Thursday, January 31, 2008

Justice Department justifies contracting out torture.

This is an interesting take on the submission of the DOJ at the Iacobucci Inquiry recently. It is from the Lawyer's Weekly. There have been several critical articles on the submission but this is the first I noticed that makes the point that it would justify contracting out of torture. Perhaps Alberto Gonzales has been acting as a legal advisor to the DOJ on this matter!

COMMENTARY: Justice department justifies contracting out of torture
By Reem BahdiFebruary 01 2008
Muayyed Nurredin, Abdullah Almalki and Ahmad El Maati are all Canadian citizens. However, they have been constructed as non-citizens who have effectively been told that they should not expect the full benefit or protection of Canada’s prohibition on torture. Their constructed non-citizen status was recently highlighted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) before the Iacobucci Inquiry.
Appointed to chair an “Internal Inquiry,” retired Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci has been tasked with determining whether Canadian officials caused – directly or indirectly – the overseas detention and torture of Almalki, El Maati and Nureddin. Pursuant to its mandate as interpreted by Justice Iacobucci, the inquiry has been conducted largely in secret.
However, in a rare public appearance before the commission, DOJ argued that even if Ottawa did share information with torturing states and thus helped facilitate the men’s arrest and detention abroad, this would not put Canada in breach of its obligations under the International Convention Against Torture (CAT). The CAT, according to the DOJ, simply requires Canadian officials to prevent torture on its own soil, but creates no obligation for Canadian officials vis-à-vis events that take place in foreign countries.
The DOJ’s submissions were not focused on whether Canada has a responsibility to the three Canadian citizens in relation to Syria’s conduct. Rather, the issue being addressed is whether international law sets any standards for the conduct of Canadian officials in the circumstances. The DOJ essentially argued that Canadian officials operate in a state of lawlessness.
Interestingly, borders do not always frustrate protection from torture in Canadian law. If the Syrian officials who actually inflicted the torture on these Canadian men found themselves in Canada, they could be prosecuted under the Criminal Code. And, if Almalki, El Maati and Nurredin were non-citizens at risk of being deported to torture, Canadian law would provide them some measure of protection as well. But the border has different significance for Almalki, El Maati and Nurredin, according to the DOJ. They appear to have no legal protection — even if they are Canadian citizens and even if the focus is on made-in-Canada decisions rendered by Canadian officials.
At least this is how the DOJ has interpreted Canada’s obligations under the CAT.
Sadly, the DOJ’s logic can be harnessed to justify the contracting out of torture, and undermines the very purpose of the CAT, which aims to prohibit torture in all its forms. The DOJ offered both the inquiry and the Canadian public an overly formalistic and ultimately unpersuasive reading of Canada’s legal obligations. The CAT does indicate that states are responsible for implementing its provisions within their territory. The territorial reference is meant to underline that states must clearly prevent torture committed on their soil, but it does not stipulate that responsibility for torture categorically ends at one’s border. In other words, nothing in the CAT relieves Canadian government officials from responsibility should they facilitate torture on foreign soil.
The CAT stresses that torture cannot be committed by anyone, under any circumstances, for any reason whatsoever. And, like all human rights treaties, this treaty must be interpreted in light of a fundamental international legal principle: states must take positive and effective measures to ensure the human rights of those living within their territories. When states are tempted to finesse their obligations, they should consider a statement by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture:
“I remind governments around the world that they are not only obliged to refrain at all times from using torture — they also have a duty not to transfer persons in their custody to countries where they are at risk of being tortured; a duty to refrain from encouraging torture anywhere in any way; and a duty to actively prevent torture, inter alia by bringing torturers to justice.”
Curiously, Canada’s stance before international bodies differs from DOJ’s position before the Iacobucci Inquiry. In their report to the U.N.’s Committee Against Torture, Canadian officials accepted, at least implicitly, that the CAT prohibits contributing to torture either directly or indirectly. Noting the Arar Inquiry, Canadian representatives told members of the U.N. committee that “Canada takes allegations of torture seriously, especially where it is alleged that Canadian officials may have been implicated, however indirectly, in incidents of torture.”
Canada’s legal obligations are clear. For greater emphasis and to help reaffirm the futility and immorality of torture, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association has proposed anti-torture legislation to codify Canada’s obligations under domestic and international law (for further information, see
Everyone – citizen and non-citizen alike – should be secure in the knowledge that Canadian officials will not participate directly or indirectly in torture.
Professor Reem Bahdi teaches Access to Justice and Torts at the Faculty of Law at the University of Windsor. She is a board member of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

Karzai doubts more troops would help Afghan security situation.

This is from wiredispatch. Here we have everyone scrambling to find more troops to send to Afghanistan while the country's leader doubts more troops will help the security situation. The U.S. is already sending about 3,000 more troops. Karzai would not miss us if we brought our troops home and the US won't miss us because NATO troops are not well trained in counter-insurgency anyway!

Karzai doubts more troops would help Afghan security situation
dpadpa - International News Service in English
Jan 30, 2008 03:37 EST
Berlin (dpa) - President Hamid Karzai has expressed doubt whether the deployment of more foreign troops to Afghanistan will improve the security situation, in an interview published in a German newspaper Wednesday.
"I am not sure whether deploying more troops would be the right answer," Karzai told Die Welt.
Concentrating on the training camps and refuges where the terrorist groups had fled was more important, Karzai said.
"Afghanistan is not a (terrorist) refuge. It was one, but we have reversed that," he said.
"For us, the war is not here but elsewhere," the Afghan president said.
Afghanistan needed to expand its human capital and institutions more than anything else, Karzai said pointing to the army, the police, the civil service and the judiciary.
US President George W Bush has called repeatedly for NATO countries to respond to the need for greater effort in Afghanistan, but major alliance members such as Germany and France have restricted the way their forces can be deployed.
A furore broke earlier this year over comments from US Defence Secretary Robert Gates after he was reported to have criticized the training of NATO troops deployed in Afghanistan.
The Western alliance has around 37,000 troops deployed in the country. dpa rpm gma
Source: dpa - International News Service in English

Ian White to Head Up Canadian Wheat Board

This is from a Queensland source. It is not the board that decides whether to keep or ditch its monopoly. The government of course wants to ditch the monopoly. White at least seems to have a lot of experience and this article says nothing unfavorable about him. White has been head honcho while various regulatory changes were taking place at Queensland sugar so he has experience in such situations. This makes him a good choice for Harper. However, White will also not buck any removal of single desk selling unlike the former head of the board. White's experience is just icing on the cake.

QSL’s Ian White to head up Canadian Wheat Board Thursday, 31 January 2008 Queensland Sugar Limited chief executive officer, Ian White, has resigned to take up a new position heading up the Canadian Wheat Board - one of the world's largest grain exporters.
The Canadian Government announced the appointment of Mr White today.
Mr White is best known for his active role in the Australian grain industry and he joins the board at a time of deep turmoil in the industry as it tries to decide whether to keep or ditch its monopoly over wheat exports.
Sugar industry peak body, Canegrowers, said Mr White's departure from QSL presented both opportunities and challenges for the Queensland sugar industry.
Canegrowers CEO, Ian Ballantyne, said the future and stewardship of the export marketing effort for the Queensland sugar industry is of vital importance and the departure of Mr White put the issue in the spotlight and needed to be resolved as a matter of priority.
Mr White has filled a variety of high profile positions including being the first CEO of Graincorp, managing director of Defiance Mills and in more recent times, heading up Queensland Cotton’s North American operations.
He joined QSL in 2000.
Originally from a finance and accounting background in both government and private industry, Ian held senior management positions with Elders Grain and the large grower cooperative, the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, in Canada in the 1980s.
"As chief executive of QSL, Mr White was influential in the development of the international face of the Australian sugar industry and had been on the frontline of marketing the majority of Queensland’s raw sugar," Mr Ballantyne said.
"Ian has also been at the forefront of industry restructure following deregulation, and has been a compelling advocate in arguing for change to the international trade regime."
Mr Ballantyne said the sugar industry was "at the crossroads" in crucial negotiations with regards to raw sugar marketing operations and at a decisive point in determining the future use of sugar terminals.
"At the same time future price risk management arrangements need to be bedded down and rolled out to growers at the earliest opportunity," he said.
"It is imperative that a clear decision be made on QSL’s role, function and authority to operate in marketplace – these matters are vital and need to be very clearly determined before an appropriate replacement for Mr White can be recruited."

Free speech in Afghanistan

This is from the Independent. This is the free and democratic Afghanistan that Canadians are dying for. Earlier a convert from Islam to Christianity had to be spirited away to avoid the death penalty. A female legislator was kicked out of the legislatuere for criticising her fellow legislators. If this rule were followed in Canada no one would be in the house.

Sentenced to death: Afghan who dared to read about women's rights

, 31 January 2008
A young man, a student of journalism, is sentenced to death by an Islamic court for downloading a report from the internet. The sentence is then upheld by the country's rulers. This is Afghanistan – not in Taliban times but six years after "liberation" and under the democratic rule of the West's ally Hamid Karzai.
The fate of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh has led to domestic and international protests, and deepening concern about erosion of civil liberties in Afghanistan. He was accused of blasphemy after he downloaded a report from a Farsi website which stated that Muslim fundamentalists who claimed the Koran justified the oppression of women had misrepresented the views of the prophet Mohamed.
Mr Kambaksh, 23, distributed the tract to fellow students and teachers at Balkh University with the aim, he said, of provoking a debate on the matter. But a complaint was made against him and he was arrested, tried by religious judges without – say his friends and family – being allowed legal representation and sentenced to death.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New York Philharmonic to play in North Korea

Mehta says he doesn't think of politics but they will play the Star-Spangled Banner? Is that usually on the program of a classical concert? Even Gershwin's American in Paris is a very American work but at least it is a recognised concert piece.

