Must-reads: Vaughn Palmer on abortion in BC; Dan Gardner on the benefits of running out of oil; Jeffrey Simpson on the political future of climate change.
The politics of climate change
The New Democrats are at sea, the G8’s all talk, and the apocalypse is coming.
Jack Layton’s New Democrats are currently “advancing the cause of climate change by waging war on the Liberals at a time that party is winning kudos from much of Canada’s environment movement for its Green Shift plan,” the Toronto Star‘s Chantal Hébert writes. Not only that, she says, they’re pushing a cap-and-trade approach as if it’s a “mutually exclusive” idea from a carbon tax when it isn’t—something Jean Charest, Gordon Campbell, Dalton McGuinty and even Dion recognize—and complaining about carbon taxes disproportionately impacting Canada’s most vulnerable when the Green Shift promises to redirect revenue to exactly those groups. This, Hébert concludes, “is what passes for strategy for the federal NDP these days.”
The Globe and Mail‘s Jeffrey Simpson offers environmental protestors at the G8 an avuncular pat on the head and suggests they run along home for milk and cookies. “No serious climate-change negotiations will get under way until George W. Bush leaves the White House,” he writes—perhaps “some time in mid-2009, … but no one will be surprised if that date slips into 2010” while the new administration strategizes and compares notes with “key congressional leaders.” All this is good news for Canada, Simpson suggests. Since both the Conservative government and its predecessor have set emissions targets that they can’t, and won’t, achieve, “extra time will be needed for Canada to bring some credibility to its incoherent position.”
The effects of perpetually rising oil prices may well lie “somewhere between the catastrophic and the apocalyptic,” says the Ottawa Citizen‘s Dan Gardner—inflation, job losses, soaring interest rates, etc. But the benefits will be myriad: greenhouse gas emissions will dramatically tail off; “suburban monocultures and soul-crushing commutes will slowly shrivel” while traffic congestion eases and public transit becomes a politically saleable proposition; China will lose its manufacturing dominance and local producers and farmers will get “a little breathing room”; and oil-rich “thugocracies” will be weakened. “Truly, it’s the end of the world as we know it,” says Gardner. “But as the song says, I feel fine.”
What’s next for Hillary Clinton, and for the next Hillary Clinton
Current scuttlebutt has Barack Obama not choosing Hillary Clinton as his running mate, L. Ian MacDonald reports in the Montreal Gazette, but she’s still a worthy candidate and she’s been “gracious, generous and unifying” ever since she dropped out. Ultimately, however, the only consideration is “whatever helps Obama get there”—i.e., the White House. Clinton “won where Obama needs to bolster his support in the fall,” MacDonald notes—”among women, older voters, the working class, Catholics and the so-called Reagan Democrats.” But on other fronts, it sounds like she’s less than ideal: she and Obama are both from the party’s left and both from the north, neither of which helps balance the ticket.
The Gazette‘s Janet Bagnall talks to Brown University political scientist Jennifer Lawless about the reasons women are so underrepresented in politics. It’s not that voters or fundraisers discriminate against them, according to Lawless’ research, but that women simply run less often. (We’re sure that’s not what Bagnall has argued in the past, but never mind.) “Women face hurdles, but those impediments are at work and in the home,” Bagnall writes. As for Clinton, Lawless says future candidates now know what they’re up against in the media—and the media know their coverage is going to be closely watched. “When you complain,” Lawless tells Bagnall, “it can resonate.”
The National Post‘s John Ivison digs into Liberal finances and finds big trouble. “Expenses outpaced revenues by $1.6-million last year,” he notes, and “grassroots” contributions of $4.7 million paled in comparison to the Conservatives’ $18 million. There’s also a “$2-million loan with a punishing 9% interest rate collateralized against the assets not only of the party but of a number of riding associations,” which Ivison is “highly unusual.” The Grits can still mount an election campaign, he believes, but they’d have to borrow heavily against “the government allowance of $1.75 for every vote they receive”—making each of those votes especially crucial for the party’s future prospects.
The Vancouver Sun‘s Vaughn Palmer recounts former BC premier Bill Vander Zalm’s self-immolation in the wake of the Morgentaler decision in 1988, during which he promised to cut off funding for abortion, compared it to the Holocaust in the legislature, and basically precipitated the end of the Social Credit party. Palmer blames Vander Zalm for the current state of political affairs in BC, where any position other than a resolute commitment to the status quo is “toxic” and “even talking about abortion” is a “risky” procedure.
While there’s nothing “singularly revolting” about the shooting deaths of Oliver Martin and Dylan Ellis in Toronto last month—which police now suggest was a “shockingly savage” and quick reaction to “a perceived disrespectful comment”—the Star‘s Rosie DiManno says it’s indicative of a change in the city’s homicide experience. Some victims are “utterly innocent, some mostly innocent, others party to their destiny by the choices they made and criminal lifestyles embraced,” she argues, but across the board, “crimes of passion” have been replaced by “crimes of dispassion,” leaving “fewer clues, fainter trails, an absence of regret.” (This sounds plausible enough, but we have no idea if it’s true—and DiManno doesn’t really seem to either.)
The Toronto Sun‘s Peter Worthington believes the West should make aid to Africa contingent on Robert Mugabe’s ouster in Zimbabwe. “And no nonsense like sharing power with [Morgan] Tsvangirai or his Movement for Democratic Change,” either. Worthington wants him gone, tout suite.
John Ibbitson looks at all the ways and reasons newspaper are dying—not the Globe, of course, since it’s a “national paper with [a] well-educated readership,” but “metropolitan dailies” and other, lesser organs. Traditional revenue and readership models are simply drying up, he argues: classified ads are an anachronism; Amazon.com provides good prices, quick delivery and customer reviews (a completely non-newspaper-related point that seems to have snuck in from another column); and no one “interested in national and international news” is bothering to read the truncated wire stories and half-assed opinion columns available their local jerkwater daily.