Category Archives: The Environment

Joyce Murray Will Be A Formidable Liberal Leadership Candidate

The cutoff date for candidates to enter the Federal Liberal Leadership race is fast approaching. So far, only 2 candidates are officially in the race (Justin Trudeau and Deborah Coyne.) The media coverage has been almost completely about Trudeau since he announced on October 2nd. The Liberal Party needs a vibrant, competitive leadership race for the health of the party. With Mr. Trudeau based in Quebec and Ms. Coyne being from Ontario, there is still room for at least one B.C. candidate (with both Marc Garneau* and Trudeau being from Quebec there will be a real opportunity to build a strong Liberal presence in la belle province once again.) Although Alex Burton and David Merner are both really intriguing candidates, I think that Joyce Murray will be a first-tier candidate able to compete with Garneau and Trudeau at the convention in April.

Here’s why:

  • Business Experience: Unlike Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair, Murray isn’t a career politician. In 1979, she co-founded “Brinkman and Associates Reforestation.” This company works  on reforestation and sustainability initiatives in British Columbia. It has expanded to Alberta, Ontario and Central America. The Liberal Party needs to have credibility on the economy and Ms. Murray’s business experience would go a long way on that front.
  • Government Experience: In the B.C. government Murray served as Minister of Water, Land, and Air Protection from 2001-2004**, and then as Minister of Management Services until June 2005. Her governing experience would be invaluable for the Liberal Party.
  • Environmental Credentials: As a former Minister and co-founder of a pro-environmental buisness Murray has solid environmental credentials. She has introduced 2 private members’ bills both of which were environmental policies. In June 2008, she put forward Bill C-572, which proposed exempting bicycles, bike accessories, repairs, and safety training from GST because she believes in sustainable transportation. This would be appealing in a lot of Canada’s urban centres. In December 2010, she introduced Bill C-606, an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, banning oil tanker traffic on Canada’s Pacific North Coast.
  • The Liberal Party needs to build out West: Ms. Murray was able to win her seat and keep it during 2 elections that were particularly terrible for the Liberal Party.
  • Bilingual: Ms. Murray is fluently bilingual and has been doing interviews with Quebec’s French-language media as of late.
  • Clean break from the past: First elected in 2008, Ms. Murray (along with Garneau and Trudeau) would give the Liberal Party a break from the scandals that lead to the recent electoral defeats of the LPC.

I hope candidates seeking the Liberal Leadership declare sooner rather than later. Though Justin Trudeau is the prohibitive front-runner, I expect Ms. Murray will bring a lot to the race and give him a run for his money.

*In a speech to the Northumberland–Quinte West Federal Liberal Association Garneau outlined his 3 priorities “if” he decided to seek the liberal leadership. So it is safe to assume he’s in.

** Her nickname was “Minister of Earth, Wind and Fire.”

Paul Donofrio: NDP Candidate. Rob Ford Supporter. Social Media Cautionary Tale.

Yesterday, I wrote about how the PC candidate in Kitchener-Waterloo, Tracey Weiler, has been running away from the PC leader Tim Hudak. In the riding of Vaughan, the ONDP and their leader Andrea Horwath, the opposite has been the case. Paul Donofrio, the ONDP candidate, has been completely ignored by his party. When he was nominated on August 10th the ONDP did a short, boilerplate press release. Since then, there has been hardly a peep about Mr. Donofrio out of the ONDP.

Paul Donofrio is a classic perennial candidate. He ran for City Council, and lost. He ran for mayor of Vaughan, and lost. And he ran in Vaughan during the 2011 election, and lost.

The point I want to make is not only that the NDP are not competitive in both by-elections (the PCs aren’t either, the Ontario Liberals are the only party competitive in both Kitchener-Waterloo and Vaughan.) Donofrio offers an important political social media lesson for us all. His twitter account is effectively inactive (he has tweeted 4 times since the 2011 election.) His tweets from over the last 2-and-a-bit years include non sequiturs, lots of ALL CAPS, dead links and some interesting opinions (see below.) When a candidate signs up for twitter (or any social media platform) and doesn’t know what they are doing/has no social media communications team behind them, their dead account will linger online forever. The lesson: you don’t have to get twitter just because other people have twitter. If a candidate gets twitter, make sure that they have a good team behind them and take down the account after the election if the candidate is planning on running again.

Getting back to Mr. Donofrio. Perhaps the NDP doesn’t want to draw attention to some of Mr. Donofrio’s previously held political positions. The website from his mayoral run is still up: http://www.pauldonofrio.com/ and his endorsement of Toronto Mayoral candidate Rob Ford on twitter is still up:

The next day he retweeted a Rob Ford GOTV tweet*:

“WAIT, WHAT?” you may ask. An NDP candidate endorsed Toronto’s regressive mayor? He most certainly did. Now, this shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone. Andrea Horwarth and the Ontario NDP regularly take regressive positions because they have populist appeal (just like Rob Ford.) Andrea Horwath voted against the Clear Energy Act, the Clean Water Act and the Cosmetic Pesticides Ban.** The ONDP’s HST policy would lead to a large tax cut for big polluters. Since the 2011 election the ONDP have advocated an auto insurance scheme that would raise rates for safe drivers and lower them for dangerous drivers.***

This does raise some serious questions for Andrea Horwath and the ONDP:

Does Paul Donofrio still support Mayor Ford? How would Mr. Donofrio have voted on the PC’s motion in support of subways in Ontario? How does the ONDP reconcile their candidate’s views with the views of the ONDP?

