Stephen Harper

Wed, 2011-03-02 06:10Brendan DeMelle
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Major Cuts To Pollution Control Spending On The Horizon In Canada

A number of Canadian environmental policies and programs are facing significant budget cuts during the next year. Not surprisingly, reducing carbon emissions and air pollution are two of the areas facing the budget axe from Stephen Harper’s anti-science administration.

Environment Canada will endure a 14% reduction in funding (or $222 million) and the budget to combat global warming emissions and other air pollution will drop a massive 59% (from $240 million to below $100).

Mon, 2011-01-17 13:58Emma Pullman
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Why We Need to Stop Calling Tar Sands Oil "Ethical Oil"

There are few terms in the Canadian vernacular that irk me more than “ethical oil”.  Since Ezra Levant’s 2010 book “Ethical Oil” hit the scene, it’s become the favourite language for government newspeak, and the media.  Worst of all, its given tar sands proponents and the Conservative Government fodder for their debunked argument that tarsands oil is good for us

Levant’s book looks at the ethical cost of our addiction to oil, and argues that Alberta tar sands oil is more ethically responsible than oil imported from despotic regimes in the Sudan, Russia, and Mexico, where human rights issues are of concern. 

Though neither Harper nor our new Minister of Environmental Destruction have read the book, the term was exactly what the Conservatives needed to bolster the much-maligned tar sands.  Prior to the echochamber that ensued after the publication of Levant’s book,  tar sands oil was often characterized as “dirty” and “controversial” - much to the ire of the government.

 Levant may well have learned the art of spin early in his career while spending the summer in an internship arranged by the libertarian and clean energy/climate change enemy Charles G. Koch Foundation, or through his work with the Fraser Institute.  Levant himself coined the term “ethical oil” in 2009 after being involved in a panel on tar sands oil.  The spin doctor finished the 90-minute debate having not managed to convince his audience of the merits of the toxic oil.  Without admitting defeat, Levant quickly realized that he was going to have to find a different way to spin the dirty oil apart from economic arguments which just weren’t resonating with people. 

Fri, 2010-08-06 10:23Emily Murgatroyd
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Regina Newspaper Calls on Skeptics to Put Their Money Where There Mouth Is

Local Regina publication, Prairie Dog Magazine, is laying down the gauntlet by asking climate change skeptics to record their doubts on paper.

The magazine has created a declaration that outlines various scenarios for rejecting scientific consensus and has mailed it to several public figures who have openly expressed skepticism on the issue of global warming, including Stephen Harper, Margaret Wente, Rex Murphy, Tim Ball and Ross McKitrick amongst others. 

The plan to check in with the skeptics in 10 years is all about “accountability” and the magazine states that should they be wrong they will give credit where credit is due. And if they’re right…..it’s a sad bet to win.

Fri, 2010-02-12 09:50Richard Littlemore
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China gets it: The future belongs to low carbon industries

The international fight on climate change is a contest for economic development space, China’s chief climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua said recently.

Xie, who is also China’s vice-minister for the National Development and Reform commission, said:

“Countries with low-carbon industries will have a developmental advantage. Some people believe this is a global competition as significant as the space race in the cold war. “

This, woefully, is a message lost on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is fighting to keep Canada “an emerging energy superpower” devoted to one of the most carbon-intensive energy industries on earth.

Hmmm? I wonder who’s going to come out ahead here?

Sat, 2009-12-19 05:05Richard Littlemore
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Canada Demoted from "Honest Broker" to "Lunch Date"

There was a time - hell, there was half a century, beginning with the Nobel Prize-winning work of later-to-be-Prime Minister Lester Pearson in 1956 - when Canada could be counted upon as an honest broker on the world stage. It was a country that you wanted at the negotiating table, because it could be relied upon to take a prinicpled position and because it had the capacity to exercise a little influence in the North American sphere. Uncle Sam has never had the capcity to listen closely but when Canada spoke, at least they listened.

