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Thursday, December 18, 2014 - 12:00 • Carol Linnitt
first nations harper amnesty kris krug

Responsible Resource Development.”

World-Class Environmental Monitoring.”

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity.”

These are just some of the titles to emerge from the Harper government in recent years to pleasantly describe what is otherwise seen as a myopic and undemocratic program of increased resource extraction across the country. Yet, according to a new report released by the human rights watch group Amnesty International, Canada’s pursuit of energy superstardom has sidelined the nation’s human rights issues.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 - 13:23 • Judith Lavoie
Jumbo Glacier ski resort

A provincial delay in deciding whether construction of Jumbo Glacier Resort has substantially started is giving hope to opponents that close scrutiny will lead to the province yanking the resort’s environmental assessment certificate.

It seems impossible to me that a minister with even the slightest self-respect could look at this and proceed with it,” said Norm Macdonald, Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA.

In order to keep the environmental assessment certificate, first issued in 2004, Glacier Resorts Ltd. had to prove by mid-October that substantial progress had been made on construction of the billion-dollar, all-season ski resort in the remote heart of the Purcell Mountains.

Concrete slab foundations were poured in October for the day lodge, lift and service building, but the day lodge was moved from the original plans to an area that a report by Meiklejohn Architects concluded is outside the land tenure. The new location also puts the lodge directly in the path of high-magnitude, high-frequency avalanches, according to local mountain guides and RK Heliski, a company that has operated in the area for 44 years.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 - 12:38 • Kevin Grandia
New York Fracking Ban, Quebec

Two big blows to the natural gas industry have come in less than 24 hours, with both the province of Quebec and New York state effectively banning shale gas extraction over concerns with the process of hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. “fracking”). 

Fracking allows for the cheap extraction of natural gas from shale deposits that were previously inaccessible, and it is responsible for both the boom in natural gas production as well as the correlate controversy. 

Citing public health and environmental concerns, Quebec Premier Phillipe Couillard announced yesterday that there would be no shale gas development in his province. The day prior Quebec's environmental review board released a report finding that there are “too many potential negative consequences to the environment and to society from extracting natural gas from shale rock deposits along the St. Lawrence River.”

Today New York State made a similar move imposing an outright ban on fracking.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 - 16:20 • Emma Gilchrist
Ken Boon

The moment I caught wind that the B.C. government’s decision on the Site C dam was coming down, my mind gravitated to Ken and Arlene Boon’s farm in the Peace River valley.

It was there that under the hot July sun, the Boons showed me around their 640-acre property that's hosted five generations of their family.

If the Site C dam is built, as the B.C. government announced Tuesday it will be, much of the Boon’s farm will be underwater as part of the 55 square kilometres of river valley that will be flooded.

It’s impossible to replace when you have this kind of history,” Arlene said. “I don’t want to be a millionaire. I just want to be happy on this land.”

You wouldn't think dozens of farmers and ranchers are going to lose their livelihoods based on the tone of Tuesday's press conference. The event to announce the go-ahead for the most expensive project in B.C. history was a BC Hydro love-in, full of pats on the back for the leaders of the project.

This is a decision that is going to make a real difference for 100 years,” Premier Christy Clark said.

Jessica McDonald, BC Hydro CEO, chimed in with: “This is a day of exciting new beginnings for BC Hydro.”

Monday, December 15, 2014 - 10:10 • Allan Northcott
Canada Revenue Agency

Good public policy improves the lives of Canadians, and contributions from civil society groups can significantly improve the public policy that governments make. Despite the benefits of working well together — to both sides, and to Canadians overall — relationships between the sector and governments are not without challenges.

Note: the term “civil society groups” includes both nonprofits, which have no limits on their political activities, and charities, which have well-defined limits on their “political activities,” as described below.

In the last three years, many within the charitable sector have become concerned about Canada Revenue Agency audits focused on political activities, but few realize that controversy over the regulation of charities dates back decades in our country.

The current controversy revolves around 52 charites being audited in a $13.4 million program launched by the federal government in 2012 to determine whether any are violating a rule that limits spending on political activities to 10 per cent of resources. Some of those charities, including Environmental Defence, the David Suzuki Foundation, Canada Without Poverty, Ecology Action Centre and Equiterre, have gone public with the fact they are undergoing audits.

Saturday, December 13, 2014 - 09:02 • Carol Linnitt
obama harper

Right now Canada is participating in the final day of the 20th annual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Lima, Peru. The country already caught flack for thinking a progressive stance on hydrofluorocarbons will convince the international community Canada is doing its due diligence when it comes to the world’s problem of growing greenhouse gas emissions. To make matters worse, this week Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced in the House of Commons that it would be “crazy” to regulate emissions in Canada’s oil and gas sector, signaling the long-overdue rules are no longer on the table.

Meanwhile in Peru, Canadian delegates are working hard to keep Canada’s oil and gas sector off the climate-negotiating table, despite the genuine efforts from nations across the planet to come to a meaningful agreement for addressing the globe’s growing carbon emissions problem. As a result, Canadian NGOs are saying the country is losing its international credibility. As the disappointing climate talks close today in Lima many countries are saying wealthy nations like Canada are creating an atmosphere of distrust and vulnerability by delaying meaningful, collaborative climate action.

So looking ahead to COP21 in Paris, Canada will have to do more than delay and obscure its climate problems with miniscule good deeds if it wants to show the world we deserve a big kid chair at the negotiations table.

Here are 10 things Canada would be doing if we were actually serious about addressing climate change at COP20 in Lima and beyond.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - 21:01 • Heather Libby
stephen harper, carbon tax

Last night Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his house band, the Van Cats, took to the stage at a Conservative Christmas Party in Ottawa. Seated at the keyboard, the Prime Minister warbled through a performance of the Guns n’Roses classic ‘Sweet Child of Mine.’

Less than 24 hour earlier that the Prime Minister was singing a different tune.

Earlier in the day, the Harper railed against the concept of carbon taxes and regulation of the fossil fuel industry during Question Period in the House of Commons. In response to questions from NDP environment critic Megan Leslie about the Conservative’s 2007 pledge to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, he replied:

Under the current circumstances of the oil and gas sector, it would be crazy — it would be crazy economic policy to do unilateral penalties on that sector; we're clearly not going to do that. …In fact, Mr. Speaker, nobody in the world is regulating their oil and gas sector. I would be delighted if they did. Canada would be there with them.”

All of the above are indeed words, but when used by the Prime Minister in this combination they give a result that’s completely and egregiously incorrect.