Monday, July 22, 2019

Mardi Gras Meltdown or Baked Alaska

Alaska is throwing its universities to the wolves. The Republican governor, Michael Dunleavy, eager to deliver bread and circuses to the people of the 49th state, has slashed university funding by 40 per cent.

Alaskan politicians have for many years "bought" votes by doling out oil revenues to the residents. It's a guaranteed formula for a boom and bust economy.
Dunleavy's spending cuts were part of an attempt to make good on a campaign promise: to increase the state's Permanent Fund Dividend—the checks sent to residents each year from royalties the state collects from the oil industry. The amount typically ranged from $1,000 to $2,000 per person, but that was reduced by former Gov. Bill Walker as he sought to cover a budget deficit. The unpopular move may have been the nail in the coffin of his re-election campaign. Dunleavy promised $3,000 for each resident if elected.
On the chopping block is the University of Alaska Fairbanks, a hub for climate change research in the Arctic.
"Researchers are going to leave—that's the bottom line," said John Walsh, the chief scientist at UAF's International Arctic Research Center. "They'll take their research funding elsewhere."

Once the graduate students start leaving, Walsh said, "it's a death spiral for research. And the research, which is taxed at 55 percent by the university, is a source of funding for the university."
Meanwhile, the Barents Observer has a climate wrap up of conditions in their corner of the Arctic.
...Parts of the far northern region saw temperatures more common to southern beach resorts. In North Siberia, along the coast of the Laptev Sea, heat brought average temperatures for the month up to 8 degrees Celsius above normal, information from Russia’s meteorological institute Roshydromet shows
Major parts of the Taymyr Peninsula, as well as adjacent Laptev and East Siberian Seas, were about 4 degrees warmer than normal, maps from the institute show. 
The heat dried out vegetation and prepared the ground for major wildfires. 
According to the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service there were in June more than 100 intense and long-lived wildfires raging in areas north of the Arctic Circle. North Siberia and Alaska were worst hit. In June alone, these fires emitted 50 megatonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is equivalent to Sweden’s total annual emissions, the monitoring service says. That is more than was released by Arctic fires in the same month between 2010 and 2018 combined.

We're used to hearing that the Canadian Arctic is already 4 degrees Celsius warmer due to climate change. That's nothing compared to the northern Norwegian settlement of Svalbard
Since 1971 Svalbard has experienced a winter warming of 7ºC. And worse will it be, states the new “Climate in Svalbard 2100” report presented in Longyearbyen on Monday. 
People in Longyearbyen have first hand knowledge on what it means to live the what likely is the world’s fastest warming town. 
Houses are sagging as the ground underneath is melting. Stable permafrost is long gone for the 2,200 inhabitants up here at the world’s northernmost permanent settlement,1,300 kilometers beyond the Arctic Circle.
A study by the Norwegian government concludes Svalbard may receive 10 C of warming by the end of the century.

Ellen Hambro, Director of the Environmental Agency, uses strong words when describing the conclusions in the report.
“It is rare that I use words like this, but what happens on Svalbard is extreme. The temperature rises faster here in the Arctic than anywhere else in the world, and climate change has already had major consequences for nature, animals and the community on the island group,” Hambro says in an article posted on the agency’s portal.

Here's a Way Cathy Could Make Herself Useful

Dame Cathy McKenna, Trudeau's EnviroMin, isn't much in the public eye these days. It must be tough playing defender of the environment in a petro-government out to burn the place down.

Here's an idea to raise her lacklustre profile. The Union of Concerned Scientists has produced a dandy interactive map showing what Americans can expect in their old age in the way of climate change.

It's a good way to remind people from their 20s to 50s that they have skin in this game - their own hides.

EnviroCan should take the UCS map as a template for a similar map of Canada from the Arctic all the way to the US border. It would help younger Canadians have a sense of what the decisions taken in Ottawa today could mean for them in 30 or 40 years.

Whatever Happened To - Lindsey Graham?

According to Bill Maher, Lindsey Graham lost his spine when his boyfriend, John McCain, died. Up till then, Graham was a reliable critic of his president, Donald J. Trump. But, when McCain died, there was a radical transformation in the Senator from South Carolina.

The New Republic has assembled a list of Graham's remarks about Trump. See if you can tell where McCain died.

Another Forest On the Verge of Succumbing to Climate Change

The petro-pimps running this country don't like to dwell on the collateral casualties of their high-carbon perfidy. These range to Canadians whose health is being permanently harmed by wildfire smoke to the source of that smoke, our imperiled forests.

One problem that the global petro-economy has triggered through climate change is the spread of forest-killing conditions. That spans everything from drought, heatwaves and the massive increase and migration of pests such as pine beetles.

At the moment the pine bettle kill off is primarily in the west but the little buggers have crossed the Rockies to spread into the Boreal forest and, eventually, they'll reach Labrador. It's a matter of time, probably a lot less than we imagine.

It's not only a North American nightmare. The Europeans are dealing with the same problem. Germany's forests are on the brink of ecological collapse.

Germany's forests are undoubtedly suffering as a result of climate change, with millions of seedlings planted in the hope of diversifying and restoring forests dying, warns Ulrich Dohle, chairman of the 10,000-member Bunds Deutscher Forstleute (BDF) forestry trade union
"It's a catastrophe. German forests are close to collapsing," Dohle added in an interview with t-online, a online news portal of Germany's Ströer media group.

Low rainfall last summer saw Germany's rivers reach extreme lows, with some waterways still struggling and forests prone to fire.

"These are no longer single unusual weather events. That is climate change," said Dohle.
How much is a forest that spans the breadth of Canada worth? How does that stack up against the imaginary bounty we hope to extract from the Tar Sands? Just askin'

Did Bombardier Throw the Baby Out With the Bath Water?

Two legendary names in the history of Canadian aviation - de Havilland Canada and Canadair.  Between them the two powerhouses put out so many great aircraft.

de Havilland developed what is still today's preferred floatplane on the BC coast - the Beaver, the DHC-2. It was followed by the larger Otter and then the now legendary Twin Otter.

Canadair, hatched in 1944, produced a line of military aircraft including the Canso, the CF-86 Sabre, the CF-104 Starfighter, and civilian aircraft such as the successful Challenger business jet.

