Good news, bad news: Dec. 8-15, 2011

Canada ditches the Kyoto protocol, Crosby sits again, and the NDP indulges its penchant for fiscal fantasy

Good news

Good news, bad news: Dec. 8-15, 2011

Protests broke out against Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. (Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA/Keystone Press)

A better pact

A UN summit in Durban, South Africa, ended with what could become the framework for a long-term deal on climate change. Unlike the Kyoto accord, the new agreement, details of which remain to be negotiated, would bind all nations—not just those in the developed world—to specific greenhouse gas emission targets. After the summit ended, Canada withdrew from the Kyoto pact. The move sparked howls of outrage but it was hardly a surprise; Ottawa never had a serious plan to meet Kyoto targets. Now maybe everyone can get serious about crafting a new, more equitable climate change regime.

Scouts’ honour

Scouts Canada offered a blanket apology last week to former scouts sexually abused by troop leaders. In an online video, the organization’s chief commissioner acknowledged the youth organization hasn’t always done enough to guard against predators. The apology comes as a welcome change after years of private settlements and silence. But while the consulting firm KPMG has been hired to review the organization’s files, continued pressure will be needed to make sure the results of that probe are made public, too.

A sound ruling

House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer called out his own party for sowing confusion among voters in a Liberal riding. MP Irwin Cotler complained to Scheer after Conservatives were caught asking his constituents who they’d support in a by-election. (Cotler has no plans to quit and no election is imminent.) In his ruling, Scheer called the Tory tactics “reprehensible”—which they were. But he stopped short of saying they violated Cotler’s parliamentary privilege—which they did not. For the young Speaker, it was a solid decision.

Of rats and men

Researchers in Montreal found that rats will act against their own best interest to help out fellow vermin in need. The study showed the rodents would release trapped rats from a cage and share chocolate with them, even if it meant giving up some of their own share. Taken alongside new numbers that show charitable giving edged up among Canadians last year, it might just be a sign that we mammals aren’t so bad after all.

Bad news

Bad news

A fire swept through a hospital in Kolkata, India, killing at least 40. (Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters)

Money for nothing

Interim NDP leader Nycole Turmel told a crowd of party supporters in B.C. that the province should not have to repay a $1.6-billion federal HST “transition” payment. It’s hard to imagine a more naked pander. Ottawa shelled out that cash on the condition B.C. adopt, and keep, a harmonized sales tax. By voting to ditch the tax, the people of B.C. broke the deal. To suggest they should now get to keep the money anyway stinks of the old NDP—the party of fiscal fantasy—at its worst. It’s not what Canadians expect from a party that insists it’s ready to govern the country.

Crosby stills

Sidney Crosby electrified the hockey world when he returned from injury last month. Sadly, the comeback only lasted eight games. The Pittsburgh Penguins superstar is back on the shelf with concussion-like symptoms. He suffered two seemingly minor head shots in recent games and says he doesn’t feel right. He won’t play until he does. The worry is that this is Crosby’s future: forever at risk, never at peak performance. In other words, never quite the player he might have been.

Security denied

The UN’s top human rights watchdog asked the Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court. In nine months of anti-government protests there, 5,000 civilians have been killed, Navi Pillay told the council. The pace of violence, meanwhile, is only increasing. One thousand people died in the first 10 days of December, Pillay said. But the Security Council remains hamstrung. Russia and China are opposed to any action on Syria and so the killing will almost certainly go on.

Booze and bad choices

In time for the holiday season, new research confirms what many already know: drinking alcohol makes you more likely to have unsafe sex. Conducted at the University of Toronto, the meta-analysis found a link between a rise in blood alcohol level and a professed willingness to eschew protection. And common sense, apparently. Last Sunday, a couple, almost certainly drunk, were caught having sex on a busy Toronto subway car. The Web is now full of grainy photos from their tryst—a permanent reminder of their impaired judgment.

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