Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Clinton on Sandy and global warming



Good for Clinton for speaking about climate change in the post-Sandy moment. What better time to point out the effects that rising ocean levels will have on coastal areas as these storms get more intense due to warming effects. What better time to challenge Americans to think about it and make that connection.

Two notes on what Clinton said. Romney actually mocked Obama during his convention acceptance speech. And Bill is referring to himself as a New Yorker, clearly. "In my part of the country..." jars you a little as he's such a southerner in style.

Who knows, maybe the Clinton words here bode well in terms of some budding leadership on climate change. After Americans have been walloped like this, you'd like to think so.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mother Nature weighs in

Not going to talk about climate change during the U.S. presidential election? Mother Nature may be taking her revenge, in the form of the storm bearing down on the U.S. east coast and which will affect many here in eastern Canada. Joe Romm has some of the science explaining how the warming climate is manifesting itself in this storm:
“A meteorologically mind-boggling combination of ingredients [] coming together: one of the largest expanses of tropical storm (gale) force winds on record with a tropical or subtropical cyclone in the Atlantic or for that matter anywhere else in the world; a track of the center making a sharp left turn in direction of movement toward New Jersey in a way that is unprecedented in the historical database, as it gets blocked from moving out to sea by a pattern that includes an exceptionally strong ridge of high pressure aloft near Greenland; a “warm-core” tropical cyclone embedded within a larger, nor’easter-like circulation; and eventually tropical moisture and arctic air combining to produce heavy snow in interior high elevations. This is an extraordinary situation, and I am not prone to hyperbole.” [Stu Ostro]
Being fueled in part by “ocean temperatures along the Northeast U.S. coast [] about 5°F above average,” so “there will be an unusually large amount of water vapor available to make heavy rain” [former Hurricane Hunter Jeff Masters]
Also being driven by a high pressure blocking pattern near Greenland “forecast to be three standard deviations from the average” [Climate Central and CWG]
And what's causing that high pressure blocking pattern near Greenland that is driving the storm toward the eastern U.S. instead of it remaining out at sea? A scientist at Rutgers who does work on the impact of the loss of Arctic sea ice says it is consistent with the fallout from this summer's record low sea ice:
The jet stream pattern — particularly the strongly negative NAO [North Atlantic Oscillation] and associated blocking — that has been in place for the last 2 weeks and is projected to be with us into next week is exactly the sort of highly amplified (i.e., wavy) pattern that I’d expect to see more of in response to ice loss and enhanced Arctic warming. Blocking happens naturally, of course, but it’s very possible that this block may have been boosted in intensity and/or duration by the record-breaking ice loss this summer. Late-season hurricanes are not unheard of either, but Sandy just happened to come along during this anomalous jet-stream pattern, as well as during an autumn with record-breaking warm sea-surface temperatures off the US east coast. It could very well be that general warming along with high sea-surface temperatures have lengthened the tropical storm season, making it more likely that a Sandy could form, travel so far north, and have an opportunity to interact with a deep jet-stream trough associated with the strong block, which is steering it westward into the mid-Atlantic. While it’s impossible to say how this scenario might have unfolded if sea-ice had been as extensive as it was in the 1980s, the situation at hand is completely consistent with what I’d expect to see happen more often as a result of unabated warming and especially the amplification of that warming in the Arctic.
I haven’t read the entire Noren paper yet, but it does not surprise me that severe flooding in the northeast could be linked with periods of negative AO [Arctic Oscillation]. When the AO is negative, the jet stream tends to be wavier, just like the situation we’re in now, which favors slow-moving weather systems that can cause floods. Losing ice, reducing the poleward temperature gradient, and warming the entire climate system should contribute to increasing the likelihood of condusive to anomalous storms.
There's much more at his post to take in on this "warming-driven monster" that is asserting itself with a vengeance in the last week of the U.S. campaign. Maybe more attention to the global elephant in the room would have been warranted.

P.S. It goes without saying that our government, of course, is not doing any better in addressing the challenge.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday night



Going with something a little funkier tonight. Great part around 1:30 mark.

Have a great night!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fate and timing

Dalton McGuinty is not running for the federal leadership it is now fully confirmed. Just wanted to highlight one of the things he said in his interview with Joan Bryden of Canadian Press:
"One of the things I've discovered in talking to people in different parts of the country is there's a tremendous bedrock of goodwill and enthusiasm. It's not being manifested on the surface at this point in time but it is there nonetheless," he said.

"I would also argue ... that we are, by inclination and in terms of our history, we are small 'l' liberals, we Canadians. And it's just a matter now of doing the necessary work to recommit ourselves to Canadians, to show people that we are hungry, that we have good ideas, that we understand the future, we know where our place for success can be found in that future and to get on with the work.

