canadian Judicial Council.

And who were the "reasonable, fair-minded" people who felt that being seen with gays rendered you a pawn in the homosexual agenda? Who were the people who "suspected" a conflict-of-interest on McMurtry's part.

Why, they were Gwen Landolt and REAL Women!

Gwen is one of my favorite Canadian crazies, if for no other reason than she's been at it since the 1970s. (I suspect that one day Kate at SDA will grow up to be Gwen Landolt). I have written about Ms. Landolt a couple of times, including here where I discuss a speech she made to The Witness, a Toronto Catholic group. In it, she claims that homosexuals are promoting abortion rights so as to establish a U.N. One World government made up of Secular Humanists.

No, I'm not making that up.

So: "reasonable, fair-minded and informed"? Or not?

I say not very.

(PS: Why the suggestive language in the title? I am noticing that all my long-term most popular posts appear to have sexual content, even when they don't. For example, "Harper Dodges a Squirting", which is about an attempted prank on the PM, still gets tons of hits, and I appear to have made the blogroll on a couple of extreme fetish websites as a result. Who cares? If I can turn one of 'em Liberal, they can pee on one another to their heart's content, for all I care)

(PPS: h/t to Saskboy, who got me started thinking about this stuff. Your blog has been eating my comments all morning. I get a weird error message. I guess Wordpress isn't so wonderful after all, hmmm?)

A Man Called Wijid

Richard Noronha, an angry resident of the Mississauga-Streetsville riding, has launched the Betrayed By Wajid Khan! website. His goal is that the next Liberal candidate for the riding should be a resident of the riding, and he's got e-mail addresses for S.Dion, Khan himself, and Mazda Canada (Khan flogged Mazdas on the side) if you feel like reaming anybody out.

No great revelations at the site, but it is interesting that while Khan kept promising to move to Mississauga-Streetsville, he never actually lived in the riding.

And, oh yes, Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion calls him "Wijid".

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Sun Catches On

In their editorial this morning, The Sun bashes Stephen Harper's version of Energuide:

This week, Lunn insisted "over 90% of every dollar" spent under the new Tory program "will go to retrofits on the home."

If the Tories actually manage to pull that off, it will be in part because, unlike the Liberals, the Tories won't subsidize the pre- and post-renovation inspections. Homeowners will be on the hook for those costs themselves.

Unfortunately, in the real world, that's a huge disincentive. If the environment is the huge issue the government must make it as easy as possible to qualify for the cash back and to conserve energy.

Particularly because we strongly suspect the Canadians who took advantage of the Grit program were not amongst the working poor. Richer Canadians who can afford to retrofit their homes don't need government subsidies to do it.

How about this for a campaign slogan:

Canada's New Government: resurrecting old programs and ruining them for the poor.

Harper Promises Nothing, Maybe Less

BCer in TO quotes this Canada Press story:

OTTAWA -- Canada won't follow the Bush administration's lead in setting hard targets for reducing oil consumption but will instead impose tougher emissions standards on the auto sector and other industries, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

He comments:

I’m all for toughening emission standards and other measures, but why the heck shouldn’t we also encourage people to use less energy? Come to think of it, that’s the first of the three Rs. Reduce.

Harper's refusal to consider such reductions is particularly striking when you realize how little Bush is asking. From The Washington Post:

The fine print: Administration officials said that the goal is 20 percent below projected annual gasoline usage, not off today's levels.


Using projections means that carbon dioxide emissions from transportation fuels will drop only slightly from today's levels...

So the Bush plan demands almost zero in the way of reductions, and Harper is determined to do even less than that.

The Tar Sands From Space

Frances Russell of The Winnipeg Free Press has a column today entitled "The gassy elephant; Alberta's tar sands are fuelling an ecological disaster" which is proof positive that worrying over the development of Alberta's tar sands is not just a fad among us Eastern Snobs. One line in the column that particularly piqued my interest was:

...every barrel of tar sands oil requires three to five barrels of water, water then so contaminated it must be impounded in tailing ponds now big enough to be visible from space. The amount of water currently allocated to the tar sands is 350 million cubic metres, the equivalent required by a city of two million people.

I broke out google Earth, and sure enough its true.

This shot is from about 27 miles up, although believe me you can still see them (the six blue spots on the West side of the river) when G-Earth is set to 100 miles, which is my personal definition of "space". I used a shot from lower down so as to better use the G-Earth measuring tool. With it, I was able to determine that the top and largest pond is three miles from North to South and about 1.5 miles across; the bottom one two miles long and one across; the smaller ponds about a mile North to South.

Another line in the column that caught my attention:

The Pembina Institute's latest book, Death By A Thousand Cuts, warns that one-quarter of Alberta, 138,000 square kilometres, "could be mined or drilled for oil sands with major impacts to boreal forest, water, air, climate and wildlife." As of July 2005, the area leased for deep oil sands development was 35,680 square kilometres, "setting the wheels in motion for an industrial sacrifice zone the size of Vancouver Island." If all deep tar sands are developed, fully 11,454 square kilometres of boreal forest will be cleared.

I love that term "industrial sacrifice zone". it sounds so noble! But imagine a kind of giant scab over the land, visible all the way from Jupiter! Will the people of Alberta and their political leaders allow it to happen? I am reminded of the old Pretenders song, "My City was Gone", when Chrissy sings:


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

"Living Fossil" Caught Off Japan (WARNING: Contains Video And Pic Of Ghastly Monster Fish!)

Pretty damn ugly, eh?

Japanese scientists were recently able to capture and film a female frilled shark (Chlamydoselachus anguineus). This 1.6 meter animal normally lives about a half mile down and eats squid, fish, and other sharks. The one above may have pursued its food source into shallower, warmer waters, or it might have been sick.

Chlamydoselachus is considered a "living fossil" because it has changed so little over the eons.

CBS has film here.

On one of the sites reporting this story, a reader remarks:

Are there any other rarely-seen possibly extinct creatures we can kill? Anybody? Just give us a heads up and we'll send a team of Japanese scientists over to photograph.

The point is well taken. I considered linking to extraordinary footage of a giant squid that Japanese scientists caught around Xmas, until I realized that the film consisted of the poor thing's death-throes as they hooked it aboard their boat.

