By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 26, 2010 - 94 Comments
Convene one emergency committee meeting, get the second one free – and we'll throw in an ITQ poll too!
By kadyomalley - Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 10:50 AM - 20 Comments
Hey, remember last Friday, when ITQ was rambling on about all those possible emergency committee meetings that the opposition parties were hoping to 106(4) into existence? Well, turns out she wasn’t suffering from end-of-August delirium: both Foreign Affairs and Agriculture will be back in business later this week , dealing with motions to “study the treatment of Canadians abroad by the Government of Canada” and “[hold] a meeting on the Report of the Independent Investigator into the 2008 Listeriosis Outbreak, and the Government’s response,” respectively.
The catch? According to the schedule, the two meetings will be happening at the exact same time, which means that ITQ has to decide which one deserves full liveblogging coverage, and which one she can catch in reruns on CPAC. She’s currently leaning towards Foreign Affairs, which seems to hold far more potential for drama, particularly if the opposition can come up with a decent witness list, but she’s willing to entertain arguments in favour of the Aggies too. (And no, she doesn’t promise to be bound by the results of the following poll, but it will definitely be taken into account when she makes her final decision.)
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 2:16 AM - 18 Comments
This footage is apparently a couple months old, but it is indeed Michael Ignatieff standing up in public and saying things about stuff—specifically arctic sovereignty, agriculture, Conservative attack ads, Afghanistan, nuclear energy, firearms and pharmacare.
Do try to contain yourselves.
By Nancy Macdonald - Monday, July 6, 2009 at 8:46 AM - 26 Comments
Much of the world is desperately short of fresh water. Are future water wars inevitable?
Every few days, another farmer commits suicide in Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin, the agricultural heartland. Many, according to Australian evolutionary biologist Tim Flannery, haven’t had any water in almost four years—in places, the allocation of irrigation water has been cut to zero. Their farms have dried up, leaving a dusty, wind-whipped scrubland. Cattle bellow from hunger through the night. “Despair is an enormous problem,” says Flannery. “There is no sign the situation will ever improve.” Government has compiled a suicide watch list.
The world’s flattest, driest and most vulnerable inhabited continent is gravely low on water. The “Mighty Murray”—Australia’s Mississippi—is on the verge of collapse: in places, children can hop over it. National production of rice has fallen from a million tons annually to 21,000 tons last year, contributing to soaring global food prices. Cotton and citrus are also crashing. The problem is now creeping into the cities. Earlier this year, the national water commissioner announced that, as of 2010, he could no longer guarantee security of supply of water for critical use to Adelaide, says Flannery, author of the acclaimed book The Weather Makers. “That’s Australia’s fifth-largest city.” Two years ago, the prime minister urged Aussies to “pray for rain—literally, and without any irony.” Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at 12:30 AM - 13 Comments
A bit of video from Michael Ignatieff’s stop today in Kent Bridge, Ontario has been posted to YouTube. The pitch was not unlike one written about here previously. The last 30 seconds or so of this clip might be the most interesting. Is that refreshing candour or dangerous candour? If the latter, why? Because there’s something inherently wrong with what he said or because you’re just not supposed to say that?
Ignatieff breaks the fourth wall, so to speak, every so often—the best bits of his Iraq reassessment did so. My first reaction is almost always something close to the sort of startled confusion that would normally result from hearing a public figure utter a racial epithet in public. But maybe that’s just because I’ve so rarely heard a politician admit that he’s a politician.
Full clip after the jump. Continue…
By Kate Lunau - Friday, April 10, 2009 at 3:20 PM - 31 Comments
The farms are the stuff of lore in the U.S., but they’ll be history here
Like those of countless other farm workers, Danny Gallant’s day would begin before dawn. As his co-workers tended to pigs, cattle and hens, he prepared cuts of meat from livestock. The farm where Gallant worked is typical in many ways—except it’s on prison grounds, and all the farm workers are inmates. “I enjoyed going to work,” says Gallant, who was recently released. “Being at the farm was awesome. I learned a lot.”
Across Canada, six federal prisons operate functioning farms. About 300 inmates take part, doing everything from milking cows to fixing equipment to producing food that’s fed to fellow offenders. This summer could be their last harvest: the government recently announced that Canada’s prison farms will be shut down over the next two years. “We determined very few ex-inmates were obtaining work in agriculture,” says Christa McGregor of the Correctional Service of Canada, adding that the CSC spends about $4 million annually on the program.
