Cameron Wigmore, Green Party Member: May 2007

May 24, 2007

Jennifer Wigmore - Alberta Greens Drumheller-Stettler Candidate

The byelection is underway for the Alberta ridings of Calgary-Elbow and Drumheller-Stettler. Jennifer Wigmore is running here in Drumheller-Stettler and last night at the first public candidate forum in Oyen she swept the crowd off of their feet with a fantastic speech and some no-nonsense policy proposals.

For more info click here to go to Jennifer's page at the Alberta Greens website.

Go Jen Go!!!

May 14, 2007

Nuclear Energy - Many Links & Great Info

Below is a collection of recent info on nuclear that I put together after reading a story on alternative energies.

First, I have a letter to the editor written by Elaine Hughes from Saskatchewan, also found here, and reproduced on my blog with her permission.

Published February 3, 2007 in Saskatoon Star Phoenix

Dear Editor

. . . let’s not be coy about uranium!

If the Saskatchewan government follows the advice given by Mr. Percy in his frenzied article, “It’s a make-or-break year for Sask.” (SP Jan.06.07), they should just stop “being coy about supporting expanded uranium development…”.

They must knowingly ignore the wisdom of those who understand uranium - the price for uranium is high and getting higher – we don’t want to miss making all that money!

The threat, from radiation or bullets, to the entire planet posed by removing uranium from its protected location under the earth, hauling it many miles to mills for processing, then on to Saskatoon for shipment to the US and out into the world market, is enormous.

In its many forms, uranium is a killer – inevitable – contaminating everything it touches: water, soil, plants, animals and residents: fishermen, mothers, even babies.

To those of us who know and love northern Saskatchewan, and wish to visit it one more time - go now, before it’s too late!

Elaine Hughes

Archerwill, SK

I was recently inspired to collect all of my recent items on nuclear energy. I've added some other reference links for more info on nuclear energy and/or the tar sands. Click on the links to see the full stories.


Cameron Wigmore
Alberta Representative, Federal Council
Crowfoot Candidate, '06 & current
CEO, Crowfoot EDA

First, my previous blog on nuclear, and on the oilsands.

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Geothermal vs. nuclear in the tar sands
Silence on geothermal deafening
May 07, 2007
Tyler Hamilton

Three months ago, the Toronto Star ran a lengthy story about an oil-industry consortium that is quietly exploring the use of geothermal heat as an alternative to using natural gas in the oil sands.

Today, natural gas is burned to produce the hot steam that's needed to extract bitumen from the tar sands. Alberta's world-famous sands are already the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gases in the country, and on the current growth path, emissions are expected to jump more than four-fold over the next 10 years.

Replacing much of this natural gas with clean, emission-free heat under the Earth's crust, a completely feasible option according to a recent research report out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, would go an enormous way toward achieving a halt, and eventually a decline, in Canada's carbon emissions.

The problem is, nobody is making noise about it. Not Ottawa. Not the provinces. Not even environmental groups.

When the Harper government released its much-anticipated "green plan" in late April, there was no mention of geothermal in the oil sands. Gary Lunn, federal minister of Natural Resources Canada, has never publicly touted the option.

The situation is perplexing, to say the least.

On the other hand, Lunn has been quite vocal in pushing nuclear power and its potential as a source of energy in the oil sands...


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Canadian Oil Sands Nuclear Plant Seen for 2016
CANADA: March 5, 2007
OTTAWA - The first in a series of nuclear power plants planned for the oil-rich tar sands of Western Canada should be operating by 2016, the head of the project said Thursday.

The Energy Alberta Corporation says it wants to place a C$5.5 billion (US$4.3 billion) Canadian-built Candu twin reactor plant in northern Alberta to provide the massive amounts of power needed to extract oil from the sticky sands...

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Nuclear Power No Sure Cure for Climate Ills - Groups
US: May 3, 2007
WASHINGTON - Nuclear energy may not live up to its promise as the solution for global warming, according to separate reports released this week by an environmental group and an independent think tank...

