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Climate Is the New Populist Wedge Issue – The Atlantic

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Perhaps the 234 scientists behind this week’s landmark climate assessment had hoped that their report—published during a summer of deadly flooding, wildfires, and heat waves—would act as a wake-up call, one that would unite the world’s governments and parties.

But political consensus on the issue of climate change, much like the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, is unlikely to be achieved: Although most mainstream political parties have at the very least acknowledged the reality of human-induced climate change and the need to implement sweeping new policies to address it, several populist parties continue to reject the scientific consensus. Even those that accept it tend to oppose mainstream solutions, including multilateral efforts to address the problem.

Europe, which has experienced some of the summer’s worst climate disasters, offers a preview of the populist right’s next political battleground. What has emerged so far is not a change of heart but, rather, a shift in tone. Populist parties have traded outright denialism for the position that climate policy, like that of immigration and the coronavirus pandemic, represents yet another top-down elite agenda that stands to hit ordinary people, particularly those in the working class, the hardest.

If this line of argument sounds familiar, that’s because it is. In recent years, right-wing populists have positioned themselves as Europe’s staunchest defenders—against immigration and threats to national sovereignty; against pandemic restrictions and the influence of global institutions; and against what they regard as national governments’ hysteria over climate change, which populists have described as “degenerate fearmongering” at best and “totalitarian” at worst.

This isn’t to say that Europe’s populist right is united in its opposition to climate change. According to a 2019 study by Adelphi, an environmental-policy think tank based in Berlin, only two of Europe’s nearly two dozen right-wing populist parties—Hungary’s far-right Fidesz and Latvia’s National Alliance—explicitly support the scientific consensus on the climate crisis. But among the others, differences exist. Some, including the far-right Alternative for Germany and the Dutch Party for Freedom, reject the idea of anthropogenic global warming, whereas others, such as France’s National Rally and Spain’s Vox, have begun to advocate their own brand of nationalist environmentalism—one that supports local policies to tackle climate change but simultaneously rejects international agreements aimed at doing the same.

In practice, this means promoting conservation at the local level (through policies such as favoring local consumption and preserving limited resources) while repudiating international-led initiatives such as the Paris Agreement. In the case of Vox, it has meant advocating to preserve Spain’s “natural heritage” on the one hand and opposing efforts to rein in the country’s carbon emissions on the other.

The populist right’s about-face on climate is partly driven by politics. As voters become more attuned to the threats posed by the climate crisis, the repercussions of which are already being felt in countries such as Germany, Italy, Greece, and Spain, some of Europe’s populist parties have been forced to change tack. Vox, which once dismissed climate change as a hoax, has since promoted its own version of environmentalism as an alternative to what it describes as the “green religion” of the left. France’s National Rally has experienced a similar transition in recent years, from the climate skepticism of its founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, to the identity-based environmentalism of his daughter, and the party’s current leader, Marine Le Pen.

Populist parties realize that “there are diminishing returns in playing the denialist card,” Catherine Fieschi, a political analyst who tracks dissent against climate policy in Europe, told me. Unlike issues such as immigration or the European Union, climate change simply isn’t as divisive in Europe (something that can’t be said for other parts of the world, including the United States). Until recently, it wasn’t considered a top priority for voters.

Even parties that haven’t explicitly changed course on climate change have found ways to incorporate the issue into their worldview. Climate change, after all, fits neatly within the populist narrative of the “pure people” versus the “corrupt elite.” In the populist right’s telling, green policies such as fuel taxes and decarbonization incentives represent an elitist attack on the lives of ordinary people. “Populists have been very good at saying, ‘We’re not just going to protect you from climate change,’” Fieschi said. “‘We’re going to protect you from an elite that doesn’t give a damn about the cost that climate policy is going to take on you.’”

Beyond the economic argument is another classic from the populist arsenal—the anti-expertise argument. According to Ralph Schroeder, the director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute and a co-author of a recent study on the link between climate skepticism and support for right-wing populists, populist rejection of climate science “is not so much correlated with economic hardship that it may impose,” but rather with the belief that “experts shouldn’t tell us what to do.”