By Jason Kirby - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 at 10:18 AM - 2 Comments
Back in August I wrote a piece for the magazine on the inflated value…
Back in August I wrote a piece for the magazine on the inflated value of Potash Corp., the Saskatchewan fertilizer producer that briefly became Canada’s largest company by market cap. A quick recap: Those bullish on the stock pointed to the fast growing middle classes of Asia, and their desire to eat more meat and vegetables, as a sign that demand for potash (which is used to make fertilizer) could only go up. The stock’s promoters pointed to soaring food prices as evidence this was the case.
The bears, on the other hand, warned a “dot corn” bubble had formed in agriculture stocks.
Liveblogging the Agriculture committee – Good things grow in Ontario, and we're hoping it stays that way.
By kadyomalley - Monday, August 18, 2008 at 3:59 PM - 0 Comments
NOTE TO READERS:
It turns out that I was – well, let’s just call it what it was: wrong, wrong, wrong, at least as far as my prediction that this meeting would be “spectacularly uneventful.” It ended up running two and a half hours longer than scheduled, mostly because the government members had lined up officials from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to explain that those budget cuts documented in the memo leaked to CanWest earlier this year really weren’t the first step towards the Walkertonization of the Canadian food inspection system.
Not surprisingly, the opposition parties were sceptical, mostly because they still haven’t been allowed to see the document in question, which made for a somewhat surreal elephant-feel of a meeting. Read on for the blow-by-blow blogging.
Well, the placeholder text is gone, but the reader caveat remains: This may be a spectacularly non-eventful meeting to liveblog.
A quick recap while we wait for the meeting to begin: The opposition parties are demanding an emergency hearing on proposed cuts to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which they claim will lead to the deregulation of the current food safety system, and throw the integrity of Canada’s food supply into terrifying doubt. The government, meanwhile, is being tight lipped about these specific cuts, but presumably, will argue that this is a way to streamline the existing system, and food safety will never be compromised.
Okay, everyone caught up? Good. Anyway, that probably won’t be on the agenda for today, since this is just an organizational meeting, but it always helps to know the context, right?
By kadyomalley - Monday, August 18, 2008 at 1:53 PM - 0 Comments
ITQ may have a committee to liveblog this week after all – and a potentially juicy one, too. I forget who it was who first alerted me to it last this week – in my defence, it was a really frantic few days – but the opposition parties are 106(4)ing the Agriculture committee back to discuss cuts to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, or the “Walkertonization” of the Canadian regulatory system, depending on who you ask.
Also, have you – yes, you! – voted in the macleans.ca poll, which this week asks a question near and dear to the hearts of ITQ readers everywhere?
By selley - Wednesday, April 23, 2008 at 4:55 PM - 0 Comments
Must-reads: …Chantal Hébert on Elections Canada’s risk exposure; Dan Gardner on bisphenol A; Christie
In and out and on with the rest of your day
We were expecting wall-to-wall in-and-out on today’s op-ed pages. Mercifully, there was also petropolitics, Sino- and Indo-Canadian relations, and the demon bisphenol A.
Some portion of the Tories’ neck is definitely on the chopping block in the in-and-out affair, Chantal Hébert writes in the Toronto Star, but the Liberals’ “resilience” in the wake of the sponsorship scandal shows “that it takes more than a bit of acid to permanently corrode a major political brand.” In fact, she suggests, Elections Canada is the institution with the most to lose. If it turns out to have “overplayed its hand,” she argues Canadians may start to believe allegations of anti-Conservative “vindictiveness.” (This would be more likely if it weren’t for all the documented anti-Elections Canada vindictiveness on the Conservatives’ part, but we digress.) If the Tories manage to win a majority despite the allegations and the charges against them turn out to be groundless, Hébert predicts a rapid and significant curtailment of Elections Canada’s mandate.
Like a newly tapped oil well in a Looney Tunes feature presentation, L. Ian MacDonald gushes over Stephen Harper’s performance on the NAFTA file in New Orleans. We’re open to renegotiations, Harper essentially argued, but a Democratic president could count on Canada leveraging its position as “the United States’ number one supplier of energy” at the bargaining table. “I think quite frankly we would be in an even stronger position now than we were 20 years ago and we’ll be in a stronger position in the future,” said Harper. “He played Canada’s high card … and he played it extremely well,” MacDonald writes in the Montreal Gazette. We’d say he was just doing his job.