Eventually both were swallowed up by Bombardier in the late 80s. Then Bombardier fell on hard times and started flogging off its aviation assets. The Regional Jet was picked up by Mitsubishi. After being bludgeoned by Boeing, Airbus stepped in to rescue the C-Series jetliners. Almost unnoticed was the sale of the de Havilland line to Viking Air, located at the Victoria airport.

Viking now owns the rights to those awesome de Havilland aircraft, everything from the Beaver through to the Buffalo. In the mix it also has the rights to what is now the world's pre-eminent water bomber, the CL 215/415.

Viking is concentrating on servicing and production of the Twin Otter. The water bomber? Well there's only so much a relatively small company without a suitable factory can handle.  Which, as it turns out, is too bad.

For those who might not have noticed, wild fires are sweeping the world. Wild fires are rarely within reach of water mains and roads, the sort of infrastructure so helpful to fighting fires. That's where water bombers come in so handy.

Word today that several European Union countries have decided to pool their resources to fight the wild fires that are plaguing their region, Europe. And just what are they pooling? You guessed it, their fleet of Canadair water bombers.
Seven fire-fighting planes and six helicopters – they are the first aircraft in the new "rescEU" fleet — allocated by the five EU member states Spain, Italy, France, Sweden, Croatia. They are also available to other European countries and adjoining states, which can request to use the planes in an emergency to fight forest fires. Spain has assigned two Canadairs, some of the biggest and most effective fire-fighting aircraft. They have a capacity of more than 6,000 liters, and can refill their tanks in just 10 seconds. 
The Canadairs are stationed at the military airbase of Torrejon near Madrid, awaiting their next deployment. On either side of the runway the grass is scorched and yellow. The weather forecast is for temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius in the shade – ideal conditions for forest fires. 
The Spanish air force has had a lot of experience dealing with them. Last year, its pilots flew more than 200 missions with the Canadairs. Spain has a total of 260 fire-fighting aircraft, both large and small. Now, other, less well-equipped countries will be able to benefit from this expertise more quickly and efficiently.
...To ensure that countries participating in rescEU don't suffer shortages as a result, the EU Commission is financing additional equipment. It will contribute up to 90% of the acquisition and maintenance costs for new helicopters and planes. The EU will also cover 75% of transport and deployment costs. 
In the coming year, the Commission wants member states to present detailed purchase plans. The funds will come out of the EU budget; 136 million euros per year have been allocated for this until 2020. After that, the EU Commission wants the sum to be increased, to 200 million per year. One Canadair plane costs between 30 and 40 million euros.
Maybe, since the federal government is awash in billions of dollars to build pipelines, they might want to give Viking or some other suitable Canadian company the support they need to get the CL-415 line back up and running.

Ottawa is doing so much to create the conditions that are causing these wild fires, shouldn't we be making a few bucks on  the deal? If not, how long will it be before the next Mitsubishi or Airbus turns up at Viking's hangar in Victoria?

Even the Prospect of War in the Gulf No Longer Works.

It doesn't take much to send the price of oil soaring. Seizing a tanker raising the threat of conflict on the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf once would have been more than enough and we would see it within days at the gas pump. There's been a little blip but...

Maybe those days are over.
Sentiment in the oil market has shifted dramatically in recent days, with hedge funds, producers and traders all taking a more bearish tack in response to what they see as weakness in worldwide demand. 
The oil market has struggled to sustain a rally despite supply restrictions that generally would be considered bullish. U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and Iran have removed more than 1.5 million barrels of daily supply from the market, OPEC extended a supply-cut deal into 2020 and tensions between the United States and Iran are rising. 
Yet, Brent futures have struggled to sustain a move above US$65 a barrel and slumped about 7 per cent last week, while U.S. futures have rarely moved above US$60 a barrel. 
“Given all the bullish news we’ve had, the flat price has hardly changed,” said Janelle Matharoo of InsideOut Advisors, a commodities trading and risk management consultancy. “Fifteen years ago, this kind of news would have shifted the price US$20, US$30 per barrel.”
Well, that's certainly awkward when you've got a multi-billion dollar pipeline project in the works with only taxpayers to foot the bill.

Justin Trudeau famously assured US oil execs that, "No country would find 173 billion barrels of ground and just leave them there." Of course no one, including Canada, ever found 173 billion barrels of oil in Athabasca. That's not oil. It's bitumen. Worse yet, the energy giants got the easy stuff while the getting was good. It is becoming progressively more costly to get the dirtier, poorer grade sludge these days.

Investors don't want oil. They want profit from oil. And, when prices slump profits can be hard to realize from high-carbon, low-value sludge, the very stuff Justin is so hellbent on pursuing.

We've been warned. Even the current and former governors of the Bank of England have warned that there's a volatile 'Carbon Bubble' and, at some point, it's going to burst. It's a 'when', not 'if' proposition but, when it happens, the low-value, high-carbon stuff will become 'stranded assets.' And that's the risk Justin has decided we should bear.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Bookends Separated Only By an Ocean?

 "He is infamously cavalier about detail, bored by complexity,
 known to react peevishly and sometimes with a ferocious temper when frustrated or contradicted, and has a notoriously casual relationship with the truth? All that and more."

Does that ring any bells? No, it's not Trump. Trump's alter-ego, perhaps. It's Boris Johnson, who is expected to become the next prime minister of the UK on Tuesday.

