Is climate change real? The very question might take you back to the early ’90s, when “objective” climate change coverage meant having a climate scientist and a climate change denier both treated with the same level of respect on a serious nightly news show. Unfortunately it’s 2021, and this question is suddenly at the centre Canadian party politics: 54 per cent of delegates at the Conservative convention voted to deny a milquetoast resolution stating climate change “is real” and the party is “willing to act.” 

Toronto Star columnist Susan Delacourt said the exchange likely “put climate change at the centre of the next election campaign.” That strategy assumes that Liberals have a more comprehensive platform to combat climate change rather than merely affirming its existence in a hollow nod to neoliberal values. Voters choosing between Conservative and Liberal candidates will therefore have the choice of a party that doesn’t believe in climate change, and a party that does but refuses to do anything substantive about it. (The current climate change plan does little substantive work before 2030, and hopes to reach net-zero carbon by 2050.)

According to PressProgress, the motion’s failure may be related to the ascendancy of social conservatism within the party. They point to anti-abortion group Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), who circulated materials urging delegates to vote against the motion. The CLC materials claim “global warming alarmism is being used by global elites […] to advance population control through abortion and sterilization.” While only 18 per cent of Conservative voters believe climate change is a hoax, that small minority are also the loudest.

Here, we see the problem: Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole might want to shed the nasty-guy, conspiracy-theory model of conservatism, but he’s bound to it. The vocal core of his party’s base are out of step with what he says he wants to do as a leader. While it’s easy to clown on Conservatives, he’s got a tough gig: appease his ever less-sensible right-wing, while trying to appeal to Liberals sick of a two-term Trudeau government. May we hope he fails miserably.

This Week from Passage

The NDP Wasted Another Chance to Push for Nationalizing Telecoms

Last week, we wrote about the need for the Competition Bureau to stop the planned Rogers-Shaw merger. This week, we’ve got Christo Aivalis outlining how the NDP should have used the deal as a lightning rod to call for nationalizing telecoms. If the NDP truly believe that cell service and high-speed internet are public infrastructure rights, they need to act on it.

Trudeau Has Failed to Deliver Promised Civil Liberty Reforms 

In 2015, civil liberty activists were up in arms about Bill C-51, the Conservatives’ attempt to trade public freedoms for heightened security measures. Kevin Taghabon explains how Trudeau’s Liberals, despite opposing C-51, passed their own version of it in 2019. Bill C-59 has been law for two years, yet seen not nearly so much opposition — despite being almost as over-bearing.

Police Should Play No Role in So-Called Wellness Checks

Between January 1 and November 30 last year, police killed at least five people while conducting wellness checks. Why do we still trust the police to do these checks? Rebecca Hume uses Winnipeg as a case study to break down how wellness checks are misused, the inherent violence in trusting a mental health service to the police and why we need revolution, not reform.

The RCMP’s Investigation of Colten Boushie’s Death Was a Travesty

Want to know what the RCMP considers a “generally professional and reasonable” investigation? In the case of Colten Boushie’s death, it involves: treating his family and friends like criminals; failing to fully investigate the crime itself according to police procedure; conducting its own secret, internal review of the incident that may have coloured the commission’s findings. Sound professional and reasonable enough for you?

Elsewhere in Canada

Young Women of Colour Face Hate-Filled Online Environment.” Alex Nguyen, Ricochet.

Online harassment has long been siloed as something that “just” happens online; that you can survive it by “logging off” or taking a break. This is clearly bullshit: just another way to minimize harm that disproportionately affects racialized women, queer and trans people, and other marginalized people who dare share their experiences online. With the real-world rise of anti-Asian hate crimes in Canada, it’s becoming more important than ever to recognize the role social media plays in stirring up hatred and fear — and to push the government to introduce legislation reflecting that.

We Could Have Been Largely Free of the Pandemic By Now.” Andrew Nikiforuk, The Tyee.

Seven weeks ago, Nikiforuk penned a wildly popular article outlining how Canada could get to COVID-0. In that interim period, instead of enacting something — anything — that could tamp down on transmission, Canadian leaders instead did … pretty much the same as they had been doing. Nikiforuk’s latest article is a damning summary of inaction, and what it has cost us.

Around the World

Five Lessons from Israel’s Election.” Jonathan Cook, Electronic Intifada.

Israel went to the polls for the fourth time in two years this week, voting for the 120 seats of the Knesset. For the first time, unabashed Kahanists (who Cook refers to as Israel’s Ku Klux Klan) won seats in Parliament, including Jewish Power’s leader Itamar Ben-Gvir. The results look to be 52 seats controlled by Netanyahu and his allies, 57 seats held by groups who oppose him, and two undecided parties in the middle holding 11 seats. If Netanyahu can broker a deal, it could involve handing Ben-Gvir a ministerial position. If he can’t, it’ll result in Israel’s fifth election since 2019. 

Turkey Withdraws from European Treaty Protecting Women.” Zeynep Bilginsoy, AP News.

Not analysis, but I had to mention it. Erdogan’s government has withdrawn from the Istanbul Convention because it could encourage homosexuality and divorce — things that are, according to him, inconsistent with Turkey’s values. The Ottoman Empire decriminalized homosexuality (in private) in 1858, so if anything Erdogan’s aggressively anti-LGBTQ stance is what’s at odds with Turkey’s values. (It took Canada until 1969 to decriminalize private same-sex activity.)

Ideas & Culture

Substack Is Not a Neutral Platform.” Jude Ellison, Sady Doyle, Gen.  

Neutrality in the face of discrimination isn’t fairness: it’s tipping the balance in favour of hate. Substack have been offering advances to writers to create new Substack newsletters, including some people accused of transphobia and misogyny. (This model is called Substack Pro.) But beyond deliberately seeking out these writers, Substack gains revenue from hosting vitriolic newsletters. Like Facebook before it, Substack can’t decide if it’s a platform or a publisher — and, like Facebook, their hands-off moderating style will disproportionately harm already marginalized people.

Universities Are Still Gambling With Students’ Lives.” Natalie Martinez-White, Current Affairs.

Natalie Martinez-White, a disabled student at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, dissects how her school — and colleges all over America — have failed students over and over again throughout the pandemic. Many of these issues Martinez-White describes have happened at Canadian institutions, too.

And one last thing…

Passage hosted a livestream conversation on public ownership in the Canadian economy with Paris Marx and Matthew Green, MP for Hamilton Centre and NDP Critic for National Revenue, Public Services and Procurement, Treasury Board. If you weren’t able to tune in you can catch the discussion here.

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