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Canadian politics achieving a climate consensus

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climate consensus

We should demand that our political leaders stop trying to win partisan points on climate change, and reach a consensus on action as other nations have.

In Germany in September, the coalition cabinet led by Angela Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union announced a sweeping $74-billion climate policy package. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom is working through its third Climate Budget for emissions reductions, overseen by an independent committee. Having passed a climate change law in 2008, the British government no longer bickers over the core issue of emissions reduction targets. One of Theresa May’s last acts as Conservative prime minister earlier this year was to commit her country to net-zero GHG emissions by 2050.

Canadian politics around climate change looks embarrassingly immature in comparison. None of us particularly enjoys the petty partisanship of Canadian politics, but even more grating is the fighting over what to do about climate change. It’s been more than 20 years since the Kyoto Accord was signed half-heartedly by the Liberal government of the day. That the current government plan doesn’t even get us to our Paris Accord targets shows you how much of an impediment partisanship has become. Surely we have arrived at a point where we can get past the basics and agree on a baseline of action?

In this election, a consensus has emerged on the centre and centre-left around carbon pricing and moving toward a net-zero emissions economy in the decades to come. The Greens, to their credit, have a proposal in their platform to create a “cross-party inner cabinet” to deal with climate action. Otherwise, it’s partisan business as usual. Even the New Democrats have not seemed eager to pursue an armistice on climate. When they learned MP Pierre Nantel was talking to the Green Party about potential collaboration, he was quickly ejected.

The Conservative Party of Canada has proposed a plan that contains neither regulations nor carbon pricing, and even elements that would directly increase emissions — such as widening roads to allow more cars and alleviate commuter stress. The Conservatives would get rid of federal carbon pricing as a first order of business if they form government.

The situation seems dire, but if we look to other countries, there could be a glimmer of hope.

In both Germany and the United Kingdom, for example, conservative politicians were instrumental in helping to create a core consensus around climate policy. It’s important to note that both countries had a particular history that arguably made it easier for conservatives to champion climate action, but there might still be lessons for Canada.

In the United Kingdom, the consensus on climate action began to hatch in the 1980s, with the winding down of the coal industry by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. What started as a way to undermine the power of trade unions became something the Conservative Party could later sell as evidence that it had taken drastic action on emissions, explains Matthew Paterson, a climate politics expert from the University of Manchester. That Thatcher was investing heavily in science and had played up her past science credentials as an Oxford chemistry grad also added to the idea that her party could play a global leadership role in this area, Paterson explained in an interview.

In 2008, under a Labour government, a cross-party consensus in the UK House of Commons helped pass the Climate Change Act. This brought in the statutory requirement that the government introduce five-year climate budgets with clear targets and plans of action. An independent body was formed, the Committee on Climate Change, and includes climate scientists and economists. The committee reports to the UK Parliament.  Far from moving to repeal the Act,  Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron doubled down when he took over in 2010 and promised “the greenest government ever.”

A protest by nuns, monks and clergy taking part in a “kick the carbon habit” protest, where they called for MPs to strengthen the Climate Change Act, on April 23, 2008.

It is in the institutional structures that Paterson sees a potential model for Canada. Legislation around climate change is much harder to reverse than policy or regulations. Also, the Labour government of Tony Blair made sure that the prime minister himself was at the head of the government’s cabinet committee on climate, making it a central government priority.

“That institutionalizing, that embedding of climate policy in these processes — you would need to have a real clear wrecking ball approach to dislodge that,” said Paterson.

Josh Burke, with the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, says that a decade after the UK brought in the Climate Change Act, politicians today are able to demonstrate that economic growth and reducing emissions are not incompatible. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government recently announced $1.46 billion would be invested in the British automotive industry to support the development of electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell technology.

“The Conservatives are doing this properly: creating hundreds of thousands of low carbon jobs and growing our economy while successfully reducing emissions,” said Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom.

Germany’s relative consensus on climate change also appears to have been born in the 1980s, but around a burgeoning anti-nuclear-energy sentiment that was eventually shared by parties across the spectrum. Miranda Schreurs, an environment and climate policy professor at the Bavarian School of Public Policy in Munich, notes that Angela Merkel happened to be the government’s environment minister at the time of the Kyoto Accord, and so made it a key element of her political leadership over the years to push for climate action. The most recent climate package includes a shutdown of Germany’s coal industry by 2038, with a plan for transitioning workers to different types of jobs.

“From a Canadian perspective, this must seem very exciting, but the German government is getting critiqued for not doing enough,” Schreurs told me in a recent conversation. That critique includes the idea that carbon taxes aren’t high enough to get more cars off the road.

Today, Schreurs explained, Germans (and Europeans more broadly) are intensely worried about climate change and the effects it is already having on the continent. She said political leaders there see the transition to a low-carbon or no-carbon economy as intertwined with the embrace of a data- and technology-driven economy, and therefore as essential for the country’s success in the future. And in Germany, the Greens are part of coalitions in a majority of state governments.

