58 posts categorized "sustainable development"

November 11, 2008

Environment + Justice and Fairness + Strong Political Democracy = Powerful Progressive Force: James Gustave Speth

Tulip “Our best hope for real change is a fusion of those concerned about the environment, of those concerned about justice and fairness, and those concerned about building strong political democracy. The fusion of these things will create one powerful, progressive force. We’ve got to remember that we are all in a community of shared faith. We are all in the same boat and we will rise or fall together.”
- Yale professor and environmental activist James Gustave Speth, delivering the 2008 Beatty Memorial Lecture at McGill University in October

November 10, 2008

Building Bridges and Delivering Trains: Can Del Mastro Do It All?

"The Kelowna Accord...there is no such thing. It was nothing but a press release."
-
Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro,
newly appointed Parliamentary Secretary
to Heritage Minister James Moore


Figurineandclock It will be interesting to see how other members of the Peterborough community respond to Dean Del Mastro's appointment as Parliamentary Secretary to Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore.

We've already heard from the arts community, but cultural workers aren't the only ones who will be affected by Del Mastro's appointment.

Canadian Heritage is responsible for arts and culture, citizenship and identity, international activity (international events, international expositions, trade and investment), diversity and multiculturalism, sport, and youth. See this comprehensive A to Z index for an overview of everything this Ministry oversees. 

The Peterborough business community will no doubt be enthusiastic, looking for opportunities to benefit from trade and investment opportunities abroad.

And the sports community will be delighted to have sports being overseen by someone based in Peterborough. (Peterborough has long claimed ownership to anything related to the world of hockey, as any local can attest.)

But as for those parts of our community affected by government decisions related to diversity and multiculturalism; citizenship and identity; and youth -- they may not be quite as enthused.  Along with arts and culture, there are many parts of the Canadian Heritage file where Del Mastro has more learning and much bridge-building to do.

It sounds as if Del Mastro is going to be busy. Very busy. And yet he told the Peterborough Examiner that he won't be too busy to deliver the goods as an MP: "Ultimately I won't allow it take away the focus away from delivering the many things I have been working on for our riding."

Good thing. On top of all his new responsibilities, he still has to follow through on his promises to deliver the train, the battery plant, the Little Lake resort, and the legislation guaranteeing property rights. Etc.

November 03, 2008

Rugged Individualism: Darwin at Work in the Market Economy

Img_6991 Are Canadians actually willing to embrace a model of a society in which survival of the fittest is the dominant philosophy? Whether we care to admit it or not, we're already headed down that path -- and we just elected a national government that embraces that vision of diy-or-else success (a vision where there's little compassion for those who fail to live out the Horatio Alger success story).

Here's a brief snippet from a highly thought-provoking article on this subject from September's issue of The Monitor (published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives).

"Whether Canadians voluntarily embrace individualism or feel compelled to adopt it, the consequences are equally horrendous. Why? Because it rests on a philosophy that is fundamentally flawed and dangerous.

"This is the spurious notion that, if each person and corporation is left free to pursue individual advantage, the “market” (or its “invisible hand”) will somehow make sure that the overall result will benefit everyone. In fact, as we have seen, the outcome is the precise opposite. Only the strongest, the smartest, the luckiest, and the fiercest prosper—at the expense of those less strong, less smart, less lucky, and less unscrupulous."

- Ed Finn, "The Decline of Collectivity, Triumph of Individuality a Defeat for Society as a Whole," The Monitor, September 2008, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

 

October 22, 2008

Art on a Plate

Taste the Arts: The Peterborough Arts Umbrella is pleased to present the seventh annual Taste the Arts fine dining fundraiser on Sunday, October 26 - 6:00 pm at the Rare Grill House (166 Brock Street).

Agriculture

This year's theme is the 100 Mile Meal, featuring a gourmet, five-course meal created from ingredients found within a 100 mile radius of the city.

Five of Peterborough's top chefs will prepare an epicurean feast:

This is a highly popular event and a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a delectable, creative meal while supporting Peterborough's only full-service arts organization, dedicated to serving artists in Peterborough and the Kawarthas since 1984.

