Monday, January 30, 2012

NDP Version Of "In-And-Out". Is It Legal?

"NDP leadership candidate Thomas Mulcair says he was never told of an internal NDP policy requiring MPs to contribute at least $1,000 a year to federal NDP coffers.

Moreover, Mulcair says he never told any of the candidates he recruited in Quebec that minimum annual donations to the federal NDP were part of the deal if they were elected."

Candidates who run for the NDP in elections are required to sign an agreement with the party acknowledging their responsibilities should they win a seat in the House of Commons.

“I understand that all New Democrat Members of Parliament are required to contribute $1,000.00 annually to the Federal Office of the New Democratic Party,” one clause of the agreement says, according to the 2006 version of the agreement form.

The amount of the mandatory donation has since increased to reflect changes to the maximum allowable contribution, rising to $1,100 in 2007."

Interesting. So the NDP is basically stating that the party is entitled to at least $1000 per year from NDP candidates who are successful running in an election. So those 100+ NDP MP's are now required to pony up minimum $4000 over the next four years to the party. So MP's get a salary paid through taxpayers, the NDP siphons off $1000 per year from each MP, and the MP gets a tax-writeoff, again on the backs of Canadian taxpayers.

My question is, does Elections Canada feel this is legal, people being forced to donate? Seems a little extreme to me. MP's donate (funds go in), MP's get a tax-break (monies go out).

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Despair Turns Into Hope

With reports now coming out that the earth's temperature hasn't risen in 15 years, and the possibility of a mini-ice age in the future, I'm sure David Suzuki and the other doomsayers despair must surely be turning to hope:

It's not just crazy people with the sandwich boards anymore: a lot of level-headed professionals believe the end of our world is nigh. Some top scientists see global warming making much of the planet barely habitable within a few generations. Or sooner.

How then do experts who believe such dire findings, yet plug away at eco-sustainable practices, still find purpose in their work? What keeps them from succumbing to climate despair? Especially after yesterday's much panned announcement by the Conservatives that Canada will wait at least 13 years before imposing "hard caps" on global warming emissions, and won't see significant cuts before 2050?

"We've overshot," sighs William Rees into the receiver at the other end of the line. "We've overshot the long-term carrying capacity of the planet to support human life."

Rees is the father of the "ecological footprint" and a world famous professor at UBC. We've been talking about new studies that suggest that because of global warming, methane gas previously frozen under the Arctic permafrost is bubbling up and escaping into the atmosphere, forcing us into the arms of global meltdown faster than you can say the Book of Revelations. As a greenhouse gas, methane is 20 times more powerful than carbon.

Climatologists call it an example of a positive feedback loop, which are like vicious ecological circles on crack. The more temperatures rise, the more permafrost melts, contributing more methane into the atmosphere, which in turn causes the earth's temperature to climb again, melting more permafrost, and on and on. We're already seeing the results.

"This year is the first time in tens of thousands of years you could take a kayak to the North Pole," Rees continues, his voice rising and his tone taking on a harder edge. "That's the evidence. So don't give me optimism about technology moving us forward, because it isn't."

Rees says he gets very tired sometimes, when it seems people aren't interested in saving even themselves.

"Are you despairing these days?" I ask.

"Yes, sometimes I am."

"What do you do about it?"

"Um, keep working," he responds quietly. "Pace up and down. Read a good book. Listen to some fine music. Sometimes I have a bottle of wine. But you've got know. What are the options? I just keep on plugging away; I don't think there is really anything else you can do."

'Nice technical problems'

Things got bleaker in the ecological trenches after James Lovelock, guru of the Gaia hypothesis, published The Revenge of Gaia, where he says there's nothing to stop the earth from slouching towards "a coma" now, taking billions of us into that good night along with her.

I called up Dr. Daniel Pauly, director of the Fisheries Centre at UBC and a principal investigator of the organization The Sea Around Us, who told me some mornings he has trouble getting out of bed. How does he cope with the prospect of a dying future on those days?

"I concentrate on some technical problem instead," he says, which takes me by surprise a little, even though it shouldn't.

"We have nice technical problems, as scientists, that you resolve. Most of us who are discouraged do end up doing that: looking at nice technical problems."

I rang up Patrick Condon, who holds the UBC James Taylor Chair in Landscape and Liveable Environments and designs sustainable cities, to gauge his level of depression.