Protesters mark the global climate strike in Berlin on Sept. 20, 2019. Shutterstock/By anyaivanova

Let it be said that there are many differences between the Canadian and European economies. Canada’s reliance on fossil fuel production, mining and agriculture make action much more politically fraught. It’s difficult to shave off more emissions when so much of our electricity is already from hydro. And the nature of the federation makes it difficult to broker collective action.

Still, there are more Conservative voices arguing for efficient and cost-effective climate action than there used to be. MP Michael Chong, a proponent of carbon pricing, ran for the party leadership. Mark Cameron, a deputy minister in Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s government, was a proponent of carbon pricing and executive director of the group Clean Prosperity.

Whichever party forms government in Ottawa, its leadership might consider whether there is a way to neutralize partisanship around the issue, perhaps by creating an arm’s-length expert committee such as exists in the UK. Although three of the major parties have focused on carbon pricing, the UK experience with five-year climate budgets might be a model for future action, allowing the party in power to choose the evidence-based tools necessary to reduce emissions in a meaningful way — something that Burke notes is one of the key features of the UK’s Climate Change Act.

The Liberals in particular could also be more magnanimous when dealing with those who have different visions for action. When Manitoba sought to introduce a flat $25 carbon tax that varied from the one the federal government was proposing, it got the cold shoulder from Ottawa. As David McLaughlin has noted, “Political devotion to the [Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change] ultimately trumped political pragmatism.”

If Andrew Scheer becomes our next prime minister, perhaps he could draw from his experience as Speaker of the House and work to broker some sort of consensus on climate action among the federal parties. He could also lean on some of his party’s legacy on the environment. The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was drafted in 1987 during the Brian Mulroney years. Mulroney also helped to bring in the Canada-US Air Quality Agreement of 1991 (the acid rain treaty).

With some sort of political peace around climate action, a strong signal will be sent to the provinces about the policy direction the country is taking. Climate policy should no longer be viewed as a wedge issue.

It’s no longer enough that federal party leaders show us their climate plans. They must also explain what steps they will take to achieve a form of cross-partisan peace on this issue.

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Doctored video shows Trump violently attacking media figures

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Issued on: 14/10/2019 – 13:20Modified: 14/10/2019 – 13:31

A video showing a doctored image of US President Donald Trump shooting and assaulting members of the media and political opponents was shown at an event for his supporters last week at Mar-a-Lago, The New York Times reported.

In the internet meme entitled “The Trumpsman”, the US president‘s head is superimposed on an image of a man attacking people whose faces have been replaced with the logos of media outlets including CNN, The Washington Post, NBC and the BBC. The video has been taken from a scene in the film “Kingsman: The Secret Service”.

[embedded content]

As the rampage continues inside the “Church of Fake News”, the Trump character strikes late senator John McCain on the back of the neck and torches the head of Senator Bernie Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential rival.

He throws former Republican senator Mitt Romney to the ground and strikes former president Barack Obama in the back before slamming him against a wall.

The video also depicts Trump attacking people including his 2016 presidential opponent Hillary Clinton; former president Bill Clinton; Congressman Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House intelligence committee who is leading the impeachment inquiry into Trump; actor Rosie O’Donnell; and financier George Soros, who is often a target of alt-right conspiracy theories. Trump is also shown attacking someone whose head has been superimposed with the Black Lives Matter logo.

A brutal video clip depicting Donald Trump shooting and stabbing media characters and political opponents was shown at a conference for his supporters, the New York Times reported Sunday.

A brutal video clip depicting Donald Trump shooting and stabbing media characters and political opponents was shown at a conference for his supporters, the New York Times reported Sunday. The Randy Report, Twitter / YouTube, The Geekz Team

The organiser of last week’s “American Priority” event – which was held at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Miami – said the clip was part of a “meme exhibit”. Speakers at the conference included the president’s son Donald Trump Jr and former White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

“American Priority rejects all political violence and aims to promote a healthy dialogue about the preservation of free speech,” Alex Phillips told The New York Times.

A brutal video clip depicting Donald Trump shooting and stabbing media figures and political opponents was shown at a conference for his supporters, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

A brutal video clip depicting Donald Trump shooting and stabbing media figures and political opponents was shown at a conference for his supporters, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

A brutal video clip depicting Donald Trump shooting and stabbing media figures and political opponents was shown at a conference for his supporters, the New York Times reported on Sunday. The Randy Report, Twitter / YouTube, The Geekz Team

‘Enemies of the people’

The White House Correspondents Association said in a statement that it was “horrified” by the video and that “all Americans should condemn this depiction of violence directed towards journalists and [Trump’s] political opponents”.

CNN wrote on Twitter: “This is not the first time that supporters of the President have promoted violence against the media in a video they apparently find entertaining, but it is by far and away the worst.”

A brutal video clip depicting Donald Trump shooting and stabbing media characters and political opponents was shown at a conference for his supporters, the New York Times reported Sunday.

