Friday, May 16, 2014

May 16: Worse than usual....

There are two items worth reading in section A. The first is on the front page"Harper unveils national conservation strategy".

At first, that comes as quite a shock. This, after all, is the man who has shown nothing but contempt for environmental protection in this country. This is also the man who has done nothing but pitch for votes for re-election for months. That's what the grand and extravagant trip to Israel was all about. That's what the trip to Ukraine was all about - and his sword-waving speeches on Ukraine.

He has destroyed must of our existing environmental legislation to welcome resource companies with open arms.....Come to Canada. Destroy or forests. Destroy our freshwater and our salt water. Pollute anything you like.

So why this conversion on the road to Damascus? There is no conversion. This, like his speech to the knesset in Israel, is grand but empty talk. In any case, he knows well that any real legislation would send resource companies (like Canadian mining companies) scampering for third world countries where they can loot and destroy and pollute and murder at will. In fact, recent treaties  (being signed by Harper among others) give the resource companies the right to sue countries like Canada for billions if they find environmental legislation in the way.

So, to mining companies, don't worry about this silly talk of environmental protection. Welcome to Canada, the Guatemala of the north.

On A5, there's a more realistic story "Via trends 'all bad' in report: advisor."

Like the story above, this one is about a promise to save Via Rial in the maritimes made by Harper to get elected. Nothing much is going to happen to rail service under Harper. This is another election year promise.

Harper is not going to make a government railway work. Harper hates any government owned business. Worse, he doesn't have a clue have to develop one. He will treat the new Via as though it were a private railway to be run and planned by private railway methods. It won't work. And that will be he excuse for closing it.

Via Rail could be a major factor in Harper's "national conservation strategy". But it won't be because he doesn't have a conservation strategy, anyway -and there is little, indeed, in his record to suggest he wants one.

In the banner headline of C1, it says Harper will not use federal budget surpluses to help provinces that are short of money - and whose offerings of services will have to be cut. Instead, it will use the money to cut taxes.

Very businesslike. Very Harper. Very New Brunswick. To these people, government is only about money, about balancing budgets. Like business, it's not about people at all. It's simply about business - profit and loss.

When Harper polishes his halo for balancing the budget, it never occurs to him (or to Alward) that government is not just about saving money. It's also about people. And it's people (not something abstract like provinces, but real people) who will suffer if he refuses to help provinces to meet those needs.

He also has more power to address contributing problems like the wage gap.

But Harper won't do any of that. His image of government is that it's just like a board of governors of a corporation. It's not. We elect governments to represent us. We are people. We are the ones who suffer as Harper uses his surpluses to happily cut taxes (for those who have enough money to pay taxes.)

The terrible mining accident in Turkey (C1) may be an important event to follow. Turkey seems to be becoming increasingly unstable - in a very unstable part of the world.

C11 has a pretty honest account of recent news from Ukraine. As you read it, particularly the second half of the story, it becomes obvious that Putin is the only national leader involved who has consistently looked for peaceful solutions. (The only, outsider  nation that had advanced peaceful solutions is Switzerland. Putin has welcomed it. Kyiv and the US and it's NATO allies have shown no interest.

The evidence is pretty strong. Russia is not looking for a war. But some very influential people in the US are.
Hats off to Norbert for a first-rate column on language in New Brunswick.

It never ceases to amaze me how courteous and friendly (most) New Brunswickers are. I suspect that is due in no small part to the language accommodations that have been made here. For those who find these accommodations grating, I can only suggest you try living for a few years in a place of language war - as Quebec was for most of my life there. I can well remember sharing a speaker's table with a premier of Quebec who spent the time pouring out his hatred of me. (We had never met before.)

He assumed that because I was anglo, I was rich. So he talked of how hard it was to be French in a province where all the French were poor, and the English rich. In fact, I had grown up a lot poorer than him. (He had gone to private school - something out of the question for me.) In fact, he came from a monied family - and was too ignorant to know that historically in Quebec, the English were poorer than the French.

Enjoy French and English. Yes, the situation could be better. But not much.

And good on Norbert.

Alec Bruce is excellent on Via rail, in the maritimes. The reality is that we desprately need to switch to other methods of transport. Anyone who seriously thinks we have a choice  is just whistling in the dark. It's going to be tough to make all the changes we have to make. And we're terribly hampered by the greed and short-sightedness of people in business, notably the automotive business.

Gwynne Dyer goes  way out of his usual field to deal with this. He talks about extreme changes that are coming down on us.  And they will come. And soon. And what we think about it won't matter.

But I don't know of any government in this country that is making any plans to deal with it. Business doesn't plan for it because business isn't interested in planning for anything that isn't already happening. The city council is planning an events centre for a world that will cease to exist before we can pay any significant part of its debt.

The provincial government has no plans for anything, so far as I can tell, oh, except to sell us on a fuel that is part of the problem.

And Harper? He, too, is part of the problem.

But read Gwynne Dyer. Read, especially,  his last sentence.

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