N Korea concert to be aired on TV

The orchestra was recently conducted by Gustavo DudamelThe New York Philharmonic's historic concert in North Korea is to be screened on television.
The first US cultural event in the reclusive country's capital, Pyongyang, will be screened by US, South Korean, and European broadcasters.
The 26 February concert will feature the playing of the Star Spangled Banner and a programme of works including Gershwin's An American In Paris.
It is unclear whether North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il will attend.
Details of the TV broadcast have yet to be finalised.
Orchestra president Zarin Mehta said it would show how "music can unite".
"We only play great music," he added when asked whether the choice of pieces had been politically inspired.
"We don't think about politics."

We need to spray this in the House of Commons before Question Period.

This is from the Manila Tribune. To create the spirit of non-partisanship and good spirits this is exactly what we need ,the proper environment in the House.
Perhaps some enterprising entrepreneur can market this to all our politicians. However, we would still need to hold our noses when we vote.

Spritz your way to happiness
By Maripet L. Poso, Staff Writer
Throw out those Zoloft and Prozac; there’s a new antidepressant in town!
And you don’t need a doctor’s prescription for this one; you don’t even need to worry about side effects as the only proven aftermath is smelling nice and feeling good. And here’s the catch! Product can be consumed without any moderation whatsoever and at any time you want!
We’re talking about smiley perfume, a happiness-triggering slash the very first antidepressant perfume that’s become a cult scent in some parts of Europe and is starting to invade the Philippines.
“When we launched smiley in 2005, it was such an instant hit,” said Juan Cuadrado, area manager of Arthes, the French company behind Smiley, during the launch recently at Rustan’s Essenses, Makati. “The smiley concept defies the whole perfume industry notion down to the packaging,” added Cuadrado.
Designed by ora-ïto, a twentysomething French designer known as the “Prince of Design,” who has been behind many products of well-known brands like Louis Vuitton, Nike, Apple and Levi’s, to name a few, smiley’s packaging is hip, unisex, unique and blatantly nonconformist. It looks like a bottle of medicine so much that it blends beautifully in a medicine cabinet, especially the emergency smiley kit. It carries its signature smiley digital emoticon in (you guessed right) sunny yellow color.
If some fragrances capitalize on seduction, love and power, smiley simply wants to uplift one’s mood, so that everything else follows.
Taking its cue from the concept of the tangible benefits of aromatherapy, “smiley isolated the ingredients recognized for their stimulating capacities and assembled them for the fist time in a perfume.”
At first you get a whiff of the fresh top notes of bergamot, orange and pimento berry. Whether you like the scent or not, it will definitely capture your attention. Right after the the citrusy and somewhat spicy top notes start to fade, you get a hint of the divine pleasures emanating from the cocoa and praline curacao scents, the heart notes of smiley. Responsible for the happy therapy are phenylethylamine and theobromine substances that are found in cocoa. Phenylethylamine is said to help diffuse feelings of giddiness and euphoria, while theobromine has the same effects of stress-decreasing caffeine. Together, they set off a general feeling of happiness that chocolates similary give, without the calories!
Furthermore, bringing intensity to the fragrance would be the base notes. The relaxing hints of patchouli, myrrh and musk ultimately seal the deal with their soothing and calming effects, almost conducive to meditation.
Targetting the young and hip market of 20- to 30-year-olds, smiley’s unisex appeal crosses boundaries, raises skeptics’ brows and defies standards. Ultimately, however, it presents an exciting option to combat one of today’s generation’s number one killer disease, depression.
Maybe it’s not yet time to ditch the pills or another visit to the shrink, but a promise of happiness in every squirt? That’s something worth exploring.
Aside from eau de toilette and eau de parfum, smiley comes in full bath and body care line that includes body deodorant treatment, therapeutic bath (purifying milky pills with health spa side effects), all-in-one washing solution (total solution for body and hair), body rubbing friction (stimulating massage oils) and body gel.
Smiley is available at Rustans Essenses.

U.S. at odds with NATO over troops for Afghanistan

This is from Reuters. The U.S. is in a rather difficult position. They used NATO to spread out the pain of trying to build a compliant Afghanistan subject to US plans--albeit shared by junior partners Britain, Canada, etc. Karzai is not always an obedient puppet although he realizes his dependency on the U.S. and NATO. Karzai wan't co-operative warlords rather than those who will be gung ho for the war against the Taliban. The UK in particular has attempted to make deals independently of the government.
Harper can say that the new troops the U.S. is already committing to the south consitute over a thousand and they will have the necessary extra helicopters as well. Surely the Canadian taxpayer can foot the bill for some new equipment etc. to help out our buddy Bush. The conditions for staying in Kandahar for a longer period can be easily met even without further NATO troops beyond those sent by the U.S.

U.S. at odds with NATO over troops for Afghanistan

Tue Jan 29, 2008 6:12pm ESTBy Kristin RobertsWASHINGTON, Jan 29 (Reuters) - The United States will press its European NATO allies to send more troops to Afghanistan's violent south in response to Canada's call for reinforcements, but the Pentagon said it will not commit any more of its own forces there.More than six years after the U.S.-led invasion, the issue of security in Afghanistan came to a head this week when Prime Minister Stephen Harper threatened to pull out Canada's 2,500 troops early next year unless NATO sent in more soldiers.NATO said on Tuesday it shared Canada's view of the need to bolster its peace operation but dismissed charges that allies were dragging their feet, noting a huge expansion since 2003.The Taliban rulers were toppled by the invasion in late 2001 but the Islamist militants and their al Qaeda allies have made an explosive comeback in the last two years, slowing Afghanistan's economic growth and reconstruction.U.S. defense officials have also regularly complained about the unwillingness of European allies to dedicate more combat troops and equipment to Afghanistan."We've got a number of allies with us there," said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell. "Hopefully they can see to it to dig deeper and find additional forces."The resurgence of the militants comes despite the presence of 50,000 foreign troops under the command of NATO and the U.S. military, backed by partially Western-trained and equipped Afghan security forces now numbering more than 120,000.The United States has 29,000 troops in Afghanistan and earlier this month ordered another 3,200 Marines to be deployed there. Morrell said 2,200 of those would be sent to the restive south, which includes Kandahar."That's as much and as deep as we're going at this point," Morrell said, adding that the Pentagon was not considering an additional deployment following Canada's call.STRUGGLE TO COORDINATEIn Brussels, a NATO spokesman said the organization had a long-standing request for more troops in the south."We share the assessment that Afghanistan needs long-term support, including military support," he said.But he pointed out that the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force had quadrupled to more than 40,000 troops and "is now close to what our military believe is our full requirement."The Afghan defense minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak, said Kabul expected its allies to help expand the quality and size of the nation's security forces so they can take the lead against the militants and cut the burden on the international community."We are all in full agreement that the only sustainable way to secure this country in an enduring way is to enable the Afghans themselves to be able to defend this country against all external and internal threats," Wardak said.Overshadowed by concern over the conflict in Iraq, the Afghan reconstruction effort has suffered from underfunding, turf battles between rival agencies, corruption among officials and the resurgence of Taliban-led violence.An international drive to better coordinate civilian operations with the NATO-led military campaign suffered a setback this week when British politician Paddy Ashdown pulled out of the running to be the United Nations' "super envoy."The position seemed to be custom-made for Ashdown, the former international representative for Bosnia, skilled in post-war reconstruction.But President Hamid Karzai's move to veto him, ostensibly for fear he would wield too much power, sent Western officials back to the drawing board with no obvious alternative."Ashdown was the name," said a Western diplomat in Brussels who works on Afghanistan. "The requirement for coordination is undiminished and yet the whole issue has become politicized. We still have this gaping hole."U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said this week Ashdown would have done a "superb job" and reaffirmed American backing for a central coordinator in Afghanistan. (Additional reporting by Sue Pleming in Washington, Sayed Salahuddin in Kabul, Mark John in Brussels and Luke Baker in London; Writing by John O'Callaghan; Editing by Chris Wilson)
© Reuters 2007.

Conservatives to introduce legislation re Wheat Board barley marketing.

This is from I doubt that anyone will want to provoke an election on the issue of the Wheat Board having a monopoly on marketing barley! The Bloc Quebecois could support the Conservatives since the issue has no bearing at all really on Quebec since the Wheat Board governs marketing only in the west. However the Bloc seems anxious for an election so maybe they would not side with the government. This would be embarassing for the Liberals except that nothing embarasses them any more. They would sit on their hands or vote with the government. Canadians don't yet want an election. Translation: Our polls aren't good enough yet.

Feds to introduce legislation ending wheat board's monopoly
Mia Rabson , Winnipeg Free PressPublished: Tuesday, January 29, 2008
OTTAWA - The federal Agriculture Minister will introduce legislation as early as next month to end the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly on prairie barley sales.
But because it's a minority government, turning Minister Gerry Ritz's legislation into law will require the support of the opposition, something neither the NDP nor the Liberals plan to provide.
Ritz delivered the news Tuesday after a controversial meeting with the wheat board and barley industry representatives. Ritz acknowledged he stacked the room with people who oppose anything short of full, open marketing choice for barley producers.

