Monday, February 2, 2015

Globe Editorial on CSIS powers bill.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper never tires of telling Canadians that we are at war with the Islamic State. Under the cloud of fear produced by his repeated hyperbole about the scope and nature of the threat, he now wants to turn our domestic spy agency into something that looks disturbingly like a secret police force. Canadians should not be willing to accept such an obvious threat to their basic liberties. Our existing laws and our society are strong enough to stand up to the threat of terrorism without compromising our values. This week, Mr. Harper released a video in which he recklessly conflates the two recent lone-wolf incidents in Canada with the Islamic State’s call for attacks on “non-believing countries.” The two attacks – one in Ottawa and the other in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. – were horrendous. They shocked Canadians and scared them. But there is no evidence that either attacker was connected to ISIS. The more likely theory is that they were troubled young men who self-radicalized. And yet, as the Prime Minister reminds viewers in the video that ISIS has urged its followers to “attack, quote, disbelieving Canadians in any manner, vowing that we should not feel secure even in our own homes,” the words are spoken over footage of the aftermath of the shooting at the National War Memorial, as if the Ottawa attack were a direct outcome of ISIS’s urgings. If the Prime Minister has evidence that either attack was directly linked to ISIS, he should provide it, instead of deceptively implying it in a video saturated with images of fighter jets, warships and rappelling soldiers. (It is reasonable to ask why so political a video appeared on the Prime Minister’s website, but then Mr. Harper has long forgone the niceties of distinguishing partisan activities from his duties as head of government.) The video was posted on Wednesday. On Friday, Mr. Harper – intoning that “a great evil has been descending over our world” – tabled his new anti-terrorism act. The bill gives CSIS, the domestic spy agency, the ability to act like a police force. Mr. Harper and the Conservatives will deny this, since CSIS will not be allowed to make arrests or detain suspects. But its operatives will no longer be limited to gathering intelligence and then passing it on to the RCMP for investigation. Nor will CSIS be limited to cutting out the RCMP middleman in cases of terrorism. This is not an “anti-terrorism act.” The bill is about “threats to the security of Canada,” which include but are not limited to: interfering with the ability of the Canadian government to maintain economic or fiscal stability; espionage; interference with critical infrastructure; terrorism; and doing anything in Canada that undermines the security of another state. (“Lawful advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression” are exempted from being threats to the security of Canada. But how well do governments define those things in times of “great evil”?) Under the proposed law, CSIS agents will be allowed to take measures to reduce any perceived “threat to the security of Canada.” Agents will only need a warrant for activities that might contravene Charter rights or the law. If there is any doubt that the agents will be on the front lines of Mr. Harper’s war, you only have to read the part of the bill that says that, in taking measures to reduce a threat, CSIS can’t kill or harm anyone, or “violate the sexual integrity of an individual.” Among the things CSIS agents will be legally allowed to do is to seek a warrant to break into someone’s home, seize and copy documents, “install, maintain or remove any thing” (presumably a monitoring device), or do anything else a judge agrees is reasonable in these heightened times. There are other troubling measures in the bill, including one that criminalizes the act of knowingly advocating or promoting the commission of terrorism offences “in general” by any group anywhere. Will it be illegal to show support for Hamas, a group the Harper government has designated as a terrorist organization? How much support will cross the line? That’s a good question. Most importantly, Parliament must not allow Mr. Harper to turn CSIS, an intelligence agency, into a secret police force. Intelligence-gathering was deliberately separated from police work 30 years ago, after the RCMP’s repeated breaches of the law and civil rights. A wise decision was made to keep police out of the spy business, and spies out of policing. CSIS was the outcome, but successive governments, including Mr. Harper’s, have not demonstrated enough seriousness about overseeing the agency’s activities and protecting Canadians’ privacy. And now CSIS agents are being offered police-like powers. This unwelcome idea is being pushed by the fearmongering of a campaigning Prime Minister. Yes, Islamic State is a menace. But the danger terrorism poses is not only one of violence; its mere threat can distort the way we live and think. On that score, terrorism will have been all too effective in Canada if this bill is adopted as is.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Enbridge Response in Vancouver Sun to Gunton's NGP spill report. Copy.

Gunton's NGP spill report: Response by Keith Michel and Audun Brandsaeter: Follows: As professionals in the field of risk assessment, we’re faced daily with the task of separating legitimate risk from its misinterpretation. A recent paper claiming Enbridge Northern Gateway’s risk assessment underestimated the likelihood of future marine spills is an example of a report that makes serious errors in its assumptions and as a result, significantly inflates the risks involved in the future operation of the project. Lead author and Simon Fraser University professor Tom Gunton, along with co-author and PhD student Sean Broadbent, have failed to recognize the number and volume of tanker spills are declining markedly worldwide — even as the total number of tankers plying the world’s waters increases. All data seem to point to the fact that this trend will continue. (SEE FIG. 1 and FIG. 2) This downward trend in marine spills is due to a number of positive developments in marine safety, including the phased-in acceptance over the past two decades of double-hulled tankers as the absolute industry standard in liquid fuel transportation, as well as a raft of new marine transportation regulations that have come into existence over the past 20 years, and a wholesale shift in the safety culture of the industry. Yet authors Gunton and Broadbent, in their criticism of findings we presented at the Joint Review Panel examining the pipeline project, fail to recognize the significant downward trend in oil spills from tankers, neglect the positive impact of double-hulled tankers by applying spill statistics dominated by single-hulled tanker accidents, and incorrectly apply combined in-port and at-sea spill statistics when assessing spills during transit from Kitimat to the Pacific. The report authors further criticize Northern Gateway for not using the U.S. Oil Spill Risk Analysis (OSRA) model drafted in 1975 and originally designed to assess the risks of offshore drilling. But Northern Gateway chose not to use this model to assess the risk of its project for a simple reason: it does not properly assess the localized conditions specific to B.C. For example, the OSRA model fails to account for important regional factors such as the size of ships and local B.C. environmental variables. By contrast, based on expert judgment, Northern Gateway’s assessment of oil spill risk specifically accounts for these regional factors. Furthermore, the chosen methodology enables assessment of risk and risk reducing measures for each segment of the route, something that would not be possible using the OSRA model. Even more curious is Gunton’s and Broadbent’s focus on only a small subset of historical failure incident data. Their failure frequency analysis is based on data from only two pipelines. Spill incidents on these pipelines are reflective neither of the industry experience nor of the new technology proposed for Northern Gateway. But perhaps what’s most telling in the Gunton-Broadbent paper is the fact that its claims fail the real-world test. Based on Gunton’s and Broadbent’s estimates, we would expect 21 to 77 large tanker spills every year around the world. Instead, there are now on average fewer than two large spills per year worldwide. In 2012, there were none. Had the authors made their paper available to the Joint Review Process for scrutiny — as in fact Northern Gateway did with its reports — then these flaws might have been more openly reviewed and discussed. The public would no doubt have gained from the interaction. Employing flawed methodology, the authors fail to account for a range of mitigating factors that will make Northern Gateway truly world class — including a commitment to double hulls both for the crude being transported as well as for the fuel driving the vessel, two-tug escorts for laden tankers, enhanced navigational technology, better marine transportation procedures, improved ballast coatings, reduced speed requirements and tough environmental limits. At the end of the day, readers should know our own peer reviewed analysis finds no reason to think the probability of marine spills here is any greater than the probability anywhere else in the world, where improvements continue and spill incidents are in a steady decline even as tanker traffic increases worldwide. Keith Michel and Audun Brandsaeter are experts in maritime and oil and gas risk assessment. They appeared before the Joint Review Panel on behalf of Northern Gateway Pipeline project to present their detailed risk assessment findings.

