Daily Archives: July 16, 2007

Deputy leader of the Greens quits

DavidChernushenkoDavid Chernushenko ran gainst current Green leader Elizabeth May for the party leadership last year, and has twice been the party’s candidate in Ottawa Centre. From the Ottawa Citizen:

Chernushenko said he is resigning as a Green candidate so he can resume his participation on the government-appointed national roundtable on the environment, work on a film and possible TV program he is developing about environmental issues and do more work with his eco-sports consulting firm.

“At this point, quite bluntly, this is me looking out for myself and what I want to do with my life right now,” he said. “There was a leadership race, Elizabeth May won, I didn’t. She’s leader right now, and there are so many other ways that I can be promoting the same vision I share with the Green party and many other small-g greens whether they happen to be in the Green party or not.”

Chernushenko is an outstanding candidate, certainly in contention for the Greens’ best coast to coast. He’s worked on Olympics bids and for the UN, runs a successful business, and can talk intelligently and with consistent principles about issues far beyond the Greens’ usual strong points.

I’ve seen him speak several times, met him two or three, and contributed to the Citizen‘s endorsements of his candidacy twice in a row against candidates who are, on paper, pretty extraordinary themselves — including the sainted former NDP leader Ed Broadbent, a high-powered lawyer and prime ministerial confidant (running for the Liberals), and the guy who re-opened Canada’s embassy in Kabul as soon as the Taliban were out of power (running for the Conservatives).

As good as he is, though, and as fine a performer as I expect he’d be in Parliament, Chernushenko would always have been a long shot to get elected in a highly competitive riding, would have been an outsider even if he somehow won, and outsider politics are gruelling, without the rewards of power. I’m prepared to take his explanation for his departure at face value — but it’s still a tremendous loss for the party.

This blue dog won’t hunt

BluedogHere’s a fairly depressing declaration about energy and climate change from the self-described “blue dog Democrats,” 43 U.S. congressmen and -women who form the conservative wing of their party.

These are people I’m temperamentally inclined to like, or at least the ones I’m inclined to like best in the current political climate. They aren’t wedded to failed policies or the interests of a handful of big industries the way most Republicans seem to be, and they have social consciences but they try to pay attention to empirical information about what works and what doesn’t, the way liberal Democrats seem not to. Given the limited options, I guess these are my people.

Unfortunately, their eight-point statement of principles about energy might best be described as a Policy on Having Our Cake and Also Eating It.

There’s good stuff:

2. Climate Change

Broad scientific consensus indicates that climate change is underway. Climate change caused by human activity should be addressed both by the United States and by other nations.

… and in this case, it’s immediately followed by bad stuff:

Climate change has developed over a significant period of time. Blue Dogs believe that a methodical, long term solution is the best approach to solving the problem. Blue Dogs also believe that climate change solutions shouldn’t export jobs overseas.

The urgency of solving a problem is not connected to the rapidity of its onset. If you get to be 100 pounds overweight by eating one surplus Twinkie a day for 25 years, your body doesn’t tell you you’re entitled to 25 years to get back into shape before you need to worry about heart disease. The composition of the atmosphere and its effect on the earth’s retention of the sun’s rays are oblivious to the fact we only began thinking about responding to the problem in 2007.

It goes on like this. The Blue Dogs favour action on climate change, and they also favour cheap electricity that’s predictably priced. Coal? Yes! Nuclear? Yes! Biofuels? Invest! What else you got? Let’s do that, too!

On renewables, at least, they propose streamlining regulations so generation can get onstream faster, and they back better insulation for houses — the best way, bar none, to slash energy consumption and save money at the same time.

No cap-and-trade system for emissions, most definitely no carbon tax. It’s pretty clear that according to their declared principles, blue-dog Democrats would oppose both. Because hey, solving this problem takes as long as it takes. Physics will wait.

(Via Grist Mill. Photo credit: “A blue dog in front of a blue gate,” Flickr/tanakawho)