Stephen Harper

New Franke James Video: Give Harper the Call

Even as the Harper government works overtime to represent the oil industry (and humiliate Canadians) at climate talks in Durban, South Africa, the tireless and ridiculously optimistic Franke James tries again to make her point: that tying the Canadian economy - and the world's future - to dirty oil is “fuelish.”

Click and enjoy:

Artist Franke James has Harper quaking in fear

If Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is this frightened, then we can only assume that the visual artist from Toronto, Franke James, is THAT scary!

As reported most recently in the Toronto Star, the Canadian government - so often now referred to as the “Harper government” - stands accused of trying to block a presentation of James’s art in capitals across Europe. And in a way, who can blame them? The official Canadian position these days is that toxic stuff is good for you (or good for us - and who really cares about you?). Whether it’s “ethical oil” dredged out of the tar sands in one of the most environmentally damaging variations of any oil exploitation, or asbestos, peddled to any impoverished nation still so desperate as to use it, Canada is officially in the poison-for-profit business. When some lippy woman stands up and suggests that this is a bad thing, it makes the government look - well, like shills for dirty industries - and it compromises the chances that those dirty industries have of enjoying even greater profit. No wonder Stephen Harper’s henchpeople refer to James as “that woman!”

Canada Causes Cancer: Government & Industry Collude to Keep Asbestos Off UN Hazardous Chemical List

Last week, the Canadian government successfully and unilaterally stonewalled efforts to list chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous chemical at a United Nations conference in Switzerland. 

According to Michael Stanley-Jones of the UN Environment Program, “[Canada] intervened in the chemicals contact group meeting … and opposed listing”. This is the third time that Canada has derailed efforts to list the deadly mineral under the Rotterdam Convention.

Following Canada’s lead, the only countries that opposed listing asbestos under the convention were Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam. Even India, one of Canada’s largest asbestos customers and the leader behind efforts at COP 4 against listing, changed its stance.

Canada Hides 20 Percent Tar Sands Annual Pollution Increase from UN

The Canadian federal government deliberately excluded data documenting a 20 percent increase in annual pollution from Alberta's tar sands industry in 2009. That detail was missing from a recent 567-page report on climate change that Canada was required to submit to the United Nations.

According to Postmedia News, Canada left the most recent numbers out of the report, a national inventory on Canada’s greenhouse gas pollution. The numbers are used to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions and prevent catastropic climate change. It is certainly not the first time that Canada has dragged its feet on its international climate obligations, but omission of vital information is a new low, even for them.

Facing Four More Years of Harper Inaction, Canadians Must Rally Their Own Climate Leadership

Earlier this week, Canadians flocked to the polls for the fourth time in 7 years. This time around, the election was triggered when the minority government led by Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper was found in contempt of parliament in March for failing to release information related to the costs of proposed crime legislation and the purchase of stealth fighter jets.

From the moment the election was announced, Harper derided it as ‘unnecessary’, and ‘unwanted’ even though public polling clearly indicated widespread displeasure with his handling of the economy, public programming including programs for women, the environment, and for proroguing parliament twice. After the 2008 election, when voter turnout was the lowest in Canadian history (59% overall, and a dismal youth turnout of 37%), people wondered if this so-called ‘unwanted’ election would fail to motivate voters to the polls.

While pundits and pollsters made their best guesses leading up to election day, no one correctly anticipated the outcome. With just under 40% of the vote, the Conservatives finally won the majority they have coveted since ascending in 2006. The New Democratic Party (NDP) won 102 seats and formed the official opposition for the first time in history. The Liberal Party was reduced to a mere 34 seats, and the Bloc Quebecois lost 90% of its seats to end up with 4. On the positive side, Green Party candidate Elizabeth May won her party’s first seat in North American history.

Of the 14 closest ridings that Conservatives won seats, the combined margin of victory in all those ridings was 6,201 votes. That means the real difference between a Harper minority and majority was just over 6,000 votes. While 5.8 million people voted for Stephen Harper, another 9 million – the ‘real majority’ – voted for change. But, with his new majority, Harper no longer has to worry about impediments to his extreme ideology; he can ram his anti-science, pro-polluter agenda down the throats of the Canadian public. That spells trouble for Canada’s environment, and it’s especially bad news for the global climate.

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).

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. 

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…’s a sad bet to win.

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?

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.


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