"So I am, in fact, very optimistic about the future of my federal party."
That is the classic optimism and positivity of McGuinty that he would have brought to the federal level. I hope the next federal leader will have their own personal version of it as well.

But for one seat, over one year ago in the 2011 fall election, would McGuinty have been in federally? We will never know.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Flaherty muses on CMHC privatization

"Flaherty eyes privatization of CMHC." Well that's something big to watch. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is a profitable Crown corporation ($335 million in profit in the 2nd quarter) and has billions in assets. It is a stabilizing force in the Canadian housing market and by providing residential mortgage insurance, encourages home ownership.

Why would Flaherty go here? The burden should be on Flaherty et al. to demonstrate that moving from what is working to an alternative would be beneficial for Canada. Any move to take us down a road that the U.S. has gone by destabilizing a longstanding public and successful institution like this should be treated with great caution.

It sounds like the Conservatives know this and seem to be backing off, a little, as this news broke today: "Ted Menzies, Flaherty’s parliamentary secretary, responded that the government does not have plans to privatize the CMHC “at this time." At this time, he qualified.

This could be a wallet issue that would resonate if the case is articulated well. Flaherty of the 40 year mortgage adventures should be watched on this very carefully.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mercer on the Economic Action Plan ads



Yes, I've been posting Mr. Mercer's rants of late. The last three have been bang on and deserve to be widely shared. It's unfortunate that we don't see more of such content on Canadian television given that the majority of Canadians don't support this government yet the venues to see such opposition on our television screens are so limited. Panels on the various political shows just don't cut it.

These latest ads are such a stretch. The notion that there is indeed an "Economic Action Plan" that is being carried out in the present day as an extension of the early 2009 stimulus spending, this neat construct the government has created, is a bunch of hooey. A government can have economic priorities and policies but this idea that there is a document or an official plan of some kind should be losing its credibility. Mercer is right to mock it. The government could call it an EAP at the height of the recession and get away with it. That moment required attention, something different, public assurance. Now it does feel like it's a creation that's living on borrowed time. The real propagandistic feel to these new ads is what makes you take that second hard listen.

Meanwhile, as these ads have ramped up, the expanded meat recall is unfolding. Nice ads on the screens, tainted beef in our homes...too bad this government isn't capable of acting competently when a concrete economic issue in need of a plan presents itself.

Monday, October 15, 2012

There goes Dalton

An excerpt from his unexpected resignation speech late this afternoon, more below:
Our government hasn’t been perfect. But when it comes to the big things that families count on us to get right –schools, health care, the environment and the economy -- we've gotten it right every time. Just this afternoon, we updated Ontarians on the state of our finances. We're once again ahead of schedule with our plan to balance the budget... We've beaten our budget forecasts in seven of the last nine years.
I feel very good about where we are as a party and a province. But as Liberals, we're always driving forward. The opposition’s political games are holding Ontario back. They've told us they oppose our plan for a two-year pay freeze for government workers. That means we can't make it law. So, we need to go back to the drawing board.
We're going to make a sincere and determined effort to negotiate a wage freeze agreement with our labour partners. Like the agreements already reached with 80,000 public sector workers. We're also going to consult with the opposition about what they would support to freeze wages.
To this end, I’ve asked the Lieutenant Governor to prorogue the legislature to allow those discussions with our labour partners and the opposition to occur in an atmosphere that is free of the heightened rancour of politics in the legislature. And when the legislature returns, we will either have negotiated agreements in hand or a firm sense of what the opposition will support.
As the party and government of relentless progress, we’re always looking for new ideas and ways to renew ourselves. And I’ve concluded that this is the right time for Ontario's next Liberal Premier and our next set of ideas to guide our province forward.
Earlier today, I asked Yasir Naqvi, our party president, to convene a leadership convention at the earliest possible time. I will remain as Premier until that leadership convention. And it will be my honour to continue to serve as the MPP for Ottawa South until the next general election.
I know I've asked some hard things of you. But I’ve always been inspired by the ideal that the older generations work hard to build a bright future for the younger ones. And they do this, always, with love and an unwavering commitment. I saw that in my own mother and father. It’s what Terri and I have tried to do for our children. And I see it in the eyes and actions of Ontario families, every day. I thank you for the honour of serving as your Leader and your Premier... In Ontario, the greatest province in the best country in the world.
Note that he stated he will remain as Premier until the leadership convention to choose his successor. There is, however, some early speculation on his future going on, naturally, given the federal leadership race which technically commences almost a month to the day. He'd certainly have a lot of backers should he choose to give it a run. And it looks like there might be something to this or at least a preserving of options going on: "Federal Liberal leadership campaign building around Ontario premier: sources." Very interesting must read material this evening.

