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Archive for November, 2006

South of the border, things could change for the better. Look at what they could accomplish, a regain of control of both the House and the Senate. All I can say is…

Best of Luck!

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Our Changing Planet

Last night, as I walked home across campus, rivers of rainwater coursed down the streets. A large lake had pooled in the centre of the main road. Every dip in the road turned into a torrent of rushing water, streaming around my feet.

This being Vancouver, I am not surprised. Rain is part of everyday life here. But, in my home province of Alberta, rains this summer were able to flood my street. Two years ago, the same type of rains claimed lives and decimated parts of my city. For the decade prior to that, we had undergone one of the most severe droughts since the Great Depression, but it all ended with what people called “The Storm of the Century”. However, this is a misnomer – the same intensity of storm seems to be now occurring every decade.

June 1, 2006 was the first anniversary of the flooding in Alberta. It also was the day that Stéphane Dion made his first official visit of the campaign to Alberta. No cable news coverage was available, because they were filming footage in High River, to commemorate the flooding. They should have combined the features. It would have been a nice feature – showing both the problem and the solution.

Weather has been getting more intense, with an effect noticeable even in my lifetime. I started skiing when I was three years old, and the ski season has been getting consistently shorter. The world is heating up, and it will take more than a toothless Clean Air Act to save it. The Earth has a remarkable ability to self correct. Since the elimination of CFCs and PCBs, the ozone hole over Antarctica has begun to close. Rates of skin cancer in Australia have begun to decrease. Eventually, because of the efforts of our governments, the ozone layer is going to heal itself.

We have to hope that the same can be said for the global temperature. However, if it is to happen, we must take action. Or emissions standards must be raised. Those who say that the health of the environment is mutually exclusive to the health of the economy are strongly misguided.

Canada can be on the leading edge of the sustainable economy. Our emissions standards are a prime example of this. They have forced American automakers to produce better quality cars. We can create a research driven economy here, and there is one leader that will be able to make that happen. He understands the vast problems facing this world, and the looming disaster that accompanies them. Under his leadership, Canada will be able to not only create a new and sustainable economy, but with the development of new technologies, we will be able to prosper. We, through the export of technologies developed under a new, greener government, will be able to save the world.

Canada, and the Earth, needs a leader that will be able to confront the massive challenge facing us. We need a leader to bring Canada forward. We need a comprehensive vision for the future. We need an understanding of the problems facing our climate. We need a commitment to do something about it.

We need Stéphane Dion.

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I do believe Michael Ignatieff is well intentioned in suggesting that Quebec’s national status be enshrined in the constitution, and I do believe that Michael Ignatieff is a very smart man.

What I do not believe is that Mr. Ignatieff fully comprehends the situation he has gotten himself into by suggesting Quebec’s identity as a nation within Canada be enshrined constitutionally. Now, I don’t believe it right to fault somebody for living in different parts of the world, and I don’t believe that you can make the claim that Mr. Ignatieff is not Canadian. But we must accept the fact that he has not lived in this country for much of the last twenty years. Being intelligent and being well intentioned will not be enough for Mr. Ignatieff, who must also be knowledgeable of the Canadian reality if he wishes to lead Canada’s oldest living political party.

When we were debating Meech Lake, he was in the United Kingdom hobnobbing with the British Royal Society of Literature. When we were voting on the Charlottetown Accord, he was making documentaries for the BBC. During Quebec’s last brush with nationhood in 1995 he had just finished writing a book on the same topic, declaring that nationalism could be a positive force, and to his credit, this view is entirely consistent with his current position. But this view – and his position – are very academic for a country that acts as practically in these matters as Canada must. As Stephane Dion has said, we are a country that “works in practice, but not in theory”.

Michael may think he is being gutsy by playing to that weakness, attempting to close that hole, but Michael has not been home long enough to be fully up to speed on the nuances of our Canadian Constitutionalism. With his gambit he risks falling into that very chasm he had hoped to fill.

Not all that has to do with our Constitution is contained in the Constitution Act.

Both Alberta and British Columbia have legislation on the books requiring referenda to be held on any constitutional amendment, the results binding on their respective Legislatures. Furthermore, in the aftermath of the 1995 Quebec Referendum the Federal Government passed an act enshrining the concept of regional vetoes in statute – effectively declaring the government will not pass any amendment that does not meet the approval of the regions as laid out in that act.

If you take it all together, you begin to see the problem. Albertans and British Columbians are not going to enshrine the notion that Quebec is a nation. Albertans and British Columbians rejected the notion that Quebec was a distinct society by sixty and sixty-eight percent respectively. British Columbia has by statute a regional veto. To pass this amendment, an Ignatieff administration would have to kill the Liberal created Constitutional Amendments Act which gave British Columbia such authority.

Read again: Ignatieff would have to kill an act that ensures Quebec’s long desired veto to give Quebec the title of nation within Canada, something we are assured is merely an honourific. Quebec would be getting nothing for something. Mr. Ignatieff’s position is untenable, and should it become the policy of the Liberal Party, we will have begun a walk down a road that we would be out of our minds to continue.

With due respect to Mr. Ignatieff, it is the sign of an amateur in Canadian politics that they become obsessed with our constitution. It took us half a century after we were allowed to do so to patriate our fundamental law from the British, it has taken us another quarter of a century to make peace with that act. Mr. Ignatieff would do well to let sleeping dogs lie and join the other seven candidates for the Liberal leadership in tactfully and politely burying this issue come convention.

A Constitution open ended enough to not mention the office of the Prime Minister but allow our parliamentary system is open ended enough to allow Quebec’s aspirations, and embrace its distinct character without using the word nation.

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I’d like to thank Corey Hogan, a good friend of mine from Calgary, for writing this eloquent and insightful post. Thank you, from Naylor’s Take.

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So, the Conservatives have broken their promise to not tax income trusts. I can’t really say that I’m surprised – for a government that preaches accountability, there seams to be a dearth of it on the governmental side of the House. I think it speaks volumes. Canadians chose this government, and are going to learn that they cannot be trusted to keep their promises – those who invested in income trusts have been betrayed by those who must be trusted to keep their promises.

As we know, the Conservatives have done nothing but leave a trail of broken promises in their wake, from Kyoto to Kelowna to Equality to Respect for Women. Nothing is safe.

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In other news, Naylor’s Take will be hosting a guest blogger today! Mr. Corey Hogan, of Calgary, Alberta will give his take on the question of Quebec’s nationhood, and Michael Ignatieff’s plan.

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