X Marks the Spot

It’s E-Day in Sask and for the second or third provincial election running, I’m not working anyone’s campaign.

I’m a disgruntled voter.

The Liberals and the Sask Party are way too far to the right for my liking.  Besides that, Brad Wall scares me, and did long before the NDP came up with their stupid election ads.  And that brings me to the next party on the list, the NDP, which Politics’n’Poetry gave up on long ago, after party brass rammed through a pro-nuke policy on the convention floor.  It was placed in the  economics batch of issues and not in the environment batch.  How convenient!  Bah. Ptooey!  Left a bad taste in my mouth, but they did come close to wooing me back with talk of electoral reform.  As usual with the provincial NDP, it is too little too late.  The twits.

Anyway, my vote is not going orange.  So, with the  three mainstream parties off the ballot, so to speak, I’m making my vote a protest vote.  I’m going Green.  I won’t be doing that federally, however.  E. E. May scares me, too.

Open Letter to SK Political Leaders

OPEN LETTER TO THE LEADERS OF THE NEW DEMOCRATIC,

SASK AND LIBERAL PARTIES OF SASKATCHEWAN

 

Why Are You Ducking The Nuclear Question?

 

There is something surreal about this election, for none of you has had to fundamentally justify your pronuclear policies. Saskatchewan is now the major front-end uranium supplier of the global nuclear system, and this issue demands public scrutiny.

 

Last year Premier Calvert travelled to France to get support from Areva to build a uranium refinery here. Saskatchewan exports all its uranium, and some argue a refinery would add value before export, and strengthen the provincial economy. Meanwhile, Calvert is on record as opposing nuclear power here, and in this election has highlighted a commitment to expand non-polluting renewable energy use at home. What’s good for the goose (us) is, apparently, not good for the gander (those who import uranium from us).

 

David Karwacki and Brad Wall haven’t pointed out this huge disconnect, perhaps because they wish to hide their own. In the televised leaders’ debate about the future political direction of the province there was not one mention of “uranium” or “nuclear”, even when directly asked a question about global warming.

Sask Party literature quotes the Suzuki Foundation that Saskatchewan has the highest per capita greenhouse gases (GHGs) in Canada. Yet Mr. Wall won’t come out and say whether or not he supports nuclear power replacing coal plants here. And Mr. Wall doesn’t quote Suzuki on how heavy oil development in the tar sands (which all of you want to further develop in Saskatchewan) is soon to become the world’s largest single source of GHGs?

 

As the leaders of your parties you are letting each other off the hook on nuclear and energy policy. This is patently irresponsible in view of the Saskatchewan economy becoming more dependent on the production of non-renewable energy that contributes to radioactive contamination and global warming. That the media has not asked you the hard questions is disconcerting. So let us ask you a few.

 

Is Nuclear Sustainable?

Any short-term economic spin-offs from a uranium refinery would depend on the continuation of billions in public subsidies that have kept the nuclear industry afloat. Without these subsidies the market cost of nuclear would likely triple. Despite this help nuclear is quickly losing ground to renewable energy sources, which already produce more electricity globally than nuclear. Aren’t you concerned that our growing dependency on a non-renewable energy economy will cripple our future?

 

All of you acknowledge the need for a sustainable economy, yet seem unwilling to evaluate your pronuclear policies in those terms. The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) estimates at today’s low usage, where nuclear provides only 16% of electricity and 3% of primary energy worldwide, uranium reserves would run out in 85 years. Meanwhile, each job from nuclear costs one million or more dollars in capital.

 

How do you justify diverting scarce capital into a costly uranium refinery, or nuclear power plant, when there is such urgency to create truly sustainable, non-polluting, renewable energy systems to avert catastrophic climate change? Especially when these sustainable alternatives are cheaper, create far more and much safer employment, and can get on-stream quickly enough to make a difference?

 

We are not picking on Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan is not alone in having a huge economic dilemma over sustainability. Even though asbestos has proven to be highly carcinogenic, and is continuing to kill thousands of people exposed to it, the world’s largest asbestos mine in Quebec has not yet been shut down. Short-term economics there, too, dwarf human health, the environment and morality. The consequences of spreading radioactivity from uranium and nuclear across the planet are, of course, far more devastating, and include the added dangers of catastrophic nuclear reactor accidents and the spread of radiation weaponry.