Proceeds from Taste the Arts support the Peterborough Arts Umbrella's annual programming costs.

Tickets are $100.00 each. An optional wine package featuring specially selected pairings is available for an additional $25.00. Call Rare Grill House at (705) 742-3737 or the Peterborough Arts Umbrella at (705) 749-3220 to reserve a place. Doors open at 5:00 pm and dinner begins at 6:00 pm.

* * *

A personal note: David Franklin was the chef who prepared the dinner for Grace United Church when Rev. Lyle Horn celebrated 25 years of ministry this past spring. It was amazing -- the event and the food. Dave's work can only be described as art on a plate. Here's a detail that still sticks in my head, many months after the fact: The salad bowls were fully edible.

Related:
Kawartha Choice:
FarmFresh Foods, locally grown. Lists local markets, retailers, and restaurants that specialize in locally grown foods; as well as places where you can buy food straight off the farm.

October 21, 2008

Post-Election Blog Reno

Img_7027 I decided to do some fall cleaning here at the blog. I've reorganized some existing categories and added a bunch of new content including,

What Makes a Great City? What Makes a City Great? This is a list of links that focus on urban development. I found a lot of really interesting material that focuses on waterfront renewal -- the biggest mistakes cities make when they change their waterfronts and articles about examples of waterfront renewal processes that have been managed brilliantly, with spectacular results. Other links focus on transportation, culture, creating public spaces, creating livable, healthy, green cities -- all issues that I'm thinking about as Peterborough evolves.

Alternative and Indie Media Voices: This is a roundup of alternative media (newspapers, radio stations, magazines, etc.) as well as links that discuss the importance of an independent media, the role of the newspaper ombudsman, why media concentration should be of concern to all Canadians, etc.

Writing Links and Creativity Links: Links to writing- and creativity- related resources for my fellow creative types.

Get the Big Picture: A handful of links to TV documentary and film documentary sources, etc. More to come.

Where We've Been: A handful of political and social justice history links with many more to come.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Democracy?: As much for my own use as anything, this is a cluster of links that I turn to on a regular basis when I need to touch base with someone else who is frustrated with the way democracy works in this country, but who isn't about to give up on Canada or working for change anytime soon.

Change the World: Links to some of my favorite get-pumped-up-and-change-the-world songs. If anyone knows of another song-linking application that would ideally allow me to provide a short sound clip, I'd love to have some recommendations. I tried to find a decent one that works with iTunes, but I didn't have any luck.

I've archived some of my very election-focused sidebars until the next election.

October 17, 2008

My Letter to Stéphane Dion -- and Why I Wrote It

Yesterday, I wrote a letter to Stéphane Dion. It was a letter of gratitude and encouragement. It was also my way of dealing with what, for me, has been a terribly painful election outcome: an election in which political manipulation triumped over truth and integrity. What does that say about our country and our values, circa 2008? That's the question I've been pondering at both the local and the national level for the past three days.

I'm posting my letter for you to read in the hope that sharing my perspective on this sensitive, principled, visionary leader will help other Canadians to understand what a terrible injustice has been done to him -- and how our country has been diminished as a result.

Think back to the excitement that accompanied his election as Liberal Party Leader -- and how, almost instantly -- Harper and his rove-ing band of political thugs felt the need to launch a preemptive strike against Dion -- right at the get go. You don't take that kind of approach with an ordinary political adversary. You save it for someone you view as an extraordinary threat. Someone who is offering Canadians a bold new vision of what is possible. (CBC RealMedia file | Time: 17:41) Someone who threatens your own political ambitions.

If Dion tenders his resignation on Monday, as many are indicating he will do, I will hold the Prime Minister of Canada personally responsible for the sequence of events that led to that decision -- namely, for authorizing a 22-month-long attack ad campaign designed to destroy a man's political career and to turn him into a national joke. I'm talking about personal defamation and political bullying or, to borrow one of the Prime Minister's favorite phrases, misappropriation of personality. The attacks didn't stop there, of course. Anonymous Liberal Party insiders and -- in recent days -- would-be furniture-movers piled on as well: party politics at its most ugly and most vicious.

