Was Ottawa built upon “Mount Stupid?” Conservative banter about the #carbontax suggests true geography of Parliament Hill

You’d think that, coming from a bloodline that includes the likes of one of the greatest Canadians of all time, I might have a little more respect for our capital and the important work that is supposed to happen there. Regardless of my patriotic ties, I’m kind of ashamed to be Canadian at the moment.

My friend and colleague that specializes in carbon taxation, particularly with relevance to British Columbia, is frankly beside herself. While I’ve had my head buried in numerous other projects, she’s been agape over the “silliness” unfolding in our Canadian Parliament regarding carbon taxation. As per twitter, people are now playing drinking games over the number of times “carbon tax” is mentioned/slandered in question and answer period.

To sum up the written lines Harper has been feeding to our MPs, I’ll quote him:

“Canadians and people across the globe know, we have a government smart enough to reject dumb ideas like a $20 billion carbon tax.” (I’ll get back to deciphering the importance of this phrasing in a moment.)

In BC, we have a carbon tax. It has done nothing of the sort. In fact, BC’s population has gone up. BC’s GDP growth outpaced the Canadian average. And fuel use and carbon emissions during the same period have gone down. And by the way, BC is IN CANADA. (Read the full “Progress to Targets” Report. You’ll like it. Lots of colours.) Some even call it “The Most Sensible Tax of All”… and really smart economic minds agree with that statement. Enough with the gloating…

So what is this silliness happening on Parliament Hill?

@aaronwherry wrote a great article in Maclean’s summarizing what appears to be a rash of clamouring to the top of Mount Stupid:

Mount stupid

Mount Stupid. I’m sure we’ve all been there. I know I have. But maybe we can expect a little better from our “leaders?”

Yes. I am suggesting that the really smart people we have elected may be stuck in this place where they think they know just enough to know it all, giving them gumption to speak loudly about it.

MPs are suggesting (under Harper’s firm guidance, of course) that a carbon tax of any kind is dangerous nonsense and should be avoided at all costs. They are repeating this message at every prompt from the opposition, whether it is relevant or not.  They’re simply taking a page out of psychological advertising tactics (the mere-exposure effect, to be exact) book of corruption.

I say may, because there may be more to it. Harper’s statement, though seemingly directed at the NDP, may be strategically pointed to the South. You see, right now in the US, there is a coalition building in an unsuspected place: with Republicans. This short video spells it out much more effectively than I can:

What you may not know, is that BC is being looked at closely by policy makers in the US as an example of successful deployment of a revenue neutral carbon tax. Just sayin’.

Essentially, what we have is a Canadian Government that has repeated numerous times (I worked in intergovernmental relations at the time it was most in vogue… I almost want to throw up preparing to type this…) that the Canadian Government will align its climate policies with our largest and most important trading partner, the United States of America. A strategic and seemingly effective economic strategy, to be sure.

But Harper may as well be drinking oil for breakfast. And I’ll give the guy a small break: he cares about the prosperity of Canadians (mostly the already rich ones), and deterring the production and/or sale of a major commodity (which is what taxes can do) doesn’t feel right to him.

So do the math. Any stirrings of “Carbon Tax” in the US, are to be fretted about… but not directly. That would be rude. And Harper, I assume, wants to maintain some appearance of being Canadian. Instead, he is causing a stir in Canada, home of an existing carbon tax that is working… and making it seem like there’s no way in hell that could actually be the case.

“Canadians and people across the globe know, we have a government smart enough to reject dumb ideas like a $20 billion carbon tax.” – Harper

This silliness as my friend calls it, could very well be strategic silliness… directed at people outside of Canada. Regardless, it is backfiring because the knowing Canadians that DON’T live on Mount Stupid are reacting and speaking up:

We know in BC, that carbon pricing is an essential tool in the fight against climate change… but can only be bolstered and sustained at effective $100+/tonne levels if other jurisdictions get on board. Staying at $30/tonne will surely buy us 6+ degrees of warming and associated human civilization destruction.

But I digress. Kind of.

Thank you to my social media shy friend, who shall remain nameless, for bringing this to my attention and providing some excellent links. And thank you to those authors and contributors fighting for truth.

And finally, I leave you with a song – a musical tribute if you will – to our friends on “Mount Stupid”.

And we need to laugh too.

It can’t all be doom and gloom. The human spirit cannot be sustained by the dark side of reality alone. It is necessary to create urgency… but from there we must emerge and surge. Hope, joy and laughter can be the fuel.

Here’s the Midway Journey team recharging their spirits (cynically, but with humor nonetheless).

Blogcycle: yes I did.

Some things are good mashed together. Like “have been” celebrities and dancing. Cycling and blogging though?

I try to make a case for it in this inaugural post, and give a tiny flavor of what you might expect. Basically, I find I don’t have much time in the day to squeeze in a written blog… Yet there is a 40 minute window of spandex clad juiciness I might be able to harvest for the full flavor experience of climate action adventure.

Please: tell me what you think! Don’t be afraid to hurt my feelings… It could save me some stains in the long run. Plus, I’m a novice at this and would love to get better.