Friday, March 1, 2013

world wildlife federation (wwf) on DDT

from WWF's Efforts to Phase Out DDT DDT should be phased out of use and ultimately banned While banned decades ago in industrialized countries, thousands of tons of the deadly pesticide DDT are still produced each year, causing health and environmental hazards in the U.S. and throughout the world because of its long life and ability to travel great distances. Currently, DDT's only official use, as specified by the World Health Organization (WHO), is for the control of disease vectors in indoor house spraying - although other (illegal) uses are suspected. Because of the availability of safer and effective alternatives for fighting malaria, WWF is calling for a global phaseout and eventual ban on DDT production and use. Due to the well-documented hazards of DDT, WWF has been involved in a special effort to inform, educate, and convince the public and policymakers about the dangers of DDT and the need to phase out and ban its use. Because DDT can travel long distances and accumulate in the body, millions of humans and animals worldwide have buildups of the chemical in their tissue, even though it may have been used on another continent. WWF-supported research, for example, has found that black-footed albatrosses on Midway Island are contaminated with DDT, as well as PCBs and dioxins. There are no known uses of these chemicals on Midway Island, which is located 3,100 miles from Los Angeles and 2,400 miles from Tokyo. Further studies have linked DDT to feminization and altered sex-ratios of gulls, and eggshell thinning in birds of prey. As a part of the effort to raise awareness about the threats associated with DDT and the available, viable alternatives, WWF has issued a series of reports on DDT. The first report, "Resolving the DDT Dilemma," released in June 1998, notes that DDT is linked to effects in animals or humans such as reduced lactation and reproductive problems. Thousands of tons of DDT are produced each year in at least three countries and it is legally imported and used in many more. "Resolving the DDT Dilemma" offers a framework to guide malaria control programs toward reduced reliance on all pesticides, and a 'tool kit' of alternative techniques, along with several recommendations including: DDT should be phased out of use and ultimately banned; Targeted programs emphasizing reduced reliance on pesticides and better environmental protection should be developed by WHO, World Bank, UNEP, and other multilateral and bilateral assistance agencies; Adequate financial and technical resources must be provided to undertake integrated vector management programs; Research is needed on the hazards from chronic exposure to synthetic pyrethroids being used as alternatives to DDT for indoor spraying and to impregnate bednets. WWF's second DDT report, "Hazards and Exposures Associated with DDT and Synthetic Pyrethroids used for Vector Control," finds sufficient scientific evidence of hazards to human health and wildlife to justify a global ban on the production and use of DDT. This report summarizes the current state of knowledge regarding the health and environmental effects of DDT and its most popular alternative - synthetic pyrethroids. It dramatically illustrates the persistence and pervasiveness of DDT. Some of the more recent scientific findings summarized in the report include damage to the developing brain, causing hypersensitivity, behavioral abnormalities and reduced neural signal transmission, and suppression of the immune system resulting in slower response to infections. Investigations in Mexico and South Africa reveal that human breast milk contains DDE (the breakdown product of DDT) at concentrations that exceed the acceptable guidelines for infant intake set by the WHO. The third report released by WWF, "Disease Vector Management for Public Health and Conservation" demonstrates that a variety of innovative mechanisms can control malaria and other diseases just as effectively as DDT. These alternatives are less harmful to the environment and human health. Detailed case studies in six areas? Africa (Botswana, Tanzania, and Western Africa), India, the Philippines, and Mexico? focus on a variety of alternative techniques. They include pesticide-impregnated bednets (which reduce the need for indoor spraying); odor-baited cloth targets to attract and destroy disease-carrying insects; lower-risk pesticides used in rotation to avoid the development of resistance; and widespread elimination of mosquito breeding grounds and introduction of natural predators. WWF initially called for a global phaseout and eventual ban on DDT production and use by the year 2007, together with financial and technical assistance to the developing world. The 2007 deadline was intended as a motivational tool to encourage the necessary financial and technical assistance. The proposal of a 2007 deadline drew considerable public attention to the scope of the world's malaria problem and the need to implement alternatives to DDT. However, it also raised fears that DDT would be phased out without sufficient guarantees of protection of public health from malaria. To allay these fears, WWF has set aside discussion of the 2007 deadline, while retaining its commitment to eliminating DDT. Both the UNEP and WHO recognize that such elimination can be a "win-win" situation for public health and environmental protection. DDT and the POPs Treaty The Stockholm POPs Convention, a treaty to phase out persistent organic pollutants (POPs), including DDT, is currently open for ratification. WWF welcomes this historic agreement which involved provisions for phasing out DDT, while still allowing for its continued limited use for malaria control. Evidence continues to accumulate about the dangerous health effects associated with DDT. The treaty provisions appropriately balance the need to reduce these hazards while promoting stronger malaria control programs. The accord states that "with the goal of reducing, and ultimately eliminating the use of DDT," individual countries may continue to use the chemical for controlling malaria. However, these countries will also be encouraged to prepare national implementation plans to reduce their reliance on DDT. Specifically, the national plans would promote methods for reducing illegal uses of DDT, such as agricultural applications. Countries would also identify steps to implement alternative approaches and promote measures that strengthen health care and reduce the incidence of malaria. The parties to the treaty will periodically review the status of alternative approaches to determine whether DDT is still needed or whether it can be eliminated completely.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Copy of the Alberta PC leadership race debate. From PC leadership debate February 6, 2012 Jason Markusoff: For those who say newspapers are old, stodgy and resistant to change: welcome to Canada's first-ever major political debate conducted by web-chat, hosted by the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald. For the next 90 minutes, we have with us the three finalists for the Alberta Tory leadership: Gary Mar, Alison Redford and Doug Horner. I'm Jason Markusoff, reporter with the Calgary Herald. 11:30 Keith Gerein: And I am Keith Gerein with the Edmonton Journal. Thank you all for joining us today. This chat will feature questions from Postmedia journalists, the candidates themselves, and from our readers. We'll get started with short opening statements -- the only things we've allowed candidates to type up in advance. We'll go in this order: Horner, Mar, Redford. 