 

Is Nuclear Environmentally Healthy?

You all seem to have accepted some version of the nuclear industry propaganda that it provides the “clean” magic bullet for global warming. But the nuclear fuel system contributes to GHGs. Saskatchewan uranium is enriched at two dirty coal plants in Kentucky, and let’s not forget the huge quantities of energy used in uranium mining. For example, the Globe and Mail reports that the Cigar Lake mine requires the largest cement plant in Saskatchewan to try to stabilize its underground tunnels.

 

The private nuclear plants proposed for Alberta will be used to enhance the production of heavy oil, the dirtiest of all fossil fuels. The Battleford area is most likely being targeted for a uranium refinery because of potential demand in the tar sands. We ask you in all sincerity: what does this proposed twinning of nuclear and heavy oil say about the nuclear industry’s “environmental ticket”?

 

The new Candu design proposed for Alberta would use reprocessed spent reactor fuel (nuclear waste). This would increase the pressure to make Northern Saskatchewan and/or Alberta an international nuclear waste dump. Again, as with uranium mining, it would primarily be Indigenous land that would be sacrificed for this military-industrial venture. What is your position on Saskatchewan becoming a nuclear waste dump?

 

We hope each of you has reflected on the more-than-disturbing fact that the plutonium in nuclear wastes is toxic for at least 8000 generations – which is five times the period it took humans to migrate from North Africa around the whole planet. The continued production of nuclear wastes in return for small economic payoffs today places unjustified burdens on future generations. Please tell us: in what sense can expansion of this industry be considered the moral, let alone sustainable path to follow?

 

How is promoting nuclear as “clean” more credible than tobacco industry’s claims that its product was benign? The Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) has publicly stated that harm from low-level radiation has not been proven; meanwhile the U.S. Surgeon General now considers low-level radiation from radon gas to be the second leading cause of cancer after smoking. Uranium mine tailings will release radon into the larger environment for millennia. Is appeasing the corporate community blinding you to these vital matters of worker and public health?

 

The August 13th MacLean’s reported a study that found that children 9 and under, living near nuclear facilities were 24% more likely to die of leukemia. (This study, reviewing 17 studies, covering 136 nuclear sites in 7 countries, including Canada, was published in the European Journal of Cancer Care.) The International Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE), representing 100,000 doctors from 40 countries, recently endorsed a non-nuclear energy policy in part due to the risks that nuclear presents for human health. The doctors are, of course, concerned about the prospects of huge radiation releases from future nuclear meltdowns like Chernobyl and the risks from nuclear proliferation that come with any expansion of the nuclear industry.

 

You are so willing to debate the pros and cons of a universal drug plan. Why are you not willing to debate the implications of nuclear expansion for the life or death of children? With all your talk of health promotion averting rising healthcare costs, how do you justify supporting what is clearly a cancer causing industry?

 

Is Nuclear Peaceful?

Lastly, why is it that you never discuss nuclear weapons when you support uranium mining and nuclear expansion? Each of you may prefer to hide behind the outdated notion that uranium from Saskatchewan is only used for “peaceful purposes.” Can we consider such a toxic cancer-causing substance as uranium to be “peaceful” in any sense?

 

About 85% of the uranium exported to the U.S. remains available for use in weapons after the enrichment process that creates reactor fuel. This depleted uranium (DU) is used to produce nuclear bombs and other DU weapons that are presently killing civilians in the Middle East. Each of the 300,000 uranium bullets fired during the U.S. “Shock and Awe” invasion of Iraq likely had a bit of Saskatchewan within it. The extremely carcinogenic uranium aerosols from these exploding bullets are now in the air and on the land virtually forever, and are already responsible for vast increases in birth deformations and childhood cancers in the region. How does this violence of the so-called peaceful atom truly make you feel?

 

All of you, we are sure, would endorse human rights. Are you aware that it is a war crime and a crime against humanity to make and use weapons that indiscriminately kill civilians? It is no longer possible to hide behind the reassuring rhetoric of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, so, we ask: what is your position on Saskatchewan uranium being a major source for these horrendous uranium weapons? Be honest. Do you believe that the end justifies the means: that short-term economic benefits of uranium here justify spreading radiation and cancer across other people’s homelands?