But perhaps the most cogent argument populists are beginning to make about climate change is one that they’ve been pushing for much of the last year: that this is another example of the establishment trying to restrict people’s basic freedoms. “It’s all the more easy to do in the wake of the pandemic,” Fieschi told me, noting the restrictive measures imposed by European governments to curb the spread of the coronavirus, many of which have been met with protests. “What [populists] are saying is ‘This is the thin end of the wedge, this pandemic thing. Now they’re going to really curtail your freedoms.’”

The biggest challenge facing this populist argument, however, is time—something that, as the United Nations climate report made clear, the world is in short supply of. Extreme weather events are becoming more common; urgency to tackle global warming will grow. While populist arguments against “climate hysteria” may provide temporary reassurance, they are no substitute for real policy solutions. For people displaced by worsening fires and floods, blaming elites will offer little comfort.

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No politics in election map revision, co-chairs say – CBC.ca

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Two former politicians co-chairing a commission redrawing New Brunswick’s provincial election map say there’ll be no politics involved in their work.

Former Liberal premier Camille Thériault and former Progressive Conservative MP Roger Clinch say they will stick to the letter of the law that requires them to come up with 49 new ridings roughly equal in population. 

“Our mandate is very, very clear. It had absolutely nothing to do with politics, nothing to do with gerrymandering,” Thériault said Wednesday as the commission launched its website. “We’re there to follow the piece of legislation that has been put in place.

“We will continue to look straight forward and not think or talk politics, but do what’s best for New Brunswickers within the legislation that we are under.”

Provincial law requires that an independent commission be appointed every 10 years to redraw the 49 electoral districts in the province to reflect changing population numbers.

The new map will take effect for the provincial election scheduled for Oct. 21, 2024, and will have to shift some districts to account for rapid urban growth in the province.

In June, Green MLA Kevin Arseneau alleged the process would involve political trade-offs between the co-chairs to craft ridings beneficial to their former parties.

The three parties in the legislature were asked to suggest names for the commission, but the Green nominees were not chosen because the party refused to have their choices vetted by Premier Blaine Higgs’s office, as the PC and Liberal names were.

“The people on the commission are all very well-respected people, I think, and I don’t think there’s any bias on anyone’s part toward any particular party,” Clinch said.

The six-member commission will hold 12 in-person public meetings and two virtual sessions to sound out New Brunswickers about the new map starting Aug. 23 and continuing to Sept. 15. 

“People will dictate to us what they think it should be,” Clinch said. “We have rules and regulations to follow.” 

After the first round of meetings, they’ll draft a proposed map that they’ll then take out to a second round of consultations before coming up with a final version within 90 days.

The law requires the commission to calculate the average number of voters in each riding, known as the “electoral quotient.” Thériault said the figure they’ll use is 11,714.

Former Progressive Conservative MP Roger Clinch says the commission has rules to follow in redrawing the electoral map. (GNB)

In the new map, each riding’s number of voters must be “as close as reasonably possible” to the quotient, though the commission can deviate by up to 15 per cent to accommodate what are called “communities of interest” and other factors.

In “extraordinary circumstances” such as the need to ensure fair linguistic representation, the commission can deviate from the quotient by up to 25 per cent.

The last redrawing included the creation of Memramcook-Tantramar, which prompted complaints from francophones in the new riding that they were losing their majority-francophone constituency. 

At the time, the law allowed only a five-per cent deviation from the average, so the new commission now has more leeway to put the village in a mostly francophone riding.

“We will probably hear from the people in Memramcook,” Thériault said. “But I’m not prejudging how they feel 10 years later.”

Thériault said ideally he’d like to “tighten” some of the sprawling rural ridings in the province, such as Southwest Miramichi–Bay du Vin, which can take more than two hours to drive from end to end. 

He also mentioned the expanded footprint of St. Mary’s First Nation in Fredericton, divided between two provincial ridings, as an example of the “housekeeping” the commission may do when it considers “communities of interest.”

But he said the commission isn’t going in with any fixed assumptions and will be guided by the goal of getting as close as possible to the quotient. 

“What we’re saying is that we will take into consideration what New Brunswickers have to say,” he said.

“We will be very transparent. And the ultimate goal here is to try and achieve the 11,714 electors for a riding, which we know probably is impossible to do.”

Last weekend newly elected Liberal Leader Susan Holt said she would wait to see the new map before deciding where she’ll run in the next provincial election. In 2018 Holt was defeated as a candidate in Fredericton South by Green Leader David Coon.