The government may protest that relations with China and India are perfectly hunky-dory, The Globe and Mail‘s Jeffrey Simpson writes, but “they’re not, because the government spends little sustained time thinking about Asia, and had a counterproductive approach to China and too many illusions about India.” This column is perhaps most notable for the peculiar number of unsourced, unexplained facts it presents: India “considers Canada to be a rather second-tier country,” for example. If this is the case, we are left to wonder, why are our opinions on nuclear proliferation and greenhouse gas emissions apparently so poisonous to bilateral relations?
Concluding that “it is better to be safe than sorry,” as Health Minister Tony Clement did recently on bisphenol A, is “a fine way to do politics,” says the Ottawa Citizen‘s Dan Gardner. But the “precautionary principle” is pretty much useless when it comes to “crafting public policy,” because it doesn’t involve examining the risks inherent in the alternatives. If you’re worried about vaccinations causing autism, for example, then just don’t vaccinate your kids—problem solved, so long as “you don’t know what diphtheria is.” So what happens when other plastic bottles replace the bisphenol A-tainted ones? “Do glass bottles pose a hazard? Do the replacement bottles cost more and, if so, what effects will that have?” Gardner doesn’t know, and he’s “not sure Tony Clement knows either.” (That’s very diplomatic. We’re positive he doesn’t.)
Ricardo and Julita Bain still believe Robert Baltovich killed their daughter, Elizabeth, and “the law will allow them that intransigence,” Rosie DiManno writes in the Star. “For anyone else to say so would be libellous.” But doubting a man’s innocence isn’t libellous, she notes, and plenty of people—detectives, jurors who convicted him in 1992 and, ahem, “journalists who covered the original trial”—are going to go ahead and do so.
The Globe‘s Christie Blatchford agrees with the Star‘s Thomas Walkom that the truth about the so-called Toronto 18 terror suspects will only come out once the trial starts. But unlike Walkom, the evidence she’s seen (which she can’t disclose) leads her to believe that despite the staying of charges against several suspects, “the Crown will indeed have people to try and a case that endures.” Just as in The Wire, she suggests, it can be difficult to “get past the cartoonish aspect” of the accused—not knowing the Prime Minister’s name, for example, or not knowing where Parliament Hill was. But “being unsophisticated, or strikingly handsome, or a student who loves a basketball team … are no barrier[s] to criminal lethality.” (We must be consistent and deduct points for using fiction to prove a point, especially when recent non-fictional history offers the columnist so many mule-stupid terrorists as exemplars.)
As far as the Edmonton Journal‘s Graham Thomson is concerned, the only “refreshingly new” message in the Alberta budget tabled yesterday is a firm promise from the Finance Minister to “get serious about saving money,” instead of “putting money away as an afterthought once the budgetary carcass has been picked clean by ravenous government departments.” The rest of it is a painfully conventional combination of profligate spending with warnings that it can’t last—except it always does, Thomson notes. “Alberta’s finance ministers should deliver their budget addresses wearing a sandwich board with a smiley face on one side and a death’s head on the other,” he writes.
The Star‘s Thomas Walkom laments the evil megacorporation CanGro’s decision to close two fruit-canning plants in southern Ontario, which comes hot on the heels of Cadbury-Schweppes’ decision to stop using “the Niagara peninsula’s distinctively zesty Concord grapes to make Welch’s grape juice.” This is all symptomatic of “an economic system that no longer focuses on content,” he writes, and he’s probably right. But we simply cannot bring ourselves to care where canned peaches come from.
The Globe‘s John Ibbitson handicaps the May 6 Democratic primary in Indiana—another close race, he declares, but one that’s very winnable for Barack Obama. And if he does win it, then “the superdelegates will surely then decide that the party has spoken” and spare the party any more self-destruction. Why do we feel like we’ve read this before?
The Montreal Gazette‘s Janet Bagnall deplores the sexist pronouncements of Silvio Berlusconi (“Right-wing women are definitely more beautiful than left-wing ones”) and Vladimir Putin (Russian women are “the most talented and beautiful” in the world, with only Italian ones for competition). These comments are easily dismissed as “the last gasp[s] of unreconstructed male chauvinism,” Bagnall writes, but in reality “they create mischief, and harm.” And their effect, she concludes, is “to keep women from power.”