7 DAYS THE WEEK OF 04/16

Good news / Bad news

The colour of money

April 30 2007
7 DAYS THE WEEK OF 04/16

Good news / Bad news

The colour of money

April 30 2007

Good news / Bad news

The colour of money

It’s not often Buzz Hargrove has much to offer business leaders, but last week he gave a master class in political courage. The Canadian Auto Workers union head decried “the insanity of the environmental movement” for putting Canadian jobs at risk with a host of onerous ideas aimed at halting global warming. He points to an important hypocrisy dominating politics: all politicians are trying to “out-green each other”—not because they think their proposals will have a real impact on climate change, but to win votes. It’s a strange world when a union leader is the only one campaigning for government to protect the health of the economy, but if Canada’s CEOs aren’t up to the task, somebody has to do it.

Don’t look away

The chronically undermanned and under-equipped force tasked with ending the bloodshed in Sudan’s Darfur region is finally getting some help. The government of Sudan has agreed to allow the UN to provide six attack helicopters, along with 3,000 police and military personnel, to bolster the 7,000 African Union troops who’ve been struggling to provide security to the refugees in Darfur. Government-supported militias have been terrorizing the region for years, and lately the peacekeepers themselves have been under attack. Here’s hoping the arrival of some real firepower might finally turn the tide and help bring an end to the most harrowing humanitarian disaster of our time.

Fat chance

It may at first seem like an ill-considered business decision given their product lines, but 15 food industry powerhouses have joined forces to promote healthy eating and daily activity for children. On Monday, companies including McDonald’s, Hershey, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola announced a plan to dedicate half of their advertising resources to combatting childhood obesity in this country. It’s more than an intelligent show of good faith. With activists calling for trans fat bans and junk food taxes that would hobble the industry, the companies have found a way to adapt to modern realities, while demonstrating that the obesity problem can be tackled without trampling on people’s right to choose an occasional Big Mac.

FACE OF THE WEEK

Morale boost

February is a paradox: the shortest, but seemingly the longest month of the year. Now Manitoba is joining Alberta and Saskatchewan in adopting a statutory holiday in Canada’s blah-est month, starting in 2008. For the rest of us, however, it will only make that 100-odd-day stretch between New Year’s and Easter seem that much more cruel. ship, when in reality she has done the opposite—and in the process she has suggested that the Liberals and Greens are interchangeable on the one core issue that gives her party its raison d’être. Layton comes out of this looking like the only leader of principle, and May leaves herself with the difficult task of explaining why, if Dion is so wonderful, should anyone vote Green?

Strategy goes to pot Documents emerged this week showing that the feds are charging a 1,500 per cent markup on medical marijuana for ailing

Green’s worst enemy First, neophyte Green party Leader Elizabeth May sells out her long-time supporters by striking a deal to collude with Stéphane Dion’s Liberals: both sides agreed not to run candidates against the other party’s leader in the next federal election. Then, she comes out swinging against NDP Leader Jack Layton, attacking him for playing politics in refusing to join their coalition against the Conservatives. May claims she has put principle ahead of partisanCanadians. Patients pay the equivalent of $5,000 per kg for access to the drug—and they are cut off if they can’t keep up with the bills. Meanwhile, Ottawa pays its licensed supplier $328.75 per kg. In other words, the government is charging criminal street rates for providing pot to the sick, and yet it continues to argue that legalizing and regulating the pot trade would be a terrible affront to the nation’s morality.

Confused? Good

The jurors in Conrad Black’s ongoing criminal trial have looked variously lost and bored through much of the case so far—and some lawyers believe that’s part of the prosecution’s strategy. “In this case it may be that the prosecution may want some confusion,” James Morton, an experienced litigator and head of the Ontario Bar Association, said on Sunday. Jurors may think,“we don’t know exactly what’s been done wrong, but we know something is wrong,” and convict Black. If Morton’s right, it’s bad news for anyone who thinks justice ought to be based on facts and law, not on judgments about the defendant’s likeability or vague guesses about what happened.

Multi-meltdown

It’s been a sad week for cultural tolerance and freedom. In Malaysia, a museum display on the supernatural was pulled after Islamic clerics complained it was offensive to their faith. In Montreal, five young Muslim girls withdrew from a tae kwon do meet when organizers refused to let them compete while wearing head scarves. And in Islamabad, clerics are demanding a ban on all alcohol sales in Pakistan’s capital. So much for multiculturalism and mutual respect.