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Mon, 2014-02-17 15:36Emma Gilchrist
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The Battle of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Polls

A strange chain of events played out in the Vancouver Sun in the past couple of weeks. 

First, on Feb. 5, the newspaper ran the results of a poll commissioned by Dogwood Initiative and three other B.C. non-profits that found 64 per cent of British Columbians are opposed to bringing oil tankers into B.C.’s inside waters, including 50 per cent who are strongly opposed.

(Full disclosure: I’ve worked both for Dogwood Initiative and Postmedia, the company that owns the Vancouver Sun.)

Let’s get one thing straight right away: all polls should be taken with a grain of salt. Anyone who has followed the Enbridge Northern Gateway debate closely has watched all sides of the debate trot out surveys with vastly different results. They all claim their poll gave the respondents the undisputed facts and the people have spoken. And they’re all right — in a sense.

When Enbridge itself asks the question, they focus on the pipeline, ensure respondents know it’ll be underground (I'm sure they focus-grouped the living daylights out of that one) and include lots of technical detail about things like condensate. And when Enbridge asked the question that way in late 2011, they came out with a result indicating more British Columbians were in favour of the pipeline than against it (48 per cent to 32 per cent). What you don’t see in that result is how many different ways and different times they had to ask the question to get there.

Tue, 2013-02-26 08:00Erika Thorkelson
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Mixed Messages: Harper Government Misrepresents Policy Reform in Meeting with First Nations

Documents obtained by Postmedia News under the Access to Information Act indicate that Environment Canada was telling the Assembly of First Nations one story and industry groups another in the run-up to the introduction of last year’s controversial Bill C-38, purposefully working to dispel First Nations’ fears regarding changes to the environmental reviews, even as it was seeking support from industry to make huge revisions to that process. 

A brief for a January 24th meeting with National Chief Shaun Atleo and a delegation of chiefs from across Canada encouraged the ministers in attendance, including Minister of Environment Peter Kent, to play up the government’s willingness to work with First Nations on environmental concerns and downplay fears of sweeping changes to legislation.

It stated, “Any changes to the government’s environmental assessment or project approvals regime that you may have heard of through the media are (i) speculative at this point as legislation has not been introduced to the House of Commons; (ii) will respect our duties toward Aboriginal peoples.”

This message is a stark contrast to the scenario brief for a February 2nd meeting between Environment Canada representative Michelle Rempel and Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL) VP Bill Clapperton, which indicated the Ministry of Environment was already working toward the sweeping changes to the environmental assessment process.

Fri, 2013-01-25 13:09Carol Linnitt
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Two Oil Spills in Alberta Due to Inadequate Monitoring

Companies responsible for two separate oil spills in Alberta failed to provide adequate oversight for their operations, according to federal government documents released by Environment Canada through Access to Information legislation.

The documents detail how Devon Canada and Gibson Energy violated environmental laws, including the federal Fisheries Act, when their operations cause two oil spills into fish-bearing waterways in 2010.

Gibson Energy, a midstream pipeline operator, spilled a few hundred litres of oil into an Edmonton creek after failing to properly abandon an unused pipeline. According to a warning letter issued to the company from Environment Canada, “Gibson Energy ULC made a business decision to keep the Kinder Morgan lateral full of crude oil and to not purge it with nitrogen.”

Thu, 2012-11-08 10:33Carol Linnitt
Carol Linnitt's picture

"Stephen Harper Hates Science": Federal Scientists Muzzled to Protect Tar Sands Reputation

The Canadian government is working hard behind the scenes to cover up the negative effects that tar sands extraction is having on the local environment, wildlife, communities and the global climate. According to Access to Information documents obtained by Postmedia's Mike De Souza, the Stephen Harper government has actively suppressed the release of vital information regarding the spread of tar sands contamination by muzzling federal scientists.

The gag order, according to De Souza, came on the heels of a newly researched government report in November 2011 which confirmed the findings of University of Alberta scientists Erin N. Kelly and David Schindler. The scientists discovered concentrations of toxics such as heavy metals were higher near tar sands operations, showing a positive correlation between tar sands activity and the spread of contaminants in the local environment.

The government of Canada and the government of Alberta denied the correlation, saying local waterways tested showed no signs of toxic contamination and reports of mutated and cancerous fish downstream from the tar sands were unfounded.

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