Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Morning Links

A bit of reading material to close out the week...

- Chantal Hebert rebuts her previous theory about the Libs' chances in Quebec better than I did, pointing out exactly why high expectations figure to be thing of the past:
Given that alone among the provinces Quebec actually runs a public pension system distinct from the Canada Pension Plan, the chosen theme for Thursday’s visit is an odd fit.

In fairness though, the issue of pension reform may well reflect the interests of a critical mass of Quebec federal Liberals. In this province, it is hard to determine which is aging faster: the federal Liberal membership or the ever-shrinking group of Catholic mass regulars.

Moreover, in light of their ongoing organizing challenges in Quebec, Liberal strategists are at least playing it safe by selecting an issue that comes with the potential of captive audiences.
At best, one might figure that the Libs can try to wring a few more seats out of one last appeal to an aging base. But Hebert seems to have recognized that time isn't on their side.

- The Citizen is rightly critical of the deterioration of Environment Canada data. But based on our census experience, a permanent loss of trust in government data seems to be seen by the Cons as a feature rather than a bug:
(Y)es, the need for information is made even more urgent by the fact of climate change. If extreme weather events are going to get more frequent, we need to understand how that's likely to affect Canadian communities.

The report also makes the point that Environment Canada shares its information with other levels of government, the private sector and the international scientific community. Inaccurate or spotty data will create mistrust in those relationships, and it could take Environment Canada a long time to recover from that.

There are smart ways to cut costs in the public service and there are stupid ways. If the cuts to the meteorological service are still affecting the quality of Canada's climate data as much as this report suggests, Environment Minister Jim Prentice should acknowledge the problem and start fixing it.
- And likewise John Ivison's characterization of the Harper Cons as an immature, "wannabe Top Gun" governing style, particularly based on Stephen Harper's own childish stunt yesterday:
raising the spectre of the Russian bear in the air must have seemed like a good idea, since it knocked the committee meeting off the news agenda.

But here’s why it was not. The Canadian government’s own strategy document says our only territorial disputes in the Far North are with Denmark over Hans Island and the United States over the maritime boundary in the Beaufort Sea.

A dispute with Russia may yet emerge if there are over-lapping claims along the Lomonosov Ridge, a mountain range beneath the Arctic Ocean, where a mini-submarine planted a Russian flag in 2007.

But co-operating with Russia may yield more benefits than confrontation. Where Canada claims the North-West Passage as an internal waterway, so Russia claims the North-East Passage — both of which are set to become navigable.
No one is suggesting that Canadian sovereignty in the North is not important — nor that the Canadian Forces should not respond to potential incursions (even if, as NDP critic Jack Harris pointed out, the Russians have not entered Canadian airspace in the last decade).

But it is fair to suggest that there should be a more mature, sophisticated approach taken by the Prime Minister’s Office. To speak in the style of a wannabe Top Gun is not grown-up government.
- I'll fully agree with Michael Ignatieff's concern about the Cons blowing upwards of a million dollars on a single photo op. But I'd think there's room to raise a broader issue about the use of Canada's military resources for PR purposes, as Paul Wells for one notes that this is hardly a first.

- Finally, James Wood notes that Scott Stelmaschuk has bowed out of the NDP's nomination race in Saskatoon Sutherland to back Ryan Meili - which still leaves three strong candidates in the running for one of the party's top pickup opportunities in 2011.

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