Archive for the ‘Canada’ Tag

Democracy and the Climate Change Crisis   Leave a comment

We all know that there is a crisis happening now with respect to the climate(s) that we are living in. Denial, however, seems to be more powerful than the will to act to deal with the crisis.

The David Suzuki Foundation has written an important commentary on how the lack of leadership by people in positions of responsibility is affecting our democracies in North America. This certainly applies in Canada, and particularly in Ontario where there is no definite plan to counter additional greenhouse gas emissions. The Suzuki Foundation has written:

“In the face of an overwhelming crisis that threatens our very future, it might be time for an overhaul of our democratic and political systems, which are clearly failing the people they were designed to serve.”

More on this is available at: http://community.davidsuzuki.org/index.php/email/emailWebview?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTnpRMU5tVTVNalkzWVdaaSIsInQiOiJWME1MRjFNdVdUXC9GTE1Cd0ZSdWh1NndmTUFFRnpWVnJuZHJMa3NXdVErQTFDUXdFVzJSUVdQTG9kbmVEd1c3N1htMlZ5TWp6Nm9FTUEzOXZaSVM4R25tWEdURytsejRGSjBuN3MrbTFcL2N4bm5qNXorT1pmem8yc1RlNGE3bTZzIn0%3D

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Carbon tax needed

Donald Gutstein has written a book on how politicians have been influenced on this issue, and how people can inform themselves so that we can challenge their claims that they are taking meaningful action on global warming. The book is called:

“The Big Stall: How Big Oil and Think Tanks Are Blocking Action on Climate Change In Canada”

Here’s a brief review from the Toronto Public Library website:

Summary/Review: “In fall 2015, the new Trudeau government endorsed the Paris Accord and promised to tackle global wamring. In 2016, it released a major report which set out a national energy strategy embracing clean growth, technological innovation and carbon pricing. Rather than putting in place tough measures to achieve the Paris targets however, the government reframed global warming as a market opportunity for Canada’s clean technology sector.

In The Big Stall, Donald Gutstein traces the origins of the government’s climate change plan back to the energy sector itself – in particular Big Oil. He shows how, in the last fifteen years, Big Oil has infiltrated provincial and federal governments, academia, media and the non-profit sector to sway government and public opinion on the realities of climate change and what needs to be done about it.

Working both behind the scenes and in high-profile networks, Canada’s energy companies moved the debate away from discussion of the measures required to create a zero-carbon world and towards market-based solutions that will cut CO2 emissions – but not enough to prevent severe climate impacts. The progressive-seeming Trudeau Liberals have been co-opted by the embedded advocates of the oil and gas industry. The result: oil and gas companies can continue profiting from exporting their resources, instead of leaving them in the ground to minimize climate change. The door has been left wide open for oil companies to determine their own futures, and to go on drilling new wells, building new tar sands plants and constructing new pipelines.

This book offers the background information readers need to challenge politicians claiming they are taking meaningful action on global warming.”–

 

Harry Leslie Smith – adieu   Leave a comment

Smith’s writing drew parallels between his own brushes with global crises of the past, and the current turmoil that affects marginalized groups. (Toronto Star – Submitted by the Smith family)

Harry Leslie Smith became a hero of the Millennial Generation in Canada and the United Kingdom because the youth of these nations recognize that neoliberal economics is simply a way to re-institute the feudal economic and social system of the past – a past that Harry describes in his book, “Harry’s Last Stand: How the world my generation built is falling down and what we can do about it”. This book contains many teachings about the exploitation of workers in the past, and what, collectively, working and middle class people did to improve life for all people.

Harry was interviewed by the CBC a year before his death, and that conversation can be found at: Senior podcaster Harry Leslie Smith says he’ll ‘drop dead’ before he stops fighting for equality

A short reprise of Harry’s life can be accessed at:

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2018/11/24/refugee-advocate-worlds-oldest-rebel-harry-leslie-smith-passes-away-in-belleville-family-says.html

In the concluding paragraph of  “Harry’s Last Stand”, Harry wrote:

“While I am here I will keep doing all I can to fight against inequality and make my little patch of the earth a better place. Right now, however, it is very late, and I am very old, so I shall bid you goodnight, and a better tomorrow.”

