Liberal Party Promises On Environment Highlighted

Liberal Party Promises On Environment Highlighted
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Canada’s new prime minister Justin Trudeau was sworn into office Wednesday along with his new federal cabinet, including new Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna.

Canadian climate and energy think tank Clean Energy Canada, which is based at British Columbia’s Simon Fraser University, welcomed the new environment minister and highlighted the key points the Liberal Party had committed to so far in their promised “real change” environment policy, including:

  • Invest $100 million more per year in the growth and development of cleantech companies.
  • Work with the private sector to unlock venture capital.
  • Shift subsidies from fossil fuels to ‘new and clean technology’.
  • Support energy efficiency and electric vehicles.
  • Create a $2 billion fund to support projects that would cut carbon emissions.
  • Work with the provinces to put a price on carbon pollution and ensure more renewable, clean electricity is being produced.

Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, made the following statement on the swearing-in of McKenna and the other new cabinet ministers:

“We congratulate Canada’s new prime minister and federal cabinet ministers, and we applaud the federal government’s commitment to take a new approach on climate change and clean energy.”

Smith mentioned the upcoming climate change negotiations in Paris and said, “We welcome this government’s efforts to restore Canada’s stature as a constructive voice in the upcoming global climate talks, and to collaborate with the provinces and territories to reduce carbon pollution here at home. Including climate change in Minister McKenna’s title signals how high a priority climate action is to our new federal government.

“Canada has vast, untapped clean energy potential and developing these resources is both a key climate solution and important economic opportunity. As the economic opportunities and environmental benefits related to clean energy span regions and sectors, realizing this potential requires an integrated, whole-government approach.”

By Sid Douglas

Canada Gears Up For Most Heated Election In Over A Decade

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Canada is gearing up to vote in what many believe will be the most heated election in over a decade. This will be the longest campaign in Canada since 1872, spanning 11 weeks.

The election date was announced by Prime Minister Steven Harper at the beginning of August, propelling Canadians to engage in political conversations in grocery stores, on neighbors’ porches, at parties, and above all — as is normal in our time — on various online platforms. We saw the four main candidates duke it out in the Maclean’s National Leaders Debate on August 6th, only to see more confounding rhetoric come forth from the mouths of political analysts, or those people who fancy themselves to be political analysts. We need to look beyond the same old political rhetoric, such as the issues of economy, foreign policy, education and so on, and try to understand party policies in their more important details.

The truth is that we have four exceptionally strong candidates, something which has not happened for a long time in Canadian politics. Still this nation is not about electing prime ministers; rather it is about electing MP’s in the house. Although I forget this occasionally, I am sure that many others do as well. The next few months will be paramount to the future of Canada, as many remain adamant in their support of the Conservative party, many are also starting to feel that Harper has been in office far too long. It is obvious that it will be a tight race between the Liberals and Conservatives, but it also seems like the NDP is making headway, according to recent polling.

At the end of the day the main issue comes down to the fact that the economy — in other words to Canada’s almost technical recession during the past five months. While the dollar is falling and the economy is contracting, all fingers are of course pointed at Harper’s government. In the recent debate, Trudeau, Mulcair, and May all used this to levy against Harper, while the prime minister himself attacked the other three on their major platform plans for raising taxes across all sectors of Canada in order to strengthen the social safety net. For a moment it was like watching Friedman, although a not so eloquent or educated version, debating ‘Kenesyan’ economists.

Canada currently finds itself at a multiple crossroad, and whichever way the nation chooses to take the future is somewhat precarious. Whether the people choose another four years of Harper, Mulcair’s potential steady leadership, or Justin’s refreshing ways, I think the real issue here is what do Canadians believe would be a better Canada? One that maintains a Conservative foothold or one that moves towards the left? Rather, a Canada with Harper or without him?

I have not mentioned May, as although she was a strong presence in the debate, she is still the leader of a one-issue-party that has no room in the moderate Canadian landscape that we all envision. The truth is, regardless of whether we like it or not, the thing that is on most people’s minds as of this moment is not the environment, but the economy. More precisely, not the fact that Canada has not met emission standards in years, but why the Canadian dollar is plummeting. 