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Australian Labor Party Scraps Ban on New Uranium Mines
AUSTRALIA: April 30, 2007
SYDNEY - Australia's centre-left Labor Party scrapped its 25-year ban on new uranium mines on Saturday after a divisive debate at the party's national policy conference in Sydney...

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Canada's Role in Depleted Uranium (DU) Weapons worldwide

DU & Public Health: The public health effects of the use of Depleted Uranium (DU) weapons are such that their use can be considered per se violations of the war crime of Genocide under the Statute of the International Criminal Court. The documented devastating effects of DU weapons on public health include:

3.0 Findings: The negative impacts of radiation from nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons testing, nuclear power and nuclear reactors, and depleted uranium weaponry, include but are not limited to the following.
3.1 Cancer
3.2 Birth defects
3.3 Chronic diseases caused by neurological and neuromuscular radiation damage
3.4 Mitochondrial diseases (Chronic fatigue syndrome, Lou Gehrig's, Parkinsons nad Alzheimer's; Heart and brain disorders)
3.5 Global DNA damage in men's sperm; Infertility in women.
3.6 Learning disabilities
3.7 Mental illness
3.8 Birth rates & death rates
3.9 Diabetes
3.10 Infant mortality and low birth weights
3.11 Atmospheric testing impact on Environment
3.12 It is hereby found that the only feasible remedy to cease the damage to the environment and public health caused by ionizing radiation, and to safeguard the future of humanity and all living things, is to permanently abolish all nuclear technologies...

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BOOK: WOLVES OF WATER - A Study Constructed from Atomic Radiation,
Morality, Epidemiology, Science, Bias, Philosophy and Death by Chris

"Come then all of you, come closer, form a circle Join hands and make
believe that joined Hands will keep away the wolves of water Who howl
along our coast. And be it assumed That no one hears them among the
talk and laughter." - Louis MacNeice

Light and Dark. Good and Evil. Themes from the night time recesses of our folk memories. They recur in literature, poetry, film: they are as old as time itself. In the scientific daylight of 2006, with the planet in danger, with massive expansion of industry, of pollution, of war, terrorism, threats of the effects of global warming, species loss, new diseases, even in this rationalist western world, illuminated by the stark light of scientific rationalism, no one can quite bring themselves to laugh about these deep ancient fears and pass them off as fantasy, or the stuff of dreams and cinema. There has always been an underlying public suspicion that the superficial events that influence their lives and the explanations of these events, which are common currency, do not address the underlying political truths. They suspect there is a real story that they are not being told. They are right. And, from time to time, stories emerge that demonstrate this. This is one such story. The message of this book is that the developments and advances of science have brought in their train devastating illnesses, and an even more devastating change in the way in which we now see the world...

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How green is nuclear power?
Some call it a carbon-free alternative to fossil fuels, but others point to significant environmental costs.

In Kansas, where winds blow strong, the push for clean energy includes not only new wind turbines but also new nuclear-power plants as part of a "carbon-free" solution to climate change.

It's an idea that may be catching on. At least 11 new nuclear plants are in the design stage in nine states, including Virginia, Texas, and Florida, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute website.

But that carbon-free pitch has researchers asking anew: How carbon-free is nuclear power? And how cost-effective is it in the fight to slow global warming?

"Saying nuclear is carbon-free is not true," says Uwe Fritsche, a researcher at the Öko Institut in Darmstadt, Germany, who has conducted a life-cycle analysis of the plants. "It's less carbon-intensive than fossil fuel. But if you are honest, scientifically speaking, the truth is: There is no carbon-free energy. There's no free lunch."

Nuclear power has more than just a little greenhouse gas attached to it, when mining uranium ore, refining and enriching fuel, building the plant, and operating it are included. A big 1,250 megawatt plant produces the equivalent of 250,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year during its life, Dr. Fritsche says...

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From the "Frying Pan of Global Warming into the Nuclear Fire":
Five reasons to oppose the uranium and nuclear industry
– April 2007 By Jim Harding, Ph.D.
Nuclear power is aggressively being promoted as the magic bullet for global warming, and the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) is again on our national airways bombarding us with the totally misleading message that nuclear is "clean." Here are five reasons to reject the nuclear propaganda.

