Tuesday, November 29, 2005

IT'S NOT EVEN A REAL COUNTRY ANYWAY...

(Apologies for the South Park reference.) You wait ages for a big Canada-related story and just like buses, three turn up at once.

First up to bat: Canada's government is thrown out (from the BBC).
Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin's government has been ousted in a no-confidence vote.

Canada's three opposition parties united against his Liberal Party, which has been mired in a corruption scandal. His government has only been in power for 17 months, but has failed to shake off a scandal dating from a previous Liberal administration.

In the late 1990s C$100m ($85m; £50m) of public money was paid by the Liberal government to advertising agencies, for little or no work in return. It has been alleged that Liberal officials demanded kickbacks for awarding the contracts.

Mr Martin is not implicated in the scandal, but the opposition says he has lost all moral authority.
Whether or not Martin can ride this one out remains to be seen. Perceived (and actual) corruption played a big part in the downfall of the Major government but crucially Martin is ahead in the polls. Could be an interesting couple of months.

Secondly, as if corruption wasn't enough, it looks like all those smug Canadians who like to criticise Bush for his poor record on the environment are going to have to eat a piece of humble pie: Canada's greenhouse-gas emissions increase. (Courtesy of Damien Penny)

Looking over the record of industrialized countries in controlling their greenhouse-gas emissions is to see cases of the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

Among the countries judged to be good are Germany and Britain. They're undisputed leaders in showing the way for countries to curb their releases of planet-warming gases. Unfortunately, Canada is listed among the ugly.

In preparation for this week's international climate summit in Montreal, the UN's climate change secretariat has released a report on the progress, or lack thereof, made by the 40 developed countries covered by the Kyoto Protocol.

Canada has vowed to cut its emissions by 6 per cent from its 1990 level over the period from 2008 to 2012, but its emissions by the end of 2003 were up 24 per cent.

Here come the excuses:
Federal Environment Minister Stéphane Dion attributes Canada's rise partly to robust economic growth. The economy has grown by 43 per cent since 1990. Canada is also being saddled with emissions from the booming energy industry, which is exporting record amounts of oil and gas to the United States.
So the economy's growing. Isn't that the get-out clause that India and China use to avoid compliance with the Kyoto Treaty? Surely the Canadians knew that their economy was on the up when they became signatories to the Treaty? It makes the decision to sign look little more than an empty gesture, an attempt to placate the vocal green contingent whilst being able to take the moral high ground with the US.

Speaking of which, how do our Canadian cousins compare to the gas-guzzlers on their southern border? Not very well as it happens.

One surprise in the figures is that Canada's emission record is far worse than even the United States, where the Bush administration has refused to ratify Kyoto.

Mr. Bramley said the United States is "actually ahead of Canada in just about every area" of environmental policies used to curb emissions. And he said the record of individual states "is far ahead of any province in Canada."

Ouch. That's got to hurt.

For me this was always the problem with the Kyoto Protocol. Completely unenforceable, the greens reckoned it didn't go far enough and industry viewed it as a pointless exercise that wouldn't cut global warming by anywhere near enough (and that's assuming man-made global warming exists as a phenomena and can be reversed). Countries that didn't sign up were vilified (e.g. the US) and yet have shown themselves capable of reducing their emissions more effectively than those who talked the talk, but so far have failed to walk the walk (e.g. Canada and almost all of Western Europe).

On the subject of global warming, I'm still not convinced by arguments from either side to be honest. But in keeping with the precautionary principle, three cheers for Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia who (according to this article) are the only countries who managed to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions by more than 50% between 1990 and 2003.

And back to Canada. The final "big" story reads like something out of the Onion: Former Canadian Minister Of Defence Asks Canadian Parliament Asked To Hold Hearings On Relations With Alien "ET" Civilizations.

A former Canadian Minister of Defence and Deputy Prime Minister (I'm thinking John Prescott meets Geoff Hoon - what a hideous thought... ed.) under Pierre Trudeau has joined forces with three Non-governmental organizations to ask the Parliament of Canada to hold public hearings on Exopolitics -- relations with "ETs."
...
Mr. Hellyer went on to say, "I'm so concerned about what the consequences might be of starting an intergalactic war, that I just think I had to say something."
Aren't we all Mr Hellyer, aren't we all? Now for the obligatory Bush-bash:
Hellyer warned, "The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, "The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide."
Hell yeah Mr Hellyer! When they're not busy occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, you can always rely on the Americans to be letting their imperialistic ambitions run wild in the rest of the galaxy. I can only urge Mr Hellyer to invest in a tin-foil hat - there is no other defence!

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