Opinion

Mon, 2014-07-14 10:19Jess Housty
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I Signed the “Let BC Vote” Pledge, And Here’s Why

let bc vote, dogwood initiative, enbridge northern gateway pipeline

Last week I signed the Let BC Vote pledge. You could say I’m late to the party. More than 200,000 British Columbians signed before me. I’ve been aware of the Dogwood Initiative-led campaign since it launched, and I’ve watched the numbers grow. But I wanted to reason it through before deciding with conviction that it is part of my path forward.

For the last few years I’ve worked in my community and beyond to help build the momentum we need to stop Enbridge Northern Gateway. I’m not trained as a leader or organizer. I came to this work before I felt ready, and I learned on my feet. I’ve made my share of gut decisions in the heat of battle, and learned to be grateful when I have the luxury of examining every angle of a campaign before I commit to it.

Tue, 2014-07-08 15:56Guest
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Addressing Global Warming is an Economic Necessity

David Suzuki

This is a guest post by David Suzuki

Those who don’t outright deny the existence of human-caused global warming often argue we can’t or shouldn’t do anything about it because it would be too costly. Take Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who recently said, “No matter what they say, no country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country.”

But in failing to act on global warming, many leaders are putting jobs and economic prosperity at risk, according to recent studies. It’s suicidal, both economically and literally, to focus on the fossil fuel industry’s limited, short-term economic benefits at the expense of long-term prosperity, human health and the natural systems, plants and animals that make our well-being and survival possible. Those who refuse to take climate change seriously are subjecting us to enormous economic risks and foregoing the numerous benefits that solutions would bring.

The World Bank — hardly a radical organization — is behind one study. While still viewing the problem and solutions through the lens of outmoded economic thinking, its report demolishes arguments made by the likes of Stephen Harper.

Tue, 2014-06-17 13:40Emma Gilchrist
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Freaking Out About the Northern Gateway Decision? Take a Deep Breath

Bishop Bay

Today the internet is full of noise about the Enbridge Northern Gateway decision by the feds.

Take this poll!

Five other pipelines to watch!

Fun facts about Northern Gateway!

All the noise, ironically enough, makes me think about the silence of the Great Bear Rainforest — of the sea lion that popped up beside my row boat under the starriest sky I’ve ever seen while I sailed along the proposed oil tanker route three years ago.

I’m reminded of bobbing up and down on the water, thoughts coming in 60-second flashes between the breaths of a humpback whale feeding near our boat.

Now, like then, my mind moves away from all the hype to the only truth there is: clean air, clean water, wild salmon. That’s it.

Sat, 2014-06-14 12:35Guest
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Why Are Pipeline Spills Good For the Economy?

oil spill

This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

Energy giant Kinder Morgan was recently called insensitive for pointing out that “Pipeline spills can have both positive and negative effects on local and regional economies, both in the short- and long-term.” The company wants to triple its shipping capacity from the Alberta tar sands to Burnaby, in part by twinning its current pipeline. Its National Energy Board submission states, “Spill response and cleanup creates business and employment opportunities for affected communities, regions, and cleanup service providers.”

It may seem insensitive, but it’s true. And that’s the problem. Destroying the environment is bad for the planet and all the life it supports, including us. But it’s often good for business. The 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico added billions to the U.S. gross domestic product! Even if a spill never occurred (a big “if”, considering the records of Kinder Morgan and other pipeline companies), increasing capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels a day would go hand-in-hand with rapid tar sands expansion and more wasteful, destructive burning of fossil fuels — as would approval of Enbridge Northern Gateway and other pipeline projects, as well as increased oil shipments by rail.

Fri, 2014-06-13 05:00Guest
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Polarized Pipeline Debate is Preventing Real Dialogue on Oilsands

Alberta oilsands development kris krug

This is a guest post by award-winning environmental campaigner and author Tzeporah Berman. It was originally published in The Globe and Mail and is republished here with permission.

I have family who work in the oilsands. They know that I have been a vocal critic of current oilsands operations and plans for expansion, yet they didn’t hesitate to welcome me last week into their homes and to invite me to a family gathering in Canmore. We had a wonderful time. We shared some memories, laughed a lot and even tackled some hard stuff. The conversations were rich and surprisingly easy. Perhaps in part because although we have different opinions there already was a basis of trust and shared experiences.