The baton has now been passed to us. God bless you Harry!

It is not too late!   Leave a comment

On October 6, 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) spelled out in plain, damning details what will happen if the Earth’s atmosphere warms by more than 1.5 degree Celsius.

The IPCC also provided a list of possibilities for policymakers, available at: http://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_spm_final.pdf

The David Suzuki Foundation has a thoughtful commentary on this important document:

https://davidsuzuki.org/story/will-the-world-act-on-climate-change-before-its-too-late/

No, it is not too late for us to change our course. However, we must resist the powerful forces that believe in the status quo. To quote an American author, Chris Hedges:

Resistance is not only about battling the forces of darkness. It is about becoming a complete human being. It is about overcoming estrangement. it is about our neighbour.It is about honouring the sacred. It is about dignity. It is about sacrifice. It is about courage. It is about freedom. It is about the capacity to love. Resistance must become our vocation.”

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Sunrise at Cape Spear

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted October 24, 2018 by allanbaker in econotheism, Environment, Politics

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Core Values – Canadian, eh?   Leave a comment

Saudi dust-up defines our core values

By Jim Taylor, August 12, 2018

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Take Responsibility

We Canadians live in such a comfortable cocoon. Because we have a government and social culture that is, for the most part, rational and compassionate, we look askance at the political infighting and partisan loyalties that afflict our neighbour to the south.

We find it hard to believe that 300-million presumably right-minded people – those who qualify to sit on a jury – allow themselves to be governed by a man who doesn’t seem to know the truth from one hour to the next, and who takes umbrage at the least of slights.

“Umbrage” –to take offence, to react strongly. It implies flying off the handle at minor slights. But recent events suggest we Canadians have tunnel vision. Obsessed with President Tweet, we have ignored an even more explosive personality on the international stage: Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

The National Post’s Terry Glavin describes him as “a chubby 32-year-old war criminal with a taste for fine art, French mansions, and luxury yachts, [who] launched a barbaric bombing campaign in Yemen that has resulted in the deaths of at least 15,000 people and has left half the population of that desperately poor country at the brink of famine.”

Retaliation rampant

The furore started when Canada sent a tweet that said, “Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in #SaudiArabia…. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrightsactivists.

The vehemence of bin Salman’s response outdid even Trump’s tantrums.

 He immediately:

  • expelled Canada’s ambassador;

  • froze new trade with Canada;

  • ordered his global asset managers to dispose of their Canadian equities, bonds and cash holdings “no matter the cost”;

  • pulled 16,000 Riyadh-funded students out of Canadian universities and medical schools;

  • transferred Saudi patients receiving medical care out of Canadian hospitals;

  • suspended Saudi Arabian Airlines flights to Toronto;

  • and stopped buying barley and wheat from Canada.

He also accused Canada of meddling in his sovereign nation’s internal affairs. His anger ignores the fact that the Canadian tweet used a relatively diplomatic term, “urge.” It didn’t “demand,” it didn’t “insist.” It also specifically referred to “peaceful” activists.

Should Canada have made its view known through traditional diplomatic channels? Possibly. Although Trump has pretty much rendered conventional diplomacy obsolete with his own inflammatory tweets.

Like Trump, bin Salman takes any criticism of his policies personally.

Saudi Foreign Minister Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir ruled out mediation. He warned of further measures to further punish Canada. It was Canada’s fault, he said:  “There is nothing to mediate. A mistake has been made and a mistake should be corrected.”

Different sets of values

How can a simple – and relatively mild – tweet lead to such a conflagration? Basically,  think, we misread the core beliefs of the Saudi ruling family. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, the ultimate patriarchy. As such, it bans political activism. It deals harshly with dissidents. One of the activists for whom Canada pleaded has been sentenced to 100 lashes and ten years in prison.

Last month, it crucified – yes, crucified! – a man convicted of theft, murder, and attempted rape.

Earlier this  year, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman did permit women to drive — the last country in the world to do so. But many of the those who campaigned for women’s right to drive have since been arrested and imprisoned.

In the same way, though, the Crown Prince failed to recognize Canadian core beliefs.

