Earlier this week, Canadians flocked to the polls for the fourth time in 7 years. This time around, the election was triggered when the minority government led by Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper was found in contempt of parliament in March for failing to release information related to the costs of proposed crime legislation and the purchase of stealth fighter jets.
From the moment the election was announced, Harper derided it as ‘unnecessary’, and ‘unwanted’ even though public polling clearly indicated widespread displeasure with his handling of the economy, public programming including programs for women, the environment, and for proroguing parliament twice. After the 2008 election, when voter turnout was the lowest in Canadian history (59% overall, and a dismal youth turnout of 37%), people wondered if this so-called ‘unwanted’ election would fail to motivate voters to the polls.
While pundits and pollsters made their best guesses leading up to election day, no one correctly anticipated the outcome. With just under 40% of the vote, the Conservatives finally won the majority they have coveted since ascending in 2006. The New Democratic Party (NDP) won 102 seats and formed the official opposition for the first time in history. The Liberal Party was reduced to a mere 34 seats, and the Bloc Quebecois lost 90% of its seats to end up with 4. On the positive side, Green Party candidate Elizabeth May won her party’s first seat in North American history.
Of the 14 closest ridings that Conservatives won seats, the combined margin of victory in all those ridings was 6,201 votes. That means the real difference between a Harper minority and majority was just over 6,000 votes. While 5.8 million people voted for Stephen Harper, another 9 million – the ‘real majority’ – voted for change. But, with his new majority, Harper no longer has to worry about impediments to his extreme ideology; he can ram his anti-science, pro-polluter agenda down the throats of the Canadian public. That spells trouble for Canada’s environment, and it’s especially bad news for the global climate.
Despite the news headlines of Harper’s ‘victory,’ sixty percent of Canadians still don’t support his economic policy. Harper will likely table the same budget that he presented before the election. It focused on the economy and jobs – and no, I don’t mean green jobs. Instead, Harper continues to promote and prioritize policies that hold Canada back from a prosperous clean energy future.
The Harper budget proposes to slash funding for clean energy programs and efficiency incentives – all significant job-creation vehicles that happen to protect rather than harm the global climate system.
The Conservatives have yet to introduce climate legislation to meet science-based international commitments to rapidly curtail global warming pollution. Harper’s position isn’t expected to improve over his last 5 years of inaction and obstruction, during which he failed to put in place any meaningful policy to meet his own weak pollution reduction targets (that aren’t even science-based). These policies made Canada a laughing stock in Copenhagen and Cancun. Now, with four years of unchecked Harper power, we’ll likely see more of Harper’s embarrassing stonewalling at international climate change summits including this fall in Durban.
Read more at desmogblog.com
An industry executive accidentally dropped a talking points memo [PDF] in an Ohio woman’s driveway after coming to her home to talk about leasing her land for hydraulic fracturing. The memo reveals the extreme lengths that oil and gas companies will go to in order to ensure that people lease their land for hydraulic fracturing.
Called “Talking Points for Selling Oil and Gas Lease Rights,” it is designed for Field Agents to outline how to respond to commonly asked questions, and more importantly, how to avoid answering the hard ones.
What it amounts is essentially trickery on the part of oil and gas companies. The memo suggests that companies are well aware of the dangers of hydraulic fracking, and have found ways to spin the facts around people’s concerns in the name of profit. It also implies that these companies are perfectly willing to intentionally misinform, deliberately omit facts, and categorically deceive people on issues that effect their homes, their families and their health.
By using these tactics, oil and gas companies can sign 5 year leases on land that can legally be extended for up to 40 years if the well continues to produce. As people begin to clue in to the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, oil and gas companies understand the immediacy by which they must sign leases.
Some of the key points in the memo encourage crafty techniques to pressure homeowners into signing leases. For example:
- “Tell the landowner that all their neighbors have signed. Even if the neighbors have not, this often will push an undecided landowner in favor of signing.”
- “Stress to the landowner that we are primarily looking for oil resources. Searching for oil is less environmentally damaging than the claims against fracing.”… “While it is true that we will be able to evaluate the well in the shale layer for suitability for fracing and gas development, stress the initial hope of finding oil. Any distinction may be enough to finalize the lease.”
- “Well Spacing- This rarely comes up. Landowners do not realize that multiple wells will be necessary. Wells are most effective if spaced 40 acres or further apart. This sounds like a large number, use it. Some might ask how many wells will he in a square mile. Don’t answer that question. Most landowners will not realize that 10-20 wells can be placed in a square mile. Landowners normally own less than 5 acres, unless it is a farm. 40 acres will be a large enough number that wells will seem to be far apart in their mind.”
Read more at desmogblog.com