If Dion resigns, it will be to the detriment of every Canadian: a political possibility lost. We will never know what kind of Prime Minister Dion might have made or what kind of Canada we might have had if his vision of a greener, fairer, and more economically sustainable Canada had been realized.

I am only one citizen, but I am hoping that other Canadian citizens will finally hold their Prime Minister accountable for what was allowed to happen in our country to a truly decent man and visionary politician like Stéphane Dion. A true leader would accept responsibility for his actions and offer a sincere apology to the leader who has been wronged. If Harper is not willing to do that, some may start saying that Harper is not a leader.

Related: 
Susan Riley, Dion deserved better, Ottawa Citizen.
Far and Wide: Outside the Beltway: Roundup of blog posts and detailed discussion about why Dion should not be pushed out as party leader.

Hon. Stephane Dion with Betsy McGregor
Photo: Stéphane Dion with Betsy McGregor,
Federal Liberal Candidate, Peterborough Riding
(2008 election).

October 15, 2008

Peterborough: Possibility City

"I'm so disappointed in Peterborough. Now I remember why I ran away when I was 16."
- A Peterborough voter commenting on the election results, quoted in today's Peterborough Examiner.

I believe in Peterborough and its potential to become something more. This is what I think about when I think about Peterborough and its potential.

Peterborough, the ethical city; Peterborough, the just city; Peterborough, the visionary city; Peterborough, the creative city; Peterborough, the innovative city; Peterborough, the eco-city; Peterborough, the multicultural city; Peterborough, the all-ages city; Peterborough, the hate-free city; Peterborough, the bullying-free city; Peterborough, the no-one-goes-hungry city; Peterborough, the barrier-free city; Peterborough, the entrepreneurial city; Peterborough, the healthy city; Peterborough, the active city; Peterborough, the sustainable city; Peterborough, the local foodbasket city; Peterborough, the welcoming city; Peterborough, the politically engaged city; Peterborough, the public spaces city; Peterborough, the indie media city, Peterborough, possibility city.

A lot of people are working towards these various ends.

And not all progress has to come through political channels.

We can take a two-tiered approach to working for change in our communities:

1. Add your voice to the loud chorus of Canadians insisting on democratic reform now;
2. Work for change through all channels available to you as a citizen.

Don't give in to cynicism or apathy. Let frustration fuel your resolve to work for change.

October 09, 2008

Harper Platitudes, Privatizing Healthcare, No-Money-Down Mortgages, Unregulated Markets, and True Leadership

Newspaper "For Canadians who are watching their life savings disappear, Harper delivered nothing but platitudes. 'People who work hard, pay their taxes and play by the rules are getting ahead,' the Harper platform assures us. If only it were true."
- Randall Denley, "Harper's problem is not lack of empathy, but lack of credibility," Ottawa Citizen, Oct. 9, 2008

"I would urge Canadians not to be swayed by the siren song of the privatizers. This is about profiteering as much as it is about health care. The same businesses that have made an exorbitantly expensive and unhealthy mess of the US system stand ready to do the same in Canada. The problem with Canadian medicare is not the system, it is the amount of money put into it."
- Marcia Angell, MD, "Privatizing Health Care is Not the Answer," Canadian Medical Association Journal, October 21, 2008 (available for download)

"In what may turn out to be a too-little, too-late intervention, this summer Flaherty limited CMHC to ensuring mortgages of homebuyers who can make at least a five per cent down payment and who amortize their mortgages over a maximum of 35 years. The new restrictions will only take effect as of October 15, 2008, essentially closing the barn door after the horse has bolted."
- Eileen Gould, "How Harper Gov't Pushed Financial Deregulation Here, Abroad", The Tyee, October 9, 2009

"I do not know what will happen to us; the economic fallout of an unregulated market and the end of oil will soon make our world unrecognizable, and that includes Canada, this good place. It won't matter who was right or who was wrong. We're all in this together. I wish us all good luck."
- Heather Mallick, "The Palin Fallout,' CBC.ca, October 6, 2008