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* Click on each picture for a link to each tweet. You can visit Paul Donofrio’s twitter page here: https://twitter.com/PAULDONOFRIONDP
** I am a big fan of bees. They gives us all of our non-wheat/rice/corn food with their pollination. The Cosmetic Pesticides Ban is a great piece of pro-bee public policy.
*** It was denounced by Andrew W. Murie, Ceo of MADD Canada: “[T]he Bill will force responsible drivers to subsidize the insurance premiums of dangerous drivers… In our view, the Bill sends all the wrong messages, punishes responsible drivers, rewards dangerous drivers, and will increase the risk to Ontario road-users.”

President Obama commits to high-speed rail in his 2011 SOTU!

This clip is from the energy section of the State of the Union speech. President Obama followed his promise to get rid of $4 billion worth of government subsidies to oil companies with a commitment to “bring high-speed rail to 80% of Americans within 25 years.” President Obama knows that high-speed rail is good for manufacturing in the short-term and produces many long-term benefits (economically and environmentally.)

The Liberal Party of Canada should commit to high-speed rail. Many journalists/political scientists have determined that Stephen Harper’s biggest weakness is his lack of vision. Bullet trains could be just the thing to capture the Canadian imagination and take the fight to PM Harper.

Tar Sands

For me it is more of a technical term, because it is a very heavy form of petroleum that takes a great degree of energy input to get one usable unit of energy out. It’s not just petroleum where in the old days it literally bubbled up through the ground and could be collected. Obviously the stuff that’s on the surface is much easier to drill for, it comes up under natural pressure and takes very little refining. The petroleum material that is coming out of Alberta is indeed much more like a tar substance, that requires a great deal of refining and a great deal of energy and that’s something that again is unsustainable. It takes two or three units of energy input to get one usable unit of energy out, in the form of gasoline or some other product, and ultimately that’s just not sustainable. So it is a tar.

-      Terry Tamminen (former Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency and adviser to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger) on CBC’s Power & Politics, January 5, 2011.

Rocky Varcoe For Mayor

Whitby Ontario has been my home all my life. Over the last five years I split my time between Toronto and Whitby, as I was at U of T, and being between two worlds made me appreciate both more. Whitby’s population (111,184 as of 2006) is growing but we have a strong sense of community here. Whitby is a great place to live, our library is awesome, the town events are sweet, the schools are wonderful and everyone has a dog. However, the sprawl that has occurred over the last 14 years is ridiculous, the public transit system is designed with one purpose: to get you out of Whitby, many of the industrial jobs have left the town and (for young people) there isn’t enough to do.

Whitby needs new leadership in town hall. We need a mayor who can reign in the suburban growth, bring in jobs, expanded our public transit system, open up town hall to the voices of the citizens of Whitby and bring down our high taxes (industrial/property).

On October 25th, I am voting for Rocky Varcoe, I think you should too, here is why:

  • Rocky has twenty-five years of business experience. For the last ten years he has owned a theatre here in Whitby. He has the managerial experience to be the CEO/Mayor of the town.
  • Coming from the Arts Community, Rocky knows the importances of supporting local artists.
  • Rocky was President of the Whitby Chamber of Commerce and Whitby Rotary. He is established in the community here but he’s not part of the political establishment.
  • Rocky has the best website of any candidate and is active on twitter/facebook (this was what brought him to my attention as he was campaigning online months ago.)
  • His full platform (read it/download it here) has been out for a while. Rocky is sincerely campaigning on the issues, which is refreshing as Whitby is currently a town with lots of potential with political leaders that are letting us all down.
  • Rocky Varcoe is the ONLY mayoral candidate to complete the DurhamCLEAR survey and has received their endorsement. He has a lot of great environmental ideas (putting solar lighting in our parks, for example) and is also the only mayoral candidate to be talking about transit policy.
  • He is a bit of a policy wonk. Rocky would rather talk about tax policy, infrastructure, or crime than himself.

In this election, there are 3 candidates for mayor (the mayor, the ex-mayor and Rocky) but really 2 options (the career politicians or the community leader) and one clear choice: Rocky Varcoe.

On October 25th Vote Rocky Varcoe for Mayor!

Explode. Baby. Explode.

In the Gulf of Mexico is the remains of “Deepwater Horizon” an ultra-deepwater dynamic positioned semi-submersible oil rig built in 2001. On April 22 the oil rig that exploded, caught fire and then sank 36 hours later. The well could be spilling up to 336,000 gallons of crude oil a day, the Coast Guard said, and the rig carried 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel. The exact scale of the environmental damage this explosion is doing and will do is still beyond most experts’ imagination. One possible solution is to set the oil on fire.

More recently, Cape Cod in Massachusetts finally approve a project to build more than 130 wind turbines off their coast. The project, called Cape Wind, will supply an average of 183 megawatts — or up to three-quarters of the electricity needs for Cape Cod and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket — without producing carbon or any other pollutant.

Which one of these is the eyesore again?

God sends an iceberg to sink the HMCS Bernier*

An Iceberg the size of Luxembourg recently broke off from glacier in Antarctica.

An interesting juxtaposition.

Some articles: here, here, here.

* His Majesty’s Conservative Ship.