t March 2013 | sh C. K. Kelly Martin o

As in years of yore, I've scanned in the Prime Minister's annual Easter card so Canadians who happen to be out of the country or who didn't receive their greeting before the holiday can see what Stephen's up to.
Stephen Harper card: Happy Easter, peasants! With fondness Your Czar, S.H.

This Easter Prime Minister Harper will be on-site at the Alberta Tar Sands handing out Easter chocolates to animals whose habitat has been destroyed by the Tar Sands and the numerous children worldwide whose futures have been put in jeopardy by the plundering of our environment. Just look for the Syncrude signage if you want to know where to go to collect your free chocolate. There will also be a hunt for Canadian democracy (likely lying at the bottom of a toxic tailing pond) and Tar Sands Easter decorating competition. So you gotta know that will be a wicked fun time! Get your pastel paints and scuba gear ready.

* CAUTION: The Government of Canada and Syncrude are not responsible for death, dismemberment or illness suffered in conjunction with this offer.

Additional Harper greeting cards, action figures, and promotional photos available here.  
When we last peeked in at model of manners and dapper dresser Mister Dash, the mixed breed pooch was saving Madame Croissant's rambunctious granddaughter Daphne from a Radio Flyer accident in Merci Mister Dash! Happily there's a brand new Mister Dash adventure on shelves and it involves tantalizing cupcakes, the spirited but troublesome Daphne, more Dash heroics, and heaping servings of charm and laughter.
 
Jauntily gorgeous illustrations by Esperança Melo are the perfect match for Monica Kulling's (author of Lumpito and the Painter from Spain and Tundra's award-winning Great Idea series) warmly dynamic story. The delightful combination is bound to make Mister Dash and the Cupcake Calamity a favourite with youngsters.
 
Kulling has a winning hero in the fastidious but loyal Dash, who plays delivery dog for Madame Croissant's bakery business even as he feels foolish in the baker's hat, and I hope we have many more Mister Dash adventures to look forward to.

Mister Dash and the Cupcake Calamity
I'm honoured, thrilled and stunned to be able to say I found out earlier this week that I got a Canada Council grant for a YA book I've been working on! To have this vote of confidence from Canada Council is such a heady thing. I'm over the moon and have never felt more like a Canadian writer.

Recently I also learned, to my immense joy, that Yesterday made the Canadian Library Association's Young Adult Book Award shortlist along with 9 other fantastic books: 40 Things I Want to Tell You (Alice Kuipers), Bright's Light (Susan Juby), The Calling (Kelley Armstrong), The Last Song (Eva Wiseman), My Book of Life by Angel (Martine Leavitt), One Good Hustle (Billie Livingston), The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen (Susin Nielsen), Such Wicked Intent (Kenneth Oppel), and What Happened to Ivy (Kathy Stinson). You can see the complete lists for the CLA Book of the Year for Children Award, the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award and the CLA Young Adult Book Award here. Congrats to all the CLA-nominated authors!

Before these two wonderful pieces of news good luck was in short supply (the publishing business is hard, hard, hard) and it means so much to me to have this recognition from other Canadians. It would be impossible for me to overstate that. And if it happens that there's another tough patch around the corner, these two things will see me through it.

Finally, before I go I want to share the stunning cover of the Chinese edition of My Beating Teenage Heart. Four copies arrived from my agent yesterday and I keep wandering over to the sideboard to stare at them. Aren't they lovely?
 
My Beating Teenage Heart Chinese edition
Did you happen to see the report released by the Conference Board of Canada six weeks ago that revealed Canada dumps more garbage per capita than any other country in the developed world? Additionally, its water use is almost double the average of other countries. In the report entitled "How Canada Performs - Environment" Canada was ranked 15 out of 17 countries. Only the United States and Australia's performance were worse.                      

And do you happen to remember the annual Climate Change Performance Index results released in December by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe? "Canada fell to 58th place out of 61 countries analyzed for their policies and action on climate change this year, trailed only by Kazakhstan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia." It's embarrassing and unconscionable that a country of Canada's wealth and natural beauty should behave with such recklessness and disdain for the natural world, our home.

It's this disdain that so often in recent years leaves me feeling acutely embarrassed to be Canadian. I would like to apologize to the rest of the world for our brazen disregard for the environment, only apparently they don't care either.

That's right, nobody much cares. A global poll of nearly 23,000 people across 22 countries found that environmental concerns are at record lows. "Asked how serious they consider each of six environmental problems to be-air pollution, water pollution, species loss, automobile emissions, fresh water shortages, and climate change-fewer people now consider them "very serious" than at any time since tracking began twenty years ago. Climate change is the only exception, where concern was lower from 1998 to 2003 than it is now. Concern about air and water pollution, as well as biodiversity, is significantly below where it was even in the 1990s. Many of the sharpest falls have taken place in the past two years."

It's staggering. Wasn't this the year we saw Hurricane Sandy vomit the Atlantic Ocean up over New Jersey and New York? The summer of 2012/2013 was Australia's hottest on record, not in a nice let's drink our margaritas on the beach way but in a "catastrophic" fire threat one. Then there's Bangladesh. Experts predict that 250 million people worldwide will become climate refugees by 2050. Of those, 20 million to 30 million climate change refugees (likely the largest number from one place) are expected to be in Bangladesh, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Rising sea levels, a result of melting glaciers, could flood and/or erode 17 % of the country.

globe with cartoon dialogue bubble: Sorry, am I boring you with my distress?

The human capacity for denial is seemingly infinite. Surely, at some point we must've been smarter than this? Otherwise how did we make it this far?

In the short term I guess as a Canadian I should be glad that generally people aren't as worried about climate change as they have been in the past, because it means this country can act like the asshole it apparently is without any worry about folks coming over to pelt us with rotten tomatoes and kick sand in our faces. As for our long term strategy, I can only conclude that Stephen Harper (our cyborg Prime Minister) is arranging safe passage to another solar system for all us Canadians. When the planet revolts against our abuse with a vehemence that makes daily living a struggle beyond our capabilities the Conservative Party's alien pals will whisk us away to a peaceful, unoccupied planet with an enviable bounty of natural resources. There, our descendants will be free to repeat our loveable old tradition of junking the planet with wild abandon. Hell, as long as Stephen Harper's at the helm, NHL is on the boob tube, there's Tim Hortons coffee readily available, and the bright promise of a new Target opening around the corner, millions of us Canucks may not even notice we've left earth.
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