Thursday, June 30, 2011

Let's Build a Fire Under Layton and Rae

In the course of Western civilization we have a rich history of blundering into emergencies unprepared, a history that teaches us the consequences of neglect are often horrendous.  In most of these unfortunate situations we arrive at the moment of truth only to find that our best options are already foreclosed through opportunities squandered or what once appeared to be hard decisions left untaken.  We act if we must, when we must, if we still can.

It is the stock in trade of many popular historians to ask "what if?"   What if Britain and France had moved against Hitler when he moved against the Rhineland or declared anschluss with Austria?   What if American authorities had properly prepared New Orleans for a Katrina-scale hurricane?

Sometimes we have gotten it right, made the right decisions.   Sometimes we've just been very lucky and worst case scenarios haven't occurred.

Right now we're at one of those moments when we have to start making the right decisions or just hope we'll be very, very lucky in the very near future.   Did I mention "very near future"?  Over the last two days I've written about a Canadian Defence Department report warning that energy insecurity and resource (freshwater) shortages magnified by the impacts of climate change could put the world on the road to war by 2025.  There's nothing particularly new in the report's findings, just that it's the Canadian military warning the Canadian government of what's coming.   By every indication, the Harper government has opted for the hope that we'll be very, very lucky when 2025 rolls around.

But what about Moustache Jack and Bob Rae?   Surely they're going to raise proper Hell over this, aren't they?  Are they?  Ever since Harper (and Layton) pistol whipped Stephane Dion for his Green Shift initiative, nobody has wanted to consider much less make the hard decisions.   As far as these characters are concerned, Canada and the Canadian people are on their own on this one.

We need a truly progressive response to this gathering threat.   Indeed, climate change goes to the very heart of progressivism - fundamentals such as social justice, environmentalism, pluralism and human rights.  Liberals and New Democrats take it as an article of faith that their parties fully embrace these core attributes despite all the evidence that they do not or at least won't when that doesn't seem politically astute.

If the climate scientists are right and if the military analysts are right and if probable scenarios become certainty there can be only two responses and only one of them has any chance of being remotely progressive.   The trouble is that the progressive option is the most fragile, the choice likeliest to be closed off first.   If the progressive option slips through our fingers we'll be left with Stephen Harper's option and is that really what you want for your children and grandchildren?

The Canadian military's report has a stark warning for us all.  It proclaims that the future depends on policy decisions that must be taken by government today.  Today.  Now.

With Stephen Harper settling in to a comfy majority this will be very much an uphill battle.  It would be so much better if we didn't have to overcome the indifference of Jack Layton and Bob Rae along the way.   Write to them.   Tell them to get off their asses.  Let them know that, on this one, everybody has to take sides.


Steve said...

Ehmmm, they are on summer holidays, check back later.

I dont have any faith in Rae he is a terminal opportunist, and Jack does what is best for Jack.

For him to savage Dion, and to bring down Martin in the first place, well I am skeptical he is going to say the sky is falling when there is a real chance it will be his responsibly someday soon.

Steve said...

Do further build morale I would like to point out you first posted this info on Tuesday, were is Ms Green, hello Green party you just got a softball, oh on holidays.

Anonymous said...

It’s foolish to castigate political parties for not getting out way ahead of the general population on contentious matters. Without pressure from well organized and highly vocal social movements providing the requisite cover for parties to do the things they know are right, they aren’t likely to, well, do those things.

It’s a kind of laziness to expect otherwise. I say laziness, because the failure of our political parties to behave the way you think they should is in part the result of our failure to mobilize the population effectively on said issue, coupled with the indifference and complacency of the larger population.

For instance, I work in politics, and I can tell you that no matter what people tell pollsters, the larger Canadian public just doesn’t give a shit about climate change. The average person finds the arguments complex, and would sell their grandchildren’s ability to breathe clean air in the future for a properly targeted tax rebate today. That’s the brute reality we operate in. And that this is so is not the fault of Jack Layton. Hell, it probably isn’t the fault of Bob Rae. The responsibility lies with us, and with our neighbours and fellow citizens.

The Mound of Sound said...

It's foolish to castigate them? Says who, Tom boy? You? I had thought their purpose was to seek to lead the country. Your version of politics is nihilistic. We entrust to these people the sole power that exists within our nation to address all manner of threats and challenges including the looming problems identified in the DND report.

It is "our" failure to mobilize the public? That's rubbish. "We" don't have the resources for that. Those resources are held on our behalf by our elected officials. The levers of power are in their hands, not ours. They sought that privilege from us and can't shirk their attendant responsibilities as vapidly as you suggest.

The thing with climate change that is absent in your cynical calculation is that it's not going away nor will it do anything but worsen until the public is "mobilized" by its impacts. That we will not be prepared for it before that is entirely due to useless shits like you. I would apologize for my rudeness but I just can't get mobilized.