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The Ghost Election Issue We Need to Get Real about: Personal Debt

The Ghost Election Issue We Need to Get Real about: Personal Debt

Canadians are so deep in the red it colours how we see vital issues.

‘Owing vast amounts of money seems now a defining Canadian characteristic and is increasingly enabled by indulgent political leaders.’ Photo via Shutterstock.

Today we manufacture armored vehicles for the brutal regime in Saudi Arabia while fretting about domestic job losses if we don’t. 

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer pledges to slash Canada’s already paltry foreign aid budget by 25 per cent in favour of consumer tax cuts. 

Climate change is the defining issue of this century, yet Canada has the highest per capita carbon emissions in the G20 and is far from a global leader in fighting fossil fuels. 

What happened to the storied Canadian character?

The reason Canada cannot act in a more moral manner might lie in ballooning amounts of household debt. Canadians now owe an eye-watering $2.2 trillion or 178 per cent of disposable income — a measure that has doubled in the last 20 years. Personal bills now amount to more than our entire GDP, making us the most indebted citizenry in the G20 and fourth highest in the world. 

Over half of Canadians report they are only $200 per month away from insolvency. 

How can you care about climate change or global stability when your credit cards are maxed out or you are dodging debt collectors? Owing vast amounts of money seems now a defining Canadian characteristic and is increasingly enabled by indulgent political leaders. Andrew Scheer and Canada’s conservatives are unapologetic in pandering to those who gorged on cheap credit. 

The belated Conservative campaign platform pledges to cut infrastructure investment by $18 billion in favour of reduced taxes. Scheer’s simple message is parsed for those most myopically interested in their pocketbook: “If you pay income tax, you will pay less under my government.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Frost-Apocalypse Set To Sweep Across US, Could Mark End Of Growing Season

Frost-Apocalypse Set To Sweep Across US, Could Mark End Of Growing Season

We are tracking frost and freeze potential US temperature weather maps this weekend that indicate a strong possibility frost-apocalypse is headed for the Pacific, Rocky Mountains, and Midwest regions over the next ten days. This could mean the end of the growing season for many agriculture producing states.

As shown in the EC Operational maps below, a 32°F contour line in the 5-10 day forecast indicates US frost risks could shift from the Northwest too much of the North Central states, which would officially mark the end of the growing season in those areas if confirmed by mid-month.

* * * 

Andrei Evbuoma, a meteorologist for NOAA National Weather Service, provides further insight into the frost situation in the US, and what he thinks this could mean for grain prices. 

Frost and freeze watches/warnings hoisted for portions of the north-central and Northeast U.S.; weather outlook turns colder across the northern and central U.S. raising risks for frost/freeze and thus upside potential of prices.

On the weather front, frost and freeze watches/warnings are in effect for much of North Dakota, eastern South Dakota, northeastern Nebraska, western Minnesota, northwestern Iowa, a large portion of Upstate New York and Vermont, extreme western Massachusetts, and extreme northern Pennsylvania. The frost and freeze warnings are in effect tonight through Friday morning. The freeze watch is in effect for late Friday night through early Saturday morning. The freeze and frost warnings over North Dakota and Minnesota cover a good portion of spring wheat. However, with much of the crop harvested, the impacts should be minimum. The northwestern portions of the corn and soybean belt will be impacted by the frost and freeze Thursday night/Friday morning.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why Trudeau’s Trans Mountain Dreams May Trickle Out in Coldwater

Why Trudeau’s Trans Mountain Dreams May Trickle Out in Coldwater

IN DEPTH: A tiny Indigenous band’s epic pipeline fight takes its biggest turn.

‘Nobody respects us,’ says Coldwater Chief Lee Spahan, his band having filed a new challenge to the TMX project he says has long trespassed his people’s territory. Photo by Mychaylo Prystupa.

On the Friday evening of June 7, Chief Lee Spahan of the Coldwater Indian Band received an email from Mitchell Taylor, Q.C., head of a federal consultation team acting under the auspices of Canada’s Department of Justice.

The email contained an offer, and an assertion.

The offer was that the government would take a new approach to deciding where the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX) pipeline would be routed in relation to the Coldwater reserve, whose people are determined to protect the freshwater aquifer upon which they depend.

That issue had remained wholly unresolved after four years of negotiations, court judgments in favour of the Coldwater’s position, countless hours of consultations, and many hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on futile wrangling.

The stakes were high for the Coldwater, for the TMX, and for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who had placed a heavy political bet on using taxpayer’s money to buy the pipeline and guaranteeing its expansion would happen. Last year, the Federal Court of Appeal threw out TMX’s permit to proceed, demanding more rounds of consultation with the Coldwater and other Indigenous nations in the path of the pipeline.

