05.08.2013 07:59 AM

Crowdsourcing a Sun News hit

I’m on Sun News a couple times today, and the producers (who are among the best I have ever dealt with, by the by) have asked me to talk about Al Gore and Syria.  Which presents a dilemma for me, The House Communist.  Here’s why:

  • Al Gore:  I think the world have been a better place if he had become President in 2000.  Then again, if he had become President, I very much doubt Gore would have been in Toronto this week, suggesting that Canada had a “resource curse,” was an environmental “open sewer,” and that we needed to get on “a better path.” I found that sort of talk over-the-top, and not particularly helpful.  I also note (a) Obama hasn’t exactly blazed a green trail since 2008, but Gore hasn’t been nearly as critical about that, and (b) the gazillionaire ex-Veep didn’t ride a bicycle to get here.
  • Syria:  John Baird really surprised me in the emergency debate on Syria, this week.  He was not nearly as bellicose as he has been in the past, for starters.  Moreover, he strenuously opposed military intervention, and he even lauded the United Nations.  Given Israel’s (defensible) anti-Hezbollah attacks on the weekend, and given the UN’s suggestion that Syrian rebels may be using chemical weapons – and not al-Assad – I found myself worrying that Baird had been captured by body snatchers.

Anyway, what do you think, O Learned Readers of wk.com?  The Sun New Network probably wants me to defend Gore, but I’m reluctant to do so.  And they likely expect me to oppose Syrian military intervention, but John Baird has already staked out that territory.

What would you do, in my liberal shoes?


  1. Alec Ross says:

    As for Gore … just say his language may sound hyperbolic and calculated to elicit maximum approval from a college audience, but his core messages are sound. His predictions about climate change are based on science, not opinion, and we should indeed find “a better path” (if not for the climate, than as a way of stimulating innovation and employment). Regarding Obama’s green record so far: look at what he’s up against politically. It’s a miracle he’s done as much as he has, given his obdurately anti-green Republican opposition. And as for riding a bike to T.O. … yes, planes generate CO2, but Al Gore on Skype will not pack a Ryerson hall.

    Syria: Just say what you wrote in your initial message.

  2. Jeremy says:

    Well, of course even if you oppose Gore’s rhetoric you can acknowledge that and shift the discussion to the substance of his critique. What do *you* think about the oil sands and Keystone XL? I notice that by now most federal politicians who were formerly strong critics because of environmental concerns have moderated their concerns considerably. I believe Mulcair, for instance, now merely argues the pipeline should be east-west, and Trudeau, who I recall speaking to a university crowd condemning the extraction of bituminous sands very strongly and insisting that they be called “tar sands” to emphasize how dirty they are, is now promoting the pipeline. It seems that criticism of the oil industry itself has become a taboo, and that the only criticism permitted is on side issues (e.g. pipeline paths, regulations around further development, etc.).

    • Swervin' Merv says:

      Since we’re asking questions today, I’ve yet to read an actual explanation of how supplying MORE oil to the U.S. via Keystone would get us a BETTER price when they seem to already have a growing supply coming on stream from their own Bakken formation in Montana and North Dakota.

      While not having heard the Gore (or Baird) comments, I did note on Monday that Liz May corrected Don Martin by pointing out that Gore accurately said Canada was treating THE ATMOSPHERE as an “open sewer” without a substantial carbon tax. But, like with so much in the mainstream media these days, spinners can make up most anything and get away with it.

  3. Cath says:

    1) most people I know who care about this country don’t care about what Al Gore has to say. Just another politician who doesn’t lead by example but expects followers. As you said….over the top and unhelpful.

    2) the “new” John Baird – I actually like what you wrote here. It’s likely not what they want but it works and it’s as mellow an answer as Baird’s personality. Maybe you’ll surprise them at Sun like Baird surprised you 🙂

  4. Patrice Boivin says:

    I am not a Liberal, but wanted to comment that Al Gore seems to have been a bit of an opportunist. Sometime I think it’s more about Gore than about the Earth. The Earth doesn’t care if the temperature goes up by 100 degrees, it’s been there already and done that, and survived. Not so good for the things living on it, though. But those are not “the Earth”, they are mostly just fungi, plants and water with a few legged and swimming things. They can grow back by themselves, no worries.

