Top News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - 15:35 • Carol Linnitt
Steve Fobister Sr. Grassy Narrows Mercury Poisoning

Former Chief of the Anishinaabe of Grassy Narrows, Steve Fobister Sr., is enduring a hunger strike to “call for justice for mercury survivors” suffering from the negative health effects of a mercury crisis that dates back to the early ‘60s.

The Grassy Narrows First Nation said it has just obtained a copy of an unreleased government report that confirms there is “no doubt” community members near Kenora, Ontario have suffered from mercury-related neurological disorders. The band says this is something the government has never before acknowledged.

The Grassy Narrows mercury crisis, which first began 1962, occurred after a nearby paper mill poisoned the Wabigoon-English river system, contaminating local fish and communities. The Dryden Chemicals pulp and paper mill leaked an estimated 9000 kilograms of mercury in the river system between 1962 and 1970. By 1970 the community was forced to stop commercial and sport fishing due to high levels of mercury contamination although, at the time, the government of Ontario maintained the fish were safe for consumption.

Fobister, with a body crippled from mercury poisoning, met with Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Zimmer on Tuesday in Toronto, telling a news conference “the struggle goes on.”

Monday, July 28, 2014 - 17:22 • Carol Linnitt
stephen harper, climate change, desmog canada, climate denial

Canada ranks among the world’s countries least likely to agree that climate change is a result of human activity, according to recently released Ipsos MORI research. The study, “Global Trends 2014,” posed a number of survey questions to individuals in 20 countries and discovered agreement with climate science is lowest in the U.S., Great Britain, Australia, Russia, Poland, Japan and Canada, respectively.

Agreement with climate science was highest in China, of all the countries surveyed, a fact that Ben Page, chief executive of Ipsos MORI, attributes to high environmental concerns in China as a result of alarming environmental pollution in the country. “In many surveys in China, environment is top concern,” he said. “In contrast, in the west, it’s a long way down the list behind the economy and crime.”

Science and political journalist Chris Mooney, points out the survey results show an interesting correlation between climate denial or skepticism and speaking English.

He writes: “Not only is the United States clearly the worst in its climate denial, but Great Britain and Australia are second and third worst, respectively. Canada, meanwhile is the seventh worst. What do these four nations have in common? They all speak the language of Shakespeare.”

Mooney outlines two possible explanations for the pattern: political ideology and media ownership.

Thursday, July 24, 2014 - 14:32 • Judith Lavoie
Third Beach, Stanley Park

Nothing is better than splashing around in the water on a hot summer day, but B.C. residents should be questioning whether that refreshing dip is going to make them sick, says Lauren Hornor, executive director of Fraser Riverkeeper, a non-profit organization working to ensure B.C. waters are safe for swimming, drinking and fishing.

This week, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority issued a “no swimming” advisory for three West Vancouver beaches due to high levels of E.coli, which can increase risk of gastro-intestinal illness.

Due to high levels of bacteria in the water swimming is not recommended at Ambleside, Dundarave and Sandy Cove beaches,” the health authority said.

While some B.C. health authorities immediately post fecal coliform bacteria levels online after receiving test results for beaches, others either do not receive regular information or do not make those figures public unless levels are dangerously high, Hornor said.

That means people do not know pollution levels at some of the region’s most popular beaches, including White Rock, Cultus Lake, Crescent Beach, Alice Lake Park Beach in Squamish and Camp Jubilee on Indian Arm, Hornor said.

Thursday, July 24, 2014 - 11:59 • Judith Lavoie
Enbridge head office Edmonton

The newly appointed head of the B.C. government’s communications branch is a former lobbyist for Enbridge Inc., the company that hopes to build the $7.9-billion Northern Gateway pipeline stretching 1,200 kilometres from the Alberta oilsands to Kitimat on the B.C. coast.

John Paul Fraser, who DeSmog Canada has learned became acting deputy minister in charge of Government Communications and Public Engagement (GCPE) earlier this month, worked as a lobbyist for National Public Relations from 2008 until shortly before moving to the B.C public service in 2011.

He previously worked for Burrard Communications Inc. — a company founded by Premier Christy Clark’s former husband Mark Marissen — where he was registered with the Federal Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada as a lobbyist on behalf of Enbridge Inc.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 07:00 • Carol Linnitt
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.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - 12:04 • Carol Linnitt
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.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - 09:45 • Emma Gilchrist
Peace River SIte C dam

A third hydroelectric dam proposed for the Peace River would flood 83 kilometres of the Peace Valley in between Fort St. John and Hudson's Hope, B.C. Dubbed the “Site C” dam, if built, it would put more than 3,800 hectares of Agricultural Land Reserve farmland — an area nearly twice the size of the city of Victoria — under water.

DeSmog Canada recently visited the Peace Valley for the ninth annual Paddle for the Peace, which attracted hundreds of paddlers from across North America. While we were there, we met with the farmers and ranchers who stand to be impacted if the dam is built.

Check out our photos below and learn more by reading our in-depth series on the plight of the Peace Valley and the Site C dam.