"[Harper] is completely out of touch with the impact the current economic turmoil is having on the lives of everyday Canadians. We worry about our savings, our jobs. For many of us it is more than the worry.
It is the hurt, the harm."
- Stéphane Dion, quoted in Dion bests PM in crisis response, Editorial, The Toronto Star, October 9, 2008

"It was when the waiter started clapping that I realized Stephane Dion might - just might - pull off a coup in Tuesday's election...The dark-suited crowd applauded. But the waiter could hardly contain himself. "That's my party, man," he said, clapping furiously. "That's my party. Doesn't matter whether you like the candidate or not. Focus on the party. That's my party."
- Thomas Walkom, Suddenly, Stéphane's sitting pretty, The Toronto Star, October 9, 2008

 

October 06, 2008

The Great Peterborough Train Conspiracy: Now Dean Del Mastro Thinks Stéphane Dion Wants to Steal His Train

After failing to convince Peterborough voters that Betsy McGregor does not support the team (the key focus of his campaign to date), Dean Del Mastro has suddenly switched strategies. Now he is warning visitors to his website that it's not Betsy McGregor that they need to be afraid of: Stéphane Dion is the true enemy of the train. Here's how he's spinning it in one of the articles on his campaign website: *

Deandelmastrotrain_3Other politicians might allow themselves to become frazzled under such circumstances -- a train conspiracy headed by one of the bullies who has made Stephen Harper's life miserable? -- but Dean Del Mastro laughs in the face of the fierce train bandit Stéphane Dion. (Well, actually, he chuckles.) At least that's how the copy reads on his website.)

Heartychuckle_2

It's no laughing matter, however, that Peterborough voters have to work so hard to get straight facts from their MP. There's no Great Peterborough Train conspiracy and it's certainly not being headed up by Stéphane Dion.

Both The Peterborough Examiner and Peterborough This Week have advised Del Mastro to stop obsessing about the train (all the candidates support the train: we get that, they keep telling him), and to move on to more pressing issues in our riding: like massive job losses, an unacceptably high poverty rate, unresolved aboriginal justice issues, an environmental crisis, an economy that's getting worse by the day, and an very arts community that is fed up with his double-speak about the arts cuts, but with just a week to go in the election, he's still out there, picking fights within imaginary train bandits.

Of course, to be fair, there's a good reason why Del Mastro hasn't had much to talk about during this election. His boss hasn't released the official Conservative Party platform yet -- this despite the fact that all the advance polls will be closing in Peterborough Riding in a couple of hours' time. And because Conservative MPs get their knuckles wrapped if they veer from the Harper-approved messages, Del Mastro (quite understandably) hasn't had much to say. The boss hasn't handed him the script yet.

Are you prepared to sign up for another four years of this? Please think carefully before you mark your X at the ballot box.

* Not to be mistaken for Dean Del Mastro's constituency website, which has gone AWOL during the campaign.

Some Simple Truths As Canadians Head to the Polls

Img_6649 Some simple truths, as I see them, as Canadians prepare to head to the polls.

  • We talk about how we want to feel safe and secure -- to have a government that makes sound economic decisions that take the needs of the ordinary citizen into account -- and that won't cause us to lose our bank account savings or our homes.

Simple truth: We need a government with sound economic vision and a willingness to steer clear of the mistakes of the Bush administration.

  • We talk about how important it is to us to stop destroying the planet so that our beautiful country will be able to provide the land and water that our children and grandchildren will need to grown and thrive.

Simple truth: We need a government that is offering Canadian voters a fully-costed visionary plan on tackling the biggest issue of our generation. The Conservative Party of Canada is completely at odds with the kind of action Canadians want to see on the environment. Every other party understands the necessity of making the environment a priority issue.

  • We talk about how industries that are doing the damage to the planet should be the ones to pay to clean it up.