1. Nuclear produces greenhouse gases
The nuclear industry is very energy-intensive, using massive fossil fuels, from mining, refining and enriching uranium to transporting and storing nuclear wastes. The most potent of the greenhouse gases - the otherwise banned ozone_depleting CFC's - continue to be released through uranium enrichment. And Saskatchewan's uranium, which accounts for one-third of world production, is enriched in the U.S. using a coal-fired plant.

At best, a nuclear plant is responsible for one-third of the green-house gases of an equivalent gas-fired plant. And an expanding nuclear industry will increasingly be forced to use lower grade uranium, requiring even more fossil fuels along the nuclear fuel system, with less and less net energy gain.

2. Nuclear is a Cancer Industry
Calling nuclear "clean" is Orwellian and obscene. Nuclear power spreads radioactivity in the earth's biosphere, and these radioactive particles will continue to bio-accumulate in the food chain long after nuclear power plants have shut down. Radiation released from the 1986 Chernobyl accident spread cancer and suffering widely, leaving some areas in Europe unsafe for growing food for as long as 600 years.

Fuelling the 435 reactors worldwide leaves hundreds of thousands of tonnes of radon-generating radioactive tailings in mining regions, such as Northern Saskatchewan. Reactors "legally" release hundreds of thousands of curies of radioactive gases and elements yearly. Each reactor produces ever-accumulating radioactive wastes as spent fuel that will have to be managed for millennia. Ever since the industry began in 1945, we have been asked to make a very risky and costly "leap of faith" that the storage problem will be solved. No safe and secure system of storing nuclear wastes in perpetuity has been created.

Cameco and other nuclear proponents tell us a majority of Saskatchewan people support uranium mining for the "economic development." But this is not informed consent. And even if a majority actually supported the export of this carcinogen, this would not make it right.

3. Nuclear is Not Peaceful
A 1,000 megawatt reactor yearly produces 500 pounds of the very carcinogenic element plutonium, which has a half-life of 24,400 years. That means that in 24,400 years - over 800 generations from now - it will still be half as radioactive. Only ten pounds of plutonium is required to make an atomic bomb, and Canada's CANDU reactor has already played a part in nuclear proliferation, most notably in the arms race between India and Pakistan.

Saskatchewan uranium was a primary source for thousands of American and British nuclear weapons in the arms race between 1953_66. Since the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) depleted uranium (DU) -left from enriching Saskatchewan's uranium exported for U.S. nuclear power plants - still remains available to the military for producing nuclear weapons, including H-Bombs. DU Bullets used in Yugoslavia and Iraq continue to spread radioactivity and cancer. As the world's major uranium-producing region, Saskatchewan is directly complicit in this low-level nuclear war. Our ever-denying governments and corporations will likely be seen as "war" and "ecological" criminals by future generations. They should be brought to account now.

France is the most nuclear-dependent country at 70% electricity. It has an interlocked military-industrial nuclear system and only recently stopped aboveground nuclear tests and signed the NPT. It relies on Saskatchewan uranium. The largest single source of uranium for the U.S. military-industrial nuclear complex is also Saskatchewan.

4. Nuclear Is Impractical
Nuclear electricity has been massively subsidized by a handful of nuclear weapons powers (mostly France, the U.S, Britain and Russia) which now try to profit through exporting nuclear technology to the industrializing (mostly Asian) world. Yet after 60 years nuclear power only supplies 17 percent of electricity, while coal produces 64 percent of electricity, worldwide. Even if coal dependent China built 30 new nuclear plants, nuclear would produce only 5 percent of its energy, which wouldn't mitigate its rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Also, uranium, like oil, is nonrenewable. If nuclear power could replace all coal presently used for generating electricity, we would run out of accessible uranium in less than a decade. Spending money on expanding nuclear therefore just postpones the inevitable - the need to convert to sustainable, renewable energy. And it squanders capital needed for this transformation, while increasing the burden of toxic radiation and huge decommissioning costs for future generations. This is immoral in every sense of the term.

