Monthly Archives: April 2012

Beware the “weak kneed skeptics” that criticize the gutting of Canada’s Fisheries Act – what a sham

What…?! fish don’t actually need habitat in a ‘conservative’ world…

The undoubted sign of a society well under control or in decline is that language has ceased to be a means of communication and has become instead a shield for those who master it…”   -John Ralston Saul, Canadian thinker.

Wow, where did these folks come from…(see photo above)? …Oh, wait, I think I can tell you… but i’ll leave that to my inside voice.

Let the gutting of Canada as you know it… Begin.

Maybe the Harper Conservatives/Reform didn’t watch the crash and burn of Danielle Smith’s girls gone Wild-rose party earlier this week in Alberta.

Even Canada’s “heartland” folks that some might say lean towards the right side of the spectrum and maybe a little tinge of crimson on the back of the neck… were not ready for ‘gays will die in hellfire’ and ‘white folks make better candidates’-type comments coming from folks wanting to be elected to government in AB.

…And a leader that said “gee, shucks, that’s just their personal views, don’t worry those won’t affect their politics…”

Or…maybe… just maybe… was it a crash and burn, or, simply completely blown polling results… who’s to know really…

But then we have Harper and his crew.

Take the picture above, straight off the “Fisheries and Oceans Canada” website: Harper Government Commits to the Responsible Protection and Conservation of Canada’s Fisheries.

The Honourable Keith Ashfield, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, announced that the Harper government will introduce changes to protect the productivity of recreational, commercial and Aboriginal fisheries. This means focusing protection rules on real and significant threats to these fisheries and the habitat that supports them while setting clear standards and guidelines for routine projects.

And there it is… a point made many times on this salmonguy site… The Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans has the mandate to conserve and protect fish and fish habitat.

NOT… “responsible protection and conservation of Canada’s fisheries”…

Someone… pardon the pun… is missing the boat.

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From the Vancouver Sun yesterday:

Fisheries Act changes introduced amid debate over new law’s intent

OTTAWA — The Harper government unveiled a massive omnibus budget implementation bill Thursday that includes Fisheries Act amendments that will strip the term “habitat” from the most crucial section of the law.The government’s intent, according to a spokeswoman, to assist “everyday Canadians” in their dealings with federal fisheries bureaucrats.

And the official said allegations that the government is giving in to demands from energy and mining lobbyists are false.

“These are changes being made in our department that are designed to help Canadians — everyday Canadians: landowners, municipalities, farmers – be able to undertake activities on their properties without obtrusive interference by our department,” said Erin Filliter, spokeswoman for Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield.

Hmmm… interesting…  this is about everyday Canadians… says Ash-field.

But… but… I thought it was about “Responsible Protection and Conservation of Canada’s Fisheries

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The Vancouver Sun the day before yesterday:

Minister admits Fisheries Act changes could help speed project approvals

The quote in the first paragraph from the article cracks me up:
The federal government’s planned overhaul of the Fisheries Act may reduce the regulatory burden companies such as Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. face in getting approval for major projects, Fisheries Minister Keith Ash-field said Tuesday.
Yes, that’s not a typo on my part, it’s a direct quote… He’s Mr. Ash-field… hmmm. someone trying to say something at the Sun…?

But Ashfield rejected opposition accusations that the federal government’s plan for a “more sensible and practical” Fisheries Act was a result of corporate pressure from the energy and mining sectors. “It certainly hasn’t influenced me in any way shape or form. I have never sat down with [or] had any discussions with Enbridge,” he said in an interview.

Ashfield said farmers, municipalities and even some conservation groups in Canada support the government plan to shift regulatory enforcement focus away from general fish habitat and toward specific fish and fish habitat that are of “vital” importance to the recreational, commercial and aboriginal fisheries.

Oh yea… what about scientists, researchers, and streamkeeper groups? What about the 100,000 plus or so BC’ers that spend time cleaning creeks and streams and looking after fish and fish habitat?

Ashfield drew attention to groups outside the mining and energy sectors backing the changes, including the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Canadian Federation of Municipalities.

What horseshit, last time I checked, Ducks Unlimited wasn’t really a fish conservation organization…  doesn’t it work on protecting wetlands so that there’s more ducks to potentially shoot…?

And of course the federation of municipalities is going to go for it…

The bullshit that elected officials will spew out in the name of marketing and PR is astounding.

But Ashfield acknowledged his proposals could reduce Enbridge’s requirements under Fisheries Act habitat protection rules for the estimated 1,000 waterways its Northern Gateway pipeline will cross. “It could be determined that some of these waterways may not necessarily be vital waterways,” Ashfield said.

The government announcement stressed that the current fisheries law, which bans activity that results in the “harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat,” has been too broadly enforced.

Too “broadly enforced”!?

Show me all the frigging fines and convictions then.

You can’t, because there were only two in 2008.

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The Globe and Mail also ran an article on this issue the other day:

Tories to overhaul Fisheries Act

…But critics argue the government is looking to reduce the regulatory burden on energy and mining companies, and the changes will jeopardize rivers, streams and lakes that are part of broad and important ecosystems.

“This announcement does indicate an intention to compromise for some of Canada’s lakes, rivers and streams – whichever the government officials deem to be not vital,” said Lara Tessaro, staff lawyer with the Vancouver-based EcoJustice group.

“In the context of environmental protection, it is a really bizarre approach to have government officials handpick which lakes are not important. … What fish need to survive is healthy and productive habitats, from spawning grounds to rearing grounds to habitats for their entire food chain.”

Ms. Tessaro added that the legislative amendments are unnecessary if all the government wants to do is streamline the process for minor development projects, because they are covered by policy guidelines that could be easily changed.

Great, we’re going to have salmon and other fish habitat decisions made by ‘elected’ officials in Ottawa. Yup, those elected officials that come with a great breadth of knowledge about fish and fish habitat… (in Ottawa). Just like the Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure…

…real solid fish habitat folks those ones…

This is a sham.

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See it’s language like this article out of the Globe and Mail that sum up the current governing regime:

Blasting ‘weak-kneed’ skeptics, Tories fan out to plug EU trade deal

The Harper government’s PR machine will be working overtime Friday as 40 per cent of the Conservative cabinet fans out across the country to shore up support for a free trade deal with the European Union.

Fifteen cabinet ministers, three MPs and a senator will stage 18 separate events throughout Canada to play up the benefits of further opening this country’s markets to the 27-member EU bloc.

Interesting, I thought we were in a time of great cutbacks and savings…?

Public servants and ministries are being hacked and slashed in the name of smaller government… and yet: “Fifteen cabinet ministers, three MPs and a senator will stage 18 separate events throughout Canada to play up the benefits of further opening this country’s markets to the 27-member EU bloc.”

Sounds like wise spending to me… better get out there and replace all those “weak knees”…

Oh no wait… Health care spending is also in the works…

The Conservatives kicked off the public relations campaign Friday morning with an Ottawa speech by International Trade Minister Ed Fast to the Economic Club of Canada.

“Trade is not for skeptics or scoffers. It’s not for the weak-kneed or faint of heart,” Mr. Fast told his business audience.

Who are these people in power?

Oh wait, I know…

The article on trade concludes:

The Tories can’t really complain of obstructionism in Parliament by the NDP now that the Harper government controls the Commons and, effectively, the Senate.

The Tories can use their majority powers – 166 seats – to limit and curb debate on any bill they want passed.

Nothing like bullies in power that love public relations campaign and the great spin machine.