    John Baird may just be thinking long term, who is going to run when Mr. Harper retires?

  5. Kevin T. says:

    Actually. tell it like it is, it sucks, but it is what it is. If not, you just Harper things up and get people to believe up is down and black is white, and we can see what that is doing to our country. We need truth, honesty and a slap upside the head.
    The Bush-Cheney destructo years are a history variable that will have changed many people’s paths, and it is shame that we have settled upon the Darkest Timeline.

  6. From what you have written, you are granted considerable liberty at Sun, so you should write what you believe. The column will be all the better for it.

    If Gore is over the top, then how about an admonishment not to get into a mud slinging competition with Oliver, (or Kent for that matter). Stick with the science dude.

    On Syria, much tougher. Nerve gas and chemical agents? Muredrous regimes or murderous rebels? tread carefully! We have heard these stories before, like mass graves in Kosovo that turned out to be road works and drainage ditches, but were used as a dandy excuse to bomb Serbia, or the biggest boondoggle of them all, WMD’s in Iraq. Get the FACTS Baird, then make an evidence based decision. Don’t go giving terrorists powrful incentives to bomb Canada, even if that makes you guilty of committing sociology.

    but hey, it’s your job to write columns, you will manage it I am sure.

  7. Dave Sommer says:

    As the producer in question, thanks for your thoughtful words, but as always — I don’t need you to take any particular angle — just as long as you’re on time, honest, cohesive and say roughly 1 iconoclastic thing per hit. See you on TV!

  8. In your liberal shoes, I would: Explain that Harper’s record on the environmental front is extremely bad for business. He has cut funding to vital research stations like PEARL and the ELA. Muzzled scientists and slashed over 700 scientists from Environment Canada. The first country in the world to drop out of Kyoto and the Convention on Drought!!! This government has removed protections from our waterways to pave the way for his buddies in the extraction industry so they don’t have to deal with inconvenient environmental roadblocks… Warren, the list goes on and on and on. How can the world feel comfortable buying our “product” if they see this kind of blatant disregard for the environment coming from the government?! The world needs to feel confident that we are doing everything we possibly can to extract the oil responsibly and ethically. The oil sands ARE the dirtiest oil in the world. Let’s not pretend that they aren’t. It is the responsibility of liberals to support science and facts and Gore does that. To diss Gore for taking an ethical stand with science to back him up would make you look as unethical as those who try to sell Asbestos as if nothing at all is wrong with it. The economic benefits to the oil sands will come at a high cost to human health, our water and air unless we have high environmental standards in place. If we had high environmental standards the world would buy our oil and Gore would not have to slap our wrist.

    On Syria: Baird/Harper have completely destroyed our once respected international reputation and place of high influence within the UN. The world will not currently pay much attention to what we have to say as a result. Pearsonesque?! NOT!

    • Cath says:

      Did you miss this part of Warren’s post? ” I also note (a) Obama hasn’t exactly blazed a green trail since 2008, but Gore hasn’t been nearly as critical about that, and (b) the gazillionaire ex-Veep didn’t ride a bicycle to get here.”

      On Syria – ah but that mild mannered Baird is hitting a note with both Liberals and CPC. Got anything else?

  9. Darlene Albert says:

    Al Gore : whose science is he preaching anyways? Even the scientists haven’t or cannot agree on the reasons for climate change. Gore is an opportunist and flying around in his jet is not savvy. Give Gore the boot.

    Baird : Whatever the reason the conservatives have decided to take a stance and since the majority of the people voted for them then lets wait and see what the game is before we oppose anything.

    • Kelly says:

      Darlene, There is no debate. Human activity is producing enough CO2 to warm the planet beyond natural changes. Over a thousand peer reviewed papers in multiple disciplines agree. Your site relies on mostly poorly documented, industry funded opinion papers by the same scientists for hire who used to try to argue that smoking doesn’t cause cancer. As for you point about Baird — no a majority did not vote for his party. 39% of the roughly 60% of eligible voters who cast a ballot did. But you’re obviously as math challenged as your Con party friends who wrecked the Census.

    • Domenico says:

      Wrong: Scientist agree, Climate Ostriches do not.

