Thursday, March 29, 2007

Cleaning Up

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Well, I'm back from Ottawa and ready and raring to go. "Where have you been?" you might ask realizing that the NDP Breakthrough Conference occurred over a week ago. Well, first I had to catch up at work ... with tuition rates so high, I have to give students their money's worth. Then I just had to respond to our Provincial government's misguided attempts at self-sufficiency. See my personal letter at (and the provincial NDP's position). I also coordinated a group response from NB Economists calling for full cost accounting - see 29 march 2007 Telegraph Journal pages A1, A8 and the letter itself on page A4. I was also interviewed on CBC InfoAM- Fredericton.

So let's talk environment as this very well may be the issue that Harper chooses to go to the polls with. First, it is undeniable fact that the first party to bring global warming to national attention in Parliament was the NDP ... in 1983 - 24 years ago! Second, after tabling a woefully inadequate "Clean Air Act" (Google Frank Luntz and the Clear Skies Act proposed by George W. Bush, and realize that Harper contracted Frank Luntz to advise his governmet - again, confirm with Google) Harper and his cronies agreed to an all party committee to re-examine the act. Take a look at the 15 ammendments proposed by NDP-MP Nathan Cullen ( and realize that only the end to Big Oil/Big Gas subsidies was voted down (by the Conservatives, Liberals, and Bloc). Score one for all of us ordinary Canadians.

A February 2007 report authored by Friends of the Earth and Corporate Knights suggested that to even come close to meeting Canada’s Kyoto targets, we would have to spend $100 billion over 4 years. This is in line with the Stern report suggesting that if we started now, it would cost us about 1% of our annual GDP spent between now and 2012 to effect any change.

That's A LOT of money ... too costly you might say.

Don't let them tell you it can't be done!

Who remembers our last “crisis” which some later labelled a “fizzle?” The Y2K bug. In 1997, the Auditor General of Canada suggested that preparing for the millennium disaster would cost the Canadian economy between $30 billion and $50 billion. In 1999, cost overruns led the government to conclude that its own Y2K costs, estimated to be $1 billion in 1997, had multiplied to between $2.2 and $2.5 billion, in part because of inflationary pressures to hire a limited number of legacy programmers. Using these multipliers, we have a crisis cost between $66-$125 billion to be spent over a 2-3 year period. If we allow for a modest average inflation rate of 1.5% over this time, then costs can be estimated to be between $74-$141 billion in 2007 dollars.

Y2K was solved, not because it was a fizzle, but because we took real action with very real costs. These costs are not out-of-line with the $100 billion we need to spend between now and 2012 to do our small part for the environment. What’s the difference then? I think Y2K was easier to solve because the private sector perceived a direct effect to its bottom line and went to work investing the money necessary. Reinvesting in our environment is a public good and with that comes the free-rider problem and the attendant questions: Why should my business be first? Why should Canada be first? When will China do its part? Why do I have to buy a smaller car when my show-off neighbour has an SUV?

OK, so where might we start? There are many small things we can all do, from turning down thermostats, changing lightbulbs, walking/riding bikes, public transit, carpooling, etc.. Here in NB, you can look online to Efficiency New Brunswick ( But here's a bigger plan we can also implement while pursing energy conservation. New Brunswick has smart hard-working people, a lot of land, many sunny days, large spaces, fertile land, and the highest tides in the world. Suppose we partner with the federal government and set up a province-wide test for renewable energy production where we compare and contrast the efficiency of solar, biofuel, tidal, wind, and geothermal energy production/storage. Imagine ... New Brunswick as world leaders!

We did it once with our ship-building industry. We can do it again, and it works to benefit us all, not just a few elite. We don't have to buy into George W. Bush's hydrocarbon future (a future that many American's reject and very well may reject when Bush leaves office). We don't have to be the supplier for our neighbour's addiction. We can show real leadership on the environment.

Rob Moir (NDP Candidate)

Friday, March 16, 2007

This week's events...

Wow, was that ever a busy week. I just finished organizing a UNBSJ public lecture, "An Inconvenient Truth: Live" with Peter Corbyn ( as the presenter. Peter is one of 18 Canadians trained by Al Gore to present the slideshow central to the Oscar-winning documentary. He is the only Atlantic Canadian so trained. It was a great talk and an awesome community-building exercise.