The Observer's chief political columnist, Andrew Rawnsley, writes that Boris, to borrow a Brit phrase, might not be "fit for purpose" when he enters Number 10.
He will have to learn how to be prime minister. The schoolboy who wanted to be “world king” has spent many years lusting after the job, but that is entirely different to doing it. Many previous tenants of Number 10 will testify that no other role is an adequate preparation for the demands of the premiership. Tony Blair, a highly accomplished leader of the opposition before he moved into Downing Street, once told me that he didn’t really get the hang of it until he had been doing it for four years and he had the shock absorber of a landslide majority while he was learning on the job. Gordon Brown arrived with a decade as chancellor under his belt, but floundered desperately as prime minister. Boris Johnson has never been in charge of a public service department and was an embarrassment in the one cabinet position that he has held.
...After the briefing on the nuclear deterrent that every incoming prime minister receives, one of the first tasks of the cabinet secretary and other senior mandarins will be to update him on the latest thinking about the EU’s negotiating position and the consequences of a no-deal Brexit. Who will want to puncture his fantasies about what the EU will agree to and warn prime minister Johnson about the hazards of a calamity Brexit when they are likely to be received with a contemptuous lecture to “get off the hamster wheel of doom”? Another deep anxiety in Whitehall is that they will be smeared as scapegoats if it all goes horribly wrong. Since he won’t want to accept the blame for shattering the economy, his instinct will be to accuse others.
...His peer group in the European Union will endeavour to put a diplomatic mask on their incredulity that he has been chosen as prime minister. They want an orderly resolution to Brexit, but there is no reservoir of trust for a man who rose to journalistic fame by confecting fabrications that toxified British attitudes towards the EU and who then fronted the mendacities of the Leave campaign. The chances of striking a bargain have been made slighter by the way in which he has campaigned for the leadership. He might have used his dominant position in the contest to introduce some realism into Tory minds about what can be achieved and give himself some scope for manoeuvre. He has instead upped the ante on himself by declaring that Britain will be out on 31 October, “come what may”, “do or die”, deal or no deal. In the closing stages of the campaign, he made reaching an agreement even harder by saying that he wants the Irish backstop ripped out of the agreement altogether.
The case made for him by his cheerleaders is that he is a master of the theatre of politics, a skill that was absent from his predecessor’s rigid repertoire. He will have a chance to display that characteristic once the prime ministerial limousine has conveyed him from Buckingham Palace to Number 10 to make the customary doorstep speech. We should expect typically florid phrase-making about seizing the opportunities of Brexit, looking to the sunny uplands, making Britain great again and similar braggadocio. The grandiosity of his rhetoric will be swiftly mocked by the crimped circumstances in which he is going to find himself. He will not be in the happy position of Margaret Thatcher in 1979 or Tony Blair in 1997 or even David Cameron in 2015. He will not be a freshly elected prime minister with a mandate from the country that he can call his own. He will have been put there by the tiny minority of people who are members of the Tory party. Whenever he claims to speak for the nation, the nation will be entitled to rebuke him for that presumption.
...The most intense pressures on him will be self-made. En route to Number 10, he has made large promises that are going to be tested to destruction when campaign poses collide with the reality of a precarious premiership. He has told his party that he will get them a much better deal than Mrs May and, if the EU doesn’t succumb to his demands, Britain will leave without an agreement on Halloween. He has also promised his party that there will not be an election before Brexit is done. He has further declared that he will not countenance another referendum. At least one of those pledges cannot be kept. When it has to be broken, I’d quite like to see the look on Theresa May’s face.
As for Trump, by all appearances he's already forgotten how Boris, while mayor of London, described the Mango Mussolini:
I think Donald Trump is clearly out of his mind,” Johnson, who was at the time the mayor of London, said of then-candidate Trump’s 2015 call to ban Muslims from entering the United States. In response to the Republican hopeful’s early criticisms of London, which Trump erroneously described as having “no-go areas” teeming with Islamic extremism, Johnson said Trump betrayed “a quite stupefying ignorance that makes him, frankly, unfit to hold the office of president of the United States.
On the prospect of a Trump visit to London, Johnson said he would welcome the president, “except that I wouldn’t want to expose Londoners to any unnecessary risk of meeting Donald Trump.” In some ways, Johnson’s thoughts about Trump when he served as London mayor were similar to those of his successor to that position, Sadiq Khan.

We're Out of Time

In most of Canada we've had a scorchingly-good weekend, at least so I've been told by friends and relatives in Ontario and Quebec. In fact, most of the inhabited world is setting heat records.

Those records? The scientific consensus tells us they're not going to last long before they're broken by hotter, more frequent and longer duration heat waves. Think of today as a "starter heatwave," an introductory lesson.

The federal government, on a Liberal motion at that, has declared Canada to be in a state of climate emergency. It's probably a good time to acknowledge that we're arse deep in a climate crisis. Jeebus, even the Arctic is ablaze.

The Dauphin doesn't really see it that way. He thinks Canada needs a bitumen pipeline that will eventually flood a fossil fuel-starved planet with high-carbon, low-value bitumen that. as he tells it, will eventually fill the treasury with money that will be used to fight climate change.

That's sort of like saying you'll put out the fire that's sweeping through your kitchen and livingroom but first you want a week or so to put another coat of paint on the house to up the resale value. There's a word for that. It's "stupid."

Trudeau is going to sink at least 12-billion into getting his expanded pipeline through to the coast. That's before the federal government sees Dime One. In fact the existing pipeline has lost about $34-million since it was signed over to the feds.

Is Trudeau putting Canada and the Canadian people in grave jeopardy? Yes, he is. It's not good enough to say we'll use vast wealth from a pipeline, money that may never materialize, as our fund to confront our very own, very real climate crisis.

Trudeau is gambling on time, our time, time we just don't have. Trudeau said his government would "follow the science." Like so many of his solemn assurances, that was hollow, a ruse. He is, instead, charting a path that is quite possibly nihilistic.

And so, thanks to the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau, we're reduced to this:

Saturday, July 20, 2019

This Is a Prime Minister Who Deserves Our Votes?

I'll give him credit. Justin Trudeau did surface in Victoria albeit at a $300 a head seat at a party fundraiser, safely removed from those unfortunate protesters outside the venue.

It was classic Trudeau - all patronizing and just a little bit greasy.

Trudeau, sitting on a stage answering scripted questions for about 30 minutes, said there are many people in total agreement with Liberal government’s protection of oceans, banning plastics, moving forward with partnerships with Indigenous Peoples to better protect coastlines, putting a price on pollution, and reaching targets for protecting marine areas. 
“These things are all great,” said Trudeau. “But they can’t get over the fact that we had to buy a pipeline to get a decent price for our resources to pay for the transition we all need to go through because we are still all reliant on fossil fuels for the next few years at the very least, most likely the next few decades.
"We had to buy a pipeline"? Trudeau is a devout neoliberal, a disciple of globalism. Why did we have to buy the pipeline? Why were the markets he so believes in, the private sector, so unwilling to buy the damned thing?

