Archive for the ‘democracy’ 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.”–

 

Acting on Climate Change   Leave a comment

The release of the most recent report by the IPCC (October 6, 2018) has motivated me to abandon my passivity and write a letter to the Premier of Ontario concerning the price of carbon emissions in Ontario. I hope that, for the sake of our common environment, and life on Earth as we have known it, many others will also be taking similar actions.

If we believe in democracy, we have to believe that the political class will hear what we have to say.

 

My letter of October 22, 2018 is as follows:

October 22, 2018

Dear Premier Ford;

What will a 1.5 degree Celsius rise in global temperature mean for the “the people” of Ontario?

On October 6, 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) spelled it out in plain, damning details. The question now is: who listened?

Will the leadership in our Province of Ontario pay attention to these urgent warnings and start facilitating and implementing solutions at the pace required to forestall climate disaster? How do you suggest that we respond when our children, and grandchildren, ask us in 20 years time about what we did to prevent the type of climate catastrophes that were predicted in 2009 when James Hansen published, “Storms Of My Grandchildren”?

A week after the publication of the IPCC report, the Globe and Mail, a conservative voice in Canada, editorialized on this issue. The conservative Globe and Mail advocates a policy of taking immediate and effective action to deal with the rise in the temperature of our Earth’s atmosphere. As their editorial states; “every bit of warming hurts”.

The policy advocated by the Globe and Mail is also a policy that has been thoroughly researched by the person who was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics, William Nordhaus. As the Globe editorial states; “Mr. Nordhaus is not some lefty. His work shows that a carbon tax is the most efficient way to lower emissions, because it depends on market forces rather than on direct regulation.”

In the 2018 election campaign I heard that a Ford government would promote “efficiency”. A carbon tax, Mr. Nordhaus says, is “efficient”.

As you know, the Province of British Columbia has demonstrated that a carbon tax has been good for its economy, AND good for the environment. They have ten years of experience in this. You might ask their Premier if you wish to have additional information on how the economy of British Columbia has actually grown with a carbon tax in place.

The editorial to which I have been referring concludes with a call to action:

the UN and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences have shown that fighting climate (change) is the world’s most important collective endeavour, and that carbon taxes are the best way to join that fight. Canada must do its bit.”

We are part of a global village Mr. Ford.

  • The science says we must act now.

  • We have a means of acting effectively.

  • British Columbia has shown that it can be done.

Let’s have a meaningful carbon tax here in Ontario as soon as possible. We can do our part.

Yours truly;

Allan Baker

Cc Rod Phillips, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks

Cc Andrea Horwath, NDP Leader

Cc Mike Schreiner, Green Party Leader

Cc Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

 

 

One Face of resistance in Ontario   Leave a comment

Sally McLean was arrested after she refused to leave the Ontario legislature’s public gallery in an act of protest. This courageous 73 year-old woman explains why she thinks she is obligated to stand up for democracy, and against injustice.

https://ucobserver.org/society/2018/09/sally_mclean_queens_park_arrest/

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Take Responsibility

 

Posted September 21, 2018 by allanbaker in Canadian society, Politics

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A Tale of Two Narratives   Leave a comment

Challenges await Venezuela’s Maduro as he wins a second term

Closing of a voting table at about 7 pm Sunday in the teacher’ college in Ali Primera park, Caracas. Photo: Jim Hodgson

To no one’s surprise, Nicolas Maduro has won a second term as president of Venezuela. And again (not a surprise) we see two narratives developing about what happened here on Sunday.

Our Canadian labour observer delegation saw an election that was expertly run, had good participation, and which had no fraud that was evident to us. Granted, we were mostly in the poorer neighbourhoods where support for Maduro is highest — the neighbourhoods where the majority of Venezuelans live.

Meanwhile, even by mid-afternoon, the international media were reporting a low turnout and complaints of fraud.

“Polls close as opposition cries foul,” said the BBC. Such reports cited opposition candidate Henri Falcon who by mid-day had registered 350 complaints about the process. By the time the polls closed, he registered more than 900.