11:30 Keith Gerein: That means you are up first, Mr. Horner. Take it away. 11:30 Doug Horner: Rose and I have travelled around the province, and here is what we’ve heard from Albertans. Albertans want change... You want us to manage our finances but also ensure we are building the Alberta of the future… to engage you in the process and not surprise you with the direction. Its time we talked about what Alberta could be… not what we have in the bank. Its time we saved for a purpose in health, oil and gas, agriculture and forestry research. Its time we budgeted for success in Education, not just for percentages. The PC Party needs a leader who will unite our Party, unlock the tremendous potential of this great province and unleash and build the capacity of Albertans. I, and many others in Alberta, believe I am that leader. I know what PC stands for and I believe in the future of this Province. 11:30 Keith Gerein: Ok, next up Mr. Mar 11:31 Gary Mar: I’m excited to be participating in this debate today. Alberta is the best province to live, work and raise a family. But we can be more than what we are today. We need to build our economic wealth, not just from our natural resources, but from our intellect & innovation. We need a health care system that is responsive & effective for all Albertans. We have to ensure that our children have the best education to prepare them for the future. We have to spend wisely, save earnestly & make conscientious decisions to ensure that Alberta has a prosperous and promising tomorrow. 11:31 Keith Gerein: And now Ms. Redford 11:32 Alison Redford: This is an excellent format. Thank you to the Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal for hosting us. I am very pleased to be spending the final days of this campaign talking about issues that matter to Albertans. The most important issue, the issue I speak to Albertans about everyday, is Health Care. I am fully committed to strengthening our public health care system. I believe that any focus on private health care is a weakening of our public health care system. I want better access for Alberta families. That is why I have created my Family Care Clinics idea. I want Alberta seniors to be able to enter care together and stay together, regardless of each individuals health care requirements. My campaign has been about engaging Albertans on the issues that matter to them. I look forward to discussing them in this medium! 11:32 Jason Markusoff: All right, now it's time to test our would-be premiers' typing speed (also, debating skills). 11:32 Jason Markusoff: Thank you. Now to our first question, from Calgary Herald reader Graeme Hill. It's a timely one, with a major decision coming soon on the Keystone bitumen line. 11:32 Jason Markusoff: If U.S. blocks construction of southern pipelines, how would you handle that situation? 11:33 Jason Markusoff: Ms. Redford, please answer first. then others jump in 11:33 Alison Redford: We need to know that we can continue to pursue the project - but of course we still have pipeline opportunities to the west coast that will matter and allow us to build our economy. Value added here can be made economically attractive and if we need to consider that in the future, we can. 11:34 Jason Markusoff: Gary Mar and Doug Horner? 11:34 Doug Horner: We need to engage with our federal partners and industry to ensure that the right information is there, we also need to ensure that we are represented at all of the committee events that are in the U.S We must continue with the Gateway as well and aggresively. 11:35 Gary Mar: First of all, I have confidence that the Keystone XL Pipeline will be approved, the largest hurdle was overcoming the EIA where by State Department with input from the EPA, the next phase is to determine the national interest determination and a hearing will be held on October 7 and I intend to testify before it. 11:35 Jason Markusoff: But what if Obama says no? 11:36 Gary Mar: Whether or not KXL is approved we still need to push for a pipeline to the west coast. 11:36 Jason Markusoff: Any final comments before we move onto Q2? 11:36 Doug Horner: It would put more strength to our argument for west coast access, and also be detrimental to the US economy 11:37 Alison Redford: This will always depend on what our options are for economic development and it is important to aggressively pursue our opportunities on a proactive basis - and not only in response to circumstances, which is what is happening now 11:37 Gary Mar: We presently send 1.5 million bpd of oil to the US, we have capacity to send more and refine in Alberta as well. 11:37 Keith Gerein: Let's move on. Here's one from Journal reader Linda Ruggles. It touches on something else being debated hotly in the United States: taxing the wealthy. Would you consider reducing or revisiting Alberta’s flat tax and instead move to an income tax system based on level of wealth? Mr. Horner you can start. Then the others can weigh in. 11:37 Alison Redford: Absolutely not. Alberta's flat tax is one of our advantages that allows our province to be more successful than other provinces. 11:38 Gary Mar: The last time a review of taxes was done was roughly 10 years ago. We must ensure that our taxes remain competitive and I'm committed to reviewing them after we balance our Budget in 2013. 11:38 Doug Horner: I believe we need to expand and diversify our current tax base, we need to ensure that we are as competitive as possible as a jurisdiction. I do not see the advantage in changing tax system n ow 11:38 Keith Gerein: Mr. Mar, are you open to a flat tax then? 11:39 Keith Gerein: Sorry open to changing the flat tax? 11:39 Gary Mar: As I said, we must ensure that our taxes remain competitive, that is critical. My full position is at on the measures I believe we should explore on the fiscal front. 11:40 Alison Redford: Growing the economy is the key to growing our tax base. Both for individual and corporate taxes. 11:40 Jason Markusoff: OK, we'll move to our third question: This comes from one of my colleagues, hearkening back to something Alberta's outgoing premier has often talked about. Mr. Mar, please answer first. Do you want more refineries in Alberta? Is it worth the environmental cost? Do we have the manpower? 11:41 Jason Markusoff: (oil refineries that is. synthetic gold. alberta tea) 11:41 Doug Horner: We need to strive as quickly as we can to create the economic environment that will encourage investment in value added, we have the BRIK policy and we can leverage that in the future. 11:42 Alison Redford: As I said before in the pipeline question, it must be economically viable. The Northwest Upgrader is a good start, but the Alberta government should not be in the position of picking winners and losers. Industry must decide. We have a shortage of workers now. That is a problem. However, I hope in the future we can change the worker shortage instead of changing our policies. 11:43 Gary Mar: Currently production in the oilsands is about 2 million bdp and it is projected to grow to 3-5 million bpd in the next 10 years. There will be the ability to refine more oil in AB and to export more. I support the BRIK policy (providing crown barrels for upgrading) and will explore the results of the BRIK project to see if we should expand it. 11:43 Jason Markusoff: Are you worried about the export of jobs into the US? 11:43 Alison Redford: How do you evaluate that Gary? What types of results would lead to increased government investment? 11:44 Doug Horner: In order for our economy to expand, including value added, we need to address the labour shortage and that means our own agreement with Ottawa geared to Albertas needs 11:44 Jason Markusoff: (by the way, readers can have their own say below this live-chat in a live-chat just for commenters) 11:44 Jason Markusoff: Mr. Mar, your reply? 11:44 Alison Redford: We need to train our workforce to be able to participate in the future labour markets. The solution is not only presuming we can import labour from somewhere else. Immigration is important for our economy, but it is not the only solution. 