"I'm personally pretty discouraged often," he admitted. "Not a single week goes by without some new, extremely credible group coming to the same conclusion, and that conclusion is always that it's happening faster than even the most pessimistic scientist would have predicted, those who were scoffed at years ago."

I listened to Karen Campbell, environmental lawyer with western Canada's Pembina Institute, admitting she gets so distraught over current events, she purposefully avoids reading the news for weeks sometimes. And that there have been times where governmental repeals of hard-won environmental legislation have left her feeling crushed.

"I've had days where I've left my office in tears. I've had days where I've just said, 'That's it! I can't handle this, it's just too depressing. I'm leaving.'"

David Suzuki sent an email admitting "plenty of reason to despair" but calling it "a crime against future generations to refrain from acting."

Suzuki was boiling mad at Canada's official state of denial, noting that many other countries aim for far deeper cuts, up to "90 per cent reductions by 2050. I have no idea whether that will be enough to keep the planet (from) spinning out of control."

Last of all, I chatted with Kevin Millsip, director of the youth-directed Check Your Head, over a coffee in Gastown, where he revealed that on days when the unopened mail and crammed day planner don't seem to have the slightest impact, he ducks out for a matinée. That, or flips through the pages of a glossy magazine very, very slowly. Or stares at pictures.

"And then I kick myself and ask, 'Is this really the answer?'" he says with a laugh.

Depleted fish stocks, species extinction, SUV and oil obsessions, Kyoto rejections, disenfranchized youth, the Alberta tar sands and deadly methane gas: Condon says "an emerging consensus" is setting in among his colleagues; "Every hour of [our] work is in the context of 'Can the madness be stopped?'" he relates. "And when you're looking critically at the information, and using your critical functions, you often conclude that it can't be."

Which is a bitter pill to swallow, when the conclusions you draw from your professional life spell a disastrous future for your own children. When she's at her lowest, Campbell has moments where she looks at her son and second guesses the wisdom of having brought a child into the world.

"There's a really good chance there's not going to be any more polar bears when he's 30."

'Climate porn'

Back in August, a Labour-friendly British think-tank released a damning report that accused the media of splashing images of "climate porn" across the newspapers and TV screens of Britons. Terrifying images of melting ice caps and freak storms sell copy, the report stated, because people get a strange satisfaction from the steady stream of horror-show global meltdown pictures paraded before their eyes.

But the effect, according to the think-tank, is public paralysis -- a mélange of impotence and dread -- since the end result is readers and viewers left feeling any action on their part is pointless in the face of global warming. Shocking and awing the citizenry bad for the environment? Who knew?

No one I talked to for this article, including David Suzuki, agreed with this conclusion, and were in fact left feeling both anger and despair at the media's botched job of handling climate change.

"I think we need more of that pornography -- quite frankly -- and you can quote me on that," spat Condon. "Pornography in the sense of something that has direct impact and hits you pretty hard -- I'm for anything that gets the point across these days."

"I don't think we have time left to try to do this with six more scholarly publications in peer journals."

Rees agreed. "I think the media has an obligation to tell the truth. Frankly, I think the porn is the denial that appears in most of the media."

The maddening part is that the overwhelming burden of proof shouts that climate change is happening, most notably the assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Of 750 scientific papers published on the topic of climate change, not one of them disputes that climate change is ongoing and that it's probably human induced, according to Rees.

But that isn't reflected in the press, he says, which puts coverage at a "45/55 split" between naysayers and yea-sayers.

People like Tim Ball clouding the issue are not appreciated.

"Even though [someone] is a paid person in industry, they get equal time with the thousands of independent climatologists pulled together by the UN," seethes Condon.

"Quite frankly, we should have the shit scared out of us if we want to move forward on this," says Rees.

Ah, to be young

In the scientific and intellectual community, the end-times types tend to be white men with wrinkles and grey hair. Lovelock, Farley Mowat, Kurt Vonnegut, David Suzuki and Al Gore spring immediately to mind. If the tendency to eulogize Mother Earth is a function of age, how are the young and innocent faring?

Professor Pauly says not so well.

"The students are quite upset because they get that feeling of doom, and this is not compatible with their age," he says. "The bounty that they assumed was going to be theirs is not there."

