Friday, May 23, 2008

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Insightful. No holds barred. Compelling. Interesting. Entertaining. Spiritual. These are a few of the words that could be used to describe the speech delivered by environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. last night at the Memorial Centre in Peterborough. OPSEU purchased 10 tickets from our Environment Fund to support Great Lakes research and provide some soul food for some OPSEU green keeners including 1st VP Patty Rout, Region 3 EBM Claire Rowett, MNR member John Shirk, Sarah Labelle from Oshawa, some members from Trent University and yours truly.

Kennedy touched on several themes:

  • his regular visits to Canada for recreation and business representing First Nations bands
  • the Riverkeepers organization
  • the need for restoration of the Fairness Doctrine for the media
  • Bush's rollback of 30 years of environmental law
  • warning for Canadians not to follow the same path
  • how polluting the air is a form of privatization because it takes what once belonged to everyone and has spoiled it for its own interests
  • coal burning power plants and the impact of the mercury emissions on children
  • mining practices in West Virginia where 460 mountains have been flattened
  • privatization of the public commons
  • the link between privatization and creeping totalitarianism
  • union bashing
  • crony capitalism
  • the deep connection between humanity and natural wilderness
  • fishing
Kennedy is an unabashed free marketeer. He argues that private enterprise will be able to find solutions to clean up the mess left behind by, er... private enterprise. He makes the case that polluters receive a public subsidy by off-loading clean-up and health costs onto the public purse. Therefore, these companies are not true free market players and have to stop polluting and start paying. Personally, I don't expect that business will ever operate in a true free market.

But Kennedy is right on the money in being able to sharply identify the problem and call the polluters what they really are - criminals.

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