11:45 Gary Mar: What activity will result in the measurably best economic result for Alberta which will include employment and taxation revenues. 11:45 Gary Mar: In regards to having enough manpower within Alberta, if there is a shortage then it will drive up the cost of other capital construction for important infrastructure like hospitals and schools. We must train Albertans to ensure they have the skills sets we will require. 11:46 Keith Gerein: On to question 4. Here's another from an Edmonton Journal reader: Are you support of developing nuclear power in Alberta? Why or why not? Ms. Redford can answer first, then the others can provide their responses. 11:46 Alison Redford: No. We do not require nuclear power in Alberta. 11:46 Doug Horner: A balanced solution is needed and an expansion of our post secondary is required but we cannot "home grow" the numbers we will need 11:46 Doug Horner: Nuclear power is not in the cards. 11:47 Keith Gerein: And Mr. Mar? 11:47 Gary Mar: The objective of our electricity policy is to ensure reliable and affordable electricity for residential and industrial. Events recently in Japan suggest the world will be looking away from nuclear and towards traditional and renewable electricity sources like the ones in Alberta. 11:48 Doug Horner: We also need to ensure that we develop our clean coal resources and alternate energy sources 11:48 Keith Gerein: To all three, what are your reasons for opposing nuclear power in Alberta? 11:48 Alison Redford: We do not need it. And Albertans are, justifiably, afraid of it. 11:49 Gary Mar: Our focus should be on the resources that we are most familiar with and have the best capacity to develop here in Alberta. 11:49 Doug Horner: I see a number of options that are based on Alberta's strength, wind, biofuels, coal, Hydrocardon. why go to Nuclear 11:49 Jason Markusoff: Question #5.... making good time here. Would you take concrete steps to improve Alberta's environmental image, such as investing substantially in renewable energy, and/or increasing the price of carbon emissions under Alberta's industrial emitters trading system? 11:50 Jason Markusoff: Jump in, O fast typers 11:50 Alison Redford: Ted Morton was right regarding the price of carbon emissions, we have to stay within the range of the North American market. Let's talk about alternative sustainable energy, energy efficiency and environment stewardship on a proactive basis. 11:51 Doug Horner: I would refer to my website as we have a number of initiatives outlined there, however, we need to be leaders on a global scale in the areas I mentioned, we are an energy province lets lead 11:51 Gary Mar: This is of great importance to me, I've clearly articulated my position in on my website, I will establish an independent Alberta Environmental Monitoring Authority. This independent authority will monitor and report on the environmental impacts of developing Alberta’s energy resources, from oil sands to fracing and CO2-enhanced oil recovery. 11:52 Jason Markusoff: Would you increase the /tonne rate for excess CO2 emissions for heavy emitters? 11:52 Doug Horner: Commercialization of environmental solutions is another way we could diversify our economic base, research investment is important and should be expanded 11:52 Gary Mar: On the issue of the carbon tax, we don't want to increase our $15/ton on emissions until other jurisdictions are prepared to do the same, as we don't want to make our industry uncompetitive. 11:53 Alison Redford: I am committed to keeping the per tonne cost within the North American standards. We need to increase research in how to reduce carbon emissions. 11:53 Gary Mar: Our system here in Alberta for the carbon tax has been the subject of consideration by committees of Congress. This shows how Alberta is leading the way. 11:54 Keith Gerein: Now we have asked each candidate to pose a question to both of their opponents. The Tories' aren't used to being on this side Question Period, but we'll see how they fare. First question from Alison Redford: 11:54 Alison Redford: Doug & Gary - A leadership is more than simply an exercise in selecting a leader. It is an opportunity for team building. What will you do to reach out to Albertans and build the broadest team possible? 11:54 Gary Mar: We will continue to do what we've done during the campaign which is to reach out to Albertans in every corner of this province. That includes MLAs, party members and all Albertans. 11:55 Jason Markusoff: Mr. Horner, to Ms. Redford's question? 11:56 Doug Horner: This is a great question and I have said often that we need a team leader to redifine the Progressive Conservative approach and change the perception that is currently out there. I have experience as a team leader and will concentrate on bringing our members together asap in order to define PC not enough room or time ! 11:56 Keith Gerein: Ms. Redford, what is your answer to your question? 11:57 Gary Mar: An example is my tele town halls, I've had 4 tele town halls each with over 5000 people participating. This is a great venue to reach out to Albertans. 11:57 Alison Redford: Good question - leadership is about respect and vision. We need to ensure that Albertans aspirations are reflected in caucus, cabinet and the office of he Premier. that tone is set from the top. 11:58 Jason Markusoff: Thanks, Ms. Redford. Our next question is Doug Horner to his two opponents. Mr. Horner, please: 11:58 Doug Horner: Alison and Gary, what is the single biggest threat to Alberta's future today. 11:58 Alison Redford: Collapse in public health care. Privatization of health care is the thin edge of the wedge that begins to undermine public confidence in our most important public service. We must resist the temptation. We must work harder for public health care for all Albertans. 12:00 Gary Mar: The biggest threat we face is from outside our borders. There are those that argue that our energy is dirty, there are those that say our food products are not safe & our forestry products are unfairly subsidized. We must stand strong together as a province in order to defend and promote Alberta for market access. At the same time we must stand together strong as our opportunities are outside our province. 12:00 Jason Markusoff: OK. Mr. Horner, what do you think of those two answers? 12:00 Gary Mar: We have the ability to open new markets to our products. 12:00 Doug Horner: I believe we must address the human capacity risk of not having the right people at the right time, this applies to the economy and services such as health care, oil sands development and all areas of our society. We must build training and opportunities for new Albertans and those who have needs like our aboriginal populations 12:02 Keith Gerein: OK. Mr. Mar, it's your turn to ask your fellow candidates a question. 12:02 Gary Mar: Alison, our focus should be to ensure that Albertans get the service they need in our health care system in a timely way. All my policies have been about protecting our public health care system. I support the principles of the Canada Health Act and believe that we can learn from the experiences of other provinces who spend less and get better results. 12:02 Gary Mar: My question is, what specific actions would you take to ensure the right decision is made by President Obama regarding Keystone XL given its direct impact on Alberta's economy? 12:02 Jason Markusoff: (i'm guessing that wasn't his question) 12:02 Jason Markusoff: well, that one was 12:03 Doug Horner: This is a critical piece of infrastructure for our product mix to get to market and as I stated earlier, we need to work in partnership with the Federal Govt and Industry to ensure we have a co-ordinated approach. This includes being present at the appropriate forums and discussions. 