Can only sit and watch the dismantling and then the nosedive and faceflop in the next election as Harper’s recent nosedive in the polls show.

Harper’s brand hits ‘new low’ amid robo-call, F-35 scandals: poll

As his beloved Ministers continue to be embroiled in conflict of interest scandals, spending scandals, lying about true costs of fighter jet scandals, etc… What’s next for the ‘Blue’ men group?

(And yet all of this shenanigan-ing on the Fisheries Act carrying on while Justice Cohen still deliberates on the Fraser sockeye situation… glad to see that Harper and the gang have essentially written off that $20 million process…)

statistical scientific sandbox struggles

beware

I came across this quote recently, in a book about fishing communities and economies in Iceland: “Coastal Economies, Cultural Accounts…” by Gísli Pálsson:

The scientist and the fisherman dwell in the same social world, and if they represent it differently it is not because the latter [the fisherman] remains trapped within his cultural conceptions whereas the former [the scientist] can see the reality beyond, but because their respective positions within the social world constitute them as parties with different and often conflicting interests.

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Related to this, some other recent research… a book called “Battles over Nature: science & politics of conservation” edited by Vasant Saberwal and Mahesh Rangarajan:

…any form of knowledge is embedded within a specific social context, a context that influences the process by which information is generated, processed & disseminated. Science in and of itself is no more objective or neutral than the knowledge generated and sustained within communities that use a particular resource.

The collection of information through the former [science] takes place in a more formally defined context than the latter [local knowledge], but both, ultimately are products of specific social contexts.

Further along, they suggest:

“It is when science claims to be necessarily better than other forms of knowledge, basing the claim on notions of objectivity and neutrality, and where this superiority is used by the scientific community to claim primacy of decision-making — then there is cause for concern.”

And,

… despite the ‘rigor’ of science — a series of studies has demonstrated that the questions asked by scientists are influenced by many factors including scientific concerns of the day, priorities of funding agencies, one’s own social context, and that experimental data may be interpreted to conform to existing paradigms.

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Going back to Pálsson and his studies of Icelandic fishing communities and their move from small local fisheries to fully globalized factory fisheries and now?…. depleted runs and ‘fisheries…

(tough concept… I know… ‘no fish, no fisheries’…complicated… complex…)

… and in recent time their return to more hook-and-line fisheries as opposed to the factory mothership vacuum cleaner, by-catch tossed overboard model employed by much of the rest of the world (and supported by green-washing initiatives such as the Marine Stewardship Council)…

Pálsson:

…I emphasize that ecological knowledge — the knowledge of scientists no less than that of indigenous theorists — is inevitably socially constructed.

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to the philosopher, philosophizing… Nietzsche:

… the base thought of science is that man is the measure of all things. Otherwise said: all natural science is nothing but an attempt to understand man and what is anthropological; more correctly, it is an attempt to return continuously to man via the longest and most roundabout ways.

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To another recent book picked up in rambling research: “Handbook of Economic Anthropology” edited by Bill Maurer:

… a mathematical formula cannot be interviewed; its makers and users can, but the results it produces can have effects unintended by and outside the control of those human agents.

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And a gool ‘ol Canadian puzzler, John Ralston Saul and his plea for common sense, albeit sometimes in a contradictory form of shouting for simplicity in some pretty dense verbiage (at times), however this rings with some ‘sense’ (from his book “On Equilibrium“):

What is common sense if not shared knowledge?

It is not understanding. Many may find this a difficult idea to accept — that we can know something we don’t understand. Not only can we know it, we can use the knowledge. We must simply be careful not to slip into superstition…

…Superstition is indeed an innate force within us. But we have qualities to help us control it. The shared knowledge of common sense is one of them. You can’t banish superstition. You deal with it. There is a surprising calm in common sense, a stubborn calm which resists the negative aspects of panic.

Take what are presented as natural economic forces. They can only exist to the extent that humans exist and therefore are not natural. The market in software would be surprisingly quiet if put in the hooves of sheep. Cattle have minimal interest in e-mail.

Economic forces must take their appropriate place as dependents of humans; more precisely, as dependent upon human characteristics in order to be shaped appropriately to our circumstances. And those human characteristics are themselves inferior to and shaped by human qualities.

Ralston Saul continues his appeal to common sense as ‘shared knowledge’ suggesting that “the complexity of shared knowledge reminds us that, if one globalization model claims to be the voice of inevitable forces, a dozen other models will appear which don’t. If humans deal with their superstitions and ideologies in an unpanicked manner, then the sensible not-inevitable models will predominate in the long run”

All of this is tied to common sense as ‘shared knowledge’.

What are these apparently “inevitable forces”?

Look no further than the “invisible hand of the market” — good ‘ol Adam Smith’s theory of economies and markets. Leave things to the free market and the ‘invisible hand’ will guide them right… (sheez, doesn’t reek of Christian Ghad overtones at all…)

Yet, the ‘inevitable’ forces of globalization, free market economies, and subscription to science as truth, are what many ideological forces fully subscribe to — especially various governing regimes such as the one currently in Canada.

Ralston Saul:

“We often think of definition as the cornerstone of reason – as our protection against superstition, prejudice and ignorance. A definition is therefore intended to clarify things, to free us from action. But what we have seen in our society is that a definition can just as easily become a means of control, a profoundly reactionary force.”

And he uses a great example for pointing to the point I’m niggling away at…

… the whole idea of a society of winners — a place known above all for its best — leads with surprising speed to a narrow pyramidal social structure. And then to division and widespread passivity. That in turn leads to false populism and mediocrity; to a world obsessed by bread and circuses [think current political circus... or, professional sports... or, Hollywood starlets], Heroes and the need for ‘leadership’.

He suggests that the variety of competitions between ‘certainties’ (think of the opposition of politics and political parties in Canada), has led over the past two hundred years towards: “a civilization of structure and form over one of content and consideration. The way we come at every question is structural, managerial.

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Let’s look at a salmon issue for example… the Terms of Reference (structural, managerial) for the Cohen Commission, as summarized in one of the interim reports:

Cohen Commission Terms of Ref.

That’s about as ‘structural’ and ‘managerial’ as it gets — and scouring the pyramids of scientific reasoning and bureaucratic bafflegab.

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Ralston Saul’s example:

…In 1997 the World Trade Organization ruled that the Europeans were wrong to ban American beef raised with hormones because there was no convincing scientific case that the hormones represented a health risk. Put aside what you might think about hormones and beef. The central question is elsewhere.

It begins with an absolute certainty: that social policy in a democracy must be based not on popular will — the legitimacy of the citizenry — but on proof; in this case scientific proof. In other words, that our choice must be based on science. But in fact the science in question is not exactly science because it is limited by an initial question formulated in the context of commercial interest.

In other words, food should be considered first as a commercial object, second a scientific object and only third a matter of social, health, cultural or, indeed, of personal choice.

Hormones or no hormones. Health or sickness, sickness or health. The question on both sides is commercially constructed. Is the producer to be permitted to express the right of absolute ownership — that of maximized profit? Or is the producer to be punished by the cost of health needs? And in that context, what is the definition of a health need? No other important, non-commercial questions is admitted to.

[Do you see much difference with the current raging debate surrounding industrial-based open-pen salmon farming on the BC coast and other coastal areas of the world?]

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So let’s put some of this in a current light…

This headline coming out of the Alberta election:

Wildrose leader booed at Alberta debate for doubting climate change science

EDMONTON — A live audience heckled and booed Alberta Wildrose party leader Danielle Smith at a leaders’ debate Thursday after she said she isn’t convinced that climate change is real…

…“We’ve been watching the debate in the scientific community, and there is still a debate,” Smith said. “I will continue to watch the debate in the scientific community, but that’s not an excuse not to act.”