The new national religion

As reader Steve Roney, currently teaching in the United Arab Emirates, pointed out recently, we no longer expect to impose our religion, Christianity, on other nations. But we will not tolerate their rejection of our science, our technology (including medicine), and especially our human rights. These have become an unofficial religion in Canada.

We expect any nation, anywhere, to welcome our polio vaccines. Our mines. Our money. And whether it’s Indigenous peoples in Canada, victims of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, slaves in Sudan, or young girls facing genital mutilation in Somalia, human rights are sacred.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared, “Canadians have always expected our government to speak strongly, firmly, clearly and politely about the need to respect human rights at home and around the world… We will continue to stand up for Canadian values and indeed for universal values and human rights at any occasion.”

Trudeau is right not to back down. If human rights are indeed our new religion, they are not negotiable. Canada must speak up in their favour. Even if taking a stand has economic consequences.

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Copyright © 2018 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups encouraged; links from other blogs welcomed; all other rights reserved. To send comments, to subscribe, or to unsubscribe, write jimt@quixotic.ca

Toronto – still Toronto “the good”   Leave a comment

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan DenetteFirst responders close down Yonge Street in Toronto after a van mounted a sidewalk, crashing into a number of pedestrians on April 23, 2018. The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette

 

Following the horrific event, and tragedy, that happened in Toronto, Canada on Monday, April 23, 2018, there has been plenty of commentary. Ten people are dead; fifteen were injured, thousands are traumatized. How could this happen in Toronto?

Stephen Marche has reflected on all of this, and whether it will “change Toronto” in a posting on Walrus Magazine’s website. Some of what March wrote is:

“Because the people of Toronto, at their best anyway, know that any time you put people into pre-established categories, you’re most likely being an idiot. That’s the reason to move here after all: to live in a place where they won’t put you in a box. The city doesn’t always live up to this ideal of inclusion. It fails often, even. But I believe, in a very serious way, that the aspiration towards openness and tolerance remains real. Multiculturalism works here. Everybody knows it. The ceos of the banks know it. The kids scrounging WiFi outside the libraries after hours know it. The convenience store owners know it. Drake knows it. The old wasps in the upscale Rosedale neighbourhood know it. No random act of violence is going to shake that knowledge.”

The whole article that Marche created is available at: The Walrus

 

Posted April 25, 2018 by allanbaker in Canadian society

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Change for the common good   Leave a comment

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Take Responsibility!

March 24, 2018 was the annual “Earth Hour”, when people voluntarily reduce their consumption of electricity for one hour.

A report on the behaviour of people in Toronto, from the CBC, notes that;

Several Toronto landmarks went dark tonight for Earth Hour, but Toronto Hydro says overall enthusiasm for the event has waned so much in recent years that they won’t supply numbers for energy use declines for this year’s event.” (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/earth-hour-toronto-2018-1.4592026 )

So, how are Canadians doing with consumption of another energy source – gasoline?

The David Suzuki Foundation reported this week that the increased sales of SUVs and light trucks has offset the increased fuel efficiency for autos, that has been mandated by governments in North America. For more information, read the David Suzuki Foundation report at: https://davidsuzuki.org/story/suvs-trucks-nullify-car-efficiency-gains/

These trends represent a challenge for change in behaviour. It is obvious that we are living in an economic / political system where human behaviour is resistant to change. Someone once said that the only ones who appreciate a change are babies with wet diapers.

Change is possible!

The CBC report referred to above also indicates that people in Toronto are saving on electricity use every day: Between 2006 and 2017, Toronto Hydro says 2,300 gigawatt hours of electricity have been saved in the city, which is enough energy to power 780 large condos.”

 

In addition, Canadian data shows that sales of electric-powered vehicles were up by 68 per cent in 2017. https://www.fleetcarma.com/electric-vehicle-sales-canada-2017/

Change for a better environment is happening every day!

 

Posted March 25, 2018 by allanbaker in econotheism, Environment

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Canada has yet to begin the process of reconciliation   Leave a comment

 

Tina Fontaine (left) and Colten Boushie (right).

We now have a responsibility to Tina Fontaine and Colten Boushie to face our structural racism and work toward decolonization together. So says columnist Stephanie Strachan in her column in the UC Observer.

http://www.ucobserver.org/society/2018/02/tina-fontaine-colten-boushie/