Around mid-day, the United States declared it would not recognize the result. Other countries, including Canada, are expected to follow suit.

In the end, the vote was not close. Maduro won with 5.8 million votes. His principal opponent, Henri Falcon, had about 1.8 million. Voter turnout was 48 per cent.

“We are the force of history turned into popular victory,” Maduro told supporters gathered outside the Miraflores presidential palace after results were announced. Promising to be a president for all Venezuelans, he renewed his call for dialogue. “Permanent dialogue is what Venezuela needs,” he said.

For Maduro, the negative international reaction, while predictable, will be a problem. Existing sanctions already hurt the country’s ability to make purchases abroad. Companies and banks are now reluctant to engage with any Venezuelan purchaser, making access to food and medicine imports ever more difficult — and provoking shortages that have a direct impact the lives of ordinary people. To make matters worse, U.S. administration officials have warned of new sanctions that could reduce Venezuela’s oil exports.

Some problems are home-made. Despite concerted efforts, corruption is still an issue. I spoke with a young doctor who supports the government and deplores the diversion of medicine from Venezuela to Colombia. “People who do that are traitors,” he said.

Venezuela also suffers from hyperinflation and some of the world’s highest crime rates.

Maduro has promised a new national dialogue to achieve some way of living with the opposition. The problem is that at least since their failed coup attempt in 2002, most opposition forces have shown little or no interest in any solution other than complete capitulation or regime change through force: another coup or foreign military intervention.

The most concerted effort to bring opponents into the present electoral process collapsed in early February after months of international mediation led by the Dominican Republic. A previous Vatican-led effort also failed.

The challenges are immense, and there will be no honeymoon for this president as he begins a second term.

Yet Venezuelans merit attention and solidarity as they try to find a way forward. Democracy is supposed to be about the people ruling. Venezuela is one of a handful of countries remaining where the poorest people have wrested control away from the rich who used political structures to maintain economic privileges.

This column originally appeared on Rabble.ca

 

 

Good News in the Forest   Leave a comment

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The Great Bear Rainforest agreement has been decades in the making.   Photo by Jens Wieting.

Good news from Canada’s west coast arrived last week.

20 First Nations; advocates for the environment; government(s) and forestry companies all endorsed a land use planning agreement concerning the Great Bear Rainforest. Although negotiations took too much time, and there were countless protests by environmental advocates, the accord is an illustration of what good-hearted people can accomplish.

Read more about this agreement at: http://thetyee.ca/News/2016/02/01/Great-Bear-Rainforest-Deal/

Climate Depression   Leave a comment

Naomi Klein counsels all of us NOT to succumb to “climate depression”, but to continue to act to reduce carbon emissions, AND to speak up. In her book, This Changes Everything, she says that little has happened to reduce carbon emissions because the actions that would do so, and benefit the vast majority of humankind, “are extremely threatening to an elite minority”.

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Winter 2014 on Lake Ontario

She also writes that, “during the same years that our governments failed to enact a tough and binding legal architecture requiring carbon emissions, supposedly because cooperation was too complex, they managed to create the World Trade Organization – an intricate global system that regulates the flow of goods and services around the planet, under which the rules are clear and violations are harshly penalized.”

Is it any wonder that the agreement reached in Paris in December 2015 did not have legally binding provisions?

Addressing climate change cannot be relegated to governments, and the political elite. It is what all of us can do, both as individuals and as a part of grassroots communities that demonstrate that the power to do the right thing will not be taken away from us.

 

Beyond Voting: The Fetishization of the Ballot Box   Leave a comment

Efforts to get people to vote, complete with ballot-box selfies, loomed large on social media, but when casting a ballot is treated as the noblest thing you can do in a democracy, it accommodates a status quo of incredibly narrow choices.

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An excellent reflection on this important issue, written by Matthew Behrens, is available at:

https://nowtoronto.com/news/the-now-guide-to-the-2015/beyond-%23elxn42/

Posted October 20, 2015 by allanbaker in Canadian society, Idle No More, Politics

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