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Archive for September 4th, 2008

Our election is about which party can manage the economy

with 4 comments

Jayson Myers, Special to the Sun

Jayson Myers is president of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters.


Poll question: Should Canadians vote for the party that can best manage the economy in the forthcoming federal election? Vote Yes or No at

At the time of writing the poll is 76% yes

Of course with a sectional interest to promote, Jayson Myers does his association proud. The trouble is the election is not about the economy. Because what he wants you to do is associate “best manage” with the present government which is presiding over the present decline, which it treats as largely outside of its control. After all the market is doing what the market does – and that is what the right wing thinks should happen.

The fact that the world is rapidly heading towards a disaster which will become irreversible in 99 months has no place in this analysis. Climate change is happening all around us, and only a fool would now suggest that human activity has nothing to do with it. Great chunks of Canada’s ice shelves are falling off. The northern entrance to the North West Passage is now ice free. The series of hurricanes now piling up out in the Atlantic are being driven by warmer sea temperatures. And that is just from this morning’s news stories in the same paper!

Canada’s response to the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has been lack lustre at best – and downright contrary when Mr Harper does what his backers in the oil patch tell him to do. Of course people do not like carbon taxes and mistrust governments who tell them they are revenue neutral. No one likes the fact that as oil prices have fallen, gas prices at the pumps have stayed pretty much the same. And they tend to notice that even when government is trying to do its best, it is fallible. So who they blame for their sense that things are going wrong is whoever is in power at present – and especially when they seem to be in bed with one sectional interest.

The environment is not something you only care about when the economy is doing well. Without a healthy environment, you don’t have an economy! And for far too long we have simply looked at externalities as someone else’s problem. They are not. They are everyone’s problem. The environment – the complex web of interactions that allows us to live – is under stress because of what we all are doing to it. Manufacturers and exporters as much as miners, loggers, fishers, drivers – all of us! We are seeing what is called “the tragedy of the commons”. No one seems to own the environment so no-one looks after it. Once upon a time in England, land was set aside in most rural communities to be used by all. The Commons were for grazing – but you could also cut turves, collect firewood, gather acorns to feed to your pigs and so on. And of course the wealthy had as much right to the commons as anyone else. So they exploited their rights as hard as they could – and the land suffered, and was eventually enclosed and privatised. And the poor who relied on the commons for their well being suffered. And exactly the same thing is happening now on a massive, global scale. Every resource is being extracted at ever greater rates, and everywhere the air and the water have to carry a greater burden of our wastes.

We cannot go on like this indefinitely – or indeed for very much longer. The 99 month thing may be out by some time but not by much. And the probability is that with most predictions about climate change, it is probably too conservative, as the rates of change of important indicators seem to be increasing. The methane released by melting permafrost, for example. The rate of loss of the polar ice caps and the glaciers world wide.

Jason Myers is only doing what is in his own best interests, and he wants others to share his view of priorities. But he does not have a broad world view – or even a Canadian view. He has a narrow, special interest view.  And even that is short sighted. You cannot export much to countries which have vanished under rising sea levels.

Not that it will make much difference but you could click that link above and change the vote a bit. Yes it is a very lop sided question – and expects a posotive answer. We do need to show that there are people who read this and think for themselves – and for the rest of the human race. The planet will actually survive quite well (try reading “The World Without Us” to see how) after a period of adjustment. We do not have another planet to go to, and this one needs us to shape up or ship out.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 4, 2008 at 11:57 am