Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Why Green Party Supporters Should Vote NDP

“I'd rather have no Green seats and Stephen Harper lose, than a full caucus that stares across the floor at Stephen Harper as prime minister, because his policies are too dangerous.”
--Elizabeth May

Monday, 29 September 2008

Easier Trail Mapping With My New GPS

Last year I started mapping the Greenbelt trails using my GPS unit. With my older GPS unit it was a long complicated process requiring that I avoid overlapping my tracks and involving extensive editing in Photoshop Elements.

I talk about how I became interested in maps and my map making process in an article in the MTBKanata Newsletter.

With my new Garmin GPSMAP 60Cx, which is much more accurate, the process is much simpler.

When I recently mapped Greenbelt Trails 11 & 12 I did not have to worry about overlapping tracks nor did I have to do extensive editing. All that was required was to input the data into Google Earth and MapSource Topo Canada and save an image of the track, and then add whatever text or labels I wanted on the maps.

These are the maps that I created.





All of my Greenbelt maps can be found here.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

The Carbon Tax - A Lost Liberal Opportunity

A carbon tax is a good idea, if done properly. The Liberal Carbon Tax Plan is a bad idea for a number of reasons. The carbon tax plan adds another regressive consumption tax to the tax system while reducing the amount collected from individuals and corporations through the progressive income tax system.

According to the Liberal Party brochure “Liberals will cut personal and corporate taxes by billions of dollars a year. “

The brochure also states “Liberals will tax pollution in Canada for the first time by putting a price on Greenhouse Gas emissions that cause climate change and fuels like coal and natural gas.”

This amounts to a consumption tax on goods produced, relative to the amount of greenhouse gases created in their production. It adds a cost of pollution to the cost of production. That is a good thing. But it does it by adding a new consumption tax and making the overall tax system less progressive.

The irony of that is the lost opportunity for the Liberal to actually live up to their abandoned campaign promise to abolish the Goods and Services Tax (GST). To be more precise, the Liberals promised to replace the GST, but apparently were unable to find a suitable replacement. Well here it is folks.

Replacing the GST with a carbon tax would provide a huge incentive for corporations and business to provide goods and services in a more environmentally sustainable fashion. It is such a simple idea, one would have thought that even the Liberals could have thought of it.

But there is another major flaw in the Liberals plan. The liberals state that the new carbon tax “won’t include any extra tax on gasoline at the pump”. What does this mean. The message given by that statement is that gasoline (and diesel fuel) prices will not rise as a result of the carbon tax. If that is so the plan completely misses the point.

Greenhouse gases from transportation fuels are a major, if not the most important part, of the problem. The fact that we transport goods that could be produced locally thousands of miles, adding megatonnes of pollution and greenhouse gases to the environment is an environmental crime against humanity.

Ironically at a time when our local manufacturing industries are suffering, the Liberal policy specifically excludes a measure that would provide enormous reductions in environmental pollution and greenhouse gas emissions while providing thousands of jobs in local communities.

But “The Green Shift” is a nice slogan, even if they did have to steal it from someone.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

We Can Stop Stephen Harper

As the federal election campaign begins, early polls have indicated the possibility of a Harper majority.

How can this be.

We have a combination of a lack of leadership on behalf of the Liberal “natural governing” Party and a focus on the environment pitting three pro-environment parties against the anti-
environment Conservatives.

Stéphane Dion clearly lacks the communication skills necessary to counter the Conservatives American style negative campaign and win the election. The public will not elect a Liberal government under his leadership.

On the other hand we have three parties vying for the environmental vote. We have the Liberals with their newly discovered environmental religion. We have the Green Party with an environmental label, along with right wing economic policies and a leader with strong ties to previous Conservative governments. And we have the traditional party of Canada’s environmental movement, the New Democratic Party.

This is all happening at a time when NDP Leader Jack Layton is the most popular of the opposition leaders seeking to become Prime Minister.

But if Canadians were to vote based on the leader they think would be the best prime minister, Ipsos-Reid's Darrel Bricker says there is a clear front-runner.

"(Stephen) Harper is at 50 percent of Canadians saying they think he would be the best Prime Minister, followed by (Jack) Layton at 31 and finally by Stephan Dion at 20 percent."

Bricker adds the fact that Layton's growing popularity across Canada could make things interesting at the polls."
In contrast to Stéphane Dion, Jack Layton’s leadership qualities are shining through in this election campaign, as are the NDP’s polices to support Canadian workers and families.

As Canadians look beyond the labels, and look at the parties long term records, they will recognize that the only party capable of getting elected and implementing progressive environmental policies is the New Democratic Party.

The pundits have always said the New Democratic Party could never win federal power. They also used to say they could never win power in Ontario. That was until 1990 when the voters ignored the pollsters and elected Ontario’s most progressive government ever.

The New Democratic Party can win this election. All it requires is for the voters to realize that they do have a choice. They do not have to choose between Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber. They can vote for real change.

This is no time for strategic voting. When the NDP won in Ontario they won ridings nobody predicted they would have a chance to win. If people had “voted strategically” they never would have won.

Jack Layton and the New Democratic Party can stop Stephen Harper. Indeed, they are the only party that can.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

The Fifth Column is Returning

It's been a longer and busier summer than expected but regular Fifth Column postings will return soon, although there may not be daily posts at first.