  10. J.W. says:

    I guess it wasn’t surprising that Liz May and Megan Leslie both defended Gore to the max last night on Martin program. Shows that the Cons have so alienated all opponents that they can’t even count on a little national pride to moderate opposition rants against Harper, Kent and mostly Oliver.
    As Leslie, who seems like a sincere, honest, modest, patriotic east coast girl, said “they’ve already labelled me a traitor”. And a former NDP Premier is the chief government defender in Washington! Amazing what politics throws out there.

    So I wouldn’t say you have any obligation to show some hometown anti Gore Sun News zeal. Leslie and May are hanging in tough in face of the Con smears. Do the Libs even have an Environmental Dept critic??

  11. po'd says:

    Not much Sunshine and Sun news these days it appears

    “Operating income in news media – which includes the Sun chain of newspapers and the flagship Journal de Montréal on the French-language side – plummeted 63.7 per cent to $5.7-million in the first quarter.”


    • Warren says:

      Yep. Bad across media sector.

      • Kelly says:

        Google is making piles of dough. So is Apple. The long tail is a powerful thing … if you can find out how to make a little bit of money off of everyone else (none of whom are making much money individually) you can hoover up a ton of cash.

  12. Graham says:

    Gore is a hypocrite and a fraud. Not much else you can or need to say. Fighting against oil, the sell his TV station to Middle East oil interests and pockets $100 million. Tells everyone to use less electricity, then it’s revealed ONE of his homes has a $13,000 monthly electricity bill.

    I suppose you could write abou Mulcair’s reaction to Gore’s comments where he agreed with everything Gore had to say, and Trudeau’s refusal to make any comment on Gore’s remarks, instead chosing to give a rather bizare, rambling statement about Harper’s approach to global warming.

    As for Syria, I’m not sure what you can say. Lots of reports around the “rebels” have been joined by all kinds of terrorists to defeat Asad so the can take over. I’m definitely opposed to putting our troops in ths clusterf**k, or arming/financing the “rebels”

  13. dave says:

    Gore: Decades ago, a guy named Maurice Strong doing something like this was asked whether or not his flying ot climate protection conferences was adding to degradation of the atmosphere. Strong answered that his flight does add, but htat his message is so important that it makes up for that degradation. I thought, at the time…But the degradation is still there.

    Syria: Regime under siege is giving its wealpons away? Well, if the regime in Tel Aviv says its self defence, it must be true: support for Israel – white people helping white people. I like the characters we are now allied with…sure is easy to get North Americans eager to bomb people.

    Hate sessions (Grand daughter is studying Orwell’s tome these days) should save the bottomline of our media companies.

  14. Tired of it All says:

    Say what you said about Gore – over the top and unhelpful. Then state the obvious: the Harpo’s have blown a glorious chance to demonstrate true sustainable leadership by developing policy and encouraging private sector involvement is environmental harm reduction technology. It *is* an open sewer, and needn’t be. It’s a bad story which could still be a global best practice. We are not in a position to ingore the oilsands, we are in a position to better about how we get the stuff out and what’s done once it’s out. Sound bite? Resource extraction is no crime. Bad resource extraction is…

    Syria: Gobsmacked by Baird’s laudably balanced posture. BUT, and I say BUT! What kind of leverage would we have had to inluence UN thinking if Canadian FP hadn’t quickly moved us slightly right of pariah status by completely abandoning our valued position as broker and influencer (and yes, we were considered that until 2006). We have an R2P policy, what is Canada doing to build concensus (straw man).

    Iconoclastic statement: You’d be willing to have SFH play at Ben Harper’s next bday. Just get me on the invite list!

  15. George says:

    Just be honest, as always. RE: Gore – the hypocrisy is easy to knock, but whether you believe in the science or not, the green movement isn’t doing itself any favors with him at the podium. Perhaps you should question his motives in making such comments – after all, he stands to make billions if more countries come around to his way of thinking – while places like India and China laugh and keep on polluting. Seems like a “make money for Al Gore” scheme more than a true effort to “save the planet”. As one of your posters pointed out above, Earth doesn’t need saving…but us lowly humans may find ourselves wishing we had been a lot more conscientious as stewards of our environment.

  16. Al in Cranbrook says:

    Once upon a time, I also thought AGW was a problem.