Now, with the new offer came this assertion: “Canada believes this commitment satisfies what we understand to be your key concerns.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Canada Catches America’s Cold – PMI Plunges To 4 Year Lows

Canada Catches America’s Cold – PMI Plunges To 4 Year Lows

As goes America, so goes Canada it seems. Following the collapse in both Manufacturing and Services survey data in the US, Canada’s PMI just collapsed most since Feb 2016, back into contraction for the first time since March 2015.

From a 12-month high of 60.6in August, Ivey PMI collapsed to a 4-year lows of 48.7…

Source: Bloomberg

Under the hood things are mixed (but hurting in the most important areas)

  • Ivey employment index decreased to 49.6 in September from 52.7 in prior month
  • Ivey inventory index decreased to 50.5 in September from 54.8 in prior month
  • Ivey supplier index increased to 50.2 in September from 49.9 in prior month
  • Ivey prices index increased to 56.9 in September from 51.3 in prior month

Time to restart rate-cuts.

Quit Chastising Brazil, Canada. You’re a Climate Killer, Too

Quit Chastising Brazil, Canada. You’re a Climate Killer, Too

Some want global intervention against ‘rogue’ climate states. That may not end so well for us.

‘Is it acceptable that a single government can unilaterally adopt environmental policies that put millions at risk?’ a recent Globe op-ed asked of Brazil. Uhhh… Photo of Amazon forest fires taken Aug. 26, 2019, by Leo Correa, AP Photo.

The two both ask and answer their own question in the Globe and Mail piece.

“Is it acceptable that a single government can unilaterally adopt environmental policies that put millions at risk?” they write. “It is urgent that the international community find ways to influence rogue states whose irresponsible policies accelerate global warming and undermine the collective effort to address the existential threat posed by climate change.”

It’s a comfortably sanctimonious argument, especially from inside the glass house of Canadian climate policy. 

Admittedly Bolsonaro is an ogre whose popularity among Brazilians has plummeted since he was elected last year. 

But Axworthy and Rock should be careful what they wish for — if the world really was empowered to intervene when rogue states ignore the climate crisis, would we get off easily?

Canada was recently ranked last of the G7 economies in terms of meaningful climate action — tied with the U.S. under Donald Trump. Of all the G20 countries, Canadians produce the most greenhouse gases per capita. 

While the Justin Trudeau government touted its pledge of $15 million to fight Amazon wildfires on behalf of the planet, this represents only 0.5 per cent of the $3.3 billion in taxpayer subsidies that Canada shovels at the fossil fuel sector each year.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

As Election Nears, Canada’s Biggest Oil Firm Is Noticeably Quiet

As Election Nears, Canada’s Biggest Oil Firm Is Noticeably Quiet

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he’s Canada’s energy ‘champion.’ Yet he opposes climate policy Suncor supports.

Mark Little is the CEO of Suncor, the biggest oilsands firm in Canada which, awkwardly for some federal political parties, supports strong government policy on climate change. Photo by Jeff McIntosh, the Canadian Press.

As we race towards a federal election that will determine if and how Canada responds to the climate emergency, one central player is noticeably absent.

Suncor is without a doubt the biggest and most influential oilsands company in the country. Contrary to what you might think, however, it has a more aggressive position on climate action than federal Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer. While Scheer promises to scrap Canada’s national carbon price as soon he gets into office, Suncor argues the Liberal policy should stay.

“We have and continue to support the Pan-Canadian Framework as a path forward to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Nathan Maycher, Suncor’s director of climate change and sustainability integration, told The Tyee in an email.

In 2017, the company employed 12,381 people, brought in over $32 billion in revenue and produced roughly 1.2 million barrels of bitumen per day, which is over one-third of the industry’s total output, according to research from the Corporate Mapping Project.

Yet when three major oilsands producers — Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Cenovus Energy and MEG Energy Corp. — ran an “open letter to Canadians” in 30 newspapers this July arguing that “shutting down Canada’s oil industry will have little impact on global [emissions] targets,” Suncor stayed silent. And the company’s CEO Mark Little doesn’t appear to be involved with an effort by small and mid-level Calgary oil and gas executives to get Scheer elected prime minister this October.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Killing Free Speech in Canada

