Opinion

Wed, 2015-01-21 15:00Guest
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Oil Prices Drop As Global Warming Rises

This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

With oil prices plunging from more than $100 a barrel last summer to below $50 now, the consequences of a petro-fuelled economy are hitting home — especially in Alberta, where experts forecast a recession.

The province’s projected budget surplus has turned into a $500-million deficit on top of a $12-billion debt, with predicted revenue losses of $11 billion or more over the next three or four years if prices stay low or continue to drop as expected. Alberta’s government is talking about service reductions, public-sector wage and job cuts and even increased or new taxes on individuals. TD Bank says Canada as a whole can expect deficits over the next few years unless Ottawa takes money from its contingency fund.

Wed, 2015-01-21 09:43Guest
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Dear Harper, You Know the Rules: It’s Three Strikes You’re Out

This is a guest post by Michael Harris, author of Party of One: Stephen Harper and Canada's Radical Makeover. It originally appeared on iPolitics

In politics, as in baseball, the rule is simple: Three strikes and you’re out.

When Stephen Harper finally shambles towards the showers, head down, bat in hand, I’ll be thinking of Mighty Casey. For much of his career, Harper has umpired his own at-bats. But that role will soon — if briefly — fall to the people of Canada. Election Day is coming to Mudville.

Strike one against this government of oligarchs and corporate shills comes down to this: They have greedily championed oil and gas while doing nothing to protect air and water. Consider the piece of legislation with the Orwellian name — the Navigable Waters Protection Act. NDP house leader Nathan Cullen said it as well as anyone could:

It means the removal of almost every lake and river we know from the Navigable Waters Protection Act. From one day to the next, we went from 2.5 million protected lakes and rivers in Canada to 159 lakes and rivers protected.”

Tue, 2015-01-20 12:15Scott Vrooman
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VIDEO: By Investing in Oil Companies, You're Essentially Betting on How Long They Can Fool People

One hundred and ninety-five countries, including Canada, have formally agreed that we need to limit the Earth’s temperature rise over pre-industrial levels to two degrees. It’s uncontroversial.

Because going much beyond a two degree increase would be “incompatible with an organized global community” in the words of one of the UK’s top climate scientists. And if you’re not sure what that would look like, imagine the movie Mad Max but replace Mel Gibson’s character with a pile of hot dirt.

To have a decent chance of staying below two degrees, the world can only burn around a thousand more gigatonnes of CO2. But current fossil fuel reserves in the ground are about 3000 gigatonnes.

Tue, 2015-01-20 10:40Guest
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The Oil Shock is a Climate Opportunity and We Need to Seize it

This is a guest post by Cameron Fenton, Canadian Tar Sands Organizer with 350.org.

This week, the cover of the Economist proclaimed “the fall in the price of oil and gas provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fix bad energy policies.” The article teased on the cover explains how low oil prices create the space for governments to make rapid leaps to change energy policy instead of “tinkering at the edges” urging policy makers to use this moment to “inject some coherence into the world's energy policies.”

The article gets a lot of things right. Eliminating fossil fuel subsidies and forcing big polluters to pay for the mess they're making are crucial policy steps, but the piece also presents some more dubious proposals. The last paragraph of the Economist piece is the perfect example of the inherent dangers ahead.

Tue, 2015-01-13 16:29Guest
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Digging Out of Canada’s Mining Dilemma

This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

It sometimes seems people in the mining and fossil fuel industries — along with their government promoters — don’t believe in the future. What else could explain the mad rush to extract and use up the Earth’s resources as quickly and wastefully as possible?

Global mining production, including fossil fuels, has almost doubled since 1984, from just over nine-billion tonnes to almost 17-billion in 2012, with the greatest increases over the past 10 years.

Fri, 2015-01-09 11:29Robyn Allan
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Industry Minister James Moore Misleads, Fear Mongers to Gain Vancouver Support for Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline

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This article originally appeared on the Vancouver Observer.

Industry Minister James Moore who represents the Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam riding engaged in blatantly false fear mongering last week. He threatened a Lac Mégantic disaster if we don’t accept Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. In order to springboard from a disgusting reliance on a horrific tragedy to reach his ridiculous conclusion, he had to make stuff up.

These are desperate tactics from someone who as an elected Member of Parliament and Minister of the Crown should know better. He said, “The people of Lac Mégantic wished they had pipelines instead of rail.” If Mr. Moore and his Tory government colleagues had done their job, Lac Mégantic would not have happened. 

