Sunday, July 11, 2010

Canada: The Best Damned Democracy That Money Can Buy!

And if you ain't got no money nobody gives a shit what you think anyway!

Disturbing, disturbing, highly disturbing stuff from Alison at Creekside and the passionately anti-NDP Eugene Forsey. It seems that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment has decided to shred all the evidence from its past six meetings and all the research evidence that was to go into their report.

The last seven committee sessions on the tar sands have been locked to the public.

At the last public session back in March, the committee heard testimony from a scientist who had conducted the first independent research done since 1983 on airborne tar sands contaminants found in the snow pack along the Athabasca River.
Dr. David Schindler from the University of Alberta told the committee that at the 31 locations he had tested :
"Mercury emitted from these plants has increased three-fold in seven years, lead has increased four-fold in six years, and arsenic three-fold in six years as well."
Further, he said that although Environment Canada tests at only one location on the Athabasca, it has come up with the same numbers, as have the oil companies in their own research.
Schindler contends the oil companies' reports on contaminants are duly submitted to Environment Canada but he believes EC is being muzzled and prevented from making the findings public, and the oil companies of course are not obliged to do so on their own.

And that, my friends, was the last public session of the Environment Committee before it went in camera for the next six sessions and decided against making a report to the House, and to us.

This is serious stuff. It goes like this people: If you're a convinced proponent of the Tar Sands project (but an honest one) you'd say "I think all this global warming stuff is so much hooey," or "I don't think these pollutants are so excessive or that they'll be all that harmful," and then you'd allow to be published whatever the studies say.

The fact that the harpercons are doing the same-old strategies of obstruction (based on their play book for the destruction of democracy) shows that they're actually revolting pieces of shit who KNOW that bad stuff is happening, which they don't want the people to know about.

It ought to be front-page news, a major scandal, in this country, but I'm now convinced that we have a bullshit democracy where "the rule of law" is a sick joke. After the overthrow of the Aristide government, after mike harris's contribution to the death of Dudley George, after two prorogations, after the torture of innocent Canadians and Afghans, after the constitutional crisis provoked by harper's refusal to inform Parliament had degenerated into some boring committee sideshow where nobody is going to be embarrassed, and after the non-reaction to the total reaming of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms at the Toronto G20, ... after all those things and more (APEC-Suharto-Pepper-Spray, Caledonia, etc.,) I have no faith in this country's political system or its people.

Tomorrow, check this space for extended commentary on Miley Cyrus's career aspirations.


no_blah_blah_blah said...

I'm discouraged too, but I wouldn't lose all hope. The system has its many flaws, but with any luck, people in the future will study this period of time, learn, and fix the holes. It sucks for now, but we're not going away.

As for the lack of public reaction to the G20 incidents, I used to joke that the lack of shift in public opinion polls to Conservative actions was the result of Liberal incompetence. After the G20, though, I've come to think that it might be the polarization of the electorate. Instead of a large and uncommitted middle (that can be influenced by campaigning, etc.), we now have a smaller uncommitted middle.

It explains the relatively unchanging numbers as well as the fact that the NDP's numbers are steady while the middle switches allegiances between the supposedly-center Liberals and Conservatives. I'd guess that 30% are hardened Conservatives, 25% are hardened Liberals, and 15% are hardened NDP. The rest is either with the smaller parties, or are the uncommitted middle.

The bad is that without proportional representation (or its variants), the split in votes will always be a problem. The good is that ultimately non-Conservative support is the majority. We outnumber them. That should be an encouraging sign in a democracy (even one as flawed as first-past-the-post).

Until Conservative support becomes the majority... it's game on.

Alison said...

I had to look up Miley Cyrus - 4 seconds I won't get back yada yada.

That little snippet I posted from Schindler's testimony is tip of the iceberg but easy to grasp. The biggie is the government's decision to exclude the very toxic naphthenic acid - the main source of pollution dumped into tailings ponds - off the list of tracked substances altogether. I think this may have been what blew up the committee.

n-b-b-b- : We have been quite content to be corporate colonialists of the third world for much of our history and we are also quite content not to know anything about how our various governments have managed it. Not until it comes home, not until we feel what it pleases us to call 'our rights' under threat, will we pay much attention to the workings of government beyond the occasional electoral circus. Twenty years ago most people I knew voted; twenty years later the same people don't.
"Game on" will not happen until "Conservative support becomes a majority".

Eugene Forsey Liberal said...

Very good summary of various things as back story. One can take your conclusion in two ways, either hopeless or gotta change it all. Even I go back and forth on that, observing ups and downs. Human, I guess.

thwap said...

No blah,

I'm losing all hope. This stuff is black and white, or it ought to be.

Like Alison says, this is how the empire has been managed for us elsewhere and most Canadians have been quite content to remain ignorant.

When we on the left try to inform them about East Timor, Iraq, Colombia, Nicaragua, Mexico, Vietnam, etc., etc., Haiti, Somalia, ... it's always "Yes, yes." with heavy condescension or worse, "Why do you hate America?"


I noticed that napthenic acid. I never took chemistry but it registered on a subconscious level, from all the reading i do, that that's a nasty substance.

Taking it off the list of things to study is pure, USA-style, bought-and-paid-for politics.


No. I'm pretty hopeless. Harper getting a bump in the polls after G20 shows that our opposition is useless, our society is poisoned.