Really… is this a surprise?

A candidate funded right out of the oil patch — similar to Canada’s current PM — a climate denier!… say it ain’t so…

And is this really all that much more of a surprise coming from someone like Smith, whose husband ‘Dave’ is a senior executive with the Sun Media Group, which owns and runs a bunch of Alberta newspapers and the fine, full of journalistic integrity TV Station SunTV with the likes of Ezra Levant hosting a regular talk show…?

…the same Levant that wrote the book “Ethical Oil” and essentially coined the term for the Harper regime to shop around the world how “ethical” Canada’s oil is…

i’m shocked… (you probably can’t read how firmly planted my tongue is in my cheek…)

Oh, but hey, you can go read a similar story at Sun Media (you know the same place where Ms. Smith’s husband works…):

Smith stares down global-warming cultists

Shocking revelations have come to light about Alberta’s Wildrose party.

Leader Danielle Smith has solidified her views on the theory of global warming: “The science isn’t settled and we need to continue to monitor the debate. In the meantime, we need to support consumers in making the transition to cleaner fuels.”

“The science isn’t settled.” That’s it. Pretty ho-hum if you ask me, nothing earth-shattering. A legitimate statement of the situation.

Because, despite what the global-warming cultists would have you believe, the debate isn’t done — not by a long shot. And the breathless mainstream media has jumped all over Danielle Smith like she was a heretic confessing before an inquisition…

Yup, there you have it… the “global warming cultists”… hmmmm…

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The problem here, goes back to the rational dependency on “science”… of which all sides of debates are guilty of… from the green flapping left wing to the blue flitting right wing.

Yet both trying to demonstrate the ‘righteousness’ of their flight path… e.g. opposite the other wing…

The problem with that… it’s not very conducive to flying anywhere… especially if you’re responsible for being ‘governments’… and thus an electorate… and thus average & not average every-day folks.

Ralston Saul lays this one out well, suggesting that obsession with structural and managerial approaches have done away with common sense and shared knowledge. He uses the example of homelessness and the divide between rich and poor in democratic societies.

We could actually do something about it… maybe even with little effort and little money… however we insist instead on pouring money and effort into things after the fact. After people and families (you know the same families that every politician blubbers on about these days as being so important…) have fallen off the edge into the zone of the excluded, marginalized, and in a situation of not being able to afford housing, necessities, etc….

… efforts focus on pouring money into homeless shelters, emergency services, food banks, drop-in centres, etc. as opposed to simply providing the means (e.g. affordable housing) to get back over the ledge away from the exclusion.

How’s that old saying go about an ounce of…. errr… ummm… oh right… “prevention”…

Ralston Saul does the same with explaining famine. Rather than proactively identify the possibility of famine before it happens, we wait until there is a body count and then governments respond with air drops of food, troops, cash… errrr… loans, etc.

As he suggests: “It isn’t that those responding are unwilling to address the issue of civil wars and landownership. But before they did so, they would have to address key structural problems. For a start, most international aid agencies have one department for dealing with development issues and another for emergency issues such as famine. As if one did not lead to the other….”

He continues:

The same could be said about our response to global warming. For every problematic statistic a theoretically rational reply can be made with a reassuring statistic. The North Pole melts and there’s an immediate chorus chanting that it has happened before. Specialists say polar ice has reduced by forty percent in recent years and continues to shrink by four percent a year. Someone funded to argue the opposite pumps out a reply from an ‘independent’ source.

In an era of utilitarian facts, each side argues its numbers, like little boys caught up in an analytic sandbox struggle.

And thus, folks like Ms. Smith and her girl gone Wild denial Party can come out with easy statements suggesting that the ‘science’ is not conclusive.

Yea… well of course it isn’t, it never will be.

This of course isn’t assisted by the fact that Oil companies now fund various University Research Chairs, including at the University of Alberta and Calgary. Not tough for theses types of positions to plant a little seed of doubt.

Off goes Charles Adler at Sun Media in his opinion piece quoted above:

Regardless of what you think of global warming, oilsands emissions make no difference. Canada produces 2% of all emissions, with our oilsands contributing only about 0.2% of global CO2. We could cripple our economy tomorrow, shut down the oilsands completely, our country could take itself back to the Dark Ages and it just wouldn’t matter. Yet the global-warming alarmists treat the people who question their stupid demands like heretics.

Yup. there’s a couple of the little boys and girls in the sandbox… throw stats like handfuls of sand… or the more damaging Tonka truck.

“ouch, that’s gonna leave a mark…”

See… when ‘scientists’ choose to enter this realm of tossing handfuls of statistics, and sand… it will most likely meet one of those ‘laws’ of physics.

‘every action is met with an equal and opposite reaction’

And thus, the ‘science’ can in fact become a part of the problem. Ideological, populist regimes such as the ones rising to governing status can simply put up a mirror and throw the stats back, planting seeds of doubt, and down the drain goes some common sense.

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I tend to float close to Ralston Saul on this one:

You could describe our obsessive overfishing as a sort of institutionalized panic — a terror before the idea of simply looking at all we know, putting it into an integrated consideration and then acting upon the resulting probabilities…

…Panic is brought on by a denial of shared knowledge. It feeds on the absence of belief in a larger good. And results in an urgent conviction of the absolute necessity of apparently utilitarian, narrow, short-term actions…

Gee does this ring of Conservative/Reform Joe Oliver, Canada’s Natural Resource minister this week, in the previous post on this site:

“We are at a critical juncture because the global economy is now presenting Canada with an historic opportunity to take full advantage of our immense resources,” he said. “But we must seize the moment. These opportunities won’t last forever.”

Let me put that bit from above in again: “…And results in an urgent conviction of the absolute necessity of apparently utilitarian, narrow, short-term actions…”

Ralston Saul continues:

What common sense provides is a clear sense that nothing is inevitable; that we belong to a society. Panic of this sort is therefore unnecessary. We are too intelligent for that.

What prevents us from acting as if we were that intelligent is our unwillingness to insist upon integrated thought — that is, to act as if we shared knowledge with others in our society.

Hmmm….

yea, what a thought… ‘integrated thought’….

Here is a drawing I did recently to try and show that in relation to some current work, especially in relation to what the Cohen Commission probably should have spent a lot more time focusing on in trying to understand declines of Fraser sockeye:

integrated thought?

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Of course the moment this image is put on paper it captures and represents something static… the reality is that these circles… well… they shouldn’t be circles… but whatever they are, amoebic, fluid… they should be flowing back and forth, thus increasing and decreasing the “somewhere in between”.

both at the same time, increasing and decreasing, flipping and flopping, hurtling and crawling through space.

You might think you’re still, but you’re spinning at about 1600 km/hr as the earth spins, and you’re blasting through space, in the journey around the sun, which is also rocketing around the galaxy at some 220 km/sec.

(… or so say the scientists … i’m often curious what the point of reference is for measuring those apparent ‘speeds’…)

Life is always a struggle of dynamic balance, and impossible balance really because when can you say you hit the sweet spot? As the moment you try to define it, it’s gone.

A mere image… or is it a mirror image…?

Like the age old problem of trying to define the position and speed of a particle at the same time… fixity out of flux… dynamic equilibrium as the saying goes. Constant movement, yet a search for placement; stillness.