Canada needs a strong leader that can face issues head on, but it also needs a strong party. As our national safety is being debated amid all governmental institutions down to twitter discussions, Bill C-51 is a big concern in this campaign. Mulcair and May are heavily against the bill. Trudeau believes that the bill is a good idea, yet he still has made it clear that he wants to change some of its amendments and policies. The question is, if Mulcair or May do become PM’s in December, will they be able to do something about it?

All of this is mere politics, and what I mean by “mere” is that we hear the same old rhetoric, and the same old lines on the most prevalent issues of our time, with no real candor. The very fact that the debate was not pugnacious, is only a determiner of the fact that all four candidates were scared to hit the nails on the head. It would be exceptionally interesting to see therefore what the candidates’ opinion on more specific issues such as the recent Iran nuclear deal is. In a recent article by Bob Rae, he has made the case that Canada needs to be wholly clear on its stance over the Iran nuclear deal. We all know that Harper is rightly an important ally of Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu, but the truth is that Canada’s relations with the United States are at an “historic low,” one of the reasons being its unyielding support for Israel.

The issue of Israel is another important point of contention, and one which will probably cost Mulcair. Although they all have expressed support for Israel-some more than others- Mulcair has pushed the idea of supporting Palestine as well which is a position that the current government has not taken and might not be too popular. Last year the Forum Poll posted a small poll that suggests that on average Canadians are split on the Israel-Palestine issue, but a majority of them choose not to “pick sides.” It is obvious that the elections in October will show us how the Canadian public feels.

The truth is that politics are distressingly perplexing, but amid all of the rhetoric there is another level that affects the way voters actually vote, one which is far more simple, and that is the case of image. Ben Shapiro, the political commentator, makes the case in his book Project President that in the U.S. the issue of image has always been important to the way voters learn to trust candidates. The same is easily applied to Canadian politics as well. When we look at Justin and his youthful demeanor it is easy to see that there is an ideal energetic outlook to the way he presents himself. On the other hand, Harper although aging, has a different cool, collected, calm to him that shows him off to be a leader that knows what he is doing. Mulcair and May seem to have a more empathetic and approachable vibe to them. Although we hate to admit it, as Ben Shapiro suggests, the truth is that things like how candidates are dressed, how they look, and how they act are crucial to voters simply due to the fact that it is a part of human nature.

Despite the obvious problem of image, as well as vague opinions on national and international issues, we need to place our trust as voters in the ideas of the parties that we feel appeals most to us, and not necessarily in the leadership, however hard that may be. This is a country whose political system has been built on representation, therefore when one votes in their own riding it is essential they choose a party that represents them the most, and not just simply how they feel about the party’s leader. Regardless of whether one is anti-Harper, or anti-Trudeau, the important thing remains that the Canadian populace votes in October.

Analysis by Milad Doroudian

Photo by Saffron Blaze

The confounding nature of Canadian politics

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The trees might be blooming now, but it wont be long until leaves will begin to turn yellow and red. The next federal election shall soon be upon us, whether we like it or not. Yet, I find myself baffled, foolhardy, and even, I dare say, perplexed. A great deal of people in their juvenile nature might point their finger at me and pronounce outright that I am neglecting my duties as a citizen. The only thing I can say to that is: what are my options?

In an age when politics has become even more about personalities rather than the ideals and principles upon which governing our nation could best be decided — namely democratic deliberation — what is someone who does not follow celebrity culture do? Yes it had to be brought to light. It seems that in the last few years, Canadian politics does not seem so different from your standard celebrity news spectacle.

It seems to have shifted from the “ideas” part of the rhetoric — not that it was only about that — to a complete personality-based silliness. Ask yourself: Is Trudeau really up for it as a leader, or is he using his legacy, looks, and personality as Rex Murphy argued two years ago in one of his CBC rants? Although at first I saw this as another facile Conservative-styled argument, it seems that it might turn out to be more true than one would think.

