Headlines in a CBC news item last week read “Canada credited with brokering APEC climate change agreement.” Good thing, everyone might say, or at least those concerned with climate change. Think again.

It wasn’t really an agreement to solve the climate problem, but a piece of political puffery to give the illusion that something was being done. The Sydney Declaration, as it is called, takes its place on a long list of feel good announcements that really don’t mean anything substantial.

The climate problem that we face, according to scientific opinion, will require cutting our green house gas emissions by around 80 per cent. Thesooner the better. The silly Sydney Declaration sets the target at 25 per cent over the next 23 years, and it is not even binding on those who agreed to it.

Typical smoke and mirrors for governments like ours that will do anything to avoid not being able to squeeze one more nickel out of the environment before the whole thing collapses. It is about all we can expect, unfortunately, when we elect leaders bought and paid for by the predatory corporations.

More amusing than the environmental song and dance, however, was the veil issue that popped up and got way more attention than it deserved. Way more in this case being any at all. One wonders who really started it, and why. Both the Liberals and the Conservatives made a very big fuss about Elections Canada allowing women to vote wearing a veil. Even the NDP said that it would support legislation requiring voters to show their faces.

What makes this so laughable is that the parties, and the government party in particular, made fools out of themselves. Elections Canada, as it turns out, was merely following the law, a law that the very same complainers had passed. Are we to assume that the legislators do not read the bills before they pass them? And even more amusing still, they are raising a fuss about what is effectively a moot issue since the Muslim community which is most affected by this has clearly stated that there is no problem with women lifting the veil for voter I.D. if necessary.

One might make a good case for why visual identification should be required to vote, but this issue isn’t about that since it was written with two of the three I.D. requirements requiring no photo, thus no reason to show the face.

So, rather than fussing and fuming at Elections Canada they might want to consider drafting a replacement bill and this time read it and think about before they vote on it. They might also want to think, if they are determined to require photo I.D., how that can be accomplished if they also allow voting with mail in ballots.

One has to wonder if this non-issue issue becoming a big issue that is getting lots of media time has any connection to the fact that there is a financial scandal flaring up in the Conservative camp and they need some catchy distractions to steer public scrutiny away from it. It looks like the party that levered its way into government with the Liberals’ sponsorship scandal has plenty of manure on its own shoes.

Not amusing is the ongoing war in Afghanistan. I attended a dinner with Chief of Defence Staff General Rick Hillier not too long ago and he spoke about the mission there. He said that if he did not believe in it he could not do his job. I believe him, which makes me wonder what else he believes in, or if he is just short in the history department. The current Afghan war is one started by the U.S. as part of their policy to extend their power into the Middle East and Central Asia—a policy which includes their war of choice in Iraq.

Participating in their wars makes us accomplices to whatever criminal acts they commit and supports their doctrine of pre- emptive warfare. A doctrine that we punished the Germans and Japanese for more than half a century ago. It also results in the deaths of Canadian troops for no good purpose, not to mention the thousands of Afghan civilians that become collateral damage, a polite term for road kill.

History tells us that there have been a number of Afghan wars, and it also tells us that Afghans tend to keep on fighting until the invaders give up and leave. Chances are it will be no different this time around either, even if there was a good reason to be there.


Jerry West

Gold River, Vancouver Island Jerry West is the publisher, editor and janitor for The Record, an independent, progressive regional publication for Nootka Sound and Canada’s West Coast. This...