Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- pogge offers up the definitive response to the Cons' attempt to encourage a sell-off of First Nations reserve land:
When you look past the paternalistic argument that the only way First Nations communities can possibly thrive is to be more like us, this is what's left:
...businesses that want to unlock the economic potential of reserves, from real estate development to forestry and mining, need the legal certainty that a property regime makes possible.
In this context, "unlock the economic potential" looks very much like a euphemism for "streamline the regulatory and tax regime to make it as easy as possible for us to suck all the wealth out." We've been unlocking our own economic potential since around the time Reagan was elected president south of the border. We've unlocked so much economic potential that we now live in the Age of Austerity because all the money is stashed in offshore accounts. If the First Nations have any sense, they'll tell us to get stuffed.
- Meanwhile, FSIN notes that the Cons are slashing funding for First Nations housing.

- If we haven't yet turned every public service into a Con crony's profit stream, it isn't for a lack of trying - with the administration of public benefits programs looming as the next area to be handed over to the corporate sector. But there are some pieces of the Cons' work that are too dirty for even the most anti-social corporation to take on.

- The Victoria Times Colonist and Graham Thomson are duly skeptical about Stephen Harper's claim to be the slightest bit interested in science in determining whether or not to force the Gateway pipeline on B.C. And if we needed another reminder of how distant science is from the Cons' spin on the environment, Marc Lee highlights a few of the more glaring holes in the Cons' latest report on greenhouse gas emissions:
The report creates an alternative “do nothing” scenario that leads to surging emissions of 850 Mt in 2020, then subtracts estimates of federal and provincial actions taken to date, which gets us to 720 Mt. That is a lot of spin on the numbers, perhaps hoping few people will bother to read the actual report and just report the government’s line.

But even the 720 Mt number is suspect for a variety of reasons. First, the economic downturn lowers the baseline, with 2010 emissions coming in lower than previously expected. Next, the feds have included land use changes in the calculations for the first time. The decline in forestry activity means more carbon will remain sequestered in Canada’s forests, and this will lower emissions by 26 Mt. Take these out and the 2020 target jumps back to 745 Mt, slightly more than 2005 levels. Then report also arbitrarily lowers emissions from BC’s natural gas sector, relative to National Energy Board projections. And it assumes that proposed regulations yet to be ratified contribute to decreased transportation emissions. And that Saskatchewan implements carbon capture and storage for four new coal-fired power plants.

The other matter is to what extent the feds can take credit for any reductions in various sectors of the Canadian economy. Much of the heavy lifting appears to have been done at the provincial level, including BC’s carbon tax, Quebec’s cap-and-trade regime and Ontario’s phase-out of coal-fired electricity. In transportation, new vehicle regulations are touted but these just copy the new regulations established by the United States. The report makes repeated reference to new regulations being developed for the oil and gas sector, too, but these have been promised for a long time and no draft regulations have yet seen the light of day.
- Finally, Brent Rathgeber makes the case for sitting MPs to stay out of the boundary revision process. Needless to say, his Saskatchewan caucus-mates don't seem interested in listening.

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