Yet once placed, then seeking movement. Once moving, seeking rest…

In the words of shampoo bottles, and consumer culture… Rinse and repeat if necessary…

“Canada’s” Priorities… Rape the oil patch, or teach 15 million Canadians to read – what’s your priority?

from Report of Financial Literacy Task Force 2011

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Fascinating sometimes how synchronicity works…

Earlier today I was visiting various news sites as the announcement came out of Toronto from former investment banker and broker (30+ years) and executive director of the Ontario Securities Commission, now Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver:

Proposed changes aim to quicken [Environmental] reviews, reduce uncertainty

The federal government is asserting its control over pipelines – including the proposed Northern Gateway oil-sands project – taking from regulators the final word on approvals and limiting the ability of opponents to intervene in environmental assessments.

In proposed legislation unveiled by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver on Tuesday, the Harper government will clear away regulatory hurdles to the rapid development of Canada’s natural resource bounty…

Apparently in Oliver, Harper and the rest of the Reform Gang’s brilliance:

At a Toronto press conference, Mr. Oliver said the proposed changes are aimed at providing quicker reviews in order to reduce regulatory uncertainty and thereby create more jobs and investment in Canada’s booming resource sector.

“We are at a critical juncture because the global economy is now presenting Canada with an historic opportunity to take full advantage of our immense resources,” he said. “But we must seize the moment. These opportunities won’t last forever.”

Hmmmm. They won’t last forever?

Why?

Where are the resources going?

Is this like one of those childhood mythologies… remember “digging to China”? Maybe the Chinese are digging to Canada… stick a siphon in, suck it out…

Oh wait… they don’t have to… just give PetroChina (Chinese government owned company) and let them dig IN Canada…

… and make the siphon out of pipelines and supertankers… (and leave the risk with BC’ers and the BC coast)

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Is this one of those classic, rape it all now and leave little for the future…scenarios?

Hmmm. Who benefits from this approach?

Oliver’s long time buddies in the investment industry, maybe…?

How about my kids? yours?

Nope. NOT.

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And, yet, on the Globe and Mail website earlier today ran the article above as the top story (circled in red below)… and then coincidentally enough, a few hours later the website looks like this:

Globe and Mail screenshot April 17

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“Household debt is biggest domestic risk” says Bank of Canada.

Canadians’ household debt levels are already at near-record levels. The Bank of Canada thinks they will swell even higher.

“Household spending is expected to remain high relative to GDP as households add to their debt burden, which remains the biggest domestic risk,” the central bank said Tuesday as it boosted its economic growth forecast and indicated higher interest rates are on the way.

Hmmmm. The biggest “domestic” risk in Canada is household debt?

How ’bout the brainwaves running Ottawa these days?

Get that oil out of the ground as fast as possible and send it to resource-hungry growing economies…

what about keeping it in the ground for now and making our next generation, and the generation after that some of the richest going…?

It’s like the brainwave approach occurring right now in sucking out, and sending away Canada’s natural gas resource… at historically low prices.

Natural gas prices have probably never been lower.

yet, suck and send. suck and send. suck and send.

Can’t stop the sucking…

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Household debt?

It is a shocking problem.

This graph, below, comes from the Federally appointed Task Force on Financial Literacy in Canada.

Appointed by current Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, the Task Force completed their Final Report in early 2011. (that is where the image at the beginning of the post comes from).

Here’s their graph showing the levels of household debt in relation to income.

Ratio of Household income to debt ratio over since 1990...

Yea, in a little over 20 years we’ve gone from 90% income to debt, to a soaring 150% now… that’s a problem.

You drive through a town like Prince George recently?…

Some will suggest that all of these households can have RV’s, travel trailers, a couple of vehicles, ATVs for summer and snow machines for winter, and trailers to haul them, and trips to Maui… and… and…

…because the cost of housing is so low.

Apparently, that’s the reason say many…

Well, not one to burst too many bubbles… it’s called debt. Massive Debt.

It’s called, ‘gotta job… sure i’ll give you credit’…

‘shitty credit rating? oh no worries we’ll just charge you more interest’

wanna home, shitty credit, no worries, we got a deal for you…

(not our problem anyways… we’ll just bundle the debt into some obscure financial derivative and sell it to American banks, they’ll get bailed out by taxpayers anyways…)

As the old saying goes: “any turkey can make a payment…”

Not meant to be demeaning, simply a common saying.

With credit available from pretty much any store, retailer, car dealer, and so on… it’s not difficult – in the least – to finance an appearance of “wealth”, “prestige” or “happiness”…

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So let’s put these two, possibly disparate ideas together…

The current governing regime is going to rip all of our current ‘resources’ out of the ground… and send them to the hoover-resource vacuum cleaner across the Pacific…

“But we must seize the moment. These opportunities won’t last forever.” says Joe.

Oliver that is.

Investment banker… errr… I mean Natural Resources Minister.

I’m sure in his 30+ years in his previous line of work he had little interaction with oil execs, or huge investment funds buying into oil companies… ‘positive’…

And so apparently the Conservatives are ‘streamlining’ environmental regulations in Canada because we must carpe diem.   [Seize the Oil...]

[...so we don't Cease the Economic boom.]

… And YET… and Yet…

50% of Canadians struggle with simple tasks involving math and numbers.

42% of Canadians struggle with reading.

So really… mr. Oliver…(and Harper) who’s going to benefit from this ‘streamlining’ process, this ‘hurry and get the oil out’ process…?

The investment community, or the 50% of Canadians struggling with simple tasks involving math and numbers… yet, simple access to credit… at super low interest (i’m sure)…?

What an interesting time in Canada’s path… from peacekeepers to oil-mongers.

In other words… from ‘whoops, sorry, excuse me… to “What’s your problem? $15 billion for F-35s, $25 billion…? who cares, who’s counting?” (and really it was just this silly accounting error… stop hassling me…)

Someone stop that SCREECH of the record needle as it slides off the old vinyl…

 

What a fish story …!?

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Two fishermen and two historians often disagree widely as to what happened, omitting altogether the even more difficult problem of ‘why’.”

.  – Rudy Wiebe. Canadian author and teacher. Intro to: “The Story-Makers” (1987 reprint of 1970 collection of short stories)

fishermen and historians?

I came across this quote recently in an introduction to a book of short stories. It was one of those random finds… or maybe it was not random…

I commonly utilize a saying: “I don’t believe in coincidence, I believe in synchronicity…”  And the experience of coming across this quote, fits well with many of my life experiences, including recent ones…

Of all the places I chose to wander in a large university library today to take a break… to stretch my legs… i wander down this book’s particular aisle, look up and pull it off the top shelf…

The story-makers… now that sounds curious…”, I say to myself.

I begin to read the introduction…

The impulse to make story needs no defence. Where it arises, who knows. It simply is, like the impulse to sing, to dance, to play games. It would seem, however, that story-making is the uniquely human of these impulses for, though many animals sing, play games, perform intricate and beautiful dances, it still remains to be discovered whether any make stories…

… For us, to make story is to entertain: we entertain ourselves as we entertain our listeners. In other words, the emotional impulse to make story drives toward the principle of pleasure…

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And, so I’m running along with this intro, thinking, ‘this is kind of cool’ then I scratch off the side like an old record player getting jostled.

See, recently, I attended a former colleague’s Masters’ project defence. I was struck in the presentation by an explanation, following a direct examiner question, of the ‘concept’ behind the project being described. The ‘concept’  was described as essentially something that came to him out of the ether… (that was his story).

My internal thinking resembled the scratching of the record needle blaring through the speakers…

“No, it didn’t… that’s bullshit”, my internal voice says about the ‘birth’ of the ‘concept’…

My reasoning for this thinking fueled by working on similar projects, in a non-academic sense, for several years and a recognition that the ‘concept’ being discussed has essentially been around as long as the Internet has been around — and probably even more before that.

I continue listening to the presentation, with a distinctly sour taste in my mouth watching an academic committee essentially lap it up. “Oh this is wonderful stuff… so progressive…” (I paraphrase).

And, my internal storyline is shouting, “you’re going to let that go by… this is academic rigor…”

I leave the presentation… well…feeling jaded.

As in the sufficient dictionary definition suggesting: “1. satiated by overindulgence: e.g. a jaded appetite. 2. worn out or wearied, as by overwork or overuse.”

How many times has this happened to others? Sitting and listening to someone sell something as if it’s their idea, and yet knowing they might be bullshitting, or the simple fact that the ‘concept’ being sold is part of a much larger thought process that was pondered well before this particular individual claims it came out of the ether, or ‘just came to them…’

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Now this is where things are a little complicated or complex or convoluted…

Subjective… one might suggest.

The individual making the claim of concept, may very well truthfully feel that the concept is only unique to them. Cutting edge to their mind; unique; an epiphany. A ‘story’ they created.

So then is it a lie?

(or maybe just shoddy research…? or, flawed pondering…?  or, flawed academic review? … hard to say really… like much of the law, it comes down to gray areas, both the messy, slimy, bulbous gray areas near and just above the area between our shoulder blades and the interpretations that gray area garners…).

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Now similarly, these sames sorts of questions can be asked of the current fuss in Canadian politics around the F-35 fighter jets and the recent Auditor General’s report suggesting that the Conservatives/Reformers were lying about what they knew about the true cost, or didn’t know…

But then of course, the definition of lying is a rather subjective, gray area… ebbing and flowing in politics like a Bay of Fundy tide.

Even more so when we start to broach the subject of ‘marketing’… (and lying).

As I repeatedly state: ‘everything is marketing and marketing is everything’.

What is a thesis defence, but an exercise in personal marketing…

One person’s story, can be another person’s spin. One’s spin, anothers’ story and so on and so on and so on until we vomit off the side of the merry-go-round.

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Gregory Cajete a Native American educator and writer suggests: “Through story we explain and come to understand ourselves.

Similarly, Wiebe suggests:

… it easy to imagine that the impulse to make story and submit to it is rooted in our necessity to label. Wherever we live we invent symbols (a picture, a sound, an act) for things, apparently in order to relate in an essentially human way to the things themselves.

Another story theorist and psychologist in the academic world Jerome Bruner suggests:

A story must construct two landscapes simultaneously – the outer landscape of action and the inner one of thought and intention.

True, quite true.

Wiebe continues in his introduction to a book on short stories, putting the opening quote in context:

Story recounting what happened

…and the broken dream that may occur when the “primitive encounters the modern world”…:

The earliest development of this form [story] is no doubt autobiography (it happened to me) followed closely by biography (it happened to them) and, after perhaps generations by history (it happened to our tribe, that group of nations, etc.). It moves from one extreme — say, the fisherman telling once more about the fish that got away — through an incredible spectrum to the other extreme — say, Winston Churchill’s History of the English Speaking Peoples.

Besides, it can include every conceivable combination of information from generally accepted fact through informed surmise to the sheerest tall tale.

Two fishermen and two historians often disagree widely as to what happened, omitting altogether the even more difficult problem of ‘why’.

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Now stick with me here, for a moment more (if you’re still here…)

Wiebe weaves a decent mat here:

Such circumstances need hardly surprise us. We all are to an extent limited in what we can take in… This is a verity every good story-maker knows, the quality of story depends rather less on what happens than on how the story is made, and if you can begin your story with “I was there; this really happened” you already have long hold on your audience.

Then, if you can with skill, shape facts and events to show the human meanings behind them… you have a truly memorable story. How much you mix actual fact and fancy is not so important as that the story whole moves us to understand ‘what happened’ in a profounder human way.

And there we have a certain crux of the matter…

How much we weave actual fact with some fiction is not so important, as long as we tell a good story.

Now, this isn’t meant as a criticism of Wiebe — as he’s referring to good short stories, which are often a good weave of fact and fiction — however, this ability of story-telling is as old as the wind, or at least as long as humans have broke wind…

But then one might argue that places have story, and story is about places… a storied-landscape albeit…

The point being that inherent in story-telling — whether it be a politician, or political party, trying to story-tell their way out of lies (or into them…), or into government for that fact, or…

…an interviewee pulling and pushing the truth around a little in an interview or a resume, or…

…stretching things around a little in the academic world, such as ‘defending’ a thesis or otherwise, or…

…an Us vs. Them argument fronted by governments or enviro groups, or special interest groups…

the stories are going to vary.

… in their ability to entertain, capture attention, and how much is “F”act and how much is “F”iction and how much is ‘f’ancy and ‘d’ancy.

Or, maybe just like mountains on Bruner’s  landscapes… was it a mountain of a lie, or a molehill of stretched fact…?

Or, was it simply all in the interpretation of features on the landscape in the first place?

For a person in a wheelchair, a set of stairs might as well be a mountain… for the able, maybe one of those stairways to heaven…

Yet, at the end of the story the more important question is: ‘Why’?

And to that, i have nothing even closely resembling an answer…

thoughts?

Little fish are most valuable when left in the sea, researchers say… (rocket science, it is…)

... so very, very complicated and complex... the ocean...

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So very, very complicated — the Great Oceans — many would have us believe…

So very, very complicated that we must leave their “management” to an elite few… An elite few that will circle the globe in jetplanes, finger their latest techno-gadgets, attend the nicest of conferences at shiny conference centres, punching in their wireless access code with care and precision, while munching on the latest francais pastry from the continental breakfast…

Checking their email for the latest message on the ‘models’ churning out numbers back at the ranch… model this, model that… more ‘models’ then the latest fashion absurdities at the most esteemed Paris and New York runways…

Trust us, they say…

We have the ‘models’… they say.

we know, they EX-claim….

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But is it really that complicated?

Before the computer… before Newton… before Jobs and Gates, Watergate, and GPS, and the Great War(s)… well… the Oceans weren’t that ‘complicated’.

Big.

Scary.

‘Lots of fish in the sea’… as they say.

littlest fish (and stuff) eaten by bigger fish, those in turn eaten by bigger… you know… rinse and repeat…

But not complicated, not even complex.

Respected. Feared. Loved. The oceans were…

But really… tide came in, tide went out. Moon pull here, moon pull there.

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Well… now that there’s “Fisheries Science” and distant-water fleets, and technology, and depth finders, and drift nets, and sounders… well… there’s not as many flounders… or turtles… or Tuna … or bonito, or abalone, or dolphins, or whales, or salmon or herring, or sardine, and…

Well, unless you’re a once thriving coastal fishing community where boats and licenses to catch fish were handed down, or, maybe even more importantly, a once thriving coastal fishing community that had ancestors tracing back… well… who knows how long… fishing in the same spot.

The spots, the meatholes, handed down since well before anyone even wrote “Job”… the biblical one that is…

Those are flounder-ing. Lots of it. Flounder here, Flounder there. With an EI here and EI there…

Go ask a Newfie.

Go ask a canyon fisher… Fraser that is. Or one from the Necha-Koh, where once 25% of the Fraser River wild salmon originated.

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And so headlines such as these… are they shocking? Are you surprised?