 

Can you turn your heart and head away from such suffering, and from our complicity in it? Do you really support economic growth at any cost? Do you place short-term benefits and votes here, above concerns for global impacts and future effects? Surely if the labour movement is willing to make the sacrifices to make the conversion to sustainable jobs, business should also be willing to come on side. But where is the political leadership on the necessity for such conversion? Why are you not raising these vital questions? Do you think the continuation of political amnesia is really good for our wellbeing and for our democracy? Or for our grandchildren, who will reap the burdens of inaction on preventing radioactive contamination and climate change?

 

We are looking for some sign that those of you wanting to lead our Province actually care about what the nuclear and uranium industry is doing to people and the planet, and about getting serious about averting cataclysmic climate change. This is too big an issue for you to duck during this election. So, why the general silence on these vital issues of sustainable energy, environmental and human health, and the travesties of radioactive war? Have we so lost our way, and become so amorally parochial, that such considerations no longer matter enough to be raised and debated during an election in our province?

 

We are sure many others would also like a detailed and heartfelt response.

 

Yours truly,

 

Bill Adamson, retired Professor of Pastoral Theology, past President of St. Andrews Theological College, University of Saskatchewan, member of the Saskatchewan Conference of the United Church.

Dale Dewar, Associate Professor, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan; past President, Physicians for Global Survival.

Jim Harding, retired Professor of Environmental and Justice studies; author of “Canada’s Deadly Secret”, past Councillor, City of Regina.

Jim Penna, retired Professor of Philosophy, Saint Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan; past Trustee, Saskatoon Separate School Board.

Dick Peters, Regional Coordinator, for KAIROS Prairies North Region, Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives.

Michael Poellet, Ph.D., for Inter-Church Uranium Committee Educational Co-operative (ICUCEC).

Graham Simpson, Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Saskatchewan; past Board member, Saskatchewan Council for International Co-operation (SCIC).

Sylvia Thompson, retired United Church of Canada Diaconal Minister, for Saskatchewan Non-Nuclear Clearing House (SNNCH).

Karen Weingeist, concerned citizen, for Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan.

Dave Weir, for Regina Non-Nuclear Network.

 

Contacts: Jim Harding (306) 332-4492, Jim Penna (306) 373-0309 or Dave Weir (306)352-3195

 

Come the next federal election…

No one I know wants to see another Harper-led New Government of Canada.  But I hang out with people who didn’t vote for him in the first place.  What I need to hear are suggestions as to how we, as progressives, counterspin, break through the fear,  convince the electorate to stay the hell away from the Harpercrits when marking their Xs come the next federal election.

Over at Peace, order and good government, eh? Tim has posted an excellent, dead-on piece referencing a Toronto Star story about PMS’s attempt to market an alternative universe in Canada.  (Read the comments, too, and take a boo at Scotian’s blog, as well.)  As Tim says, PMS is our very own Little Republican and he is aiming to use Republican tactics in the next federal election:

- Give crappy legislation a positive name, then curse out your opponents for opposing it.
- Use fear to mobilize your base and intimidate the opposition.
- Use the military to boost your patriotic bona fides (at no risk to yourself), while simultaneously labelling your cirtics [sic] anti-military.
- Surround the prime minister (or president) in a bubble of sycophancy to prevent actual facts from seeping into a decision making process entirely ruled by ideology.

So, how are we going to defeat our very own Bushite, folks?

Vote CCFR in Regina

Vote for progress that considers people before profits.  Vote CCFR!


There is a better way…Vote CCFR on October 25th

In many ways, the Coalition for a Citizen-Friendly Regina has already succeeded – we’ve sparked a genuine debate about the choices we face, and about what sort of city we’d like to build. But the outcome of the municipal and school board elections on Wednesday, October 25 is incredibly important. Regina citizens can make a positive difference. Vote

Ten extremely qualified CCFR candidates are seeking your support, and a
number of the races are sure to be extremely close – 200, 100, even 20 votes
could tip the balance one way or the other. Your vote matters.

Even just two or three CCFR victories will ensure that voices of reason will
be able to make themselves heard in the next city council and public school board.

Polls are open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, October 25. For information on where to vote visit the City of Regina election web page.

Encourage others to vote

Call three close friends and ask them if they’re planning on voting. Tell
them how you’ll be voting, and why. Encourage them to vote. If they don’t
have transportation, offer to drive them to the poll.

Celebrate with us

After the polls close on Wednesday evening, come out to the Exchange (2431 8th Ave.)  to join with other CCFR members to relax and celebrate our many victories.


