Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Economies Of Scale

So I'm reading about the $1.3 billion dollars that were spent on the summit security and we all know how fabulously that went and what we got for our money. Armed, uniformed bullies conducting mass arrests and violating people's civil rights while the G-8 and G-20 delegates and officials had their photo-op pictures taken for deals that had been struck pro-forma (before they ever got here). I mean I can't think of a better way to spend that kind of money, can you? It's a great demonstration of the Conservatives bona fides as far as being fiscally conservative goes, and government officials were saying today that the costs for the G8 and G20 summits in June were a bargain at $1.3 billion. Who could ever doubt them now?


 You had to spend that kind of money,  ...to assure the world that the summits would go off without a hitch, said the man who oversaw security at the meetings, former spy chief Ward Elcock. "Many leaders will simply not come to a meeting at which adequate security does not exist."

Holding the G8 at a resort in rural Huntsville, Ont., the government had to pay high fixed costs to set up the infrastructure, temporary accommodation, telecommunications and transportation services the summit needed -- and by holding two summits at different sites, authorities had to secure hundreds of kilometres of highway, as well as make sure alternative transportation was available in case of bad weather.
So the original planning helped dictate high costs, although the above explanation doesn't really gibe with what the head of the government's Summit Management Office and chief organizer Peter McGovern says.
Since the two meetings were held just 250 kilometres apart — in Huntsville, Ont., and Toronto — Ottawa was able to spend efficiently by using the same contractors and planners for both events, McGovern argued.



"Although the summits were held in two locations, the advantage of choosing Toronto and Huntsville as hosts was that the contracts for goods and services could serve both locations given their relative proximity," McGovern said. "It also meant that my office did not need to double up the request-for-proposal process."
So the costs were high because the two summits were far apart, but because the two summits were close together they saved money. Got it.

As fuzzy as those explanations are, the excuse that caught my eye was McGovern's claim that, the "overarching consideration" in putting together the summits was "finding economies of scale. I'm pretty sure if you looked up the definition of obfuscating horsesh** in the not too distant future this statement will be there. Economies of scale? Really? The cost advantages that a business obtains due to expansion? That was the best they could come up with?

Needless to say he opposition aren't buying it but that hardly matters when you look at the polls. The real question is are Canadians paying attention? And if they're not, whose fault is that?

Hoeppner Craps All Over Decorum Day

A huge surprise in a Parliamentary committee hearing today as a Conservative member was the first to break with the spirit of  "Decorum Day" on the hill. All parties agreed in advance to support Equal Voice’s Decorum Day but agreements mean little to members of Canada's teaparty north.

 Apparently angered by Michael Ignatieff's private members bill to enshrine pay equity as a human right Candice Hoeppner attacked Mr. Ignatieff because she saw his bill as undoing one of the many untenable bits of legislation that were crammed into the omnibus budget bill C-9 which put pay equity on the bargaining table.

 As Mr. Ignatieff tried to explain that going to the polls every time you disagreed with the government was not a serious option he was interrupted repeatedly by Hoeppner who had to be cautioned by the committee chair to let the Liberal Leader finish his answers.

Ms. Hoeppner fresh off the loss of her own private members bill that would have scrapped the long-gun registry -- a bill women's groups across the country uniformly wanted to stay in place -- doubled down on not supporting equal pay for women by adding that while recognizing that many women fall behind, she said she likes to promote women who are successful. So if you're falling behind while trying to make ends meet or being screwed over by your employer, you are of no interest to her or her colleagues and you can expect no protection of your rights from the Conservative government.

Tea. Party. North.

Preserving Life On Earth

The title sounds a bit grandiose and the Globe and Mail even suggests that the task facing the 193 national delegations descending on Nagoya, Japan, ...is one befitting a deity: how to preserve life on Earth. The Convention on Biological Diversity, an international agreement signed amid great hope and in the early 1990s is part of what's at stake during the eleven day conference. And it begins with bad news:
The document bound countries to cut mass species loss “significantly” and preserve 10 per cent of the world’s ecological regions by 2010. But this year brought the sobering realization that not one country had met those targets.
Not one! After twenty years of high-level talks and treaties, mass extinction continues apace and three contentious issues issues have the potential to send this off the rails. There are seventeen developing countries bearing the overbearing moniker Group of Like Minded Megadiverse Countries and they've formed to accuse their richer counterparts of biopiracy. This group includes India, China and Brazil and they want regulations in place that would compensate them for pirated resources. With Canada leading the way, Western nations have largely resisted, according to those involved in the negotiations.

These developing countries are demanding that rich countries bankroll their conservation efforts as they cannot afford it. The same is not true of the west and there has been success of a kind: A recent World Wildlife Fund inventory of world biodiversity over the past 40 years found that while extinction rates continue unabated in the developing world, they have levelled off in the West, where expensive conservation projects have a ready place in national budgets.

Lastly, the ambitiousness of the targets undermined by failure and a lack of action means that the future viability of the convention is in doubt.

Interestingly, Canada's Conservative government has increased its support for the Global Environmental Facility, a global fund that invests in biodiversity projects fund by 50 per cent to $238-million over the next four years. And Jim Prentice the Minister for the Environment, who will attend the last four days of the conference has spoken constructively of this get together saying, “It’s an extremely important summit because biodiversity is an area where we all need to improve. This is a real issue for us and our children.”
“This is the one chance governments have to fix the loss of species and loss of biodiversity, said Bill Jackson, deputy director general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a Switzerland-based group working closely with governments in Nagoya. “In some ecosystems, we only have 10 or 15 years left before they’re gone.”

UPDATE: Here's a wonderful page full of links from the Guardian with 100 tasks for world governments to undertake to tackle the biodiversity crisis. George Monibot emphasizes what's at stake: The outcome is expected to be as tragic and as impotent as the collapse of last year's climate talks in Copenhagen.

We cannot accept this. We cannot stand back and watch while the wonders of this world are sacrificed to crass carelessness and short-termism.