As long as the Harper Government is hell bent on reforming Canada's environmental assessment process, a Contrarian friend thinks we could save a lot of time by making this the first step: ...

I'm a little late with this, but it's worth noting for the record the contrast between the way the Liberal Party of Canada and the governing Harper Conservatives reacted to Thomas Mulcair's election as leader of the New Democratic Party and Leader of the Opposition Saturday night. Rae issued the following statement: I want to offer my warm congratulations to Thomas Mulcair on winning the leadership contest in the New Democratic Party.  I know Mr. Mulcair well and look forward to working with him to ensure Parliament acts on behalf of all Canadians. I also want to congratulate the NDP for a successful...

At a news conference marking the 10th anniversary of Portugal's bold experiment in drug policy — the decriminalization of all drugs — Joao Goulao, President of the Institute of Drugs and Drugs Addiction, said, “There is no doubt that the phenomenon of addiction is in decline in Portugal." The number of addicts who repeatedly use hard and intravenous drugs has fallen by half since the early 1990s, when the figure was estimated at around 100,000 people. Goulao, a medical doctor, stressed that treatment decriminalization was not solely responsible for the drop, but that treatment programs and risk reduction policies also played a role. As E.D. Cain...

Reporters attending Parks Canada’s Sable Island announcement this morning at the Halifax Citadel were apparently in stenography mode. Or perhaps they had been instructed to fish for soundbites on more urgent stories, like the confusion around environmental and salvage measures for the grounded bulk carrier MV Miner. Whatever the cause, they came ill-prepared to probe the most contentious issue surrounding plans to make Sable Island a national park: the Harper Government’s impulse to promote private sector tourism development on the island. Environment Minister Jim Prentice touched off a furore in January, 2010, when he first announced plans to make Sable a...

Salon's Glenn Greenwald points out that last week's flood of Steve Jobs hagiographies mostly tiptoed around one inconvenient facet of the Great Man: he took LSD. He not only took it, he regarded having taken it as one of the two or three most important things he had done in his life. Greenwald: Unlike many people who have enjoyed success, Jobs is not saying that he was able to succeed despite his illegal drug use; he’s saying his success is in part — in substantial part — because of those illegal drugs (he added that Bill Gates would “be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once”). An excellent...

A report last week in the prestigious scientific journal Nature revealed that the hole in the ozone layer over the Arctic was the largest ever recorded—comparable for the first time to the man-induced hole that appears every year in the ozone layer over the Antarctic. But when reporters asked Canadian scientist  David Tarasick, who was involved in the study, to explain its findings, Environment Canada refused to let him speak. [caption id="attachment_8689" align="alignright" width="150" caption="David Tarasick, muzzled by Environment Canada"][/caption] Environment Canada scientist David Tarasick, whose team played a key role in the report published Sunday in the journal Nature, is not being...

Last Thursday, Contrarian got into a bit of a Twitter dustup with Alice Funke, whose blog, Pundits' Guide, features statistical analysis of Canadian election results. In a post titled, "Mommy, They Split My Vote," Funke purported to show that few if any of the 27 Liberal seats lost to Stephen Harper's Conservatives in the May 2 election had been lost due to vote-splitting. Her complicated argument defies succinct exegesis, but you can read it here. In response, I tweeted: This unleashed a torrent of counter-tweets that, for the time being at least, you can find here and here (by scrolling back to May 12). Funke followed...

Thursday's "morning brief" from iPolitics.ca led with a puff piece about a Prime Minister Harper's visit to flooded areas of Manitoba. I'm sure there were stupider things written in Canadian journalism this week, I just cant think of any offhand: Mr. Sunshine brings better weather to soggy Prairies Just call him Mr. Sunshine. Stephen Harper came, saw and left behind some improving weather for the drenched people of Manitoba. The prime minister toured flooded areas to the west of Winnipeg yesterday, promising federal help to build better infrastructure for future floods. And while his trip was short on...

A Nova Scotian who spent close to half his life in Quebec writes: Harper's undoing is Jean Charest. Quebecers know they are going to throw out the scandal-plagued Charest as soon as they can, but they can't do this with a strong BQ in Ottawa because it throws the federalist-nationalist balance out of whack. Quebecers like to balance a strong federalist parliament in Ottawa with a nationalist Assembly in QC, and vice versa. They can't vote Liberal on Monday because, well, Liberals are screwing up in QC. They also know that Harper can't be seen to kowtow to Quebec, so they'd rather...