Archive for January 2012

Falcon and the Income Gap

31 January 2012

I suppose it is naive of me to be disappointed to hear BC Liberal Finance Minister Kevin Falcon defend economic disparity in the province. He asks British Columbians to remember that “in Cuba they don’t have any income inequality because they’re all poor.”

Perhaps Mr Falcon would do well to remember the U.S. embargo against Cuba. Imposed initially in 1960 and continuing to the present day, the embargo is older than Mr Falcon. In spite of the embargo, Cuba enjoys an unemployment rate roughly half of BC’s. Cubans have universal health care and free education at every level with a class-size limit of 25 in elementary school.

I don’t mean to paint too rosy a picture of Cuba, but how wealthy would we be if a similar embargo were imposed on BC for a few decades? As it is, are we feeling secure about our health care and education? Mr Falcon’s callous analogy does nothing more than indicate how out of touch our Liberal government is. Apparently the whipping over the HST did not teach a lesson. Let’s hope the next election does.

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Quote of the Day

24 January 2012

A new feature, “Quote of the Day”. May only happen today, but anyway here it is from Andrew Frank, former Senior Communications Manager for ForestEthics.

“When a government calls its own citizens enemies, you’ve lost your moral authority to govern.”

I’d really like to talk more on this. To point out that if Frank’s accusation is true the Harper government is going way beyond rhetoric. To point out parallels to the funding being swept out from under Franke James’ European art tour. To point out the synchronicity of Frank’s and Franke’s names (what is it with Harper and people with “Frank” in their names?) Unfortunately I’ve spent too much time on this today already. ForestEthics had a dial-in press conference this afternoon but I missed it. Am looking forward to hearing what they said.

Here’s some links;

http://www.scribd.com/doc/79228736/Whistleblower-s-Open-Letter-to-Canadians

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/life/greenpage/affidavit-accuses-prime-ministers-office-of-threatening-environmental-charity-137994418.html

And an update. Here’s what they said and what Ross McMillan, president and CEO of Tides Canada said.

http://forestethics.org/our-statement-on-recent-threats-to-canadian-civil-society-and-andrew-franks-open-letter

http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/01/31/Tides-Canada-Joe-Oliver/

How to recognize radicals who threaten democracy

19 January 2012

how to recognize radicals who threaten democracy

BC Tanker Exclusion Zone

17 January 2012

No TankersThere is never enough time to read as much as I would like, let alone write. Recent suggestions that the tanker exclusion zone on BC’s coast did not exist made me do some reading today.

Thanks to the Facebook group “Pipe Up Against Enbridge” and other wonders of the Internet, it did not take long to satisfy myself that the tanker exclusion zone does in fact exist. I count it as one of our country’s treasures.

Here is the evidence I found in an hour or so of looking. You be the judge, is there a BC Tanker Exclusion Zone?

This Canadian Coast Guard web page says there is.
http://www.ccg-gcc.gc.ca/e0003909

This Natural Resources Canada web page says there is.
http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/sources/offshore-oil-gas/1265
(You might want to read your own website Minister Oliver)

This BC Marine Transportation map (PDF) shows one.
http://www.empr.gov.bc.ca/OG/offshoreoilandgas/OffshoreMapGallery/Documents/Coastal_Ports_Medium.pdf

This 1989 report to the Premier (PDF) talks about one.
http://www.empr.gov.bc.ca/OG/offshoreoilandgas/ReportsPresentationsandEducationalMaterial/Reports/Documents/ReporttothePremieronOilTransportationandOilSpills.pdf

This search result from the BC government website suggests one, but I get server errors about not being able to connect to the database when I try to get the web page. Perhaps someone is busy shredding documents.

Links
… Centre for Energy – Oil and Natural Gas; Canadian Coast Guard – Information on the Tanker Exclusion Zone for Canada’s West Coast. …
http://www.empr.gov.bc.ca/OG/offshoreoilandgas/Pages/Links.aspx

I have screenshots of the web pages (other than that last one) and copies of the PDFs in case the originals go the way of those White House emails and the socks from the dryer.

