Monthly Archives: October 2007

(Progressive) Conservative Candidate Dumped By Harper

Mark Warner, the man who was nominated by the Conservative members of Toronto Centre to be their candidate (and my opponent), has been dumped by Stephen Harper, despite the objection of “leading members” of the local riding association executive. This news follows Harper’s ouster of riding association executives who were supportive of Bill Casey in Nova Scotia. Harper clearly has absolutely no respect for the members of his party, nor the candidates and riding executives that they duly elect. According to the Toronto Star, an email sent by Mark earlier today contained the following:

It has been very difficult to mount a credible local campaign, given the lack of support from the national campaign on the one hand and their seemingly contradictory insistence on micro-managing of our local efforts…I learned that the party’s national council has taken the unprecedented step of disallowing my candidacy…I very much regret this arbitrary and capricious decision of the party’s national council, and will have more to say about that in other fora in the days to come.

In addition to showing a complete disregard for the Conservative party’s democratic processes, this is an insult to Mark himself. He’s been campaigning extremely hard so far even though the writ hasn’t even dropped yet. I’ve seen him at every community festival (plus more obscure community events and fundraisers) and handing out flyers at the College subway (near where we both live). His full-colour flyer was mailed to everyone in my building a few months ago, he’s taken out ads in local newspapers and he’s posted at least one campaign video on YouTube.

What’s interesting to me about this is that while Mark and I have largely gotten along, our biggest disagreement came when I pointed out that his party was no longer “progressive,” but was rather dominated by the Reform/Alliance party. He reacted forcefully, and wanted me to understand that he was solidly in the Progressive Conservative camp. Looks like progressives really don’t belong in Harper’s tent. Thank goodness there’s at least one other party where true progressive conservatives are welcome.

Update: My intuition was correct. Cameron lets us know about a CBC report that says Mark was shown the door because of “his penchant for speaking out about subjects that didn’t receive party authorization, such as education, affordable housing and HIV/AIDS issues.” The article continues with this bombshell: “Warner said references to his attendance at an international AIDS conference in Toronto in 2006 were removed from his bio when he sent it to Ottawa for approval.” Meanwhile, the nominated Conservative candidate in Guelph, Brent Barr, has also been ousted.

And just to drive home the hypocrisy, kudos to the CBC for digging up this quote from Harper during the 2004 campaign: “We want to clean up internal party politics, beginning with grassroots democratic control of the nomination process.” And so concludes another installment of “that was then, this is now.”

Elizabeth Buys Dinner With Jack

As you know, Elizabeth May has been trying to get a meeting with Jack Layton, but to no avail. She’s of the opinion that politicians need to work together to address the climate crisis, and that it would be helpful for the leaders who want to take action to discuss how to do that in the face of a Prime Minister who doesn’t.

So, last Saturday night at the parliamentary press gallery dinner when Layton (who was not actually on the agenda) stepped up to the microphone and announced that he was auctioning off a dinner date with himself and his wife Olivia Chow for charity, Elizabeth saw her window.

Mr. Layton auctioned off dinner for four with himself and Ms. Chow to raise money for a scholarship in memory of Dennis Bueckert, a respected Canadian Press environment and science reporter who died suddenly this year.

Ms. May said Monday she had already planned to make a $1,000 donation to the scholarship as she and Mr. Bueckert were old friends, so the auction was perfect.

“I decided I’ll go as high as $1,000,” she said. “If anyone goes higher than that, I can’t afford it.”

Funny thing: no one went higher. Oh, and another funny thing: she plans to invite Stephane Dion as her guest, so that they can all sit around the same table together. “That would make a very interesting dinner,” she said. “Who knows, something good could come of it.” Let’s hope.

That’s assuming, of course, that Layton actually honors his commitment:

Polls and election results suggest the Greens pose an electoral danger to the NDP, and Mr. Layton seems unwilling to do anything to lend legitimacy to Ms. May or her party. At the end of the auction, Mr. Layton did not even acknowledge that Ms. May was the winner

…A spokesman for Mr. Layton, Karl Belanger, did not sound keen on the May-Dion-Layton dinner.

“We didn’t talk about who this person might be,” he said. “She won the auction, so we’ll see, but co-ordinating the schedule of three leaders . . . two leaders is already tricky. Three leaders could be even more tricky. But you know, it looks like the Liberal party would be well-represented at that dinner, since she’s the Liberal party candidate in Central Nova.”

Smooth, Karl. And classy too.

Red Alert

The United Nations has released another report, Global Environmental Outlook 4 [pdf], on the state of our planet’s ability to support life, yet it has received minimal coverage. Our news media should explain why. Read the below summary of the report (courtesy George Monbiot), and try and imagine what else could be of more importance.

Crop production has improved over the past 20 years (from 1.8 tonnes per hectare in the 1980s to 2.5 tonnes today), but it has not kept up with population. “World cereal production per person peaked in the 1980s, and has since slowly decreased.” There will be roughly 9 billion people by 2050: feeding them and meeting the millennium development goal on hunger (halving the proportion of hungry people) would require a doubling of world food production. Unless we cut waste, overeating, biofuels and the consumption of meat, total demand for cereal crops could rise to three times the current level.

There are two limiting factors. One, mentioned only in passing in the report, is phosphate: it is not clear where future reserves might lie. The more immediate problem is water. “Meeting the Millennium Development Goal on hunger will require doubling of water use by crops by 2050.” Where will it come from? ‘Water scarcity is already acute in many regions, and farming already takes the lion’s share of water withdrawn from streams and groundwater.” One-tenth of the world’s major rivers no longer reach the sea all round the year.

Buried on page 148, I found this statement. “If present trends continue, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity by 2025, and two thirds of the world population could be subject to water stress.” Wastage and deforestation are partly to blame, but the biggest cause of the coming droughts is climate change. Rainfall will decline most in the places in greatest need of water. So how, unless we engineer a sudden decline in carbon emissions, is the world to be fed? How, in many countries, will we prevent the social collapse that failure will cause?

The stone drops into the pond and a second later it is smooth again. You will turn the page and carry on with your life. Last week we learnt that climate change could eliminate half the world’s species; that 25 primate species are already slipping into extinction; that biological repositories of carbon are beginning to release it, decades ahead of schedule. But everyone is watching and waiting for everyone else to move. The unspoken universal thought is this: “if it were really so serious, surely someone would do something?”

When a crowd of people watches something bad happen, the likelihood that someone will intervene to prevent it decreases as the size of the crowd increases. And here we are, the whole human race, watching our planet’s ability to sustain our lives slip away, waiting for someone to act.

Politicians, bloggers, voters: no more games please. This is issue number one. As the most unlikely of newspapers (The Toronto Sun) declared last week, we’re at red alert. The time to hesitate is long past through, and half-measures are not going to cut it.

New Job

Started a new job today. It’s very time consuming, and will continue to be at least for the first few months. The quantity and depth of my posts will likely be affected. I’ll do my best to keep contributing in a meaningful way, but just wanted to give you faithful a head’s up.