It was not difficult to campaign in the last provincial election in my Toronto riding on things like full-day kindergarten, the Green Energy Act, and the high rankings the school system has been getting internationally. Those are some impressive legacy flags to have planted.

Further, there are very few politicians who can speak like this on an issue like bullying - "I care about you" - and you know he meant it. 

I leave it at that tonight. Carry on! 

Today's big poll

"Liberal poll numbers climb over NDP as leadership starts." A few quick thoughts...

I looked at the dates over which this poll was conducted, first: "The telephone survey of 1,000 Canadians was conducted between Oct.4-11 and is considered accurate within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20." OK, right in the wheelhouse of the aftermath of Trudeau's announcement, which was on October 1st. Followed by an avalanche of coverage. It means that Canadians at that time were heavily exposed to the prospects of the Liberal leadership race, Trudeau, yes, and likely had a thought or two swirling around about the state of political leadership in the country.

This poll also occurred at the height of this latest tainted meat episode and I wouldn't discount that factor either as an influence on people's political choices at the moment. Anything but Conservative could be a factor.

While I am very hesitant with any poll these days, my impression is that this is just one of many you will see showing the three main parties all in the same ballpark. Even when other pollsters have Liberals in third spot, the distance among the parties is never so great that it couldn't be overcome in an election campaign given the fluidity these days. So it means something, but whether anyone should write these numbers down as delivered by Nanos today as some kind of gospel, probably not.

It should, however, tell those who would peddle silly existential questions about the Liberal party that they should think about getting a new hobby.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Late night Gillard



Thanks to Dr. Dawg for posting this most excellent video. Had to fly the flag for Julia over here too!

I don't have much to add just hope that everyone watches. Sheer guts and awesomeness from Gillard in calling out Tony Abbott, the leader of the opposition and his hypocrisy on sexism.

P.S. Those are nice leather benches they have in Australia. A modern house.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Harper announces new Supreme Court nominee

Well there's nothing like a burgeoning food safety crisis to prompt some Prime Ministerial newsmaking. Meet the new nominee: "Mr. Justice Richard Wagner." Just over one year on the Quebec Court of Appeal but about 8 in total on the bench.

One more quick observation here. Noted in Justice Wagner's background:
He was also an executive member of the Construction Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association, Quebec Division which he presided during the year 2003-2004.
You never know when that kind of background might come in handy these days...

A middle class pitch

There's a certain dynamic going on in Canadian politics that you may not have noticed. Or, maybe you did because you're a sharp cookie. A broader angle that gets lost in the daily hurly-burly. You may have noticed two words in particular that jumped out in yesterday's preview reporting on today's Justin Trudeau leadership launch. In the Toronto Star, for example, note a certain two words in the first sentence:
Justin Trudeau is launching his bid to be Liberal leader with a call for the party to reclaim its role as the voice of Canada’s middle class.
Then you see the words again in the Globe:
There is much political sizzle surrounding Mr. Trudeau’s bid, but his team is insisting that there will be lots of content, including a heavy emphasis on reclaiming middle-class support, in his initial campaign speech.
Got it? Middle class. A very popular target these days this middle class segment. An appeal to the middle class was Tom Mulcair's first order of business at his first caucus meeting after having been elected as leader: "Creating a budget, he said, is about priorities. He said Harper has a choice between pandering to his rich friends or defending the middle class." No more ordinary Canadians, it was noted.

You may also have noticed that Harper and his band of followers are all over the middle-class action as well. John Ibbitson has written about the concern in Conservative circles about whether they might be in jeopardy of losing these voters as inequality concerns grow:
There is a quiet debate under way within the Conservative caucus. While not everyone – perhaps not even a majority – agrees, senior figures within the caucus are convinced the party’s future hinges on the outcome of that debate, and they believe Stephen Harper shares their concern. Some Conservatives are asking themselves whether the party is in danger of losing the middle class.
And so the government heavily targets their economic message to the middle class. For example, here was Bernard Valcourt talking about trade on September 7th: “The Government of Canada is committed to promoting Canadian business abroad to create jobs, economic growth and prosperity for middle-class Canadian families.” Here was Tony Clement in Northern Ontario a few days ago: “Today’s announcement will help develop the region as a tourist destination, attract visitors to the area and create jobs for middle-class Canadian families,” said Minister Clement. Here was John Duncan at the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce on September 11th: "I'm talking about our government's number one priority, and the number one concern for Canadians: economic growth and creating jobs for middle-class Canadian families."

The anti-carbon tax campaign the Conservatives launched this parliamentary season has also been about "Supporting Middle Class Jobs," so they claim.

And see the campaign going on in the U.S. where the fight for support from the middle class is a central battle.

So it's understandable that a leading candidate for the Liberal leadership could launch their campaign with this emphasis.

Looking forward to the big event tonight.