Conservation, energy efficiency and perhaps "clean coal" are the realistic, cost-effective means of transitioning to sustainable, renewable energy to address global warming. This conversion, however,

continues to be stalled by huge taxpayer's subsidies to nuclear, which distort the energy market. George Bush's 2005 Energy Bill, for example, committed U.S. $13 billion to help the fledgling nuclear industry, something Helen Caldicott rightly calls a "theft from the production of cheap renewable electricity."

According to Ontario's Energy Probe, when you consider debt and interest costs over the last five decades, the Canadian nuclear industry has received $75 billion in public subsidies. Think what this scale of investment could have achieved if it were invested in renewables?

5. There's a Revolution in Renewables
Renewables include wind, solar, biomass, co_generation, geothermal, and kinetic energy. They also include "marine energy" (tidal and wave) which the British government-created Carbon Trust has said could produce 20 percent of the U.K.'s electricity. Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute has calculated that in the year 2004 alone, the amount of electricity supplied by renewables (excluding large hydro dams) added 500 times the total capacity worldwide that nuclear contributed. A political and techno-logical revolution towards ecological sustainability is currently underway.

The EU is now committed to reducing greenhouse gases by percent by 2020 through increased reliance on wind and solar power. In Canada, hydro produces 60 percent of our electricity, coal produces 22 percent and nuclear produces 14 percent. Between them, conservation and renewables can phaseout both nuclear and coal. Meanwhile the Harper Federal & Calvert Provincial governments continue with nuclear expansion. With support from the Sask Party,Calvert's NDP is promoting a uranium refinery, and Harper's Conservatives fantasize using nuclear power to increase the extraction of the west's heavy oil - the dirtiest of all oils.

If we continue on this destructive and dangerous path, we could become an international nuclear waste dump. We need a fundamental redirection of energy policy to address global warming and truly contribute to sustainability and world peace. Accepting the deception of the nuclear industry amounts to jumping from the frying pan of global warming into the nuclear fire.

Produced with research from Helen Caldicott's "Nuclear Power is not the Answer" (2006), and Jim Harding's "Canada's Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System" (forthcoming, Fernwood, 2007).This was originally produced for the Non_Nuclear Network and can be used by any environmental/ non_nuclear group.

See also: OUR DEADLY SECRET: Tracing Saskatchewan's Role in the Proliferation of Nuclear WMD1 by Jim Harding, Ph. D., Retired Prof. of Environmental and Justice Studies

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Political Polling Trends - Greens Go Up

A new story on a study of all recent Decima polls shows a few trends. See full article here.

Interesting trends emerging in weekly polls
Updated Sun. May. 13 2007 4:12 PM ET
Bruce Anderson, Canadian Press

OTTAWA -- Anyone watching polls lately might be forgiven for their frustration at the range and unpredictability of the swings from week to week. But beneath the surface of weekly who-might-you-vote-for polls, some fascinating trends are taking shape.

Canadian voters have loosened the attachments that anchored them to traditional party choices. They're now being propelled by currents that confound those who prefer simple, clear signals from polls...

...People are much less angry at the Liberals, and much less fearful of the Conservatives. The good news is this allows people to vote for a positive reason. The bad news is there's no sign that's happening. Instead, there's a lack of passion of any sort. The volatility in weekly horse race polls looks like a passionate electorate, but it is probably more a reflection of the rather casual nature of how some voters feel about the choice...

...Elizabeth May has managed to create an impression among the majority of the Canadian electorate, and most of those impressions are good. She has a truly remarkable rating among voters under 25. May shares a distinction with Layton: more voters say their opinion is improving rather than fading of both leaders...

...Given this new competitiveness, its useful to take a look at what sort of shifting among parties has been going on. We've analyzed our last 7000 surveys on voting intention (between March 22 and May 7), and here's what we see:

  • The Conservatives have done better at retaining the support of those who voted for them in 2006, losing only 15 per cent of their supporters. The lost points went to the Liberals (six per cent), the NDP (four per cent) the Green Party (three per cent) and the BQ (one per cent).
  • The Liberals have lost 22 per cent of their 2006 voters. Ten per cent went to the Conservatives, five to the NDP, five to the Greens and just one per cent to the BQ.
  • The BQ has lost 23 per cent of its support, with six per cent siphoned off by the Conservatives, six per cent to the Greens, five per cent to the NDP, and only three to the Liberals.
  • The NDP has lost a quarter of its support an even 25 per cent. Ten per cent went to the Liberals, seven per cent to the Greens, 5 per cent to the Conservatives, and 1% to the BQ...