In this case, however, the animal was already pretty far gone when it was captured.

And here, as in the case of the giant squid, the video shows that weird Japanese fish-necro thing, where they have someone lay down on a tarp next to the dead shark, allegedly for scale purposes.

When Does Harper Want An Election?

At the end of a fairly even-handed assessment of Harper's first year, Deirdre McMurdy drops this little bit of insider wisdom:

It's an open secret Harper would like an election in the next six months, but he needs the other political parties to set it up for him.

This seems plausible for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the glory days of the CPC government as a minority government are gone. With a new leader in place, the Libs won't be nearly as easy to splinter. And this isn't due in particular to any magical qualities of S. Dion either; its just a function of having a body in the leadership position. Further, with three parties to the Left of them in a minority situation, what kind of agenda could the Tories get through Parliament? Sissy stuff: green plans, motherhood initiatives. Whereas the Tories are Tories and want tax cuts, want to shovel wealth up the social scale. Its no fun to rule in a minority parliament when your agenda is at odds with opposition parties representing a good 70% of the Canadian electorate. So right now the game is all about converting this minority into a majority.

And that has got to happen soon if its to happen at all. The bloom is off the rose. Nothing the Tories have thrown at Dion (he's a Frenchy out to punish the oil-patch) has stuck yet, and Canadians are finding that, beyond being minimally competent, the Harper government has very little to recommend it policy-wise. Furthermore, wait another year and there will be Quebeckers getting shot at in Afghanistan and the "fiscal imbalance" talks will have ended in tears.

If this line of reasoning is actually what's going through the mind of the CPC braintrust, look for a straight-arm from Harper at budget time, and see if Layton is desperate enough to prop up the Tory government for peanuts.

Boycott America!

Everybody else has:

WASHINGTON - A 17 percent drop in overseas travelers to the United States since the Sept. 11 attacks has cost the country more than $15 billion in lost taxes and nearly 200,000 jobs, a study showed Tuesday.

Tough nuts for America. As for me, the day I am required to show a passport is the day I stop driving across the border to watch Bill's games. Buffalo's got nothing else going for it anyway, and the day has long since passed when you could get a good deal at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The beer is watery, the plastic cups it comes in get smaller every year, and the slices of pizza you buy for about $5.00 Cdn a pop are a pathetic disgrace. One slice of salami! Maybe! If you find a second one, consider yourself blessed! And is that orange stuff supposed to be cheese?

I will miss the tail-gate party, however, where you can see barbecues about an acre square. But they're not worth being treated like a potential terrorist.

PS. Right now you can still drive across the border without a passport. So if you do that, you can then hop a flight without a passport. But sssh! Keep it under your hat or the Taliban will hear!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Garth Going Liberal?

Rumblings from the Torysphere suggest that Garth Turner is pondering a jump to the Liberals. From What's Right is Right:

Seeing how the Green Party nod is going to the last candidate (this happened recently at the previously aformentioned Dickens) and Mr Turner (IND MP) cant seem to raise money if his life depended on it (and his political life does depend on it) He's been in talks with the local Liberal Party riding association for THEIR nod. Rumor has it, they'll take HIM in return for the Khan defection. If they have a nomination meeting no one will challenge...more than likely new Lib leader Dion will appoint him.

Numbers in Halton have it that if Turner runs as Independent, he splits vote with the CPC... Liberal runs up the middle (modern day Reform vs PC vote split). So its being said that Turner takes the Liberal nod and tries to squeek through for re-election. This way he wont be a floor crosser like Emerson or Khan. He will sit as an independent until the election then run as a liberal and "let the people decide."

I checked The Turner Report for clues to the truth of this, but found nothing concrete other than a real distaste for his old Tory brethren:

I will never work with Stephen Harper again, and not just for my own experiences. My devastating discovery this past year was that the Reform Party has, in fact, formed government. Worse, I helped make it happen.

Just when some are arguing its time to put away the "Tories are Scary" mantra, here we might have a brand spanking new Liberal candidate who just escaped from the freak-show claiming its all still true. Oh how sweet it would be!

(Personally, I was convinced by that commercial during the 2004 election showing a black and white picture of Harper with his eyes glowing red. That can't be normal, right?)

And the final result would be Halton goes Lib and Streetsville stays Lib in the next election. That's a two seat swing already.

Today, Dion Would Win A Minority

The Latest Ipsos Reid poll tells the story. From the Star-Phoenix, here are the raw numbers:

Lib: 37%
CPC: 33%
NDP: 13%

No figures are given for the Greens or The Bloc.

The regional breakdowns are also good news:

In the key battleground of Ontario, the Liberals broadened their lead, pushing up four points to an impressive 46 per cent while the Conservatives fell fi ve points in the last month to 32 per cent and the NDP held steady at 15 per cent.

The Grits also gained the lead in the prairie provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, jumping six points to 43 per cent support while the Tories fell seven, to 35 per cent. The NDP, meanwhile, gained a point to show 18 per cent of the electorate in the provinces.

No word in this brief article on the all important Quebec numbers, but this is definitely minority government territory, and not far off the kind of fluke majority Chretien won in 1997. There would be a good chance at picking up seats West of Ontario.

Ipsos-Reid claims the result argues against a Spring election:

"You add all of this up -- and I know the election drums are beating and I have heard all the scuttlebutt about things being up and running and all the rest of it -- but you never have an election unless you can win," said Ipsos Reid president Darrell Bricker.

Me? I go back and forth on this question almost daily. Right now I am suspended between opinions.

Update: The Montreal Gazette has also run a piece on this. Some tidbits:

The poll also showed the Bloc Quebecois losing support in the only province where it runs candidates, falling six points since mid-December to 38 per cent. Meanwhile, the Conservatives have regained five of those points, rising to 18 per cent in Quebec while the Liberals, with its new Quebecois leader, are down three points, but still ahead of the Tories, with 28 per cent support.

Looks like the Tories have managed to buy a few votes in Quebec.

The Green party ranges from one and two percent in Sask. and Man., to eight per cent in B.C. Nationally they're at five percent.

The Conservatives' only lead in the regional polls was in Alberta where it recorded an astounding 70 per cent level of support...

Alberta tribalism, bigtime!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Regulate Us! Regulate Us!