Instead of acting responsibly, Mr. Moore follows up his toxic logic with a distasteful chaser. “It’s very dangerous for the Lower Mainland … to have the massive spike in rail transfer of dangerous goods,” he said. Moore is reported to have pointed to the huge rail yard in the heart of Port Coquitlam claiming an increasing number of trains are arriving there carrying diluted bitumen crude that has no other way to get to foreign markets.

Thu, 2015-01-08 12:07Sandy Garossino
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Harper’s Delusional Hubris to Blame for Obama’s Keystone XL Veto

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If revenge is indeed a dish that's best served cold, the President of Cool just served up a four-star pièce de résistance for Stephen Harper.

Tuesday's announcement of Obama's planned veto of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline should not have been surprising, yet when the blow came it carried a shocking intensity.

And how did things go so badly that Canada doesn't have the heft or goodwill in Washington to add a single pipeline to a nation benoodled with them? The answer lies in the delusional hubris of Stephen Harper.

No close watcher of the president should be surprised. In myriad ways, the prime minister's personal ambition shredded our nation's single most important relationship and drew us into the toxic swamp of Washington's poisonous politics.

It's been going on for years.

Mon, 2015-01-05 15:19Guest
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Does the Harper Government Have the Credibility to be Re-Elected?

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This is a guest post by author and filmmaker Michael Harris. The article originally appeared on iPolitics and is republished here with permission.

From the cold porches of January, 2015 stretches out like a thousand miles of gravel road.

The country is facing an election that will be nasty, brutish and long — from now until the vote occurs, whenever that may be. The writ period is essentially meaningless. Under the Conservatives, it’s always game on.

True to his word, Stephen Harper has transformed the country, largely by stealth. Canada is now a nation that spies on its friends, guests and citizens. It accepts foreign intelligence even when there is a likelihood that it was obtained by torture. The government lies to the electorate on policy matters. It accuses veterans of exaggerating their injuries in order to take the taxpayer for a ride. It washes its hands of any stake in the fate of 1,200 missing or murdered Aboriginal women. It does not practise unite-and-lead politics, but divide-and-conquer stratagems. A government, by any democratic measure, in disgrace.

Thu, 2014-11-27 11:32Guest
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Pipelines and the Erosion of the National Energy Board’s Credibility

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This is a guest post by Karen Campbell, Ecojustice staff lawyer.

The dramatic events unfolding on Burnaby Mountain — where more than 100 protestors have been arrested and charged with civil contempt — has turned a white-hot spotlight on Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and the National Energy Board (NEB). And both parties are looking a little worse for wear.

Between injunctions and arrests, the furor over Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project has suddenly surpassed that other pipeline, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, in terms of controversy. You will recall that despite vociferous opposition from most First Nations and northern B.C. communities, the federal government approved Northern Gateway in June 2014. That approval is now the subject of dozens of legal challenges, including three applications filed by Ecojustice lawyers on behalf of our clients.

We are just one-third of the way through the Kinder Morgan project review, and frustration with the NEB’s stripped-down process — a product of federal environmental law rollbacks tucked into the 2012 budget bill — is steadily mounting, and may have serious implications for other projects, namely TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline.

Mon, 2014-11-24 14:04Scott Vrooman
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VIDEO: Maybe the People on Burnaby Mountain Aren't Who We Should Be Worried About

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This video, by comedian Scott Vrooman, originally appeared on the Toronto Star.

American energy corporation Kinder Morgan filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against five Trans Mountain pipeline protestors in Burnaby, B.C., because apparently nobody told them the average income of a pipeline protestor.

The National Energy Board  an anagram of “regulatory capture” — ruled that the City of Burnaby can’t stop Kinder from carrying out its work, so now the protestors are accused of trespassing in their own city’s park. Kinder solved the Not In My Backyard problem by taking the backyard.

The company also claims that protestors’ angry facial expressions constitute an assault on their workers. They’re arguing that freedom of expression doesn’t extend to your face. So I assume that if protestors draw angry faces onto their butts and display those towards Kinder Morgan workers, that won’t constitute assault. And I encourage every protestor to test that theory.

All of this comes within the context of a wider attempt to delegitimize protest itself. The University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy which just installed a new oil feature in their garden it’s lovely  they recently held a conference on “social license,” where the case was made that protestors undermine the rule of law by claiming to speak for the whole community.

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