...In Ontario, almost one in three of the voters who have left the Liberals say they are voting Green, as do one in four who have left the Conservatives. In Quebec, voters who have left the BQ are almost twice as likely to say they will vote Green as vote Liberal...

Interesting trends!

From this site comes a graph that's frequently updated:

I've highlighted the Green Party's rise from 6% in the polls to over 10%. The Greens are the only national federal political party that is trending upwards like this.

I think this is not only because Canadians are aware of environmental and climate change issues and see the Green Party as best able to deal with these subjects, but also because Canadians see the Green Party, with a platform and policies that cover all issues, as a real viable option.

May 9, 2007

On Pesticides, More Or Less

I sometimes wonder how we've come to the point where food that was simply food just a few decades ago has become specialty 'organic' food, and our every day grocery store food is now generally accepted as normal food.

Rather that label organic food and separate it from the regular stock, I think we should label the majority of non-organic foods as 'specialty toxic foods', or 'discount reduced quality foods', and organic foods can reclaim a place on our grocery store shelves as our generally accepted food.

Although I'm not a farmer and do not come from an agricultural background, I've learned a lot in the last few years about the realities of the transition to organic farming. Organic farming is a whole different thing, and it takes years to make the transition. I know a lot of farmers who say they'd rather not work with all of the pesticides and fertilizers they use, but our government doesn't really provide many opportunities for them to switch over to organic farming. I'm excited that the Green Party recognizes this dilemma, and would assist the industry in the transition to organic farming. Many of the new agriculture related policies adopted at the August '06 GPC convention in Ottawa, where I was present and participated, are very exciting and insightful. Watch for them in our next election platform!

Farmers should never ever be vilified by people in the city who've never been to rural areas to learn about the realities of agriculture. Not only have many people forgotten about how admirable, respectable and valuable this profession is, sadly farmers in Canada don't get their fair share of the consumer dollar, and something needs to be done about that right now.

Here's a recent Green Party media release on the subject of raising allowable pesticide levels...

Protect our children; don’t weaken pesticide rules, says Green Party

OTTAWA – The Green Party is calling on the federal government to protect the most vulnerable members of Canadian society – children and the unborn – by resisting pressure to raise limits on pesticide residues for hundreds of fruit and vegetable products.

Commenting on a report that Canada is about to raise pesticide residue limits to harmonize rules with those of the United States, Green Party leader Elizabeth May said, "Once again, we see Canada joining a race to the bottom in the name of NAFTA.”

Today's Ottawa Citizen reports that Canada's regulations are stricter than those south of the border for 40 percent of the chemical residues it regulates. The different rules are described as a "trade irritant." Under NAFTA, Canadian and U.S. regulators have been working for more than a decade to harmonize regulations but the negotiations are now being fast-tracked as part of the Security and Prosperity Partnership.

"If harmonization is the goal, then we should insist on harmonizing upwards," said Ms. May. "The U.S. has some of the weakest pesticide residue rules in the developed world. These are not the standards to which Canada should aspire."

She said that the harmonization model adopted successfully by the European Union – where all countries must measure up to the member country with the strictest rules – should become standard practice in North America.

"If the cost of NAFTA is exposing Canadians to higher levels of toxic chemicals then that's too high a price to pay," said Ms. May. "It certainly validates the long-standing Green Party position that Canada should renegotiate NAFTA to eliminate mechanisms that erode Canada's sovereignty and environmental laws.”

From the Wikipedia entry on pesticides:

Since before 2500 BC, humans have used pesticides to prevent damage to their crops. The first known pesticide was elemental sulfur dusting used in Sumeria about 4,500 years ago. By the 15th century, toxic chemicals such as arsenic, mercury and lead were being applied to crops to kill pests. In the 17th century, nicotine sulfate was extracted from tobacco leaves for use as an insecticide. The 19th century saw the introduction of two more natural pesticides, pyrethrum which is derived from chrysanthemums, and rotenone which is derived from the roots of tropical vegetables.