Then came the Dauphin's straw man - we can't choose between the environment and the economy. In other words we're so bereft of ideas that we can't see that the urgency of our climate emergency that most Canadians are sharing in this weekend demands that we can't wait, we have to shift to a clean energy economy now, not 'eventually' which is what he's proposing.
Trudeau said dealing with climate change can’t be a choice between the environment and the economy and that the only way to have a plan for the economy is to have a plan to fight climate change and protect the environment.
Then came the classic Trudeau smarm. He's just greasy.
“Not everyone gets to live on Vancouver Island where you have a green conscience that the rest of the country can learn from and needs to learn from.” 
Trudeau quipped he was sort of flattered by the protesters holding inflatable whales outside “because I heard those same orcas were out there for [Green Party Leader] Elizabeth May’s wedding a few months ago.” 
Pulling the country together is the federal government’s job, said Trudeau. 
“That means making concessions that some people will disagree with and taking steps others won’t be happy with but all aligned with a big picture of saying we are on a path that will create a better future for our kids and grandkids.”
The last thing Justin has on his mind is the future of our grandkids. 

Trump Didn't Invent This - How Non-Jewish Politicians Exploit "Anti-Semitism" for Political Purposes

Talia Lavin writes that American Jews are tired of being used by non-Jewish politicians whenever it suits them to smear others as 'anti-Semitic'.
This week, Donald Trump banged out a series of twisted tweets demanding that four congresswomen of color “go back” to the countries from which they came, utilizing a classic schoolyard racist trope that still rings in the ears of every nonwhite person in this country. When the backlash came, he raised Jews up like a shield with a Star of David daubed on it in thin, flaking paint to defend him. The four Democrats he targeted, he tweeted later, “hate Israel with a true and unbridled passion” and “have made Israel feel abandoned by the U.S.” They are, he continued, “Anti-Semitic...Anti-America,” and “anti-Israel, pro Al-Qaeda,” among other salvos, all in the past forty-eight hours.

Other Republicans took their cues from their president. Among them was Steve Daines, senator from Montana, who wrote: “Montanans are sick and tired of listening to anti-American, anti-Semite, radical Democrats trash our country and our ideals. This is America. We’re the greatest country in the world. I stand with @realdonaldtrump.” 
According to the Jewish Virtual Library, the Jewish population of Montana stands at a scant 1,395. Daines has never made mention on his Twitter account of the anti-Semitic people and events in his home state—including Richard Spencer, whose hometown is Whitefish, Montana, nor Andrew Anglin, who released a troll storm so vile on a Jewish woman living in Whitefish that a court awarded her $14 million in damages this week. Daines declined to tweet out a statement of solidarity after a white nationalist gunned down eleven Jews in a synagogue in Pittsburgh; Daines was silent after another white nationalist attack on a synagogue in Poway, just outside San Diego, earlier this year. But when an issue was made of the President’s naked racism, Daines rode up with a cargo of Jews—imaginary Jews, silent Jews, the easiest kind of Jews to employ—to defend him. Daines isn’t the only example of right-wing politicians who wish to wield anti-Semitism as a convenient cudgel against their political enemies, with scant if any evidence. But Montana’s vanishingly small Jewish population makes it particularly clear that this strategy has little to do with flesh-and-blood Jews at all.
...Jews and Israel are not synonymous; nor is support for Palestine synonymous with anti-Semitism; nor is questioning the orthodoxy of the Republican party, which the majority of us do with relish, an insult to Jewry.

...At a White House Hanukkah party, Trump told a gathering of American Jews that Israel was “your country.” More strikingly, when blood ran on the streets of Pittsburgh after the pogrom at the Tree of Life Synagogue in 2018, Trump did not meet with community leaders of the Pittsburgh Jewish community, nor the family members of the dead, nor even the city’s mayor. He spoke with Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States. The city’s Jews led a massive protest against his visit. The message, though politely veiled, was as stark as his message to congresswomen of color: you may live here, but this is not your country. You are not from here; you are not of this country. If you don’t like it, leave.
Meeting with the ambassador of Israel to offer comfort to American Jews affected by white nationalist violence underscores exactly for whom these comments—about “anti-Semitic,” about “anti-Israel” sentiment—are being made. The strongest supporters of an uncritical, anti-Palestinian foreign policy are white evangelical Christians—the most politically mobilized segment of the president’s base, and his audience for these remarks, and these actions. Their support for Israel is grounded in an apocalyptic vision in which Palestine is “restored” to the Jews—the Palestinians expelled or slaughtered, it makes no matter—and the Jews subsequently convert en masse, disappearing into the flock of the righteous. In this Revelations-tinted vision, Jews are pawns, too, a populace to be maneuvered into the correct conditions for a welcomed end of days, and to vanish, with all our particularities, into the fold of believers in Christ. Erasure is the condition of their allegiance.
...Jews are not trees, not animals, not mute props to use as cudgels in a war of escalating rhetoric. We do not need to be spoken for, we who have been here since before this country was a country, and want to remain, and know no other home; we are not waiting for your apocalypse. As if to prove a counterpoint, on Tuesday, July 15, one thousand “Jews and allies” led by a group called #NeverAgainAction and the immigrant justice group Movimiento Cosecha enacted a protest in Washington, D.C.,blockading the entrances and exits to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s headquarters and the approaching street. Their chief slogan defied those who would use Jews’ bloody history to deny present atrocities; those who would utilize Jews as weapons to silence anti-racists; those who want us to wait, meekly, to be cozened by Christ in the end of days. What they chanted, holding hands, were four simple words: “Never Again is Now.”

h/t The Salamander

Friday, July 19, 2019

Doug Ford is So Awful...

He's even made the pages of Al Jazeera.  You would think with all the thugs Al Jazeera has to cover they wouldn't even notice Ford. Wrong.

Burn Baby, Burn. What Trump Would Beget.

The Great Orange Whore loves to point to a snowstorm as proof that global warming is a hoax. He tends to ignore the subject entirely when America catches fire as it is this week.

Think Progress calls it the Trump Heat Wave.
Dangerous combinations of high temperatures and humidity will push the “heat index” (what the temperature “feels like”) past 100 degrees Fahrenheit from the Dakotas down to Texas and across to Maine and Florida, an area encompassing well over half of the country’s population. 
...Even worse, if we fail to significantly curb emissions of carbon pollution — which is the current plan put forth by President Donald Trump’s climate policies — then these severe and deadly heatwaves will become the normal summer weather over the next few decades.
In fact, a peer-reviewed study published this week warns that if we don’t reverse emissions trends quickly and sharply, we will see a rise in unprecedented heat waves that will “break” the National Weather Service’s heat index scale. 
The researchers warn we will face extended scorchers more brutal than the United States has ever experienced before. In several decades, parts of Florida and Texas could experience a heat index for five or more months per year exceeding 100 degrees, “with most of these days even surpassing 105 degrees.” 
The administration’s own studies confirm this. Typical five-day heat waves in the U.S. will be 12 degrees warmer by mid-century alone, according to the U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA), which the White House itself reviewed and approved last November.