But he said those who oppose marketing choice are in favour of the status quo, which is an unacceptable position and is contrary to what farmers said in a federal plebiscite held in 2007.
Ritz said he expects the wheat board to unveil "a clear road map" by the end of this week, after the board of directors' meeting in Winnipeg.
"We agreed there is a gap between what western Canadian barley producers are asking for and what they are getting," said Ritz.
However, Ritz said he will introduce legislation before Parliament breaks in three weeks, regardless of what the wheat board does.
"We've been pushing this rock uphill for years," said Ritz. "We are willing to go it alone."
Manitoba NDP MP Pat Martin and Saskatchewan Liberal MP Ralph Goodale both said their parties would not vote in favour of ending the wheat board's single-desk system.
But Martin said he fears Prime Minister Stephen Harper will turn this bill into a vote of confidence, which means if it fails, it will trigger an election.
That could make it harder for the Liberals, in particular, to vote against it, though Goodale said he cannot imagine a scenario where the Liberals would support such a bill.
"This is a continuation of the government's supreme arrogance and their heavy-handed, thug-like tactics to try and blow (the wheat board) out of existence," said Goodale.
He said it could even be illegal, because the government by law has to ask farmers to vote on the matter, and he said last year's referendum - in which two thirds of farmers backed an end to the board's monopoly on barley sales - doesn't count.
"There is a powerful legal argument that that plebiscite was not legal," said Goodale. "Farmers must vote on the specific changes the government has in mind. That is not what the government asked last year."

'We have a plan" Stelmach

Golly not very inspiring. Shouldn't he be plagiarizing Martin Luther King and claim that he has a dream--Alberta Dreaming? A plan has echoes of the Soviet Five Year Plan not very sexy for an Alberta Conservative leader.
Nevertheless the plan seems to involve the usual goodies before an election and there is the usual bleating of the opposition sheep about the horrible expensiveness of it all.

Wednesday » January 30 » 2008

'We have a plan': Stelmach
Premier answers critics with capital strategy, Suncor royalty deal

Tony Seskus, with files from Dina O'Meara, Calgary Herald and Canwest News Service
Calgary Herald
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
With a provincial election campaign expected to kick off next week, Premier Ed Stelmach took aim Tuesday at two major criticisms levelled at his government: a lack of long-term planning and contentious energy royalties.
Accused of having "no plan" and of "tearing up" agreements with the oilpatch, the rookie premier rolled out a 20-year strategy, valued at $6 billion annually, for Alberta's growing infrastructure demands, although it contained few new specifics.
As part of the announcement, he pledged $300 million for more long-term care beds.
Later, the province revealed a much-anticipated royalties agreement with Suncor Energy, one of two oilsands players it needs to strike deals with before implementing a new royalty structure next year.
At a news conference in Edmonton, Stelmach maintained the Tory government is planning for the future.
"There's somebody out there that says we don't have a plan -- but we have a plan," Stelmach said in a loud whisper, mocking union attack ads.
But analysts and opposition politicians say both announcements, as well as a flurry of big-ticket promises in the past two weeks, are geared to re-electing the Tory dynasty.
"This is definitely done with an eye towards the polls," said Bruce Foster, chair of policy studies at Mount Royal College.
"The timing of it basically means this is election driven," Foster said.
Stelmach is in Calgary today to present a cheque to Mayor Dave Bronconnier, while a long-awaited announcement for new schools is also expected.
In recent weeks, the premier has also committed $12 million more in cultural funding, $97 million for capital projects at the University of Calgary, and $168 million for repairs and new labs at the University of Alberta.
The spending drew fire from Paul Hinman, leader of the Wildrose Alliance Party, who accused the Tories of making pricey promises with taxpayer dollars.
"This is an incredible tax-and-spend government and I don't know how we're going to be able to afford it," Hinman said.
The spending plan released Tuesday estimates it would cost about $6 billion annually in today's dollars to support capital projects for the next two decades -- or slightly less than the province spends now.
It forecasts a steady-as-it-goes approach toward 2028, but avoids any commitments to a Calgary-to-Edmonton high-speed train, or even a mention of how many schools will be needed in two decades.
"It is a blueprint for action -- and that action begins today," said Gene Zwozdesky, the government's associate minister of capital planning.
But Liberal deputy leader Dave Taylor said the announcement smacks of pre-election politics.
"We're going to throw billions and billions of dollars (at the issue) -- it sounds like Dr. Evil," he quipped.
"If you were that concerned and you were working on it that hard, why couldn't you come up with this several months ago?"
The government also announced Suncor had agreed to a deal that could see it paying up to 20 per cent more by 2010. The agreement is part of a new oil and gas royalty framework announced by Stelmach in October aimed at raising an additional $1.4 billion from the sector.
One of the key changes was a renegotiation of Crown agreements with industry pioneers Suncor and Syncrude Canada, which expire in 2016.
The government is still negotiating with the Syncrude consortium.
Suncor chief executive Rick George said the deal achieves a "happy" medium between it and the province.
"What you're looking for is what is the right balance between the owner of the resource and the developer, and I think we've struck that balance," George told a press conference.
NDP House Leader Ray Martin criticized the announcement for lacking the kind of detail Albertans want, or spelling out how much more money it will generate.
"This is to get them through an election," he said. "We'll begin to see the dotted i's and the crossed t's -- what it really means -- if they're re-elected."
© The Calgary Herald 2008

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Call off the election, Stelmach: Political Expert

As the final parts of this article show, even though a lot of Stelmachian programs may not be popular the populace still is 2 to 1 for Stelmach over the Liberal leader. Maybe the conservative masses of Alberta will hold their noses and vote Conservative in spite of the enticing odor of the Wild Roses or whatever they call themselves now.

Call off the election,Stelmach

Don Braid
Calgary Herald
Friday, January 25, 2008
University of Calgary political expert David Taras has some free advice for the Stelmach government: "Call off the election."
The findings in a Herald poll are so dreadful the Conservatives risk disaster, according to Taras.
"This government only has 32 per cent. These are terrible numbers. Just awful."
"So at a certain point, as you're heading toward the cliff, you need to ask yourself (if) you really want to jump."
It will be fascinating to see if Premier Ed Stelmach's brain trust, easily spooked at any time, is rethinking the plan for an election call in February.
The second phase of the Leger Marketing poll, which asked how the government is performing in 12 separate policy areas, is even more devastating than Thursday's general popularity results.
A jolting conclusion emerges -- most Albertans reject nearly everything Stelmach is doing.
The Tories had 48 main chances to post favourable reactions. (Results in each category were calculated for Calgary, Edmonton, rural Alberta and the province at large.)
They got three positive responses. Yes, three out of 48.
In rural Alberta, most people liked Tory performance on taxes, royalties, and open and honest government, but turned thumbs down on nine other areas of performance.
The polls were negative for all 12 areas in Calgary, Edmonton, and the province at large.
Worse, the responses were very hostile on the issues Albertans believe are most important: health care and affordable housing. The health-care results are a disaster.
Sixty per cent of Albertans think the government does badly; only 27.5 per cent approve Tory performance.
In Calgary, 70 per cent think the government is messing it up, while only 19 per cent like the Tory record.
On affordable housing, the disapproval is equally thunderous, ranging from 66.9 per cent in Calgary to 58.3 per cent in rural areas.
Those two issues are considered more crucial than all the others, including crime, environment, the labour shortage and even royalties.
After all the uproar, royalties are now far down the list of Albertans worries; only 3.4 per cent consider the issue most important. Nonetheless, royalties have become a negative for the government.
Forty-four per cent of Albertans disapprove of Tory performance, while 40 per cent approve. Calgarians are solidly opposed and Edmontonians disapprove marginally.
The royalty regime is a winner only in rural Alberta, by a margin of 45 per cent to 39.4 per cent. The best the Tories can say about the royalty turmoil is it's the least unpopular thing they've done.
Overall, the poll shows that the government's weak general approval rating, 32.4 per cent, floats on a string of negative ratings for every single policy. That's a leaky life-raft to paddle into an election.
The only factor that will propel a government this seasick to the polls is the lack of a surging opponent.
The Tories don't face one. For all Stelmach's problems, he's still the 2-1 favourite for premier over Liberal Leader Kevin Taft.
With or without an election, though, it's obvious that the way Stelmach governs, by attacking one problem after another with panels, studies, secretariats and money, fails to inspire most Albertans.
In the weird way of Alberta politics, this doesn't mean the Tories will lose. Voters have a record of giving their governing parties second chances.
But if Stelmach does limp back into office, he'll have to reinvent almost everything.

Keen: Reactor risk higher than acceptable.

This is from CTV. It is truly amazing that marketer of the isotopes MDS Nordion merits not a mention in this whole issue. Nordion was suffering because it had no isotopes to market but the whole discussion is framed so that this matter does not even come up. It is the health of Canadians not the health of MDS Nordion that is the issue.
The real culprits in this matter are AECL and the Harper government. AECL is a crown corporation which has been screwing up big time for a long time but nothing is done to correct this by the government. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission seemed to be doing its job in regulating AECL. The government soon fixed that!

