Letters to the editor

Posted on November 08, 2010 | Atlantic Business Magazine | 0 Comments

A Disappointment

In your July/August issue, Nova Scotia businessman John Risley wrote a piece entitled “A Disgrace” in which he discusses the importance of leadership, and the lack thereof, that is currently displayed by most of the western world’s political elite in dealing with the economic downturn.

I am a longstanding fan of John Risley. I respect his vision of the Atlantic. I am grateful for what he has done for Canada over many decades, and for that I have privately promoted him for certain positions, knowing he would not disappoint.

But in crafting “A Disgrace”, I feel he missed the boat. There was no balance to the piece. He forgot to remind readers of the huge job Prime Minister Harper did in making Canada a world leader among G-20 and G-8 countries during the recession.

Canada has led the way before, during and after the global financial crisis of 2008. For instance, in September 2009, the World Economic Forum stated that Canada’s banking system is the soundest in the world. The International Monetary Fund recognized that “Canada entered the global crisis in good shape, and thus the exit strategy appears less challenging than elsewhere.”

In fact, Canada is recovering nicely and stronger than ever from one of the worst financial crises in its history as a result of Prime Minister Harper and the Conservative Government’s outstanding work in stimulating our economy and creating jobs.

Canada’s Economic Action Plan proved to be the right answer to the recession. It was one of the most comprehensive stimulus packages in the industrialized world. One year after its implementation, the Plan has generated outstanding results. This $62-billion investment has: offered tax relief for individuals, families and business; helped the unemployed; built infrastructure to create jobs; stimulated housing construction; supported industries and communities; and improved access to financing and strengthened Canada’s financial sector. And the IMF agrees that our Economic Action Plan was “timely, appropriately sized, diversified and well structured.”

President Obama also recognizes our country’s leadership in handling the economic crisis. He said: “I think Canada has shown itself to be a pretty good manager of the financial system in the economy… and I think that’s important for us to take note of.”

In fact, Minister of Finance James Flaherty was honoured by Euromoney Magazine earlier this year as “Finance Minister of the Year”. As the Magazine writes, Minister Flaherty “has enhanced the country’s reputation for sound fiscal policy that takes full account of social justice, while a strong regulatory regime has kept the financial sector out of chaos.”

Indeed, two months ago, Statistics Canada reported that 93,000 net new jobs were created in June. This is the second largest monthly employment gain in Canadian history. This is further evidence that our Government’s Action Plan is leading the way and working for Canadians. If this is not political leadership, I don’t know what is?

Mr. Risley writes that “leadership at the corporate level requires a good plan, effective communication of that plan and then focus.” I agree wholeheartedly with him. What the Harper Government has done over a two-year span is just that. It has developed a good plan… it has effectively communicated it to Canadians from coast to coast, and focused its efforts on stimulating the economy, creating jobs and strengthening our financial institutions.

From this, I conclude that Prime Minister Harper has shown tremendous leadership in dealing with this crisis and protecting Canada’s future prosperity. I am certain Mr. Risley agrees that the Harper Government’s response to the deepest global recession since the Second World War was, and continues to be timely and highly effective. It is far from “a disgrace.”

Senator Donald H. Oliver
Ottawa, ON

Which way the wind blows?

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Alex Bruce quoted me at length on the problems with wind turbines in his article on Dr. Yves Gagnon. For this reason I feel a bit of a cad caviling at details in Mr. Bruce’s article, but his number regarding “actual energy produced” of “340 terawatts” is, alas, meaningless. There must be a time term in the unit used for the energy. It is commonly given as a multiple of watt hours.

I presume that Mr. Bruce meant to write that energy produced was 340 terrawatt.hours over the period of a year. If so, this gives an average (instantaneous) production of 38.8 gigawatts. Total installed… capacity of all turbines was given as 159.2 gigawatts, meaning that the turbines were producing at 38.8/159.2, or 24 per cent of capacity, on average. (This seems rather high, actually, for a number closer to 19 per cent is more typical.)

The situation in Denmark is not as rosy as portrayed. While wind provided almost 20 per cent of the electricity generated there in 2008 (Wikipedia), it covered only 10–14 per cent of the country’s consumption. Power in excess of immediate demand is exported to Germany, Norway, and Sweden. This surplus is sold cheap, sometimes at a loss.

The enduring problem with wind power is that it is intermittent and there is no practical way to store electricity. Despite Dr. Gagnon’s calm reassurance that “he and others are working hard to solve” the problem, the inconvenient fact is that conventional generation must always be available to back up wind turbines, and integrating an unsteady supply onto a grid gives huge headaches. Until a use is found for electricity that can vary from full voltage down to zero, wind power can’t be any more than a supplement.

Ian L. McQueen
Climate Truth Initiative Glenwood, NB

Duly Noted

I read the article “Dream Weaver” in your September/October issue and found it very interesting. However, I would like to comment on what I perceive to be an error in the article. On page 24 a list of speakers at the upcoming event was listed. Kevin O’Leary was listed as the “host of CBC’s O’Leary Exchange”. This is again noted on page 30 under the pictures of the speakers. I would like to point out to you the CBC program is called the “The Lang and O’Leary Exchange” and Kevin O’Leary is not the host; he is a co-host. Amanda Lang’s name should not have been omitted from this title; her name comes first in the program title and she should have been given her due, which she highly deserves, I might say. It is incorrect to attempt to give someone more than their due as you did to Kevin O’Leary.

Yvonne Hodder
Halifax, NS

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