Top News

Saturday, February 28, 2015 - 13:05 • Judith Lavoie

A small, shy whale, may be one of the rarest marine mammals along the coast of B.C., but remarkably little is known about minke whales and the threats they face in the north-east Pacific, according to Jared Towers, research director with the Marine Education and Research Society.

Seldom-seen minke whales  unlike the splashier and much-studied killer whales and humpbacks found in B.C. waters  have no special protection, either in Canada or the U.S, and, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, more research is needed.

Information is essential if minkes are to be protected from hazards such as oil spills and vessel strikes, Towers said.

Numbers in B.C are likely to be about 388, with another 478 animals off the Washington, Oregon and California coast, Towers said.

The numbers are really much less than expected…Their numbers are probably much less than the number of killer whales,” he said.

Friday, February 27, 2015 - 12:18 • Carol Linnitt
harper, anti-terrorism, C-51

Legal experts from across Canada are urging all parliamentarians to “ensure that C-51 not be enacted in anything resembling its present form.” They argue, in an open letter published on the National Post, that the federal government’s anti-terrorism bill is a “dangerous piece of legislation” that has not been given due debate. The Harper government decided to cut off a second reading debate of the bill on February 23, after less than three days of discussion.

The authors of the letter note the lack of debate is a “troubling undermining of our parliamentary democracy’s ability to hold majority governments accountable.”

It is sadly ironic that democratic debate is being curtailed on a bill that vastly expands the scope of covert state activity when that activity will be subject to poor or non-existent democratic oversight or review.”

The full text of the open letter is reproduced below:

Thursday, February 26, 2015 - 15:36 • Carol Linnitt
Burnaby Mountain Protesters Face RCMP, Mark Klotz

The federal government’s anti-terrorism bill C-51 was the subject of heated parliamentary debate recently after revelations that the RCMP characterized pipeline opponents and First Nations as “violent anti-petroleum extremists” in a leaked internal intelligence report.

NDP environment critic Megan Leslie argued the leaked RCMP document, which labeled Canada’s environment movement as “a growing and violent threat to Canada’s security,” displays precisely how bill C-51 could be used to deploy anti-terrorism legislation against environmental activism deemed to be “unlawful.”

Because protests carried out without proper municipal permits can be deemed “unlawful” the proposed bill has serious implications for environmental and aboriginal groups, Leslie said.

A lot hinges on that word ‘unlawful,’ ” she said during a recent question period in parliament.

This is dangerous legislation, because if there is a wildcat strike or an occupy movement – an occupation of town property, such as the camps that we saw set up – that activity, under the eyes of CSIS or the current government, could potentially undermine the security of Canada without the right municipal permit, and it could all of a sudden be scooped up into this anti-terrorism legislation.”

Every single word here matters,” Leslie said.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - 17:29 • Carol Linnitt
kinder morgan pipeline, trans mountain spill response plans

Since DeSmog Canada broke the story two weeks ago that Kinder Morgan publicly released its emergency oil spill plans for the Trans Mountain pipeline in Washington State while withholding or severely redacting the exact same plans in B.C., there's been a firestorm of activity on the topic.

The story has now been covered by the Globe and Mail, the CBC and the Canadian Press, the issue was raised in the House of Commons this week and the president of Kinder Morgan and the chair of the National Energy Board (NEB) have been forced to respond.

Kinder Morgan and the NEB angered the B.C. government in January after ruling the company could keep spill response plans for the proposed oilsands pipeline secret due to “security concerns.”

This week Kinder Morgan president Ian Anderson defended the company’s actions, saying the NEB did not demand disclosure of the plans.

We in no way want to have this perceived lack of transparency around our emergency response plans as any indication of us wanting to hide anything or keep anything a secret,” Anderson said.

Monday, February 23, 2015 - 14:57 • Carol Linnitt
Oil tanker, Kinder Morgan, Whale Habitat, humpback

A report submitted to the National Energy Board (NEB) by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) points to “insufficient information and analysis” in Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion proposal as it relates to whale populations off the coast of British Columbia.

There are deficiencies in both the assessment of potential effects resulting from ship strikes and exposure to underwater noise in the Trans Mountain Expansion Project Application documents,” the report says. “Ship strike is a threat of conservation concern, especially for…Fin Whales, Humpback Whales and other baleen whales.”

The report concludes that an increase in shipping intensity related to Kinder Morgan’s proposal would lead to an increase in threats to whale populations that occupy the Strait of Georgia and the Juan de Fuca Strait.

Monday, February 23, 2015 - 09:31 • Ben Jervey

Thanks to a bombshell investigation reported over the weekend by The New York TimesThe Guardian, Inside Climate News and more, we now know that the prominent climate denialist Willie Soon, oft-cited by climate denying politicians and industry figures, calls his publications “deliverables” to his fossil fuel funders.

Some of these “deliverables” have even found their way into the reports produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), generally regarded as the most comprehensive evaluation of the current state of climate science.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 10:53 • Carol Linnitt

An internal Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) document (provided in full below) warns “violent anti-petroleum extremists” driven by an “anti-petroleum ideology” pose a criminal threat to Canada’s oil and gas industry. The document, reported on today by the Globe and Mail, reveals growing concern within the RCMP about opponents of pipelines or fracking and “violent aboriginal extremists,” suggesting they have the ability to incite criminal activity across the country.

Yet representatives from Canada’s broad environmental movement say the document is another example of the Harper government’s efforts to criminalize legitimate civil dissent such as peaceful climate activism and pipeline opposition.

The document, a Critical Infrastructure Intelligence Assessment report from early 2014 originally obtained by Greenpeace, provides “intelligence and/or information” that “may be used to assist in the protection of Canada’s [critical infrastructure],” such as pipelines and other oil and gas infrastructure. In recent years, discussion of Canada’s critical infrastructure (CI) has shifted from a focus on digital and electricity networks to energy-related infrastructure.

The RCMP intelligence report suggests growing opposition movements against pipelines should be seen and treated as criminal security threats although groups mentioned in the report are quick to point out the document fits into a much larger strategy, led by the Harper government, to beat back pipeline or oilsands opponents.

This is absolutely the criminalization of peaceful protest,” Keith Stewart from Greenpeace Canada, one of the groups named in the document, said.