12:05 Alison Redford: First sit down with TransCanada Pipeline and ask how the Alberta government can help. We must work with industry in order to be strategic. And we have not done a good job of that so far. Having a strategy developed exclusively by the department of international affairs is not a solution. We need to ensure that we can be most effective by using all relationships that exist between Albertans and in the United States to resolve this issue. 12:05 Jason Markusoff: Mr. Mar, what are you specifically going to say on Oct 7 in DC? 12:06 Gary Mar: I've met with the Governor of every single state that KXL crosses and many of the Congressman as well. As I said earlier, I will testify before the hearing in DC on October 7 which is a follow up to my previous testimony to Congress in February of this year. 12:06 Jason Markusoff: (if you're elected premier) 12:06 Doug Horner: The west coast and access to a new market is as important 12:07 Alison Redford: Doing what we have done before and expecting different results? 12:07 Gary Mar: Well Jason, the hearing is on the national interest determination and our testimony will be about how we create jobs in the US, how we create national security (no military lives are ever put at risk), we create energy security (17 percent of US imports come from AB, only 11% from Saudi). And finally, we produce our energy in an environmentally and socially responsible way. 12:07 Jason Markusoff: Mr. Mar, we'll let you close out this topic. 12:07 Keith Gerein: We've already gotten into the private/public health debate a bit, so let's dive in a little further with a question from Journal health reporter Jodie Sinnema. What kind of guarantees can you offer that wait times and wait lists will go down for health services, either by staying the course, retooling the Medicare system or by introducing more privately-delivered and/or privately paid for health services? 12:08 Keith Gerein: It's open to all. Dive in when you have an answer 12:09 Gary Mar: The current system of referrals has lead to extensive wait times and ineffective utilization of specialists. Centralizing the specialist intake system would provide a single point of entry for Albertans to access specialized medical treatment. More on this on my website 12:09 Gary Mar: By centralizing orthopedic surgery we reduced the wait times from several months to just a few weeks. 12:09 Alison Redford: First, we have to focus on improving access for basic medical services. Family Care Clinics move towards a system where people get the services they need in a timely fashion. Here is my policy: 12:10 Gary Mar: When I was health Minister I introduced Primary Care Networks, or PCNs. These community-based, multi-disciplinary teams were the first of their kind in Canada. With over 40 PCNs up and running across Alberta today, these teams are the gateway to the health system for the future, and will deliver integrated, patient-focused care. I have pledged in this campaign, not to re-name them, but to expand them. 12:11 Keith Gerein: And Mr. Horner? 12:11 Doug Horner: The system we have today is essentially the same system it was when my Dad practiced 40 years ago, we need to change the structure of our publicly funded systme so you see the health professional you need to. That Dr. are compensated for the complexity of the patient not the volume. PCN's are great but we need to open access or they are simply another line up. We need to work on our Publicly funded system and going to privately funded options is not the solution 12:11 Gary Mar: Because the funding per capita hasn't changed since 2003. 12:11 Keith Gerein: There has been a lot of talk about private health care in this campaign. As a followup to your answers, specifically what would you allow and what would you rule out when it comes to private health care? 12:11 Doug Horner: Its not just about the $'s it is about how we do things 12:11 Alison Redford: Second, we need to improve the ability of the Health Quality Council to measure performance independently from political interference. So Albertans will be able to see where health care is improving and where we need to do better. This allows us to hold Alberta Health Services accountable. 12:11 Gary Mar: We should hold AHS accountable. The HQCA was created when I was Minister of Health to do precisely that. 12:12 Alison Redford: I will not expand the role of private health care beyond our current levels in the publicly funded system. 12:12 Keith Gerein: Mr. Mar and Mr. Horner? How far would you take private care? What would you rule out? 12:13 Gary Mar: The core of our system is ensuring that health services for all Albertans who need them are provided through our public system. 12:14 Doug Horner: The HQCA should report to an all party com of the Legislature and I will not expand the role of privately funded health care as a solution to our publicly funded system, thats giving up on it and I wont. 12:14 Gary Mar: Alberta’s health system, like all provinces, has evolved because of a commitment by partners in all sectors: public, not-for profit, and private. These parts of the system work together right now in accordance with a legislative and regulatory framework that protects our public system. 12:14 Alison Redford: Gary - is your position today different than it was in August? Here is the interview with Karen Kleiss - 12:14 Keith Gerein: Mr. Mar are you willing to push the boundaries of the Canada Health Act? 12:15 Doug Horner: The stakeholders in the publicly funded system want to contribute we should listen to them 12:15 Gary Mar: I support the Canada Health Act & its principles and I am open to the discussion about how health care is delivered in the public system. 12:15 Jason Markusoff: In a few minutes, we'll take questions our readers are asking in the live-chat below. First, some more health questions: From reader Gerry Man. How many long term care beds would your government build over the next five years? How many of these would be constructed with public funds and designed for low income Albertans? 12:16 Gary Mar: I have said from the outset that is a decision for Albertans to make because I want to lead a government that does more listening and less telling. 12:16 Jason Markusoff: Fastest fingers answer first on long-term care beds 12:16 Alison Redford: I have committed to constructing 1000 new units - not beds - in the next year. These units will be able to accommodate couples instead of individuals. It is imperative that couples be able to stay together when they require care. It is a fundamental part of my Seniors Continuing Care Policy: 12:17 Gary Mar: I have said I support expanding continuing care for seniors and services for disabled Albertans. Seniors require a full spectrum of support from home care to long term care. 12:18 Doug Horner: An assesment of supply and demand across the Province has been in the works for some time, we know where the need is and we know what we need to build. We need to change the way we make decisions on Capital and move on, the who is building is not as important as the what and when. 12:18 Jason Markusoff: Ms. Redford: do you have dollar figures for that commitment? Do others? 12:19 Gary Mar: Doug's answer is a very good and thoughtful one. 12:19 Doug Horner: Lets build places where couples can live in dignity and have the services come to them 12:19 Gary Mar: I've said from the beginning we must allow couples to stay together and ensure quality of life for seniors in care. 12:19 Alison Redford: We will work with the non-profit sector and municipalities to build the facilities. That way, we can subsidize more seniors instead of having a strict cap for accommodation. We need a higher quality of life for all seniors. 