John Baird and thoughts on this article please

How green is your valley, John Baird?
Plus: justice for Mahar Arar; and Dippers rediscovering the lunch bucket.

Dateline: Monday, January 29, 2007
by Ish Theilheimer
So much to write about and only one hand since my December 29 wrist fracture, but here goes:

As Straight Goods readers know, we haven't chosen to call the government of Stephen Harper "Harpocrites" because of their endless efforts to conceal their true selves and their real agenda. Now, they are working feverishly to swath themselves in green. Balance the glory they receive every time they announce another half-measure revived from their Liberal predecessors, against some international acid tests of environmental commitment, which the government appears poised to fail.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) remains voluntary. Countries often refuse to pay their contributions and Canada is one such. Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) recently decided that it will not be responsible in future for Canada's approximately $1m per year payment. UNEP's total annual budget is roughly a third of that for Environment Canada.
Germany has asked Canada to support its incentives at the G8 to "avoid deforestation". Canada has not stepped up.

The UNEP Governing Council will meet next week in Nairobi. Much of the time will be spent worrying about finding enough funding to continue operations. Although a ministerial segment is scheduled, featuring a discussion of globalization and the environment, Minister Baird is almost certain not to attend. Why not, we wonder, if he cares so much?

The German government is hosting the G8 meeting this June in Rostock. A meeting of G8 environment ministers will take place in March. The Germans have signalled their intent to put forestry and environment issues on the G8 agenda. They have circulated a discussion paper promoting government and the private sector partnerships to promote sustainability.

The Germans have explicitly approached Canada to seek its support in the G8 for a program that would fast-track pilot projects leading to an
international system of payments/markets for "avoided deforestation." This measure would help protect existing global carbon reservoirs, reduce the 30 percent contribution of land use change to greenhouse gas build-up, and promote biological diversity. Somehow, our government doesn't support this sensible approach.

Sustainable forestry is a proven antidote to global warming. Will any Opposition MP ask John Baird about his views on sustainable forestry, in the House?

Opposition parties could also ask him how he feels about the fact that Department of Fisheries and Oceans is apparently opposed to any G8-led program of cooperation between governments and the private sector that would promote sustainability in the fishing industry.

In the absence of effective regulation, multinational fishing fleets are mopping up remaining wild marine fish stocks near the coastlines. They are now turning their attention to the 50 percent of the oceans that lie beyond national jurisdiction, using highly destructive practices such as bottom trawling on the fragile and biodiversity-rich seabed, amounts that rise up from the ocean floor, and scooping up the last of the world's tunas and other large predatory fish. What will Canada's getting-older government tell the G8 when talk turns to fishing, forestry and global warming? John Baird should be asked.
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It's about time Mahar Arar received some recompense for his suffering. He and his wife Monia Mazigh are shining examples of courage and decency. We wish them the best in repairing lives shattered by immoral actions of our top officials and those of other countries. The ongoing smears orchestrated by the RCMP, the pols, and most media outlets have been horrendous.
How many more innocents lie in cells and shackles, unjustly accused of political crimes? SG's story this week about Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day visiting three men held without charges for up to 6.5 years shows that Arar was not an isolated case.
Politicians benefit when so-called terrorist are arrested and held indefinitely, or when they are deported to countries where they face torture and death. They look tough — as Hilary Clinton is attempting to do, in true liberal fashion, by emphasizing strong support for "security," which, in current American parlance, means militarism and suspension of civil liberties.
The media and public must be vigilant not to get sucked into the spin traps of politicians who care more about votes than blood.
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It's also good to see NDP leaders Jack Layton (federal) and Howard Hampton (Ontario) campaigning on lunch bucket stuff like ATM fees, property taxes and a $10/hour minimum wage. Lefties all too easily get caught up in issues that are trendy with the chattering class. But it is the working class that elects Dippers in Canada and Dems in the States.
Mind you, the working class also elects right-wingers. People who work with their hands and backs tend to want politicians who can deliver useful, understandable benefits. The Right understands, but the Left often misses this seemingly obvious point.
There are some who believe class is no longer an issue. No one who works for someone else and comes home tired believes this. The face of the working class has changed over the years, blurring with the middle class to which many working-class people feel they belong. The large growth in the number of self-employed people, in the wake of corporate and public service cutbacks, has further blurred things. Many of those (us) non-employed struggle along on far less than our friends who have jobs and employment-related benefits. We may be at home, we may choose our own hours, but what we are doing feels a whole lot like working!
So please, Jack, Howie, Barack et al: do something about the corporate sharks circling and snapping.
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It's nice to see everyone agreeing with Straight Goods that an imminent federal election call is unlikely. After all, cui bono? Who benefits? No one. When we made this prediction in December, people thought we were wingy. Now it's common knowledge. Read SG to stay ahead of the curve.
Ish Theilheimer is Publisher of this leading, independent Canadian online magazine, and he founded Straight Goods in January 2000. Ish lives in the Ottawa Valley, in Golden Lake, Ontario.

Last edited by temperance; Feb 4th, 2007 at 09:43 AM..
7 of 10 heading in the correct direction, could be more specific less general.

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