Afghan Women’s Mission Statement

I suggest forwarding this to your MP, the Prime Minister, Jack Layton, Bill Graham, Gille Duceppe, and Elizabeth May.


from

Afghan Women’s Mission
www.afghanwomensmission.org

CONTACT: (626) 676-7884,

info@afghanwomensmission.org

‘AFGHANISTAN LIKE A TICKING BOMB,’ SAYS WOMEN’S RIGHTS ACTIVIST ON 5TH ANNIVERSARY OF US BOMBING.

“Today Afghanistan is still chained and burning in the fires of both the Taliban and the criminal ‘Northern Alliance’ fundamentalists and the future of Afghanistan is in serious jeopardy,” warned Zoya, a member of RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan) five years after the start of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Founded in 1977, RAWA is the oldest social and political organization of women in Afghanistan, struggling for a secular democracy through non-violent resistance. The underground women’s organization has been the most vocal critic of fundamentalism and war.

According to Zoya, the US “just replaced one fundamentalist regime with another,” and Afghan president Hamid Karzai “betrayed the people’s trust by relying on warlords…The security situation is critical – it is like a ticking bomb.”

Afghanistan has seen a dramatic upsurge in violence in the past two years. Attacks on US and NATO forces are on the rise and the rate of troop fatalities is comparable to Iraq. Suicide bombings, a one-time rare phenomenon, have reached epidemic proportions. Taliban forces control the southern part of the country, while the Northern Alliance, allied with the US to help topple the Taliban in 2001, now control the Northern Afghan provinces. Recently, Safia Amajan, the head of a provincial women’s affairs department was gunned down outside her home.

RAWA gained international attention in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 for their courage in exposing the crimes of the Taliban. However, RAWA warned the US not to work with the Northern Alliance in October 2001. Today because of the climate of fear created by the fundamentalists, RAWA members continue to risk their lives for speaking out. Zoya, like all RAWA members, uses a false name and travels incognito.

On October 7, 2006, Zoya spoke at a benefit for RAWA, organized by Afghan Women’s Mission called “Breaking the Propaganda of Silence.” On October 7, 2006, Zoya spoke at a benefit for RAWA, organized by Afghan Women’s Mission called “Breaking the Propaganda of Silence.” Click here to read the transcript of her speech.

Zoya is available for interviews during her two week US tour. Call 626-676-7884 to schedule interviews.

 

‘Five Years Later, Afghanistan Still in Flames’ [Transcript of a speech by RAWA member, Zoya, at a benefit for RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan), called "Breaking the Propaganda of Silence," organized by the Afghan Women's Mission on October 7, 2006.]

Deny, deny, deny

Not much to add to what’s already been expressed by other bloggers, except my two cents.  It’s no surprise that the National Cons have come out swinging, saying they knew nothing about the cheque-swapping scheme.  And, if you believe them, well, do I have a deal for you!

Wasn’t it just a week or so ago that the Harper said all the rules were followed? That’s what I thought.  And now they knew nothing about it?  How convenient!
And why is it that The Blogosphere had to break this story?  What’s with the MSM, anyway?

And say, doesn’t it make you feel good to know that we all subsidized the folks who attended the Con-Flab Convention last year?  And isn’t it good to know that the line, Liberal, Tory, same old story, still holds true?

NDP dead in home of T.C. Douglas

SK NDP Premier, Lorne Calvert, in commenting on the recent 3rd-place finish in Weyburn-Big Muddy by-election, said, We are not connecting with individuals and their families in their homes. That’s something we need to think about.

<rant>

Hullo, Lorne? Have you been paying any attention to what people within your own party have been saying over the past dozen years? You haven’t been connecting with them, either, have you? Except to organize against them at your sacred Convention.

You’re too busy manufacturing consent and kiss-assing AREVA, Cameco and other multinationals so that they can bring more death and devastation to our province with their promises of jobs in a refinery that processes uranium. And you must be spinning circles turning a blind eye to the Saskatchewan uranium that became part of the nuclear arsenal which has been stockpiled and dumped on innocent civilians. You must be too busy listening to bad advice and counting all that dirty money to bother looking at how you inflict more and more deplorable damage upon the people, animals, and eco-systems in Saskatchewan’s north and other parts of the world.

