Radio Freethinker

Vancouver's Number 1 Skeptical Podcast and Radio Show

Posts Tagged ‘Harper agenda’

RFT Ep 249 – Killing the CBC Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on April 18, 2014

Download the episode here! 


Whine of the Week  : Killing the CBC

corrigan april 12 2014

As ye sow, so shall ye reap…can also be stated, as ye fast, so shall ye whither, and whither the CBC has. Facing an $100 million budget short fall…thanks to Harper, losing hockey and other factors…the CBC is cutting staff by over 650.

Polling shows the CBC is the most trusted media source in the country, more three-quarters think the government should fund the CBC at a sufficient level…most of those think funding needs to increased.


The Harper government has regularly and consistently slashed the CBC grant budget after budget while spending  the entire CBC budget on a single F-35 jet…or overpriced frigates. What money they are giving, they think would be better spent by just giving it to private media companies…here’s how that would turn out…

Friday, April 11, 2014

Why are we not moving to a BBC style of funding…create a strong, stable and independent broadcaster, whose sole interest to provide the best of Canada.


Seriously the Unfair Elections Act is Important

Moudakis April 10 2014

How did Poilievre become Minister for Democratic Reform, how was the act craft and again…how it can destroy democracy in Canada – The Harper fix is in!


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The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report


Climate Change…even more certainty and dire warnings, again – The IPCC released it latest report on the state of the worlds climate and we’re serious screwed!

Conclusions of the WG1 report (The Physical Science Basis) are summarized below:

  • “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia”.
  • “Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years”.
  • Human influence on the climate system is clear. It is extremely likely (95-100% probability) that human influence was the dominant cause of global warming between 1951-2010.
  • “Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further [global] warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions”.
  • “Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 are stopped”

Conclusions of the WG3 report (Mitigation of Climate Change) are summarized below:

  • The global surface temperature increase by the end of the 21st century is likely to exceed 1.5 °C relative to the 1850 to 1900 period for most scenarios, and is likely to exceed 2.0 °C for many scenarios. With the possibility of an increase as much as 4.5°C
  • The global water cycle will change, with increases in disparity between wet and dry regions, as well as wet and dry seasons, with some regional exceptions.
  • The oceans will continue to warm, with heat extending to the deep ocean, affecting circulation patterns.
  • Decreases are very likely in Arctic sea ice cover, Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover, and global glacier volume
  • Global mean sea level will continue to rise at a rate very likely to exceed the rate of the past four decades
  • Changes in climate will cause an increase in the rate of CO2 production.
  • Increased uptake by the oceans will increase the acidification of the oceans.
  • Future surface temperatures will be largely determined by cumulative CO2, which means climate change will continue even if CO2 emissions are stopped.

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Society Is Doomed


NASA funded study shows the not only do civilizations collapse, it happens regularly and is inevitable…but there is an upside.

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RFT Ep 248 – Canada Post Bank Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on April 1, 2014

Download the episode here! 


Fair Elections Dragon

Whine of the Week  :



The Harper government has yet again put forward a omnibus budget bill…topping out at over 300 pages affecting over 20 other pieces of legislation. Why so much in one bill? So as to push it past not only the oppositions throats but also the Conservative party backbenches.

The talk is not about any specifics of the bill but how it is used a political weapon..



Canada Post Bank



With much discussion about the woes of Canada Post’s immanent demise and the need to cut service, we take a look at the validity of this prophecy of doom and how resurrecting the Canada Post Bank would shore up the crown corp and provide a valued social service.


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International Condemnation of the Fair Elections act


It seems it’s just not me that is unset and honestly afraid of what is in store for the state of Canadian democracy if the Fair Elections act is passed. 180 Canadian academics have sent the government an open letter decrying the pure partisanship of the law. Now that cry has been joined but another open letter but this time by the worlds leading experts on democracy…that this will not only harm Canada’s democracy the the plight of democracy in the world.


