Monthly Archives: October 2006

Elizabeth May, Lumberjack

Last night, Elizabeth May appeared on the Rick Mercer Report and cut down a tree. Good on her.

You can watch the clip here. I strongly encourage you to compare it to Rona Ambrose’s previous performance.

I watched the show with some Green friends of mine, including a “deep green” who I was worried would object to the tree-cutting. As Elizabeth started in with the chain saw, I was sure my fears had been confirmed.

“Oh, why is she doing that,” the deep green asked with anguish.

“The tree’s already dead,” someone else pointed-out helpfully.

“No,” responded the deep green, “I mean why is she cutting straight? Where’s the wedge!?!”

So, as it turns out, the segment was enjoyed by all.

“An Interesting Day”

That’s how my new best friend Garth Turner described it.

In case you haven’t heard, here’s how things went down. Last night, Garth, the Conservative MP for Halton, made a blog post called “The stakes,” where he talked about the seriousness of climate change and the need for action. The post could be interpreted to be more supportive of Green Party leader Elizabeth May than environment minister Rona Ambrose.

Today, Garth was kicked out of the Conservative caucus. (BTW, they didn’t tell him about it. He found out on TV.)

I can’t tell you how good it feels to belong to a party where I can today blog in support of Garth without fear of reprisal. The planet and good policy come before party politics, always.

Please consider offering Garth your verbal and, heck, financial support.

You Know You’re In Trouble When…

…your name’s Steven Harper and The Toronto Sun starts pointing out how backwards your policies are.

The column in question was brought to my attention by my blogging (and real-life) buddy Matt Ross. I could just send you to his blog and leave it at that, but instead I’m going to paraphrase him in a self-serving attempt to retain my readership. (Note to Jane Pitfield: paraphrasing with credit is one thing, plagiarizing is another.)

The columnist is Greg Weston, the column is Harper’s double-talk. (See also doublespeak and doublethink.) While I commend you to the full piece, the summary is this: our government is now less transparent and accountable than it was before “The Accountability Act,” to the point where if another sponsorship scandal happened today, we might not find out about it.

Fact: The proposed Accountability Act would add 12 new blanket exemptions and exclusions, almost doubling the current number of secrecy provisions preventing certain kinds of government documents from being released.

Fact: Draft audits and other evidence of wrongdoing exposed by whistleblowers could in future be sealed for up to 15 years.

I know I’ve already blogged about this issue a fair bit, but the precision of Weston’s criticism is worth noting. And of course it’s also notable because, well, The Sun should be Harper-friendly. And with friends like these…

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

From today’s Globe And Mail:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper took a page out of tough U.S. justice legislation yesterday by announcing that his government will introduce a three-strikes law to force repeat violent and sexual offenders to justify why they should not be locked away indefinitely.

Ah, so this is what Harper meant by “get tough on crime.” Let’s take a look at what this would mean.

First, it’s a strike against that whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing we like to value. The accused would be responsible for proving that they’re not a danger to society, instead of leaving that responsibility with the crown to prove that they are. Call me old-fashioned, but I like the presumption of innocence. (Just so everyone knows what a radical I am, I’m also a fan of habeas corpus.)

Some of you may not be convinced that that’s a big problem, since we are talking about third-time offenders of violent and sexual crimes. Fine. So then, this plan would at least reduce crime, right?

Wrong. From the same article:

[The announcement] was resoundingly panned by justice experts who say similar measures south of the border have proved ineffective in reducing crime…The California law caused an increase in the state prison population of 17.7 per cent between 1993 and 2002 while the crime rate dropped more slowly than that of other states, such as New York, where there was no three-strikes law.

Oh, ok. So we’ll have a bigger prison population, more crime than we would otherwise, and fewer liberties.

Also, according to both Harper and my rudimentary understanding of the fact that jails cost money, it’ll cost more.

One other quote from the article really struck me, “Mr. Harper said his government is answering a call from Canadians who believe the country is not as safe as it once was.” The key word there, of course, is believe, since crime is actually on the decline in Canada.

There was a telling moment in a recent Toronto municipal campaign town hall broadcast on CBC, when a reporter asked the council candidates to explain why they thought Canadians felt less safe, when in fact they were more safe. The candidates’ answers were regrettably predictable; they didn’t even understand the question. They just went on and on about how we have to get tough on crime, whatever that means, as politicians tend to do.

I think I’ve figured out where we got the idea that we shouldn’t feel safe. And I think I know who benefits.