Has the tide turned? From The Star:

WASHINGTON – The chief executives of 10 major corporations, on the eve of the State of the Union address, urged President George W. Bush today to support mandatory reductions in climate-changing pollution and establish reductions targets.

"We can and must take prompt action to establish a co-ordinated, economy-wide market-driven approach to climate protection," the executives from a broad range of industries said in a letter to the president.

Representatives from Alcoa Inc., BP America Inc., DuPont Co., Caterpillar Inc., General Electric Co., Duke Energy Corp and others have sent a letter to Bush and will be holding a press conference later today. It looks like they will call for a mandatory cap-and-trade policy, in other words a market for carbon emissions.

Obviously, these people are not acting out of the goodness of their hearts. They see regulation coming down the pipe and would prefer to "face [a] market-driven approach to climate protection" rather than taxes up the wazoo.

Note that emissions markets are hardly a perfect solution. I've written a little about their shortcomings here, and an even better post appeared at P.O.G.G.E on Jan. 17.

Jane Jacobs Influenced My Environmental Philosophy

...says Harper.

Yeah, man, and Muhammad Ali and I are real tight. In fact, BigCityLib is the one taught him how to rhyme so sweet.

If they do a photo-op with Harper planting a tree, I swear I'm gonna puke.

No, Kate, Don't Feed Your Cattle Refried Beans!

In late November, The United Nations released a report entitled Livestock's Long Shadow Environmental Issues and Options, which detailed the effects of industrial agriculture on GWG emissions:

When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure.

The report concluded that cattle flatulence puts more greenhouse gases into the air than The Automobile, in fact constitutes somewhere between 20 and 30 per cent of the anthropogenic global warming problem.

This finding prompts Kate over at SDA to ask:

So does this mean that I should stop feeding the cows nachos and refried beans when I invite my father-in-law's cattle herd over to watch Monday Night Football?

That a city-boy like me should have to offer Kate advice on farming is astounding, but here I go! The answer is yes! Definitely stop feeding the cattle nachos and beans!

Because the concept of cattle as GWG emitters did not suddenly spring into existence with the U.N. report. For example, there is R. A. Leng's paper on the topic, Quantitative Ruminant Nutrition - A Green Science, which dates from 1993. And there is this 2002 account from the BBC, "Cow feed researchers smell success".

(Not that I am an expert or even did much research for this post. Personally, I first heard of the idea of breeding "green cows" at the ScienceDaily website in 2002. However, it appears I still know more about it than our "so-called" farm girl)

And you know what, Kate, it all comes down to diet, the design of eco-friendly cattle feeds. From the BEEB:

Aromatic plant oils in cattle feed could make cows less flatulent and dung smell sweeter if a research project EU-funded project led by scientists at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen is successful.


Using aromatic extracts of herbs such as thyme, mint and others could reduce the level of fermentation in the rumen - causing less flatulence and a more bearable smell.


Dr John Wallace, head of the microbial metabolism research group at the Rowett, said: "We know that the release of methane from ruminants is extremely damaging to the environment.

"We believe our work has the potential to halt this increase and help stabilise the environment by taking a natural route to improved rumen fermentation."

Again, its shocking that a BigCityLib should have to lecture a rural Conservative on what is essentially a rural issue, but let me repeat: lay off the nachos and beans, Kate! That's not being helpful!

Besides environmental concerns, cows don't like nachos and refried beans! I suspect that if I were ever to visit your farm I would find some very sad-eyed cattle. Shame on you!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A North American Energy Community?

An interesting analytical piece from the Arizona Republic, which suggests:

...The creation of a powerful energy alliance among the three great nations of North America: the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The alliance would be modeled on the European Coal and Steel Community, and its purpose would be to:

... Develop a common energy policy that can meet our long-term and short-term energy challenges. Our basic premise starts with the notion that, for the short term at least, we need to develop domestic fossil fuels. This step, however, needs to be taken with the strongest possible environmental safeguards.

Note that "our" in the above passage refers to the United States. While author Joel Godkin dons a continentalist mask, it slips occasionally. The proposed NAEC is conceptualized primarily as a means of realizing U.S. interests. And note that, Luxembourg aside, the ECSC was implemented by countries of about the same size and political strength (France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands). Given the size/political power disparities between the three nations that would be involved in any North American alliance, I can see Canadian energy policy becoming enslaved to that of our Southern neighbor by a crappy deal which, in practical terms, could never be abrogated.

A neat factoid in the piece:

Canada is known for its surplus of fossil fuels, but it also possesses promising potential in hydroelectric and wind energy. Its considerable wind potential, Canadian researchers believe, could provide 20 percent of that nation's power.

This claim is unsourced, and seems a bit incredible to me. Has anyone come across a similar figure?

Alberta Seperatists: Conservatism Has Failed, Time To Piss Off

The ripples from Andrew Coyne's Saturday column, "Selling the conservative soul", continue to echo through the blogosphere. In it, Andrew laments the death of Conservatism. And naturally, Alberta seperatists have responded en masse, arguing that its time to throw in the towel on Confederation.

A few blogging Tories, for example, have already packed their bags, with The Politic arguing that:

Put another way, Alberta should go if it wants to keep conservatism.

But here’s the caveat: are Albertans, with the highest amounts of government spending in the country, up to living life as conservatives?

The Black Kettle is halfway out the door:

Alberta, sadly, must separate because Alberta is still somewhat conservative ... at least for Canada (which, I concede, isn't saying much).

And of course Andrew's Coynistas are always up for splitting the nation:

"And after two decades invested in the Reform experiment, there is nowhere else to go."

Actually, Albertans have someplace else to go.
-Pete E.

One interesting thought is that, since Alberta accounts for 41% of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions, if it were ever become a distinct jurisdiction, the geographic entity known as Canada would suddenly be in compliance with its Kyoto targets!

Furthermore, we would have the resultant environmental pariah state surrounded on three sides, and could serve as a launching pad for the inevitable U.S. invasion.

If you want to help out, visit these guys and slip 'em a fin. Or these guys.

Place: Calgary
Time: The Future

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Harper Dodges Squirting

So the young Pearson College student walked away "red-faced", but things could have been far worse. He could have had his damn fool head blown off, and Harper might have endured the indignity of being squirted in the face with a "penis-shaped squirt gun".

