Must-reads: John Ibbitson on education in America; Christie Blatchford on Momin Khawaja.
It’s not easy being green
What carbon taxation means for oil companies and their CEOs, Gordon Campbell, and Stéphane Dion’s reputation, such as it is, in Quebec.
If Alberta’s oil executives really believe that the burden of fighting greenhouse gas emissions should be “shared across the country” and across other industries, The Globe and Mail‘s Jeffrey Simpson says they better think twice before “they shoot off their mouths” about the federal carbon tax, as has been the provincial government’s “knee jerk reaction” so far. The alternative, after all, is “a cap-and-trade system that targets the producers almost exclusively and mostly lays off any direct lifestyle change or contribution to greenhouse reductions by consumers.” Strangely absent from this analysis is anything to suggest the oil companies are, in fact, unhappy with the carbon tax as compared to a cap-and-trade scenario. In fact, Simpson claimed in a recent column that they like the idea. Colour us confused.
And from the other side of the aisle, here’s the Financial Post‘s Terence Corcoran excoriating those same executives, plus those in carbon-consuming industries like the airlines, for failing “to live up to their responsibilities to protect shareholders” and “feeding the [climate change] beast with Boy Scout responses—carbon offsets, green programs and public relations gambits—that actually do nothing more than reinforce the idea that their products and services are part of the climate problem.” What good has it done them? he asks. Not much. This week, he notes, James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said they “should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.”
The Toronto Star‘s Chantal Hébert assesses the chances that Dion’s Green Shift will do for his image in Quebec what not going to Iraq did for Jean Chrétien’s and a “promise of open federalism” did for Stephen Harper’s—i.e., salvage it from outright moribundity. The verdict: maybe, if combined with stronger stances against Ken Epp’s Fetal Homicide Bill (which is widely viewed as part of an end run on abortion rights) and the film “censorship” provisions of Bill C-10, and for Omar Khadr’s repatriation—all of which, she says, “hit positive notes in Quebec.”
Between record high gas prices and the NDP’s “axe the tax” campaign, the Vancouver Sun‘s Vaughn Palmer thinks the BC government has its work cut out to head off what seems to be a groundswell of opposition to Gordon Campbell’s new carbon tax. The $100 cheques mailed out this week sure won’t do it, and nor will “the terse note from the premier” that accompanied them—and neither will a province-wide tour by “earnest but not electrifying” finance minister Colin Hansen. What’s needed, says Palmer, is “a big print, radio and television advertising campaign.” And while the government hasn’t admitted that’s in the offing, he says there’s enough unspent budget at the climate action secretariat to “underwrite one of the biggest single-issue advertising campaigns in provincial history.”
So many terrorism trials, so little time
The Globe‘s Christie Blatchford is afraid that “as summer settles in,” the media’s and the public’s appetite for details about the Momin Khawaja trial “will ebb.” The names alone are terribly confusing, she notes: “I have counted six Abduls, three Sheiks, an Adil, Atif and Asim, and three Alis, two of whom have it as a last name and the third as a first,” and even the judge is having trouble keeping them straight. “And besides,” she imagines Canadians thinking, “nothing actually happened.” But this is one of the chief frustrations for anti-terrorism operations, she notes: they’re supposed to stop things from happening, but if they do so too soon, there’s less evidence and more scepticism. “By Mr. Khawaja’s own words,” she argues, “he considered the West his enemy. The least his fellow Canadians can do is return the favour.”
With Blatchford in Ottawa, the Star‘s Thomas Walkom is all alone in Brampton at the trial of one of the so-called Toronto 18, where the prosecution was flummoxed yesterday by yet another less-damning-than-hoped witness. Based on statements Sahl Syed had given police in 2006, the Crown hoped he would “testify first-hand about what the prosecution insists was an ‘advanced training camp for an elite group.'” Instead, says Walkom, he talked of “swimming and hiking,” “play[ing] with inflatable watercraft,” “sle[eping] in until noon,” and what appear to have been actual tickle fights. “He said they all had fun … and that was it,” he concludes. “No training. No plot. No terror talk.”
The Globe‘s John Ibbitson looks at the Teach for America program, which places university graduates “into two-year teaching assignments in troubled urban schools.” This year, he notes, “about 10 per cent of the graduating classes of Harvard, Yale and Georgetown” applied, and “studies conclude that these dedicated new arrivals significantly outperform more experienced counterparts.” This is part of an inevitable improvement in American public education, he argues, that’s accompanying increasing incomes among blacks and the return of “middle-class professionals” to inner city neighbourhoods. And neither “political corruption” nor “thuggish unions” nor Barack Obama—who opposes the No Child Left Behind Program, “to his shame”—can stop it.
We’ve always imagined Barbara Kay reading a lot of self-published books, somehow, and in the wake of a Quebec court’s outrageous decision to overturn a father’s routine punishment of his daughter, she recommends one for your holiday weekend: William D. Gairdner’s Oh, Oh, Canada! a Voice from the Conservative Resistance. And don’t be so sure higher courts will overturn the decision, she warns. Who’s to say the Supreme Court wouldn’t decree that the girl “posting salacious pictures of herself ‘does no harm’ or that since no individual liberties are guaranteed without the court’s approval—including the right to discipline one’s own child—the court’s personal values, read into some or other fuzzy Charter sentiment, may supersede the biological parent’s wishes in response to any trivially aggrieved child.” (The foregoing is not self-published, just for the record. It’s in the National Post.)
If Zimbabwe’s African neighbours “registered real disapproval,” the Toronto Sun‘s Peter Worthington says Robert Mugabe “would be duck soup to depose. His country is so demoralized, few would fight to save him.” Thus, he proposes suspending all “economic help to African countries that refuse to oppose or take measures against Mugabe,” then a ruthlessly efficient military assault on the “presidential palace, the army barracks, the radio and TV studio” and finally the installation of the “new, duly elected government.” No fuss, no muss!