Killing Free Speech in Canada

  • As has become standard in such cases, the charter contains no definition of what constitutes “hate”, making it a catchall for whatever the Canadian government deems politically inopportune. This is all exhaustingly familiar by now: Germany already has legislation that requires social media platforms to censor their users. France is working on it.
  • The Conservative members of the committee… recommended instead that sanctions regarding hate crimes online or elsewhere should be dealt with under the appropriate sections of the Criminal Code. They also recommended that “The definition of ‘hate’ under the Criminal Code be limited to where a threat of violence, or incitement to violence, is directed against an identifiable group” and that “rather than attempting to control speech and ideas, the Government explore appropriate security measures to address all three elements of a threat: intent, capability and opportunity”.
  • “Sickening ideologies which encourage individuals to take the lives of their fellow human beings have faced a concerning proliferation both at home and around the world. Yet sadly, Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Members of this Committee have tried to use these troubling events as a way to bolster their political fortunes. They have tried to paint anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their narrow value set as an extremist.” – Conservative Party dissenting opinion in “Taking Action to End Online Hate”.

In May, Canada launched a so-called Digital Charter, meant to promote “trust in a digital world”. The charter contains ten principles, three of which deal with “hate speech and disinformation”.

The charter, said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, will target fake news and hate speech online. “The platforms are failing their users, and they’re failing our citizens,” he said. “They have to step up in a major way to counter disinformation. And if they don’t, we will hold them to account and there will be meaningful financial consequences.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Changing Climate, Vanishing Old Growth Bring Increase Fire Risk for Coastal Forests

Changing Climate, Vanishing Old Growth Bring Increase Fire Risk for Coastal Forests

‘It’s getting worse,’ expert warns. ‘As the climate is shifting, these factors are becoming more extreme.’

The 2015 wildfire in Upper Elaho Valley, about 100 kilometres northwest of Squamish, killed several old growth trees. Experts say BC’s wettest coastal forests are no longer immune to such fires. Photo via the BC Wildfire Service.

It rains in Zeballos. A lot. The village, perched at the end of a long inlet on the west coast of Vancouver Island, is surrounded by mountains and rainforest.

But despite the region’s average annual precipitation of 163 inches — more than three times that of Vancouver — the community of about 100 people was threatened when lightning sparked a wildfire last August. About 168 hectares burned over two weeks, as flames loomed over houses, and burning trees and debris tumbled down the slopes toward the village. 

Within a month, evacuation orders were placed on 27 properties. Ten months later, the order still hadn’t been fully lifted because of fears the burned slopes might slide onto the community.

The fact that some of the wettest forests in North America are now considered candidates for wildfires signals the severe shifts being caused by climate change. It means that old growth trees, critical for forest resiliency and traditionally quite fire resistant, are increasingly under threat.

“We’re seeing impacts in places in coastal B.C. that are very unique, [which] speaks to the multi-year drought we’ve been experiencing,” said Lori Daniels, a professor of forestry and conservation science at the University of British Columbia.

Last week the BC Wildfire Service released a seasonal report predicting the B.C. coast — along with Vancouver Island — will experience “above normal fire conditions” this summer.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Strange Case Of Chrystia Freeland And The Failure Of The “Super Elite”

The Strange Case Of Chrystia Freeland And The Failure Of The “Super Elite”

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has become a bit of a living parody of everything wrong with the detached technocratic neo-liberal order which has driven the world through 50 years of post-industrial decay. Now, two years into the Trump presidency, and five years into the growth of a new system shaped by the Russia-China alliance, the world has become a very different place from the one which Freeland and her controllers wish it to be.

Having been set up as a counterpart to the steely Hillary Clinton who was supposed to win the 2016 election, Freeland and her ilk have demonstrated their outdated thinking in everything they have set out to achieve since the 2014 coup in Ukraine. Certainly before that, everything seemed to be going smoothly enough for End of History disciples promoting a script that was supposed to culminate in a long-sought for “New World Order”.

The Script up until Now

Things were going especially well since the collapse of the Soviet system in the early 1990s. The collapse ushered in a unipolar world order with the European Union and NAFTA, followed soon thereafter by the World Trade Organization and the 1999 destruction of Glass-Steagall (1). The trans-Atlantic at last was converted into a cage of “post-sovereign nations” that no longer had actual control of their own powers of credit generation. Under NATO, even national militaries were subject to technocratic control. This cage was perfect for the governing elite “scientifically managing” from above while the little people bickered over their diminishing employment and standards of living from below.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Inside Canada’s Outsized and Under-Scrutinized Bid to Overthrow Maduro

US Canada Venezuela Feature photo


Inside Canada’s Outsized and Under-Scrutinized Bid to Overthrow Maduro

Canada has been a major player in orchestrating repeated coup attempts in Venezuela since Juan Guaido declared himself president in January.

OTTAWA — Canada’s foreign policy, under the auspices of Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, is bucking the country’s long standing tradition of generally staying out of the affairs of governments to its south in Latin America. Indeed, Canada has been one of the major players orchestrating repeated coup attempts in Venezuela since Juan Guaido declared himself president in January.

