Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dec. 14: Ah, come on....

...for the fourth issue in a row, The Moncton Times and Transcript has a front page story about a book by a former Brunswick News staffer. Again, it's pure gush by the same reporter, Marty Klinkenberg. Again, it tells you that it costs just $29.95 (plus tax), making it the ideal Christmas gift (perhaps for someone you don't like but have to buy something for.)  And it tells you where you can get it. If you live in Moncton, you can get it - guess where?  The office of The Moncton Times and Tribune. Yes. And on Monday, it will appear in bookstores all over the province.  I mean, just all over.

The questionable story in section A is a story that a poll (again, by Corporate Research Associates) shows New Brunswickers split, 45% for and 45% against - and 10% undecided on the question of shale gas.  83% worry about it despite even strict regulations. 64% feel it will yield long-term benefits. 

How are those last two figures possible? Do they mean half of those who worry that it might destroy the environment feel that the long term benefit is worth destroying the environment? I'd love to know the questions that produced such confused answers. But, again, CRA doesn't tell us exactly what the questions were.

Oh, yes.  The 45% who favoured shale gas, favoured it "in principle". What on earth does that mean? Either we approve of something or we don't. Exactly what does approving in principle mean? People use the term commonly - but the meaning is never clear.  Try this one, for example,

"Do you approvae of  abortion in principal?"

"Yes. But I believe God will send you to  hell if you have one."  Is that a yes or a no?

Again, Corporate Research Institute does not supply us with the questions. And, again, the CEO pontificates on the meaning of the survey, and concludes it will take strict regulations before the public will accept the idea of producing shale gas.

This combination of unstated questions, seemingly vague ones (as in "in principle") combined with CRA's record of service essentially for private business, and with the CEO's habit of preaching at the end all make CRA polls on public affairs highly suspect.

It does, though, give us a hint of what the Allward government plans to do.The survey, in fact, may have  been designed to be the opening shot in Allward's next move.  He will puff and blow about passing strict regulations (something both Liberals and Conservatives have been puffing and blowing for a decade with no results), and about strict enforcement - which hasn't happened at all.

He will use the poll as evidence he is listening to the people.

In regard to enforcement, check out the lead story in NewsToday "Environment rules not enforced: watchdog". This story is in reference to the federal government. In fact, lax enforcement is notable, it seems, wherever the fossil fuels industries operate. And, in that context, New Brunswick has a particularly stinking record.

In any case, it doesn't matter how strict the rules are or how well they are enforced. Accidents will still happen. And, once they happen, it's too late for enforcement. As well, the present technology in shale gas development is still so new that we don't have anything close to an idea of what regulations are needed - or whether any regulations at all will ensure safety.

Allward's hope will be that New Brunswickers can be fooled yet again - and he can latch onto that sixty percent who are naive enough to believe that government regulations will solve the problem. They don't seem to have solved the problem anywhere else in the world. But New Brunswick will be different.


There is an important story in the NewsToday section that the Pentagon has severe doubts about the F-35 fighter plane. Why is that important? Because the Harper government has committed itself to that extremely expensive plane as the major weapon of our armed forces. Its price is still rising out of control; and the experts in the Pentagon seriously doubt the future of the F-35.

Harper and Mackay can look patriotic and all that to pump up the defence budget, and stock up on the latest  goodies. . But first we should made sensible choices about what our armed forces should equipped to do - and then make some sensible choices about what to buy for them. So far, they've been willing to spend. But they don't seem to have been willing (or able?) to think.

There's a story that puts the dead in Syrian fighting at 5,000. Isn't that interesting? We have a count of the dead in Syria while the fighing is going on. But we don't yet have a count of the dead in Libya even though we stopped the killing there weeks ago. Funny how Reuters can find some numbers, but not others.

Oh, and there's no mention that Libya has been slipping into a civil war. It seems some factions don't want the same kind of democracy that others to - and some don't want it at all.  So much for our "humantarian" bombing to bring stability and democracy to Libya.

On the editorial page, Norbert Cunningham agrees that climate change is a serious problem. Predictably, though, he feels it's a problem best left to private industry to solve. The part he seems to have missed is that private industry has demonstrated pretty bluntly that it has no interest in solving the problem. And that's true whetther the private interests are based in the US or Canada or China or India.

The op ed page, as is too usual, is a waste of time. People need some substantial commentary to make meaning out of the news. The Times and Transcript has little news to start with - and far too little comment of any substance.


  1. If you can read french, you should take a look at the most recent issue of "L'Actualité". It has an interesting story by Alec Castonguay about the F-35's and how the costs of the jets is set to skyrocket (pun not intended)

  2. If I can read French? Hey! I'm from Montreal's north end where it's almost solid French. I can outswear any Acadian who ever lived.