My latest article on the fight for better public transit options in Toronto was just published in the Common Sense Canadian. The ongoing squabble in Canada’s largest city over light rail vs. subways provides other North American cities with a textbook example of how NOT to address urban transportation challenges at the municipal level. It would appear we can all thank Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford for the kind lesson.
Bracing For a Transit Fight in Toronto
Written by Mark Brooks Thursday, 19 January 2012
This week’s humiliating budget defeat for Toronto mayor Rob Ford, which reversed $20 million in proposed spending cuts, has put new wind in the sails of those fighting to see improved transit services in Canada’s largest city.
On his first day in office, Mayor Ford fulfilled a campaign promise by announcing his intention to cancel the Transit City project, a plan proposed by former Mayor David Miller and the Toronto Transit Commission in 2007 that focused on improving service to the city’s woefully underserved suburbs. Among other initiatives, Transit City called for the construction of new rapid light rail lines connecting seven areas of the city, as well as new rapid bus transit lines. Upon cancelling the project in December 2010, Mayor Ford announced that the “war on the car” was over. Claiming that light rail transit (LRT) on roadways is a bad idea, he instead proposed an expansion of the existing Toronto subway system, a plan that would serve fewer residents at a much higher cost.
So just what is this transit dust-up all about and why should anyone outside of Toronto even care?
I am pleased to be acting as an Ottawa correspondent for the excellent online publication The Common Sense Canadian, British Columbia’s premier environmental news journal. CSC combines cutting-edge video, audio, and reporting and editorials from former BC Environment Minister and Hall of Fame broadcaster Rafe Mair, documentary filmmaker Damien Gillis, and a host of formidable contributors and guest editorialists who bring you the stories and opinions our establishment media won’t publish.
My latest article, reprinted below, examines the negotiating position the Canadian government has adopted at the ongoing Durban climate change summit and in international climate negotiations more generally. You can read it here in full on the CSC website.
Harper’s Climate Death-Wish:
Withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol only the latest effort to derail climate change action
Amidst the ongoing circus that constitutes the United Nations climate change summit (COP 17) currently underway in Durban, South Africa, Canada has once again distinguished itself as the country most hostile to virtually any serious international effort to curb rising greenhouse gas emissions.
Canada has long been considered a climate change pariah by the international community. We were the only signatory to the Kyoto Protocol to simply ignore its responsibilities following ratification and our country’s total emissions are now more than 34 per cent above our Kyoto targets. Not only did the previous Liberal government fail to do anything to meet its Kyoto obligations, in recent years the government of Stephen Harper has gone a step further, becoming increasingly obdurate in its efforts to deliberately obstruct the progress of international climate talks.
Why the antipathy of the Harper government toward limits to carbon emissions? Well, as you might expect, the tar sands are one factor. Tar sands reserves are now valued at a stunning $14 trillion and oil companies are investing hundreds of billions of dollars in exploiting the resource, money that could boost federal tax revenues considerably.
This is only part of the story however.
Read my article published in the Common Sense Canadian: Could the Tide Slowly be Turning Against Dirty Oil?
I am pleased to be contributing to the excellent online news and commentary publication The Common Sense Canadian. My first article, entitled Obama’s Keystone XL Reversal: Could the Tide Slowly be Turning Against Dirty Oil?, appeared on their web site yesterday. The full article is printed below.
Strolling around Washington, D.C. last weekend, I came upon an impressive memorial to the famous wartime president Franklin Roosevelt. Upon the gray granite walls were inscribed many of FDR’s most memorable quotations. “Men and nature must work hand in hand,” he wrote in a 1935 message to Congress. “The throwing out of balance of the resources of nature throws out of balance also the lives of men.”
Having traveled to the U.S. capital to cover the latest protest of the Keystone XL project, I wondered what FDR might say about TransCanada’s controversial pipeline proposal. A pipeline that would transport tar sands crude from northern Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico, Keystone has been described as a 2700 km “fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet” in the words of author and activist Bill McKibben. Protest organizers had hoped to encircle the White House with at least 4000 people in what McKibben called both an “O-shaped hug” and “house arrest.” Instead, at least 10,000 protesters showed up, young and old, from all over North America, ringing President Obama’s residence three-deep. Read more…