Condon says many of his students are "largely unaware" of things like positive feedback loops and recent NASA reports that say we'll only lose one-quarter of the planet's species to global warming if we make severe changes to society right now.

"And these are students that have chosen an environmental career," Condon adds.

Talking about how youth are grappling with climate change with Millsip, the discussion turns to a virtual reality game called Second Life, where almost a million people log on to create an exciting alternate reality far removed from the rising mercury of this one.

"Some people are engaging in these communities because they feel they can actually affect the outcome of this universe," says Millsip, who thinks there's "an uncomfortable discussion about power to be had" between the high school kids he works with and the power brokers running the show today. Unresponsive political systems, he says, will never encourage kids to rally around the flag to tackle solutions for global warming.

The end

So what might it take to get people to really change their ways? What should the average person do to stave off the coming cataclysm?

"Extra-powerful air conditioners for Phoenix, Arizona might be a big sell," Condon observes with dark irony.

"Some days I'm not so sanguine about the capacity of people to actually change," worries Condon, who completes the thought adding that he thinks it would be "immoral" for him to stand back and do nothing.

Rees gets philosophical: "I suppose I'm an existentialist: you have to decide what you're going to do," he says. "I mean I could go and shoot myself, I'm wealthy enough to put my feet up, go out and buy myself a boat and a case of rum and enjoy the remaining days of my life."

But, like the others, Rees has resolved to continue the fight, and to see global warming through, in whatever shape or form life on earth takes in the coming decades. Just because this is the grimmest thing we've ever faced as a species doesn't mean they're throwing in the towel. Far from it.

But it's going to take some work.

"The very tendencies that gave such us a leg up in the competition with the other species 50,000 years ago are maladaptive today," Rees concludes.

"Now, if we are intelligent enough to recognize that, at least in theory we should be able to over-ride our biological predispositions. If we don't, we're doomed

Saturday, January 28, 2012

How Paul Martin Really Saved CPP

Lots of banter going on after the PM mentioned in his speech in Davos about pension reform being necessary. Th media is rife with speculation and reaction that the age of eligibility for OAS will be raised from its current threshold of 65 to 67. While the government hasn't announced that change the usual Harper-bashing media are working non-stop with outrage. Fair enough. I guess when the PM opened the door the media decided to barge in without a proper invite, but what's new, right? But what really pisses me off is almost every journalist mentions Paul Martin's CPP reforms as some kind of super-human feat. Really?

This is the effect Paul Martin's so-called reforms have had on me. At the age of 36 in 1996, my maximum payroll contribution to CPP was $893.20. In 1997, Martin increased that amount to $944.78. $50 roughly no big deal, right? in 2011 the maximum contribution was $2,217.60. That's an increase of $1324.40 per year over the last 15 years. Martin's reforms basically amount to me paying roughly an additional $20,000 from 2011 forward, into CPP above the 1996 rate,until I reach 65, matched by my employer for a total of $40,000 in additional premiums. This doesn't take into account my CPP contributions for the previous 19 years nor the 1996 rate of $893.20 until I retire in 2025 (14 years X $893.20=$12504.80.)

To put it into easy terms, Paul Martin's CPP reforms basically amounted to Canadians having their premiums jacked up well above double the previous amounts. So what Martin was basically saying was if you want to collect CPP, you have to pay an amount great enough to cover the costs of benefits. Hmmm, kind of what the PM is hinting about with pension reforms, no?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Boston Bruins Goalie Shows Why He Is An All-Star

WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama saluted the NHL’s Boston Bruins for their 2011 Stanley Cup championship on Monday — at least some of them.

Conspicuous by his absence was Tim Thomas, who is known best for being the Bruins’ goaltender but is also a right-winger. Thomas, who lists ultra-conservative commentator Glenn Beck among his heroes, had told the team some time ago that he wouldn’t attend because he objects to Obama’s policies.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Actual EMD Contract Offer

Thanks to an anonymous comment in a previous thread for the link. Yes, it appears they do want a huge wage cut. But many of the other things, including benefits and pension, appear to mirror what GM, Ford, and Chrysler workers gave up in their last round of contract negotiations. I don't know the current pay levels of the classifications listed, so possibly an EMD worker might give me the right figures, rather than the "average $35 wage" Lewenza keeps referring to, which most likely includes skilled trades, skewing the average wage number.

