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   It is comforting to see that our financial myopia extends to the production and export of asbestos.  If the tarsands and the associated environmental degradation is a slam dunk for Canada, for then exporting asbestos should hardly be on the radar.

“Canada won the fight, for at least another two years, to keep asbestos off an international list of hazardous chemicals as discussions wrapped up in Geneva on Friday.

The conference of participants to the Rotterdam Convention ended without agreement on whether to add chrysotile asbestos to the Annex 3 list.

The country was one of only a handful — and the only western country — to maintain its objection until the end of the week, denying the conference the consensus it needed to make the change.”

Conservative cabinet ministers in Ottawa insisted the lung-cancer-causing substance can be used safely.

Right on!  The Conservative government making a principled stand for industry and profit, frack the science and those damn weenie Europeans.  What does fact have to do with this issue?

Apparently the NDP gets it.

“Asbestos is the greatest industrial killer the world has ever known. More people die from asbestos than all industrial causes combined, yet Canada continues to be one of the largest producers and exporters in the world. We are exporting human misery on a monumental scale,” said NDP MP Pat Martin. “Our position is morally and ethically reprehensible.”

Full marks for rhetoric, but the message is pretty clear.  Unlike the Liberal party who seem to think it is a great idea with a few ‘realistic’ qualifications.

Liberal MP Marc Garneau said despite Paradis’ insistence that asbestos can be used safely, he should know that’s not the case in developing countries.

“This minister knows full well that it’s very difficult to use chrysotile in the proper working conditions. The procedures, the training, the complex equipment to use it in a safe way so that fibres aren’t accidentally breathed in,” Garneau said. “He cannot assure us that this is not being used improperly in countries that import it, Third World countries … This is willful blindness.”

Err…yah, so let’s take India where the majority of the people don’t really do the shoe thing.  I’m sure they are ready for industrial grade lung death prevention procedures.

“But Paradis returned to the response he and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver have been offering since the Rotterdam Convention meetings started in Geneva earlier this week.

“We know that recent studies show that chrysotile can be used in a safe and controlled manner,” Paradis said. “This is risk management, so we know that chrysotile can be used safely in a controlled environment.”

Misery and drowning in your own fluids for the poor, but for the asbestos industry it is all smiles and chuckles.  I become more proud to be Canadian every day under this conservative government.

Whoops, not Canadian, no reproductive rights for you!

The Conservative government of Canada once again proves that it is anti-choice, anti-rational and anti-woman.  The CBC said:

“A Liberal motion to include a broader range of family planning programs, including contraception, in a maternal health initiative for developing countries, was defeated 144-138 in the House of Commons Tuesday.”

A Liberal motion in the house of commons that was based on fact and evidence in the field was voted down.

“The motion tabled by Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae said Canada’s maternal health proposal to G8 nations must be based on “scientific evidence, which proves that education and family planning can prevent as many as one in every three maternal deaths” and refrain from the “failed right-wing ideologies” of former U.S. president George W. Bush.”

Shocking as it may seem to the CPC, access to reproductive services saves lives.

“Earlier in the day, Rae said the government has refused to acknowledge scientific evidence that shows reducing deaths of women during childbirth in developing countries is inextricably linked to the availability of family planning”

So rather than own up to their anti-woman, anti-science platform the Conservatives decide this is an attempt to reopen the abortion debate?  How the frack does this make sense?  The question of Abortion in Canada has been settled legally (Access to facilities though is another story).   Women have the legal right to access abortions and other health services when they deem fit.  Nothing to debate.  What minister Oda says is just a sad attempt to cover the Canadian government’s twisted socially conservative roots.

Denying Women Rights World Wide - A compassionate conservative.

“Oda described the Liberal motion as a “transparent attempt to reopen the abortion debate that we have clearly said we have no intention to getting into.”