Reactor risk higher than acceptable, Keen says
Updated Tue. Jan. 29 2008 1:41 PM ET News Staff
The former head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) said Tuesday that the safety risk at the Chalk River nuclear reactor was 1,000 times higher than acceptable international standards prior to its temporary shutdown late last year.
The reactor, operated by the Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL), a Crown corporation, stopped production for scheduled repairs on Nov. 18 and was expected to restart within five days.
But the CNSC -- responsible for setting licensing, health and safety rules for the country's nuclear facilities -- refused to allow the reactor to restart after finding it had been operating without a backup emergency power system for cooling pumps for 17 months.
The closure led to a worldwide medical isotope shortage and prompted the House of Commons to unanimously vote to reopen the reactor and resume isotope production.
Linda Keen, recently fired by the government, said Tuesday that Canadians shouldn't have to choose between nuclear safety and medical isotopes.
Keen made the comments during testimony before a House of Commons natural resources committee probing the circumstances surrounding the shut down.
"Nuclear reactors are in communities where Canadians live," said the former CNSC president.
"They need to know that the commission will make its decision based on what's right."
Keen said the CNSC was only acting in accordance with the law. She said reactors must be held to the same safety standards as a space shuttle or jumbo jet.
Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn axed Keen two weeks ago, the evening before she was originally scheduled to testify before the committee. As a result, Keen rescheduled her appearance for today.
Health Minister Tony Clement also testified before the committee on Tuesday, saying he was in full support of Keen's firing.
"We had to act," he said. "Repeated requests to the regulator to see about an expeditious hearing were not met."
Clement said if the crisis had continued it would have "led to deaths."
Lunn, during his testimony two weeks ago, told the committee that Keen showed a "lack of leadership" and did not get the facility up and running quickly enough.
Auditor-General testifies
Auditor-General Sheila Fraser was first to appear before the committee Tuesday and she said the firing raised concerns about the independence of regulatory bodies.
"Clearly, I think there are questions that arise around the independence of regulatory bodies, how they are to be dealt with, what is the protocol with government,'' Fraser said.
"There would certainly seem to be, as a minimum, a lack of clarity around some of this.''
Last September, Fraser sent Lunn a report highlighting "three strategic challenges" that AECL faced, including "the replacement of aging facilities at Chalk River Laboratories (CRL)."
The report said the Chalk River facility needed at least $600 million to deal with "urgent health, safety, security and environmental issues.''
Lunn told CTV's Question Period last Sunday that he was briefed on the audit during the first week of October, about two months before the reactor was shut down.
He insisted that he had no way of anticipating the crisis because the report said "absolutely nothing about the situation."
Lunn said the auditor general's concerns were focused on MAPLE reactors at Chalk River that had yet to come online.
"There's absolutely nothing, nothing in this auditor general's report that would have allowed me to foresee that we were going to have this problem that we did in early December. It's simply not in the report."
Lunn also said that AECL, a Crown corporation, never alerted him to the fact the Chalk River reactor was operating without a back-up pump in violation of its licence.
On Tuesday, Fraser criticized the government for not having a strategy for nuclear energy.
With files from The Canadian Press

Farmers: Ottawa wants to dismantle Wheat Board

This is hardly news. In fact if farmers bothered to read the federal Conservative party platform it included a pledge to end the Wheat Board's monopoly or single desk selling. The plebiscite the Conservatives held was misleading but there also seems to be a general misunderstanding to the effect that the Wheat Board could survive without a monopoly and that caused a lot of farmers to vote for a dual marketing structure for marketing barley. Perhaps the same three choice questionnaire will be used when there is a plebiscite re wheat.

Ottawa wants to dismantle Wheat Board: farmers
Updated Tue. Jan. 29 2008 11:22 AM ET
The Canadian Press
OTTAWA -- Some western farmers are arguing that the federal government wants to dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board and turn control of agriculture over to big business.
They say it's the start of a slope that could see the government do away with marketing boards, medicare and the CBC.
Farm representatives are in Ottawa protesting a closed-door meeting called by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz to discuss the future of the barley industry.
The government wants to give western farmers the option of selling barley outside the wheat board system, although its first try was stymied by a Federal Court decision.
Opponents of that idea say the Ritz meeting is a ploy to allow wheat board "haters" to bully the agency into giving up control of the barley market.
Although a plebiscite last year seemed to support the government's effort to allow farmers an option in barley sales, opponents say the vote was rigged.
The government has appealed the Federal Court decision on barley marketing and a hearing is scheduled for next month.

Rae: Time to reassess goals of Afghan mission.

The goals of the Afghan mission are rarely discussed in any event. The goals are made in the US and our role is to share some of the burdens for those goals along with other NATO countries. Of course Rae would remove any reference to that relationship in any of his speeches. Just as he suggested the Conservatives were remiss in allowing a handbook to be published that made reference to the U.S. and Israel with respect to torture. He would have been sure that such passages were removed. Maybe we are fortunate Stockwell Day and not Bob Rae saw those secret papers re Arar that the US provided to show why Arar should be on the no-fly list. Stockwell Day at least had enough integrity not to be cowed into submisssion. Who knows what Rae might have said?
Anyway discussion of the goals of the Afghan mission will be framed in such a way that the underlying goals will not get discussed at all.
The morality and legality of our intervention starting with the Operation Enduring Freedom will not be discussed either. This will be cut off by simply referring to the fact that we are in Afghanistan as authorised by: the UN, NATO, and the Karzai govt. Well right and the US is in Iraq authorised by: the UN, and the Maliki govt. Does that then settle the morality and legality of the Iraq occupation?
What Rae is referring to are not goals at all but tactics or means to goals. Rae wants to use carrots rather than sticks because sticks involve casualties and this makes a harder sell for the mission and also does not seem to be working too well.

Time to reassess goals of Afghan mission: Rae
Updated Tue. Jan. 29 2008 8:30 AM ET News Staff
Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic Bob Rae says it's time to reassess Canada's goals in Afghanistan and come up with an exit strategy that reflects those outcomes.
Rae, who hopes to win a seat in the riding of Toronto Centre, spoke to CTV's Canada AM one day after Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he accepts the "broad recommendations" of John Manley's panel report on the future of Canada's role in Afghanistan.
Harper told an Ottawa news conference on Monday that his government accepts the report's recommendation that the mission be extended so long as the extension is conditional on more NATO support and equipment.
Rae said it's time to rethink the mission, then decide how long we should stay involved.
"What is the most realistic and effective way for Canada to stay and where do we have the greatest chance for success? In our view, an open-ended, never-ending military mission that focuses on counter-insurgency is not going to succeed and we have to create a mission that has a more realistic chance of success," Rae said.
The panel recommended that NATO find a 1,000-soldier battle group to assist Canada's 2,500 troops in Kandahar province -- one of the most insurgency-wracked parts of Afghanistan.
It also said Canada's soldiers should be supplied with helicopters and aerial drones.
Rae said he believes Canada should remain in Afghanistan for the next few years in some capacity, but not necessarily a military one.
"I think we really have to move away from this notion this is exclusively a military mission or that the only thing Canada is doing or should be doing is counterinsurgency and military activity of that kind," Rae said.
"We've got to take a step back and try to get an assessment of where this country of Afghanistan is going and how can we actually help to advance the cause of stability, which has to be our objective."
He acknowledged that the mission in Afghanistan is a tough one thanks to a complex political situation, a history of violence and the presence of the Taliban.
"It's a very difficult challenge and I think what the Liberal party has consistently said is we didn't go there with the promise we were going to stay there forever. This is not a forever mission," he said.
Rae said Canada should focus more on finding political solutions and increasing stability in Afghanistan, as well as working on development and diplomacy. He added that other NATO nations also need to step up and do their part so Canada can back away from its combat role.
On Monday, Harper said Canada's work in Afghanistan should be reviewed on progress towards benchmarks within two to three years' time.
Any extension of Canada's mission will need Liberal support in Parliament to pass. Liberal Leader Stephane Dion indicated a possible deal if some conditions are met, including rotating Canadians out of the volatile Kandahar region within the next three years.
"(Harper) should push for the principle of rotation," Dion told reporters. "If we don't have this principle, I don't see how this mission will work for the long haul."
But some Liberals, including defence critic Denis Coderre, suggested they would not risk an election on the issue.
"Personally, I wouldn't go to an election on Afghanistan," he said.
While a full response to the Manley report is weeks away, Harper said he would be leading a diplomatic effort to secure more support from NATO allies at a key meeting in Bucharest, Romania in April.
He thought the report would give him "tremendous ammunition" there -- and he gave a warning.
The government will introduce a motion this spring seeking support of the House of Commons for the mission, which is set to end in its current form on February 2009.

Stelmach: Canada's economy depends on Alberta oil.

It seems that underlying issues are not discussed in most articles about the Oilsands. The environmental issue is front and center and the economic importance of the oil sands project for Alberta and Canada. Nothing is said about the US economy. The oil sands project is regarded as in effect a source for US oil supplies and part of a US plan to ensure its own energy supplies.

The US wants Oil Sands production to increase five fold:

U.S. urges 'fivefold expansion' in Alberta oilsands production
Last Updated: Thursday, January 18, 2007 6:31 AM ET
CBC News

Also, 99 per cent of our oil exports are to the U.S.:

Over 99% of Canadian oil exports are sent to the United States, making Canada, not Saudi Arabia, the United States' largest supplier of oil.[9]

So the relationship of Oil Sands production to US energy needs is just left out of the story. Our relationship to the US is also left out when our role in Afghanistan is discussed.