As stated previously, the CAW could show some leadership by lowering the rate of union dues to help offset wage cuts. As for the SCCF, give it up. It's the CAW that benefits from that plan, not the guy working the line.

If I Was An EMD Worker, I'd Be Very Afraid!

Q: Is it true that the union suggested closing the plant instead of instead of discussing concessions?

A: Despite the fact that EMC has tabled economic proposals since May, the union has not addressed any of the market competitive issues faced by EMC, despite a six-month extension of the current collective agreement designed to provide the union with the time to do so. In fact, there has been no counter proposal from the union, but for the suggestion that the parties negotiate a closure agreement, one that EMC has rejected outright.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Some Friendly Advice For Electro-Motive Diesel CAW Workers

You are about to suffer the same fate as those workers who lost their jobs at the Oshawa GM truck plant. Remember that? Lewenza claimed victory against two-tier wages, only to see 2400 truck plant jobs moved south. The end result was Lewenza had to agree to two-tier wages just months later? CAW head Ken Lewenza is about to sell your jobs out all in the name of the union still thinking things haven't changed from the '60s, and refusing to change with the times. Lewenza and his predecessor Buzz Hargrove have caused job losses in the past, by refusing to present contract offers to it's members containing concessions and allowing a free vote. Kind of ironic when the union claims to be the voice of democracy.

So here is what you should do. Tell Lewenza that you want the last contract offer from the company presented in full, and be allowed a free vote on it. If the offer is what is claimed to be stated, then you all have a serious decision to make. I agree the offer as reported by the company is deplorable, especially the wage cuts. I also agree Caterpillar is one of those companies that run rough-shod over it's blue-collar workforce.

But the workers need to make a decision. If the offer is unacceptable, vote against it and let the CAW reps know what you are willing to take. The sad part is I think it's pretty much a given that your jobs will be moved stateside without an agreement close to what the company has supposedly offered.

Be creative. Read the entire offer page by page. Make sure you are being given the entire story on what is being offered. A wage concession looks inevitable. Has profit sharing been offered? Co-pay benefits? Can the pension plan be saved by having employees contribute as well as the company. Ask Lewenza for a reduction in your union dues to help offset wage losses. Those reps working on your behalf are making 6-figure salaries as well.

There's no guarantee this will resolve your problem. But as it stands right now all you have is uncertainty, and a couple of hundred a month in strike pay. Standing outside the gates at $16 an hour is costing you $640 a week in lost wages, or more than $2400 a month.

p.s. It's not just wage costs that decides whether production is left at your plant. Other costs factor into the decision as well. You are about to pay for Dalton McGuinty's failed electricty policies with your jobs, not to mention employer costs he has added as well.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Hot Rumour For Glen McGregor Of The The Ottawa Citizen

An anonymous source, only known as raelvr1, has informed me that he has established a direct link between the Blogging Tories and the Conservative Party of PM Stephen Harper. My source, considered as reliable as a Toronto 911 dispatcher, tells me that bloggers who are part of the Blogging Tories have also made donations to the Conservative party and their candidates.

If this is true, it shows a direct link that the Blogging Tories are in fact a partisan group.

p.s. If McGregor had even a shred of journalistic integrity he might have seen fit to make even passing mention of the Ontario Working Families Coalition. Then again, there is quite a difference between the two groups. The NCC rely on donations that are not eligible for a tax credit. Of course McGregor and O'Malley don't seem to bat an eye the the Working Families group uses union dues to fund attack videos against Tim Hudak. And those teachers make quite a nice salary, so those dues qualify them for quite the tax reduction.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kady O'Malley's Sudden Fixation On Donations As A Definite Link To A Party??

I see Kady has herself all worked up about the NCC video, based on facts,(sorry, Kady and Rae can't rewrite history),now trying to show links between the NCC and the Conservative Party, and using donations made by NCC members as proof.

Soooo,remember this? (h/t Joanne at Blue Like You)

"An EKOS poll should be presented with a reminder that Frank Graves of EKOS has donated over $11,000 to the Liberal Party of Canada since 2001"

If I remember right, Kady and her CBC freeloaders, as well as the usual msm suspects, dismissed these donations as nothing, saying they never proved any link between Graves and the Liberal Party, or Graves and the CBC's Liberal bias.

Please explain Kady?