Alas, apparently no longer. Regardless that Canada can surely claim status as a fossil fuel “super-polluter,” we Canada didn’t make the short list of five countries that actually negotiated the Copenhagen Accord. Canada didn’t even make the long list of 17 countries that U.S. President Barack Obama gathered around him when he first arrived at COP15.

But there was one list that Harper topped: a group of mostly second-and third tier nations whose leaders were just bursting to tell the folks back home that they’d met the U.S. President. Admittedly, Harper and Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres had met Obama before. But they were reduced to rubbing shoulders with former East Block “giants” like the presidents of Georgia and Montenegro.

Mon, 2009-12-14 15:59Richard Littlemore
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Document shows Canada removing emission restrictions

As if Canada’s performance on climate were not already the second worst among all countries surveyed by GermanWatch for the Global Climate Change Performance Index (we were aced for last place by Saudi Arabia), new documents discovered by the CBC show the Conservative government actually looking to WEAKEN the pathetic greenhouse gas emission limits that barely restrain the Alberta oil and gas sector.

The government, which has presented no plan to meet its humiliating target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by three per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, is now leaning toward giving the oil and gas sector even more room to pollute, leaving the responsibility for reducing emissions (should the country ever decide to do so) on individuals and businesses outside the industry that is primarily responsible.

As long as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s oil patch buddies are making money, though, what can go wrong?

Tue, 2009-12-01 15:22Richard Littlemore
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Canadian Health Professionals Call for Climate Action

 The Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Nurses Association and the Canadian Federation of Medical Students have joined together to call on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to put the health of the world’s citizens first at the upcoming UN climate summit in Copenhagen. All three organizations called on the federal government to to commit to science-based reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to help protect the world’s people from the disastrous human consequences of climate change.

“Canada’s physicians strongly believe that the health of the world’s population must be the central consideration when governments deliberate on public policy whether at home or abroad,” says Anne Doig, president of the Canadian Medical Association. “In Copenhagen, Canada must step up and take a collaborative approach for action on climate change.

Mon, 2009-05-11 14:51Mitchell Anderson
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The Stephen Harper War on Climate Science

The government of Prime Minster Stephen Harper just appointed two “climate skeptics” with connections to the oil industry to important federal scientific bodies. The scientific community is appalled.

Mark Mullins, Executive Director of the right wing Fraser Institute has just been installed on the board of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), which funds university research projects including studies on climate change.

The Fraser Institute has a long history of unethical tactics around the so-called climate debate. Desmog blog readers will remember their ham handed attempts to discredit the largest peer-review exercise in scientific history, including a video targeted at youth. They have so-far received $120,000 from ExxonMobil.

Mullins (trained as an economist) makes no bones about his understanding of climate science: “the climate-change issue is somewhat sensational and definitely exaggerated.” You can listen to his entire wacky podcast here.

Besides his complete lack of scientific expertise, his obvious political bias and of course potential conflict with his current employer, Mullins does have one significant qualification important to the Harper government: his was a former policy advisor for Harper’s former party, the Canadian Alliance.

The other jaw-dropping intervention in the Canadian scientific community was the appointment of Harper’s “best friend” and climate denier John Weissenberger to the board of Canada Foundation for Innovation, which funds large research projects.

This is the second time that Harper picked a plum for his old buddy. In 2007, he appalled political observers by quietly appointing Weissenberger to be chief of staff to the Minister for Citizenship and Immigration.

Fri, 2009-02-20 14:08Kevin Grandia
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President Obama's best strategy for Harper and Climate Change

This just might be the soundest strategy for US President Obama to employ when dealing with Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the issue of climate change and greenhouse gas reduction.

obama-harper-hand-climate-change

Tue, 2009-01-13 23:17Jim Hoggan
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Canada to study economic impact of climate change

It’s hard to know whether to celebrate or to weep.

CanWest News Services reporter Mike de Souza has learned that the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper is calling for a lightning fast (eight-week), bargain basement ($40,000) report on the potential economic impacts of climate change in Canada.

We certainly laud the Prime Minister’s sudden interest, but if this is anything more than a public relations exercise designed to lobby the anti-science cohort in his own caucus, it is an affront - so terribly inadequate to the task as to only further humiliate Canada on the international stage.

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