Good Sunday Morning – April 3

Good Sunday Morning!

As you may heave heard, I tested positive for COVID on Thursday. I am not one of the lucky ones who found out from a test and did not have symptoms. I started feeling sick on Tuesday, left parliament and isolated, doing my work by zoom. People ask if my symptoms are bad. I guess that really depends on what is meant by “bad.” Bad compared to hospitalization with COVID and intubation? Or bad compared to your average flu? I am fortunate to not be experiencing shortness of breath. I certainly hope I am through the worst of it and never have to go to hospital, but I would say this is pretty bad.

Ottawa currently has a huge spike in COVID as seen through the wastewater monitoring data. The current viral load in Ottawa’s wastewater is literally off the charts. Highest recorded over the last two years.

I am appalled that the public health officers across Canada seem to have given up on doing their jobs. How else to explain the new way they make decisions about keeping people safe? It looks like a public opinion contest. Media reports now tie the upcoming Ontario election, as well as the one in the fall in Quebec, into the possibility of new mask mandates. Reporters on the news say things like “Will Ford risk new mask mandates this close to an election?”

Over the last two years, I have been absolutely confident that health decisions were driven by science and expertise (even recognizing the experts can make mistakes). But the idea that backroom spin doctors have any role in determining public health advice is deeply shocking.

Two years into the pandemic, my job puts me in a city with raging and highly communicable variants of concern.  And I have been very sick. I also am heart-broken to have missed a significant family event (not sharing details because I didn’t get permission). Nothing to complain of compared to being a grandmother in Ukraine trying to get their babies to safety.  But being sick with COVID at this point in our understanding of how we should act in the face of this pandemic makes me angry because it is so very avoidable.

This week’s news to share really comes down to two big announcements – the so-called climate plan and the decision to spend $19 billion for F35 fighter jets.

I had been very engaged in the F35 debate in the Harper years. The whole Lockheed Martin boondoggle is well understood. Out of control and ballooning costs coupled with operability problems that made the F35 the wrong plane for Canadian military needs. A single-engine jet many military experts said was wrong for a country of Canada’s size. Its huge price tag having a lot to do with stealth radar to evade detection before bombing people who did not see us coming. In the fog of war, truth is the first thing out the window, so the sabre-rattling in response to the very legitimate reasons we need to support Ukraine, is leading to a mind-blowingly bad decision. In 2015 the Liberals’ platform promised to never buy the F35s. In 2019, in Mission Possible Greens set out that we did not need fighter jets; we need water bombers. Anyway, a total bolt from the blue, and we are suddenly buying F35s. Here’s the one question I managed to get in on the Liberal reversal.

On Tuesday we had the “big reveal” of the Government’s latest iteration of a climate plan against the NDC (nationally determined contribution) Canada tabled with the UN under the Paris Agreement.  We are legally pledged to 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030. On Monday, I had my weekly question in QP and tried to set the context of our target compared to what the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) explains is necessary:

But, even against my low expectations, the plan surprised me for its failings. Here is the full plan in English as a pdf. Here is the summary.

The reactions and reviews ranged from “best thing ever” to “blah blah blah.” That range depends on the bar you set. Something like my reaction to the question to how bad is your COVID? What were you expecting? Is your bottom line the science? What is necessary to ensure we hold to 1.5 degrees? Or is it “the art of the possible” incrementalism test: Is it better than what we have seen from the Government of Canada before?

Setting aside the purely partisan reactions, that range of opinion is fair. But I see no point in giving Brownie points for a plan that sets us on a trajectory to miss our commitment to hold to 1.5 degrees C. Brazenly, the plan makes no pretense of committing to the NDC’s more ambitious pledge of 45% below 2005  – itself inadequate. All numbers and all modelling are to the 40% low end of the range. The “plan” sets out numbers sector by sector for what 40% below 2005 looks like distributed across the economy. The oil and gas sector is not being modelled to pull its fair share. But the modelling numbers in the plan need to be understood as for illustrative purposes only. They are not goals- or targets – or mandated. They are described in the document as an “indicative understanding.”

Incredibly, the plan involves boosting production of oil and gas in Canada by 21% by 2030! And counting on expensive and unproven Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage – with a subsidy of $9 billion to help the industry. Only magical thinking explains the theory by which reducing the amount of carbon per barrel, we can increase production by millions of barrels of oil a day AND get a reduction in GHG. Mike Morrice nails it in this question in Question Period, where he calls the whole scheme a fairy tale. (way to go Mike. He nails it and adds extra nails!)

Here is the youtube of my quick take at the mic for the Green Party: Green Party Reacts to Government’s New Climate Plan – March 29, 2022

And if you want a great short YouTube primer, try these satirical pieces from an Australian group called Juice Media. They are actually quite good at setting out the science and the technology. (Warning to my subscribers… if four letter words, starting with F and ending with K and not “fork,” really offend you, don’t watch). This is the overview.

This is specifically Carbon Capture and Storage.

So I want to close with another thought for peace. This is from my friend Shirley and I thought it was so lovely:

Just as he was handing over command of the international space station, the Russian cosmonaut commented that regardless of what is happening on earth, “we are one people, one crew”.

Pray for peace.
Hopefully I will be all COVID-free and ready to greet you for well-ventilated and masks-on community meetings!


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