Thériault said those considerations won’t matter to the commission. 

“The redrawing of the electoral map will not be done to provide seats to anyone or any party,” he said. “It will be done in the best interests of New Brunswick.”

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U.S. politics engulfed in threats following police search at Trump's home – CBC News

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A Republican former U.S. attorney general is pleading with his fellow Americans: cool down the ill-informed speculation threatening to engulf the country’s politics.

The police search at Donald Trump’s Florida residence has prompted a surge in inflammatory rhetoric reminiscent of the volatile weeks after the last election.

It’s included violent threats against officials, vows of political retaliation against the FBI, comparisons to Nazi rule and social-media musings about civil war.

Alberto Gonzales is urging people to withhold judgment until we learn more about what actually prompted Tuesday’s hours-long search for classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

The attorney general under George W. Bush told CBC News he feels sympathy for his former department: the Justice Department avoids, as a general rule, discussing investigations, in part to protect the reputation of its target.

Former U.S. attorney general Alberto Gonzales, pictured in 2016, has urged Americans to allow the Justice Department to conduct its investigation of Trump without threats. (Mark Humphrey/The Associated Press)

Since there is no guarantee charges will be laid following a search, Gonzales said, it’s unfair to a suspect to rush out and describe what you were investigating.

This, he concedes, puts his former department at a disadvantage by creating an information vacuum that in this case is being quickly filled with speculation.

“A lot of people have said, in my judgment, some outrageous things. Are being very, very critical of the department,” Gonzales told CBC this week. 

“There’s a lot here we don’t know yet.… People need to wait. People need to be patient. I have a great deal of confidence and faith in the department. I’m not saying it doesn’t make mistakes from time to time. It does, it may. Nonetheless, I would give the benefit of the doubt to the department. Let the department move forward and do its job.”

Such calls for patience are falling flat. 

Heated rhetoric, threats increase

The nation is awash in furious speculation from every strata of American society, from anonymous accounts to high-ranking members of Congress.

Why did FBI agents scour the former president’s home for classified documents? How sensitive were they? Did Trump show them to anyone? Did any non-Americans see them? Is it connected to a broader investigation? Is it a smear job to stop Trump from running for president again?

Is this all about mishandled documents? Authorities aren’t talking and Trump has refused to release the search warrant, which could offer clues.

WATCH | FBI raid on Trump home likely to galvanize supporters, says political strategist:

FBI raid on Trump home likely to galvanize supporters, says political strategist

2 days ago

Duration 5:07

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation raid on former U.S. president Donald Trump’s private home in Florida is likely to pump up Trump loyalists and prompt him to dive into the next presidential election soon, says Lincoln Project co-founder Rick Wilson.

Republican politicians have largely closed ranks around the former president and threatened everything from defunding the FBI to grilling law enforcement at committee hearings.

They compared the raid to a foreign dictatorship tactic. They raised money off it, soliciting donations to fight alleged persecution. 

They channeled the rage of the grassroots supporters who idolize Trump, like one protester outside Mar-a-Lago who told Reuters on Tuesday: “You feel like you might be in Venezuela or China or Russia or even in Hitler’s Germany.”

Researchers of online chatter say the intensity of anger has spiked to levels resembling the environment before the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol.

It includes talk of murdering the judge who reportedly authorized the search warrant, along with the heads of the FBI and the attorney general.

Online calls for civil war

Alex Friedfeld, an investigative researcher at the Anti-Defamation League, said regular citizens are hearing from conservative opinion-makers that America is slipping into tyranny and they’ll be targeted next.

And the response, he said, has been an instant surge in violent rhetoric across multiple online platforms, especially smaller websites without teams of content moderators.

Former president Donald Trump gestures as he departs Trump Tower on Wednesday in New York, on his way to the New York attorney general’s office for a deposition in a civil investigation. (Julia Nikhinson/The Associated Press)

“It’s large amounts of people openly fantasizing about using violence to target their perceived enemies,” Friedfeld said in an interview. 

“People are saying they’re fed up, that it’s time for a civil war, that they have to fight back now, otherwise they’ll live in tyranny.”

One difference from Jan. 6, he said, is there’s no physical rallying point, no place for a mob to gather right now.

This is an aerial view of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., on Tuesday. (Steve Helbe/The Associated Press)

That will change if Trump ever gets charged.