The Plantation Nation

It was an odd op-ed to find in the pages of ordinarily bland Time Magazine: "Republicans Want a White Republic. They'll Destroy America to Get It."

The GOP’s membership is nearly 90 percent white and can only envision carnage and extinction as it looks upon a rights-based, religious, racial and ideologically diverse America. Or, as Lindsey Graham had noted as early as 2012, “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

In short, the United States of America is not really their America. They yearn for a white republic. That’s why they are fighting to recreate the days when, as Archie Bunker sang, “Guys like us, we had it made.” That’s why they’ve willingly gone along with and participated in a sustained attack on the country itself, allowing it to grow weaker so that they could feel stronger. 
Already, Trump and the Republicans have severely harmed the institutional heft of checks-and-balances. But they’re not done. America’s international reputation and influence rest on enormous economic and military strength, as well as the intangible but all-important “soft power” brought on by a robust democracy. All three pillars are necessary to sustain America’s nearly global respect and position, yet — and this was the rub — all three are increasingly dependent on more than just whites in the United States to build and sustain. For white America to exist, America must die. And the Republicans have made their choice.
...The dismantling of a robust, multiracial democracy requires not only acts of commission, such as the 5-4 Shelby County v. Holder decision by the conservatives on the Supreme Court to gut the Voting Rights Act, but sins of omission as well. Mitch McConnell’s flat-out refusal to even engage legislation that would protect the nation’s electoral infrastructure from hacking and foreign interference, despite solid evidence that it occurred in 2016, sends a clear signal that for his ilk this is not an American democracy worth protecting or saving.
Amerika, the Plantation Nation, where whites will again rule and the last, already shredded vestiges of democracy are finally laid to rest.

Don't Take This the Wrong Way

I'm not trying to guilt you out. Even by today's standards I've been as much a sinner as most.

A study finds that air travel is a major contributor to atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions. A single long-haul return holiday trip produces more carbon emissions per passenger than the entire annual GHG output of citizens of dozens of countries.

For example, I have a daughter who now lives in Amsterdam. She's insistent that I fly out to be with her and her beau.  The calculator shows that Vancouver YVR to Amsterdam Schiphol return equals 1,284 kg. of CO2, more CO2 than the average citizen produces annually in 66 countries.

This comes at a point where air travel is expected to set another record this year.
2019 is forecast to be another record-breaking year for air travel, with passengers expected to fly a total of 8.1tn km, up 5% from last year and more than 300% since 1990.
Air travel is expected to increase three-fold over the next three decades. If designers succeed in developing more fuel-efficient aircraft, total emissions will still double by 2050.
“The increase in traffic has historically outpaced the improvements in technology,” says Dr John Broderick, who researches climate policy and international transport at the University of Manchester.
When I did a lot of air travel it was mainly in the 60s and 70s. Air travel was far different back then. For starters, there was less of it. People didn't venture quite so far away from home for work or play. Relocating to live in Europe was more of a luxury back then than it has become today. There was no "cattle class" as we have today. And there were a lot fewer people to travel - our population has more than doubled since the 70s.

What to do, what to do? I certainly don't know. Flying has become so deeply integrated into today's way of life in the developed countries that it's hard to even imagine what our lifestyle would be like without it. Yet we know that if there is to be a viable climate for future generations 'doing without' is the key.

The prescription calls for global emissions to be cut in half by 2030 and few of the big emitters are even in that ballpark. Then, if we somehow do manage that first target, we'll have just 20 years in which to cut the remaining half. That means decarbonizing our economies, decarbonizing our societies.

There's already discussion about rationing air travel. You might have to choose between laying on a beach in Hawaii or showing your respects at Aunt Tilley's funeral. Tough choice, eh?

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The New Chant of the Fuhrer Rallye

Last time around the deplorables chanted, "Lock her up. Lock her up." Their target, the citizen they wanted put away, was, of course, Hillary Clinton. That was then. This is now.

At today's Fuhrer Rallye there's a different but even more odious chant stirring the mob. Now it's "Send her back. Send her back," a reference to representative Ilham Omar.

No, Not Germany. Madison Square Garden.

Trump has whipped his mob into an Islamophobic frenzy after deliberately and falsely accusing Omar of supporting al Qaeda.

To be clear, I'm not saying that Trump supporters are Nazis. I'm not saying they aren't either. It's too soon to tell.

I'm working my way through a fascinating book, "Defying Hitler," based on the memoirs of Sebastien Haffner. Born into a solid, middle class family in Berlin in 1907, he became a lawyer and a junior court referee. In his diary Haffner gives a vivid account of how his society, his friends and colleagues, incrementally succumbed to Nazism. It's a telling account for those who say "it couldn't happen here." It sweeps aside the illusions we have about the security of our own democracy.

Haffner, his secular Jewish wife and their son, were able to escape to Britain in 1938. He worked for The Observer, returning to Germany in 1954 where he wrote for Die Welt and Stern. After his death in 1999, Haffner's son arranged his unpublished diaries into the book, "Defying Hitler." It's a powerfully insightful and equally disturbing book. Well worth the read.

If you're interested in the book, here's a review of Defying Hitler from the New York Times.

Don't Tell Me Jason Kenney Had Nothing to Do With This -

I said Don't Tell Me.

Alberta has declared an outbreak of a sexually transmitted infection. 
A total of 1,536 cases of infectious syphilis were reported in 2018 compared to 161 in 2014, almost a tenfold increase. 
Infectious and congenital syphilis rates have escalated across the province over the past five years, with a sharp increase in 2018, prompting the declaration. 
“We need to emphasize for all Albertans: Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are a risk to anyone who is sexually active, particularly people who have new sex partners and are not using protection,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health. 
“I encourage anyone who is sexually active to get tested regularly. Anyone in Alberta can access STI testing and treatment for free.” 
According to the province, the rate of infectious syphilis has not been this high in Alberta since 1948.

The Christianity Industry

It's more than Bible-thumping but how much more?