The weekend sits in stark contrast for me to the ugly polarizing and simplistic debate about oilsands and pipelines our country is embroiled in. It was also an important reminder for me of a simple lesson I learned during the war in the woods in the ’90’s – that there are good people everywhere and sometimes the people you need the most to figure out intransigent problems are the folks on the so-called other side of the fence. I left thinking about how important it is for us to overcome the ‘taking sides’ attitude over oilsands, pipelines and climate change that has taken root in our country and find ways to create real conversations about solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our age.

Tue, 2014-05-06 14:12Emma Gilchrist
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Why Super Natural British Columbia Still Has Super Pathetic Campaign Finance Laws

Imagine having to read through 10,000 written comments on the same topic. It would probably be a touch on the tedious side — yet that’s exactly what a task force did back in 2010 before issuing 31 recommendations to reform our province’s municipal elections.

The task force included three Liberal MLAs and four elected officials from towns and cities across British Columbia.

What was the most egregious problem they found during their investigation? Campaign finance rules.

In a nutshell, local elections in B.C. have been the Wild West of campaign finance — with candidates allowed to take donations from anyone and spend as much as they like.

Tue, 2014-04-22 12:27Guest
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If the U.S. is an Oligarchy, What Does that Make Canada?

oligarchy, democracy, canada

This is a guest post by author and filmmaker Michael Harris. It was originally published on iPolitics.

Why do I know that Stephen Harper would hate these guys?

You have probably never heard of Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page but their message just might wake up dozing Canadians oblivious to the decline of our democracy.

They are professors from Princeton and Northwestern universities and they have just pronounced American democracy dead. Some have already called this the “Duh Report because the ugly truth has been apparent for quite some time: The United States is now the land of the rich and the home of the knave; an oligarchy.

I know. Stephen Harper would say the professors are perpetrating sociology. Perhaps. But sociology beats the ongoing Big Brother impersonation that this prime minister passes off as democracy.

Tue, 2014-04-15 15:38Guest
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90% of B.C. Hates the Grizzly Hunt, So Why Are We Still Doing it?

grizzly bear hunt bc, nathan rupert, desmog canada

This is a guest post by Chris Genovali, executive director of Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

We want these bears dead. This is the message the B.C. government’s “reallocation policy” sends to the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, to British Columbians, and to the world.

This policy also prevents the implementation of an innovative solution to end the commercial trophy hunting of grizzlies and other large carnivores throughout the Great Bear Rainforest.

With the mismanaged, and some would say depraved, B.C. grizzly bear hunt having commenced this month, the controversy surrounding the recreational killing of these iconic animals is spiking once again.

A hard-won Raincoast-led moratorium on grizzly hunting in B.C. was overturned in 2001 by Gordon Campbell’s newly elected Liberal government with no justification other than serving as an obvious sop to the trophy hunting lobby. So, what was supposed to be a three-year provincewide ban was revoked after one spring hunting season. Raincoast, recognizing the then-new premier’s mulish intractability on this issue, decided to take a different approach.

Thu, 2014-04-10 09:31Sandy Garossino
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Six Shocking Truths You Should Know About This American Foundation

Moore Foundation

In recent years, Canadians have heard a lot about those extremist American conservation foundations. They’ve been called radicals, money-launderers and even compared to Al Qaeda in Canada’s Senate.

More recently, an oil-related group, British Columbians for Prosperity (which bears remarkable similarity to the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity), alleges that these foundations are carrying out a really complicated American conspiracy to, er, hurt Canada by, um, not letting any of its oil go to foreign markets.

So I looked into some of these allegations and discovered some shocking truths about the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation that Canadians really need to know.

Sat, 2014-04-05 10:34David Tracey
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Education, or Advertisement?

classroom

When artists depict the future, we should take the time to listen. What if they’re warning us of something that could be avoided?

Brawndo! It’s got what plants crave!”

This slogan for the popular sports drink ‘Brawndo’ is the mantra of citizens in Mike Judge’s 2006 film ‘Idiocracy.’ It’s information everyone has memorized, word for word, ready to trump anyone who would dare to question their precious ‘Thirst Mutilator!’ And because they believe so absolutely in the claim, they can’t understand why their plants won’t grow when they stop watering them altogether, instead feeding them only Brawndo – since, of course, it’s got what plants crave.

The film depicts a society so degraded in educational norms, and so smitten by emboldened advertisement, that its members passively accept the most powerful and obvious ideas thrust upon them. The words are so loud and the font is so bold; how could it be a lie?

Education was replaced by advertisement. No one needed the slightest botanical leanings, since everyone knew that Brawndo was all that plants need. The ad had taught them this; the ad had made it clear.

What does it matter to us? We needn’t worry; it’s all comedy or science fiction. It’s just a joke.

Yet every now and then, black comedy becomes reality.

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