A police lieutenant in one U.S. city told CBC News that colleagues are already having informal discussions about how to secure the courthouse if there’s a Trump-related case there.

‘Lock and load’

Friedfeld said it’s an obvious risk. He predicted that prosecutors would have their personal information leaked on the internet and would face a deluge of threats.

“Everyone on the prosecution will need to be protected,” he said. “Physical security is going to be paramount.… There will be people advocating for violence against the people trying to prosecute Trump.”

WATCH | What’s next for Trump following FBI raid?

What’s next for Trump following FBI raid?

2 days ago

Duration 6:58

Kelly Jane Torrance, an editor for the New York Post, and former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks weigh-in on the significance of the FBI raid on Donald Trump’s home, and what could come next for the former president.

Another researcher, Daniel Jones, said the inflammatory rhetoric comes from three groups.

One he describes as entertainers — media personalities who crave attention. In that category he includes Fox News prime-time shows excoriating “Biden’s FBI.”

Another he calls conspiracy theorists, Q-Anon types. 

“We’re seeing things like, ‘Lock and load.’ … ‘This is a civil war,'” said Jones, the lead investigator in the U.S. Senate’s report on torture in the CIA, and a researcher with the non-profit, non-partisan group Advance Democracy.

“[We’re seeing] direct threats against that judge [who reportedly signed the warrant]… [And stuff like], ‘Attorney General Merrick Garland should be executed and assassinated.'”

Republican calls for defunding FBI

The third and final group he identifies, the one he calls most disappointing, comprises mainstream politicians who should know better.

Some Republicans have been repeating Trump’s line that perhaps police planted evidence at his home.

It’s not just prime-time Republican talking heads calling for defunding the FBI. Even some members of Congress are talking that way.

That includes the Georgia Q-Anon peddling firebrand, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who told One America News Network she’s thrilled by how many of her lawmaker colleagues are siding with her.

“I usually fight with my Republican colleagues, because I don’t think they’re strong enough,” she said. 

“But I am hearing things that I am so happy to finally hear come out of their mouths. Because when we take back the majority and we are in control in the House of Representatives, we are going after the Department of Justice; we’re going after the FBI. We’ll control the budget that funds everybody’s program and everybody’s paycheques.”

‘A federal judge authorized this search’

Republicans on Capitol Hill say the outrage is not merely performative, as a public declaration of fealty to Trump in order to placate their grassroots.

They say they truly believe authorities, and the media, aggressively target conservatives while ignoring transgressions from Hunter Biden and Hillary Clinton.

The most senior Republican in the House of Representatives had a message about what his party will do if it wins a majority in this year’s midterm elections and gains power over congressional committees.

WATCH | Donald Trump pleads the Fifth Amendment before the New York State attorney general:

Donald Trump pleads the fifth amendment before the New York State attorney general

18 hours ago

Duration 5:09

Stacey Lee is a constitutional law expert from Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, she joins us to discuss the implications of Trump’s decision to plead the fifth in an ongoing civil investigation into his business practices as well as the fallout from the FBI raid on his Mar-A-Lago estate.

Party leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy said in a statement that he would call Garland to committee hearings and demand he preserve all documents about the case.

Another Republican lawmaker, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, told Fox News that his party will scrutinize the actions of law enforcement.

“You better have explanations ready,” he said. “Because you cannot weaponize our institutions for political gain. That is the destruction of democracy.”

The eruption of outrage underscored the extent to which the Republicans are truly, deeply Donald Trump’s party now.

Meanwhile, George W. Bush’s attorney general offered his faint plea for people to trust law enforcement. 

“A federal judge authorized this search,” Gonzales told CBC. “That means something, as far as I’m concerned.”

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Politics Briefing: Nishnawbe Aski Nation opposes possible location for nuclear waste storage site – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s Chiefs-in-Assembly passed a resolution on Wednesday “vehemently” opposing the possibility of an underground storage site for nuclear waste, which could be built between Ignace and Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation in northern Ontario.

Chiefs expressed deep concern over the possibility of such a site during discussions at NAN’s annual Keewaywin Conference, which is being held in Timmins. Ignace, as well as Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation, would hold the approval power for the project if their region is ultimately selected. The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is also still considering South Bruce in Ontario as a possible location for its deep geological repository, which would see spent nuclear fuel stored roughly 500-metres underground.