Canada's economy depends on Alberta oil: Stelmach
Updated Mon. Jan. 28 2008 9:34 PM ET
The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER -- Canada depends on Alberta's oil-rich economy to fuel prosperity and any shut down in the province's oil industry would be felt across the country, says Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach.
The Alberta leader was greeted by protesters as he joined other provincial and territorial leaders in Vancouver Monday for Council of the Federation meetings focused largely on climate change.
But he was unapologetic.
"It's fact,'' Stelmach told reporters. "I'm not saying that in a boastful way.''
Stelmach said he knows Alberta is being singled out by environmental groups but the premiers were told that deep cuts by Alberta would be felt across Canada.
"Today, the economy of Canada is dependent in large part on the economy in the province of Alberta,'' he said at a press conference at the end of Monday's meetings.
"So if we were to race everyone and immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions, that would mean a total shut down, a total shut down of the oilsands.''
Environmentalists have been calling on Alberta to re-evaluate the multibillion-dollar oilsands industry, saying pollution from the industry threatens to wipe out any gains other provinces make in cutting the greenhouse gas emissions largely blamed for global warming.
Stelmach, who is preparing to call a provincial election, said 1.25 million barrels of oil a day come out of the oilsands, most of it exported.
"If that happens, not only will there be significant job loss across the country, but there will be a radical change and we will lose a considerable amount of investment,'' he told reporters.
Stelmach said Alberta needs more time to implement its climate change agenda, which he deemed a real plan for a real problem.
"Albertans are buying it,'' he said.
Alberta plans to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions before they are released into the atmosphere.
Once in place, oil from Alberta's oilsands will produce fewer emissions than conventional oil, Stelmach said.
Alberta's plan calls for cutting emissions by 14 per cent by 2050, compared to British Columbia's plan to cut emissions by 33 per cent by 2020.
Talks could heat up as the provincial leaders try to find common ground on the issue of climate change but New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham, who served as the meeting chairman, said the other premiers didn't ''gang up'' on Alberta.
B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell said the leaders are all committed to reducing emissions but some will use different methods to meet the challenge.
"Setting the bar where we've set it will be successful for us in British Columbia,'' Campbell said. "Premier Stelmach will follow, obviously, the course he thinks is best for his province.''
Campbell said he didn't preach climate change to Stelmach or the others. He said British Columbia prefers to lead by example.
Manitoba Premier Gary Doer said he recalled days when Alberta would not admit climate change even existed.
"Having a plan and trying to deal with it is a step in the right direction,'' Doer said of Alberta. "We've gone from denial to acceptance.''
About two dozen protesters gathered outside of the waterfront hotel where the politicians were meeting, some dressed in polar bear costumes, other carrying placards denouncing Alberta's oil sands as "dirty oil.''
"Oooh, it's hot in here, there's too much carbon in the atmosphere,'' they chanted.
Protester Tzeporah Berman said Alberta is becoming politically incorrect because of its dirty oil.
"It takes three times as much energy from the tar sands than it does to produce conventional oil,'' she said. "This is dirty, dirty oil at a time when the world knows we have to clean up our act to address global warming.''
Monday was their only chance to target Stelmach during the two-day council.
He will not be attending Tuesday's federation meeting devoted solely to climate change. Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner will take his place.
But global warming wasn't the only issue of concern to the premiers.
The premiers of Quebec and Ontario held a joint news conference calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's federal government to aid their ailing manufacturing and forestry sectors.
"We have done much in order to ensure we can go through a transition period and emerge stronger,'' said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. "But we can do even more with the help of the federal government.''
Harper has proposed a development trust fund to help traditional industries that have suffered job losses and shutdowns.
But the prime minister has warned the money won't flow unless opposition parties pass his minority government's next budget.
"I am urging the prime minister to do as much as he possibly can by way of providing supports to Ontario and Quebec that are not dependent upon the outcome of the next federal election,'' McGuinty said.
He and Quebec Premier Jean Charest called on Ottawa to help companies invest in new economic opportunities. They also called for Employment Assistance changes to help laid-off workers.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Former NDP minister named chair of Investment Saskatchewan!

This is from the CBC. MacKinnon is not a fan of universal healthcare but does
want co-pays and targetted health care funding. It seems that if a minister is right wing enough it is possible to fit nicely as a minister either in the NDP or a Sask. Party government. It is not that surprising that Wall could easily find a former NDP minister whose philosophy fits in with his own reactionary views. Janice MacKinnon is a perfect fit. Her views on the NDP drug plan are well known. This is from
NDP drug plan misuse of health dollars: MacKinnon
Pamela Cowan, Saskatchewan News Network, James Wood, The StarPhoenix, Saskatchewan News Network; The StarPhoenix; Regina Leader-PostPublished: Tuesday, October 16, 2007
REGINA -- Former NDP finance minister Janice MacKinnon says a new NDP drug plan for rich and poor alike isn't a financially sound way to spend health dollars.
"If you're going to provide everybody, including rich people, with prescription drugs for $15, why would you do that?" she asked Monday. "Why wouldn't you use that money for something that is going to be more beneficial in terms of the overall health of people?"
According to NDP estimates, a universal drug plan would cost $96 million annually in addition to $53 million for the current seniors' plan, for a total of about $150 million a year.

MacKinnon questions how the NDP arrived at the cost for its proposed drug plan.
"But if you look into the future, the population is aging and so the cost is going to accelerate because of that and every year new and expensive drugs come on the market. . . . As a former finance minister, my view is that if this were implemented, some government in the future during an economic downturn would either have to curtail this program, cut spending in some another area or raise taxes to finance it," she said.
NDP Leader Lorne Calvert said MacKinnon has raised doubts about medicare in the past.
"You'll recall that Ms. MacKinnon once sat in government and on occasion she was wrong then and she can still be wrong," Calvert told reporters Monday. "I have debated with Ms. MacKinnon in the past the role of publicly funded medicare, the sustainability of publicly funded medicare. She apparently takes the view that publicly funded medicare is not sustainable -- I take the view it is. You're wrong once; you can be wrong twice."
The Saskatchewan Party has proposed that the $15 per prescription cap on drug costs now available to seniors be extended to all children age 14 and under, but no longer be available to higher-income seniors.
But MacKinnon noted many children already benefit from drug coverage under existing programs.
The Family Health Benefits Program provides benefits to families who either receive the Saskatchewan child benefit and-or the Saskatchewan employment supplement. Under the program, comprehensive supplementary health benefits are available to children under the age of 18, including prescription drugs covered in the Saskatchewan formulary.
"I'm not sure that I understand why the Sask. Party said that all children would be covered because children under a certain income level would be covered now," MacKinnon said.
Drug costs account for about 6.2 per cent of the total health budget.
According to Saskatchewan Health's annual Drug Plan and Extended Benefits Branch report, in 2005-06 the province spent slightly more than $5 million for children aged 0 to 14 years of the total $181 million prescription drug budget. The largest expenditure, just over $34 million, was spent on prescription drugs for the 75- to 84-year-old group. That was followed by $33 million spent on those who were 65 to 74 years old.
In 2004, MacKinnon wrote a paper proposing a system that would involve billing people a specific percentage of their income (an amount that would be capped) toward their health-care costs."

This is from the CBC.

Former NDP minister named head of Investment Saskatchewan
Last Updated: Friday, January 25, 2008 6:32 PM CT
CBC News
The Saskatchewan Party has named former NDP cabinet minister Janice MacKinnon to chair the Crown corporation in charge of investments, as part of a flurry of appointments and firings in the provincial civil service.
Deputy premier Ken Krawetz, who's in charge of the government's transition process, named MacKinnon head of Investment Saskatchewan on Friday.
Investment Saskatchewan is a Crown corporation responsible for about $452 million of provincially owned assets, according to its last annual report.
MacKinnon, a public policy professor at the University of Saskatchewan, held a number of cabinet portfolios in the New Democrat government, including finance minister in former premier Roy Romanow's cabinet.
She was among a number of people appointed to chair provincial Crown corporations.
The Saskatchewan Party government is in the midst of a series of firings, involving about 70 people, that were happening Thursday and Friday.
The MacKinnon appointment may serve to blunt criticisms by the NDP that the Saskatchewan Party is trying to purge the civil service of people who don't hold the same philosophy as Premier Brad Wall. On the other hand, in recent years, MacKinnon herself had been critical of some of the policies of the previous NDP government under Lorne Calvert.
Krawetz said Friday that the presidents of all the major Crown corporations would keep their jobs.
He said the government was making a number of changes to Crown boards to carry out "the new direction and vision of our new government."
Critics say no need to fire experienced public servants
Krawetz said this is what new governments do, noting the NDP did the same after it took over in 1991.
However, an expert in public policy said it doesn't have to be that way.
'Many of the names that I've heard, they have no connection, no connection, to the New Democratic Party. Some of them have 30 years plus in the public service.'—Lorne Calvert
Ken Rasmussen, director of the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Regina, said large numbers of civil servants aren't fired when there's a change of government federally or in many other provinces.
He said he wishes the new Saskatchewan Party government would have put a stop to it as well.
"This is really sending a message that everybody better get on board: 'Why not sign up and join the party?'" he said. "You're all expected to row in one direction."
Rasmussen said it makes for bad advice. Civil servants must feel free to tell the truth, so they can tell politicians when their ideas are bad, he said.
NDP Leader Lorne Calvert also criticized the Saskatchewan Party firings, saying many of the people being let go are professional, experienced public servants with no links to the New Democrats.
"Many of the names that I've heard, they have no connection, no connection, to the New Democratic Party," Calvert said. "Some of them have 30 years plus in the public service. They have served a variety of governments

Harper failing to lead Afghan mission: Ignatieff

Harper needn't worry about Ignatieff's or Manley's criticism either. The smirky-faced hot air balloon, who along with Rae talks for the Liberals instead of Dion, simply cribs from the Manley report as Manley cribbed from himself. Ignatieff is of course famous for supporting the Iraq war until it didn't work out well. Anyway unless polls improve or Harper comes up with some radical proposal on Afghanistan such as sending thousands more troops in combat roles Harper can count on support from the Liberals on the matter. At their most oppositional they will sit on their hands and abstain.