A brutal video clip depicting Donald Trump shooting and stabbing media characters and political opponents was shown at a conference for his supporters, the New York Times reported Sunday.

A brutal video clip depicting Donald Trump shooting and stabbing media characters and political opponents was shown at a conference for his supporters, the New York Times reported Sunday. The Randy Report, Twitter / YouTube, The Geekz Team

Trump, the White House and his campaign must denounce the clip, the channel said, adding that “anything less equates to a tacit endorsement of violence”.

Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for Trump’s 2020 election campaign, told the Times the “video was not produced by the campaign, and we do not condone violence”.

A brutal video clip depicting Donald Trump shooting and stabbing media characters and political opponents was shown at a conference for his supporters, the New York Times reported Sunday.

A brutal video clip depicting Donald Trump shooting and stabbing media characters and political opponents was shown at a conference for his supporters, the New York Times reported Sunday.

A brutal video clip depicting Donald Trump shooting and stabbing media characters and political opponents was shown at a conference for his supporters, the New York Times reported Sunday. The Randy Report, Twitter / YouTube, The Geekz Team

Media organisations have come under regular verbal attack from Trump and his supporters.

At rallies, the US president repeatedly encourages the crowd to boo and heckle journalists covering the event, calling them “fake news” and “enemies of the people”.

Trump has previously tweeted a roughly edited video clip of him attacking a wrestler whose head had been superimposed with a CNN logo.

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Everything you Need to know About Maxime Bernier

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Maxime Bernier PC MP (born January 18, 1963) is a Canadian businessman, lawyer and politician serving as the Member of Parliament (MP) for the riding of Beauce since 2006. He is the founder and current leader of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC).

Prior to entering politics, Bernier held positions in the fields of law, finance and banking. First elected to the Canadian House of Commons as a Conservative, Bernier served as Minister of IndustryMinister of Foreign AffairsMinister of State for Small Business and Tourism, which later became the Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism and Agriculture in the cabinet of then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Following the Conservatives’ defeat in the 2015 election, he served as opposition critic for Innovation, Science and Economic Development in the shadow cabinets of Rona Ambrose and Andrew Scheer, until June 12, 2018.

Federal party leaders

Bernier ran for the Conservative Party leadership in the 2017 leadership election, and came in a close second with over 49% of the vote in the 13th round, after leading the eventual winner, Andrew Scheer, in the first 12 rounds. Fifteen months later, in August 2018, Bernier resigned from the Conservative Party to create his own party, citing disagreements with Scheer’s leadership.[1] His new party was named the People’s Party of Canada in September 2018.

He has been a separatist, a Conservative cabinet minister, even ran for the leadership of the Conservative Party. So how did Maxime Bernier wind up leading a brand new party in this election campaign?

And when did some of his more controversial positions take hold? 

In the sixth and final Canadian leadership profile, Jayme Poisson speaks to the CBC’s Jonathan Montpetit about Maxime Bernier, the controversial head of the People’s Party of Canada. 28:05

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Everything you Need to Know About Yves-François Blanchet

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Yves-François Blanchet (born April 16, 1965) is a Canadian politician serving as Leader of the Bloc Québécois since 2019.

He is a graduate from the Université de Montréal where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in history and anthropology in 1987. He later worked as a teacher and was a founder of an artist, disc and concert management firm, YFB Inc. while being the president of the ADISQ from 2003 to 2006. He was named the local business personality of the year by the Drummondville Chamber of Commerce, while he and associated artists received 10 Félix Awards.

Yves-Francois Blanchet in October 2009.jpg

Blanchet was elected to represent the riding of Drummond in the National Assembly of Quebec in the 2008 provincial election. In the 2012 election, he was reelected, this time in Johnson electoral district. He was defeated by CAQ candidate André Lamontagne in the 2014 Quebec election. A member of the Parti Québécois (PQ), Blanchet was Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks from 2012 until 2014.[2] He was also a member of the Youth National Committee of the Parti Québécois in 1988 as well as a regional director of the PQ.

On November 26, 2018, Blanchet announced his candidacy for the leadership of the Bloc Québécois (BQ). As no other candidate had entered the race by the time nominations closed on January 15, 2019, Blanchet was officially acclaimed leader on January 17, 2019.

He’s definitely not as familiar outside of Quebec as he is in his home province. But the Bloc Québécois has been the official opposition in the past and so it’s important to know what Yves-François Blanchet stands for and what he would fight for on behalf of Quebec.

If nothing else, listen to learn Blanchet’s nickname — and how he earned it. 

The Bloc Québécois was once a powerful federal political party, forming the official opposition in 1993 and holding around fifty seats in the House in the mid to late 2000’s. But the last two elections have nearly wiped the Bloc from existence, and the party has had a revolving door of leaders. This year, Yves-François Blanchet took over the reins. Today on Front Burner, as part of our series on the federal party leaders, we take a look at who Blanchet is and what he stands for with Martin Patriquin, a freelance political journalist based in Montreal. 21:28

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