She insisted the government understands the urgency of ensuring that women can have a safe, healthy pregnancy, and she cited statistics suggesting that as many as 80 per cent of deaths during childbirth are easily preventable by providing basic needs such as clean water and access to trained health-care workers.”

Just be open with us Bev, the freedoms Canadian women have should not apply to women of other countries, after-all it is God given right for a woman to die in childbirth.

Well, now that the Senate has been stacked in the Conservatives favour, I’m sure Harper and his minions can get on with the the business of running our country.  Unfortunately, the House of Commons is still closed for business till the Olympics are done.

I wonder how much the Conservatives are betting that we will forget about the Afghan Detainee Torture Scandal?  I hope, for once our spineless opposition will not let the government squirm away from the issue.  Our culpability in Afghanistan needs to be fully explored.   Proroguing parliament may halt the formal aspects of our democratic process but it will not end our responsibility to those we have transgressed against.

global-warmingThis just in: Stephen Harper cares about Climate Change:

Full global participation in cutting greenhouse gases is necessary to tackle global warming, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said at an APEC summit in Singapore on Saturday.”

There are just a few problems with all this tackling and cutting.  When it comes to Canadian treatment of actually cutting greenhouse gases we need to consider a new adjective, ‘glad-handing’ for instance.

The reality of the situation:

“Ottawa will soon exceed its Kyoto limit by about 30%, yet it will face no penalty for doing so because the Kyoto parties never agreed on any meaningful punishments,” so says Michael Levi in the National Post article.

Climate change is a challenging problem perhaps we are just getting ‘up to speed’ on a Canadian solution.   We need qualified scientists to lead the charge.  Harper appointed Mark Mullins and John Weissenberger to key posts in the government’s science sections.

The Globe and Mail says this (this is a meta-link as the actual article is safely out of the public domain, earning a extended middle fingered salute to the asshats at the G&M):

The 18-member NSERC already includes another Harper government appointee, mathematician Christopher Essex, who wrote a book challenging the “myth of climate change.”

On the same day Dr. Mullins was appointed to NSERC, April 23, another skeptic of global warming was appointed to the board of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, which funds large research projects. John Weissenberger is a close friend of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a former chief of staff in the Harper government and a geologist who works for Husky Energy in Alberta.

Dr. Weissenberger has written opinion pieces in the media and on his Internet blog expressing his “skepticism about global warming.” That and other comments by the two appointees on the public record were compiled by NDP researchers and verified by The Globe and Mail.

So we are committed to climate change, yet we seem to be appointing people who are climate change deniers.  You wonder why we have no credibility on climate change, just look at the annotated Frasier Institute report.

This post is dedicated to debunking the whole “harsh punishment on criminals is good” mentality. This post will have nothing to do about ‘prisoner rights’ or ‘criminal coddling’, but rather it will look at the efficacy of ‘harsh punishment’ on crime in general and how efficient longer jail sentences would be. Does it actually work? To what degree? Is that degree of success worth what it costs to citizens? Lets take a look.

jailcell For as long as there have been communities, murderers and thieves have been seen as criminals. Indeed, non-human primates share this with us as they will also punish, banish or kill deviants of this kind. And since the birth of the community, punishment for these crimes has been vast, varied, ingenuitive, brutally painful, and many have been fatal. So what we have is a near perfect case study. Thousands of years worth of experiments where two specific crimes have met with the pinnacle exemplars of the object of our study, harsh punishment. If harsh punishment really had any effect whatsoever on deterring or reducing crime, after those many thousands of years of diligent application we should find that the social problems of murder and theft are all but solved, strange memories of an era long past away. As we don’t seem to be any closer to a crime free utopia than early communities (indeed, most would argue we are further away) the only conclusion is that harsh punishment is contending for the rank of ‘most ineffective idea ever actualized by any government’, which is a highly competitive race. But for those that find this thought experiment a bit too neat, lets break it down a bit and look at our system of imprisonment.

Read the rest of this entry »

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