Simple truth: We need an environmental action plan that taxes what we burn, not what we earn. Read this article to find out why David Suzuki thinks a carbon tax is the way to go.

  • We talk about how much our health care system matters to us -- and how important it is to us that every Canadian be able to have access to a family doctor and how chronically underserviced communities and provinces need to have their long-standing shortages in certain health specialties (for example children's mental health services; mental health services in general)?

Simple truth: The progressive parties understand what Canadians mean when they say that our health care system is failing us. It's not all about wait times and better record-keeping. Nor is privatization the answer.

  • We talk about how we want a government that protects the health and safety of Canadians.

Simple truth: Public health and safety should never be compromised; nor should our public health standards be lowered to appease business interests. And yet that's precisely what has happened under the Conservative government. When a respected health authority like the Canadian Medical Association issues a warning like this, it's time for Canadians to take that warning very seriously. Here's what the CMA had to has to say on this issue. (Read the full article in the October 7, 2008, issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, available for download from the cmaj.ca website.)

Government policy errors helped bring about this epidemic. Yet surprisingly, government has taken no remedial steps beyond issuing a food recall. Instead, officials praise the success of our infectious disease surveillance system — as if, with 16 dead [20 as of today], there were cause to celebrate — while food safety standards remain as low as ever.

The listeriosis epidemic is a timely reminder that the Harper government has reversed much of the progress that previous governments made on governing for public health.

....And listeriosis may be the least of it. The same November 2007 Cabinet decision that handed self-inspection to the owners of meat plants did the same for operators of animal feed mills and cut back the avian influenza preparedness program. Yet bad animal feed led to the epidemic of bovinespongiform encephalitis (mad cow disease), and in an influenza pandemic tens of thousands of Canadians may die. Listeriosis pales in comparison. Overall, it would seem that, as a country, Canada is far less prepared now for epidemics than in the past.

- Editorial, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Oct 7, 2008 issue

  • We talk about the importance of protecting our rural heritage while creating safe and healthy urban environments -- cities in which people can walk or bike to work instead of driving their cars.

Simple truth: We need a government that will ensure that the provinces, the cities, and our rural governments are able to create healthier, greener, communities where everyone has the same opportunity to thrive.

  • We talk about how we want a government that looks out for the needs of farmers and that provide Canadians with accurate and reliable information about genetically modified foods, agri-business, and other issues that affect the food that shows up on their dinner table.

Simple truth: The Conservative government defeated a bill designed to provide Canadians with full details about the genetically modified foods (the so-called frankenfoods) that are showing up on our grocery store shelves. We need a progressive government that will put the health and safety of Canadians first and the interests of big business second.

  • We talk about how much we value freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and government transparency, and government accountability -- and how much we want politicians who are accessible, genuine, and trustworthy.

Simple truth: It hasn't even been possible for Canadians to get full disclosure from Stephen Harper during this campaign. Or before the campaign, for that matter. He has conducted carefully staged media events and tried to stay out of the public eye as much as possible. The campaign has been one of the nastiest on record, with the Liberal campaign having to issue almost daily "Reality Checks" to counter the campaign of misinformation being carried out by the Prime Minister and key members of his cabinet. And the U.S. style attack campaign launched against Stephane Dion one month after he became Leader of the Official Opposition -- and that continued for the 21 months leading up to this election -- has taken the art of the political smear campaign to new and unimagined lows. But Harper and his team have learned from the best: they've had campaign coaching assistance from the team that taught George W. Bush how to fight dirty. (Oh yeah: one other thing. Members of the Conservative Party tried to defeat a bill that allows Canadian journalists to protect their sources -- an almost sacred principle of Freedom of the Press. Fortunately, members of the opposition parties rallied to get the bill through. Pretty incredible, don't you think?)

  • We talk about how much we regret the treatment that aboriginal people in this country have received -- and how we want to move forward in ways that take serious action to right those wrongs.

Simple truth: Destroying the Kelowna Accord, as the Harper government did, amounted to breaking a treaty between two nations. And aboriginal people in Canada continue to live with the fallout of historical wrongs that need to be addressed in a meaningful way.   

