Monday, September 28, 2009

Coderre Quits

Denis Coderre resigned this morning as the Liberal Party's defence critic and Quebec lieutenant for the leader. This follows on the brouhaha over Coderre's decision to prevent Martin Cauchon from running for the Liberal nomination in the riding of Outremont, a riding Cauchon had previously represented while serving as a cabinet minister. Link

In my view allowing contested nominations with any interested candidates should be the unwavering rule, so I opposed Coderre's decision on principle. In addition it is inexcusably stupid, as Cauchon is an experienced and capable candidate who won the riding three times before deciding not to run again in 2004. Why would you turn away strength? The answer of course would seem to be advancing personal or factional interests over that of the party as a whole. As a result I think you have to view Coderre's resignation today somewhat differently than much of the media spin.

Firstly Mr. Coderre, having made a poor decision and been overruled, should have resigned and I give him credit for that. Secondly this is a victory for the Liberal party as a whole, since it indicates that the will of the membership and the election-readiness of the whole is being placed above factional interests. In my view the victory of the Outremont membership and the positive message to the party as a whole are worth far more than the a few news cycles of bad press.

Open nominations are, to my mind, one of the foundations of democracy. The Conservative refusal to allow such, especially given that my MP is the singularly useless Rob Anders, is one of my largest problems with the party right now. If you are unable to win a nomination meeting held by the membership of your own party what on earth qualifies you as the best candidate before the electorate, the vast majority of whom belong to no party at all?

Excellent Blog post on the Issue by Jeff Jadras Here

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Carbon Capture Report

Now that I am back in Calgary and back to working as normal it is time to start posting here again.

I'd like to start up again by linking to this report on the science behind the carbon capture technology that Alberta is making such a large commitment to. Munk_Centre_Paper.pdf The Munk Centre for International Studies released this report by Graham Thomson of Edmonton yesterday. (As an aside thanks to Dave Cournoyer for keeping this issue prominent on his Daveberta blog!)

I think this paragraph from the conclusion sums up the importance of this report:

"The Bottom Line: Given the paucity of groundwater information in Canada and lack of
national water standards, the push to accelerate CCS could pose real risks to our
groundwater resources. In sum, the marriage of a brave new technology with a political
fix for an immediate climate problem could have negative long-term consequences for
Canadian taxpayers and water drinkers without stabilizing the climate. To move forward
on the sequestration of billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide in underground saline
aquifers without strong regulations, clear liability, effective oversight, sound science and
a transparent decision-making process would be sheer folly."

It is my view that the issue of emissions, not simply those into the air but also into water and soil, are going to be one of the central issues of the next 50 years. Moderating our impact on the environment around us while maintaining or improving our productivity and standard of living is already a central challenge. The fundamental issue I have with the proposed carbon capture technology is that it proposes to attack one issue by shifting the problem into another area - without any real understanding of how moving the carbon into the ground might impact soil and especially water tables. Clean water is already a growing issue in large areas of Alberta, and one we as a polity have not dealt with in a coherent and effective manner.

The political impetus behind the carbon capture initiative is undeniable, but is not necessarily a bad thing. Ultimately political action on emissions is what we need, but what we have to do is ensure that the political pressures are channeled into making good policy. At this point Carbon Capture is not that policy.