Thursday, April 13, 2006

What Stephen Harper Doesn't Want You to Know

Buried deep within a 6,916-word “regulatory impact analysis statement” that appeared quite suddenly on an obscure federal public-registry web site, at the very end of the business day in Ottawa last Friday, was this:

North Atlantic cod - overfished by more than 99 per cent, and about as close to extinction as it's possible to get - will not protected under Canada's endangered species law. Not the Laurentian stock, not the Maritimes stock, and not the Newfoundland and Labrador stock. The decision to deny Atlantic cod stocks the protection of the Species At Risk Act (SARA) was a cabinet decision. That same cabinet decision denied SARA's protections to Interior Fraser coho salmon in British Columbia. You can look it up.

I write about it in my column today, here.

Prime Minister Harper has abandoned the National Press Theatre, and has taken to staging weird White-House-like press conferences, and he's gagging his own cabinet ministers. His holding cabinet meetings without telling anyone where or when the meetings are. He's demanding the right to choose which Ottawa press gallery journalists will be allowed to ask him questions.

If Canadians want to ask what specific impacts global warming is likely to have on sea levels, or crop productivity, say, you will want to turn to a federal agency known as the Canadian Climate Impacts and Adaptation and Research Network (C-CIARN). And if you ask anything of that agency, now that Harper is Canada's prime minister, this is the kind of answer you'll get: "I'm not supposed to talk to you."

That's the answer I got the other day when I called Robin Sydneysmith of C-CIARN. He'd just been advised that the entire C-CIARN program—and even the drop-in-the-bucket “one tonne challenge” initiative, designed to convince individual Canadians to voluntarily pitch in to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions—had been suspended, on Harper's order. I write about that in a feature essay about global warming on the cover of today's Georgia Straight.

The Globe and Mail has done a great job today in exposing just how backward and stupid and unconscionably reactionary Canada's federal government has become in these matters, now that Harper, an oilpatch republican, is in charge.

If you want to hear me give out of myself about these kinds of things, and about my new book, and about the state of the world in general, Joseph Planta interviews me today at The Commentary.

In the meantime, I'm still on the road (see previous post for my whereabouts). Monday's SFU lecture was packed. Tuesday's Victoria crowd was great. One media thing after another; Fanny Kiefer was a lot of fun this morning.


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