12:20 Keith Gerein: Now we are going to take a couple of questions directly from our comment forum. Here's the first one. How do you plan to address the large class sizes the education system is now dealing with? 12:20 Doug Horner: A well thought out capital plan is imperative to the fiscal future of our Province and should be delivered at the next budget. Including Seniors accommodation 12:20 Alison Redford: I will immediately restore the $100 million in cuts. This will allow school boards the flexibility to fix our system now. Not waiting for next year. 12:21 Gary Mar: Class sizes are not the only determinate of whether a student gets a good education. Highly skilled teachers are the most important factor. Supports for those teachers with wrap around services are also important for optimal outcomes. 12:22 Doug Horner: Its time we budgeted for success in the classroom, not a percentage. We need to separate the labour component from the classroom tools and resources. We need to invest in early childhood development and implement the inspiring education framework 12:22 Keith Gerein: We have a followup question from the Grade 6 class at Florence Hallock School in Edmonton. They say, "We are concerned over the current funding for all levels of education. What are your plans regarding predictable and sustainable funding?" Can this be accommodated given Alberta's booms and busts? 12:23 Gary Mar: Within the first 90 days of my mandate, I will restore the $107 million cut from such important programs as the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement and enhanced English as a Second Language. 12:23 Alison Redford: As we have committed to, we will act faster and get those resources back in classrooms in time to make a difference. 12:23 Doug Horner: Within the first 180 days I will present a budget for education targeting success, it will be more than 107 million 12:23 Gary Mar: As I've said from the start predictable and sustainable funding is key. Without that school boards are unable to plan. 12:24 Keith Gerein: Here's another question from our reader forum. What are the candidates’ thoughts on when they would deliver a positive budget (one that has a surplus and pays down the defict)? 12:24 Gary Mar: 2013 12:24 Alison Redford: I agree. 12:25 Doug Horner: We need to establish a longer term plan than just a school year and the funding needs to be there for the need, we should look at the differences between school year budget and our budget cycle 12:25 Doug Horner: Balanced operating budget with savings in 2012 12:26 Jason Markusoff: A follow-up to that. Plenty of fear out there that we're on the edge of another global recession. How would you adjust your fiscal plan in response to freefalling commodity revenues and and a flailing economy? 12:26 Jason Markusoff: now now, not all at once 12:27 Doug Horner: This is why we have an operational reserve (sustainablity account) We need to be prudent at all times but not enter into roller coaster budgeting. We would adjust accordingly. 12:28 Gary Mar: Government has become addicted to using oil and gas money to pay for the day to day spending of government. We need to focus on saving now to ensure we can adapt to market conditions. 12:28 Alison Redford: We need to keep our heads. We will not go into a significant decline. We know our investments in the energy sector are long term and sustainable. Industry is very clear about that. We are extremely well positioned. Far better than when we relied so heavily on natural gas revenues. 12:28 Jason Markusoff: We will now pose one question at specific candidates, starting with Gary Mar. Is your distrust of the science of climate change based on what you have learned about climate science, or because you don't trust the people (such as Al Gore) who are the strongest advocates for action on climate change? 12:28 Gary Mar: I believe that the climate is changing and that there are many causes for it. There is contradictory information about what those causes are and I remain open-minded to our approaches to solving the issue. 12:29 Jason Markusoff: For the other two: what are your thoughts on the science of climate change? 12:29 Alison Redford: The world believes the climate is changing. They believe it is a result of industrial activity. This is the international discussion. We need to address concerns within this reality. 12:31 Doug Horner: Whether you believe in man made global warming or not, the majority of customers on a world stage have serious concerns with it and we must be aware of this. We need to ensure that we are presenting a brand and programs that show we are environmental stewards of the air land, and water in our Province. 12:31 Jason Markusoff: Question for Mr. Horner: What can you do to convince voters you aren't just the "rural" candidate? 12:31 Jason Markusoff: (I'm going to bring up the climate-change science question after the debate ends at 1pm, in a post-game chat with Herald and Journal columnists) 12:32 Doug Horner: My resume, International trade, Built several business in Alberta and around the World. Like many Albertans I am proud of my rural roots, but have not been on the farm since I was under 18. I have lived and worked in over 20 countries around the World. My business background is based on what Alberta's strengths are. 12:34 Gary Mar: Doug has represented our province well in places like NYC where he has moved our research agenda forward. 12:34 Jason Markusoff: How do the other two fend off perceptions that under you, power will shift substantially to the cities? 12:34 Alison Redford: Interesting question from the perspective that so many of the issues in this campaign have not been urban or rural issues - is health care an urban issue or rural? Education? Seniors care? Let's all stop creating a false paradigm. Let's deal with the issues that matter. 12:34 Doug Horner: Alison has a great point 12:34 Jason Markusoff: Now, a question directly to Ms. Redford: Recently, you have been fairly critical of Gary Mar -- to the point of advising that supporters choose Horner as second choice on the ballot. How comfortable would you feel serving in the cabinet and/or caucus of a Premier Mar? 12:35 Gary Mar: I've maintained all along that I will represent Albertans across our province. We need a Premier that represents not just urban or rural but all Albertans. Just yesterday I visited seniors in Camrose and farmers in St. Paul. Today I'll be meeting with Albertans in Calgary & Edmonton. 12:35 Doug Horner: It does not matter where you lay your head down to sleep but how you lead 12:37 Alison Redford: I think that as a PC Party we owe it to Albertans to fully explore all options in a leadership campaign as part of vibrant party debate - this will build our party. As a member of the party for over 30 years, I have served in many capacities. I will continue that beyond Saturday. 12:38 Jason Markusoff: Will the other two commit to running in the next election if they don't win, and to serving in cabinet if asked? 12:38 Gary Mar: Yes 12:38 Alison Redford: Absolutely. I have won my nomination. 12:38 Doug Horner: I already have regardless of the outcome Saturday, proudly 12:38 Keith Gerein: Let's move on with a tough question from a Journal reader -- What would you name as your biggest failing or regret from your time in government? Name a decision you were involved in that you wish you could take back? 12:39 Gary Mar: Kelley Charlebois' contract. 12:39 Doug Horner: LOL 12:39 Jason Markusoff: Horner, that can't be your answer. 12:40 Gary Mar: We learn from our successes and we also learn from our mistakes. 12:40 Doug Horner: I would have liked to have the communication around the Royalty Review done differently. 12:41 Alison Redford: I am sorry, we are going to have to cut this debate short. Many apologies from the Alison Redford campaign. 12:41 Alison Redford: Sorry - I am back. 12:42 Keith Gerein: Mr. Mar, that bears a followup. What would you have done differently? 