    But then the hysteria set in, and the doom and gloom claims just got ridiculous. Next, a la the Vatican’s Inquisitions, skeptics (more precisely, “heretics”) started getting burned at the stake of public opinion, and gurus of climate change (think, Suzuki) even suggested deniers (heretics) be thrown in prison. Being somewhat a student of history, particularly regarding religions, I’ve heard this stuff before.

    So, listening to the alarm bells going off in my mind, Ii started investigating the other side of this issue.

    Bottom line: a) Follow the money (see, f’rinstance, Al Gore). b) Consensus does NOT constitute science! c) There was never a time on this planet when climate was not changing. d) Atmospheric CO2 increases as a result of warming. e) Polar bears have been around for 200,000 years and have survived both ice ages and periods warmer than now. f) Despite atmospheric CO2 rising 8%, global temperatures have not changed one iota in over 16 years. g) The Columbia Ice Fields didn’t even exist 5000 years ago, and the current glacial recession began in the mid 1800s, not a couple decades ago. h) The only reason civilization as know it exists at all is because the planet in an “interstadial” period, OIW, a temporary break in the weather between ice ages. Imagine Canada under another mile thick sheet of ice sometime in the not too distant future. i) CO2 levels are at their lowest level in the last 100,000,000 years. j) Globally, vegetation has increased by an estimated 15% over the last several decades due to increased CO2…which is a good thing. Of the first $7 billion “invested” in Europe’s carbon exchange, $5 billion was vanished via organized crime. j) The Alberta Oil Sands, compared to coal generation in the US, and especially China, vastly pale in CO2 emissions…it’s not even remotely close! Coal fired generators in Wisconsin alone produce more CO2. And etc., etc., etc….

    Tired of being lied to. There’s hundreds of billions of $ at play. Follow the money.

    Yes, let’s prop up mid-east oil producers, most of whom want to see us pretty much dead, and some of whom use their oil wealth to fund those working on this.

    (Kaspur is going to have a stroke when he reads this, ya think? Ha!)

    • Well now I understand WHY we did not need all those pesky smokestack emissions scientists anymore. Oliver and Kent were correct, you really CAN find out everything you want to hear….er,.. I mean need to know on the Internet thingy!
      Way to go scientist dude! mastery of climatology, biology, paleontology, ecology, and criminology, and oh yeah, economics. You are definitely an investiagtive genius!

      • Al in Cranbrook says:

        If I may dare to be completely candid here, with WK’s indulgence…

        What blows me away is just how desperately so many want to believe that the world is coming to an end thanks to mankind. A scientific “theory”, and that’s all it is folks, has been transformed into a virtual ideology/religion (from which a great many profit both financially and/or politically.) And thus people adopt it, and then identify their very beings with it. It quite literally becomes a definition of who they are. And then, because it takes on this quality, any discussion to the contrary becomes a personal attack that must be defended against at all costs.

        The consequence thereof is that evidence to the contrary is dismissed out of hand, and rational discussion becomes damn near impossible. And, in this case, all the core principles of what constitutes “science” get tossed out the window.

        Metaphorically for the purpose of illustration: Were Christ Himself to descend from the heavens tomorrow, and He did not say exactly what Christians expect him to say to the very letter, it would be Christians who would be the first to want to nail Him to another cross.

        Which is to say: You don’t want to hear that AGW was a grand mistake, and that…apparently tragically…the world is not at peril. What you want to hear is that YOU were RIGHT, and all those other damned heretics were wrong! That’s what’s really important!

        I post something here, I get “Where’s the proof!” I cite the very gods of AGW, I get “cherry picking. I post links, I get snide sarcasm.

        You don’t have to look very far in this world to see where blind adherence to beliefs/ideologies/religions leads people.

        There are climb downs over AGW happening worldwide, be it with the MET, East Anglia, NASA, the IPCC, governments who have spent massively on subsidizing “green” garbage, you name it! Green energy companies, be it in Europe, China or the US, are crashing and burning regularly…too often at horrid costs to taxpayers racked up on projects that were only feasible so long as government’s money taps kept flowing with subsidies…not to mention, and the sun shined and wind blew 24/7, which, as any 12 year old knows, never does! Governments, many of whom now are verging on bankrupt, and no longer can keep those taps open.