Harper failing to lead Afghan mission: Ignatieff
Updated Sun. Jan. 27 2008 3:42 PM ET News Staff
Recent gaffes surrounding the military transfer of Afghan detainees shows how badly the Harper government is mishandling the Afghanistan war, Deputy Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says.
"The very least you can say is that Canada's soldiers deserve better civilian leadership than this," Ignatieff told Question Period on Sunday.
In his first interview since returning from a visit to Afghanistan in early January, Ignatieff said he was concerned about Prime Minster Stephen Harper's mismanagement of military operations there.
Ignatieff said that the public and Parliament have not received "honest answers" from the government and that Harper has to grab the mission "by the throat and pull it together."
"Afghanistan is the most important thing Canada has done in 50 years, and he's not leading," he said. "The prime minister has to act like a prime minister, and not like a partisan leader on this issue of Afghanistan."
The comments stemmed from a series of public miscues following the release of the Manley report on the future of the Canada's mission.
In November, the Canadian military stopped transferring detainees to the Afghan military after diplomats found clear evidence of torture.
But the Harper government stayed silent on the subject until the facts came to light last week in government documents filed in a lawsuit by human rights groups opposing the handling of detainees.
Sandra Buckler, director of communications in the Prime Minister's Office, this week blamed the military for not telling the government that the practice had changed. She later claimed she "misspoke."
The opposition has accused the government of not revealing the change mainly to protect itself from embarrassment.
Military leaders have reportedly been furious, saying they kept the government in the loop.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier both declined to appear on Question Period.
On Sunday, Ignatieff confirmed that he and Liberal Leader Stephane Dion had been briefed by civilian and military officials while visiting Afghanistan in January. Dion had told reporters on Friday the Prime Minister's Office had "lied" about not knowing.
Ignatieff told Question Period that Buckler had lost the confidence of the press, of Parliament and likely of the Conservative caucus.
"Frankly, I could care less about Sandra Buckler," he said. "The issue is the prime minister. He's the boss here. The Manley commission has been scathing about the failure of the prime minister to coordinate Canadian policy."
The Afghan detainees controversy is expected to dominate when Parliament resumes sitting on Monday.
NDP Leader Jack Layton told Newsnet on Sunday that two cabinet ministers now appear to have lied to the House of Commons on the Afghan detainees issue.
"(NDP defence critic) Dawn Black asked on Nov. 14 whether prisoners were being transferred -- and that they shouldn't be, given the evidence -- and the minister didn't tell the truth," he said.
"Frankly, a minister shouldn't be occupying that position if they're not going to tell the truth to Canadians about how a war is being conducted. That's certainly evidence of a deep-seated problem, and we're asking the prime minister to take action in that regard."
Laurie Hawn, the Conservative parliamentary secretary for defence, told Question Period the government is aware of what's going on in Afghanistan.
"Those are not things we talk about and that's been mentioned over and over again. That's an operational security issue."
Manley report
The Independent Panel on Canada's Future Role in Afghanistan, headed by former Liberal cabinet minister John Manley, released its report of the mission in Afghanistan on Jan. 22.
Among other suggestions, it said Harper had to take a more active role to ensure NATO support for Canadian troops, as well as "assert a stronger and more disciplined diplomatic position."
"Mr. Manley has made it very clear that the prime minister has failed to lead this mission, failed to coordinate it, and failed to tell what he needs to tell the Canadian people about the mission," Ignatieff said.
The report also said the government "should provide the public with franker and more frequent reporting on events in Afghanistan."
Panel member Pamela Wallin, a former diplomat and broadcaster, said the "information deficit" surrounding the Afghanistan mission has led to public discontent in Canada.
"It's what we all felt, in our hearts and our guts during this whole process," she told Question Period. "Now that they've got information on board, they're making smarter decisions."
Wallin said the report focuses strongly on the government's failure to allow information to flow "openly and steadily."

Detained Canadian aid worker freed by North Korea.

It seems that sometimes government officials can do good work behind the scenes. Harper didn't make an issue of this case and that may very well have helped facilitate developments out of the media limelight.

Detained Canadian aid worker freed by North Korea
Updated Mon. Jan. 28 2008 6:26 AM ET
The Canadian Press
TORONTO -- A humanitarian aid worker from Edmonton who was detained in North Korea for nearly three months is free.
A spokesman for Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Helena Guergis told The Canadian Press Monday that Je Yell Kim was deported to China on Saturday.
Jeffrey Kroeker said Kim was met at the Chinese border by Canadian consular officials who were working to reunite him with his family.
Kroeker also thanked North Korean authorities for allowing Canadian consular officials to visit Kim on two separate occasions.
Jess Dutton, a counsellor at Canada's embassy in Seoul, told The Associated Press that Kim has been reunited with his family, but declined to comment on his current location, citing their request for privacy.
Kim, who is in his 50's, has spent several years working in a poor area of North Korea where foreign aid workers are normally welcome.
He was reportedly detained on Nov. 3 on undisclosed "national security matters.''
According to the U.S. government-funded radio station Voice of America, during an interrogation, Kim wrote in a statement that he had criticized the communist North Korean regime and had tried to set up a church in the North. The report has not been confirmed.
North Korea nominally allows freedom of religion to its 23 million people, but the practice is severely restricted.
The U.S. State Department last year designated North Korea as a nation that persecutes people because of their religious faiths.
Last week, Ted Lipman, Canada's ambassador to South Korea, was reported to have led a diplomatic mission to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.
Guergis would not comment directly on the negotiations to gain Kim's freedom, but said: "I am very proud of the great work our Canadian consular officials did to make it possible for Mr. Kim to be reunited with his family.''

Provincial muddle on emissions

There will be considerable pressure by business to have a uniform North American Standard. Higher standards for a particular province or even Canada may soon become a thing of the past. There will be pressure for a low uniform standard throughout the NAFTA trading area. Some areas such as Quebec may be able to resist to some extent.

Provincial muddle on emissions - Canada - Provincial muddle on emissions
As leaders focus on climate change, they are warned `policy chaos' could scare off investors
January 28, 2008 Petti Fongin VancouverRob Fergusonin TorontoRobert Benzie
Alberta will be the odd province out as premiers meet in Vancouver today to attempt to build a consensus on climate change and emission reductions.
Last week, Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach presented Alberta's strategy to curb greenhouse gas emissions, calling for reductions in carbon dioxide emissions of 14 per cent below 2005 levels by 2050. That target is well short of those of other provinces and even short of Ottawa's much-criticized targets.
British Columbia plans to cut its total emissions by one-third within 12 years, making its targets the most aggressive in the country.
Ontario, meanwhile, falls between Alberta and British Columbia, aiming at a 6 per cent reduction in its emissions in six years based on 1990 levels.
As the premiers begin their two-day meeting focusing on climate change, the head of Canada's top business group issued a warning that some businesses are becoming hesitant about investing in the country because of the "policy chaos" on climate change.
In a letter to provincial leaders, The Canadian Press reports that Tom d'Aquino of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives chides the premiers for going it alone on climate change with "different objectives and often inconsistent policies."
While climate change is the big topic at the two-day premiers' conference starting today, Premier Dalton McGuinty has made clear he plans to use the forum to promote Ontario's auto industry.
Aside from pushing for a tougher, uniform North American standard for automobile tailpipe emissions and other ways to combat global warming, McGuinty hopes to get other premiers on side to ensure the federal government's proposed free-trade pact with South Korea protects Canada's auto makers.
He's concerned that the deal won't improve access for Canadian auto makers to South Korea, which exported 114,000 cars to this country in 2006 but admitted fewer than 100 Canadian-made autos – a situation McGuinty calls "unfair."
The premiers are trying to engage the federal government on "what role provinces and territories should appropriately play" in negotiating new agreements, McGuinty said before heading to the Council of the Federation meeting.
"We have some concerns in that regard," he added, noting premiers want "more input to ensure that as we enter into these new economic relationships we're giving due regard to the impact it'll have on provincial economies."
Ontario has become North America's largest auto-producing jurisdiction but the high dollar and cuts by the traditional Big 3 auto makers are creating challenges.
On tailpipe emissions, McGuinty said Ontario favours a tougher standard but it must be the same across North America. "The Environmental Protection Agency for the United States has put forward a proposal now that would put in place standards that are stricter than those being proposed by California," McGuinty told reporters.
"The issue for us is not whether we go with California or we go with the EPA standards, or those just proposed by our own federal government. We want one stricter standard for North America," he added.
Tomorrow, the premiers will turn their attention to ways the provinces can adapt to climate change.
"I think all the premiers sense that, in the face of a global challenge it's time for us to assume our responsibility as privileged global citizens to do our part in showing some leadership," McGuinty said.
"Even if we pursued the most aggressive plan at this point in time there are still things that are going to happen that are going to create some serious challenges for us," he said. For example, McGuinty said, water levels will continue to drop in the Great Lakes and droughts will continue in other parts of Canada because of environmental damage already done.
Atlantic premiers have said they are keen to discuss climate change, but the state of the Canadian economy is also on their agenda.
B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell said the provinces will try to find areas of agreement, but he's prepared to move ahead without consensus on emissions. There have been hints that B.C. may be the first province to initiate a carbon tax in its budget next month.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Support for withdrawal from Afghanistan declines, but divisions remain.