12:42 Doug Horner: Hope all is well 12:42 Alison Redford: Thank you. I will let you know soon. Fine for now. 12:43 Gary Mar: In hindsight I would've ensured better documentation of all the very good work that he did. 12:43 Jason Markusoff: Let's move on to a question from Herald reader David Wright: Albertans are asking for change and a reversal over the past 5 years. Each of you is promising that, yet surrounding yourselves with people who played a major role, or you yourself played a major role, in the decisions of the past. How do you reconcile that? 12:43 Gary Mar: I left the Alberta Legislature in 2007, in my estimation the decisions in the last few years have reflected that the government has been doing too much telling and not enough listening. We must engage Albertans to solve the challenges we are facing in areas such as health care and education. 12:46 Alison Redford: There are some great people in Caucus who have not yet been given the opportunity to lead. I know they are committed to bringing new perspectives and approaches to solutions for Albertans. I know I can build a cabinet of fresh thinkers who bring a generational change and who are not caught in the ways of the past. They know we can do better. I am going to give them a chance. 12:46 Doug Horner: The change that I have been advocating is in how we make decisions, not dollars and dogma but thru the lens of our values as PC's. Lets make investment decisions around outcomes not percentages. The team I have have all agreed that is where we need to be. As P Lougheed said an activist govt. one that gets the job done 12:46 Keith Gerein: On to the next question. Former leadership candidate Ted Morton vowed to roll back the 30-per-cent-plus pay increases for politicians from 2008. Will you roll those hefty increases back - why/why not? 12:46 Gary Mar: I've committed to an independent review of MLA pay. Politicians should not be setting their own pay packets. 12:47 Alison Redford: I have stated that an independent commission must be set up to review all aspects of MLA salary. It must be completed within 120 days of my being elected leader. 12:47 Doug Horner: I have committed to establishing an arms length commission of Albertans who have exoertise in these issues, and will follow thru with this in the first 120 days, at the end of the day elected officials still vote on the budget. 12:48 Jason Markusoff: This question comes from reader Gord Waldie: What concrete steps would you take to tackle the issue of child poverty? Please do not answer in the form of a weblink. 12:48 Gary Mar: Wrap around services in school are key to not only identify children that need additional assistance but to provide support for them in a timely fashion. 12:49 Doug Horner: The best way to combat poverty is to ensure that the supports, educational opportunities, and job opportunities are available. We need to be able to provide a life plan for those in need and empower our frontline staff. 12:50 Gary Mar: Homelessness is often a significant factor in poverty and I would continue with Premier Stelmach's Plan to End Homelessness. 12:50 Alison Redford: We need a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy. Saying that a strong economy alleviates poverty does not work. We are changing education. Full day kindergarten. Stronger day care options. And programs that identify kids at risk faster. Their moms need support. And poverty isn't homelessness. Kids in poverty need food. They need health care. They need our help. that is governments job. 12:51 Keith Gerein: One Journal reader wants to know about your infrastructure plans. Are you in favour of building a high-speed train between Edmonton and Calgary, and would you be willing to put money towards the project in an upcoming next budget? 12:51 Doug Horner: yes, we have that in our policy 12:51 Gary Mar: We should think about acquiring the land to run such a high speed rail link. It can be used in the interim for things like transmission lines, pipelines and dedicated truck lines. In the future have the ability to put in a rail link if it makes economic sense. 12:52 Alison Redford: I have fiscal plan that encourages us to save for projects like the High Speed Train. It really is not a necessity. But it will make our province stronger and unite our communities north to south. Save for it. And then we can build it. 12:52 Jason Markusoff: what dollar figure do you have in your platform and for what budget years, Mr. Horner? 12:52 Gary Mar: Alison, why would you save for something that you think isn't a necessity? 12:54 Doug Horner: We have already identified a good portion of the right of way, we should move ahead with it before another ring road. I am told the next ring road could be 7 billion, we have interested parties who need to be approached to see what type of partnership opportunities exist. 12:54 Jason Markusoff: Ms. Redford, before we move on do you have a reply to Mar? 12:54 Alison Redford: It is important it is not something that we need to do in the next twelve months - long term planning is important to our future success! 12:54 Keith Gerein: A question from our reader forum. How quickly will you twin Highway 63 to Fort McMurray? 12:55 Doug Horner: As soon as it can be done 12:55 Gary Mar: We need to twin Hwy 63 as quickly as possible and look at other transportation options such as air and rail. 12:55 Alison Redford: I have said it is critical - there is not reason that it has not been done - except lack of planning - we can do it now. 12:55 Jason Markusoff: We've covered a ton of ground in this debate. Time for two last Qs What or who it the biggest external threat to the Progressive Conservative party extending its dynasty as government for four more years, and beyond? 12:56 Doug Horner: I would also look at rail and completion of the connection across to Peace River 12:56 Gary Mar: Our greatest threat is internal not external. We must have leadership that will engage our members. 12:56 Alison Redford: We need to understand we are not entitled to govern. We need to earn the trust of Albertans everyday. Albertans are telling me - they want change. They want smart government. They want a fresh approach to old problems. 12:57 Gary Mar: Renewing our party is a priority and I've laid out my plan at 12:57 Doug Horner: Our threat is not defining ourselves and presenting to Albertans a vision for the future about what we can be not just how much we have in the bank. We need to earn the faith and trust of Albertans 12:57 Keith Gerein: We've got just a few minutes left in our debate with the three PC leadership candidates. As a followup to that last question: What do you think will or should be the defining issue in the next general election? 12:58 Alison Redford: Change and trust in leadership. 12:58 Gary Mar: A clear plan forward for Alberta. 12:58 Doug Horner: The future of our Province and the leadership to get us there, in healthcare and education. 12:59 Jason Markusoff: That's sadly all the time we have left, and rumour has it these three candidates are fairly busy this week. Thank you all for participating, and to readers for your questions and for following along. Please stay with us for the next half-hour for some a post-chat chat with Herald columnist Don Braid and Journal columnist Paula Simons 12:59 Alison Redford: Thank you all very much. 12:59 Gary Mar: Thanks everyone for watching. Please vote on Saturday October 1. 12:59 Jason Markusoff: One thing has become clear: our next premier will have a respectable WPM rate (words per minute) 12:59 Doug Horner: Thanks to the Journal and Herald for the venue! All the best 1:00 Keith Gerein: Thanks everyone for tuning in. It shoudl be an exciting last few days on the campaign trail 1:00 Jason Markusoff: Thanks guys. 1:00 Jason Markusoff: Please stay with us for the next half-hour for some a post-chat chat with Herald columnist Don Braid and Journal columnist Paula Simons 1:00 David Blackwell: The post-debate debate abd analysis continues in the box below. And you can always replay the candidates' debate at your leisure on this page. Read more:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Morton's musing comment