Big Brother, Coming to a Network Near You

12 January 2012

The Canadian government is pushing ahead with on-line spying laws that will give police the power to demand information from Internet service providers without a warrant.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says it’s just like the information listed in the phone book. That might be true if the phone book also listed all the calls you make and receive. With IP and MAC address information from ISP’s all of your internet activity can be traced.

The government of course says they’re going after child-pornographers and the like. Who would be against that?

But is the threat to Canadian’s privacy too great? Suppose you were a volunteer for some grass-roots political party. And suppose there were people in the governing party who were not entirely ethical. Might people in government know people in policing who might be willing to put the request to your ISP and pass the info to their friends in government?

Could that happen in Canada? If these laws pass, what would prevent it?

Learn more at http://openmedia.ca/StopSpying

Ethical Oil and Ethical Conservatives

12 January 2012

EthicalOil.org’s website says “Countries that produce Ethical Oil protect the rights of women, workers, indigenous peoples and other minorities including gays and lesbians.

Would those producers of ethical oil exclude Canada? A country where government;

– has closed 12 of 16 offices of Status of Women Canada, and dropped the Status of Women Independent Research Fund.

– responds to labour disputes with back to work legislation which in the case of the postal workers imposed wages lower than Canada Post had offered in bargaining.

– has been dealing with and extending debt to the Gitxsan Treaty Society to the tune of $20 million. The same Gitxsan Treaty Society that has been ruled by the BC Supreme Court to have been operating illegally? (Now who is stuck with that debt?)

– is lead by a Prime Minister who once said “You have to remember that west of Winnipeg the ridings the Liberals hold are dominated by people who are either recent Asian immigrants or recent migrants from Eastern Canada; people who live in ghettos and are not integrated into Western Canadian society.”

– collected licence fees (provincial) for non-resident same-sex marriages but now say (federal) those marriages are not valid? (Where does that leave Canadians who have joined in same-sex marriages with foreign residents?)

Ethical Oil’s website also says “We are a registered non-profit NGO and do not accept money from any government agency. We are non-partisan and believe that the Canadian values reflected in Ethical Oil appeal to people from all walks of life and across the political spectrum.

Which makes interesting the two screenshots here…
ethical_clement

Note the PO Box, used previously for Tony Clement’s campaign for Conservative Party leadership and now for donations to EthicalOil.org. Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario. Tony Clement of $50 million border infrastructure gazebo fame.

Hmmm. Non-partisan. OK.

An Open Reply to Joe Oliver

9 January 2012

Mr Oliver, I agree with some of your open letter of 9 January.

Canada should be on the edge of an historic choice. In fact we are twenty years or more behind on it. The choice to look at energy and other challenges of the 21st century and make Canada the go-to country for solutions.

We do need to diversify. It is long past time for Canada to get beyond the hewers of wood view of ourselves. A Canadian high-tech company like Arise Technologies Corp should not have to build it’s manufacturing in Germany. The Canadian government should not subsidize fossil fuel industries $1.38 billion per year while dropping funding for the EcoEnergy Renewable Power Program from the 2011 budget.

Knowing what we know about tobacco smoking, most of us don’t smoke. Knowing what we know about atmospheric carbon, most of us want to change our ways. Unfortunately we have a government that are to CO2 as chain-smokers are to the tobacco industry. A government that encourages mega-projects funded by foreign corporations that undermine Canada’s public interest. A government that shows an utter lack of respect for a regulatory process that is barely under way and a government that lacks a vision for the 21st century.

Mr. Oliver, I am a trades person with a small business, a mortgage and 3 good kids. I don’t feel very radical and if there are any “studied lines” as you mentioned on CBC’s As It Happens, I haven’t seen them. But for me the choice is clear: I can not stand for foreign corporations undermining my children’s future and the future of generations to come. I must oppose projects that demand too great a price while further delaying our advance to better ways of doing things. I must stand before the Northern Gateway review committee and say my piece.

Knowing what we know about the global challenges ahead, I believe Canadians deserve better and can do better. I believe it is the duty of every one of us to work toward that. I hope that after the next election we will have a government that has at least as bold a vision of Canada as I do. The future does not wait.

Update: A reply to Joe Oliver from the always thoughtful and well-spoken Elizabeth May