Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Environment and the Canadian Senate



The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away; a sordid boon!

- William Wordsworth
From The World is Too Much With Us [1806}
The English poet, William Wordsworth, wrote verses that celebrate the beauty and spiritual essence of nature. In his romantic poetry, he tried to convey the message that nature is not a commodity for human beings to exploit. He warned us that we are losing our connection to the natural world.  Although Wordsworth lived during the 18th and 19th centuries (1770-1850), his words are more relevant than ever in this 21st century.  Stephen Harper should read them carefully, especially after what his loyalists in the Senatee of Canada have done.  See my rant.


Prime Minister Stephen Harper has used the unelected Senate to do his dirty work - and I’m speaking both figuratively and literally. The Climate Change Accountability Act was defeated Tuesday in the Senate. Harper has filled Parliament’s Upper House with so many Tories that it is no longer the Red Chamber. It is the Blue Chamber. It is no longer the House of Sober Second Thought. It is the House of Harper Hacks. Yes, I am quite aware that Liberal prime ministers have filled the Senate with Grits when they held power, but Stephen Harper is a man who has spent his entire political career staunchly advocating an elected Senate. Now that his party is governing, he has appointed 35 Conservative loyalists to the 105-member chamber since July of 2007. If that isn’t political hypocrisy, I don’t know what is.

Late on Tuesday and without debate, the Senate of Canada refused to give final approval to Bill C-311, an important piece of environmental legislation that the House of Commons had passed in May. The bill was voted down by a margin of 43-32 in a snap vote that caught many Liberals off guard. Not enough showed up to ensure the legislation was approved in the Upper House.

The rejected legislation calls for a reduction of greenhouse by 25% below 1990 levels by the year 2020. The Harper government’s goal is 17%. It has tied its policy to that of the Obama administration south of the border. However, the political landscape has changed in the United States since the recent midterm elections. Republicans now control the House of Representatives and have increased their presence in the U.S. Senate. Since the G.O.P. is environment unfriendly, there is no chance that President Obama’s targets will be met or that anything significant will be achieved on the environment front in the United States in the near future. This is a very difficult time for North American proponents of the environment. It’s extremely frustrating.

Given the death of the climate-change bill, what will Canada have to show at the international climate change conference next month in Cancun, Mexico? Nearly 200 countries will be congregating there to forge an agreement on climate change. What will Canada have to say other nations when it is asked what it has done lately to combat climate change? Lamentably, Canada will be embarrassed before the eyes of the world. My heart sinks at the thought of it.



The Toronto Raptors had a much-needed victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in Philly yesterday. The defeated the Sixers by a score of 94-86.


There has been a great deal of chatter in T.O. about the possibility of Manny Ramirez coming to town to play for the Toronto Blue Jays. The Dominican is 38 years old and will be a free agent soon. He was spotted in our city recently and has told ESPN that (Blue Jay manager John) Farrell “is a manager for whom I would like to play, and Toronto is a team I’ve liked since they had all those Dominican players in the 80s."  Is that enough evidence to suggest that the former Red Sox slugger will be wearing a Blue Jays uniform in 2011?  I wish I had the answer to that, but I don’t. I only know that where there’s smoke, there’s fire.  In this case, there seems to be smoke.

Would it be a good move for the Jays to acquire the services of Senor Ramirez? Manny being Manny, his presence could be a very disruptive in the clubhouse. Signing him would certainly be a risk. The question for GM Alex Athopoulos is whether Ramirez is worth that risk. I think it would be fun to have him play here in Toronto and I also believe that he would put some much-need fans in the stands. Is that enough reason to sign him, though? It would be more than enough reason if he also slugged the ball well. However, there is no way of knowing how well he's going to play before he puts his name on a contract. Sometimes you just have to take a risk.

What happens to DH Adam Lind if Manny comes to town? Well, the arrival of Ramirez would likely mean the departure of Lind. If there is no opening at DH for Lind, his days in Toronto are numbered. The Jays appear to have given up on making him their first baseman.

- Joanne