Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Damian Carrington reports on the Harper Cons' sad efforts to prevent the European Union from accurately accounting for greenhouse gas emissions from the tar sands, offering in particular a look at how Canada's actions look to our global neighbours who don't operate from the Cons' petro-state starting point:
Darek Urbaniak, at Friends of the Earth Europe, which obtained the new documents, said: "These letters are further evidence of Canadian government and industry lobbying, which continuously undermines efforts to combat climate change. We find it unacceptable that the Canadian government now openly uses direct threats at the highest political levels to derail crucial EU climate legislation."

The unveiling of Canada's threats is the latest in a series of recent embarrassing revelations. On 12 February, the occurrence of a secret strategy "retreat" in London in 2011 was discovered. High-level officials discussed the "critical" issue of winning the tar sands argument in the EU, to "mitigate the impact on the Canadian brand" and to protect the "huge investments from the likes of Shell, BP, Total and Statoil". Representatives of Shell, Total and Statoil attended the meeting alongside the UK's state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

In December, the Guardian revealed the secret high-level help given to the Canada by the UK government, which included David Cameron discussing the issue with his counterpart Stephen Harper during a visit to Canada, and stating privately that the UK wanted "to work with Canada on finding a way forward". Canada's minister for natural resources, Joe Oliver, stated: "[The British] have been very, very helpful."

The UK proposed an alternative "banded" approach to ascribing carbon emissions to different fuel types, which does not single out tar sands. But environmentalists dismiss it as a delaying tactic and the Guardian understands that the UK has failed to present its proposal formally or provide supporting evidence.
- Meanwhile, Greg Weston notes that the Cons' pathetic excuse for a mining complaint agency (designed to do absolutely nothing without the consent of the corporations whose actions might be challenged) has burned over a million public dollars while proving as useless as expected.

- Erin points out Ontario's corporate capital tax giveaway - which slashed public revenue without having any positive economic impact.

- Kennedy Stewart's motion to allow public petitions to require a response in Parliament looks like a great step in promoting direct democracy.

- Finally, T.C. Norris rightly questions how media outlets often misreport on polling by both cutting out the multiple sides to the story actually told by poll results, and misinterpreting the context of a given set of results.

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