This is from In spite of the headline the report has not caused any change in the numbers in favor or opposed to the mission as the article also notes. The poll questions themselves are a bit weird and almost bound to skew the answers in favor of the report. There are three grades of "goodness" that you can choose from but only one grade of "badness". Perhaps "fair" is meant to be a negative grading but it connotes to me passing but not by much.

Sunday » January 27 » 2008

Support for withdrawal from Afghanistan declines, but divisions remain

Juliet O'Neill
Canwest News Service
Saturday, January 26, 2008
OTTAWA -- The portion of Canadians who want Canadian troops to withdraw from Afghanistan has dropped seven points to 37 per cent in the aftermath of John Manley's report recommending a conditional extension of the military mission in Kandahar, says an Ipsos Reid poll released Friday.
The portion willing to extend the mission if the role shifts from combat to non-combat, such as training Afghan soldiers or police officers, has risen five points to 45 per cent since October.
The poll for Canwest News Service and Global National, conducted as Canadians digested the Manley recommendations earlier this week, suggests Canadians are open to an extension of a mission for non-combat purposes, said pollster John Wright. The 14 per cent of Canadians willing to extend the mission as is remained unchanged.
The pollsters found the majority of Canadians regard the Manley panel recommendations as fair (36 per cent) or good (29 per cent) or great (six per cent). Nearly a quarter (22 per cent) said Manley's proposals are a "bad plan" while seven per cent had no opinion.
Manley recommended an extension of the deployment of the 2,500 troops in Kandahar only if it is bolstered by 1,000 extra soldiers from another NATO country and the troops are equipped with medium-lift helicopters and unmanned aerial surveillance vehicles. He proposed a "significant reduction" in combat work in favour of training Afghan forces to handle their own security.
Ipsos Reid reported that Canadians received the Manley report "cautiously," given that regardless of the panel's recommendations, the country remains split - 50 per cent in support and 46 opposed - to the current counter-insurgency mission in Afghanistan. Those numbers were virtually the same in August.
"This is a report that has not fundamentally altered the underlying support of Canadians for their current positions," Wright, vice-president of Ipsos Reid, said Friday in an interview. "They've basically maintained the same thing for the last couple of years. But what it's done is opened the door to us staying there in another capacity."
The fundamental questions to most Canadians are whether to pull the troops and whether to change their combat role, Wright said.
"Only 14 per cent believe we should be doing the combat mission as we currently are," he noted, "but when you add them to the people who say we should stay and maybe do something different, then you have a full majority of the people in this country believing that to be the case."
The Manley report has not been enthusiastically embraced by the public, he said. People seem to be waiting for further details on what the government plans to do.
"It's not hard against, it's not hard for," he said. "There's no mandate given here for anything except discussion about more details as to what they may do."
The future of the mission, a question which could trigger the defeat of the government and an election this year, has divided Parliament. While the government appointed the Manley panel to find a non-partisan path to political consensus, the New Democratic Party and Bloc Quebecois continue to advocate troop withdrawal and the Liberals want a shift from combat to civilian protection, training Afghan forces and reconstruction of the country.
Ipsos Reid canvassed 1,001 adults by telephone over three days, starting Tuesday, the day Manley delivered his report. The results are considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Support for the Manley plan was highest in Atlantic Canada. Albertans were most likely to support troops remaining but shifting to a less combative role. Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec residents showed highest support for troop withdrawal.
Residents of Atlantic Canada were the most likely (47 per cent) to say the Manley plan is good or great, followed by those in Ontario (39 per cent), British Columbia (37 per cent), Alberta (32 per cent), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (31 per cent) and Quebec (27 per cent). Residents of Ontario (26 per cent) and Quebec (22 per cent) were most likely to say that this is a bad plan for Canadian troops.
Fifty-three per cent of Albertans were the most likely to say that Canada's troops should remain in Afghanistan but be redirected to a less combative role, followed by those in Atlantic Canada (49 per cent), Ontario (47 per cent), British Columbia (46 per cent), Quebec (42 per cent) and Saskatchewan and Manitoba (35 per cent).
Residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba (42 per cent) and Quebec (41 per cent) were more likely than those living in B.C. (38 per cent), Atlantic Canada (36 per cent), Ontario (36 per cent ) and Alberta (25 per cent) to say that the troops should come home after February of next year.
A majority of residents of Alberta (61 per cent), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (59 per cent), Ontario (56 per cent), Atlantic Canada (54 per cent) and British Columbia (53 per cent) supported the current mission in Afghanistan. Quebec support (33 per cent) was lowest.
Albertans (18 per cent) were the most likely to want an extension to the current mission, followed by those in British Columbia (15 per cent), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (15), Quebec (14), Ontario (13) and Atlantic Canada (nine).
Men (54 per cent) were significantly more likely than women (47 per cent) to support the mission in Afghanistan.
Ottawa Citizen
© CanWest News Service 2008

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Lunn spurns demands for independent look at crisis at AECL.

This is from the Victoria Times.
There is little likelihood of Lunn calling an inquiry since it might very well put his own behavior before the spotlight. Keen will be giving testimony on Tuesday before a Commons Committee. As far as I can see the Liberals are correct in saying that she did nothing wrong except for not doing what the Conservatives wanted done.

Sunday » January 27 » 2008

Lunn spurns demands for independent look at crisis
Political foes seek answers to firing of nuclear watchdog, handling of reactor

Cindy E. Harnett
Times Colonist
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn rejects calls for an independent review of a crisis that forced Parliament to restart a nuclear reactor and the federal government to fire its nuclear watchdog.
"There's absolutely no need for a review and there will not be one," the Saanich-Gulf Islands MP said in an interview.
Every document was tabled and every aspect of the crisis was explained before Parliament and before the House of Commons, Lunn said.
A government review into the future of all aspects of the Crown-owned Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., which operates the Chalk River nuclear reactor in Ontario, was initiated in September and announced in November.
It is moving ahead and is the only review needed, Lunn said.
"I've launched a review. We're engaging the best experts in the country," he said.
"These issues have been ignored for well over a decade and we're dealing with them." Opposition parties disagree. The federal Liberals demanded an independent review into the Jan. 15 firing of Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission president Linda Keen. They're concerned about the precedent set by the firing of an independent watchdog.
The Liberals maintain there's no evidence she was incompetent or was responsible for a worldwide shortage of radioactive medical isotopes -- used to treat cancer and diagnose heart disease -- when she extended a Nov. 18 shutdown of the nuclear plant because safety upgrades of the reactor, ordered in 2006, had not been done.
Liberal MP Omar Alghabra said that if Keen were incompetent, she wouldn't have been left on the commission's board. Alghabra also said that if Keen were responsible for isotope supplies, Lunn wouldn't have to make that clear in a mandate letter to the new president, as he told reporters in Victoria he will.
Also calling for answers is MP Catherine Bell, the NDP's natural resources critic.
She put forward a now-tabled motion asking for a "full independent investigation by an eminent person" to prevent the same crisis or a nuclear disaster in the future.
The NDP wants an investigation of what it says are long-time problems at AECL, the CNSC and the Natural Resources Ministry, which oversees both.
"Canadians need to be confident that the government is taking this seriously, that nuclear safety is a huge issue," Bell said.
"This government wants to expand nuclear energy in this country, and Canadians are wary of where we're going." Neither the Liberals nor Conservatives want to look at their "political decisions and mismanagement" concerning the reactor over the last decade, Bell said.
"There's a whole lot of questions about how we got to this point." The Chalk River reactor was originally scheduled to be decommissioned in 2005 and replaced by two new reactors, called Maple 1 and Maple 2. They are behind schedule.
Auditor-general reports over the years have found problems at the reactor and between the commission and AECL.
Lunn said the extended shutdown became a "licence dispute, not a safety issue" and if Keen was doing her job, Parliament wouldn't have unanimously overruled her.
Keen will have her say Tuesday before the House of Commons natural resources committee.
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2008

Copyright © 2008 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.

Saskatchewan Liberals may boycott by-election

Defenders of Dion point out that the Liberal party constitution makes it quite legal for Dion to appoint a candidate. It never seems to dawn on defenders that this is quite undemocratic. Surely, the provision should be used only in cases where there is no functioning local riding association that could have a democratic nomination process.
If the local constituency party members want Joan Beatty then she would win that nomination through the normal democratic process. Instead of going that route as David Orchard was doing Beatty was thrust upon the constituency from on high. This shows the elite, top-down structure of the Liberal party.