One opinion piece in a major Canadian publication, the Toronto Starnotes:

Almost immediately after Guaido anointed himself president, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland announced that he was Canada’s guy and that Maduro should cede power to him.

Maduro won’t do that without a fight. So what Freeland was really saying was that Canada would support anything, including an armed coup, to remove Maduro.”

Meanwhile, another major Canadian publication, the Globe and Mail, reports:

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke with Juan Guaido to congratulate him on unifying opposition forces in Venezuela, two weeks before he declared himself interim president.

Separately, Ottawa was told by opposition groups, former diplomats and a Venezuelan émigré to expect a major announcement.”

That was reported based on sourcing from a “senior Canadian government source who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.”

Perhaps it should be no surprise that Freeland — who said she was “proud” of her grandfather, a Nazi collaborator — sympathizes with Popular Will, the political party of Leopoldo Lopez, who appears to have kept a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf in his library.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Trudeau’s Climate Change Policy Is Strategically Inadequate

Trudeau’s Climate Change Policy Is Strategically Inadequate

Approving a pipeline while declaring a climate emergency is ‘climate change denial with a human face.’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
‘This is how climate change denial will increasingly look in the future.’ Photo by Mychaylo Prystupa.

The Trudeau government’s recent actions — declaring a climate emergency and re-approving the Trans Mountain expansion project within two days — aren’t just hypocritical: they’re morally equivalent to climate change denial.

The United Nation’s authority on climate change recently recommended“rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to counter an imminent crisis, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent decisions have flagrantly ignored the UN’s counsel.

He’s bent over backwards to ensure the Trans Mountain pipeline’s expansion, propping up the project with extensive financial and rhetorical support. In the process, the Trudeau government has perpetuated the prerogatives of an industry that has funded climate change denying research and (knowingly) pollutes the planet. 

Make no mistake: Trudeau’s actions represent climate change denial “with a human face,” a darker version of Czech communist leader Alexander Dubček’s 1968 description of his ill-fated liberalization program as “socialism with a human face.” 

Trudeau and the Liberal party affirm the reality of global warming in theory, but they effectively deny the phenomenon in practice by facilitating a harmful status quo and belittling the urgency of radical change.The Tyee is supported by readers like you Join us and grow independent media in Canada

This is how climate change denial will increasingly look in the future: a mixture of symbolic proclamation and strategically inadequate policy. 

With flooding, suffocating wildfires and abnormal temperatures across much of the country, the climate crisis isn’t just a theoretical concern for most Canadians. Global warming’s impacts are now apparent, a fact that’s reflected in a recent poll showing that over two-thirds of Canadians consider stopping climate change “a priority.” 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Dear Journalists of Canada: Start Reporting Climate Change as an Emergency

Dear Journalists of Canada: Start Reporting Climate Change as an Emergency

A five-point plan for mainstream media to cover fewer Royal babies and a lot more of our unfolding global catastrophe.

Few media stories mentioned the demonstrable connection between the climate crisis and increasing wildfire activity in BC last summer, even though it was one of the major reasons why that season was the worst on record. Photo via the BC Wildfire Service.

Karyn Pugliese, president, Canadian Association of Journalists
Martin O’Hanlon, president, CWA Canada
Fiona Conway, president, Radio Television Digital News Association
John Hinds, president and chief executive officer, News Media Canada
Jerry Dias, national president, Unifor

Canada’s editors, news directors, publishers and station managers

On May 6, the United Nations released a scientific report warning that around a million species are threatened with extinction due to human activity, including climate change. But, according to an analysis by Media Matters for America, on the day of that release, the nightly newscasts of ABC and NBC felt it was more important that their audiences learned about the birth of the newest Royal baby — someone who will likely never have any say over their day-to-day lives. And I’ve found most of Canada’s 15 most-read English language daily broadsheets felt the same way.

Between May 6 and 7, 13 of those newspapers failed to front stories about the United Nations’ devastating finding. Instead, the National Post ran a story about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s son, with 10 others teasing that birth on their front pages. Eight of the teasers were placed above-the-fold, next to a photograph, or both — drawing reader attention to pictures of Harry, Meghan and their beaming well-wishers.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Canada’s Meddling in Venezuela

Canada’s Meddling in Venezuela

Why does the dominant media pay so much attention to Russian “meddling” in other countries, but little to Canada’s longstanding interference in the political affairs of nations thousands of kilometres from our borders?

The case of Ben Rowswell illustrates the double standard well.