It turns out that Elections Canada is something we should all be very proud of. It is “the pre-eminent example of an elections administration body.” that is use to help emerging democracies set up their electoral institutions. To quote one of the signatories:

“”When a democratic, established democracy in the west like Canada seems to be curtailing its own ability to do that, it sends a very poor message to new countries in the Arab world, in Africa, in Asia, who are attempting to move from authoritarianism to democracy,”

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Pierre Poilievre open to changing controversial election measure

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The Department of Science

Posted by Don McLenaghen on May 13, 2012

Well, it looks like we’ve finally done it. It’s a high bar to clear but we made it. What, you may ask? Well, at least in one regard, Canada is more  screwed up than the USA.

I was reading in the Ottawa Herald about the difficulty one reporter had to get a simple interview with a Canadian scientist in the employ of government…well-funded by the National Research Council.

Apparently the reporter Tom Spears heard of some research NASA was doing to measure snow fall. He had learned that NASA had teamed up with Environment Canada, the NRC and several universities to fly through and over falling snow in southern Ontario this winter. It used specialized equipment to analyse falling snow in different weather conditions.

He contacted NASA and was talking to one of the research scientist in “15 min”. Now being a proud Canadian, Spears wanted to get the Canadian angles which he though would be interesting considering the large contribution we had made to the project.

In the USA, he could just contact the scientist directly and conduct an informative interview…Harper put an end to that tom foolery. To talk to a government related scientist (employed by or funded via research grants from agencies like the NRC) in Canada, you have to put in a request with a federal department; which he did. After waiting about 2 days, Spears had to publish without his interview or the information he was hoping to include. He did receive some bland generic talking points and an inventory of the plane.

Curious about how the agency handled his request, he filed a Freedom of Information Request and received over 50 pages dealing with his simple request. The long and the short of it, the lower government agents wanted to arrange an interview promptly but were shot down by more senior management who thought it not appropriate and simply wanted to give a paragraph or 4 about the technical details…i.e. what type of plane, the instruments, etc.

Junior agents pointed out that was not really what the reporter wanted, which it was not, but followed orders. Spear just wanted to ask “So why study snow? Is Ontario snow special? do we have special knowledge on this, what is the state of Canadian snow science?” That sort of thing; he was hoping to place a spot light on our scientists and their work. Spear wrote his story with only a perfunctory nod to the NRC participation and not the human interest or nationalist angle he was hoping for.

In an ironic twist, the document he received mentioned the departments reaction to the published article commenting on how the NRC was only mentioned in passing once and the absence of any mention about the Canadian scientific contribution to the project…but that was okay, the journalist didn’t really want anything more than confirmation of the NRC involvement…which was NOT what he wanted.

As a good skeptic I was both dismayed and alarmed by this story. It seems the default position of our government is to provide as little information as possible. There was no political agenda here, no sensitive or controversial material…it just seemed the bureaucrats, taking their lead from their ruler Harper, thought that the less the people know what the government is doing the better.

This leads to a bigger question…why are we muzzling Canadian scientist?

This is not an isolated event, there have been a number of incidences where the Harper government has directly told scientist to NOT speak to reporters. In fact at a recent Montreal conference, Harper added intimidation to the list of ways to NOT inform the people. Attendees were told NOT to grant interviews and to pass along any request to a ‘press agent’ of the NRC who would arrange things. Also, the NRC ‘press agents’ would record everything said…‘for clarification and reference in case there is a discrepancy between the news story and the official line’.

Since the Conservative government won its majority there has been a constant attack on environmental and regulatory entities both in and out of government. Our scientist are some of the best in the world and have been doing great research into many important areas including a number inconvenient to the Harper agenda – climate change, fish farms, environmental health, etc.

Now there is a great political argument to be made against this erosion of our access to OUR OWN science and scientists…that the Harper government is more secretive than the North Korean politburo but I will put that aside for the moment.

What makes this important for the skeptical community is that to be a good skeptic one must be informed. Scientific skepticism is based on empirical evidence and when that is denied to us we can no longer be assured that the answers we derive or support are authentically rational. The free and open flow of information is (almost?) always the best way to run society ESPECIALLY scientific information. An election is 3 years away…there is little we can do now to reverse this governmental trend but we can ensure people know what Harper et al are doing. We can and must ensure that when Elections 2015 rolls around; WE DO NOT FORGET!

<notes found in Ep 163>

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