As a devout agnostic my project for the next month will be to explore modern hyper-Christianity through the eyes of three writers: old school Republican, Kevin Phillips, author of "American Theocracy"; retired US military commander, Andrew Bacevich, "The New American Militarism"; and Kevin Kruse, "One Nation Under God: "How Corporate America Created Christian America."

Phillips book, published in 2005, offers a look at the role hyper-Christianity plays in American society, how fundamentalism overwhelmed traditional Christian churches and the role this evangelism plays in the decline of the great superpower. The author describes 'radicalized religion' as one of the three major perils facing America.

Reckless dependency on shrinking oil supplies, a milieu of radicalized (and much too influential) religion, and a reliance on borrowed money - debt, in its ballooning size and multiple domestic and international deficits - now constitute the three major perils to the United States of the twenty-first century.

[War and terror] both derive much of their current impetus from the incendiary backdrop of oil politics and religious fundamentalism, in Islam as well as the West. Despite pretensions to motivations such as liberty and freedom, petroleum and its geopolitics have dominated Anglo-American activity in the Middle East for a full century. On this, history could not be more clear.

The excesses of fundamentalism, in turn, are American and Israeli, as well as the all-too-obvious depredations of radical Islam. The rapture, end times, and Armageddon hucksters in the United States rank with any Shiite ayatollahs, and the last two presidential elections mark the transformation of the GOP into the first religious party in U.S. history.
From Bacevich we learn how the evangelical church along with the radical right managed to insinuate themselves into what we used to know as the "military-industrial complex." How was the US military reshaped by evangelism.
Certain in their understanding of right and wrong, growing in numbers, affluence, and sophistication, and determined to reverse the nation's perceived decline, conservative evangelicals after the 1960s assume the role of church militant. Abandoning their own previously well established skepticism about the morality of force and inspired in no small measure by their devotion to Israel, they articulated a highly permissive interpretation of the "just war" doctrine, the cornerstone of Christian thinking about warfare. And they developed a considerable appetite for wielding armed might on behalf of righteousness, more often that not indistinguishable from America's own interests.

Conservative Christians have conferred a presumptive moral palatability on any occasion on which the United States resorts to force. They have fostered among the legions of believing Americans a predisposition to see U.S. military power as inherently good, perhaps even a necessary adjunct to the accomplishment of Christ's saving mission. In doing so they have nurtured the preconditions have have enabled the American infatuation with military power to flourish. 
Put another way, were it not for the support offered by several tens of millions of evangelicals, militarism in this deeply and genuinely religious country becomes inconceivable.
Finally there's Kruse. From The New York Times review.
Did you ever wonder how “In God We Trust” came to be quoted on every American coin and dollar bill? Or why the Pledge of Allegiance to the most revered symbol of the nation includes an explicit declaration of confidence in the Almighty? Or why the president and members of Congress host a National Prayer Breakfast the first Thursday of each February? 
These now utterly commonplace markers of public piety were almost all created during the same decade — the 1950s. Their initial enthusiasts, as described by the Princeton historian Kevin M. Kruse, were conservative Protestant ministers and businessmen who hoped Americans would not take their handiwork for granted. They believed the nation badly needed a religious awakening to reverse the depredations of a godless federal state. 
“Every Christian should oppose the totalitarian trends of the New Deal,” asserted James W. Fifield Jr., an eloquent Congregationalist pastor from Los Angeles who, during the 1930s, created Spiritual Mobilization, a publicity offensive that joined megachurches like his with vocal, anti-liberal magnates like the Hollywood producer Cecil B. De Mille and J. Howard Pew Jr., the president of Sun Oil. They all believed religiosity, if widely and officially deployed, would be a mighty weapon in the battle against collectivist liberals at home and Communists abroad. As their ally, Billy Graham, preached in 1951 at one of his ever popular crusades, Americans urgently needed to rededicate themselves to “the rugged individualism that Christ brought” to the world. 
But a funny thing happened on the road to spiritual and political redemption. By the mid-1950s, officeholders and social activists from every point on the ideological spectrum had signed on to the same righteous platform. In 1952, just before moving into the White House, Dwight ­Eisenhower (who was named after Dwight Moody, the renowned Gilded Age evangelist) told a gathering at the Waldorf Astoria: “Our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith, and I don’t care what it is.” Only a hardened atheist could object to such an ecumenical bromide. Under Eisenhower, Kruse writes, “the state no longer seemed ‘pagan,’ . . . and liberals could present themselves as acting in accord with God’s will too.” Two years later, when Congress agreed to add “one nation under God” to the Pledge, not even the American Civil Liberties Union objected. One lone Jewish representative from Brooklyn, Abraham Multer, did argue that putting God’s name on the currency would not stimulate “one single person to be more religious.” But even he didn’t dare vote against the bill.
I'll be dusting off my copies of Phillips' and Bacevich's books. They're around here somewhere. "One Nation Under God" should be here in a couple of weeks. I'll be back with more once I've brushed up on the first two and read the third.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Another Chilly Day.

The Tories might like to pretend global warming isn't happening. Tell that to the folks in Nunavut. Not just Nunavut but Alert, Nunavut, the northernmost settlement in Canada.

Today Nunavut is warmer than Victoria, B.C. Victoria is the warmest city in Canada - on average. Today isn't average.
"It's really quite spectacular," said David Phillips, Environment Canada's chief climatologist. "This is unprecedented." 
The weather agency confirmed that Canadian Forces Station Alert hit a record of 21 C on Sunday. On Monday, the military listening post on the top of Ellesmere Island had reached 20 C by noon and inched slightly higher later in the day. 
Alert was warmer both days than Victoria, B.C., a Canadian go-to for balmy climes.
The Canadian Arctic is also contributing to another all-time record.
Record temperatures across much of the world over the past two weeks could make July the hottest month ever measured on Earth, according to climate scientists. 
The past fortnight has seen freak heat in the Canadian Arctic, crippling droughts in Chennai and Harare and forest fires that forced thousands of holidaymakers to abandon campsites in southern France and prompted the air force in Indonesia to fly cloud-busting missions in the hope of inducing rain.

Who Knew? Woody Guthrie Wrote a Song About Donald J. Trump

Let's Talk About Social Cohesion

Division, paranoia, distrust, isolation. It's what happens when political partisans place party ahead of the public. That's our world today.

We live in a deeply fractured society by no means on the scale of the American rift but heading in the same direction. The worst part is that there's nothing accidental about it.

