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Regulatory challenges in hydropower development in Nepal

In From Other Parts by Michael Rae

Out of 40,000 MW of economically feasible hydropower potential in Nepal only about 791 MW is currently developed. The reason for underutilization of hydropower potential is that there are various challenges to developing hydropower projects in Nepal, namely- technical, financial and regulatory. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in hydropower sector in Nepal can […]

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Science vs. Sanctimony COP21 The epicenter of sanctimonious behavior

In Analysis, Opinion by Michael Rae

by Paul Driessen

If one were to pinpoint the epicenter of sanctimonious behavior the past two weeks, he or she look no further than Paris. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, or COP21) has been a magnet for shareholder activists, nuns, clergy and other religious intent on furthering agendas ostensibly geared toward mitigating manmade global warming, but in reality promote hardship and energy poverty across the economic spectrum.

Mind you, this writer grew up under the tutelage of nuns, and found many of them to be knowledgeable in their respective subject matter while witnessing all of them as paragons of morality. But more and more, I’ve come to find this anecdotal evidence nothing more than a flawed syllogism. Simply because nuns are somewhat knowledgeable and almost always moral doesn’t necessarily add up to the equation nuns are always moral because they are, to a person, knowledgeable.

Your writer has pondered this epistemological conundrum since beginning high school 40 years ago, and the question rears its head time and again: What happens if the knowledge of activist nuns is flawed? Does it then render the morality of their conclusions suspect?

If readers answer the second interrogative in the affirmative, they also recognize the sanctimoniousness of both the nuns and those who point to their opinions as morally superior. I’m not attempting to throw nuns under their vaunted bus, however, inasmuch I’m pointing out they are as subject to buying into bad science and the passions of activism as the next person. Take for example, Sr. Aine O’Connor of the Sisters of Mercy, one of several orders of nuns belonging to the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a progressive shareholder activist group.

Whatever course of study Sr. O’Connor pursued, science apparently wasn’t included. In a National Catholic Reporter article titled “Religious sisters ‘lament the reality’ of fracking in demonstration outside COP21,” the nun resorts to extreme hyperbole to make her point she thinks hydraulic fracturing harmful to Earth and its inhabitants:

“We are hearing and heeding the cry of persons and earth impacted by fracking,” she said of peoples in Argentina, Australia and the U.S. who have reached out to the Sisters of Mercy.

“What do we say to the seven-year-old child whose ears now bleed, who has difficulty breathing as a result of living near a gas field; to the mother who must travel miles to the town in order to have her doctor review and treat her child objectively for gas-related medical conditions; to the farmer who has no voice with his government when his bore hole has run dry and he can no longer farm; and to his family, who cries out in desperation after he takes his own life?

“These cries of people and earth are our shared concern today, because we believe and insist on the dignity and the promise of abundant life for all,” she said.
The article continues that Sr. O’Connor’s group was joined by far-left environmentalist groups and Food & Water Watch as well as “three Catholic religious orders: Franciscans International, Mercy Sisters, and the Medical Mission Sisters” in sponsoring the anti-fracking panel.Nun Against Fracking

“We think that today, of all times, the climate leaders need to actually look at what is being promoted as myths to certain climate solutions,” said O’Connor, speaking of the Mercy sisters.

“Such as in the case of fracking, they’re pushing the myth that it will give jobs, that it’s a clean energy, and when you see today the facts, the science, the health data that’s there, it absolutely needs to be stopped in the names of the people and for future generations,” she told NCR.

The perspective draws from the sisters’ experiences with people they work with worldwide who have seen the impacts of fracking on their land and lives.

Mercy Sr. Bridget Crisp of New Zealand said her community’s concern with fracking and the whole extractive industry ties to concern for island people in the South Pacific.

“You’ve got Tuvalu, you’ve got Kiribati, you’ve got a number of islands who in 50 years, their whole culture could be under water,” she said.
Your writer must confess this last assertion elicited a “Wait? What?” moment. I assume Sr. Crisp was attempting to make the case that continued use of cheap and plentiful fossil fuels results in higher concentrations of carbon-dioxide and methane – two greenhouse gases – in the atmosphere, which – the theory goes – increases the Earth’s temperatures, melts polar ice and causes sea levels to rise. That would be a discussion on science.

Srs. Crisp and O’Connor, however, abjure a scientific discussion in order to demagogue the issue with passionate appeals to the emotions of their audience. The women forego consideration of the moral case for fossil fuels (to borrow a phrase from the title of Alex Epstein’s wonderful book), which actually make the world a better place, especially for the poor (as noted here and here). That’s sanctimony rather than science.

Paul Driessan

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Fraser Institute/MEI Publication: Couillard government’s spending under control, but the tax burden remains excessive Montreal, February 4, 2016 – A ranking comparing the relative fiscal and budgetary performance of the provincial premiers puts the current Quebec government in second place among its peers.