From the New York Times, Dec. 22, 2011:

A Call to Protect Humble Fish, for Seabirds’ Sake

When people talk about the environmental effects of salmon aquaculture, they usually focus on water pollution and the spread of disease to wild fish stocks. But there is another big problem: It takes more than a pound of fish to produce a pound of salmon.

Atlantic puffin -- from NY Times article

Farmed salmon are usually fed pellets made from ground-up fish like herring. Salmon farms have a prodigious appetite for this food, which has increased fishing pressure on creatures like herring, anchovies, krill and other “forage fish” at the bottom of the food web. Demand for fish oil and fish for the table is also a factor.

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From the New York Times, Apr. 2, 2012:

Too Many Small Fish Are Caught, Report Says

An international group of marine scientists is calling for cuts in commercial fishing for sardines, herring and other so-called forage fish whose use as food for fish farms is soaring. The catch should be cut in half for some fisheries, the scientists say, to protect populations of both the fish and the natural predators that depend on them.

… Forage fish are an important link in the food chain, eating plankton and being consumed, in turn, by large fish like tuna and cod, as well as by seabirds and dolphins and other marine mammals. The task force estimated that as a source of food in the wild for larger commercially valuable fish, forage fish were worth more than $11 billion, or twice as much as their worth when processed for aquaculture and other uses.

“Sometimes the value of leaving fish in the water can be greater than taking it out”…

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The ‘task force’ referred to is the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force:

With support from the Lenfest Ocean Program, the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University [on Long Island in New York] convened the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force, a panel of thirteen preeminent marine and fisheries scientists from around the world.

The Final Report: Little Fish, Big Impact: Managing a crucial link in ocean food webs can be downloaded here – as well as a shorter Summary Report.

Here is the media release at the site.

Expert Task Force Recommends Halving Global Fishing for Crucial Prey Species

Forage Fish Twice as Valuable in the Water as in the Net

WASHINGTON – Fishing for herring, anchovy, and other “forage fish” in general should be cut in half globally to account for their critical role as food for larger species, recommends an expert group of marine scientists in a report released today.

The Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force conducted the most comprehensive worldwide analysis of the science and management of forage fish populations to date. Its report, “Little Fish, Big Impact: Managing a crucial link in ocean food webs,” concluded that in most ecosystems at least twice as many of these species should be left in the ocean as conventional practice.

A thriving marine ecosystem relies on plenty of forage fish. These small schooling fish are a crucial link in ocean food webs because they eat tiny plants and animals, called plankton, and are preyed upon by animals such as penguins, whales, seals, puffins, and dolphins. They are primary food sources for many commercially and recreationally valuable fish found around North America, such as salmon, tuna, striped bass, and cod.

The task force estimated that, globally, forage fish are twice as valuable in the water as in a net—contributing US$11.3 billion by serving as food for other commercially important fish. This is more than double the US$5.6 billion they generate as direct catch.

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Good on the task force for putting this out. It’s a pretty snappy looking report.

It’s just unfortunate that they rely on much of the same bumpf and buzz-words as every other “management” institution out there…  Precautionary approach… ecosystem-based management… blah, blah, blah.

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From the Washington Post:

 Little fish are most valuable when left in the sea, researchers say

The smallest fish in the sea are more than twice as valuable when they’re eaten by bigger fish than when they’re caught by humans, according to a report released Sunday by a scientific task force.

The 120-page analysis by the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force — a group of 13 scientists specializing in everything from fish ecology to marine mammals and seabirds — underscores the growing concern researchers have about the fate of forage fish, including anchovies, mehaden, herring and sardines that serve as food for bigger fish, sea birds and marine mammals.

Forage fish account for 37 percent of the world’s commercial fish catch, with an annual value of $5.6 billion. (Only 10 percent of forage fish caught are eaten by humans; the remaining 90 percent are processed into fish meal and fish oil, which feed livestock and farmed fish.)

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Going back to the illustration at the top…

Is it really that complicated?

Glad the ‘task force’ was able to get some press and get the word out… at least to people that can read it, and feel like plowing through 120 pages…

However, I think I remember learning about a cycle like that pretty early in my Elementary school days…

Why is it that we have to put $$ value this, $$ value that.

How much do you think a herring is worth to a Chinook?

How much is an “endangered” herring worth to a “red-listed” heron, or Coho, or eagle…?

$1, $100, $11 billion…?

No, it’s just survival.

It’s systems.

It’s cycles.

And they’ve been around a hell of a lot longer than “ecosystem-based” planning, or maxiumum sustained yield, or even the health benefits of Omega-3s… and sure as hell longer than ‘precautionary’ approach, or Cialis, or hatcheries, or goverment cuts and best practices.

Maybe a return or a cycle back, or a ‘control-alt-delete’ to a memory of systems and the fact that we can’t “manage” them would really pull us of this course with oblivion…

It’s not really that complex… it’s like the good ‘ol Golden Rule, or your car for that fact… you look after it… it’ll look after you…

 

Sadly misplaced focus…? $30 million to ‘eco-terrorists’ opposed to irresponsible oil and gas dev… Yet,$10 Billion of PetroChina ‘investment’ in Canadian sovereignty?

do you know the story of Cerberus the mythical three-headed dog that guarded the gates to Hades?

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Shhhh… nobody tell the “Harper”- Reform government that maybe they are misplacing energy, time and resources barking up the wrong tree..

And… maybe opening a real can of worms that some folks flapping their Right wings may not want opened… (not mentioning any – Fraser Institute – names…)

Or… is this ruse to bark up the enviro-terrorist tree simply an effective ploy to keep us all:

Hush, Hush

…about the huge increase in PetroChina (Chinese government owned corporation) multi-BILLION dollar investments and direct purchases of Canada tar sands projects, and natural gas, and… and… and…

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Coming from the National Post newspaper:

Are new guidelines for charities just upholding current law or a way to silence oil-sands critics?

The Conservative government will keep a closer eye on environment-focused charities accused of breaking rules that cap their political activity, cracking down on groups that allegedly engage in politically charged work beyond the legal limit.

Thursday’s budget arms the Canada Revenue Agency with $8-million over two years to ensure charities devote their resources to charitable work and to improve transparency by asking them to disclose the extent to which their political activities are funded by foreign sources.

“[Some charities] are not acting like they’re a charitable institution; they’re acting like they’re an environmental lobbyist — that’s the big objection,” said [Professor] Frank Atkins, a University of Calgary economist. “They’re hiding behind their charitable status.”

The revenue agency says a charity is allowed to devote up to 10% of its total annual resources to political activities, but Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said this week the government has received “a lot” of complaints from Canadians who worry their donations are going toward political action rather than charity work.

“There is clearly a need, in our view, for more vigilance,” Mr. Flaherty said.

The question of foreign money being used to affect Canadian policy is chief among the government’s concerns, Prof. Atkins [at University of Calgary] said.

“What’s happening out here is that whenever there’s a regulatory approval process, it gets loaded up with all these obscure groups seemingly out of nowhere,” he said, referring to “deep-pocketed foundations in the United States” challenging oil-sands development and the pipeline project. “Even those using Canadian money are still not acting like a charitable institution.”

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Hmmmm… is that the same Professor Frank Atkins that is listed on the Fraser Institute website as:

Frank’s main academic areas of interest are monetary policy and the application of time series analysis to macroeconomic data. Frank had the privilege of supervising the Master of Arts (Economics) thesis of Stephen Harper, who is now the Prime Minister of Canada.

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Well… geee… National Post reporter that sounds like some credible, un-biased ‘sources’…?

