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Harper’s Bill C-38 bypasses democratic process

Democracy | Nov 01, 2013 | Parkland Post Winter 2013
Omnibus bill affects all areas of Canadian life, from environmental protections to criminal law

As 800 gathered in Nanaimo for the Council of Canadians conference in late October, they took in a cartoon by Le Droit’s Guy Badeaux, projected on huge screens. The image was of Stephen Harper, admiral of the HMCS rowboat loaded with his power agenda, about to be swamped by a tsunami-sized wave. It was a visual reminder of the conference’s program, “Making Waves: Sinking the Harper Agenda.” Read more...

Reinventing democracy

Democracy | Nov 01, 2013 | Parkland Post Winter 2013
Democracy in Canada is long over-due for an upgrade – particularly, how we elect our leaders

Democracy: just uttering the word gives us the warm fuzzies. After all, what could be grander? Isn’t it the reason we were in Afghanistan? Isn't it why America selflessly sacrifices itself by invading countries around the world? Too bad the word frequently turns out to be little more than an empty advertising slogan. Read more...

The best government money can buy

Democracy | Nov 01, 2013 | Parkland Post Winter 2013
The 2012 American election shone a spotlight on the role of corporations and special interest groups in US campaign funding – a trend that trickling into Canada

Many Americans greeted the November 6 re-election of President Barack Obama with a general feeling of relief. It was as if they had dodged, for the time being, the worst that Mitt Romney and his Republicans were proposing for women, immigrants, health care and public services, and there was some reason for hope.  A local bar in San Francisco was a good place to catch some of the reactions firsthand on election night. Support for Republicans amongst Californians dipped below 33 per cent this time, and San Francisco is arguably one of the most progressive cities in the union.  But while the election news offered hope, patrons were also talking about another story, a troubling one about election spending. More money than ever was spent on this campaign – largely thanks to donations from corporations via Political Action Committees (PACs) – and people were concerned about what this trend portends for the future. But while most Canadian assume this is a problem only for our southern neighbours, corporate manipulation of campaigns is an issue in Canada, too, and we need to be paying attention to developments in our own country. Read more...

Fifty shades of Green

Economy and politics | Nov 01, 2013 | Parkland Post Winter 2013
Why political greenwashing shouldn’t be mistaken for truly progressive politics

The recent by-election in Calgary Centre provided an interesting case study of the dilemma facing non-Conservative Party voters in Alberta. Right from the start, given the history and demographics of the constituency, some voiced their opinion that the various non-Conservative parties should come to some kind of electoral agreement, and run (or at least support) only one candidate. For example, 1CalgaryCentre called for a union of the “progressive” elements of the electorate and pushed for a consensus non-Conservative candidate that Greens, Liberals, NDPers, Red Tories/(former) Progressive Conservatives could rally behind. Some of the more shrill voices then expressed outright indignity when such an electoral pact did not materialize and the vote appeared to split, particularly as elements of the media began to whisper excitedly that this opposition vote might have some momentum and an upset might be in the offing. Read more...

Musical deck chairs

Healthcare | Sep 01, 2013 | Parkland Post Fall 2013
It’s unclear whether health-care governance changes will have any beneficial impact

Hey, didn't these deck chairs look different yesterday?  Many Albertans, especially those who work in our health system, were likely asking that very question on Sept. 10 as, for the fourth time in 20 years, the Alberta Government announced a major restructuring of governance at Alberta Health Services.  The announcement was made at a press conference by Health Minister Fred Horne, AHS CEO Chris Eagle and Janet Davidson, the consultant hired to run and review AHS governance last summer.  Horne appointed Davidson in June after he followed up his very public spat with the AHS board by firing all of its members. Davidson was ultimately engaged to be the official administrator of AHS, but she was also asked to conduct a thorough review and make recommendations about governance at the arms-length health authority. Read more...

No man is an island

Environment | Sep 01, 2013 | Parkland Post Fall 2013
The proposed Southern Pacific oilsands mine will affect us all

Some days, bad news hit especially hard. Such was the case on Sept. 6. Reading the Edmonton Journal while riding a city bus, I came across a headline: “Environmentalists fight exclusion from hearing: Coalition barred from presenting views on oilsands mine project.” The coalition, composed of the Fort McMurray Environmental Association, the Pembina Institute, the Alberta Wilderness Association and Toxics Watch, argued in court against its exclusion from hearings on Southern Pacific Resource Corp.’s application to build and operate an in situ oilsands mine on the banks of the MacKay River near Fort McMurray. Newly released government documents show the province may have barred Pembina’s participation in a 2009 oilsands hearing after the Institute published reports critical of the government’s environmental management of the oilsands. Now, at Southern Pacific’s request, the northern region director of Alberta Environment denied the coalition’s request to participate in the hearings, claiming the coalition didn’t prove most of its members are “directly affected” by the project. Read more...

Standing Up for the Castle

Environment | May 01, 2012 | Parkland Post Spring/Summer 2012
Protesters fight clear-cutting in southwest Alberta

Rick Collier doesn’t look like a criminal. He’s a respectable looking sort; early seventies, grey hair and glasses and a neatly trimmed moustache. But Rick and three other Albertans–Mike Judd, Reynold Reimer and Jim Palmer–recently spent four hours in a Pincher Creek jail cell. They were arrested Feb. 1 for standing up for their passionately-held belief that the forests of southwest Alberta’s Castle region are worth more in their natural state than they are if they are felled and turned into so much garden mulch. Read more...

Alberta election 2012

Election | Mar 01, 2012 | Parkland Post Spring/Summer 2012
PC victory or Wildrose meltdown?

Since the Alberta provincial election in late April, citizens and pundits alike have wondered what led voters to give Allison Redford a majority government when the polls pointed to a strong Wildrose victory.  But, instead of usurping the PCs, the Wildrose was defeated. When the dust settled, it became clear that even those voters who didn’t like the PCs voted for Redford, anyway. They seemed to be voting according to the old saying: “Better the devil I know than the devil I don’t.” Even plenty of left-wing voters opted to vote PC, rather than go for the untested Wildrose Party. Read more...

Alberta’s ‘Southern Strategy’?

Economy and politics | Mar 01, 2012 | Parkland Post Spring/Summer 2012
Old and new money in Alberta politics

Canada often follows the USA around like an old dog, doing similar things with our politics. Dependable us. With a small twist, we’re doing it again. The American south became to them what the Canadian West is becoming to us today. Read more...

The Rights of Water

Environment | Mar 01, 2012 | Parkland Post Spring/Summer 2012
Water conservation isn’t just about human rights, but the rights of the environment

Maude Barlow’s lecture on World Water Day, hosted by the University of Alberta’s (U of A) Office of Sustainability, promised to be exciting and controversial. In spite of the public backlash, U of A president Indira Samarasekera had stood firmly behind her controversial decision to award a honourary degree to Nestlé chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe. Weeks later, she introduced Brabeck-Letmathe’s foil – water advocate and Council of Canadians chair Maude Barlow – to a packed auditorium. Read more...