It’s the economy and the environment, stupid

“It’s the economy, stupid” was the signal theme of Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 U.S. presidential campaign. A more apt slogan today would be “it’s the economy and the environment, stupid.”

Here’s why. Climate change poses, not only enormous dangers to our natural environment, but also — as if that weren’t enough — equally enormous risks to our economic well-being.

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Canada’s third national policy — us

Canada’s Third National Policy is an essay every Canadian should read, and an idea that every Canadian should embrace.

In Canada’s Third National Policy, Rod Macdonald and Bob Wolfe argue that Canada has evolved through three national policies.

Canada’s first national policy (np1) was a response to the Great Depression of 1873 and consisted of tariffs to prop up Canadian manufacturers, immigration to the prairies and the construction of a transcontinental transportation infrastructure. Sir John A. Macdonald’s National Policy of 1879 was a superb — if cynical — campaign slogan, and it still fires the ambitions of his party today.

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SLAPPing democracy in the face

What’s gone wrong with democracy? That’s the question recently posed by the British magazine The Economist, which observed that even in established democracies like Canada, “flaws in the system have become worryingly visible and disillusion with politics is rife.”

The Economist’s diagnosis of what ails democracy is disturbing. Politicians have been captured by special interest groups (read: powerful industries and their lobbyists) and undermined by anti-democratic habits like, say, proroguing parliament to dodge inconvenient questions and indefensible lapses of judgment.

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Combating the ‘anthropocebo’ effect

Shocking news from Alberta: the Wildrose opposition party has announced that it now believes in climate change, and humans’ influence on it. What’s next? Official recognition that the Earth is round and orbits the Sun?

But you have to hand it to Wildrose party leader Danielle Smith. In response to Alberta Environment Minister Diana McQueen’s quip that Ms. Smith would never be taken seriously on the global stage if she didn’t acknowledge climate change, Ms. Smith retorted “I don’t accept a lecture from a do-nothing environment minister like Diana McQueen.”

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Energy policies need attention

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will soon release its fifth report summarizing the latest science on climate change. A new IPCC report is kind of a big deal, so let’s look ahead to its expected findings and the response it’s likely to provoke.

Based on improvements in climate modeling since its last report was published in 2007, the IPCC is expected to conclude (again) that global temperatures are climbing, oceans are acidifying, Artic ice is melting (but much faster than previously predicted), dangerous methane emissions are escalating (ditto) and sea levels are rising.But even more importantly, the IPCC’s report will likely affirm with overwhelming confidence that these calamitous changes are largely being caused by human beings.

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Proroguing participation in environmental decision-making

As our prime minister prorogues Parliament (again), environmental advocates are suing the federal government over new rules restricting public participation in hearings conducted by the National Energy Board (NEB) on major energy projects, including Enbridge’s proposed reversal of its Line 9B pipeline.

Some background: In 2008 the government passed the Federal Sustainable Development Act. The unobjectionable purpose of this legislation is to make environmental decision-making more transparent and accountable. In passing the act, the government acknowledged the “need to integrate environmental, economic and social factors in the making of all decisions by government.”

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Empty promises, false choices of Energy East

Forget Keystone XL for the moment. With U.S. approval growing ever more unlikely, TransCanada Pipelines has resuscitated Energy East, its proposed $12-billion pipeline to ship Alberta crude to refineries and export terminals in Quebec and New Brunswick. But long before Energy East delivers a drop of oil, it has already spilled a torrent of empty promises and false choices.

Some background: Keystone XL is TransCanada’s proposed $7-billion pipeline extension stretching from Hardisty, Alta., to Steele City, Neb., where it would connect to a pipeline running to refineries and export terminals on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

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