Theoretically, I should also be against political face-pieings, but there is a certain poetry to a pie in the face that a penis-shaped squirt gun just does not possess.

h/t to 905 Tory.

That's Much Better!

Winnipeg Researchers Infect Monkeys With 1918 Spanish Flu Virus

As blogger Kristen Philipkoski says, I really hope they know what they're doing. And if you live around Winnipeg and see a monkey with a bad cough running loose in the street, lock your doors.

According to this, over 50,000 Canadians died during the 1st go-round in 1918-1919.

The picture is from Alberta, fall of 1918.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Ontario Cops Go Hetero

They're switching from white cars with fancy blue and gold stripes to the old black & white "flying Holsteins". Apparently, there are too many white cars on the roads these days for police vehicles to stand out properly and establish their visual Authority.

And the new cars look far, far less Gay. With the white frilly models, people wondered whether they were hauling you off to jail or the bath-house.

PS. Anyone know where the name "flying holstein" originated?

American Think Tanker: Good Canadians Like Stockwell Day Would Have Brought Canada Into Iraq

When Mr. Day addressed the Hudson Institute, Chris Sands of CSIS (Center for Strategic & International Studies) introduced him as follows:

I was struck back in 2003 after doing a briefing with some people in the Administration. It had been a rough year. We were getting ready to go to Iraq. Canada-US relations were somewhat strained by that. At the end of the briefing -- which had been a little bit grim -- about how Canada and the US could work together better in this war on terror that we were facing, the person I was was briefing paused and said to me, 'Chris, where are all the good Canadians?' When he said that it broke a little bit of my heart, because I'm an American but I love the Canadians. I think what he meant by that was 'Where are the Canadians of World War I and World War II, that people understood to be... even when Europeans didn't, those allies we had come to count on.' Well, I have good news. Our speaker today is one of the good Canadians..."

Reminds me of the distinction some Americans used to make between "good" blacks and the uppity kind. Reminds me of what first turned me off to Canadian Conservatism. Stockwell is happy to take the pat on the bum and be a "good" Canadian for his U.S. audience.

H/t to Savage Washington.

Suckered By Environmentalists? Beware PEER!

PEER stands for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. According to their website, PEER is:

...a service organization assisting [U.S.] federal & state public employees, [which] allows public servants to work as "anonymous activists" so that agencies must confront the message, rather than the messenger.

I am not quite sure how to describe these guys, but my best guess would be "a group of environmental activists who are trying to recruit EPA employees, and who count some EPA employees among their number" . In any case, they do not appear to be an association for EPA employees, or an EPA union of some sort.

Now, in late December, the group sent out a news release headlined:

HOW OLD IS THE GRAND CANYON? PARK SERVICE WON'T SAY Orders to Cater to Creationists Makes National Park Agnostic on Geology

Washington, DC , Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees

I did not write about this, but any number of bloggers did, and the story was also picked up by the MSM and several other print publications.

Skeptic Magazine was one of the publications that ran with the story from PEER. However, as the magazine's publisher writes:

...dozens [of our readers] immediately phoned both NPS and GCNP, only to discover that the claim is absolutely false. Callers were told that the Grand Canyon is millions of years old, that no one is being pressured from Bush administration appointees or by anyone else to withhold scientific information...

What is the case is that the Grand Canyon National Park bookstore sells a volume entitled Grand Canyon: A Different View by Tom Vail, which does give a Creationist account of the GC. However, this was all the evidence PEER could muster for the broader claim in their presser.

As I say, I didn't get caught by this bit of misinformation, but in late November I wrote a short Post entitled "10,000 Scientists Can't Be Wrong", where I retailed another PEER release to the effect that EPA scientists had signed a mass petition "calling on Congress to take immediate action against global warming." While this release is not as misleading as the more recent example, there is still alot less to it than meets the eye. For example, 10,000 scientists did not sign this petition, only their union reps. In fact, if you read the release carefully, it is possible that the petitioned garnered a mere 22 signatures, by the presidents of 22 locals of five unions.

In any case, I don't particularly care for getting screwed over by people who are supposed to be on "my side" of these issues. I would suggest that anybody who takes an interest in writing about environmental or related issues think twice before using anything from PEER as a source.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Chile Ditches Neck-Ties To Save Energy

From The Globe:

Santiago, Chile -- Chile's energy warriors went for the throat on Thursday, urging men to shun neckties so that offices could ease up on air conditioning.

Government workers will not be required to wear ties or jackets in summer, and officials hope the private sector will follow suit, Deputy Economy Minister Ana Maria Correa said. Chile is a socially conservative country where men typically dress formally for work.

According to the government, 215,000 air conditioners have been imported since 1997, and during the Southern Hemisphere summer from December to March, they may account for up to 60 per cent of electricity consumption at workplaces.

The no-tie, no-jacket plan was the idea of the government's Commission for Energy Efficiency.

"We recommend all male workers drop their ties and jackets," the group's director, Nicola Borregaard said at a news conference. "We hope all sectors will follow this recommendation so it will become a national habit."

I'd probably support this even if it didn't save energy. Although I can't bitch too much personally; my company went "business casual" in the 1990s as a concession to all the employees they didn't fire.

Before that time I did the whole trip with seven different pairs of identical black pants and seven identical white shirts and seven ugly neck-ties, so I never had to think about what I wore. If you've ever seen Office Space, I looked frighteningly like the character "Michael Bolten". Now, my wife says, I look like a male model for Eddy Bauer.

And I'm helping to save the planet.

Now if only they'd let me work without pants.

The Arrogance Of The Conservative Street

It began with Andrew Coyne's Wednesday column, "Harper's learned his lesson", in which he laments the stupidity of the Canadian People when it comes to environmental issues:

...the Tories have learned their lesson. It isn't efficacy by which the parties' commitment to curbing global warming will be assessed, but motion. It isn't progress the public wants, but the appearance of it; not concrete improvements, but gestures of concern.

Apparently, we're all just suckers ready to be played by any slick-talking pol waving an environmental plan. Now, according to Andy, the Tories were just too damn sincere for their own good:

So the Tories set about dismantling [useless Liberal programs], on the theory that the public would prefer effective policies, at the price of some delay, than ineffective ones now.

