Monday, August 23, 2010

Canadian Fish-wrap News Wrap

Starting with a completely great story from the Calgary Herald about ...Calgary's Motive Industries, which announced it would introduce an electric car whose bio-composite body is made from hemp.

 The prototype of the four-passenger, zero-emission vehicle, known as the Kestrel, is to be unveiled at an electric mobility trade show in Vancouver in September and would be the first of its kind in Canada (my brother has been telling me about this possibility for some time now).

Another good news story from out west is that five years after a huge caustic soda spill, the Cheakamus river teems with life: Over the last five years, with luck, the dedication of a broad base of volunteers, and millions of CN dollars invested in the recovery, much of the aquatic life is returning in numbers approaching prespill levels.

Beyond committing a total of $5.3-million or more in funds to at least 2015, CN has expanded its recovery focus beyond the immediate river, recognizing that migrating Cheakamus salmon also rely on the health of the Squamish estuary, the point at which the Squamish River drains into the Pacific Ocean.

From the Calgary Herald's Kelly Cryderman, a story about the Alberta government's plans to set aside 20 percent (or more) of the landscape in Alberta's oilsands region that would be for conservation purposes. It has the look of window dressing to address the bad publicity the tar-sands project has been receiving internationally.

George Poitras, former chief of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, said for the past four years, his band has been asking for a moratorium on all new oilsands approvals and expansions."Twenty per cent in my opinion is way too little," Poitras said.

The government has said they will consult with first nations on the reclamation processes -- something that Poitras dismisses as a "public relations exercise."


Andrew Nikiforuk at The Tyee writes an in-depth piece about the potential costs of the tar-sands to Canadians and how they rearranged Canadian economy and diminished the nation's economic diversity and resilience -- profits from this enterprise exist but are only for the few.

Again from the Herald, in the wake of the government's decision to not bring back Pat Strogan, an op-ed that describes the government as being at war with its veterans. That never looks good.

In an effort to display their common sense the Canadian government released document showing they turned down a direct plea from NATO to send more troops into southern Afghanistan in the run-up to last year's Afghan presidential election.

Here's a graph that illustrates the absolute ungratefulness of our NATO allies: NATO sources in Kabul said U.S. commanders in particular don't understand how their northern neighbour could have produced over 4,000 troops for peacekeeping in the Balkans in the 1990s — a time of budget restraint — and yet claim the well is dry while fighting a war. They question Canada's short rotation system of six-month deployments and nearly year-long training programs for each battle group. Nine freaking years and they behave like we're pikers! How much sacrifice do they want from our kids for their war on the other side of the planet?

And last but not least, from Toronto where 300 people facing G20-related charges appeared at a Toronto courthouse Monday, a legal tidal wave resulting from the largest mass arrests in Canadian history. Don't forget that the original  "security" bill for this fiasco was more than $1 billion dollars -- this nonsense just adds to the cost.

Iggy's Weekend (The Steep Learning Curve Express)

Iggy's cross Canada tour rolled into British Columbia this weekend and while the results are not spectacular one gets the sense from various newspaper reports out that way, that he is making headway and some converts. It helps of course to have the ideologically driven Tories constantly putting their foot in it seemingly every day of the summer. Liberals traditionally trail New Democrats and Conservatives in B.C. But while Grits remain in third place on the West Coast, a new Angus Reid poll reveals support has been on the upswing both for the party and its leader. So there's hope for west-coast Liberals and a chance for Michael Ignatieff to garner momentum going into the next session of Parliament.

He kicked it off in Nanaimo on Friday with Ujjal Dosanjh, Liberal member of Parliament for Vancouver South, Ken Dryden, hockey legend and MP for York Centre and Liberals from Vancouver Island and Ottawa. At the Mon Petit Choux Cafe he greeted and shook hands with supporters and gave a speech. His speech was interrupted by protesters chanting, “what's the deal, Michael Ignatieff?” Ignatieff shrugged it off, saying “they're Canadian citizens just like us.”

He then turned the protest (against his support of the seal hunt) into an opportunity to delineate between himself and his rival Mr. Harper, thereby proving the value of the summer long meet and greet tour when he used the moment and stressed ...the distinction between the Liberals and the ruling Conservatives, saying Prime Minister Stephan Harper doesn't understand “the difference between adversaries and enemies.”

There were also visits to Victoria, Squamish and into the heart of Conservative territory, the Fraser Valley, where he was savvy enough to put aside politics for the evening. The Richmond Review reported that a small crowd was there to see him present their town with a copy of his great grandfather’s diary at the Yale Historic Site -- and Ignatieff read to the small crowd the pages written by his grandfather during his stay in Yale, B.C.

After presenting the pages of the diary to Bronwyn Punch, president of the Yale Historical Society, along with a copy of the book Ocean to Ocean, Ignatieff toured the museum before heading off on the Liberal Express bus to Kamloops.

Earlier in the day, Ignatieff stopped for a short time in Abbotsford and toured the Bakerview eco-dairy.

He won over at least one new voter who blogged that all that he'd heard about Iggy proved to be false and he found him to be ...funny, engaging, curious and interested when talking to the people. He was “present” and remarked on several different local situations.

None of this is definitive but it does mark a turning point for Michael as a politician in that he's finally becoming one. It's a lot easier to theorize about what one would do as a politician than actually being one as Iggy has learned this past 18 months or so. He has been engaged in an unscripted, summer long dialogue with Canadians across the country, done a creditable job rarely setting a foot wrong and learned how to turn tough situations into opportunities. We'll soon see if this translates into he and the Liberals being a more effective opposition soon. Let's hope so.