Monday, January 8, 2007

The good, the bad and the ugly

I'm pretty new to the blogging world but last week's furious debate over minimum wage that was initiated by Jason Churniak ("Say no to a $10 minimum wage") was what I expected to see more of when I started posting last month.

Personally, I found Mr. Churniak's reasoning to be flawed and lacking in any real evidence that increasing minimum wage to $10 a month would result in economic chaos. But that's not my point here. The really fantastic part of the post was that it got some pretty smart and passionate people talking about the issue (and some not so fantastic and a few just plain stupid). It's too bad that energy couldn't be harnessed to have real dialogue on other issues and make this medium a place from which real change could be initiated. I don't see enough of this in this forum.

Take the environment for example. Everyone agrees that there is an immediate need to solve the mess we've made of our environment. How about a sustained debate key environmental issues and immediate practical solutions that could be put in place to address these.

Here's a list of topics that could be debated:
1. Increasing clean energy production
2. Reducing the footprint of non-renewables
3. Reducing waste and pollution
4. Water conservation
5. Developing new models of wealth
6. The role of cities and regional development on the environment.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

This week in the environment

The environment certainly seems to be building as a key issue for Canadians and rightly so. If you live in eastern Canada the absence of winter is a clear testament to climate change; in western Canada it is the extreme weather that BC has been experiencing with alarming regularity over the past two months.

Business may now be sitting up and taking notice now that it is having a substantial economic impact. The TSX fell by 445 points this week with energy (and the warm winter) leading the charge. CBC Newsworld has had multiple reports on the impact of the warm winter on ski resorts and tourism generally in eastern Canada. And the economic impact on Vancouver and BC has also been significant.

Waking up to the fact that his government is rightly being recognized for their abysmal record on the environment, Prime Minister Harper this week appointed John Baird as his new Environment Minister. But it's questionable whether Harper really intends substantive changes to his laughable Clean Air Act which he announced last October remains to be seen. Baird has no environmental credentials, and his primary role seems to be to continue try to defuse the situation by ramping up the attacks on the Liberals for their own failings on the environment and incorporate enough of Jack Layton's environment bill to make Mr. Harper seem greener. It's questionable as to whether Baird really believes there's a problem.

As for Harper, his motives are at least as suspect. While he seems to enjoy some bi-partisan support, appointing Jim Prentice as chair to the cabinet committee as on environment and energy security is also a questionable appointment, given his history as a proponent of new pipelines to support development of the tar sands. Mr. Harper has done nothing to date to convince me (or any other reasonable person for that matter) that he has changed his mind on Canada becoming and "energy superpower" as he announced last fall. Elizabeth May, who has impeccable credentials, contrasted Mr. Harper with former PM Brian Mulroney, calling him the worst prime minister in history regarding environmental issues in her interview with Peter Mansbridge on Mansbridge One on One this Sunday.

On a brighter note, Evan Solomon had a great interview with Worldchanging's Alex Steffen on Hottype. Nice way to end the week. Now let's all run out, buy the book and start coming up with our own great ideas to change our world before it's too late.