Sunday, October 4, 2015

Canada's election; forests and the green economy

Canada's election campaign is a horse race between Conservatives, Liberals and The New Democratic Party (NDP).  The latter two parties are toward the social democratic end of the political spectrum and their splitting of the vote may allow the Conservatives to retain leadership with only approximately 30% of the popular vote. Any party has time to squeeze into the leading position for the vote in about two weeks.

All the parties are working hard to attract votes. One of the big issues is transportation infrastructure for commuters in large cities. Eighty percent of Canadians live in cities, so politicians are eager to capture votes from cities. Most of the parties are making some noise about different schemes to reduce carbon emissions. There is also some talk about Canada trying to do more in the way of value adding instead of shipping raw resources out the door for the fastest possible dollar. The NDP have promised some funds to increase forestry jobs but otherwise forests have received little attention in the campaign.

 Canada is a huge country and  no one seems to be asking why most of the population is crowded into southern cities that get so congested that high cost rapid transit is needed. Canada's natural resources are located in the hinterland but these big cities are the financial, supply, transportation or port centers for the resource economy. Many resource dependent communities barely have sidewalks while the cities tend to be better appointed and more attractive to most. Cities that feel entitled and have the votes to exercise their entitlement will continue to be a force toward a " rob the hinterland " type of economy. This outlook has not been good for sustainable stewardship of forests or the most effective use of other natural resources.

Canada has a Green party and it is looking to increase its seats in Parliament. Other parties are making green talk about reducing carbon emissions and renewable green energy. Canada's best contribution toward global climate stability is maintaining healthy forests. The largest terrestrial carbon stock on the planet is contained in boreal forests. It is greater than tropical forests and Canada has about 30% of the world's boreal forests.

Perhaps the greatest flaw in Canadian democracy is that it represents the people in cities and the greater area of our geography has little place or standing in our system or way of thinking. Canada has an upper house called the Senate. It is a mirror of the House of Lords in the Westminster system of government. It is populated by appointees, mainly political hacks, that relish a good expense account. An elected senate could represent area, the geography of the country and in so doing would give greater voice to Minorities such as First Nations and French speaking people.

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