Harper Government

Wed, 2014-04-23 17:40Stephen Leahy
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Critics Concerned Pipelines, Tankers Reason for Downgrading "Threatened" Status of Humpback Whales

humpback whale mike baird

This week the federal government was legally obligated to establish protected habitat for threatened North Pacific humpback whales. Instead the Harper government suddenly moved to take the humpback off the “threatened species” list. That would eliminate the legal requirement under Canada’s Species At Risk Act for protecting habitat along the British Columbia coast.

The government based the downgrade on a recommendation made by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), the independent scientific body that designates which wildlife species are in trouble, in 2011.

Critics have noted the decision eliminates a major obstacle to both the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. After the conditional approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline by the National Energy Board's joint review panel, the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre launched a legal complaint on behalf of B.C. Nature requesting the government's recovery strategy for humpback whales be taken into consideration.

A federal recovery strategy for humpback whales on the B.C. coast released in October cited potential increased oil tanker traffic as a danger to dwindling populations. The recovery strategy, released after a five-year delay, also noted the danger toxic spills posed to critical habitat.

If built, the two pipeline projects would increase oil tanker traffic from eight to 28 per month, increasing the risks of collisions with whales, potential spills in vital habitat and excessive noise.

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.

Wed, 2014-04-09 13:06Carol Linnitt
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Greenpeace Complaint Against Ethical Oil Brings “Corrosive Effect of Oil on Our Politics” to Light

When Greenpeace Canada’s climate and energy campaigner Keith Stewart filed an official complaint with Elections Canada, he did a lot more than question the implications of the Ethical Oil Institute’s collusion with the Conservative Party of Canada: he called national attention to the corrosive effect oil money has had on Canadian politics in recent years.

At the broadest level,” Stewart told DeSmog Canada via e-mail, “we are trying to rebalance the playing field between money and people power in Canadian politics. You can never eliminate the influence of money on politics, but you can limit it and make it more transparent.”

Greenpeace’s request for an investigation is based on the fact that corporate donations to political parties are banned in federal politics — yet money raised by the Ethical Oil Institute appears to have been spent on advertising and other activities developed and implemented by people directly involved in the Conservative Party of Canada. The institute does not disclose its funding sources, but its website states it does “accept donations from Canadian individuals and companies, including those working to produce Ethical Oil.”

Wed, 2014-03-26 14:25Carol Linnitt
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Margaret Atwood: Canada’s War on Science “A Shoddy Treatment of our Tax Dollars”

Acclaimed Canadian author Margaret Atwood appeared on Jian Ghomeshi’s CBC radio show Q where she spoke out against the muzzling of Canada’s taxpayer funded scientists.

Ghomeshi started the conversation with, “Margaret, you’ve recently told the Ottawa Citizen that you feel our current government is hostile to a particular kind of science. What were you thinking of particularly?”

Oh, now we’re talking!” she responded.

It’s all over the internet that the scientists that you and I pay for with our tax dollars, we’re not allow access to their actual results. They have to submit that to some kind of Big Brother bureaucrat who tells them whether or not it’s, quote, ‘on message,’ before they can tell us what they found out.”

Thu, 2014-03-20 10:48Jeff Gailus
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A Short History of Joe Oliver, Canada's New Finance Minister

joe oliver finance minister

Joe Oliver, Canada’s new federal Minister of Finance, made quite a name for himself during his tenure as Minister of Natural Resources. In his former position Oliver proved himself a fierce and outspoken defender of the oilsands as the economic engine of Canada (even if he did tend to fudge the facts). But is it just the oilsands he wants to protect from the criticisms of the public? Or is there more to his fondness for corporations in general, even at the expense of public health and the national interest?

With Oliver moving to the helm of the country’s finances, perhaps it’s time to take a look back over his notable career.

Fri, 2014-03-14 10:01Carol Linnitt
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Joe Oliver Draws Criticism For Calling Canada a “21st Century Energy Superpower"

joe oliver responsible resource development

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver is attending the East Coast Energy Conference this week, where he said: “Canada is emerging as a 21st century energy superpower – unmatched in reliability, responsibility and potential.” His comments bring Canada’s attempt to situate itself at the centre of North American energy security to the forefront.

The statement was made while addressing relations between Canada and the U.S., the world’s largest trade partnership exchanging $700 billion annually, according to a press release put out by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).

