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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Toronto’s environment chair again expresses doubt about global warming (in The Toronto Star)

"Franz Hartmann, executive director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance, was ... perturbed.

"“It’s really unfortunate that Councillor Kelly is not paying attention to the vast amount of science that makes it clear climate change is happening and that it’s human-caused, and most importantly that it’s beginning to have an impact on the livability of our cities,” Hartmann said."

Full article: Toronto’s environment chair again expresses doubt about global warming.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Thomas Walkom: Canadian troops drawn into Mali’s war, despite what Prime Minister Stephen Harper says (in The Toronto Star)

"There are at least four different armed rebel groups operating in the country’s north. The National Movement for the Liberation of Azwad, a Tuareg separatist group, claims it holds the town of Kidal. It used to be allied with the Islamist Ansar Dine.

"Now, according to AP, the separatists say they want to work with the French against some (but not all) Islamists. But they say they will still fight Mali’s army which, according to reports from Reuters, is said to be busy executing those who look Tuareg in towns liberated by the French. ...

"In November, [Niger’s Foreign Minister Mohamed] Bazoum told the foreign affairs commission of France’s National Assembly that Mali’s former president, deposed last year by the army, had given AQIM [Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb] free rein in the north in exchange for a share of the terror group’s lucrative kidnapping revenues.

"There. I hope all of this explains why we’re militarily involved (or, as the Harper government would say, not militarily involved) in this war."

Full article: Canadian troops drawn into Mali’s war, despite what Prime Minister Stephen Harper says.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Haroon Siddiqui: Nightmare scenario for Sandra Pupatello (in The Toronto Star)

"The first priority for the new premier should be to recall the legislature and try to make it work.

"Kathleen Wynne is best positioned to do so. She has a seat, unlike Pupatello, who has to engineer a byelection and win it.

"Finance Minister Dwight Duncan is ready to resign his Windsor seat for her. But there is no guarantee that this cynical political ploy by the party establishment would not engender voter backlash.

"The nightmare scenario for the Liberals would be that they would have sacrificed their ace finance minister for a leader who failed to win a seat."

Full article: Siddiqui: Nightmare scenario for Sandra Pupatello.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Benjamin Gillies: Finland offers lessons in equality for educators (in The Toronto Star)

"... Canadians should be proud of their own education system, which also holds up well when ranked internationally. Still, Finland continues to outperform us, and does so while actually spending about 13 per cent less per student than Canada does. As such, though we are different countries with separate cultures, perhaps there are lessons for Canada to learn from this successful Nordic state and its approach to education — that focused on equity, but ended up with excellence."

Full article: Finland offers lessons in equality for educators.

Benjamin Gillies is a political economy graduate from the University of Manitoba, where he focused on urban development and energy policy. He works as a consultant in Winnipeg.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Tom Mulcair: It is not too late for the prime minister to ... begin a new dialogue with First Nation, Inuit and Métis peoples (in The Toronto Star)

"When Europeans came to this land and interacted with the indigenous people living here, they made treaties on a nation-to-nation basis. While Canada was still a colony, the Royal Proclamation of 1763, exactly 250 years ago, actually used the word “nations” to describe the indigenous peoples.

"But this relationship has suffered from years of federal government policies based on segregation, and then assimilation. Policies that led to tragic social injustices and denied indigenous communities a full seat at the table where consensus could be built and where the rights of consent and consultation could be respected. ...

"The Canadian family shares a tremendous inheritance, but the Government of Canada has been a poor trustee.

"It is not too late for the prime minister to rise above the petty partisanship that too often drives his government and change course. To begin a new dialogue with First Nation, Inuit and Métis peoples to replace the broken relationship he has helped create."

Tom Mulcair calls for respectful, nation-to-nation relations with aboriginal peoples.

Tom Mulcair is Leader of the Official Opposition in the Parliament of Canada.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Thomas Walkom: Mali crisis sees Canada being drawn into another war (in The Toronto Star)

"Slowly, inexorably, Canada and the world are being drawn into Mali.