Yet, I ask, and I say that I have to ask, what are your other two feasible options? Muclair, whose lack of certainty and poise in his demeanor only makes for an infallibly weak leader, for what otherwise could be a decent left-wing party. Then there is Harper, who has become hated by some, and increasingly loved by others — especially now amid the controversial Bill C-51 which recently led to nation-wide protests. There are the independents who are there for no perceptible reasons whatsoever, but only to bring about the sensations that come with democracy.

I find myself sifting through different politically motivated articles through different newspapers, and I can only find the same answers to my ever-growing questions. Infallibly answered by characters and personalities. I fear, immeasurably so, that Trudeau might end up “pulling,” excuse the candor, an “Obama” on Canada. Specifically, if he gets elected he will promise many things, and will put up an image of transcendental “hope” and ride the wave of change until it becomes clear that he wont be able to do much, and in fact won’t. This, however, is the case with any candidate, regardless of what party she or he is from.

Perhaps my obstacle is that I am rather cynical, or perhaps better said, a realist. Especially when it comes to politics. They say that politics is the “art of the possible,” but I rather think it is the “art of the improbable.” Improbable in the sense that a great deal of the things that voters expect every year wont actually materialize.

The truth of the matter is simply that people are guided by the parties in their simple demonstrations of things such as their colors: orange, red, blue, green and so on. Each, led by personalities that we can appeal to depending on what we prefer, and our political inclinations. It seems rather simple, yet my mind cannot follow such collective bromides.

I can reasonably infer that I distrust myself enough to never completely ally myself with one party and one leader, precisely because I find there are some policies from each party that I can agree on, and others that I cannot. I find some Liberal policies to be bogus, while others completely valid, the same goes for the Conservatives and NDP. This leaves me, sadly, in a rather tremendous dilemma.

At times I can agree with all candidates, yet also disagree with all of them as well, only due to the fact that I follow a politics of issues, not that of men. Sometimes I wish, despite the obvious difficulties, that Canada would run along the lines of Switzerland’s political structure, where every issue has its own referendum. Yet, would we subject ourselves as Mill said to the “tyranny of the majority?”

You must realize that politics in this country has always been driven by personality,  candor in speech, and presence. We love/loved our prime ministers, for their characters, and even their flaws. Yet, there is something very hollow, and I dare say, trivial going on. There seems to be a great lack of character and temperament, and to be honest charm, and a great deal of promises won’t fill that void. That goes for all candidates.

Now that we are left with men or women of no perceptible clout, what I am asking is that we look beyond political personalities although they are innate to the the political process and turn our attention to the issues as well, the ones which play such an important role to the future of Canada. A future mind you which is in the thoughts of all Canadians.

Despite the truth that it will be difficult to dissociate ourselves from personalities, as to do so is to go against an axiom of politics- a good smile on camera is perhaps more valuable, sadly, than any rhetoric that might come from any of the candidates, yet even that does not always prove to be of any value.

Where are the characters that are worth the rhetoric? Those such as Wilfred Laurier and Lester B. Pearson, whom have shaped this nation that holds the values which make us proud today?

Opinion by Milad Doroudian

Image by National Film Board of Canada, Library and Archives Canada.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair opposes “dangerous, vague, and ineffective” anti-terror bill

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NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has adamantly restated his opposition to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s anti-terror bill, which is set to be reviewed this Wednesday in the House of Commons. He is hoping the Liberals will do the same.

Mulcair has called Bill C-51, which has been proposed as a tool in the fight against terrorism at home and abroad, “dangerous, vague, and ineffective.” In fact, he reiterated Wednesday that, “The truth is we cannot protect our freedoms by combating them.”

If the bill passes it will give the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) greater powers to combat terrorism by disrupting and intercepting information flow in regards to terrorism through the entire country and from external sources.

However, it will also give more powers to other law enforcement agencies across Canada. It will give the RCMP more leeway in obtaining peace bonds, thus being able to hold suspects if they are suspected of being involved in terrorist-related activities.

