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Wed, 2014-07-23 07:00Carol Linnitt
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Pen Canada, Freedom of Expression Charity Supported by Margaret Atwood and Yann Martel, to Undergo Political Activity Audit

margaret atwood, pen canada, charity audit

Pen Canada, a Canadian charity that fights for freedom of expression and represents more than 1,000 writers and supports is the latest group identified for a political-activities audit by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

The group has been a vocal opponent of some of the Harper government’s recent policies, including the muzzling of federal scientists and the alleged surveillance of Canadian citizens as revealed through the Edward Snowden leaks.

Follow revelations of mass state surveillance, Pen Canada advocated for an adoption of “International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance.”

The organization also spoke out against restrictive communications protocols, implemented by the Harper government, that prevent federal scientists from speaking with the media about their research. “The federal government’s restriction on media access to publicly funded scientists have become a serious infringement on the right to freedom of expression in Canada,” the group wrote on its website.

Federal auditors appeared at Pen Canada’s offices yesterday, asking to review internal documents, the Globe and Mail reports.

Tue, 2014-07-22 12:04Carol Linnitt
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New Poll Suggests LNG Development at Odds with B.C.’s Incredibly High Climate Action Support

Rich Coleman, bc LNG, climate

Last year B.C. joined Washington State, Oregon and California in an effort to limit the causes and effects of climate change. A new poll released today shows British Columbians are eager to see the government keep its commitments under the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy.

The climate plan was designed to respond to “the clear and convincing scientific evidence of climate change, ocean acidification and other impacts from increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which threaten our people, our economy and our natural resources.”

The plan was signed in 2013, with little fanfare. Yet, residents of B.C. strongly support the initiative, and the government’s commitments to limit carbon pollution.

But with the B.C. government’s big ambitions to develop and export liquefied natural gas (LNG), there appears to be a conflict brewing within the province’s own objectives.

Mon, 2014-07-21 11:37Carol Linnitt
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Canadians Don’t Share Federal Government Priorities on Energy and Economy, Opinion Research Shows

public opinion research, northern gateway pipeline

The average Canadian doesn’t place the economy above other concerns like education, health care and environment according to a a public-opinion survey analysis performed by the Privy Council Office (PCO), a group of the Prime Minister’s top advisors, in January.

As the Canadian Press reports, the research suggests major federal government policies don’t line up with Canadian priorities.

The analysis followed public opinion research of 3,000 survey respondents and 12 focus groups, conducted by NRG Research Group, on behalf of the Finance Department. The PCO is not obligated to routinely make its research public.

The research showed Canadians have “little enthusiasm” for the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, “even among supporters,” the January 25 PCO report on the findings states. Since then the pipeline was federally approved.

Mon, 2014-07-21 11:26Carol Linnitt
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Charities Bullied Into Muting Their Messages: Researcher

gareth kirkby, canadian charities, audits

Canada’s charitable sector — the second largest charitable sector in the world, after the Netherlands — has come under threat from federal policies that hinder advocacy groups from doing their work, according to new research.

As DeSmog Canada and other outlets have reported, numerous charities — ranging from development organizations to women’s rights groups — have lost their funding from the federal government during the last several years.

Most recently, in June of 2012, the federal government announced $8 million would be devoted to investigating and auditing charities to ensure their activities comply with Canada Revenue Agency rules. (DeSmog Canada recently revealed through Access to Information legislation that, in fact, more than $13 million has been dedicated to these audits).

Several individuals and organizations have criticized the audits as politically-motivated.

So far, we haven’t heard much from the charities themselves under audit, because, with resources already stretched thin and sometimes multiple federal auditors scrutinizing their work, speaking out has been seen as too much of a risk.

But what charities haven’t been able to say for themselves is now outlined in a new analysis by former journalist and graduate student Gareth Kirkby. His research on the ‘chill effect’ that resulted from the ongoing audits was brought together in his thesis (attached below), recently submitted to faculty in the public communications department at Royal Roads University.

Fri, 2014-07-18 19:57Carol Linnitt
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New Report Says Kitimat Airshed Can "Accommodate" Increased Industrial Pollutants

kitimat airshed, pollution

The Kitimat airshed can “accommodate” increased industrial growth and pollution according to a new Kitimat Airshed Study released Friday.

The study, commissioned by British Columbia last year to assess the impact of industrial pollutants on the Kitimat airshed, was released one month after lawyers representing Kitimat locals asked the Environmental Appeal Board to force the province to make the report public.

The province previously claimed cabinet privilege and refused to release the report to two women, Emily Toews and Elisabeth Stannus, who are fighting to overturn a 2013 ruling to allow increased sulphur dioxide emissions from Rio Tinto Alcan’s smelter ‘modernization project’ in Kitimat.

The government-funded report concludes the Kitimat airshed, if properly managed, can safely accommodate industrial expansion, including the expanded aluminum smelter expected to increase levels of sulphur and nitrogen oxide in the area.

The study took into account Rio Tinto Alcan’s existing smelter, the smelter’s modernization project, four proposed liquid natural gas (LNG) facilities, one proposed oil refinery, a potential BC Hydro gas powered turbine facility and increased emissions from tanker traffic.

Environment Minister Mary Polak, attending a press conference in Vancouver today, said “the study tells us that with proper management there is significant capacity in the Kitimat airshed to safely accommodate industrial growth, while still protecting human health and the environment.”

Mon, 2014-07-14 11:11Carol Linnitt
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New BC Nature Lawsuit Challenges Cabinet’s Approval of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline

Barnard Harbour, Douglas Channel, Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, Dogwood Initiative

A new lawsuit filed Monday challenges the federal Cabinet's decision to approve the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. The suit, launched by the Federation of BC Naturalists, or BC Nature, asks the Federal Court of Appeal to allow an application that declares the pipeline’s June 17, 2014 approval invalid. Today is the last day parties may apply to the Federal Court to initiate a judicial review of the project's approval.

BC Nature filed a previous lawsuit in January 2014 against the Joint Review Panel’s (JRP) recommendation the federal government approve the pipeline. That suit, filed by the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre (ELC), is still ongoing and challenges the JRP’s justification of “serious harm” to caribou and grizzly bears as well as findings regarding the consequences of a potential major oil spill.

In the lawsuit filed today, we argue that due to fundamental flaws in the JRP’s report, Cabinet was deprived of the legal authority to make a final decision on the pipeline,” Chris Tollefson, ELC Executive Director and lawyer for BC Nature, said.

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