The Race to Replace Jack Layton
The NDP Leadership race to replace Jack Layton is in full swing as nine candidates fight to become the next federal NDP leader and leader of the Official opposition in parliament. The current front-runner appears to be former party president Brian Topp. He has racked up a significant number of high profile endorsements from well-known party members such as Roy Romanow, Ed Broadbent and Libby Davies. His closest rival right now is Quebec MP Thomas Mulcair, a former Quebec cabinet minister and Jack Layton’s Deputy Leader. He is very well known in Quebec, but otherwise faces a tough fight. Although more than half of the NDP’s seats in the House of Commons are in Quebec, only about 6% of party members are there. There is no provincial NDP in that Province, and, before the 2011 election, the party had only ever held one seat there; there is no history of NDP support. Mulcair needs to gain support from outside Quebec to have a shot at becoming leader. Other candidates running for the post include MP’s Niki Ashton, Robert Chisholm, Nathan Cullen, Paul Dewar, Peggy Nash, and Romeo Saganash, and outsider Martin Singh.
Grumpy Old Man?
Last November, local Member of Parliament and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver rose in the House of Commons and declared, “it’s one thing…to try to kill Canadian jobs. It’s another thing to insult senior citizens!” This fiery retort was in response to NDP Environment Critic Megan Leslie’s question, which began with, “just because you’re a grumpy old man…” The entire house erupted in horror. When Leslie was finally was able to finish asking her question, Oliver, 71 rose to reply in defence of seniors. The Conservative bench reacted with thunderous applause.
This debate started when Leslie demanded to know why the government was destroying Canada’s reputation, jobs, and the environment by supporting the Keystone Pipeline. Minister Oliver rose to reply to the question, and emphasized the thousands of Canadian jobs that could be created through the project. Apparently, this answer wasn’t good enough for her!
It is depressing to see MPs display less decorum than rowdy high school students, but to see ageism in our country’s highest institution is staggering! This latest public jab against senior citizens was brought to our attention, as it should be. But it’s not just Megan Leslie who is at fault; it’s time for everyone to display more respect for seniors, who are the very foundation of our society.
Insults like this are thrown around all the time in parliament, but Canadians just don’t notice. The media is very concerned with racism and sexism, yet ageism is missing from the conversation. This type of ageist comment is nothing new, but if I started a question to a teacher with, “just because you’re a grumpy old man,” I would be completely out of line. Why are the rules for MP’s more lax than those in a High School?
Any kind of racism or sexism is degrading and disrespectful and condemned by all of society. Why don’t we treat ageism the same way?
Pulling Out of Kyoto (Again)
On Monday, December 12th, 2011, Peter Kent, the Canadian environment minister, announced that Canada had officially pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol. This announcement came just hours after he returned from a United Nations summit on climate change in Durban.
Kent said that failure to meet Canada’s emission reduction target of 10% between 2008-2012 would force the country to buy 14 billion dollars of carbon credits from overseas; he blamed the previous Liberal government for failing these targets. He also argued that an agreement that did not involve the United States was destined to be ineffective.
In leaving this agreement, Canada has rejected the only legally binding climate agreement that exists today. But why is that important? Canada wasn’t going to meet its climate targets anyway, so why does anyone care that it withdrew?
Since Canada is no longer part of the accord, it does not have to report on greenhouse gas emissions. Canada leaves behind the 191 countries that are either partly or completely committed to the accord. It has been criticised around the world, especially by Japan. It sends a message to the world, one that is not all the appealing. As Elizabeth May said, it shows that “Canada does not give a damn”.