Monthly Archives: February 2007

Enough theory – let’s see Kyoto in practice

Now that the latest UN report has ended debate on global warming (again), the alarmists must come up with a plan. Yes, I’m skeptical. But despite my own bouts of exasperation, I find all the shouting in public policy tiresome. So I decided to ask civilly what such a plan might look like. And it paid off.

No, really. I asked the main Canadian political parties, the Sierra Club of Canada and the David Suzuki Foundation about specific options for tacking Canada’s greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. The Tories didn’t respond. But everyone else was helpful.

First, they agreed that we do know the main sources of GHGs, thanks to Environment Canada’s 451-page National Inventory Report 1990-2004: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada (www.ec.gc.ca/pdb/ghg/inventory_report/2004_report/2004_report_e.pdf ). It says about half of GHGs come from three big sources (coal-, oil- and gas-fired power stations; the “upstream” extraction of fossil fuels including the tar sands; and heavy industry such as smelting, chemicals and cement), another quarter from transportation, followed in importance by residential and commercial use, agriculture and forestry, then other industry. Continue reading

A peasant uprising, and I like it

The 17th-century French wit Francois La Rochefoucauld said we are even more offended by criticism of our tastes than of our opinions. On the 25th anniversary of the Charter of Rights, his remark is painfully relevant to the debate on appointing judges, in which the best people seem to be having hysterics about a peasant uprising.

The Globe and Mail especially got the vapours over Conservative plans that its star columnist John Ibbitson called “perverting the rules” and “ideological contamination.” At the risk of boring you, the Tories actually made minor changes to the “judicial advisory committees” that vet prospective appointments to federal and provincial superior courts: adding a fourth federal government appointee, representing police, to the other three the feds appoint, with the remaining four chosen by the relevant provincial government, the law societies, the Canadian Bar Association and other judges; limiting the judges’ appointee to voting only as a tie-breaker; and limiting the committees to yea-or-nay pronouncements on applicants. Hardly a coup d’état. But, cried the Globe and other critics, the Tories are appointing Tories to their other three panel spots.

Can you imagine? Tories. Ugh. Vulgar persons who openly favour law and order. Not our sort, dear. Not at all. When Liberals appointed progressive-minded members to approve progressive-minded jurists, all was well. Now, according to two days of polemics by the Globe (including front-page stories and a lead editorial) and progressive politicians, our cherished constitutional principle of judicial independence is jeopardized. But the philosophically vacant tone of their complaints suggests smelling salts as a remedy. Continue reading

Oh, the shameless hypocrisy of politicians

“Where the devil was the United Nations?’ bellowed its former special envoy for HIV/ AIDS in Africa, Stephen Lewis, last week in Ottawa.” So reports the latest Maclean’s, describing Mr. Lewis’s reaction to a report that 530,000 more children were infected by HIV in 2006. Well, he should know.

I mean that. He should know where the UN was because he was its special envoy on that exact topic. I wasn’t. You weren’t. So why’s he asking us? Why doesn’t he know? How can it be that, in an era of great faith in government in the abstract, so many politicians seem as clueless as they are uncurious about actual government?

For instance, Garth Turner. In his second tour as MP, he went from Tory to Independent to Liberal. And yes, I consider it an important safeguard of our constitutional freedoms, or what’s left of them, that MPs be able to cross the floor in any direction. Whether Mr. Turner and the Liberals will have a long, happy relationship or one marked by flying plates remains to be seen. But I firmly defend his right to move in and out of various caucuses. Continue reading

If climate change is real, tell us what to do about it

Oh, dear. The debate on global warming just ended. Again.

On Saturday Globe and Mail editor-in-chief Edward Greenspon wrote that his newspaper “decided that we would also turn 2007 into our year of going green” because “We concluded that debate over whether global warming and climate change actually exists was over …” Yes, the same Globe and Mail that nine years ago told us “It appears 1998 will go down as the year that atmospheric and scientific evidence finally put to rest any doubt that the planet is being subjected to global warming, with human activity the probable cause.”

Talk about a story with legs. In February 2000, Maclean’s asserted that: “Now, what was once a hotly debated theory – that a vast layer of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other man-made gases in the atmosphere are causing the Earth’s envelope to heat up – has hardened into near certainty.” In October 2000 the New York Times announced that “Scientists Now Acknowledge Role of Humans in Climate Change.” In 2001, the National Post said “Scientists have dispelled most of the lingering doubts about the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere with new evidence from satellites orbiting the Earth.” Continue reading