Changes, the Harper Way

I found this rabble.ca article quite informative and not the least surprising given what we’ve already seen from the Harper.

Of particular concern, however, and permeating through specific policy proposals, is a reformulation of what the “social” itself means, both in terms of how we understand the role and nature of “social” policy, and more fundamentally, how we do or should constitute ourselves as social beings.

I remember the Mulroney years and the clawing and hacking at social policy. They were not good years, particularly when combined with the Devine Tory crooks in Saskatchewan. The Harperites remind me a lot of the socially conservative Devinites, but with a bit of experience now what with the likes of Harris (ON), Klein (AB), Campbell (BC) and Hamm (NS) having held the line. I doubt the Harper will make many mistakes, which is why we, the socially progressive ones, must do our utmost to expose the ultra neo-con and socially conservative agenda for what it is: destructive to the social fabric of our country, economically biased in favour of wealth, and completely devastating to our planet.

A Poet New to Me

A poem called The Farm, at Somena Mediahas introduced me to poet, fiction writer, essayist, and playwright, Sherman Alexie.

Sherman Alexie is a Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian, he grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, WA, about 50 miles northwest of Spokane, WA. Alexie was named one of Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists and won the Before Columbus Foundation’s American Book Award and the Murray Morgan Prize for his first novel, Reservation Blues, published in 1995 by Atlantic Monthly Press. His second novel, Indian Killer, published in 1996, also by Atlantic Monthly Press, was named one of People’s Best of Pages and a New York Times Notable Book. This book was published in paperback by Warner Books in 1998.

Alexie’s recent honors include the 2003 Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award, Washington State University’s highest honor for alumni. His work was selected for inclusion in The Best American Short Stories 2004, edited by Lorrie Moore, and Pushcart Prize XXIX of the Small Presses. His short story “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” was selected by juror Ann Patchett as her favorite story for the The O. Henry Prize Stories 2005. He holds honorary degrees from Seattle University (doctor of humanities, honoris causa – 2000) and Columbia College, Chicago (1999).

Areva/Cogema radiating France’s waters

Areva, formerly Cogema, wants to build a refinery/conversion facility in Saskatchewan. Given the report below I say, Not on my land, not in my name!

Radioactive waste leaking into Champagne’s water supply – Levels set to rise warns Greenpeace

Paris, May the 30th 2006 – Greenpeace today revealed that France’s iconic sparkling wine, Champagne, is threatened by radioactive contamination leaking from a nuclear waste dumpsite in the region. Low levels of radioactivity have already been found in underground water less than 10 km from the famous Champagne vineyards.

Problems at the dumpsite, including water migration leading to fissures in the storage cells have been reported to French nuclear safety agency in recent weeks (1). Greenpeace has written to the Comita des Producteurs de Champagne to warn them that their production risks contamination, as experienced by dairy farmers in la Hague, Normandy.

The waste dump, Centre Stockage l’Aube (CSA) in Soulaine eastern France, contains mostly waste from Electricite de France (EdF) and AREVA, but also includes foreign nuclear waste disposed of illegally under French law (2). Every week nuclear waste is trucked across France to the Champagne site. Once full, the dumpsite will be one of the world’s largest with over 1 million cubic meters of waste, including plutonium and other radionuclides.

Our provincial government is extremely eager to build up the uranium industry. And don’t get me started on the SK NDP! Suffice it to say, money talks.

The SK Chamber of Commerce hosted a splash in North Battleford a few weeks ago. Former government appointee as President of SaskTel, Donald Ching, now President of COGEMA/AREVA, told the crowd assembled that Saskatchewan is the largest producer of uranium in the world, and through uranium refining done here, several billion dollars of added value can stay in the province. Mr. Ching indicated that exploration is increasing across the province eastwards from Lake Athabasca, and that they are set to expand mining at Cigar Lake, milling at McLean Lake, and processing uranium for nuclear power plants. He said that because the industry is heavily regulated, permits are required for different stages of development. This process includes an Environmental Impact Study, public hearings, preparation, filing and obtaining permits for building and decommissioning plans, establishing a Line of Credit or otherwise coming up with the money to fund the Decommissioning Plan for 25-30 years away. He thought that the plant would be up and running in 1-2 years.

If AREVA/COGEMA is going to do it, it’ll be over my dead body. Greenpeace will surely keep a close watch as they are in France:

Illegal French nuclear waste dump must be removed and decontaminated – Greenpeace files legal challenge against AREVA

29 may 2006 – Cherbourg

29 May 2006, La Hague, Normandy, France – Greenpeace activists from Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Japan and France entered the Centre Stockage de la Manche (CSM) nuclear dumpsite at La Hague in Normandy today to demand the removal and decontamination of the dumpsite. At 9.30am this morning, ten activists placed their countries’ flags on top of the dumpsite and a further four activists with banners declaring “France: Nuclear Waste Dump climbed onto the roof of the visitors’ centre.

The activists represent the principal clients of French state reprocessing company AREVA that have disposed of nuclear waste at the CSM (1). An estimated 140,000 containers of nuclear waste disposed at the La Hague dump came from foreign nuclear utilities in Europe and Japan. Under French law, it is illegal to dispose of foreign waste in France. The largest amount of waste at the site was produced by Electricite de France (EDF). Greenpeace is demanding that the 1.4 million containers of waste in the CSM dumpsite be removed and repackaged.

In a further challenge against illegal waste disposal in France, Greenpeace today is to file legal papers against the reprocessing company AREVA in relation to Dutch nuclear waste produced at the La Hague plant. In February this year, Greenpeace obtained an injunction against AREVA that forced the disclosure of its reprocessing contract with the Dutch utility EPZ (2).

We already have issues with contamination in SK thanks to Cameco. A 2002 report by Golder Associates says, Thirty percent of the lake chub in Beaverlodge Lake have serious eye defects (mostly, cataracts and other eye problems as well as some other abnormalities.

The Inter-Church Uranium Committee Educational Co-operative has been following the uranium industry in SK for a number of years now. Retired Professor of Human Justice, Dr. Jim Harding, has written a brilliant piece on SK’s long history with uranium. The piece is good, but the story is not pretty.

No nukes is good nukes.

Another calculated boo-boo?

It worries me that the Harper is trying to get around the constitution. It should worry everyone. From the Ottawa Citizen:

PM’s cherished bill unconstitutional, House counsel says
Lawyer issues challenge of accountability legislation; MPs demand release of staff advice to minister
Tim Naumetz, The Ottawa Citizen

Published: Friday, June 02, 2006

The federal government’s sweeping accountability bill would violate the Constitution by allowing the courts to wade into the decisions of Parliament and votes by MPs, says the chief legal counsel for the House of Commons.

In a surprise brief yesterday to the committee studying the 192-page bill, chief Commons law clerk Rob Walsh took the rare step of challenging key clauses, including the new conflict of interest rules for MPs and the secret ballot votes to elect officers of Parliament.

Is this another nod of the head to another faction of the party, saying that yes, when we have a majority we’ll transform this country into something we’ll never recognize? Or, perhaps this is why the Harper picked up his marbles and ran away after the Gwyn Morgan thing. Or maybe it does smell like cheese as one blogger suggests. It’s definitely a wedge issue, designed to score points over the Liberals next election. But is the electorate really that fickle? Will it be after experiencing this Minority government? I mean, the Harper is scary! And so are some of his supporters.

Thanks to Sinister Thoughts for the lead.