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Poznan climate talks: Fiddling while the Earth burns

Eleven thousand delegates (including 1,500 corporate lobbyists), 13,000 tonnes of carbon consumed, and two weeks wasted: the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland made only glacial progress towards a new global climate treaty, due to be signed a year from now in Copenhagen.

"It's going to take at least a riot to make any difference to the extraordinarily slow progress," joked Henry Derwent, CEO of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) at one side event in the conference venue. If things carry on at this pace, he should be careful what he wishes for.

Hard to spin this failure

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Robert Dziekanski's killers walk free

VANCOUVER - On Friday, December 13, the Criminal Justice Branch of the province of British Columbia announced it would not press charges against the four policemen responsible for the death of Polish visitor to Canada Robert Dziekanski on October 17, 2007. Spokesman Robert Lowe said there was "no substantial likelihood of conviction if his service proceeded to criminal charges."

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Breakthrough for Québec solidaire

Amir Khadir, one of the two spokespersons for Québec solidaire (QS), has won a seat in the Quebec National Assembly. Among the many excellent aspects of the Québec Solidaire platform is a call for the Quebec government to pass a motion opposing "any Canadian imperialist intervention in Afghanistan." The QS success represents an important advance for the social justice and anti-war movements in both Quebec and English Canada.

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Working to end violence against women

We are coming to the end of 16 days of activism on violence against women, which started on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and wrapping up today, December 10, International Human Rights Day. These dates were chosen to symbolically link violence against women with human rights violations.

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No time for Ignatieff to play Mackenzie King

One current of Liberal thought has it that the best way for the party to prepare for the future is to let Stephen Harper rule during the worst days of the economic crisis. Then the Liberal Party can ride to victory in the next election.

Michael Ignatieff seems to be contemplating playing Mackenzie King to Stephen Harper's R.B. Bennett. His "coalition if necessary, but not necessarily coalition" remark on the weekend certainly points in that direction.

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Can the coalition survive?

What a difference a day makes.

Last Wednesday the pundits were ready to write Harper's political obituary. But on Thursday afternoon Harper had schmoozed the Governor General into giving him a parliamentary time-out, thus preventing the potential coalition forces from bringing his government down this week on a vote of non-confidence. By Friday the polling industry weighed in with surveys suggesting that Harper was a big gainer coming out of the battle and that the coalition option was deeply unpopular with Canadians.

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From the global crisis to Canada's crisis

The political crisis that has suddenly erupted in Canada adds yet another dimension to the seemingly unending shockwaves set in motion by the global financial crisis. The sheer political escapism that led all the leaders (even the NDP's Jack Layton) to solemnly pledge during the recent federal election not to run a deficit -- when it was already clear that the severity of this crisis is such that no government can avoid a deficit even if it wants to -- has now rebounded on us with a vengeance.

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Harper out of Ottawa, Canada out of Afghanistan

Of all the compromises that might happen to keep a coalition alive, by far the most troubling is the one that is brewing on the war in Afghanistan. As news of the coalition began to surface in the last week of November, the Globe and Mail reported that "a senior NDP official said that no policy issues are considered deal breakers" including that of the war in Afghanistan.

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