You’re so eager to be a do-gooder, finding work for the layed-off forestry workers that you’ll take anything that comes this way, not caring that the workers will end up giving up their lives to cancer!

Yes, Lorne, you need to think long and hard about that.

And while you’re at it, think longer and harder. Especially if you expect anyone but the die-hards — who voted against gender parity on the most important joint caucus and party committee you have going, the Legislative Advisory Committee — to cast their X beside an NDP-sponsored name on the next provincial or federal ballot.

And, if you’re really serious about thinking, you might also spend some time thinking about the token dollars you’ve provided to Tommy Douglas’ real legacy, the Saskatchewan Arts Board, and compare that to the billion dollar give-aways of forest, minerals, and other natural resources you’ve provided to the business community you’re wooing.

Get back to the CCF roots, Mr. Calvert. And then the land of Tommy Douglas, the constituency of Weyburn-Big Muddy, might once again come back to the NDP .

</rant>

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Round-up: Cheatin’ Tories?

Well, lookie here! The pristine PMSH and his reconstituted Conservative Party appear to have had difficulty understanding the laws of the land regarding the rules for campaign financing.

Robert at My Blahg highlights the CTV story

The Conservative party may have illegally accepted millions in unreported donations last year because it didn’t understand political financing laws

while over at Accidental Deliberations is the Canadian Press story, Tories may have taken in close to $2 million in illegal contributions, along with a list of the sections of the Canada Elections Act the Cons may well have violated.

Meanwhile, in the comments section at My Blahg is a link to another interesting tidbit regarding an Alleged Conservative Blogsphere Scheme which Bound by Gravity also blogged this past January.

Vues d’ici links to the Globe & Mail story, Tories may have broken political financing laws.
What I’ve found most interesting are the comments sections at the blogs.

At Accidental Deliberations I followed a commenter to his blog, Blue Blogging Soapbox where he quotes the CP story and says he is not about to take the word of ‘’ Elections Canada spokewoman Valerie Hache,‘’ apparently because only the Chief Electoral Officer and Election Commisioner [sic] are capable of clarifying this.

A couple of interesting comments over at My Blahg. Here’s #16

Last election we now have them on:

1. using undeclared money (see this thread)
2. publishing pamphets and distributing without identifying the source (see g@m toronto ridings during election)
3. running an undeclared “third-party” fake news outlet
(see National P online, Montreal G, Van Sun, and Me)
4. undeclared pre-writ spending used during the writ (how do you think the CPC paid for all their polling and targeted marketing used *during* the election)

and #19

consider this…

The CPC paid well over million for its phone polls to identify winnable ridings and close polling stations. They continued both the calls and used the reports right up to election day… where does this expense show up in delcared spending???

For those ridings selected for the polling service, the economic cost of detailed polling is around $80,000/riding and the information is used in that riding during the election…. but does the riding delcare the expense??? The calls per riding versus the assigned cost per riding is generally off by about 5 to 1… In some cases no cost is declared as the calling is pre-writ and the only the reports are used post-writ; but according to the canada elections act if you use something during the writ period – even if paid for pre-writ – you have to declare it as an expense.

and, of course, the PS to comment #24

P.S. Does this mean they also stole the last election?

Well, does it?

Update 11:40AM 29Jun06:

* Somena Media is having a good chuckle at the irony of it all and points to Dissonance And Disrespect and Canadian Cynic, who sums up D&D’s remarks.

* Liberal Catnip, once referred to by a right-winger as an Uber-lefty, ends her post with a series of questions that had me laughing: What shall we call this one? DonationGate? We’reJustSoConfusedGate? Don’tBlameUsWe’reToriesGate? Or how about ThereGoesOurMajorityGate?

* Greg at Sinister Thoughts comments on the tie-in with the upcoming Liberal convention.

* Eugene at Le Revue Gauche weighs in with a concise paragraph on the fiscally-challenged Harpercrites. (Heads up: longer than average load time, but worth the wait.)

Update 2:15 AM 30Jun06

* Rambling Socialist nails it — the party that came into power on accountability had no right to talk about accountability — with his pot/kettle post.

Update 11:15 AM 30Jun06

* Best and Better provides a short, annotated ConventionGate round-up.

Update 10:00 PM 30Jun06

* Blog Critics has an excellent essay suggesting that the Cons are proving they can be just as arrogant as any other party and have no conception of what the word accountable means.