Don’t play political games with climate change

earthOn a Cosmic scale our beautiful little blue-green jewel of a planet is some kind of rare miracle – perhaps the only one – in a vast Universe of unimaginable extremes of blazing hot and deep-freezing cold.

But global warming and the resulting climate change is now in the process of showing the world – that part of the world that’s watching, at least – how delicately balanced and vulnerable that miracle is.

Market gardeners and other farmers know a few degrees of temperature either way during the growing season, and the lack of a certain amount of reliable rainfall – say, at least a weekly centimetre or two, about an inch – can make all the difference in the health and well-being of crops. Continue reading

Who wasn’t ready?

Canada’s new Liberal majority government and its new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, have a lot of work to do to live up to their promise of “real change.” Canadians want it, and I don’t doubt they’re going to get it.

But it will take time – possibly even the better part of the next four years – to undo much of what the Conservative government did under Stephen Harper’s leadership. To start with, the change in style and approach to governing will be like night and day. They are two very different personalities.

When he was first elected to be Canada’s 22nd Prime Minister in 2006 with a minority government Harper promised a new era of openness and accountability, but didn’t deliver, maybe because it just wasn’t in him to be that way. Not yet, anyway.

“A man’s character is his fate,” said the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus. Many’s the time I’ve worried about the truth of those words myself. But it’s something we all have to take time to think about if we’re going to grow and become the person we were meant to be. Continue reading

It was time for “sunny ways”

Life goes on.

So there I was the day after the federal election – out planting garlic in a recently cultivated section of my large front-field garden. It’s not too late, but you never know at this time of the year when winter will set in, no matter what Environment Canada says about the El-Nino prospects of a much milder winter than last shaping up in the warmer-than-usual waters of the Pacific Ocean. So I took a break from the barn-door repairs and planted garlic while the sun shone.

And yes, I was inspired to think of the night before when the first public words out of Justin Trudeau’s mouth upon being elected Canada’s next Prime Minister were, “Sunny ways my friends, sunny ways. This is what positive politics can do.” Continue reading

Gagnier gaffe didn’t hurt Trudeau

I was planting garlic in the front field near the woods. Yes, the fall of the year is the best time to plant garlic. It was early in the evening, but the light was already starting to fade. Still, I was making pretty good progress. A long row of cloves, some of which were already starting to show signs of sprouting, had gone into the freshly-tilled soil and I was working intently on a second row.

But then the shrill chorus of a pack or packs of coyotes starting their evening hunting prowl opened up. It’s a familiar sound in these parts, in and around the provincial Hope Bay Nature Reserve where a natural wilderness is being allowed to regenerate itself. Continue reading

Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal negotiated in secrecy

(Phil here, with some additional information as I’m about to post this October 10, 2015 “Counterpoint” column to this blog: I was obviously worried about the outcome of the election and the effect the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal might have on it. Election day was just nine days away, after the longest campaign in Canadian history. Now-former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper likely hoped the long campaign would work to his advantage. Quite the opposite though; as we now know it worked to the advantage of Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party: they went from third-party status, to the formation of a majority government, with Prime Minister Trudeau and his promise of “real change” in charge.)

I was listening to Canada’s International Trade Minister, Ed Fast being interviewed on the radio about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) proposed deal as I drove into Lion’s Head from the farm a few days ago. He was asked by CBC interviewer when details of the secretly-negotiated deal would be made

Fast hummed and hawed a bit, explaining the final draft of the deal with the results of the last-minute negotiations included still had to be written, then it would have to be vetted by the negotiators to ensure it was exactly what had been agreed. “Hopefully,” the minister said, it will be made public “before the election.”

Surely, he knows better. Every on-line news and comment source I’ve read since said it will be at least a month before the details are made public.

Besides, so what if the massive, complex, 30-chapter document is made public a day or two before the election. That leaves no time for the vast majority of Canadians to mentally digest the contents, reflect on them, and come to some sort of opinion.

So, with all due respect, Fast was talking nonsense. Continue reading

Vote Strategically

So, the federal election campaign has suddenly got interesting.

To some extent it’s about competing polls. One surveying the national and province-by-province mood of voters was done by the polling firm Ekos for LaPresse newspaper in Montreal. The results were released just in time for the French language leaders’ debate this week. It polled 2,343 people for their voting intentions. The results are considered accurate 19 times out of 20, to within two percentage points, according to news reports. Continue reading

Harper government played a cynical game with niqab ban

The devout Muslim woman at the center of the controversy about the wearing, or not, of the face-covering niqab during public, Canadian citizenship oath-taking ceremonies said it best:

“I can’t even make sense of the statement, what the lawyer said about it, that it’s not mandatory,” a somewhat astonished – and for a few moments, speechless – Zunera Ishaq said earlier this week after a Federal Court of Appeal panel of three judges ruled against the Harper government’s ban on the wearing of the niqab.

If it’s not mandatory, Ishaq wondered, what’s “all this fuss” about?

What indeed? Continue reading