In Analysis, Research by Michael Rae

Montreal, February 4, 2016 – A ranking comparing the relative fiscal and budgetary performance of the provincial premiers puts the current Quebec government in second place among its peers. This ranking measures government spending, corporate and individual taxes, and deficits and debt. With an overall score of 78.2 out of 100, the

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Canada must “step up” on peacekeeping training Unprepared for Peace?

In From Other Parts by Michael Rae

A new report, entitled Unprepared for Peace? The Decline of Canadian Peacekeeping Training (and What to Do About It), has just been released by the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
Written by Walter Dorn, Professor at the Royal Military College, and Joshua Libben, doctoral candidate at the University of Ottawa, the study identifies the need to reinstate and update the many training programmes and exercises that have been cut over the last decade, in order to restore the Canadian Armed Forces’ readiness to participate in peace operations.
Military personnel are provided with less than a quarter of the training activities for UN peace operations that they were a decade ago. For the first time ever, Canada has a generation of soldiers with no experience in peacekeeping. Says Dorn,
The complexities of modern peace operations require in-depth training and education…. With UN peace operations at an all-time high, and Canada’s contribution at an all-time low, Canada is currently lagging far behind other nations in its readiness to support the United Nations and train for modern peacekeeping.
Read More at…/p>

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More useful role for Canada than air strikes says RI President

In From Other Parts by Michael Rae

The Prime Minister of Canada must live up to the promise he made during the election campaign, and which he included in the mandate letter to his Minister of Defence, and forthwith end Canadian air strikes in Iraq and Syria.
Despite this unequivocal commitment, reiterated by the PM to the President of the United States in their first conversation after the election, Canada continues to engage in air strikes and, unbelievably, even increased the tempo over the Christmas holiday period.
Since the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris in November, there has been an incessant drumbeat in the media that Canada should reverse its decision to end air strikes, as if the decision was based on a misunderstanding of the threat posed by Islamic State, rather than on a determination that Canada could play a more useful role in other ways.
RI President Peggy Mason wrote about a more effective role for Canada in an article for the Canadian International Council on December 11th, 2015. In light of the continued Canadian bombing, we are reposting that article below.

Bombing and training are both problematic
The United States alone can easily handle all militarily useful airstrike targets against ISIS. Participation by others is therefore symbolic and token at best. While in the case of Arab states, this might at least have been useful — in that it would weaken the idea that this is a war between the West and Islam — those coalition members have abandoned their bombing in Iraq and Syria in favour of decimating the already utterly impoverished country

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With or without pipelines, Canadian oil production will continue to grow

In Opinion, Research, Transport by Michael Rae

Montreal, February 1st, 2016 – While the debate rages on regarding the Energy East project, the MEI points out that even in a scenario in which absolutely no new pipelines are built, oil production in the country will increase significantly from now until 2040, as the National Energy Board (NEB) stipulated

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Why peacebuilding fails and what we can do about it

In From Other Parts by Michael Rae

According to a recent UN report, violent conflicts have almost tripled in the past eight years and are drawing unprecedented levels of international engagement. In light of the unfolding events in Syria, Burundi, and many other conflict-afflicted countries, it is of utmost importance that we think about what makes peacebuilding interventions work and how we can avoid counterproductive or ineffective practices. And it is particularly relevant for Canada today in light of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge to re-engage in UN peace operations.
In a previous blog post, we highlighted research demonstrating that UN peacekeeping missions, on balance, have a good track record.  But we know all too well that if peacebuilding fails, the costs can be tremendous. Numerous post-conflict countries have relapsed into war despite peacebuilding efforts, sometimes even after a prolonged pause, and sometimes with even greater levels of violence. Many in the humanitarian assistance, peacebuilding, and international development community are thus looking for success stories—and for good reason.
While it is mostly agreed that in order to be more effective, peacebuilding interventions require more financial, logistical, and human resources, there is a growing consensus that local ownership is a key element of success. External interveners, especially UN personnel, are well aware of this. Nonetheless, far too often they have a tendency to live in a bubble, where they interact mostly with other expatriates and lack contact with host populations, which directly works against local ownership.
This, at least, is the argument put forward by Séverine Autesserre, researcher and associate professor at

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Peggy Mason on Canada being shut out of the anti-ISIS coalition meeting Rideau Institute President Peggy Mason discusses the reasons behind Canada not being invited to the anti-ISIS coalition meeting in Paris on 20 January.

In From Other Parts by Michael Rae

An anti-ISIS coalition meeting took place in Paris on 20 January. Defence ministers from France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Australia, and the Netherlands joined U.S. Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter to discuss the future of the fight against ISIS. Canada has not been invited to the meeting. Read more at: