Sunday, April 28, 2024

Conservatives and the Environment

Who called climate change "perhaps the biggest threat to confront humanity today?"  Was it David Suzuki?  Al Gore?  Pope Francis?  Greta Thunberg?  Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama?  Justin Trudeau?  Joe Biden?  If you guessed any of those names, you'd be wrong.  It was Stephen Harper, former Conservative prime minister of Canada.  Harper made that statement on June 4, 2007 in a speech in Berlin, Germany, just steps from the Brandenburg Gate.  In that speech, he called for an international consensus on climate change.  He declared that "Canada will be at the forefront, as a green energy superpower."  My, how times have changed!  I wonder if Stephen Harper would be emphasizing the importance of the environment if he were prime minister today.

April 22nd was Earth Day and I couldn't help thinking how conservatives have turned their back on the environment.  They have abandoned a basic principle of conservatism.  According to the Meriam-Webster Dictionary, the word "conserve" means to keep in a safe or sound state, especially to avoid wasteful or destructive use of, as in conserve natural resources, conserve our wildlife.  

There was a time when conservatives actually did something about the environment.  Former Canadian prime  Brian Mulroney, who died recently, is known for his environmental record.  His most significant environmental achievement was the integral role he played in bringing about the Canada-U.S. acid rain treaty.  In 1991, Mulroney and U.S. President George H.W. Bush committed to curbing acid rain by reducing emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides through a cap and trade system.

It was the Progressive Conservatives, under Brian Mulroney. who convened a global treaty to save the ozone layer in 1987, and who composed the original Environmental Act that became Canadian law in 1988.  During Mulroney's tenure, eight new national parks were created and implemented.  To his credit, Mulroney called for collaboration with the United States to deal with global warming.  He stressed the need to work in tandem with Americans to reduce emissions.

Brian Mulroney

Let's look at Canada's carbon tax history.  It begins in March 2007 in oil-rich Alberta.  Ed Stelmach, a Progressive Conservative, was premier of the province when Alberta became the first jurisdiction to legislate greenhouse gas reductions from large industrial polluters by means of a carbon levy.  Imagine the current right wing premier Alberta, Danielle Smith and her United Conservative Party supporting such a levy!   Today's Canadian conservatives, including federal Conservative leader Pierre Pollievre, are determined to "axe the tax."

In April of 2007, British Columbia teamed up with five U.S. states to form the Western Climate Initiative-a market-based group with the purpose of combatting climate change.  Ontario and Quebec joined up later.  In May of 2008, John Baird, Canada's environment minister, and a member of the Conservative Party, described carbon trading as a "key part" of the governments emission plan in holding oil and gas producers and coal-fired power plants to account.  In July of that same year, British Columbia became the first province to implement a carbon tax, with proceeds returned to tax payers.

In the United States, it was then-president Richard Nixon, a conservative Republican, who proposed the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on July 9, 1970.  The EPA was launched on December 2, 1970, after Nixon signed an executive order establishing the ERA.  The EPA was approved by committee hearings in the House of Representatives and the Senate.  Nixon also signed the National Scenic Trails Act in 1968.


Conservatives have changed their position on the environment so drastically because they have shifted further to the right.  In recent years, Canadian conservatives, along with their American counterparts in the Republican Party, have come to view ecological protection as an attack on freedom and affordability.  This includes not only climate change, but protection for forests, endangered species and the banning of single-use plastic bags.  They echo the voice of Donald Trump and his supporters who consider climate change to be a hoax and they refuse to listen to the warnings of  scientists.  Sadly, during Trump's four years in the Oval Office, the United States really lost ground in the fight to preserve our earth from environmental disaster.  Big Oil will certainly be pleased if he is returned to office in November, but it will a tragedy for our planet.  

This anti-environmentalism is not only happening among conservatives in Canada and the United States.  It appears to be occurring around the world.  Brazil's former president, Jair Bolosonaro, as well and India's government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi are prime examples. Unfortunately, anti-environmentalism has become a calling card of the global right.

As scientists have pointed out, humanity doesn't have the luxury of time on its side.  While wildfires rage, floods rise, and glaciers melt, conservatives turn a blind eye.  They are living in a la la land.  They don't want to believe it is happening.

SOURCES: Government of Canada archives, "Prime Minister Stephen Harper Calls for International Consensus on Climate Change," Transcript of Speech, June 4, 2007; The Walrus, :"Why Conservatives Turned against the Environment," by Arno Kopecky, January 1-, 2024; Wikipedia

- Joanne

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Stanley Cup Quiz 2024

The Stanley Cup playoffs are underway, so this is a good good time to test your knowledge of Lord Stanley's Jug. and the history surrounding it.  Are you ready?  Get set and good luck!

1.  The Vancouver Canucks have never won a Stanley Cup.  However, a team based in Vancouver did win he Stanley Cup in 1915.  Here is the team's logo.  What was the name of that team?

A.  The Vancouver Canadians

B.  The Vancouver Voyageurs

C.  The Vancouver Millionaires

D.  The Vancouver Miners

E.  The Vancouver Lions

2.   Who has won the most Stanley Cups as a player?

A.  Maurice "Rocket" Richard

B.  Henri Richard

C.  Gordie Howe

D.  George Armstrong

E.  Guy Lafleur

3.  What was the first American-based team to win the Stanley Cup?

A.  The Boston Bruins

B.  The New York Rangers

C.  The New York Americans

D.  The Seattle Metropolitans

E.  The Chicago Blackhawks

4.  When did the Boston Bruins win their first Stanley Cup?

A.  1932

B.  1929

C.  1933

D.  1938

E.  1928

5.  Why was the Stanley Cup halted in 1919?

A.  A labour dispute

B.  Too many players had not returned from World War I.  Many of those who had returned were not ready to play.

C.  Lack of funds to hold the event due the costs of World War I.

D.  The Spanish Flu

E.  The Stanley Cup championship was not halted in 1919.

6.  Who started the ritual of players skating around with the Stanley Cup over their head?

A.  Jean Beliveau

B.  George Armstrong

C.  Ted Lindsay

D.  Wayne Gretzky

E.  Phil Esposito

7.   Who was Lord Stanley of Preston, for whom the Stanley Cup is named?

Lord Stanley of Preston

A.  Governor General of Canada

B.  A British prime minister

C.  A British banker

D.   A Canadian prime minister

E.   The British High Commissioner to Canada

8.   How many times have the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup?

A.  10

B.  12

C.  15

D.  14

E.  13

9.  Who was the youngest NHL captain to win the Stanley Cup?

A.  Wayne Gretzky

B.  Sidney Crosby

C.  Jean Beliveau

D.  Connor McDavid

E.  Maurice "Rocket" Richard

10.  Who has captained the most NHL Stanley Cup teams?

A.  George Armstrong

B.  Jean Beliveau

C.  Wayne Gretzky

D.  Maurice "Rocket" Richard

E.  Sidney Crosby

11.  How many times have the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup?

A.  8 times

B.  7 times

C.  4 times

D.  6 times

E.  9 times


1.  C

1915 Vancouver Millionaires

The Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) won the Stanley Cup on March 26, 1915.  They defeated the National Hockey Association's Ottawa Senators in a best-of-five series.  It was the first Stanley Cup championship approved by the Cup's trustees and played under a new agreement between National Hockey Association (NHA) the Pacific Coast Hockey Association.  To date, this is the only Stanley Cup victory for the city of Vancouver.

2.  B  

Henri Richard

Henri Richard of the Montreal Canadiens won an impressive 11 Stanley Cups, starting from the 1955-1956 season and continuing through the 1972-1973 season.  Known as the Pocket Rocket, Henri was the brother of Maurice Richard.

3.  D

The first American-based team to win the Stanley Cup was the Seattle Metropolitans of the Pacific Coast Hockey League (PCHL).  They defeated the famed Montreal Canadiens to capture the best-of- five series in four games.

The New York Rangers became the first NHL team to win the Stanley Cup in 1928.  

4.  B

In 1929, the Boston Bruins defeated the New York Rangers to win their first Stanley Cup.  They did not win again until a decade later, in 1939.  The Bruins have won a total of six Stanley Cups.  They also won in 1941, 1970, 1972 and 2011.   

5.  D

The Stanley Cup competition was halted in 1919 due to the Spanish Flu pandemic.  The series between the Montreal Canadiens and the Seattle Metropolitans was tied at two games each, but it was never completed.  The Stanley Cup was also cancelled in 2005 due to a lockout.

6,  C

Lindsay with Stanley Cup in 1950

The ritual of skating around with the Stanley Cup began in 1950, when Ted Lindsay, captain of the Detroit Red Wings, who won the Cup that year, skated around the rink, holding the Cup over his head.

7.  A

Frederick Arthur Stanley, Baron Stanley of Preston (1841-1908) was the Governor General of Canada from 1888 to 1893.  In 1892, he donated the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup with a message stating the following: "I have for some time been thinking that it would be a good thing if there were a challenge cup which should be held from year to year by the champion hockey team in the Dominion of Canada."

8.  E

The Toronto Maple Leafs have won the Stanley Cup 13 times in their stored history, in 1918, 1922, 1932, 1942, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1967.  Only the Montreal Canadiens have won more Cups.  They have won the championship 24 times.

9.  B

Sidney Crosby became the youngest NHL captain to win the Stanley Cup when he led the Pittsburgh Penguins to victory in 2009.  Crosby, born August 7, 1987, was 21 years, 10 months at the time.  The youngest captain to lead his team to a Stanley Cup in the history of the trophy was Mike Grant of the 1895 Montreal Victorias, who was 21 years, two months at the time.

10.  B  

Jean Beliveau

Maurice Richard

Jean Beliveau took over as captain of the Montreal Canadiens after the retirement of Maurice "Rocket" Richard in 1960.  As captain, Beliveau led the Canadiens to five Stanley Cup victories.  During his career, Beliveau played in 17 Stanley Cup playoffs for Montreal, winning the Cup in 1956-60, 1965-1966, 1968-1969 and 1971.

Maurice "Rocket" Richard won eight Stanley Cup championships (four as captain) during his career with the Montreal Canadiens.  Richard 18 seasons in the National Hockey league for Montreal beginning his career in the 1942-1943 season.  When he entered his 15th NHL season in 1956-57, his teammates named him captain.  As captain, he led the Canadiens to four of the five Stanley Cups that Montreal won between 1956 and 1960.  

George Armstrong won four Stanley Cups in 12 years as captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Wayne Gretzky also won four Stanley Cups as the captain of the Edmonton Oilers during the 1983-84, 1984-85, 1986-87 and 1987-1988 seasons.  Sydney Crosby has won three Stanley Cups as captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins - 2008-2009, 2015-2016 and 2016-2017.  As of this writing, Connor McDavid has yet to win a Stanley Cup as captain of the Edmonton Oilers.

11.  D

The Chicago Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup six times in their history as a franchise - 1933, 1937, 1961, 2010, 2013 and 2015.

- Joanne

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Trump vs. Biden


Trump mug shot.  He looks quite presidential, doesn't he?  Yeah, right!

Two peas in a pod

On November 5, 2024, the choice will be yours, America.  You will choose between democracy and despotism, freedom and authoritarianism, the rule of law and chaos.  Keep in mind, however, that your choice will affect the whole world.  Keep in mind what happened to Germany in the 1930s.  

The world will be watching, America. because American democracy cannot withstand another Trump presidency.  As Trump's  niece has stated, he is the most dangerous man in the world.  So many Americans are so brainwashed by Fox News and social media that they cannot distinguish between facts and conspiracy theories.  In their blurry eyes, those arrested for their actions on January 6th, 2021 are hostages. They are so blinded that they cannot see the difference between a man who led an insurrection to overthrow American democracy and the imperfect decency of President Joe Biden.  

Donald Trump is not fit to be president and he should be nowhere near the Oval Office.  The future of humanity rests upon the voters of America.

- Joanne

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

With love to Newfoundland and Labrador: The province joined Confederation 75 years ago

I live in Toronto.  As Newfoundlanders and Labradorians like to say, I come from away.   However, I have the greatest regard for the province and its people.  To me, Newfoundlanders are the salt of the earth.  I have only visited the province once, in the summer of 2001.  Due to time constraints, I travelled mostly within the Avalon Peninsula.  However, I was left with a lasting impression, and  I will never forget the friendliness and welcoming attitude of the people. Nor will and forget the beautiful lighthouses and the whale watching,  I hope someday to return and visit some more of the province.

