Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Update: What has Justin Trudeau done so far?

 Time for a six month report card on the performance of the Trudeau team in Ottawa. 

        One of nastier sides of the Harper Conservative government was the mean spirited way they went after programs which leveled the playing field for the less advantaged members of society: legal aid assistance, immigrant language programs and integration services.. 

        One of the nicer programs these mean-spirited bâtards et bâtardes cut was Kitimavik, the Canadian "domestic Peace Corps" program. 

          Justin Trudeau in his election campagin last fall, suggested - if not promised, restoring Kitimavik. To date, funding is not comfirmed but the folks at Kitimavik seem optimistic. They are even hiring people for both the Board of Directors and public relations posts - which is a good sign..

Posted July 29 on, 2016:

"The federal government budget for 2016 earmarked $105 million (over five years) “in support of youth service,” plus an additional $25 million per year after that. The budget said further details about the recipients of these funds would be announced.
Though the budget did not mention Katimavik by name, alumni are hopeful about the future of the program and confident that they have an ally in Justin Trudeau."

           The Court Challenges Program, while modest ($12 million for five years), is considered an important piece of empowering legislation, helping marginalized groups to challenge provincial and federal governments in civil rights legislation cases. This program was cut by Harper in his first term and has been re-instored by Trudeau. Bravo! 

           Playing up to his redneck, anti-intellectual and reactionary core, Haper and his government took aim at funding of the arts arguing that "ordinary" folk don't understand that artsy cr%p which is all a lot of leftwing propaganda anyway. In this case, despite their mantra of "economy - economy - economy..", the Harperites showed themselves bad economist as well as louts. Due to "multiplier factors", the arts inject surprising amounts of money into exactly the places it's needed: local economies. The much vaunted multinationals, which profit from massive federal and provincial subsidies - welfare for the rich, tend to ship their profits overseas. Art festivals, however, employ local people but also draw in people from outside to spend in local communites: hotels, restaurants, stores, local travel and tourism..

            In a virogous policy reversal, Trudeau's first budget has restored funding for the arts, the Arts Council and for the long beleaguered Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (lest anyone forget: the contemporary, neo-conservative inspired, round of CBC cuts actually began with an earlier Liberal government, that of Jean Chrétien).

Trudeau and his finance minister have taken a starkly different approach. The budget unveiled $1.9 billion in new arts spending, including $550 million over five years for the Canada Council for the Arts, millions for Canada's national museums and $675 million for CBC."


On the Science front: The Harper government was notorious for its war on evidence based science especially any science that could be construed as relating to global warming, climate change, pollution effects, habitat destruction or renewable resource overexploitation. In addition, science funding was shifted from basic science research (which is a gamble but may generate major innovations) to applied science (which benefits the industrial bottom line in the short term). At its worst, scientists doing "suspect" research for federal agencies were subjected to an utterly bizarre, North Korean style vetting procedure, actually having to obtain permission to speak with journalists (!sic! - this, in a modern Western "democracy") 

             Some of this stuff is too bizarre! Fit for a mid-twentieth century totalitarian regime. Here's a tidbit:

"In 2010, Natural Resources Canada scientist Scott Dallimore was not allowed to talk about research into a flood in northern Canada 13,000 years ago without getting pre-approval from political staff in the office of then-Natural Resources minister Christian Paradis. Postmedia News said requests were only approved after reporters' deadlines had already passed." 

               I supose this could be construed as climate change research, hence suspect (of linkages with leftwing, "foreign controlled environmental radicals"). The fact it happened 13,000 years ago, at the end of the last ice ages seems irrelevant..

                                 brainscan: Ministry of Censorship bureaucrat

              The Trudeau government has signaled a new era for Canadian Science in its first budget. An immediate 72.8 million dollars per annum will be injected into science funding, following years of stagnant or declining budgets. Specifically, the world class, Experimental Lakes Projects (to study long term water pollution), will once again receive funding by the feds. The Harper (fossil fuel puppet) government discontinued  funding, forcing the Experimental Lakes Project (Ontario) to seek private, foreign intitutional funding sources for the last few years.

               Under the Trudeau government, scientists are now free, once again, to speak of their research openly to whom they want (except, of course, for classified military work). 

                Research into Sustainable Development has been given annual funding by Ottawa. 

                Finally, a fund to assist provinces to reach their greenhouse gas emission goals has been established at $2 billion.

              So the scientists are happy. However, one should not expect major outlays of cash to start flowing before 2017 - 18. The longterm change in trajectory is welcome, nonetheless.

              The mills of government grind exceedingly slowly. Trudeau has already fufilled a few of his promises, the easy ones: increasing the number of Syrian refugees accepted by Canada, for example. Other important promises made by Trudeau during the campaign are just getting off the ground, for example, the Commission on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. 

               This commission may turn out to be the moral make-or-break point for Canadian society (at least for many generations). First Nations people, like blacks in the States have "traditional greviences" against the society they live in: they were, after all, victims of colonization and all that implies. They are under-scholarized but over-represented in prision. First nation women run a higher risk of being murdered or going missing and, worse, there is fear that police are not taking these cases seriously enough. Now, as seems to be the case in the States with blacks, our country has reached a make-or-break point. We are at a fork in the road. The Commission on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women may be our last chance to set things right, to turn a new - and brighter - page of the checkered history between European settlers and the indigenous founding peoples. However, even at its inception, we see a tendancy to waffle, to water things down, to not ask the questions that really must be asked. For example, there is concern that families of missing and murdered indigenous women may not be allowed to re-open investigations of murdered and missing relatives. This one is most definitely a "work in progress". Good luck with this one Mr Trudeau - you'll need it!


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