Inside Politics

Max Paris Bio

Max Paris

Max Paris Max Paris is the Senior Producer of the CBC's Environmental Content Unit.

Which one is it, Minister Oliver?

Two recent moments with Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver brought to mind a favorite comedy moment, when Rick James tried to say two things at once.

More, after the jump...

Sorting out the spat over Europe's fuel quality directive

So Wednesday, I wrote this article about Joe Oliver's excellent energy adventure in Kuwait.

The International Energy Forum is a supplier-buyer gabfest. A chance for energy ministers the world over to get together, talk business, peer into crystal balls and iron out differences.

Canada's Minister of Rocks, Trees and Oilsands was doing all three, but the main focus of my story was on the last one. Uncle Joe spent a lot of his time twisting European ears and threatening them with stern letters over the unfairness of their proposed new Fuel Quality Directive (FQD).

So what the hell is this thing that has our government so flustered they send Uncle Joe all the way to Kuwait to bug a bunch of Eurocrats?

Read on...

Talking key to First Nations consultations over pipeline

It's one of Joe Oliver's most common refrains when talking about oil sands resource projects:

"We have a moral and constitutional obligation to consult with Canada's First Nations," intones the Minister of Natural Resources. Constitutionally speaking, he could not be more right. If you're going to run a pipeline through native land, you've got to sit down and talk about it with the natives. The 1982 Constitution and any number of Supreme Court of Canada rulings have spelled that out pretty clearly.

But what makes for a constitutionally acceptable consultation when it comes to Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline?

Hard advice on the Northern Gateway pipeline

So yesterday's decision by the Americans to can the current version of the Keystone XL pipeline has added new urgency to the Northern Gateway Pipeline process.

If you're an oil sands producer or a member of the Harper government, you may be thinking, "Damn it! We've gotta make sure this pipe gets built! So get outta the way, Greenies!"

If you're a "radical" environmentalist (especially a foreign-backed one, just ask Joe Oliver), you may be thinking it's time to mount the sylvan ramparts and prepare to defend the spirit bear and her pristine slice of Gaia.

But the crux of the problem for the Northern Gateway Pipeline lies nowhere near that sideshow of a fight. It doesn't matter how much money Green Puppet Masters from abroad pour into the measly coffers of Canadian environmental groups.

Nor does it matter how many names or accusations of economic treason the government throws at local tree-huggers.

The real players in this fight are the First Nations along the route from Bruderheim, Alta. to Kitimat, B.C.

And on that front, Tom Flanagan, University of Calgary professor and former chief of staff to the prime minister, has some free -- if controversial -- advice for the federal government.

Hit the jump to

The uninhabitability of the oil sands forests

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has quite the sales job ahead of him. As minister in charge of selling the oil sands, there's a lot of bad press to spin out of and ugly pictures to gloss over. Lucky for him, the potential for tens-of-thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars in new revenues make the job that much easier.

Still, when he sat down for an on-camera interview with the CBC's Margo McDiarmid last week, it was hard to ignore when he made his job a whole lot harder.

An optimistic view on the Arab Spring

Rami Khouri, director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, has been listening to frantic queries about recent events in the Arab world and has this very Californian advice:

"Take it easy."

Hit the jump to hear a few of his thoughts on the Arab Spring, or as he refers to it, the "Arab Revolt."

The leaders' carbon footprints - the final tally

The results are in. We know who is finishing this campaign on top. CBC is ready to report the final tally of the leaders'... wait for it... carbon emissions.
Honestly! Did you think we would test the wrath of Elections Canada?

The leaders' tours - collectively - have circumnavigated the earth six times! Add up all their tonnage and - in five weeks - the campaigns have generated nearly 158 times more than what an average Canadian household generates in a year. (According to StatsCan, the average Canadian household produces nine metric tonnes of greenhouse gas a year.)

Yikes! Or maybe not so much... all the tours are buying carbon offsets except the Tories.

Here are the numbers:
  • Kilometres travelled by plane, ferry and train (mostly by plane): 131,157
  • Kilometres travelled by bus, mini-van and hybrid car (mostly bus): 21,456
  • Total metric tonnes of GHGs spewed: 1419.
Now that's a lottta gas! Right underneath this you should see a pretty little graph with the numbers broken down by individual party. And for those of you interested in the method behind my calculating madness, check out this blog post from the beginning of the campaign.

The leaders' carbon footprints UPDATED AGAIN!

The clouds of greenhouse gases continue to fill the horizon as Canada's federal leaders criss, cross and cavort around the country. Last time around, the big story was Elizabeth May's 5000 percent increase in emissions (nothing like a couple of plane trips to up your numbers) and Jack Layton's jump to the lead with the biggest carbon footprint.

Well, the Tories have pretty much settled back to where they were when I wrote my original story on April 4. But in a stunning reversal, the Liberals are now spewing more CO2 than the NDP. The funny thing is... Iggy hasn't travelled as far as Jack. It's just that his plane (a Boeing 737-400) belches louder and longer than Jack's (an Airbus A-319).

Check it out for yourselves, folks! It's on Conklin & DeDekker's aviation carbon calculator (One quick note about this carbon calculator. There is no setting for an A319. It is a shortened version of the A320 but in the same family. So I used that setting).

Here are the new numbers:

The leaders' carbon footprints UPDATED!

We've updated the leaders' carbon footprints from the last time we did the calculation on  April 4.

The big news: Elizabeth May has seen an early 5,000-per-cent increase in the size of her emissions!

She went from 0.1 Tonnes of GHGs emitted to 5. But easy there - before you start assuming the Green Party leader is driving a coal-and-raw-bitumen-fuelled tractor to her campaign events, rest assured -- it's nothing quite that insidious.

May took a couple of plane flights: from Vancouver to Toronto, Montreal to Halifax, then back to Toronto and from there to Vancouver again. Up until April 4, May had just been toodling around her riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands in her 2007 Prius (oh, and one ferry ride to the mainland).

It just goes to show the polluting power of jet aircraft.

The other federalist leaders are continuing on their merry ways. The only news besides the May-print is that the NDP has overtaken the Conservative Party as the highest carbon emitter.

The Tories now float atop a 185-tonne cloud of GHGs but they are easily engulfed by Jack Layton's 216-tonne carbon dioxide nebula.

Here is our updated greenhouse gas emissions chart:

Going the distance: Crunching the numbers on campaign carbon footprints

Dear readers, listeners and viewers: forgive me. I am an imperfect creature, especially when it comes to statistics. But in this task, I've devoted as many of my limited skills as I can. Calculating the carbon footprint of each leader's campaign is a complicated combination of geography, cartography, algebra and vigilance of signs that read, "this way lies madness." Fortunately, I had some professional help along the way.

In this post, I will do my best to explain my imperfect methodology for calculating the gaseous mess each leader leaves in his campaigning wake.

First of all, let me tell you exactly what I am measuring -- A carbon footprint can take in all kinds of things, like: heating an office, turning on a light, making a cup of coffee, turning on your computer, firing up a microphone, running a smoke machine at a stump speech.