I love the colourful houses in St, John's.  During my visit, I took a a boat ride in St. John's harbour, along with a black Newfoundland retriever.  On the boat, I kissed a cod, tasted some Newfoundland Screech (a local rum), and became an honorary Newfoundlander.  Of course, I toured Memorial University and Signal Hill.  

While I was visiting St. John's, there was an apartment fire in the city.  The community immediately got together and organized a concert of Newfoundland music to raise money for those whose property was damaged and destroyed.  My husband and I attended that concert at Mile One Arena, now known as Mary Brown's Centre.  

During my Newfoundland vacation, I also visited Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America.  I'll never forget the rugged cliffs and the strong winds.  I also spent time in Terra Nova National Park, Trinity Dungeon Provincial Park near Bona Vistas and Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve.  Cape St. Mary's is a great place to enjoy watching seabirds.  In addition, I went to Ferryland, where the first Lord Baltimore tried to establish a the 17th century.  It is now an excavation site for archaeologists,  Unfortunately, I did not have an opportunity to visit Gros Morne National Park or Labrador.

Newfoundlanders are Canada's premier comedians.  One only has to list names such as Rick Mercer, Mary Walsh, Cathy Jones and Mark Critch.  Over the years, I have enjoyed watching 22 Minutes, and The Rick Mercer Report on the CBC.  I am a fan of Son of a Critch, Mark Critch's delightful ode to coming of age in the 1980s.

In 2001, the people of Gander, Newfoundland, displayed their generous and welcoming spirit to travellers stranded at the Gander Airport due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  The story has been made into an uplifting musical called Come from Away, which I have seen.

Newfoundland joined Confederation at midnight on March 31, 1949, becoming Canada's tenth province.  Until then, it was a British colony.  Some portion of Newfoundland's  coast was one of the first parts of North America seen by Europeans.  About a thousand years ago, Vikings settled in a seaside outpost in Newfoundland known as L'Anse aux Meadows.  Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to visit L'Anse aux 2001.

In 1497, Italian explorer and navigator Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot)  landed in North America.  The exact location is disputed.  It may have been southern Labrador, the island of Newfoundland or Cape Breton Island.  Nevertheless, Cabot claimed the territory, which he had mistaken for Asia, in the name of Henry VII of England. 

From 1907 to 1949, Newfoundland was a British dominion in eastern North America.  In the 1920s, Newfoundland was in debt.  The Great Depression of the 1930s, exacerbated its financial problems.  In 1934, facing bankruptcy, Newfoundland's leaders decided to suspend responsible government.  They agreed to accept an unelected Commission Government directed by Britain.

During World War II, Newfoundland became an important military strategic base.  Prosperity returned to Newfoundland, due to miliary investment.  In 1946, an elected National Convention was established to consider Newfoundland's future.  There was a lively debate about whether to join Canada or to return to responsible government.  Convention members, especially Joey Smallwood, contended that living standards would improved if Newfoundland became a Canadian province.  The Confederation choice was even encouraged by Britain.

In a June 3, 1948 referendum, the responsible government option garnered 44.6 percent of the vote, while the pro-Confederation side received 41.1 percent and the Commission Government option received 14.3 percent.  Nevertheless, a run-off vote was held on July 22, 1948 between responsible government and Confederation, with Confederation receiving 52.34 percent of the vote and self-government 47.66 percent.  

By 1949, Newfoundland had erased its debts and recorded a surplus.  Joey Smallwood became the new province's first premier and a celebrated Father of Confederation.  Sadly, the province suffered the economic impact of the 1992 moratorium on cod fishing, imposed by the Canadian government.  This was done for the purpose of restoring cod stocks that had been depleted due to overfishing.  In 2015, two reports on cold fishery indicated that stocks my have recovered somewhat.  However, in June of 2018, the federal government felt compelled to reduce the cod quote because stocks had once again fallen after only two years of fair catches.

Thank you Newfoundland and Labrador.  This Torontonian appreciates all you have contributed to Canada.  Congratulations on the 75th anniversary of your entry into Confederation.

- Joanne