Health Warning Attached To Rio+20 Text: If You Care For The Future Of This Planet, This Document Will Make You Sick

Here in Canada, it’s hard to tell that there is even an Earth Summit happening in Rio De Janeiro at all. A quick scan of the major papers, from one coast to the other, and there is hardly a mention that most world leaders, minus our own prime minister and some other heavy hitters, are meeting in a historic conference.I guess Canadians, led by our current federal government, have decided to give a sustainable planet a miss this time round. Maybe in another twenty years, when global climate destabilization has made our lives (and our children’s lives) a whole lot more uncomfortable, and clean water and clean air are a rare commodity, we’ll pay more attention.

In the meantime, the text from Rio+20 has been released. And it ain’t pretty. Here’s some coverage of it from other parts of the world:

George Monbiot, in The Guardian, writes that “Rio+20 draft text is 283 paragraphs of fluff”:

The declaration is remarkable for its absence of figures, dates and targets. It is as stuffed with meaningless platitudes as an advertisement for payday loans, but without the necessary menace. There is nothing to work with here, no programme, no sense of urgency or call for concrete action beyond the inadequate measures already agreed in previous flaccid declarations. Its tone and contents would be better suited to a retirement homily than a response to a complex of escalating global crises.The draft and probably final declaration is 283 paragraphs of fluff. It suggests that the 190 governments due to approve it have, in effect, given up on multilateralism, given up on the world and given up on us. So what do we do now? That is the topic I intend to address in my column next week.

The Rio+20 conference is remarkably listless; the energy of 1992 has bled into a formulaic bureaucracy-fest. The text negotiators have agreed to punts on virtually every major issue (one analysis showed that governments agreed to “encourage” and “support” actions 148 times, but only on three issues summoned the courage to say “we will” actually do something).

But it came spontaneously alive for a few hours this afternoon, when a youth-led demonstration turned into an Occupy-style sit-down that in turn agreed to a mass walkout. We’ve just marched out the front doors of this sprawling complex, 130 strong, surrounded by as many cameras and tape recorders.

The youth-led demonstration violated all the U.N. rules — security squads surrounded us at the first sound of controversy, announcing that our gathering was “unsanctioned” and if we didn’t stop immediately we’d lose our accreditation. People discussed the threat through the human mic for a few minutes, and then decided it wasn’t a threat at all — in fact, we were eager to surrender our badges, because then we wouldn’t be part of what had turned into a sham.

Adam Vaughn is blogging for The Guardian from Rio, and does a good summary of reactions to the text: check out his Rio+20 Final Day Live Blog

David Suzuki On Occupy Movement: The Future Of Young People Is Being Sacrificed To Corporate Agenda

David Suzuki was interviewed at the Occupy Montreal event last Saturday:

“We’ve got to take back our country, and take back our democracy..Stop serving the corporate agenda. It seems that money is everything that determines what our priorities are right now…The economy by itself is nothing. We use the economy for something else – do we want justice, do we want greater equity, do we want environmental protection?..This is about the future for these  young people, that is being sacrificed for the sake of the corporate agenda right now…What are corporations for? They exist for one reason, and one reason only. They may be doing things that we need that are really useful, but their only reason for existence is to make money, and the faster they make the money, the better it is. And that is not an acceptable way to run the world. What about people? What about the future, and jobs for young people?”


More links:

David Suzuki Foundation: Occupy Wall Street Reflects Increasing Frustration

“Stop Harper” Protest by Parliamentary Page During Conservative Throne Speech

A Senate page managed to stand just meters away from the prime minister with a sign saying “Stop Harper” during the government’s throne speech in Ottawa today.

Brigette Marcelle De Pape had this to say after being escorted out of the Senate Chamber and then fired:

Harper’s agenda is disastrous for this country and for my generation. We have to stop him from wasting billions on fighter jets, military bases, and corporate tax cuts while cutting social programs and destroying the climate. Most people in this country know what we need are green jobs, better medicare, and a healthy environment for future generations.

Contrary to Harper’s rhetoric, Conservative values are not in fact Canadian values. How could they be when 3 out of 4 eligible voters didn’t even give their support to the Conservatives? But we will only be able to stop Harper’s agenda if people of all ages and from all walks of life engage in creative actions and civil disobedience.

This country needs a Canadian version of an Arab Spring, a flowering of popular movements that demonstrate that real power to change things lies not with Harper but in the hands of the people, when we act together in our streets, neighbourhoods and workplaces.

Well, Brigette is one Canadian who stood up and took a strong, nonviolent stand for a safe and sustainable future for Canadians. She is an example to the rest of us who realize what is at stake over the next four years.


More links:

Senate Page Explains Her Brave Stop Harper Protest On Floor of Senate Today

An interview on Global TV: Page Fired For Protest During Throne Speech

Update: Interview with Brigette on Power and Politics today:


Environmental Voices Deliberately Barred From Federal Election Discussions

This is the new reality in Canada after five years of Harper’s control; there is now a deliberate and consistent attempt to keep environmental concerns out of the election discussions.  This despite the fact that Canadians consistently rank environmental concerns at the top, or near the top, of their concerns.

Of course, Canadians know that Elizabeth May was barred from participating in the election debate on television, despite the fact that her party garnered nearly 0ne million votes in the last election.  It seems the old boys club felt threatened by her articulate and interesting performance at the last debate.  But it goes beyond just shutting May out of the mainstream media. In an article in today’s Toronto Star, Stephen Bede Scharper from the University of Toronto, discusses how a 4th year student at Guelph University was barred from a Conservative rally after being “flagged” by an RCMP security check.  As Scharper points out,

Joanna is unaffiliated with any political party, has no criminal record, and comes from a dynamic family that I have known for years. Like many Canadians, she is trying to seriously engage in the key issues of this election.

