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Whew, that was close! I supported the govt for a whole 5 minutes.

October 17, 2009

Frightening.

Two stories out yesterday about some upcoming policies coming out of Ottawa. The first sounds quite reasonable, they want to create a national regulator for securities.  Given the meltdown of last fall this kind of body might be able to tighten up some of the investment rules and make sure we don’t have loopholes showing up because one province has different policies than another.  So I was in happy agreement with the government for a whole five minutes on some issue.  I was even more surprised to learn that the securities regulator is vehemently opposed by two provinces, Quebec and Alberta! I can’t say I’m surprised the Conservatives are doing something despite Quebec’s complaints, they gave up on Quebec a couple months ago when they showed their campaign hand and all the anti-separatist-coalition scare mongering cards they’re holding. (Its a really nasty card, its a facecard, a King wrapped in a Canadian flag, sitting in a corner with his fingers in his ears)

But Alberta is  against it too, and the Conservatives who love devolving power to provinces are sticking with this centralizing, socialist idea anyways. Of course, given the voting goes these days, the Conservatives actually have no reason to pander to Alberta. That’s because they have such a large margin of victory there that it would take an enormous slide in popularity to actually lose any other their seats in their home turf.  (That’s yet another problem with our voting system, if you are a very loyal, united, geographically focused voting block, you give you party lots of power, but then they can ignore you. ) It was almost enough to make one  think the Conservatives could be relied upon to govern sensibly.

Luckily this strange thought didn’t last long, as a I scrolled further down and found word that the Canadian government would rather ships in the Great Lakes continue to use the most polluting fuel on Earth than to risk upsetting shipping trade.  Ahh, they haven’t changed after all.  So, apparently there is this horrible fuel that ships often use called bunker fuel. The Environmental Protection Agency in the US is creating some new regulations to restrict and ban this fuel.  Turns out, our man in Washington has requested this be reconsidered in the Great Lakes since it would hurt the shipping trade.

Now sure, trade is important, industry is important. But sometimes you need to look at what is right and what is wrong.  Removing such a polluting fuel from use in the great lakes region will save Canadian lives.  Thousands of people die every year in this country from pollution related illnesses.  We are already a pariah on the world stage in terms of environmental issues, can we really not even support this very sensible regulation?  Also interesting in this article is the message board which contains a whole slew of posters talking about the crazy ‘lefties’ who don’t understand the world economic situation. They seem afraid that China and India are growing fast and regulating their pollution, true.  They argue that anyone who wants to regulate Canada more and hurt our industry doesn’t understand that China and India are going to catch up and pass us economically if we do this, so we need to keep polluting to stay ahead of them until they agree to more regulations.

Right, ok, a couple things:

  • first, who are these ‘lefties’ you are talking about? Is the world all divided up into ‘lefties’ and ‘righties’ to you? What about ‘innies’ and ‘outies’? Maybe everyone isn’t nicely boxed off into two sides, I just agreed with Harper in this very article, even though I think he’d be one of the most dangerous prime ministers in a long while.
  • second, you are write that China and India are growing fast, and you are right that they will soon pass us in economic and probably political importance.  But you are wrong that we can somehow stay ahead of them by playing the game their way.  We can’t stay ahead them, they each have 100x as many people as us.  Get over it.
  • given the previous point, it is illogical to argue that we need to keep polluting in order to stay ahead of someone that is clearly going to pass us anyways.

We are one of the largest per-capita polluters in the world.  If China and India ever get up to the level of pollution per person that Canadians produce, there will be no way to say the environment as we know it.  The only hope is to start putting on the brakes now, develop advanced ways to produce energy without pollution and sell these technologies to China and India.  The government’s refusal to get fully 300% behind a green technology sector is what is really hurting Canada’s economic future.  Green technology, and old age homes, are the only sure bets for growth in the next 40 years.

Maybe that won’t play well in Alberta, but Mr. Harper has shown this week he’s willing to thumb his nose as his adopted ‘home’ province, maybe he’ll do it again, but I’m not holding my breath. I don’t advise you do either, the air is horrible today.

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