Today (Friday), I leave for Ottawa and my second Breakthrough Conference. There I will meet with a number of other NDP candidates and officials (including our own interim leader and my good friend, Pat Hanratty) to plan and prepare for the next election, whenever it may be. I am going to find out how we are all going to win in Fundy Royal and send an NDP MP to Parliament next time around. We will build our sustainable community!
Unfortunately, my absence means I cannot attend an important event taking place, Saturday March 17. The Canadian Peace Alliance, the New Brunswick People for Peace, and the Saint John People for Peace are holding a rally to pull troops out of their military roles in Iraq and Afghanistan. Drop by Tapps Brewpub from 2-6pm for music (Debbie Adshade, Kim Blue, Karen Palmer, John MacLean, the Shaggy Dogs, and more) and an information session. For more info, please contact If you can go to the show, please say hello for me.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Real Self-Sufficiency

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As fortune would have it, I was able to coordinate a public talk at the University recently. Dr. Denis Roumestan of Justice & Equity, Inc., talked about the real changes taking place in Rwanda. A few short years ago, the world witnessed an horrific genocide in Rwanda – 1million killed in 100 days. Now, it seems Rwanda may be a bright light in democracy; actively encouraging and embracing a truly independent media, engaging in full accountability (all government books are open to public scrutiny, and elected officials and publicly appointed officials must sign documents outlining the progress they intend to make), a complete crackdown on corruption, recognition of the vital importance of the environment, the highest percentage of women in parliament (46% I believe), and a focus on development under Rwanda's terms.

Okay, but we're here in Fundy Royal, so what's that got to do with us? There are a number of issues as I see it. First, as the Make Poverty History campaign (a campaign I strongly support) points out, there is no real reason for abject poverty on this planet. Canada can and Canada should meet it's goal of 0.7 percent of GDP spent as foreign aid. Second, a recent Senate report suggests that CIDA's Africa strategy has failed. If we are going to turn this result around, then we need to invest in a country where development has real potential … and Rwanda seems to be such a place. As an economist, I see "sustainable development" as good for us all. I also know that people want to invest where returns are expected to be high.

Despite these lofty international objectives however, I think there is a deeper message for the people in Fundy Royal, and indeed for all New Brunswickers. Look at the democratic changes that I outline in the first paragraph. A free and independent media. Very few people in New Brusnwick would consider the Telegraph Journal, Times & Transcript, or the Daily Gleaner to reflect a free and independent media. Accountability in New Brunswick is laughable – although I do like Premier Graham's call to end party top-ups to premier's salaries. Accountability was one of Stephen Harper's goals, but he forgot his own message when he appointed his cabinet. Women in parliament … or legislature … or even on Saint John City Council? Forget it, and so too forget women's issues.

Most importantly, Rwanda wants to develop and Rwanda will develop, on Rwanda's terms. Premier Graham tells us, we'll be self-sufficient if only we cut down all our trees and get behind the Irving-NB Power push for an Energy Hub in Saint John. He invites us to comment upon the self-sufficiency documents, but without the benefits of public meetings. The combined efforts of the New Brunswick Government and the Irvings will have us self-sufficient in the near future – there will only be a few thousand of us, and we'll all be gasping for air, but we'll be self-sufficient.

Dr. Roumestan incorporated Justice & Equity here in New Brunswick. Bilingualism played a big role, but in my discussion with him he also said it was the people. We, all of us in New Brunswick, have a lot to offer. If we have a lot to offer to the world, then we certainly have a lot to offer Canada. Throughout Fundy Royal we have strong communities. This is our legacy and gift to the world.

If we work together, we can create a bright future of self-sufficiency on our own terms. Having travelled most of New Brunswick and throughout Fundy Royal, I see vibrant communities filled with people who care about their world. Let's build upon our strengths, let's learn from Rwanda, and become the self-sufficient, self-sustaining community we know we can be. If you want to contribute to a growing and democratic vision of New Brunswick, check out the following site:

Rob Moir