Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Plenty of commentators are rightly speaking out against the Cons' anti-democratic omnibus bill, including Tim Harper and the Star-Phoenix and Vancouver Sun editorial boards. And even John Ivison can't muster much more than "but the Libs did it too!" in defence of the Harper government's abuses.

- Rachel Mendleson reports on new research confirming the connection between inequality and worse health outcomes.

- Nobody should be particularly surprised that the Cons listed PR as one of the main reasons to suppress dissent when holding G8 and G20 meetings. But is "embarrassment" the right word to describe a government that's been training for ages to be incapable of shame or self-awareness?

- Finally, Hassan Arif nicely describes the need for long-term thinking that takes environmental concerns into account (rather than the Cons' "drill baby drill" level of economic planning):

Properly accounting for the ecological side of the equation can bring great monetary and quality of life benefits. An example that is relevant, even though not directly related to the tar sands, is the Greenbelt in Ontario where urban and suburban development is restricted in the greenbelt zone around Greater Toronto and the urbanized "Golden Horseshoe" along the western shores of Lake Ontario.
The purpose of this greenbelt is to protect forests, natural areas, and farm land from suburban sprawl. A report by the David Suzuki Foundation has estimated the monetary benefits of this green belt as being at $1-billion per year. In particular, watersheds protected by the greenbelt absorb and filter pollutants from waterways and drinking water sources as well as control the flow of water during storms.
Additionally, in curbing sprawl, the greenbelt promotes more sustainable urban development where there is less strain on infrastructure such as hydro and transportation where costs can become prohibitive with more spread out developments.
There needs to be a proper debate around economic development, and overall an approach to economic development that factors in ecological, public health, and quality of life aspects. However, this approach does not conform to the narrow and myopic world view of the Harper Conservatives. That they would not only ignore dissenting voices in this regard, but demonize and even suppress them, is especially worrying for our country as a whole.

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