Carol Linnitt's blog

Enbridge, Canadian Government on Trial as Major Legal Challenge Against Northern Gateway Pipeline Begins in Vancouver

Starting today the federal government will face 18 separate challenges against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline in the Federal Court of Appeal in Vancouver.

A consolidated group of environmental organizations, one labour union and First Nations are fighting the approval of the project on the grounds that the federal government violated First Nations rights, failed to protect species at risk and did not consider the full impacts of an oil spill in its decision.

Chris Tollefson, lawyer from the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre and counsel for appellant B.C. Nature, said the case demonstrates the importance of due process when making decisions on major infrastructure projects like oil and gas pipelines.

This case has the potential to affirm how important it is to have a robust federal environmental assessment law that holds project proponents to account,” he said.

Challenges presented by First Nations appellants will be presented over the next two days, Tollefson explained, with environmental groups following. The trial will stretch over six days, the longest a case has ever been before the Federal Court of Appeals.

Half of Albertans Think Oilsands are Large Enough, Majority Want Stronger Climate Policies, According to New Poll

A poll of more than 1,800 Albertans conducted by EKOS Research Associates shows more than half the population wants the province to take stronger climate action by introducing policies that limit carbon emissions.

The poll, commissioned by the Pembina Institute, also found 50 per cent of Albertans are in support of a broad price on carbon that would apply to both consumers and producers. Support for a price on carbon jumped by another 10 to 20 per cent if the money generated from the tax were to go towards carbon reducing technologies or projects.

Results also show a large portion of Albertans (66 per cent) want to diversify the province’s economy rather than up the competitiveness of the oil and gas industry (29 per cent). Forty-eight per cent of Albertans who took the poll said they feel the oilsands are large enough or should be downsized.

It’s encouraging to see such strong support among Albertans for action on climate change,” Simon Dyer, Alberta regional director for the Pembina Institute, said.

This poll shows that the public is open to many of the solutions being considered, such as an economy-wide price on carbon pollution, or phasing out coal power and replacing it with renewables.”

Environmental Issues Demand Work Across Party Lines: Interview with GreenPAC's Aaron Freeman

Aaron Freeman has been working on environmental policy, in one fashion or another, in Canada for 25 years — long enough to witness what he calls the steady decline of environmental priorities in Ottawa.

And yet the majority of Canadians claim they care deeply about the environment and expect governments to act on major environmental problems like climate change. So how to resolve the disconnect?

Freeman launched GreenPAC, a non-partisan political action committee, in March as a way of mending the divide between environmental concerns and environmental action at the political level.

Recently GreenPAC released a list of environmental champions from across the political spectrum and urged Canadians to support their campaigns.

DeSmog Canada asked Freeman to break down how he sees strong support for environmental candidates making the difference when it comes to making environment a top priority in Ottawa once again.

GreenPAC Moves Beyond Partisan Divide With Endorsement of 18 Environmental Candidates from Across Political Parties

There are 18 political leaders notable for their contribution to the Canadian environment and worth voting for in the upcoming federal election, according to GreenPAC, a non-partisan political action committee.

The group called upon the opinion of an expert panel in identifying the candidates who come from across the political spectrum.

We need a force that is politically relevant in our electoral system that sends a strong message to parties that environment matters — that it matters politically. And right now we don’t have that,” Aaron Freeman, GreenPAC founder and president, told DeSmog Canada.

The way to do that is by embedding leadership in all political parties,” he said.

Freeman said translating Canada’s broad support for environmental issues into support for key candidates in an important way to make environment a political priority in Ottawa.

We’re in the business of recruiting, nominating, electing and supporting environmental leadership,” Freeman said. “So we are building a conversation, we’re building a community of people in different parts of the country who want to do that, who want to build leadership at the local and national level.”

Fraser Institute and Other Right-Wing Charities Underreporting Political Activities to CRA: Broadbent Institute Report

A new report from the Broadbent Institute is raising questions once again about the political activity audits conducted by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and whether or not the agency has unfairly focused on charities with missions that don’t align with the interests of the federal government.

The report finds nine out of 10 prominent right-wing charities claimed zero per cent of their budgets were used for political activity in the most recent fiscal year. The final filing for the tenth organization has yet to be submitted or made public by the CRA.

The report is an update of a similar October 2014 investigation, which discovered all 10 charitable organizations reported zero political activities between 2011 and 2013. That investigation led the Broadbent Institute to call for an independent inquiry into the CRA’s audits to ensure charities under investigation aren’t the target of political attack.

The new report, which reviews the 2014 filings of the 10 organizations in light of their public activities, renews calls for an independent inquiry “to ensure transparency and fairness in the CRA’s decision-making.”

David Schindler: Canada Spending its Way into Dangerous Water Debt

It’s no surprise, after California’s five-year drought that is now creeping northwards, experts have water on the mind.

The drought-plagued forests that burned across the continent this summer offered a glimpse of our future world, according to retired scientists David Schindler, who told an audience last week that the ash-laden air and sepia skies of summer 2015 are to become the new normal in a hotter and drier world.

Schindler, a Rhodes Scholar and professor emeritus at the University of Alberta’s Department of Biological Sciences, spoke at The Walrus Talks in Victoria, an event that brought together authors and experts all with stories to tell about our most overlooked resource: water.

When I agreed to give a Walrus Talk last spring on the topic of climate warming and fresh water I couldn’t have known that the summer of 2015 was going to be a poster child that would display most of these symptoms that I’ve been studying for 25 years or more,” he said.

In this part of B.C. you enjoyed the summer of water rationing and red suns set in a grey sky with air quality that you normally wouldn’t see outside of Beijing. You’re getting a good idea of quality of life that we’re facing ahead if we continue to operate as business as usual.”


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