Saskatchewan Liberals may boycott by-election
The Canadian Press
January 26, 2008 at 10:42 PM EST
CHRISTOPHER LAKE, Sask. — Boycott the by-election, or vote for another party.
That's what members of a northern Saskatchewan riding association talked about at a meeting Saturday.
They are angry that Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion appointed a candidate in the riding of Desnethe-Misinippi-Churchill River for a March 17 by-election.
Shoal Lake Chief Marcel Head, who is chairman of an interim executive committee for the riding association, says they just want the democratic process to be allowed.
“We're being dictated as to what we can do, who to support, who to vote for and that's not right,” Mr. Head said.
Disgruntled party members want Joan Beatty, who was appointed as the candidate, to file nomination papers and run like other candidates do.
If the Liberal party doesn't recognize their efforts, then members will be asked not to vote or possibly even vote for a rival party's candidate in the by-election, Mr. Head said.
Provincial party brass have insisted the riding already has an executive and that any final nomination decision rests with senior party officials in Ottawa.
Jim Sinclair, who helped establish the Native Council of Canada, says residents of the riding, who are mostly First Nation or Métis, are concerned about Ms. Beatty's appointment.
“It's a buildup of all these things that happened in the past, of people being pushed into doing things, and issues forced on them without their consultation. and I think people are saying, ‘enough is enough.”'
David Orchard — a former Conservative party leadership candidate and a key supporter in Mr. Dion's 2006 successful bid for the Liberal crown had campaigned hard to win the nomination in the riding.
Mr. Dion has said his decision to appoint Ms. Beatty was to help fulfill a pledge to bring more women into the political process.
Ms. Beatty, the first aboriginal woman ever elected to the Saskatchewan legislature, is a former journalist and former NDP minister of culture, youth and recreation.
Mr. Head has written to Mr. Dion asking that he rescind Ms. Beatty's appointment.
The by-election is one of four being held that day.
The riding had been held by Liberal MP Gary Merasty. He won by just 67 votes over his Tory competitor in 2006, but resigned last year.

Karzai blames UK for return of Taliban

This is from the CBC. It seems that Karzai is quite angry at the UK for talking to the Taliban without consulting the central govt. apparently. Karzai also supported a local warlord and the UK and the US both suggested he get rid of him plus his security detail. I expect the result was that the warlord joined forces with the insurgency and indeed the security situation probably did get worse.
Criticisms such as this will not help create domestic support for the Afghan mission in the UK. If only Karzai would criticise the Canadian mission now it would probably do a great deal more good to create more public support to bring the troops home.
The US has criticised NATO partners for not being well trained in counter-insurgency---in contrast no doubt to the sterling performance of US troops!-
but there was an immediate footnote that of course Canadians were not meant to be included. Maybe it was the Monaco contingent!

Karzai blames Britain for return of Taliban
Last Updated: Friday, January 25, 2008 9:39 AM ET
CBC News
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has accused British troops of making the security situation worse in parts of southern Afghanistan, saying the area "suffered" after their arrival.
Speaking to a group of journalists at the Davos Economic Forum on Thursday, Karzai said he shouldn't have listened to British and U.S. officials who said he should remove the local security forces that were already in place in Helmand province, The Times reported.
Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai speaks during a working session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday. (Michel Euler/AP Photo)
Britain has about 7,700 military personnel in the area, most of them fighting a resurgent Taliban in the country's south.
"There was one part of the country where we suffered after the arrival of the British forces," Karzai said. "Before that we were fully in charge of Helmand. When our governor was there, we were fully in charge.
"They came and said, 'Your governor is no good'. I said 'All right, do we have a replacement for this governor; do you have enough forces?'. Both the American and the British forces guaranteed to me they knew what they were doing and I made the mistake of listening to them.
"And when they came in, the Taliban came."

When asked if he blamed Britain for the return of the Taliban, Karzai said: "I just described the situation of mistakes we made. The mistake was that we removed a local arrangement without having a replacement.
"We removed the police force. That was not good. The security forces were not in sufficient numbers or information about the province. That is why the Taliban came in. It took us a year and a half to take back Musa Qala. This was not failure but a mistake," Karzai said.
But Britain's Foreign Office rejected the claim, saying its policy was to work in consultation with Karzai's government
"Our strategy in Helmand has been to work with the Afghan government to extend their authority throughout the province, creating a secure environment which allows political and economic development," a spokesman said on condition of anonymity in line with ministry practice.
"Our armed forces have suffered losses and shown great determination and bravery to achieve that objective," the spokesman said.
Last week, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates sparked criticism after he suggested in a newspaper interview that NATO forces in southern Afghanistan do not know how to properly combat a guerrilla insurgency, and that could be contributing to rising violence in the country.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

70 Sask. civil servants being dismissed.

This is from the CBC. This is Sask. Party Xmas time when faithful hacks and workers are rewarded with plums by Brad Wall. To be fair often party workers spend countless unpaid hours working for their respective parties so there is some justice that they should be rewarded when as a result their party gets into power. However, there is no tenure granted as the outgoing 70 NDP workers have discovered.

70 Sask. civil servants being dismissed, minister says
Last Updated: Thursday, January 24, 2008 3:53 PM CT
CBC News
The Saskatchewan Party government is handing out more pink slips, the latest firings since it came to power last year.
The minister responsible for the government transition, deputy premier Ken Krawetz, said earlier this month that hundreds of people may lose their jobs because of the change in government.
On Wednesday, however, Krawetz said the number would be around 70, including eight deputy ministers dismissed last year.
The positions of the people being dismissed Thursday and Friday wasn't immediately known, although both Crown corporations and ministries are affected.
Krawetz said people were being evaluated individually, on their ability to do the job, and on whether they share the same philosophy as the new premier.
The dismissals are without notice, meaning people will receive severance pay.
Some 150 ministerial assistants and other politically appointed staff were also dismissed last fall by the outgoing NDP government.
A number of deputies and political staff also received their walking papers when the NDP won the election in 1991

Alberta green plan puts PM 'on the spot'.

This is from the Globe and Mail. It is really doubtful that this plan will cause many tears from the Harper crew. Harper is after all trying his hardest to catch up with and surpass the Liberal record of doing little or nothing about reducing emissions while himself emitting a lot of hot air about his environmental good deeds. That the critics are wrong is shown by the fact that John Baird the federal environment minister welcomed the plan!

The plan is so weak that even industry spokespeople support it.

Alberta green plan puts PM 'on the spot'
Stelmach lowballs Harper's emissions reduction targets
January 25, 2008
OTTAWA, CALGARY -- Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach is at odds with the federal government and on a collision course with other premiers after the release yesterday of his long-anticipated climate-change plan.
On the eve of an expected election call, Mr. Stelmach promised that his province will freeze greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and reduce them by 14 per cent from 2005 levels by 2050. But that target is a long way from Prime Minister Stephen Harper's promises at international summits that Canada will reduce its heat-trapping emissions at least 60 per cent by this century's halfway mark.
With its booming oil industry and reliance on coal-fired electricity, Alberta is responsible for one-third of Canada's total emissions and shows the fastest growth in greenhouse gases.
Critics fumed yesterday that Alberta's plan will force the rest of the country to carry an unfair burden in the climate-change battle, while a senior adviser to Ottawa says the Prime Minister's targets will now be challenged.
"It puts Harper on the spot," said Robert Page, the Calgary-based vice-chair of the National Roundtable on the Economy and Environment, which advises the Prime Minister on climate change. "It just seems to me there is just this growing gap between Alberta and the feds."
Several premiers have been calling for aggressive action on climate change, and the issue will be a key agenda item when all 13 premiers meet in Vancouver next week.
Mr. Stelmach said his plan strikes the right balance between environmental action and protecting jobs.
"This delivers real measurable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining [Albertans'] quality of life," he said. "It's a real plan for a real problem."
Alberta will now create a government-industry council that will look at implementing carbon capture technologies, in which the carbon dioxide produced from power plants and oil sands facilities is intercepted and injected back into the ground. Mr. Stelmach said the technology could deliver as much as 70 per cent of the 200-megatonne reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that Alberta is targeting by 2050.
Federal Environment Minister John Baird issued a statement yesterday welcoming Alberta's plan, but his spokesman insisted that federal regulations for industry coming out this year are separate from provincial measures.
"Any reductions taken by the provinces are complementary to what we're doing," spokesman Garry Keller said.
Industry leaders in Alberta responded favourably to the plan's focus on capturing carbon emissions.
"It's music to our ears," said Michael Smith, the director of environment for Epcor. The Edmonton-based firm's coal-fired power plants are some of Alberta's biggest emitters, but the company has made significant commitments to reducing emissions through technologies such as clean coal.
Liberal environment critic David McGuinty said Alberta's announcement proves the federal targets are not credible. He also said the rising emissions from Alberta's tar sands are the "elephant in the room" that Ottawa has yet to properly address.
Mr. McGuinty acknowledged that previous Liberal governments also lacked the political will to tackle the rising emissions from Alberta's oil sands, which are projected to double between 2004 and 2015.
"I don't know if we really had the resolve, because the big challenge facing Canada today if we are going to tell the Canadian people the truth, is that we have this huge greenhouse gas challenge while we continue to see a rapid expansion in the oil sands," he said. "What we're not seeing, now that we have a new government in the driver's seat, is a real honest negotiation ... that will reconcile those two competing interests."
The Bloc Québécois, representing Quebec ridings powered by hydroelectricity, has long criticized the Conservatives in Quebec for being too lenient on the oil and gas sector, while the NDP said the announcement proves the national targets are out of reach.
NDP Leader Jack Layton, who has a bill nearing the final stages in the Commons that would legislate a 2050 target of 80-per-cent reductions from 1990 levels, said Alberta must move toward renewable energy.
"This program put forward by the government of Alberta would be totally contrary to virtually any target that anyone has set anywhere," Mr. Layton said.
Emissions get personal
2005 provincial and territorial per-capita emissions in tonnes of CO2 equivalent per person
Yukon Territory
British Columbia
Nfld. and Lab.
NWT and Nunavut
Nova Scotia
New Brunswick