As the global middle class grows, so too will global energy demand. Canada can meet that demand: we have solid economic fundamentals and unprecedented energy wealth,” Oliver said.

Mark Jaccard, professor at Simon Fraser University’s School of Resource and Environmental Management, says the title “energy superpower” means little more than Canada’s reliance on fossil fuel exports.

Presumably it means that a country receives significant revenues from energy exports,” he told DeSmog Canada. “Linking this reality to the word ‘superpower’ might best be described by adjectives such as hubris and hype.”

Jaccard added that Canada’s rush to become an energy superpower “is like trying to become a major exporter of…social harms” because fossil fuels are the “primary cause of catastrophic climate change.”

Wed, 2014-03-12 12:58Carol Linnitt
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More than 1000 Jobs Lost, Climate Program Hit Hard in Coming Environment Canada Cuts

Alberta oilsands tar sands Kris Krug

Last year the Harper government’s decision to gut the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) led to the deft and unceremonious firing of more than 1,000 federal employees, many of them researchers, lab technicians and experts crucial to Canada’s understanding of marine science. Frontline stories of tearful staff meetings, where the devastating news was delivered en masse, convinced many Canadians we were in the midst of what is now popularly known as the ‘War on Science.’

That storyline continues today after a new Environment Canada report outlines the department’s plan to eliminate more than 1,000 jobs, a disproportionate amount of which will come from the climate change division.

The ‘plans and priorities’ report shows the department will reduce spending from more than $1 billion in 2014-2015 to $698.8 million in 2016-2017, reports the Toronto Star.

In addition program spending for Environment Canada’s climate change and clean air program will be reduced from $234.2 million in 2014-2015 to $54.8 million in 2016-2017.

Full-time equivalent jobs will drop from 6,400 this year to 5,348 in 2016-2017.

Tue, 2014-03-11 11:33Carol Linnitt
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Fair Elections Act Would “Damage…the Heart of Our Country’s Democracy,” Group of Professors Say

Fair elections act Bill C-23

The changes to Canada’s federal elections proposed in the Fair Elections Act (Bill C-23), threaten to “seriously damage the fairness and transparency of federal elections and diminish Canadians’ political participation,” according to a collective of 160 Canadian professors. The group, comprised of academics specializing in “the principles and institutions of constitutional democracy,” released an open letter Tuesday requesting the federal government “heed calls for wider consultation in vetting this Bill.”

Beyond our specific concerns about the Bill’s provisions (see below), we are alarmed at the lack of due process in drafting the Bill and in rushing it through Parliament. We see no justification for introducing legislation of such pivotal importance to our democracy without significant consultation with Elections Canada, opposition parties, and the public at large.”

The group of signatories highlight four significant concerns associated with the proposed Fair Elections Act:

Wed, 2014-02-26 12:26Indra Das
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U.S. EPA Denied Late Participation in Kinder Morgan Hearings, Exposes Shortcomings of New NEB Process

Kinder Morgan trans mountain Pipeline

The Canadian National Energy Board (NEB) rejected a request this month from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to extend the deadline to apply as a participant in the public hearings on Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion.

The EPA was unaware of a February 12 deadline to apply as a participant in hearings on the proposed $5.4 million expansion of the Vancouver-to-Edmonton Trans Mountain pipeline, which would increase its capacity from 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) of diluted bitumen to 890,000 bpd.

The pipeline expansion, which is supported by 13 oil companies, will free the flow of landlocked Albertan oil to Asian markets overseas.

The EPA reportedly needed more time to “follow through with agency protocols and procedures” before applying to take part in the hearings, according to a notice filed with the NEB.

Tue, 2014-02-25 09:23Tim McSorley
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Feds Show "Lack of Political Will to Implement Law" for At Risk Species

humpback whale mike baird

A new court ruling means that the dozens of animal species that are at risk of extinction across Canada may finally receive the support they need.

A federal court judge found that the Canadian government has been breaking the law in not following through on its obligations under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). The act, established in 2003, obliges the government to develop and implement recovery strategies for animal species in Canada at risk of extinction.

In her ruling, federal court Justice Anne L. Mactavish found that “there is clearly an enormous systemic problem within the relevant Ministries, given the respondents' acknowledgement that there remain some 167 species at risk for which recovery strategies have not yet been developed.”


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