In Canada where the support of fewer than two votes out of five can reward the Conservatives or the Liberals with a majority government a divided society can work to their advantage.

I'm not suggesting there is any moral equivalence between Liberal and Conservative, there's not. Unlike the Harper/Scheer Tories the Liberals don't seek to pit Canadian against Canadian. The Liberals are content to pit the public interest against the private, corporate interest but to the extent they divide us, it's more inadvertent.

The Tories do pit us one against the other. You can tell what they're up to by the dog whistles. They're past masters at this game, East versus West, French versus English. They know their supporters' biases, their darker instincts, and play those saps to their advantage. Fear-mongering is their stock in trade. They've watched it work in the States and the Tories like what they see. It's effective, it's easy and even a moron can do it.

In my view, playing one part of the population against another for partisan advantage is borderline treasonous. It weakens the country and our society. It corrals us into camps. Communication is lost and we instead resort to suspicion and hostility. We see "the other" as our enemy.

Last week, Globe columnist Yakabuski wrote of the "diploma divide." He described a growing rift between educated citizens supporting one party, the Democrats/Liberals et al, and more poorly educated voters flocking instead to the rival party, the ruling Republicans/Conservatives.
This cultural segregation along political lines means that Democrats and Republicans no longer speak the same language or espouse common values. They are not only uninterested in hearing the other side; they are contemptuous of it. 
...University of Ottawa professor Amir Attaran set off a Twitter storm this week by calling the Conservatives “the party of the uneducated,” based on Abacus Data poll showing the Tories with a 12-percentage point lead over the Liberals among Canadians with a high-school education or less. This, in Prof. Attaran’s view, is why “Conservative governments offer numbskull policy, like Buck-a-Beer,” one of Ontario Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford’s signature initiatives, which may or may not be as dumb as it sounds. only have to look up the word “numbskull” in the dictionary to understand that Prof. Attaran did not mean his remarks to be taken as a compliment. They were a clear dig at the supposedly less-enlightened ideas of the Canadian right, which, under its current cohort of leaders, tends to celebrate know-nothingness over investigation and evidence-based policy.
Yesterday, CNN explored today's dual America, two quite separate, seemingly irreconcilable countries living within a single territory in a state of undeclared civil war.
One commentator recently said we're on the brink of a "political civil war." 
That comment evoked another era that reminds me of this one -- the decades running up to the Civil War. 
Then, as now, we were splitting into two different countries. Political compromise was impossible on another issue that revolved around American identity -- slavery. Congressional lawmakers carried pistols on the House and Senate floors. 
The impending Civil War was described as "irrepressible conflict" -- the nation would become either a slave-holding nation or a free-labor country. There was no middle ground. 
That period also saw the rise of the nation's first anti-immigration party. They were called the "The American Party," otherwise known as the "Know-Nothings." They blamed Irish and German immigrants for rising crime and poverty rates, and riots erupted across America in the 1840s and '50s.
...Trump's tweets show we are now in the middle of another "irrepressible conflict." We can't forever be a country that prides itself for welcoming immigrants and religious diversity while also being one that puts immigrant children in cages and shrugs when our President makes racist statements. 
To paraphrase another President -- Abraham Lincoln -- we eventually "will become all one thing or all the other."
Yesterday The Tyee reviewed recent polls by Angus Reid and Ekos that showed Canadians have contracted the American contagion.
...when we no longer even agree on problems, our version of democracy doesn’t work. We’re divided into camps, staring at each other with incomprehension, scorn or, occasionally, hatred. 
And when the breakdown is centred on an issue that’s widely accepted as a grave threat to humanity, we’re moving away from useful political debate to destructive factionalism.

Racism is embedded in our society. Many Canadians alive today grew up in a time when overt or institutional racism was accepted. It is still part of our culture, a daily reality. The challenge is to acknowledge that reality, and do better. 
But the poll results signal that many Conservative supporters don’t share that belief. More than two-thirds are prepared to proclaim that people with different coloured skin or different religions shouldn’t be allowed into the country. 
While our actions have often betrayed our principles, Canadians have broadly accepted the notion that racism is wrong. It is part of the context for our society and politics. 
But current Conservative supporters are rejecting that principle
Racism is OK again, at least when it comes to immigration. 
EKOS concludes something much bigger is going on. The poll results reveal a surge in support for “ordered or authoritarian populism,” it says.
To blow those dog whistles intending to sculpt a deeply divided society is reprehensible. To strive to weaken the country in this way is, in my view, treasonous. This isn't a matter of a principled difference of opinion. It is exploiting, by fear-mongering appeals to xenophobia, the known biases, fears and darker instincts of a demonstrably susceptible group.

Those who have read this blog over the years know my concern for social cohesion. Canada, like every other country, is facing huge challenges from a variety of existential threats, climate change being just one of them.

The challenges that confront us will require a degree of accommodation, occasional sacrifice and compromise unknown outside of wartime. Achieving that measure of collaboration will be difficult, if not impossible, without genuine social cohesion, trust and, from it, goodwill.

With this gathering storm we ought to be focused on resolving our differences rather than exploiting them for partisan advantage. I'm not sure that option remains open to us today but, if it does, it will take an extraordinary effort on the part of those who would reclaim it. Taking the high road today can be fraught with peril, setbacks and unforeseen consequences.

We need to be honest with ourselves.  There are those among us who persistently vilify Conservatives as "ghastly" and outside the company of "decent" Canadians. That sort of thing plays directly into the hands of those who pursue our division. It ought not to be condoned.

How do we close the divide, bridge the gap? I don't know. Obama spent both terms in office trying to overcome the politics of division but the Republicans weren't having it. Their obstinance surely paid an electoral dividend to Obama's successor, the Great Racist himself.

I don't know how to cure this contagion but if we don't find some solutions I fear we'll pay dearly for failing.

Monday, July 15, 2019

What Trump Understands About America

Donald Trump has a shrewd understanding of America. He knows it's not "one nation, under god, with liberty and justice for all." He knows it's not a country in which all men are created equal. Trump knows there are two Americas, Trump's America and another America.