"The wise people say intervention is necessary. They say we must prevent the West African nation from becoming a springboard for terrorist attacks on Europe.

"The wise people almost always say intervention is necessary. Fifty years ago, equally wise people urged intervention in Vietnam to prevent what was then called the “domino effect” — the fall of Southeast Asia to Communism.

"We all know where that went. ...

"The rest of us can be forgiven for being confused. Until last week, a significant number of Canadians would have had trouble locating Mali on a map. Now we are being told its fall to these rebels — whoever they are — would threaten Western civilization.

"And perhaps it would. But forgive us if we are ever so slightly skeptical. We have heard these stories before."

Full article: Mali crisis sees Canada being drawn into another war.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Rick Salutin: Whose country is it, anyways (in The Toronto Star)

"In the National Post, columnist George Jonas writes that the “ultimate solution” — a poor choice of phrase — for native peoples is to “end special status” by “fashioning an entry for native Canadians into the mainstream of society” because “people must join the century in which they live.” In this respect he says residential schools were based on the right “model” even though their effects were “abominable.”

"So there’s Jonas, who immigrated in the 1950s as a young Hungarian who was also Jewish, telling aboriginal Canadians, whose ancestors trekked across the land bridge in the Bering Strait, oh, 12,000 to 14,000 years ago by recent guesstimates and have been “here” ever since, a while before there was a thing called Canada — that they must discard their sense of self and join the “mainstream” as he decrees it is. With no hint of irony. ...

"I live for the happy day when Canadians don’t tell each other what the mainstream is and what they’re obliged to do to gain “entry” to it."

Full article: Salutin: Whose country is it, anyways.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Martin Papillon: Provinces need to be at negotiating table with natives (in The Toronto Star)

"Real substantive change in the relationship between First Nations and Canada will have to involve provincial governments.

"Provinces, not the federal government, are responsible for the management of public lands, natural resources, education, health care and many other key policy areas at the core of First Nations demands.

"This won’t be easy. First Nations, many of whom have signed treaties with the Crown, are reluctant to engage in formal relations with provinces.

"Treaties, they argue, established a nation-to-nation relationship with the Crown in Right of Canada, not the provinces. ...

"It may be time for everyone to take a deep breath, sit down and talk. The federal-provincial division in responsibilities over First Nations made sense from a colonial perspective 100 years ago. In the era of aboriginal rights and self-determination, it doesn’t anymore."

Full article: Provinces need to be at negotiating table with natives.

Martin Papillon is an associate professor of political studies at the University of Ottawa.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Linda McQuaig: Canada’s energy juggernaut hits a native roadblock (in The Toronto Star)

"Canadians have reason to be ashamed of our treatment of aboriginals — from residential schools to the continuing failure to provide basic necessities like water, housing and education to people whose ancestors were here long before ours arrived.

"Ironically, their insistence on their constitutional rights, as Palmater [Pam Palmater, a Mi’kmaq and spokesperson for Idle No More] notes, may be the last best hope of Canadians to reverse our own culture’s reckless disregard for the dictates of Mother Earth, who ultimately is more demanding and unforgiving even than the global economy. Rising GDP levels won’t mean much if we’re swamped by rising sea levels.

"The very least we can do is to get behind this ragtag group that has, in a few short weeks, shown more wisdom than our “advanced” society has mustered in decades."

Full article: McQuaig: Canada’s energy juggernaut hits a native roadblock.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Tim Harper: A year of extreme weather could put the heat on Ottawa’s environmental indifference (in The Toronto Star)

"Sometimes a scientific study so exhaustive, so authoritative and so alarming arrives in the public discourse that it simply cannot be ignored.

"And sometimes the timing and content of such a study merely confirms what should be evident to any thinking person anywhere on this planet.

"Such is the case with The National Climate Assessment, a draft of which was released in Washington Friday and is open for public comment beginning Monday, 1,000 dispiriting pages distilling the work of more than 300 scientists and experts. ...

"The White House Office of Science and Technology twice stressed in a Friday response that the climate assessment report is a scientific study, not a policy document.