Seems the Fraser Institute got quoted twice in this article… as the article finishes with:

Niels Veldhuis, a Fraser Institute vice-president, said there is no question the federal government believes some environmental groups are not abiding by the rules.

“The government ought to look into that,” he said.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Right… this is the same Niels Veldhuis who thinks that Stats Canada numbers are wrong on many Canadians ability to meet basic needs:

as of 2005, only 4.7 per cent of the Canadian population did not have enough income to meet basic needs

(Stats Can suggests its almost twice that…)

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Oh wait… is that also the same University of Calgary that has various “Research Chair” positions in its Faculty of Medicine sponsored by the likes of Enbridge, Husky Energy, and no shortage of either pharmaceutical companies or other corporations?

For example:

AstraZeneca Chair in Cardiovascular Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Who’s AstraZeneca? Well, they’re a “global biopharmaceutical company…”

Or, the GSK Professorship in Inflammatory Lung Disease — what’s GSK?

Oh that’s just GlaxoSmithKline Inc.:

“GlaxoSmithKline is one of the largest research and development (R&D) investors in the industry, collaborating with academic institutions, governments and other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to help people live healthier lives.”

Or, the Novartis Chair in Schizophrenia Research. Who’s Novartis?

Oh just this little company that:

Over the past decade, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada has introduced 20 new medicines that have had an important impact on patients suffering from a wide variety of major illnesses…

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Not that I’m necessarily saying this is “bad” or “good”…

Just asking the ‘fair question’…

as, when Harper and buddies start barking, they should probably think it through a bit, and maybe ask around their caucus:

S.H.: “hmmm Joe [as in Oliver] is there maybe some worm cans we might open here?”

J.O.: “Oh no, Steve-O we’ll just shit-can those enviro-terrorists out there in BC…”

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

It’s also the same University of Calgary Economics dept that lists one of its “Affiliates” as the Canadian Energy Research Institute.

Who has the mission to:

to provide relevant, independent and objective economic research in energy and environmental issues to benefit business, government, academia and the public.

And:

CERI’s economic studies are highly relevant and objective and the analysis and advice contained therein are sought by government and business planners and decision-makers.

Ahhh, yes… I read one of those highly “objective” studies from their website:

Oil Spills and First Nations:  Exploring Environmental and Land Issues Surrounding the Northern Gateway Pipeline

Here’s one of the many fine “objective” comments from the report (and it quickly becomes clear who is “to benefit”…:

A major oil spill in the Kitimat estuary region may cause a high number of sea bird mortalities as well as marine mammal and fish deaths due to the abundance of species living there and the diversity of the habitat. However, there are controls in place to reduce the likelihood of widespread and catastrophic spillage of an oil tanker or within the oil pipeline.

Even if such an event should occur, the habitat range of most species is vast enough that populations should be able to recover in time…

Oh yea… interested to see where that ‘objective’ theory comes from… (e.g. don’t worry about the effect of oil spills on migratory species…)

Or,

Conclusions on the Environment 

…Construction activities will cause a deterioration of habitat, but this deterioration is short-lived and species will be able to recover.

And, apparently, this ‘objective’ organization that wrote this little 50-page report (including relying on several references from the 1970s), is also an expert on issues of aboriginal law & aboriginal rights and title:

Aboriginal law is not cast in stone, with much depending on the nation involved and the context:

ancient Code of Hammurabi (written in stone...)

Huh… fascinating… I’m not sure that I know of any “law cast in stone”.

Oh wait… there is the ancient Code of Hammurabi…

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But don’t worry say the authors:

CERI recognizes the various environmental concerns and does not hold a position for or against the pipeline…

(Funny, but reading the report I caught a strong whiff of bovine deposit surrounding that statement…)

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Where’s the root of some of this enviro-charitable-crimes theory coming from?

Well… Vancouver-based researcher Vivian Krause (@fair questions) seems to be tooting her horn on this one…

She wrote an article in January in the Financial Post suggesting that maybe her research was at the root of Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver’s and honorable Steve-O, great leader’s, crack-down on these apparent ‘enviro-terrorist’ organizations…

So much so that she was actually asked to come and testify at the federal House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources in early Feb. 2012.

the National Post newspaper opinion piece:

Vivian Krause: Oil sands money trail

Last week, on the eve of the environmental review for the $5.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline project that would carry Alberta oil to Kitimat for export to Asia, Canada’s Minister for Natural Resources, Joe Oliver, expressed concern that foreign-funded environmentalists would jeopardize the review and block the pipeline.

Oliver didn’t mention my name, but the research that raised concerns about the foreign funding of environmentalism in Canada is apparently mine.

For five years, on my own nickel, I have been following the money and the science behind environmental campaigns and I’ve been doing what the Canada Revenue Agency hasn’t been doing: I’ve gathered information about the origin and the stated purpose of grants from U.S. foundations to green groups in Canada. My research is based on U.S. tax returns because the U.S. Internal Revenue Service requires greater disclosure from non-profits than does the CRA.

Speaking on CBC last night [Jan. 16, 2011], Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, “But just because certain people in the United States would like to see Canada be one giant national park for the northern half of North America, I don’t think that’s part of what our review process [for the Northern Gateway] is all about.”

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Krause has been getting some federal government airtime on this one…

A Vancouver Sun article (Feb. 9, 2011) reporting on her testimony to the Standing Committee on Natural Resources:

Vivian Krause’s conspiracy theory — you decide

Vancouver researcher Vivian Krause is one of the most controversial figures in the rather incredible battle shaping up over the Northern Gateway pipeline.  You can google her name and find various profiles, but the bottom line is that this personable Vancouver researcher has portrayed herself as a woman of marginal means who has devoted the past five years or so of her life to unearthing details about U.S. financial influence on the Canadian environmental movement…

… I should add that hers is a rather remarkable story, as she is surely more influential on Canadian natural resource policy right now than the vast majority of parliamentarians we’re paying lavish salaries to in this town [Ottawa].  Her theory about a grand “plan” behind all this money has been given credibility by none other than Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Enbridge Inc. CEO Pat Daniel.

[link to Edmonton journal article also by same journalist: “American anti-pipeline trusts just blowing smoke? Right and left have conspiracy theories about groups’ funding” with quotes from great-leader Harper and CEO Daniels]

Krause appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources today, and there were some lively exchanges…

The article goes on to quote some of her testimony…

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Now, if you’re curious at all, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources was:

Established by the Standing Orders of the House of Commons, the mandate of the the Standing Committee on Natural Resources is to study and report on matters referred to it by the House of Commons, or on topics the Committee itself chooses to examine.

It can study all matters relating to the mandate, management, operation, budget and legislation of the Department of Natural Resources and of organizations pertaining to its portfolio.

The issues being dealt with by the Committee that Krause was called to testify at is the:

Current and Future State of Oil and Gas Pipelines and Refining Capacity in Canada.

She testified on Feb. 9, 2011 and the transcripts are available by clicking on the link.

Here are some curious components:

What hasn’t been known until recently, however, is that some of the opponents of various pipeline projects, and the campaigns against the Canadian energy sector also have some deep-pocketed supporters south of the border. In order for the joint review panel to conduct its work in a manner that is open, fair, and transparent, I believe that funding on all sides should be out in the open.

In my review of the American tax returns of the foundations that are funding the environmental movement both in the U.S. and in Canada, I’ve traced $300 million that has gone from American charitable foundations to environmental campaigns affecting our country. Most of my analysis is based on American tax returns because the IRS requires greater disclosure than the CRA.