The current Canadian International Council President has been the leading non-governmental advocate of Ottawa’s quest to overthrow Venezuela’s government. In dozens of interviews, op-eds, tweets and ongoing speaking tour the former ambassador has put a liberal gloss on four months of naked imperialism. But, Rowswell has been involved in efforts to oust Nicolas Maduro since 2014 despite repeatedly claiming the president’s violation of the constitution two years ago provoked Ottawa’s recent campaign.

A March 2014 Venezuela Analysis story suggested the early adopter of digital communications was dispatched to Caracas in the hopes of boosting opposition to a government weakened by an economic downturn, the death of its leader and violent protests. Titled “New Ambassador Modernizes Canada’s Hidden Agenda in Venezuela”, the story pointed out that Rowswell immediately set up a new embassy Twitter account, soon followed by another titled SeHablaDDHH (Let’s Talk Human Rights), to rally “the angry middle classes on Twitter.” The article noted that “Rowswell is the best man to encourage such a ‘democratic’ counterrevolution, given his pedigree” in digital and hotspot diplomacy. According to a March 2014 Embassy story titled “Canada dispatches digital diplomacy devotee to Caracas”, just before the Venezuela assignment “Ottawa’s top digital diplomat … helped to establish a communications platform for Iranians and Iranian emigrants to communicate with each other, and occasionally the Canadian government, beyond the reach of that country’s censors.” Previously, Rowswell was chargé d’affaires in Iraq after the 2003 US invasion and headed the NATO Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar during the war there.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

On Climate, Does Trudeau’s Canada Play Hero or Villain?

On Climate, Does Trudeau’s Canada Play Hero or Villain?

The Tyee asked global experts, and got some surprising answers.

Canada’s symbolic role globally outweighs its actual emissions impact, say experts, who call Trudeau’s carbon tax ‘courageous.’ Still, it’s not enough to meet emissions pledges, upping the ante for the federal election.

How does Canada rate in fighting climate change? 

Better than most countries, especially ones where fossil fuels drive politics. 

Terribly for the world, because if every country copied Canada, that would ensure climate catastrophe. 

That’s the complicated picture climate policy experts in Canada and abroad shared with The Tyee.

They said Canada, while still far from where it needs to be in lowering its greenhouse gas emissions, is enacting “courageous” and “interesting” policies that are pushing global progress forward at a time when the opportunity for action is rapidly fading

On the surface this doesn’t seem to make much sense, given that under Trudeau’s Liberal government Canada is set to miss the 2030 climate targets it agreed to at Paris, spends billions of dollars propping up the oil and gas industry (despite promising to end fossil fuel subsidies), and last year nationalized Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion. 

But Mark Jaccard, a professor in the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University who has contributed to assessments from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says that Canada’s record on climate change is more complex and productive than most people realize.

“It seems to me people get so focussed on the Trans Mountain pipeline as a symbol that the federal government has failed on climate policy, without paying attention to the actual policies and comparing them to the rest of the world,” he told The Tyee. “When you do that, we’re among the leaders.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Canada’s Minister of Defence is an Arms Pusher

Canada’s Minister of Defence is an Arms Pusher

Would it surprise you to learn that Canada’s minister of defence is an arms pusher?

Last Friday members of Mouvement Québécois pour la Paix interrupted a $135-a-plate luncheon to confront defence minister Harjit Sajjan. At an event sponsored by SNC Lavalin, Bombardier, Rio Tinto, etc., we called for cutting military spending, for Canada to withdraw from NATO and an end to weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.

While Sajjan’s responsibility for NATO and military spending are straightforward, his role in fueling the Saudi led war in Yemen is less obvious. But, the Department of National Defence (DND) plays a substantial role in Canadian arms exports to Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

As he did the last three years, Sajjan is set to speak at the CANSEC arms bazar in Ottawa later this month. For more than two decades the annual Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI) conference has brought together representatives of arms companies, DND, Canadian Forces (CF), various other arms of the federal governmentand dozens of foreign governments. In 2018 more than 11,000 people attended the two-day conference, including 16 MPs and senators and many generals and admirals.

The corporation supplying Saudi Arabia with more than $10 billion in Light Armoured Vehiclesproduces the same LAVs for the CF. In a 2012 Canadian Military History article Frank Maas writes, “the CF has continued to purchase LAVs because they have been successful in the field, and they support a domestic producer, General Dynamics Land Systems Canada (GDLS-C), that cooperates closely with the military.” GDLS’ London, Ontario, operations exist largely because of interventionist military industrial policy. A 2013 Federal government report on “Leveraging Defence Procurement Through Key Industrial Capabilities” lists GDLS as one of three “Canadian Defence Industry Success Stories.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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