National News Watch has obtained leaked copies of policy proposal documents to be distributed to delegates next week at the Conservative Party of Canada's second policy convention.
As is my custom, you'll find them all attached to this post, along with CPC constitutional amendments obtained from the party's web site, for future reference.
It should be noted that Harper's illegal election had an impact on the internal workings of the Conservative Party as it resulted in the choice of policy and constitutional resolutions to be debated in open session to be made by a small number of people that constitute the party's National Council.
More to the point why, any rational observer will wonder, would Conservative members bother paying up big dollars to travel to a convention in Winnipeg only to spend their weekend locked in a convention centre discussing policies that their Leader doesn't feel obligated to abide by?
Conservative Party spokesman Ryan Sparrow played down the potential impact of the convention resolutions on government decisions. "They're just like any other consultation you would have with any stakeholder group," he said, confirming the government will not be bound by the Winnipeg decisions. (Globe and Mail)
Stephen Harper has repeatedly ignored or made decisions completely contradictory to party policy in the past. Members are fooling themselves if they believe their prescriptions hold any sway over the PM, for in Stephen Harper's eyes party members, like all Canadians, are merely obstacles to be overcome.
We'll return to the Conservative policy fest over the coming week as there is much more to review and say.
National News Watch has obtained a draft policy resolution document which I've attached to this post for posterity. Many proposed amendments are of a Milquetoast nature, although some will raise a few eyebrows:
- Ottawa Centre decides its ok to do away with support for whistleblower legislation in policy 3, Public Service Excellence
- Change "all votes free" to "most votes free" (policy 7, Free Votes); given their record on making everything a confidence motion, its clear Harper has never followed the spirit of the party's policy anyway
- Policy 39, International Trade, has a new section proposed by Caucus Committee which is destined to give sovereigntists carte blanche to worry about continentalist plans for a North American Union, as "impediments to the efficient flow of goods, services, and people at border crossing points" can mean anything.
- Policy 44, Alternative Energy and Transitional Fuels, contains amendments proposed by National Policy Committee which take the decidedly un-conservative approach of selecting market winners (picking hydrogen). Most "conservatives" believe government has no business picking winners. Given that a similar rewording proposed by the Charlottetown EDA also explicitly notes adding hydrogen as a fuel, one wonders if there's a hydrogen lobby at work here. Kings-Hants at least is brave enough to propose that Canadians need to be encouraged to reduce their energy consumption. Crowfoot appeases the agri-lobby by suggesting targets for bio-fuel blends with petroleum products be set.
- Of particular note to B.C. and Atlantic provinces are amendments to proposal 46, Offshore Oil and Gas Development, which strikes environmental assessment as a goal. Presumably the oil and gas lobby doesn't believe consultations and assessments are important, perhaps because prior consultations in B.C. have produced overwhelming opposition to oil and gas exploration in our coastal and off-shore waters.
- Under policy 72, Aboriginal Affairs Principles, Ottawa West-Nepean would like to see a Conservative government refuse to negotiate aboriginal "land claims where the rule of law is not respected". Quite probably these EDA folks are oblivious to the fact that Harper broke his own electoral law in calling the last election. Where's the motion on that?
- No group proposed actually strengthening policy 81, Firearms. They could have, for example, removed the section which calls for the repeal of Canada's gun registry. In doing so they'd be agreeing with a majority of senior law enforcement officials across the country.
Of course there's far more meat for chewing on if you look at the policies in total rather than just at the amendment proposals.
The following are word maps which provide an interesting graphical view of the election 2008 policy platforms for each of the four largest national parties. The abundance of blank space in the Conservative platform word map is in fact indicative of the nature of their policy offering.
Attached to this post for posterity's sake, and for future research, are the platform documents themselves. Only the Liberal Party has, so far, taken their platform document off-line.