(Just as an aside, Andy, what Canadians wanted and still want is effective policies now. The most disgraceful aspect of the Tory plan was not that it planned fifty years out with respect to greenhouse gas emissions, but that it delayed the onset of any cuts, whether absolute or in intensity, out beyond the likely term of any Conservative Majority, let alone Minority, government, thus giving the CPC a good decade cushion before they would have to shoulder blame for any policy failures.

However, I digress. I am not writing to argue this morning, but to ream.)

Not only is Andy appalled at the inability of Canadians perceive the effectiveness of Tory enviro policies, he thinks we're too thuggish to allow most programs to even work properly. He disparages the Liberal Energuide program, for example, because:

Offer people a subsidy to switch to more energy-efficient refrigerators, and what do they do with the old ones? Stick them in the basement and use them as beer fridges. Result: more energy consumption than before.

Yeah, we Canadians are so primitive that we would short circuit a program designed to increase energy efficiency in the home for the sake of more beer! Tell us what you really think of the country, Andy!

And if you think Coyne himself is an emotional swamp of uppitiness and self-pity, you should read some of his blog minions (and I should note that, on the whole, Andy's groupies seem to be a little more literate than the run of Conservative bloggers). The consensus is: we're pathetic as a nation. If the Tories are plunging in the polls, if Canadian's don't appreciate the genius behind the Tory Green Plan, its because we're naive at best or idiots at worst. Here's a few samples:

The unfortunate reality is that Canadians seem to like empty rhetoric that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

An unserious country gets and deserves unserious policies.

Years ago my late and much-missed father remarked that the average Canadian wasn't very bright. Watching this enviro-business playing out, I realize how right he was

Canadians aren't "stupid", just trusting, and therefore misinformed.

...Joe Canadian, wants something done about "the environment" and "global warming".

Joe Canadian, however, has been raised for the last several generations to believe that responsibility for doing things about things lies, not with himself, but with "government". That's what "governments" are for in Canada: To absolve Joe Canadian of personal responsibility...even, push comes to shove much of the time, for his own life.

The Conservatives' problem is that they are too sincere. Harper actually intends to do what he says he will, thus he doesn't make impossible promises such as complying with Kyoto targets. This works against him in Canada. The Liberals have learned to use cynicism as a political tool of power. They promise the voters things that make them feel good when they mark their ballots. They will not however do anything that actually causes pain to a lot of voters.
-Randall G

Poor Stephen Harper, to be forced to rule over a country of ignorant, miserable louts! But don't worry, he'll be able to look for another job, where he'll be appreciated, godammit, in just a couple of months.

Harper To Khan: I Want You For Your Body, Not Your Mind

If indeed Wajid Khan's Middle-East report exists, here's one good reason Harper doesn't want anyone to see it. Khan has in the past advocated any number of ideas that would be anathema to his new master's Foreign Policy:

JERUSALEM -- Wajid Khan, the Prime Minister's special adviser on the Middle East, has expressed support for an Arab initiative that would see Israel return to its pre-1967 borders. The Arab Peace Initiative would go further than any position publicly stated by the Prime Minister. Indeed, Stephen Harper, as opposition leader, told the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy during last year's election campaign that it was impractical to demand Israel hand back all land it took after the 1967 war.

Unfortunately, the Globe has the rest of this story trapped behind its fire-wall, and the Google work-around doesn't seem to work anymore. But you can get an idea of how far off the Tory reservation this guy has wandered from last week's issue of Judeoscope:

Wajid Khan is on record for favoring dialogue with terrorism-sponsoring regimes such as Syria and soon-to-be nuclear Iran, lumping the deliberate targeting of civilians by the likes of Hezbollah with incidental civilian deaths caused by Israel`s response to terrorist attacks against its civilians and describing the Canadian government's support for Israel's right to defend itself (the only country whose right to do so is called into question) as mere pandering to US policy.

For the moment, Harper's orders to Khan seem to be to shut up and look Ethnic for photo opportunities: "Be silent, my chocolate-skinned man!"

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Kinsella On The Slither

This time he's after The TrenchCoat, an anonymous blogger dishing dirt on New Brunswick's Liberal Government. I don't have any opinion of TrenchCoat but I will say, Warren, that this is either an old picture of you, hair implants, or the world's most determined comb-over.

Follow The Bouncing Debt

The Libs say that Khan took his debts with him when he left:

"No, we won't be helping Mr. Khan to fundraise to pay his debt," said Senator Marie Poulin, the Liberal party's interim president.

Meanwhile, the Tories have a different view of the matter:

The Prime Minister's Office said it wasn't aware of Khan's financial situation when he joined the Conservatives, but added the party has no intention of paying what it calls a Liberal debt.

...and Elections Canada is confused:

After two days of trying, Elections Canada is unable to say who is now responsible for Khan's debt or explain how it confirms politicians actually pay back loans they have made to themselves.

Tory MP, Tory problem, is my opinion.

I Sure Didn't Know That

From the mouth of Minister of Natural Resources Gary Lunn as he announced money for the development of clean energy technologies:

Most Canadians probably don't realize that 80 to 85 per cent of all greenhouse gases that go into the atmosphere come from energy.

It's like he thinks he's speaking to little children. Here's another line that hovers at the edge of coherence:

Becoming more energy efficient is the largest untapped source of energy.

Although I imagine what he's trying to say here is that if you save energy, you have more energy...until you use that energy.... Or something.

On a serious note, it sounds like the new Green Plan is going to the Clean Air Act plus some Liberal programs that were cut in '06:

Lunn promised that the government is ready to get tough with the energy industry and said that the regulations laid out in the Clean Air Act, yet to be passed, will force companies to meet emission targets.

So intensity-based emissions targets and miserable time-times to get those into effect. Only the Tories would have the gall to refer to the year 2015, in a minority government situation, as "short-term".

Get Well Soon, Jeff Healey

Over the holidays, Canadian blues icon and guitar god Jeff Healey was diagnosed with lung cancer and had surgery to remove cancerous tissue from both lungs. Luckily, the disease was caught early and the prognosis for his discovery is very good

Jeff was a big part of my youth. I saw him in the early 80s when he first came to Victoria, B.C. It was $3.00 to get in and my girlfriend said there was this wild blind guitar player from Toronto who played guitar flat across his lap that we couldn't miss.