The $300 million is from roughly 850 grants that I’ve traced from 10 foundations. In addition to these foundations, there are an additional dozen or more American foundations that have granted substantial funds to Canadian environmental groups.

By my analysis, American funding from the foundations I’ve followed has increased ten-fold over the past decade, from about $4 million in 2000 to $50 million in 2010. Of the $300 million in American funding I’ve traced, at least $30 million is specifically for campaigns targeting the oil and gas industry in Canada

… It’s not small amounts of money from a large number of foreign sources; it’s very large amounts of money from a very small number of billion-dollar foundations.

Actually, my blog and most of my writing has been about the science and the money behind environmental campaigns. Really, it’s the use of the flawed science and some of the exaggerated claims that are my biggest concerns. Some of what the environmental organizations are saying is simply untrue…

When billionaire funders are involved in influencing public opinion and public policy on a major issue of national importance, I think the money should be out in the open, whether the billionaire funders are American or Canadian.

I believe that this applies to foreign investment and philanthropy, as well.

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Well… Ms. Krause… you are EXACTLY RIGHT!

Just like Professor Atkins of the Fraser Institute… errr… University of Calgary… errr… Fraser…

What was it he said again at the beginning of this article…?

“They’re hiding behind their charitable status.”

Seems Fraser Institute (a charitable organization) researchers might be hiding behind the ‘objectivity’ and ‘neutrality’ of an academic institution…?

I find it quite curious actually… I agree with many aspects of Ms. Krause’s research and even Professor Atkins… I’ve asked similar questions since working and serving on a Board for a large enviro organization over a decade ago.

Not in a “conspiracy theory” manner, but more in a: Whose mandate are we fulfilling here?

I called these types of enviro-organizations: US-foundation puppies — and decided to find a little different line of work…

It’s pretty hard to imagine that one is doing good, principled work on environmental issues and otherwise when one’s work is simply being funded by money that was basically made by oil tycoons or computer giants, or otherwise…

As the old saying goes: “there is no such thing as clean money”…

It’s all dirty.

_ _ _ _ _ _

So What?

And, as Ms. Krause asks in her testimony, some folks suggest: “So What?…” about her findings.

I ask the same: SOOO what?

What difference does $300 million… or… errrr… ‘targeted $30 million’ make…

…when compared to the Billions of dollars that PetroChina has offered to invest in the proposed Enbridge Northern Exit-way pipeline,

Or the $2.5 Billion that PetroChina invested to buy out Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. MacKay River oil sands project.

Or, just a few months ago… (Feb. 2012)

PetroChina takes stake in Shell gas field in B.C.

Canada’s push to access Asian energy markets got a shot in the arm Thursday after China’s largest oil and gas firm agreed to buy a 20-per-cent stake in Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s shale gas properties in British Columbia.

With the planned investment, PetroChina International – a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corp. – has underscored its commitment to participate in a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project that Shell is planning for Kitimat, B.C.

Neither side would release the value of the deal Thursday, but reports in Asia pegged it at $1-billion.

Or,

PetroChina to invest $5.4 billion Canada gas

CALGARY—PetroChina has agreed to invest $5.4 billion for half of Encana Corp.’s Cutbank Ridge shale natural gas assets, enabling an enormous chunk of land on the Alberta-British Columbia boundary to be developed more quickly than would otherwise have been the case.

“This agreement is the culmination of more than nine months of discussions between PetroChina and Encana and represents both a significant achievement and a major milestone in the developing relationship of our two companies,” Encana CEO Randy Eresman said in a statement Wednesday.

That’s just a cool, $8 – $10 BILLION DOLLARS of PetroChina investment alone in Canada’s resource sector — in the last year or so…

$10,000,000,000

What percentage is this $30 million of conspiracy-theory U.S. foundation money in comparison…

I think we’re far below 0.1%…

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Hmmmm… like Ms. Krause testified…

When billionaire funders are involved in influencing public opinion and public policy on a major issue of national importance, I think the money should be out in the open, whether the billionaire funders are American or Canadian [or Chinese?]. I believe that this applies to foreign investment and philanthropy, as well.

Yes, let’s get those ‘books’ opened.

And while we’re at it, lets’ get those book of The Fraser Institute open as well. And maybe the the Canadian Energy Research Institute, and, heck, while we’re at it how about the Van Horne Institute as well. (Another of those neutral objective ‘think tanks’ affiliated with universities in Alberta — and consisting of a longgg list of executives from oil and gas and pipeline companies).

The Fraser Institute is also listed as a charitable organization in Canada.

Go read its Annual Reports and see if they report any real numbers…

Where is the Fraser Institute getting its money? (some suggest players like Exxon Mobil).

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All in all this fuss over where environmental organizations are getting their funds seems like the difference between peeing from a helicopter on a pine-beetle-ravaged-forest-fire (e.g. potential $30 million in opposition funds to Canada’s oil and gas sector) and the all-out Asian-giant-resource-gobbling population-exploding BEAST

of BILLIONS and BILLIONS of dollars… and this little issue of a Billion people or so…

And yet, the Conservative/Reform crew just allocated $8 million to the Canada Revenue Agency to ‘crack down’ on this crazed-funding frenzy to enviro-terrorist organizations… that apparently will stop at nothing to protect their backyards…

Come-on… let’s get a grip here folks.

Where’s the potential bogey-man… in OLD oil money flowing north out of the States to pay minimum wage to enviro-researchers and organization?

OR

in NEW oil money flowing in the BILLIONS & BILLIONS & BILLIONS from a government (directly as PetroChina is owned by the Chinese government… they have to do something with all that American debt they’re holding)…

…that has a rather shady and questionable practice of dealing with several things… like basic human rights (ever heard of the Tibetans? or the veto on doing something in Syria…?), the environment (have you checked Beijing’s air quality today…?), dissenters (check recent headlines), and so on…?

Which is not to suggest there is a bogey-man — simply asking where should the inquiring eye, research, and questions really be directed?

Should Canada’s “Standing Committees” be spending time on small potatoes… or the entire quarter section potato farm…?

Should Canada’s “Standing Committees” be spending time inquiring into ‘conspiracy’ theories about how the soon to be bankrupt neighbors to the south want to keep all the oil to themselves…?

Does anyone really think that these BILLIONS of dollars of Chinese investment in Canada’s oil sector are simply going to be used to ship oil and gas to the U.S. through existing transportation networks?

No frigging way!!

BILLIONS of dollars of investment by a government-owned corporation mean that that Government is going to damn well want the resources they paid for… and… well… OWN. (like the former Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. MacKay River and other projects).

Let’s maybe call off the Conservative/Reform-Cerberus (three-headed dog)… and have an honest discussion about handing away Canadian resources to a foreign entity.

Remember when Canadians ‘lost it’ over Mulroney handing away Canada to our southern neighbors through the Free Trade Agreement?

This new brand of “Conservatives” (which even the old Conservatives are uncomfortable with… eh, Joe Clark?… seem to have lost that “progressive” tagline…) seem ‘hell-bent’ on putting the dogs at the gates of selling Canadian sovereignty, selling Canada’s future, and doing a brilliant job of making a fuss about little things, so as to provide the infamous diversionary tactic…

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What does this have to do with wild salmon?

Everything!

and marine resources… and ocean protection… and shoreline preservation… and fish habitat… and water pollution… and… and…

This whole crackdown is like busting the kid that takes spare change left in a phone booth tray, while in the lobby of Enron…

It smells of something much, much more ominous… (and sadly, this is no April Fool’s…)