Some questions I have:

  • Is blogcycle a good name for this? Maybe vlogcycle is better  (it is a video blog, though it is harder to say).
  • Did you like this format? (length, music, editing, etc).
  • Am I interesting to look at or listen to at all? (The sound of my own voice annoys me, quite frankly… but that’s just me).
I hope you enjoy my 2 minute experiment!

The soundtrack to my life: Mary Poppins. What’s yours?

I  was an active child. To this day, I have difficulty sitting still. My great grandparents, in an effort to find some respite while I was under their watch, found a weak spot – Mary Poppins.

I’m not certain how many times I have seen that film… though I do suspect the moral of the story, or at least some memorable aspects of it, have severely influenced me. Here are a few insights:

A spoon full of sugar – I can be quite serious at times, much like Ms. Poppins (though never cross). However, most who know me would say that I certainly take time for fun. Laughter is terribly important to me, and if I could sing my way through briefing notes, I certainly would! I also enjoy a tidy space, and have tested making chores a game with my 5 year old… an effective strategy, to be sure.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – What can I say? I like big words. Maybe my appreciation for this one lead me to the same appreciation for science. Though, the meaning of this word, according to the film is “something to say when you have nothing to say.” Interestingly, I rarely find a need to use it…

Go fly a kite –  What I like to think of as a metaphor for positive actions that can unite us. I love good things that people share that bring peace and joy, especially when they are nearly free and sustainable. Plus, a kite is wind powered, lending to my appreciation for renewable energy. And it in sooty old England, the kite reached “up to the atmosphere, up where the air is clear.” So, clear air… well, that must be a good thing!

Mary Poppins, climate action hero? Maybe I’m stretching it  a bit. But then again… she also had no shortage of imagination 🙂

What about you? Any childhood fixations that shaped your world view?


Weeds? What weeds?! The virtues of Stinging Nettle

This is a post from a previous blog – suitable for re-post this time of year. In terms of climate action, I am a strong believer that everyone should know where their food comes from and should try their hand at growing it – even it is herbs on a window sill. Nurturing life from a seed is a magical thing. Eating it later is a bonus. As I am quite passionate about learning to garden, I’ll post on the topic here from time to time. A post on food security in general is in the works…

As I plan and prepare my gardens for the summer, I have become more and more intrigued by the various things growing in and around my yard, and I wonder how each resident might be made useful…

Okay, so maybe I’m lazy and don’t want to dig out every dandelion… but seriously, there are a lot of plants in roadside ditches that get mowed over without every being considered purposeful, yet might be valued in the right circumstance.

When you were a kid, did you every collect random bits of stuff from outside, throw it in a bowl, add water, let it stew, and then try and feed it to your little brother to see what happens? I’m still like that I guess… curious, resourceful, creative… and if my brother would oblige, I might still engage in unethical experiments… actually, I’m more inclined to keep the stuff I find in my yard to myself, because it might just be useful.

Okay, to the point: When we first moved into our house, my husband Dan discovered a small patch of stinging nettles. This defining moment in our marriage involved lighter fluid, a blow torch, a nearly defenseless plant, and shall we say, a close call. Funny in hindsight, only because the house didn’t burn down, and because the stinging nettles came back.

…I have vague memories of my grandmother sharing some of her world war II histories with me when I was quite young… as we picked blackberries surrounded by a labyrinth of nettles… I’m sure she had knowledge to share about a plant that was considered a vegetable in Germany. (Recently, a friend made nettle soup and raved about it … I have yet to try it…)

So it might be that nostalgia prompted me to do some research on the uses of stinging nettles. Or, if a crazy man with a blow torch can’t take’em out, they’d better be useful for something! (You know, “can’t beat them…”)

So here is some of what I’ve found nettles to be good for:

  • as diuretics,
  • as astringents
  • as blood builders – aids coagulation and formation of hemoglobin in red blood cells.
  • to treat anemia (due to their high iron content). T
  • applied to cuts to stop bleeding or taken in tea to reduce excessive menstrual flow, as well as to treat nosebleeds and hemorrhoids.
  • Nettle tea has been used to stimulate blood circulation (specifically in particular “regions”…*nudge, *nudge)
  • as a spring tonic for chronic skin ailments.
  • for treatment of mild acne and eczema.
  • as a folk treatment for arthritis.
  • hair tonic – topically applied to increase shine and decrease balding
  • nettles are rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, silica, iodine, sodium, sulfur and other elements including tannin, beta-carotene and amino acids
  • because they are rich in vitamins, nettles are excellent additions to compost and make a fine compost tea for fertilizing gardens.
  • nettle leaf product has shown slight activity in the treatment of allergies (they are a natural antihistamine).
  • Several studies indicate that the leaf extract depresses the central nervous system and inhibits bacteria and adrenaline.

In Germany, the herb is used for supportive treatment of rheumatic complaints and kidney infections. Here are some links for more information: http://www.allnatural.net/herbpages/stinging-nettle.shtml and http://www.vitalitymagazine.com/node/216

So ladies, when that time of the month hits, you might consider slipping a little dried nettle in your comfort tea… and save a fresh stinging sprig to ward of any PMS commentary! (Note: nettles only sting when they are fresh).



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