He blew the room down, and there was a fight that spilled onto the dance-floor. Broken beer-bottles were involved and the girl-friend and I got the blood of one of the combatants on our clothes. For one night, Jeff Healey and his band turned a half-assed Victoria disco into an Honest-to-God blues joint.

So hang tough, Jeff! The country needs you.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Is Mario Dumont Part Of The 59%

...of Quebeckers who describe themselves as racist? In a letter obtained by The Canadian Press, Dumont says he wants to draft a Quebec constitution that would set out reasonable compromises to be granted religious and ethnic groups.

Well, I'd have to see what's in it (the constitutional document), but this is definitely not a good day to be publishing such a letter. Furthermore, Dumont claims:

...recent compromises granted to ethnic or religious groups [pose] a...threat to so-called old stock Quebeckers.

Dumont totally loses me here. "Old stock" Quebeckers are among the least sympathetic ethnic groups in the country, as far as I'm concerned. They're the people who taught Albertans how to whine.

"Ooooh! We're so alienated! Our culture/oil revenues are threatened! Whaa! Whaa!"

Bunch of crap, IMHO.


Like most bloggers (I imagine), I begin each morning with a click-through of the on-line versions of all Canada's major newspapers, beginning with The Star and The Globe and working my way down. So this morning I reach Canoe (The Sun chain--we're pretty close to the bottom now) and the screen comes up covered in Golden Arches with little red maple-leafs in the center. After a few seconds, today's top stories appear, with the arches relegated to the borders of the page, but already my screams have woken the wife.

Obviously, Canoe is doing some kind of cross-promotion with McDonald's.

But what does this kind of marketing say about The Sun newspaper chain? What is the message being conveyed? Here's my stab at some quicky hermeneutics:

An hour after reading this, you'll have stomach pain.

This paper contains nothing of informational value.

The Sun: small children love it.

Our columnists are like a whack of greasy fries, moldy at the tip.

All across this great land, our papers meet the same low standards.

The Sun vs. a Happy Meal. About halfway through, they taste pretty much the same.

Our newspapers are run by a clown with a thing for small children.

The Sun: like a McDonald's burger, it too is made from recycled paper.

The Sun: like a quarter pounder of raw meat.

As more possible interpretations occur to me, I shall make note of them. But in general I can't see how this does much for The Sun's credibility. Or the credibility of McDonald's, frankly; its kind of lose-lose.

Monday, January 15, 2007

But Then How Could We Hate The French?

An awfully strange bit of news. Apparently, on September 10, 1956, French Prime Minister Guy Mollet came to London to discuss the possibility of a merger between the two countries with Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden, even vetting the idea that Queen Elizabeth might become the French monarch. When that didn't work, Mollet brought up the notion of joining the Commonwealth. Although Mr. Eden was a little more inclined to this idea, nothing ever came of it either.

Its interesting to imagine how things might have turned out.

On the upside, "Fritain" could field a great World Cup squad. But on the downside, Conservatives wouldn't have France around to hate anymore. Who would replace them? Well, the Italians have surrendered alot in the past 100 years. There's an old WWII joke to the effect that Italian tanks had back-up lights. But "pasta eating surrender monkeys" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

David Orchard For Prince Albert, Sask.?

Just speculation from one of my anonymice, but fascinating nonetheless now that Prince Albert Conservative MP Brian Fitzpatrick has decided not to run in the next federal election:

A replacement candidate for the Tories? Cry baby Jeremy Harrison.... If Jeremy chooses to give up his high paying consulting job to [run for] Harper.

A Liberal opponent in this riding? David Orchard. You heard it here first.

Diefenbaker's old riding has flipped back and forth between the three major parties for the past half-century. A prominent, relatively conservative Liberal like Orchard would probably have a good chance in an open seat.

Sask. Tory Will Not Run Again

From Saturday's Regina Leader-Post:

The news that Prince Albert Conservative MP Brian Fitzpatrick has decided not to run in the next federal election is the biggest news Saskatchewan Conservative caucus members have made since they were elected.

I know very little about this guy, but it sounds as though he spoke out on Saskatchewan issues and got slapped down by Harper for so doing:

Fitzpatrick can dance around this one all he wants, but the reality is he had no future in the Conservative party any more than did Belinda Stronach.

Ah well, principled dissent has a price in the Stephen Harper Tories.

Interesting conclusion to the piece by Larry Birkbeck:

The bottom line is that Fitzpatrick has nothing to apologize for, will be hard to replace and will be missed by Parliament and those he has served. Stephen Harper is losing some solid Conservative MPs and has exchanged them for former Liberals in his quest to shore up his support in B.C. and in central Canada. Harper must focus on B.C. and central Canada and not be distracted by a handful of constituencies in Saskatchewan if he wants to form a majority government.

Is this the Harper calculus: sacrifice some of the Western old guard for support in B.C and Que./Ont. (Fitzgerald ran as a Reform Party candidate in the early 1990s)? Risky strategy which, given the Tories current slump in La Belle Province, does not seem to be working. Hopefully, Harper ends up pleasing nobody.

Did Newest Tory MP Break Tax Laws?

From the Ottawa Citizen:

The transactions suggest Mr. [Wajid] Khan was using his Toronto car dealership as the primary source of funding for his campaigns, said NDP MP Pat Martin.

"It's hard to count the serious problems here, massive loans from a business in excess of donation limits that might not be repaid, enormous spending outside the election period. I wouldn't know where to start," Mr. Martin said.

My day begins with a smile. H/T to HarperBizarro.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

World Socialists Criticize Kyoto

An interesting deconstruction of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) can be found at the website of the World Socialists. The CDM is a part of the Kyoto Protocol; specifically, it is a U.N. sponsored GHG emissions trading program designed to encourage sustainable development in countries such as India and China.

I will not comment at any length on the short-comings noted by the World Socialists, or the folks at CDM Watch, other than to say that while their criticism may be largely valid, the problems they indicate do not seem insurmountable. But I'm not even going to make a case on this point at the moment.

What is important for me is that most of the arguments they make are variations on their conclusion:

The ineffectiveness of the Kyoto protocol stems from the fact that it attempts to reconcile environmental measures with the nation-state system and the demands of private profit and corporate competition.

