Thursday, May 26, 2005

Oy, Canada

Canada has been a target of criticism on the American right recently, for, among other things tending to roll over at the command of Islamist immigrant leaders, including an ill-advised experiment at implementing Sharia law in Ontario, and for refusing to participate in its own defense, or, to put it more kindly, refusing to offer a little cooperation to the American military shield that also happens to protect Canada.

All of which probably accounts for my progressive co-workers' fondness for the place. At least one of them announces almost weekly that if it wasn't for his children (living here with their divorced mother) he would have gone there long ago.

But it turns out there's a liberal critique of Canada, too.

While Canada signed and ratified the Kyoto accord, making a commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions 6 percent below 1990 levels from 2008 to 2012, emissions have risen to 24 percent above 1990 levels. The powerful domestic oil industry has lobbied effectively to guarantee that the development of oil sands - a noxious source of carbon dioxide - will go on expanding.

In fact, Canada, where logging, mining and oil interests are extremely powerful, has a less than sterling environmental record. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Canada produces more nuclear waste per capita than any other member country and ranks as the fourth per capita emitter of carbon dioxide, following the United States, Australia and Luxembourg. Environmental activists say that only Finland and Sweden log more forest land per capita among industrialized countries.

When European governments sought to ban the import of Canadian asbestos for its toxicity in recent years, Ottawa complained to the World Trade Organization that such an action would violate free trade.


Canadian officials constantly lecture Europe and the United States on the need to level the playing field in agriculture for third world producers. But at the same time Canada runs monopolistic dairy product marketing boards that raise tariffs of 200 percent and more to protect its own producers of milk, eggs and butter.

On social policy, Canada has been slow to make amends to indigenous Canadians for a century-long policy of forced assimilation under which parents were forced to send their children to residential schools where they were routinely punished for speaking their native languages and routinely abused sexually.