Top News

Friday, September 19, 2014 - 12:30 • Mike De Souza
stephen harper, climate change, desmog canada, un climate summit

This article originally appeared on mikedesouza.com.

On the eve of an international climate change summit of government leaders in New York, Canada is being challenged about its own domestic record in addressing the heat-trapping pollution that contributes to global warming.

Here’s a historical timeline of some of the major climate change policies, statements and related decisions made by Canada since 2006 when Prime Minister Stephen Harper was first elected to form a government.

From a pledge to introduce a carbon tax in 2007 to internal debates about climate change science, this timeline covers the promises and the action by the Canadian government in recent years.

Thursday, September 18, 2014 - 12:20 • Emma Gilchrist
Lake Winnipeg

In 2010, Gord Bluesky, the lands and resources manager for Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, received a disturbing photograph in his inbox.

One of my community members was at Patricia Beach. It was mid-November,” he told DeSmog Canada. “She sent me a picture of hundreds of dead frogs laying on the shoreline.”

Ever since then, Bluesky — whose community is located on the southern tip of Lake Winnipeg — has been especially concerned about his lake.

I’ve got little girls. We don’t even take them to the beach any more because it’s just too nasty,” he said.

In 2013, Lake Winnipeg was named the most threatened lake in the world by the Global Nature Fund. The biggest problem is toxic blooms of blue-green algae, sometimes so big they can be seen from space.

It’s one of the biggest tragedies of Manitoba and of Canada,” Bluesky said.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 14:30 • Chris Rose
bc farmland, kris krug, ALR, Site C dam

More than four out of five respondents to a public opinion poll released Wednesday believe that B.C. farmland — like forests and water — is a vital public asset.

In addition, 82 per cent of those responding also indicated that “selling out the [Agricultural Land Reserve] ALR is a failure of leadership and a betrayal of the public trust.”

As many as 76 per cent of those taking part in the poll said the ALR protects farms, valleys and greenspace for wildlife habitat and recreational enjoyment.

Laws protecting the ALR should be strengthened or maintained, according to 71 per cent of respondents.

The poll — BC Public Attitudes Toward Agriculture and Food 2014 — also showed 58 per cent of respondents believed “there are no acceptable reasons for removing any more farmland from the Agricultural Land Reserve anywhere in B.C.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 11:16 • Mike De Souza
tar sands, oilsands, carbon pollution, kris krug

This article originally appeared on mikedesouza.com.

You may have seen this report in the Toronto Star about a mysterious end to a secretive group [an oil and gas pollution committee] that was created to draft new rules to reduce carbon pollution from oil and gas companies.

Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq was asked about the long-delayed rules for oil companies on Tuesday in the House of Commons by NDP environment critic Megan Leslie.

Aglukkaq responded by changing the topic.

We have taken action on some of the largest sources of emissions in this country, the transportation and the electricity-generation sector,” said Aglukkaq in the Commons. “I’m also looking forward to taking part in the UN climate summit in New York next week to speak to Canada’s record in taking action on climate change.”

Leslie recommended that the federal government should “quit stalling” in addressing climate change.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - 14:49 • Carol Linnitt
CCPA audit, academics

A group of 421 academics are requesting the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) end its audit of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), a group that describes itself as “an independent, non-partisan research institute concerned with issues of social, economic and environmental justice.”

As the Canadian Press recently reported, an internal CRA document stated the audit was the result of the CCPA being “biased” and “one-sided.”

In a letter to revenue minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay the group states it is “perplexed at CRA’s decision to perform the audit…on the groups that [the CCPA] allegedly engages in politically partisan, biased and one-sided research activity.”

The CCPA is an internationally-recognized and respected research centre, built on a solid tradition of critical analysis,” the letter states. “Indeed, the CCPA plays a vital role by supplying much needed reflection on a number of policies, which it has always done in a fair and unbiased way, and which respects the fundamental tools of sound research.”

The group also criticizes the CRA, suggesting that by undertaking the audit, the CRA “fails to understand the nature of what academic research is all about.”

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - 10:48 • Chris Rose
fossil fuel subsidies, clean energy, better growth better climate, kris krug

Investments in renewable energies and low-carbon infrastructure can help the environment and the economy at the same time, says a comprehensive new report released Tuesday.

The report — Better Growth Better Climate — found that about US $90 trillion will likely be invested in infrastructure in the world’s cities, agriculture and energy systems over the next 15 years, unleashing multiple benefits including jobs, health, business productivity and quality of life.

The decisions we make now will determine the future of our economy and our climate,” Nicholas Stern, Co-Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, said in a media release.

If we choose low-carbon investment we can generate strong, high-quality growth – not just in the future, but now. But if we continue down the high-carbon route, climate change will bring severe risks to long-term prosperity,” he said.

Felipe Calderón, Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, said the report refutes the idea that humankind must choose between fighting climate change or growing the world’s economy.

That is a false dilemma,” Calderón said. “Today’s report details compelling evidence on how technological change is driving new opportunities to improve growth, create jobs, boost company profits and spur economic development. The report sends a clear message to government and private sector leaders: we can improve the economy and tackle climate change at the same time.”

Monday, September 15, 2014 - 07:24 • Emma Gilchrist
Lori Ackerman Mayor of Fort St. John

Projects like the $7.9-billion Site C dam cannot be built “on the shoulders of communities,” says the mayor of Fort St. John, B.C., a city located just seven kilometres from the proposed hydro dam and its 1,700-man work camps.

Mayor Lori Ackerman told DeSmog Canada her community is holding its breath waiting for the province’s decision on the project.

It is one of those things where we would just like the decision to be made so we know which way we’re going,” Ackerman said.

The provincial and federal governments are expected to issue a decision on the dam — the third on the Peace River — this fall.

In her January presentation to the joint review panel assessing the project, Ackerman was emphatic that  “empowering the province should not disempower Fort St. John.”

Many we spoke to felt the community would be run over by this project,” she said.  “Our community is at a saturation point for many of the services that our citizens want and need.”