Pesticide use has increased 50-fold since 1950, and 2.5 million tons of industrial pesticides are now used each year.

On the environment
Pesticides have been found to pollute virtually every lake, river and stream in the United States, according to the US Geological Survey. Pesticide runoff has been found to be highly lethal to amphibians, according to a recent study by the University of Pittsburgh.

Pesticides are strongly implicated in pollinator decline, including through the mechanism of Colony Collapse Disorder.

Dangers of Pesticides
Pesticides can present danger to consumers, bystanders, or workers during manufacture, transport, or during and after use [28]. There is concern that pesticides used to control pests on food crops are dangerous to the consumer. These concerns are one reason for the organic food movement. Many food crops, including fruits and vegetables, contain pesticide residues after being washed or peeled.

A new study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, has discovered a 70% increase in the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease for people exposed to even low levels of pesticides.

For a great video on environmental toxins and their cumulative effects on people, by CBC Marketplace's Wendy Mesley, click here and go to the box on the right with the RM video clip. From the intro to the story...

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," says the old adage. But with so much focus on treatment, drugs and finding the ever-elusive cancer cure, prevention isn't a popular word in the cancer community.

"I can accept that I have cancer; I can't accept how common it is," says Mesley. "If it was just me, I could live with that. But the number of people getting cancer is wrong. Our failure to do better fighting this disease is wrong. I just think we need to be a little wiser about the world we are creating."

Pesticides In The News (collection of updated news stories)

Beyond Pesticides Daily News Blog (US News)

May 2, 2007

Green Party Leader Sets The Pace For Climate Change Debate

Elizabeth May was giving a sermon in church last Sunday and something she said was picked up by Stephen Harper and spun negatively to try to use it against her.

One thing that interests me is that the other political parties have realized that they are in a losing battle when it comes to criticizing Green Party policies (not only on climate change but also on economic stability & sustainability, social justice, etc) and now have turned to attacking the Leader of the Green Party of Canada, Elizabeth May.

I, as well as many other Greens, will continue to keep the focus on the solutions that the Green Party represents. It's up to the other national parties to choose whether they want to offer Canadians some policies that will lead to a healthy country with a healthy economy & healthy people, or more disinformation, spin, rhetoric and personal attacks.

We know that Canadians want solutions, not more finger pointing and childish back-and-forth attacks. While the Green Party offers common sense solutions in its policies and continues to rise in the polls, the other parties continue to sit at the same level of support or go lower.

May gets backing from Brits

Bruce Cheadle, Canadian Press - Published: Wednesday, May 02, 2007

OTTAWA (CP) - Elizabeth May was sharply criticized Tuesday, ...but the unapologetic Green party leader got some unexpected support from British royalty.

While Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion and New Democrat Jack Layton all took turns denouncing the analogy, Prince Charles was making much the same point as May in a speech in London.

"I do not want my children and grandchildren, or anyone for that matter, saying to me, 'Why didn't you do something when it was possible to make a difference and when you knew what was happening?" the prince told a business conference Tuesday at St. James Palace.

"We can do it, just think what they did in the last war. Things that seemed impossible were achieved almost overnight."

In an interview Tuesday, May said the tempest over her weekend remarks to a church group were being both misrepresented and overblown.

May explained that the controversial quote attributed to her in news reports was actually her repeating the comments of a British journalist and environmental writer, George Monbiot.

Monbiot had told a conference on Saturday that there is a "new axis of evil" on climate change, naming U.S. President George Bush, Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Harper as the offending trio.

According to May, who says she took notes, Monbiot called the three "more culpable in the eyes of history than (former British prime minister) Neville Chamberlain's attempt to appease the Nazis."

May says she repeated Monbiot's opinion on Sunday when she spoke to a church group in London, Ont., at the invitation of the local Liberal MP who had defeated her there in a fall federal byelection.

The point, May said Tuesday, is that Monbiot was comparing the moral failure of meeting the targets of the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gas emissions with Chamberlain's failure to appreciate the dangers of Nazi Germany.

