News & Horrors from the last two weeks

Better Too Late Than Never: Stephen Harper Vs. The Environment

The leaders of the Group of Seven nations released a joint pledge on June 8 to bring an end to the burning of fossil fuels by the year 2100.

Good job, everyone. Slow. Clap.

The statement, which marked the conclusion of the G7 summit in Germany, was even signed by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, long under fire for his administration’s reputation for impeding any kind of international action to halt human-caused climate change.

Harper, who will be 141 at the end of the century, is not expected to attend celebrations marking the successful achievement of the G7 target.

After the announcement, Harper reassured business leaders that the economy would not be sacrificed to save the environment.

“Nobody is going to start to shut down their industries or turn off the lights,” Harper told reporters. “To achieve these kinds of milestones over the decades to come will require serious technological transformation.”

He went on to tout his government’s substantial investments in the technology needed for a post-carbon economy.

Britt Hall, a University of Regina biologist and one of the scientists involved with the Coalition to Save The Experimental Lakes Area, argued that the Harper government’s shift away from funding basic scientific research and onto supporting technological innovation with industry partners undermines Canada’s ability to innovate.

“Technology will be important in how we deal with this,” said Hall. “But Canada, at the rate that we’re investing in basic research, will not be part of that solution because we are not investing in the basic building blocks of research.”

“The technology is the widget. It’s the thing that’s a result of all the other processes. And this government is systematically drilling holes in that base. The foundation is not there to make those huge technological advances that we’re going to require to get to being fossil-fuel free,” she concluded. /Paul Dechene

Truth And Consequences: Stephen Harper Vs. The TRC

I was supposed to write something for this issue’s What Just Happened about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report that was released May 31.

I can’t. I failed. The details in the report are too awful. The scope of the residential schools atrocity is too massive. My detached, ironic mode of writing is next to useless for this subject.

There are better writers for this.

I can however throw out numbers: 6,740 witness statements; 1,355 hours of testimony; six years of work by the TRC; all of which culminates in a list of 94 recommendations. Two male Caucasians running to be prime minister, Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau, have said they’ll institute some or all of these recommendations if elected to office.

The other male Caucasian involved in the upcoming electoral race, Stephen Harper, our current PM, has been more circumspect.

Justice Murray Sinclair, the TRC chair, has levelled criticisms at male Caucasian Harper for the latter’s unwillingness to fully adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Canada is the only UN nation to reject that declaration. Harper has dismissed the UNDRIP as an “aspirational document” and said that it is unnecessary in Canada as indigenous rights are enshrined in the constitution.

Meanwhile, at the June 2 event at which the TRC report was unveiled, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt refused to join a standing ovation after Justice Sinclair called for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

And thus, Valcourt — seated, arms crossed — single-handedly defined how the nation will remember the Harper government’s response to the TRC recommendations. /Paul Dechene