Her unfitness to participate in a democratic rally seems to be based entirely on the fact that Joanna is a member of her university’s environmental group and has attended global climate summits as a youth delegate, although this is just a guess as she has never been told by anyone in the Conservative party why she was barred.

Is this is the kind of Canada we want?  I know I don’t!On May 2nd, I’m voting to get Canada, and democracy, back.  How about you?

Read all of Scharper’s article:  No Welcome Mat For Environmentalists

And from a 2010 column by James Travers, editor and political correspondent at the Toronto Star, who passed away last month.  He was certainly on to Mr. Harper:

Imagine a country where Parliament is padlocked twice in 13 months to frustrate the democratic will of the elected majority. That country is now this country.

Imagine a country that slyly relaxes environmental regulations even as its neighbour reels from a catastrophic oil leak blamed on slack controls. That country is now this country.

Imagine a country that boasts about prudent financial management while blowing through a $13-billion surplus on the way to a $47-billion deficit. That country is now this country.

Imagine a country where a political operative puts fork-tongued words in a top general’s mouth. That country is now this country.

Imagine a country that refuses to fund the same safe abortions to poor women abroad as it provides at home. That country is now this country.

Imagine a country where the national police commissioner skews a federal election and is never forced to explain. That country is now this country.

Imagine a country that writes a covert manual on sabotaging Commons committees. That country is now this country.

Imagine a country dragging its climate change feet as the true north melts. That country is now this country.

Imagine a country that silences political debate on the sale of a publicly owned, crown jewel corporation. That country is now this country.

Imagine a country that puts higher priority on building super-prisons than keeping people out of them. That country is now this country.

Imagine a country where parties that win the most federal seats are dismissed as “losers”. That country is now this country…

And the list, unfortunately, goes on.  To read the entire article go to Changing Canada, One Backward Step At a Time

For more election information that isn’t being covered by the mainstream media, check out these links:

What’s in a Preposition?

Harper’s Goon Squads: Get Used To Them

54 Conservative Candidates Currently Skipping Election Debates

“Threat” of Federal Coalition Greeted With Outrage

And, according to Amnesty International, Canada is now a “country of concern”

And remember George Orwell’s assertion in 1984: “We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.”

Vote For Harper Cause He Doesn’t Care About “So-Called” Greenhouse Gases

Another response to Rick Mercer’s challenge to the youth of Canada to surprise our politicians and vote – beautiful!


We’ve got a shot to start a movement
We’ve got a chance to make the whole world lose it
We can start a moment of change
An opportunity to keep the pride in our name

We need to wake up and watch what were doing
Bush was a bitch and the whole world knew it
But now we’re just as guilty as him
Environmental crime is good if you’re a crooked PM

But we’ve got a shot to start a movement
And we’ve got a chance to make the whole world lose it
We can choose who’s in demand
And we can change fate with the swipe of a pen

Vote for Harper if you don’t want trees
Vote for Harper if you don’t like green
Vote for Harper ’cause he doesn’t really care about
So-called Greenhouse Gases

Vote for Harper if you don’t want lakes
Vote for Harper if you don’t like change
Vote for Harper ’cause he doesn’t know a thing about
So-called Greenhouse Gases

We’ve got a problem, we’re on a slippery slope
So what’s it gonna take to get the youth to the polls
We’ve got a choice to make ’cause we can sway the vote
And if we want a change we have to take control

We can change every single thing that we hate
We can be the boss and take control of our fate
History will be whatever we wanna make
And we’ll still party at the end of the day

All we gotta do is get ourselves out of bed
All we gotta do is write an X with a pen?
All we really want is a planet to live
A cold beer in our hands and a river to swim

More links:

Deserts in Bloom

Find which party’s values match up with yours:  Vote Compass on

Help Regenerate Canadian politics:

Canadian PM Harper On Elections: “Dangerous and Unnecessary”

Here in Canada, we are heading into a federal election on May 2. Our current Prime Minister proclaimed this election to be a “dangerous and unnecessary exercise”.  Rick Mercer responds to this curious, and revealing, statement of our Prime Minister, who apparently believes democracy is a waste of time and money:


And a response to Rick’s rant from students at the University of Guelph, who throw down the gauntlet to other Canadian university students:


Considering the abysmal record of this government on environmental issues, particularly climate change, the importance of getting young people out to vote can’t be underestimated. They are “Generation Hot” and are the voters that will be most affected by unchecked climate change.  For more on the Harper government’s record on climate change, go to Climate Action Network Canada’s info page.

More links:



Respond to: Point of View: What is the most important election issue for you?

10,000 Young People Gather in Montreal to Remind World Leaders To Keep Their Promises

On May 14th 2010, at 10 AM, more than ten thousand young people danced together in at La Fontaine Park in Montreal, Canada to send a message to world leaders: Keep Your Promises!

Inspired by the “At the Table” campaign, these young people asked the leaders of the G8 and G20 countries to keep their promises to:

  • Finance those countries most affected by climate change, those in the south with limited resources and who have contributed the least to the problem.
  • Spend 0.o7 % of their national income to development aid.
  • Accomplish the Millenium Development Goals as of 2015.

Here’s a video of the event:


Oxfam-Québec organized the flash mob march.

Click here to sign the “At the Table” Petition and make your voice heard!  To find out more about the At the Table campaign, and how you can participate, click here.

If you are in Canada, enjoy your long weekend!