"We run the risk of losing civilization," said May.


Curiously, Britain's foreign secrectary, Margaret Beckett, also used the Second World War analogy in a speech last week.

Beckett described climate change as a matter of "climate security" and recalled the pre-war actions of Chamberlain's political opponent and eventual successor, Winston Churchill.

"It was a time when Churchill, perceiving the dangers that lay ahead, struggled to mobilize the political will and industrial energy of the British Empire to meet those dangers," said Beckett. "He did so often in the face of strong opposition and not always with success."

Green Party Leader dismayed that comments were distorted

Statement by Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party of Canada.

“I am dismayed that members of the Harper government have chosen to distort my comments to create a firestorm of controversy designed to distract attention from their failure to live up to Canada's Kyoto commitments.

"I can assure the Canadian Jewish Congress and all Canadians that I did not compare Nazi Germany and the Holocaust to any current issue. The evil of the Nazi regime is without parallel and stands alone for its deliberate, systematic and inhuman genocide.

“George Monbiot, best-selling author of HEAT and respected journalist at The Guardian, echoed the views of many people around the world when he expressed his deep distress at Canada's abdication of responsibility in the current climate crisis. As a failure of leadership and moral courage, he compared it to the appeasement efforts of Neville Chamberlain.

“I made reference to Mr. Monbiot’s statement to highlight the damage being done to Canada’s international reputation, something that should concern all Canadians.

“I deeply regret that the inflamed rhetoric around this issue has caused pain or offence.”

I would rarely if ever compare anything to controversial subjects for fear that it would make light of those events and distract from my point. Unfortunately, the inflamed rhetoric put forth by Harper distracted from May's point, and that hostile political opponent spun her words in a way to make it seem that she might have been making light of WW2, when in fact it is Harper who is making light of Climate Change.

Update: - Selective Memory - Let he who has not made a Neville Chamberlain reference cast the first stone

Aaron Wherry, | May 2, 2007 | 9:11 am EST
Scrumming with reporters after Tuesday's Question Period, NDP leader Jack Layton was asked for his take on Elizabeth May's questionable use of a Neville Chamberlain reference to describe the Conservative government's stance on the environment. Layton did not mince words.

"Well, we certainly would have never made any such comparison," he said. "I think it's very unfortunate and certainly not something that we consider to be wise or appropriate."

Pity Layton. His memory obviously fails him.

Now, I'm not generally in the business of doing the Green Party's homework, but a quick review of Hansard finds more than a few Chamberlain references on the record. In fact, here's Layton questioning then-prime minister Paul Martin about the Liberal government's failure to meet Kyoto targets:

"Mr. Speaker, enough is enough. We have been hearing those kinds of comments from the Prime Minister for 16 years since he began promising to clean up the air for Canadians and instead we have worse pollution than ever. He makes Neville Chamberlain look like a stalwart in standing up to a crisis. Smog is sending people to emergency wards at unprecedented levels. The prairies are drying up. We have forest fires like we have never had before. All we get are promises of plans to be brought forward some day. Will he bring forward a plan, yes or no?"

After QP, Liberal leader Stéphane Dion added his voice to those calling for May to withdraw the comments. One assumes he said the same thing to Liberal MP Robert Thibault, who, just a little more than a month ago, mustered this during a budget debate:

"I listened to the Minister of Finance when he was reading his budget speech. He said that the long days of bickering between the federal and provincial governments were over. I have not heard a quote like that since I read about Neville Chamberlain talking about peace in our times right before the second world war."

And before the Conservatives get cocky, let's remember this year-old gem from Peter MacKay, during a debate over extending the Canadian mission in Afghanistan:

"I do not expect members of the NDP to understand this. I fully expect that the Neville Chamberlains of the 21st century in the NDP do not want to be part of an effort that is aimed at elevating the lives of the people of Afghanistan. It is unfortunate that they would take this off track and try to debase the real activity, the important quality of life changes that are taking place because of our forces being in Afghanistan."

MacKay was at least speaking in reference to a military operation. But then, if a reference to Neville Chamberlain is always "inappropriate," a multi-partisan apology seems in order.