In one America, people react with shock when a President issues vile racist tweets against women lawmakers. In the other America, people say nothing. 
In one America, people speak out in protest after a President claims that African, Haitian, and Salvadoran immigrants come from "sh**hole" countries. In the other America, people nod in agreement. 
In one America, people become outraged when administration officials snatch migrant children from their mothers' arms and detain them for weeks in filthy conditions with no repercussions. In the other America, people remain silent.
And in one America, people condemn a President for describing protestors alongside neo-Nazis as "very fine people." In the other America, people shrug.
...But Trump's recent tweets could show that he understands America better than his critics realize. 
These two Americas have long co-existed. 
One is the country represented by the Statue of Liberty, and its invitation to poor and tired immigrants "yearning to breathe free." 
The other is the one that virtually wiped out Native Americans, enslaved Africans, excluded Chinese immigrants in the late 19th century and put Japanese Americans in concentration camps. 
From the rarified perch of the White House, Trump's racist tweets tap into the id of this other America. 
And here's what's so frightening about this: It is not a big stretch to say that when a leader uses the kind of language that Trump uses against minorities, it may increase the chances of violence being used against them.

A return to a distant, angry, dark time.
I've heard commentators say we're on the verge of a second Civil War. That makes a mockery of the carnage of that war, where at least 600,000 Americans were killed. 
Yet there is another 19th-century parallel that resonates. One commentator recently said we're on the brink of a "political civil war."
That comment evoked another era that reminds me of this one -- the decades running up to the Civil War. 
Then, as now, we were splitting into two different countries. Political compromise was impossible on another issue that revolved around American identity -- slavery. Congressional lawmakers carried pistols on the House and Senate floors. 
The impending Civil War was described as "irrepressible conflict" -- the nation would become either a slave-holding nation or a free-labor country. There was no middle ground. 
That period also saw the rise of the nation's first anti-immigration party. They were called the "The American Party," otherwise known as the "Know-Nothings." They blamed Irish and German immigrants for rising crime and poverty rates, and riots erupted across America in the 1840s and '50s. 
"Party members tended to come from the working classes and had a strong anti-elitist bent," Amy Briggs wrote in National Geographic
"Their platform sought to limit immigration and the influence of Catholicism, and they used ugly ethnic stereotypes to stir up hatred against the recent German and Irish arrivals."

America at a crossroad.
Trump's tweets show we are now in the middle of another "irrepressible conflict." We can't forever be a country that prides itself for welcomingimmigrants and religious diversity while also being one that puts immigrant children in cages and shrugs when our President makes racist statements. 
To paraphrase another President -- Abraham Lincoln -- we eventually "will become all one thing or all the other."

Canada Going Down America's Rabbit Hole

A nation divided or how we have to reap what Justin sowed.

For many of us staring into the abyss of deeply fractured America is chilling. Well get used to it, buttercup, we're going down that very same road. From The Tyee:

The American political sickness has infected us. And it’s hard to see how our democracy can cope.

Start with an Angus Reid poll released last month. It asked people to set out the three most important issues facing the country. 
Climate change and environment, said Canadians. For 40 per cent of us, the issue was among the three most important. 
The poll found 65 per cent of Liberal supporters considered it among the three most critical issues; 58 per cent of NDP supporters; and 71 per cent of Green voters. 
But only eight per cent of Conservative supporters cited climate change and the environment as an important issue. 
Traditionally, political parties have competed for votes based on their proposed solutions to what most of us see as problems. Waits for surgery might be too long, for example. One party might argue the answer is higher taxes and more funding for health care; another might campaign on a promise to allow people to pay for private surgeries and skip the queue. Voters can decide. 
But when we no longer even agree on problems, our version of democracy doesn’t work. We’re divided into camps, staring at each other with incomprehension, scorn or, occasionally, hatred. 
And when the breakdown is centred on an issue that’s widely accepted as a grave threat to humanity, we’re moving away from useful political debate to destructive factionalism.
The American contagion - Racism.
Racism is embedded in our society. Many Canadians alive today grew up in a time when overt or institutional racism was accepted. It is still part of our culture, a daily reality. The challenge is to acknowledge that reality, and do better. 
But the poll results signal that many Conservative supporters don’t share that belief. More than two-thirds are prepared to proclaim that people with different coloured skin or different religions shouldn’t be allowed into the country. 
While our actions have often betrayed our principles, Canadians have broadly accepted the notion that racism is wrong. It is part of the context for our society and politics. 
But current Conservative supporters are rejecting that principle
Racism is OK again, at least when it comes to immigration.
EKOS concludes something much bigger is going on. The poll results reveal a surge in support for “ordered or authoritarian populism,” it says. 
It’s a global phenomenon, but U.S. President Donald Trump offers a good case study. His supporters — not all — oppose immigration, especially non-white immigration. They don’t trust political parties or other institutions, science, people with expertise or anyone who holds a differing view. They want a strong leader and more police and, as EKOS summarizes, share “a general desire to pull up the drawbridge and return to a ‘greater’ more secure past.”
Tories Hunker Down
[Angus Reid] asked supporters of the three national opposition parties about their second choice. About 85 per cent of NDP voters had one in mind —Liberal was the leading option. Most Green supporters also had a second choice, with the NDP leading the way. 
But more than half the Conservative supporters — 53 per cent — said they had no second choice. (The People’s Party was the leader among those who did have a choice.)  
It’s hardly new that many people are committed to a political party, for a variety of reasons.

But the value of political campaigns and debates is eroded when more than half the supporters of one party declare their minds cannot be changed by anything they hear or read, or the qualities of the local candidates. 
And the party leader is freed from a sense of responsibility to supporters. No matter how badly he or she behaves, the flock will follow.
...We’re entering into a post-Trumpian political era in Canada, one where we are divided in ways that don’t allow rational discussion. One where we no longer listen to one another, and where we see enemies, not people with different solutions to shared problems. One where fear — of immigrants, experts, others — replaces hope.
Trudeau's fanboys won't like to hear this but the Dauphin's refusal to implement electoral reform played a contributing, albeit perhaps not dominant, role in our political malaise. If there was one thing, above all others, that became clear during Harper's reign it was how badly Canada needed democratic restoration.

We can no longer survive as a society when fewer than two out of five can deliver a false majority mandate to a guy like Harper or even a guy like Trudeau. They become unresponsive to the democratic health of the nation and that permeates down to the electorate.

Justin knew this when he appealed to voters in 2015. He probably still knows it. The difference is first-past-the-post delivered him an undeserved majority in 2015 and will favour the continuance of powerful Liberal/Conservative governments in the foreseeable future.

After all, why put up with the messy business of governance when you can rule instead?