And the lesson contained in this brief passage is that the Kyoto Protocol, or at least the CDM portion of it, is not some nefarious act of U.N. Communism. Or at least the World Socialists, who should be authorities on the topic, do not think it is.

Rather, the CDM has been created with the express intention that it should operate within the parameters of Global Capitalism. It is, and was meant to be, an attempt to harness the power of the marketplace for a perceived social good, to set Capitalism loose on a particular social problem, not restrain it.

And many of the weaknesses the World Socialists identify in the CDM are simply a result of people taking advantage of the rules, which happens in any kind of market.

Therefore, when Conservative critics of the protocol say that Kyoto "can't work", they are actually agreeing with the World Socialists, expressing doubts at the ability of the Capitalist System itself to deal with the issue of Global Climate change.

(h/t to the people at the Free Dominion, my favorite new crazies)

Doom, Baby, Doom!

The Board of Directors of the magazine "The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists" will be moving the hands of The Doomsday Clock a couple of minutes forward this year, reflecting concerns about:

...a "Second Nuclear Age" marked by grave threats, including nuclear ambitions in Iran and North Korea, unsecured nuclear materials in Russia and elsewhere, and the continuing "launch-ready" status of 2,000 of the 25,000 nuclear weapons held by the U.S. and Russia.

The board also cited "escalating terrorism, and new pressure from climate change for expanded civilian nuclear power that could increase proliferation risks."

And of course, the Stephen Harper government is doing its bit to push the hands towards midnight and nuclear disaster with their "nukes for the tar-sands" proposal.

Here's an investment tip: put your money in sawed off shotguns and freeze-dried food. And get out your tinfoil "nuke toque" so the radiation doesn't fry your brain.

Doom, baby, doom!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Dion Stands With Alberta criticizing the notion of building a nuclear power plant to create the energy needed to extract oil from the Alberta tar-sands. Alberta's new provincial Environment Minister Rob Renner has also expressed skepticism concerning nukes in the sands. For example, he--like Dion-- had concerns over how to dispose of the waste:

"We obviously have no experience with it in Alberta," Renner told the Herald this week. "It's worth looking at, but I think it's a very long-term solution."

On the other hand, federal natural resources minister Gary Lunn thinks the people around Fort MacMurray are going to have to get used to the idea:

It's not a question of if, it's a question of when in my mind," the Sun quoted Lunn as saying.

"I think nuclear can play a very significant role in the oil sands. I'm very, very keen."

Dion's in tough in Alberta, no doubt. But I think his stance on this particular issue may shift a few votes in his direction.

Rank The Climate Experts

The current issue of Newsweek puts the question "What is causing this winter's strange weather? El Niño or global warming?’" to a panel of nine experts. Click on the buttons and decide which one gives the most convincing response?

My own choice is clear (button #3).

Pirates To Buy Sealand

Music pirates, that is:

Swedish file-sharing website The Pirate Bay is planning to buy its own nation in an attempt to circumvent international copyright laws.

The group has set up a campaign to raise money to buy Sealand, a former British naval platform in the North Sea that has been designated a 'micronation', and claims to be outside the jurisdiction of the UK or any other country.

Not only that, they're willing to give citizenship to anyone willing to kick in a few bucks towards the purchase:

"It should be a great place for everybody, with high-speed Internet access, no copyright laws and VIP accounts to The Pirate Bay," the organization claims on its website

Sounds like a great deal, and worth throwing in a few bucks. Everybody say ARRRR!

PS. Meanwhile Stephen Harper's Tories plan Draconian copyright legislation.

PPS. And I thought it was just a coincidence that I've felt the sudden urge to download Cardigans' tunes in the last couple of days. Obviously, I was channeling Pirate Bay vibes through the ether. Check out the Swedish quintets covers of "Iron Man" and "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" by Black Sabbath.

Friday, January 12, 2007

How Canada's Global Warming Deniers Plan To Help The Stephen Harper Tories

The NRSP's Tom Harris continues his attempt to scare up donations and recruits on The Free Dominion website. In this episode, he attempts a bit of political strategizing:

I completely agree with fourhorses that the ultimate aim is to create a situation where the CPC can say assertively, "The science no longer supports the assumptions of the Kyoto Accord."

However, politically this cannot be done overnight without the Conservatives taking what they consider to be an unacceptable hit (do people think they would really lose votes with this statement (from Canadians who would otherwise vote for them, that is?).

So, the solution put on this site a little while ago by Tina is one I would support as well - namely, they don't take sides at all and admit they don't know and so are holding unbiased, public hearings in which scientists from both sides are invited to testify.

The resulting chaos, with claims all over the map, will do enough to thoroughly confuse everyone (which is appropriate, actually, since the science is so immature and, frankly, confusing) and take the wind out of the sails of the "we are causing a climate disaster and must stop it" camp entirely, and the CPC can quietly turn to important issues without really having had to say much at all.

What's wrong with this approach?

Well, this approach did prove effective for a long time--for the tobacco industry, as they tried to hold off anti-smoking legislation. From the Union of Concerned Scientists report, "Smoke, Mirrors, and Hot Air":

In reviewing the tobacco industryÂ’s disinformation campaign, the first thing to note is that
the tobacco companies quickly realized they did not need to prove their products were safe. Rather, as internal documents have long since revealed, they had only to “maintain doubt” on the scientific front as a calculated strategy.

As one famous internal memo from the Brown & Williamson tobacco company put it: “Doubt is our product, since it is the best means of competing with the body of fact’ that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.”

Maintain doubt and call for "sound science" was the tobacco lobby's clarion call for years. However, they were eventually found out. The oil companies and their astroturf groups (like Tom's) have been running the same set of plays vis-a-vis global warming, but as the above noted report demonstrates, they've already been caught.

And, interestingly enough, it appears today that Exxon has thrown in the towel. It has admitted the reality of anthropogenic global warming and is now engaged in talks with the U.S. government as to how carbon emission regulations might look. It has also stopped funding the Competitive Enterprise Institute, as well as "five or six other" of its astroturf groups. Since one of these, The Fraser Institute, funded the earlier research of Tim Ball, one of Mr. Harris' compatriot's at the NRSP, we should know fairly soon whether these two fellows are still in business or flipping burgers for a living.