  • We talk about how much we value being part of a society in which everyone has equal opportunity to succeed -- including new Canadians -- and in which no one is discriminated against.

Simple truth: The Harper Conservatives changed the mandate of Status of Women Canada to eliminate all activities that have to do with "political equality" or advocacy work. You only have to consider the number of women who make it Parliament Hill in this country to see that this cut was ill-informed (and, many say, extremely mean-spirited). The fallout is being felt by women's groups who do valuable work across this country.   

  • We talk about how proud we are of the Canadian Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- and a justice system that assumes innocence until a person is proven guilty.

Simple truth: The Harper government chopped funding to the Court Challenges Program -- one of the only hopes "the little guy" in this country had of launching a Supreme Court challenge. Some of the key rights and freedoms that we enjoy in this country were defined by Supreme Court challenges. The Liberal Party has promised Canadians it will bring back the Court Challenges Program.

But that's not all. The Harper government embraces a U.S.-style approach to justice -- "lock up young offenders and throw away the key" -- isn't just ineffective (it leads to higher crime rates); it's also at odds with our traditional belief in rehabilitation of troubled youth. Even the judge who prepared the report recommending changes to the Youth Justice Act has spoken out harshly against the Harper government's regressive approach to justice in this country. (He also didn't appreciate having Harper falsely claim that he had endorsed the Harper youth justice program.)

  • We talk about the importance of giving young people the best possible start in life -- how the early years are the most important years: a critical time when we must invest in our children because they are our country's future.

Simple truth: We need a government that is willing to invest in those early years by creating quality childcare spaces operated by not-for-profit operators rather than trying to mislead Canadians with a tax credit that shrinks down to very little once the tax man gets his hand on it.

  • We talk about how much we value our children and our families, including our seniors.

Simple truth: We need a government that will safeguard the health and financial well-being of seniors. Seniors are among the most vulnerable populations in times of epidemics and, as the Canadian Medical Association has warned, Canada is far less prepared for a global epidemic than it was before Stephen Harper came to power, as a result of incredibly ill-advised policy decisions in the area of Public Health.

And then there was the broken promise about income trusts -- a breach of trust that took a huge bite out of the savings of ordinary Canadians -- including seniors. 

  • We talk about how proud we are about being Canadian and having a uniquely Canadian identity.

Simple truth: At the heart of that unique and vibrant Canadian identity is a tradition of investing in the arts and culture sector in this country. The Conservative government has demonstrated that it doesn't value what artists contribute to the Canadian economy and that it would like to play Big Brother when it comes to deciding what types of material make for suitable entertainment for Canadians.

  • We talk about how fortunately we are to live in a country like Canada that is one of the safest countries in the world.

Simple truth: It's difficult to feel safe when there's so much we aren't being told about the safety of our food supply, our preparedness for a global pandemic, and who knows what else. It's the who knows what else that is the scariest part. We need a government that will be frank and open with Canadians and work with all levels of government -- provinces, cities, rural municipalities -- to ensure that no other Canadians are allowed to fall through the safety net that we Canadians both prize and take for granted. We don't want any more public health disasters under the watch of the Conservatives.

  • We talk about how proud we feel when we travel abroad and people from other countries speak glowingly about Canada and its peacekeeping and environmental stewardship record abroad.

Simple truth: Our international reputation has been badly damaged by the actions of this government. We're no longer seen as advocates for peace, justice, and the environment. We don't always step forward when the right thing needs to be done. Instead, we look over our shoulder to find out what the Americans are doing -- and then we adjust our position accordingly. Our independent voice in the world has been silenced and countries around the world are suffering as a result. What has happened to Canada? they ask. Many Canadians are asking themselves the same thing.

And, finally, the simplest truth of all:

If this is what we want and value as Canadians,
we can't afford to vote for Stephen Harper in this election.

When you vote, please vote for the kind of government that will create the Canada you want. And please urge other like-minded Canadians to get to the polls, too.
- Ann Douglas

CBC.ca Summary of Party Platforms