“Northern Ontario is not a garbage can,” said Chief Ramona Sutherland of Constance Lake First Nation. “We work for seven generations of our people – I don’t want to pass this down to my son, my grandson, and then his sons.”

Chief Wayne Moonias, of Neskantaga First Nation, called the proposal disturbing, and said “the thought of having a nuclear waste site in our area, it’s just not something that we can live with … Our homelands are at stake with this proposal.”

A potential spill, Mr. Moonias cautioned, would not just affect the site itself. “It’s going to impact our river system. It’s going to impact our sturgeon. Our sturgeon is so important in our community,” he said.

The resolution called for Nishnawbe Aski Nation to take action to prevent the NWMO from placing any nuclear waste in NAN traditional territories, including forming a committee, engaging in civil protests and considering legal action.

Jennifer Guerrieri, a NAN staffer, said in a presentation Wednesday that a choice between the two potential sites is expected roughly within the next six months.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Marsha McLeod, who is filling in for Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

NO NATIONAL TRACKING – Canada does not have a national system for tracking or preventing shortages of nurses and other medical workers, which health leaders say has contributed to hospitals across the country temporarily shuttering emergency rooms and intensive-care units this summer. Story here.

ALBERTA EASES REGULATIONS – The Alberta government has eased some restrictions on the province’s four major universities that prevented them from forming new partnerships with entities or individuals linked to the Chinese government. Story here.

TRUMP HITS BACK WITH VIDEO – Former U.S. president Donald Trump has unveiled a new video to present himself as the best person to lead the country, following an FBI raid on his Mar-a-Lago estate. Story here.

ANALYSIS OF TRUMP RAID – The Justice Department has never before requested, or received, a search warrant to go through the home of a former American leader. Story here.

ALBERTA AWARDS PRIZE – Alberta’s legislature awarded a prize to an essay that equated immigration to “cultural suicide” and argued women are “not exactly equal” to men. Story here.

DENTAL DEAL MAY FACE BUMPS – Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the Liberal government is working to meet its end-of-year deadline to deliver dental care coverage to children, but that providing new services is complicated. Story by the Canadian Press here.

THIS AND THAT

The House of Commons is not sitting again until Sept. 19. The Senate is to resume sitting on Sept. 20.

MINISTER FOR WOMEN IN WINNIPEG – Marci Ien, the federal minister for women and gender equality and youth, announced $30-million to support crisis hotlines across Canada on Wednesday.

SUPPORT FOR ACADIAN GATHERING – Ginette Petitpas Taylor, the federal minister of official languages, announced $4.6-million to help organize the next Congrès mondial acadien (Acadian World Congress), which will be held in August, 2024 in southwestern Nova Scotia.

THE DECIBEL

During The Decibel’s Food Week, Adrian Lee, a content editor at the Globe and Mail’s Opinion section, came on the show to consider the economic and cultural importance of potatoes. Episode here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

The Prime Minister is on a two-week vacation in Costa Rica.

LEADERS

No schedules provided for party leaders.

OPINION

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on Trump’s possible “rendezvous with reality:”When the smoke clears, then, we are probably going to find that Mr. Trump is in a world of trouble. That it came to this, after all, was only because he refuses, more than 18 months after leaving the White House, to give up the documents voluntarily. Which suggests he is every bit as conscious as the DoJ of how explosive they are. And these aren’t the only legal perils he faces … One way or another, the odds are increasing that Mr. Trump will soon face his own Alex Jones moment, a rendezvous with reality.

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on limited support for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: Can Mr. Trudeau rise from the stupor in which he currently finds himself? It’s possible. He has a fairly long runway ahead of him thanks to the NDP. But a lot of the damage that has been done to the Trudeau brand is likely irreversible. The Prime Minister is many things, but stupid he is not. He can see what’s going on. The question is – what will he do about it?

Elaine Craig (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on compensating women victimized by players: Until we successfully press antiquated organizations such as Hockey Canada to change, we need to accept the inevitable. So why shouldn’t hockey parents pay a small amount each year into a fund to help compensate the women who will be sexually victimized by some of the kids currently being steeped in the sport’s toxic environment? Ultimately, here’s why we should be most angry: It doesn’t have to be this way.

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop.

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