These are likely the last 10 years Quebec will be within Canada.

If Quebec were to separate, Canada would be more rightist than today, and would vote for the right-wing party in the majority with greater frequency. This election has demonstrated to the Conservatives that they cannot lose regardless of whether their policies go down well in Quebec.

Quebec and Ontario have a joint economic interest. Harper is trying to tie much of Ontario's future development to tar-sands industrial contracting, rather than nuclear, hydro and renewable energies (these happen to be some of Quebec's most important potential industries for growth as well). Ontario can do well by Harper's policies, at least for a while (Quebec can too). But Ontarians' will never be masters of their own house if they allow Harper to limit the growth their nuclear and renewables industries, and rely on oil sands development contracts, and Albertan paychecks, for much of their new economic growth.

Note that Harper has refused a Carbon tax, which would favour Ontario's renewable and nuclear energy industries while still not explictly disfavouring Alberta's oil industry. If anything, Harper's industrial-emissions targets strategy will even cost the oil industry more than an economically efficient tax. Harper has also played a bit of a wrecker in international climate agreements, even though there is much potential in global climate agreements to create international business for Ontario and Quebec's hydro, power grid, and nuclear expertise. Such agreements are unlikely to tie the hands of Alberta's oil industry: the world is going to need oil for some time. Nuclear and Hydro displace coal and, partially, gas, but not oil.

Basically, Harper, in his international and domestic policies, has deliberately chosen to make Canada weaker, in exchange for making Ontario more dependent on Alberta for growth by giving a kick in the teeth to the industrial growth potential Quebec's and Ontario's Renewables, Hydro and Nuclear industries. Why? Because Ontarians will not want to bite the Albertan hands that feed them, and will want to please them in voting for Alberta's prefered political candidates. And if Quebec gets fed up, and leaves, more power to Conservatives in the future.

Canada is, right now, a disfunctional union. It could still solve its problems, but it needs a leader who'll discuss these problems openly. Harper is not that leader: he has created and exacerbated many problems simply in order to give his party political advantage. He's spited Canada to advance his personal political fortunes. The Liberals, I think, are fairly clueless: Ignatieff did not see what was going on: he did not ever mention industrial policy. He didn't defend Ontario economic interests. Dion probably knew, but couldn't properly articulate his understanding of how Canada's industrial policy should move forward. McGuinty may know, but has kept his mouth shut: he can't afford to pick a fight with Harper.

Do you see any Liberal leader in site who'll fight for all of Canada? I don't.

Enjoy your country while it lasts.

Friday, February 25, 2011

wci comment

The Conservative government will refuse a carbon tax or a cap and trade system, because that would provide an industrial boost, in Canada, to concerns centered in Ontario (for instance, electric cars, wind turbines, electric power equipment, design and expertise, and, especially, the nuclear power industry), rendering that province's future job growth more independent of growth in the oil sands industries. This is also why they are intransigent internationally on this issue, and why they are shrinking the box into which AECL may grow, and shrivelling the nuclear industry from an international concern (in a sector poised for growth) to a Canadian rump.

The greater Ontario's economic jobs and growth is linked to the western provinces' growth, the more Ontarians will not want to disappoint the political sympathies of the westerners providing their supper. Keep them lean, hungry, and knowing who their masters are.

It's important to note that any hypothesized boost to Ontario from any sort of proper Canadian carbon accounting would not likely come at the economic expense to the Alberta or Saskatchewan. Even oil sands interests have called for a carbon tax (I don't think insincerely). Their major growth product, oil, for transportation and plastics, has a global market broadly separate from energy from electricity. It is a pet peeve of mine to emphasize this, since many left or centrist commentators assume that Harper, in rejecting any sane policy to account for climate change, is doing the bidding of oil companies. Not so. The simplest explanation of what Harper is doing is to assume he is just doing what is best for Harper.

A carbon tax or cap and trade regime could greatly affect the internal Canadian political scene. This, rather than economic concerns, is what is driving this issue now. Harper isn't a Marxist, but he'll make the trade of the country being worse off, long term, if it improves his personal fortunes today. Just like any run-of-mill controlling autocrat.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

comment at Globe And Mail

If the world is ever going to mitigate the worst of climate change, the most important tool will most likely be electricity provided by nuclear energy.

In that world, a strong nuclear industry in Ontario could rival or exceed the oil sands in economic importance. The world needs nuclear expertise. Korea, Russia, Japan and France are all very keen to make a go in this area.

Harper wants Ontario dependent on the oil sands providing the main source of new industrial jobs, in order to improve his political fortunes. Workers in Ontario will not bite the industry that feeds them, or the political power backing it. Harper wants that industry to be, above all others, support for oil sands operations.

Canada could have a strong Nuclear and Oil Sands industries. They are not natural competitors, really (transport fuels and electricity don't really compete with one another). But Harper's politics can't abide it. He's not capable of dispassionately advancing the interests of ALL of Canada if they conflict with the plan to make ALL of Canada's main economic roads run through Alberta.

Harper is cunning and dangerous. He's fundamentally reshaping Canada, with his own "national energy plan", and selling it with the "energy superpower" theme: oil from Alberta and tinkertoys from everyone else. C'mon: is anyone "impressed" with the fact that Saudi Arabia is an energy superpower? I don't find much anything impressive about their society. What a dim rebranding.

I'm glad Bruce Power is willing to see through our PM's schtick (or some other word starting with ess). (Not too suprising: Bruce's CEO Hawthorne is a Scotsman)