“Experts warn that broad measures in this bill could lump legal dissent together with terrorism,” Mulcair said. “And the bill would give significant new powers to CSIS without addressing serious deficiencies in oversight.” said Mulcair.

The main fear behind the bill, as expressed by Mulclair, is that it will interfere with the freedoms of Canadians, and possibly make the situation worse.

“We cannot protect our freedoms by sacrificing. New Democrats have a different vision. Freedom and public safety have to go hand-in-hand. We will hold true to our principles and oppose this dangerous, over-reaching legislation.” he said.

Mulclair is not alone in opposing the bill, as Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party has also disproved of the content and aims of the bill.

Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party made it clear that his party will vote for the bill, although he expressed concern about the powers it will give CSIS.

Bill C-51 was reviewed for the second time in the House of Commons today.

By Milad Doroudian

Image by Jonathan Allard

Historically illiterate: Canada’s baffling quandary

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VANCOUVER, Canada — The fondness that I hold for this nation and its institutions is something which has been instilled in me since my youth. I always nitpicked and stacked my books on Canadian and British history, making sure that I knew the stories of the people who have not only let me live in this country, but also become a part of their culture, and heritage.

Democracy, constitutional law, and liberty are ideals which have been passed down from the English-speaking peoples and which have permeated into different arms across different parts of the world, from Australia and New Zealand to the West Indies to, arguably, the United States, and of course Canada. The nation which shared  great sacrifices alongside Great Britain in both world wars, and also provided its mother country with a great deal of aid

Undeniably Canadians have formed an identity which is unexampled across the globe, particularly because of its parsimony to its giant neighbor, yet we forget that the institutions which still govern this nation are frankly British. They are simply cogeneric, which means that to an extent the history of Britain, and even that of the Commonwealth — old and new — is a compulsory part of ours.

Black, Bliss, Pearson. All great historians which have had an immeasurable effect on the manner in which I view the history of a nation, who to this day remains heavily tied to its motherland. However there is a baffling quandary that is affecting most of those that are in my age group presently: there is an incessant approval of apathy towards this fact, and any history for that matter.

When you ask a young Canadian today what he/she is most proud of they will proudly answer: Canada’s natural beauty. Not the Canadian Pacific Railway which is a crowning achievement of human reason, and was built through unthinkable drudgery to connect this grand nation together. Another may say that he is proud of the fact that Canadians are nice — an asinine bromide — rather than say that to date Canada has participated in 54 peacekeeping missions around the world.

We live in an age where the greatest Canadian is not Alexander Graham Bell which has left humanity a gift which they could not fathom, but rather David Suzuki, who become a millionaire through collective activism. An age where people no longer read of the great strides and pains of Federick Banting, Terry Fox, and John A. Macdonlad; rather of the whims of Rob Ford, Justin Bieber, and Michael Buble.

What is most worrying, however, is not that people do not know Canadian history, but rather that they do not know the most basic functions of its government, both at the provincial and federal levels. They do not realize the crowning glory of British democracy which still runs smoothly today. They are ready to attack Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau and so on blindly without actually understanding any particular issues at hand, nor the political processes which make our lower and upper houses battle it out in the name Westminster-style democracy.

Still, the issue is not that most youth fail to read any British history, rather that they even make no attempt at Canadian. Where the source of this philistinism derives from one cannot say, especially in a culture where a library card is gratuitous. Even more so in a culture where information is so widely accessible.

Do not be fooled by the common university student who at first glance might seem intelligent because of his/her ability to quote some famous men and women. Their understanding of history, culture, and the arts starts with the “Introduction” and ends at “Chapter 19.” They usually are against mainstream politics, but cannot name the mechanism and historical principles that produced them. They are the ones who embrace deconstructionism readily, without grasping the ideas and basics of what they should be “deconstructing.”

They do not read the history behind parliament, capitalism, socialism, Canadian conservatism and liberalism, yet both those on the left and right attack them, without expanding their historical research beyond half a Wikipedia article. It is apparent that we are now in an age where our youth is located in an eerie world of “educated” illiteracy.

Rant By Milad Doroudian

Image by Tamar