        Doesn’t matter. It’s the crusade, and the moral superiority that goes with it, that counts.

        Same old, same old. The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh?

        • Kaspar Juul says:

          You posted links, once. Good for you. It doesn’t justify the bulk of conjecture, anecdotes and talking points you put up normally.

  17. Philippe says:

    On Gore: The Clinton-Gore years were some of the best-ever for America. I would defend him in a heart-beat, especially considering how well the economy boomed under his tenure. In terms of Obama, I’m consufed by your comment. From what I read, he’s been a leader in promoting renewable technology & has effectively reduced emissions in the USA beyond what anyone thought possible (helped by increased natural gas production).

    On Syria: At the risk of sounding like a cooky Libertarian, who in their right freikan mind thinks we can afford to get involved in an internal conflict halfway across the world when we’re BROKE? You’d have to be a moron of epic proportions not to realize that we’re running deficits and can’t afford to get involved in distant civil wars. Western governments are BROKE- when will people start understanding that? Intervention shouldn’t even be up for debate.

  18. Donna says:

    Warren, you represent a sane and pragmatic political view for the Liberal party, but if they do nothing just change your shoes.

  19. West Guy says:

    The oilsands are a minor source of greenhouse gases when compared to other sources like electrical generation and transportation. The numbers are readily available. Anyone who really understands the issue knows that any meaningful change will impact individuals directly and significantly since domestic use (power generation, vehicles, commercial transport) are some of the biggest contributors. Shutting down the oilsands will make little difference. Rejecting a new pipeline will make no difference. Gore is probably doing more harm to the cause than good. His home is an energy glutton, oil bought his network and he happily cut the cheque and he flies around the world generating greenhouse gases telling the rest of us we need to stop generating greenhouse gases, he’s a hypocrite.
    I think we need to look at meaningful changes and reductions and while that includes industry it must also include energy consumption for domestic uses.

  20. wsam says:

    The whole attacking Gore for his personal carbon footprint meme really is weak tea.

    To live sustainably and stop suffocating the planet we need to make the system more green-friendly. Everybody suddenly becoming hippies and taking bi-cycle holidays and eating bark with locally produced cheese isn’t going to happen and won’t really cause meaningful, effective change.

    This isn’t an anti-smoking campaign (which was spectacularly effective).

    Only governments using their power can rectify what is in effect a market failure. Global warming represents a failure to properly account for and, therefore, price the burning of fossil fuels for energy. This market failure is a bit more serious than a mis-priced bond. This market failure is destroying the global atmosphere. It represents a tragedy of the commons on a global scale.

    Attacking Gore because he takes an airplane diverts the conversation from the need for effective government-level policy and inter-state co-operation. That diversion concedes a win to the enemies of responsible environmental policies, i.e. the Harper government.

    John Baird is an asshole. Remember that.

    Israel should not have bombed Syria. That will only make things worse. I.e. broaden the conflict. This is what everyone who understands what is going on fears. Escalation. Strategic studies 101. We need the conflict there to stay contained.

    I knew the University of Calgary’s International Relations department was terrible. It’s worse than I thought. This is what you get when you let resentful hicks and bully-boys run your foreign policy.

    Israel is making the situation worse. They are supposed to be on the side of the West and the International Community. They made a bad situation worse. And we applauded.

    But. The situation should never have been allowed to get this out of control.

    One small impediment to the international community dealing effectively with Syria and the Assad regime has been John Barid and Canada. Our bully boy policies and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the most right-wing government Israel has ever had had made the Middle East worse. In Canada’s small way, we have made meaningful action and compromise harder to obtain.

    This has been noticed.

    Ask any informed American diplomat. We have consistently stood with Israel against the United States and Barack Obama, making it that much harder for Barack to enact his policies.

    In the Middle East everything affects everything else. For our intransigence, we will and are paying a price. Canada has never been this ineffective internationally. We suck! No one cares about Canada at the best of times and now is not the best of times.

    The best we could do vis-a-vis Syria would be to shut up and not say anything. The people who matter don’t want to hear from us. They want Canada to fuck off. We are part of the problem. We didn’t used to be.

  21. Woody says:

    Gore, Baird. 10 rounds. Winner gets a hybrid that runs on unethical oil.

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