(Maybe that's why Tom's scrounging for fins at the Free Dominion)

h/t to one of my anonymice.

Buzz Begs For An Audience

Buzz Hargrove is "taken aback" at Jack Layton's call for tough-minded emission and pollution controls in the automobile and industrial sectors. He writes plaintively:

It would have been helpful for you to have first consulted with the CAW on this important question before making your statement. The environment, we'll all agree is an important and pressing matter which must be addressed, but surely not before adequate and thorough dialogue among the stakeholdershas taken place. If this issue is not handled delicately and thoughtfully, we could see thousands of auto workers' jobs destroyed.

I would appreciate you finding time to meet with our union at your earliest convenience so we can have a meaningful discussion on the NDP party's position on the environment and its potential impact on auto workers. By working together, I believe we can find the appropriate measures to protect the environment and safeguard jobs for our members as well.

This letter illustrates two points about today's NDP, one negative, one positive.

1) The first is that Layton may find himself hamstrung between his two traditional constituencies on this issue (Greenies + Unionists), while the Green Party does not have this problem, and can situate itself as the more ideologically "pure" green alternative.

2) Having the CAW "sever ties" to the NDP after the last election was the best thing to happen to the NDP in a long time, as it gives them far more room to maneuver with respect to their old allies. Buzz Hargrove is quickly discovering that while Canadians love polar bears and caribou, they don't really give a shit about auto-workers.

h/t to Taliban Jack.

Will Ahhnold Green The Oil Sands?

New laws in California demand that petroleum sold in the state:

...reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted during its production and final use by at least 10 per cent by 2020.

Since so much energy goes into producing gas from the oil sands (20% higher than normal petroleum), it will be difficult to sell to the California market after this new legislation goes into effect.

And things will get worse if California-type laws spread to states which receive a larger proportion of Alberta petroleum:

"What it really suggests is that it will behoove the Canadian oil industry to think about a carbon mitigation strategy," said Hal Harvey, environment program director for the California-based Hewlett Foundation, which helped pay for the research that led to the new directive.

Funny that, while progress on the domestic front has essentially been thwarted by an Alberta-based Federal government, it may be forced by the actions of our largest trading partner to the South. Bully for Mr. Schwarzenegger, who is now my favorite ass-grabber. Feel free to come up to Canada anytime and chase our women around (Belinda is apparently free these days).

Thursday, January 11, 2007

What If Harper Were An American?

Specifically, what if Stephen Harper were found to be a U.S./Canadian dual citizen. What would the media reaction be? Ezra Levant has a theory, which he invoked to launch his now infamous smear campaign against Stephane Dion:

Imagine the shrieks from the media if the Conservatives were to elect a leader who is a dual citizen of the U.S. He would be called a U.S. poodle at best or a spy at worst. Every time he opined on a subject, it would be scrutinized through the lens of Canada-U.S. relations. Everything from military spending to foreign treaties like Kyoto would be looked at through the question: Was the Prime Minister of Canada truly pursuing Canadian interests, or was his loyalty to his other homeland at play?

Since many Conservatives commentators appear to agree with this theory, it is probably worth examining.

One obvious flaw in the above reasoning is that people already refer to Harper as a U.S. poodle. And indeed, it is fairly commonplace in the MSM and blogosphere to wonder whether Harper is pursuing Canadian interests (vis-a-vis, for example, the Afghanistan Mission) or merely attempting to curry favor with his ideological counterparts South of the border. Would this kind of criticism be more or less prevalent if it were discovered that Harper was a full-fledged American Citizen? Probably not. It is based on the unarguable historical fact that Canadian Reform/Conservative Party policies have usually inclined towards American poodledum, especially when Republicans have been running the latter country, the most obvious example being Harper's support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq in the face of all Reason and common-sense.

When you have policies which is this Amero-Centric, so goes the thinking, actually being an American is redundant.

On the other hand, since we are playing with thought experiments, lets imagine that a solid, Blue-State type like Hillary Clinton was kidnapped as a child and raised in Calgary,where she grew up and decided to run for Leader of the CPC with the express intention of pulling it Left into the Canadian Mainstream. Would there be an uproar when her true status was revealed? Given her ideological leanings, I think not. She would be judged on her ideas, not her country of origin.

And if the nation found her policies to be a comfortable fit, her dual citizenship would be entirely forgotten.

25,000 DayCare Spaces Promised, 0 Delivered

...and Harper's "...plan for creating more spaces hasn't even been completed yet."

Furthermore, since the plan just rehashes a failed Mike Harris initiative from the 1990s--offer businesses $10,000 in tax credits for every space created and pray they make a few--it is likely to be about as successful if it ever comes to fruition.

In fact, having created 0 spaces, it is already as successful.

Natural Resources Stewardship Project Is The Friends Of Science Resurrected

Yesterday, I wrote about the Natural Resources Stewardship Project as follows:

After The Friends of Science were discredited this summer, the Alberta Petroleum Industry whomped up another front group to pose as climatologists concerned with fighting the "alleged" consensus around Global Warming. They called it the Natural Resources Stewardship Project (NRSP).

The main PR guy for the NRSP is a fellow named Tom Harris, who I have written about on several occasions, and who has even been kind enough to leave a few comments on this blog and elsewhere.

In response to yesterday's post, Tom Harris appeared and argued his case both vigorously and politely. More power to him for that. However, there is one statement he made that especially cries out for refutation:

It is good (and indeed quite normal) science to question other science. That is what we are doing and will continue to do. We have no connection with Friends of Science, although I admire their video....

Let's compare the people behind the Friends and the NRSP.

Tim Ball is a consultant for the Friends, and on the Executive of the NRSP.

Tim Patterson is on the scientific advisory board of the Friends and on the scientific advisory committee of the NRSP. is Dr. Sallie Baliunas (who was once an ozone depletion skeptic, and more recently argued that Ozone depletion was behind Global Warming).

Madhav Khandekar is on the Friends advisory board, and an Allied Expert of the NRSP.

Mr. Harris, I submit that not only does the NRSP have "connections" to the Friends of Science, you're basically the SAME BUNCH OF PEOPLE.