Top News

Thursday, January 22, 2015 - 17:05 • Derek Leahy
Treaty 3 Grand Chief Warren White Energy East

I do not want to be the grand chief who consented to a pipeline that’s going to destroy 30 per cent of the fresh water in Ontario, in Treaty 3 territory,” Treaty 3 Grand Chief Warren White said in a speech outlining his objections to TransCanada’s proposed Energy East oil pipeline last week.

I did not come here for consultation. I came here to let everyone know what Energy East is all about…In unity in Treaty 3 we will be the ones to stop this. Our communities, our youth, our leadership are being called on by other nations,” White, while presenting at a public meeting hosted by the Ontario Energy Board in Kenora, Ontario, stated.

TransCanada “low balled” and “tried to pull a fast one” on Treaty 3 chiefs, according to White. The pipeline company agreed to participate in a consultation process based on Treaty 3 Resource Law or Manito Aki Inakonigaawin in Anishinaabe (Ojibwe), but failed to actually engaged in the process. TransCanada was a no-show for a meeting with Treaty 3 chiefs on December 21st last year.

I am very upset right now and you put that in your report that Energy East, TransCanada whatever you wanna call it, are there for the dollar signs, and nothing about the land, nothing about how we survive,” White said.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 - 17:06 • Carol Linnitt

Forget press releases. Forget press agents, publicists. Forget advertorials and sponsored content and native content. Forget all of it.

If what you want for your company, your government bureau, is total control of a news story, why bother with the pesky journalists who are going to check the facts and get the other side of the story?

No. Here’s what you do: write your own news story.”

That’s the sardonic strategy Jesse Brown, reporter and host of Canadaland, recently outlined on a show dedicated to News Canada, a federally-funded public relations body and news wire service which was recently awarded $1.25 million to distribute hand-out news content meant to “inform and educate Canadians on public issues.”

The story of News Canada receiving a 25 per cent increase in government funding from Public Works Canada was first reported by Blacklock’s Reporter Tom Korski.

News Canada Ltd. president Shelly Middlebrook told Korski the service provides content to media editors and that “journalists either pick it up or they don’t.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 - 13:04 • Carol Linnitt

Today marks five years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the wrong way on the Citizens United case, allowing unlimited spending by corporations in elections. Protesters in Washington spent the morning disrupting the Supreme Court to register their frustration with the ruling, yelling “overturn Citizens United!” from the back of the courtroom.

In case you haven't seen the documentary film “Koch Brothers Exposed,” Brave New Films is offering the film free online for anyone to view.

I asked Mike Damanskis, a comedian, filmmaker and social media manager at Brave New Films, about the decision and what they hope to achieve by doing it. Read on for our Q&A.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 - 11:11 • Justin Mikulka

Are you more desperate to get a better deal when you’re poor? I guess you are.”

That was John Auers, executive vice president of oil industry consulting firm Turner Mason & Company, describing the oil industry as being “poor” and “desperate” to Bloomberg.

As the oil industry cries poverty due to low oil prices in an effort to justify its attempts to lift all restrictions on exporting crude oil produced in the U.S., it is helpful to remember that this is an industry that was demanding tax breaks for oil production even when, in 2013, the top 5 companies made a combined $93 billion in profits. In just the second quarter of 2014 alone, a year of poverty and desperation, as the industry tells it, ExxonMobil made $8.8 billion in profit.

The “better deals” that John Auers was talking about are to be found on the global market, which technically isn’t open to those “poor” U.S. crude oil producers due to the crude oil export ban. Crude oil that is produced in the U.S. is worth more if it is sold on the world market than if it is sold in the United States.

So, it should come as no surprise that in November, as oil prices began falling, U.S. producers went about finding ways to export oil using some existing exemptions from the Reagan era as well as some new approaches. Their efforts resulted in the U.S. breaking the all-time monthly export record in November 2014. The previous record was set in 1957, a time when there was no export ban.

Monday, January 19, 2015 - 16:28 • Carol Linnitt

The National Energy Board ruled in favour of Kinder Morgan Friday, allowing the company to keep its emergency response plans for the expanded Trans Mountain pipeline secret.

Kinder Morgan fought the province of British Columbia’s demands to disclose its emergency response plans for the $6.5 billion pipeline expansion that will triple the amount of oilsands crude moving from Alberta to the Burrard Inlet, arguing the information is too “sensitive.”

In a statement Kinder Morgan argued “it is not appropriate to file security sensitive information about facility operations and countermeasures.”

Eoin Madden with the Wilderness Committee, an intervenor in the Trans Mountain hearing process, said he wished this ruling came as more of a surprise.

I’d love for it to be news, but basically for the last year or so we’ve watched more and more information be denied to us intervenors in the National Energy Board process.”

Friday, January 16, 2015 - 11:27 • Sean Holman
Access to Information Canada

In their recently published book Your Right to Know, journalists Jim Bronskill and David McKie have done yeomans' work explaining how Canadians can use freedom of information requests to get government secrets. But, at the federal level, it's work they shouldn't have needed to do - pointing to another problem with Canada's broken access to information laws.

Introduced in 1980 by Pierre Trudeau's Liberals, the Access to Information Act gave Canadians a limited right to request government records. The bureaucracy's filing cabinets could now metaphorically be opened by anyone - unless the records in them included 75 different kinds of information that would still be considered secret.

But, even with those limits, the Trudeau administration seemed to have little interest in telling voters about their newfound rights or how to exercise them.

Thursday, January 15, 2015 - 10:30 • Alison Loat

Canadians give more of their time to the non-profit sector than to organized politics.

While only 10 per cent have volunteered on a political campaign in the last five years, 55 per cent report having volunteered for a non-profit in the past year. An even larger proportion, about 58 per cent, report being involved with a non-profit community group.

Due to several troubling indicators of the health of Canadian democracy, my non-profit group Samara developed the Democracy Talks program to understand Canadians’ experiences with politics and the barriers they face to political participation.

A number of Democracy Talks participants explained that the social aspect and participatory nature of working with community groups makes them much more inviting than political offices or parties. In contrast to the frustration or power imbalance they’ve felt with political organizations, they feel welcomed and encouraged by community groups to make a difference on their chosen issue.