Conservative platform word map
Green platform word map
Liberal platform word map
New Democrat platform word map
If I were to editorialize I'd say the Conservative Party ought to have been first to withdraw theirs, as compared to the other parties' efforts, it's devoid of detail and includes a speciously worded section on "costing the plan" (page 43) which all will soon recognize as having been a larger fantasy even than Harper's dreams of a majority government.
Wanting to look at solar irradiance against global temperature anomalies in more detail (than in my last article on climate) and over a longer time period, I prepared a chart comparing global temperatures to solar irradiance over the period of 843 to present times.
Solar radiance and temperature data going back hundreds of years is obviously reconstructed information, interpreted and extrapolated based on other factors ranging from tree-rings to sun spot observations to particle measurements in ice cores and so on. As you can see, there is a significant difference in the data sets (Bard vs Lean); the chart I prepared in a prior article contains only solar irradiance from direct observation which, while more accurate, spans only 30 some odd years. Sunspot records have been kept for much longer, and date back hundreds of years.
Click on image for full-size chart
NASA (source of the balance of these images; check link for data and discussion) analysis meets up with that from the IPCC: while there is a solar impact on temperature change, solar activity is but one of many causative factors which can not on its own explain the temperature anomalies we are experiencing.
NASA pegs the influence of the sun as approximately 1/5th that of CO2, which is more or less in line with conclusions made by both the U.S. NOAA NCDC and the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
If you've not already done so, I recommend reading the IPCC Summary for Policymakers (PDF), a readable piece published as part of its latest report, released 17 November 2007, which helps put context around the science they are relying upon to drive their policymaking agenda.
In an installment coming soon, I'll try to outline where I am going with all of this.
The attached charts represent compilation of data I gathered while doing some policy research recently. My goal was to obtain and present available data on:
- Fossil fuel production
- CO2 observations in the atmosphere
- CO2 observations from polar ice samples
- CO2 emissions
- Solar radiance observed
- Sunspot counts
- Global temperature anomalies from mean
The purpose of this review was to establish a baseline set of information which political policy discussions could refer to. I did not set out to compile these charts to prove or disprove a particular hypothesis nor to validate or invalidate a particular policy position.
Some data sets I was only able to locate for certain periods; the attached charts show a modern view from the mid 1950's to 2006, as well as an industrial age perspective from 1880 through to 2006. I also reviewed data spanning longer time periods but wanted to include in the charts data which covered similar spans of time. Links will be provided herein and in coming articles.
I examined and utilized data available from many sources and countries ranging from the leading per capita energy consumer, the United States and its Department of Energy CDIAC (Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center) to the UN IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change). Raw data is available by the bucket load, although in some cases (methane for example) the data is not nearly as plentiful as other data sets.
I have a background in data analysis, primarily from a financial markets perspective. My experience has taught me the importance of recognizing trends; without introducing opinion into the discussion, it is possible to recognize the following:
CO2 in the earth's atmosphere is increasing in a well established upward trend
Fossil fuel production follows a similar trend
Fossil fuel production and CO2 observation trends do correlate with temperature anomaly increases observed over the past forty to fifty years.
Solar radiance and sunspot cycles do not strongly correlate with the increase in temperature anomalies. The U.S. NCDC further adds:
With only 20 years of reliable measurements however, it is difficult to
deduce a trend. But, from the short record we have so far, the trend in
solar irradiance is estimated at ~0.09 W/m2 compared to 0.4 W/m2
from well-mixed greenhouse gases. (Source)
Data sources: The time series depicted in the charts is annual; some data sets were provided in finer resolutions (days or months) and in those cases I consolidated the available data into a simple annual average.
- UN IPCC
- U.S. CDIAC
- U.S. NOAA NCDC (National Climatic Data Center)
- U.S. NOAA NGDC Solar Irradiance Data
- U.S. EPA Methane Information site
- GreenHouse Gas Online: CO2, Methane, Nitrous Oxide 1000AD-Current
One chart referenced no longer available - 2008.10.15