"But the study is loaded with warnings of sweltering heat, hotter nights taking a toll on livestock, huge ocean swells, blackouts, health risks and mass transit failures.

"When the Conservatives killed the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy last year, Environment Minister Peter Kent said it was no longer needed because there was plenty of independent climate change information on the Internet.

"If that’s the case, Kent should go to the website."

Full article: Tim Harper: A year of extreme weather could put the heat on Ottawa’s environmental indifference.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Chantal Hébert: Harper squanders chance to set new course with First Nations (in The Toronto Star)

"Canadians are quick to cast judgment on the Americans and the entrenched societal reflexes that prevent them from arriving at consensual outcomes on health care or on the place of guns in their society.

But some similar blockages have long crippled our national conversation and reduced the capacity of those who govern Canada to recast some fundamental relationships.

Political will — as was shown at the time of the Meech and Charlottetown debates — has obvious limitations when it does not intersect with the popular will. ...

"Does not anyone remember the quasi-hysterical reaction and the over-the-top language that attended the adoption of a mere House of Commons resolution dealing with Quebec’s national status in 2006 in some otherwise mainstream quarters?

"Or what about the vitriolic comments that so routinely make their way below media stories related to Quebec these days that many no longer take notice of them?

"There are many admirable features to Canada’s attachment to a civic form of nationalism but the tendency to use it to refuse to come to terms with the distinctive elements that are at the root of the country’s identity is not one of them."

Full article: Hébert: Harper squanders chance to set new course with First Nations.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Joe Fiorito: Feds should be idle no more (in The Toronto Star)

"In my opinion, people thrive when they are in control of their own lives and in charge of their own resources.

"The federal government should be idle no more in these matters."

Full article: Fiorito: Feds should be idle no more.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Kai Nagata: Progressives need a say in federal Liberal leadership race (in The Toronto Star)

"The larger our voting bloc, the more powerful our ability to shape internal policy conversations. The more focused we are on co-operation, the more the candidates will have to acknowledge our concerns and articulate where they stand. Some have already.

"I’ve spoken to people high up in the NDP, the Greens and Liberals who really do want to work together — and think this strategy has potential. There are many people in these parties capable of basic arithmetic, and they harbour a very reasonable fear of losing again. ...

"If the NDP, Liberals and Greens can’t find a way not to cancel out each other’s efforts, Harper will cruise straight to another victory. Electing a Liberal leader who understands this is our first, best chance of stopping it."

Full article: Progressives need a say in federal Liberal leadership race.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Alex Himelfarb: The mean test: Have we stopped caring about Canada’s most vulnerable? (in The Toronto Star)

"When governing is all short-term economic growth, then aboriginal rights and environmental protections become inconveniences to be ignored or managed. Refugees, the unemployed and the poor come to be seen and treated as freeloaders, a drag on the economy, rather than fellow citizens, often victims of an increasingly mean version of capitalism. And criminals are turned into convenient scapegoats for our fears and discontents, the most heinous offences and frightening offenders used to blind us to the reality that those are people in our prisons, most of whose lives could be repaired.

"Our leaders try to convince us that the health of the so-called job creators is more important than that of the weakest among us....

"On measures of equality, we are slipping to the bottom relative to other rich countries.

"The debate brewing about how to measure success is not just about measurement."

Full article: The mean test: Have we stopped caring about Canada’s most vulnerable?.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Michael Valpy: Canada’s new politics of discord could carry a heavy price (in The Toronto Star)

"... in a society where the well-educated are seen as possessing an unequal hold on power and an unequal share of the country’s socio-economic fruits, Harper and his Conservatives have been successful at presenting themselves as the voice of Canadians who incongruously have the short end of the inequality stick that government policies have allowed to grow. ...

"Is Harper aware that his government’s policies are not in step with the country’s default values? One of Canada’s most astute political scientists, McGill University’s Antonia Maioni, suggests that he is, and that by employing what she calls a calibrated move to the right, he’s creating what Canadians in time will come to see as a new normal.

"A big gamble. A dangerous gamble."

Full article: Canada’s new politics of discord could carry a heavy price.