Opinion

Thu, 2014-11-13 11:03Guest
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Jumbo: The Only B.C. Municipality That Won’t Vote This Saturday

#democracyforjumbo

This is a guest post by Gerry Taft, the mayor of Invermere.

When most of us think of a small town, we think of friendly neighbours and quiet streets — the type of place where you know almost everyone. I’m privileged to be elected as mayor of Invermere, B.C., which is pretty close to being a perfect small town. 

However, about 55 kilometres from Invermere, down rough old logging and mining roads, lies another kind of “small town.”

The “small town” of Jumbo, also known as the Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality, is not home to friendly neighbours or quiet streets. In fact, it is completely empty — a wilderness with no residents and no buildings.

On Nov. 15th, when every other town in B.C. will vote for new municipal leaders, there will be no voting in Jumbo.

Sat, 2014-11-01 14:20Scott Vrooman
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Dear CRA, Who Watches The Birdwatcher Watcher?

The below video originally appeared on the Toronto Star.

Birdwatchers – the paparazzi of the natural world – are subverting our democracy according to the Canada Revenue Agency – the overbearing mother of the financial world.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists, a registered charity, recently wrote a letter to federal cabinet members complaining about pesticides linked to dying bees. Shortly after, they got a letter from CRA warning them to “refrain from undertaking any partisan activities.” Activities like their dogmatic anti-bee-death manifesto.

It’s part of a recent crackdown on charities for political activities. CRA rules state that to get tax-free status a charity must be non-partisan. But what charity isn’t partisan? They all support something. We don’t say “Okay, we’ve heard from the ice-bucket challenge guys, but let’s give the pro-ALS folks a chance to weigh in on this… and their buckets of lava.”

Tue, 2014-10-14 07:58Sandy Garossino
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Christy Clark's Proposed Societies Act Overhaul Is Breathtakingly Stupid

Enbridge protest

B.C.'s Christy Clark government is proposing to overhaul the Societies Act, and they've distributed a snoozer of a White Paper to let you know all about it.

If you've dozed off already, WAKE UP, because there's a massive zinger quietly planted deep inside. You can do something about it — more on that at the end of this post. But unmentioned in any preamble or executive summary, Section 99 allows any person (including corporations) to take any registered society to court that they believe is acting contrary to the public interest — whatever that is.

Here it is:

Complaints by public

99 (1) A person whom the court considers to be an appropriate person to make an
application under this section may apply to the court for an order under this
section on the grounds that a society

(b) is carrying on activities that are detrimental to the public interest.

In other words, environmental non-profit groups better watch their step because they're in the cross-hairs. Premier Clark is handing the legal hammer to Enbridge, Kinder Morgan, ExxonMobil, Koch, Encana, Chevron, Sinopec, Suncor and the entire B.C. LNG sector to tie non-profits up in court for years.

Sat, 2014-10-11 09:39Guest
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Thanksgiving in the Jumbo Republic

Jumbo Glacier ski resort

This is a guest post by Troy Sebastian, special projects coordinator for Ktunaxa Nation Council.

Amid the succulent smells of turkey and spice this Thanksgiving weekend, another season draws near.

In every municipality in British Columbia, lawn signs are popping up like plywood pumpkin patches. Door knocking has begun in earnest and no baby is safe from obligatory photo ops. Hand shakes and promises — the currency of democracy — reign once more.

Every town in the province is gearing up for municipal elections a month from now, except for one — the Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality.

The reason is simple: Jumbo is a town without residents.

Thu, 2014-09-25 08:40Emma Gilchrist
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Five Reasons B.C. Should Say No to the Site C Dam

Site C dam

A recent poll found only six in 10 British Columbians have heard of BC Hydro’s $8 billion proposal to build a third hydroelectric dam on the Peace River.

But the decision about whether to build the Site C dam will directly affect all of us — from the implications for our electricity bills to the flooding of some of B.C.'s best agricultural land.

After more than 30 years on the books, the provincial and federal governments are expected to decide on the project by Oct. 22..

I only want to build Site C if it makes the most sense for the people of the province,” B.C.’s Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett told the Vancouver Sun on Sept. 10.

So, does Site C make sense for the people of B.C.?

Mon, 2014-09-08 08:58Guest
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Oil in Tankers Not Our Responsibility, Says Kinder Morgan, Recalling Exxon Valdez Lessons

exxon valdez cleanup provides lessons for kinder morgan

This is a guest post by Glen Thompson. It originally appeared on Abbotsford Today the Watershed Sentinel and is republished here with permission.

Once the oil leaves the dock, Kinder Morgan holds no obligation or responsibility, even 10 metres out – that’s the carrier’s liability.”

At the last two information events in Chilliwack, Kinder Morgan brought a large team of professionals and specialized aids to cover an exhaustive range of issues. Resembling a Royal Commission, everything concerning the proposed pipeline was in the tow of a Subject Matter Expert and neatly secured in a rolling briefcase.

The first audience was the full Board of the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) and the second, an invited group of government regulatory officials, community leaders and representatives of major environmental organizations. Audiences with a formidable amount of assembled oversight.

The new pipeline, it seems, is as complicated as the first mission to the moon, with a robust 15,000 page draft plan, guiding a small army of civil engineers, scientists, and project leads. It took no less than nine expert presenters with technical analysts standing by, to present an hour and a half project overview to the FVRD Board.
  

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Sitting two rows deep, the project leads extolled advanced science and gleaned wisdom distilled from forensic analysis of past catastrophes. The presentation team successfully stick-handled their way through the Boards member’s queries; air quality, the depth of the pipeline in deep rooted agricultural crops, financial compensation capacity and riparian protection.

Mon, 2014-08-25 10:16Guest
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No, You're Not Entitled to Your Own Opinion

Conversation, DeSmog Canada, Dialogue, Opinion vs Facts

This is guest post by Dr. Patrick Stokes, professor of philosophy at Deakin University. It originally appeared on The Conversation and is republished here with permission.

Every year, I try to do at least two things with my students at least once. First, I make a point of addressing them as “philosophers” – a bit cheesy, but hopefully it encourages active learning.

Secondly, I say something like this: “I’m sure you’ve heard the expression ‘everyone is entitled to their opinion.’ Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself, maybe to head off an argument or bring one to a close. Well, as soon as you walk into this room, it’s no longer true. You are not entitled to your opinion. You are only entitled to what you can argue for.”

A bit harsh? Perhaps, but philosophy teachers owe it to our students to teach them how to construct and defend an argument – and to recognize when a belief has become indefensible.

Fri, 2014-08-15 13:00Carol Linnitt
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Swapping Red Tape for Caution Tape: Why B.C. Can Expect More Mount Polleys

mount polley mine tailings pond breach in BC

As we pull up to the mouth of the Hazeltine Creek, where billions of litres of mining waste from the Imperial Metals Mount Polley mine spilled into Quesnel Lake on August 4th, I’m thinking to myself what numerous locals have recently said to me: this shouldn’t have happened.

All of the warning signs were present that the waste pit for the mine was overburdened: employees raised the alarm, government citations were issued, engineering reports contained warnings.

It shouldn’t have happened, and yet it did.

Wed, 2014-08-06 10:01Guest
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Canada Needs Some Serious Climate Honesty

climate oilsands, kris krug, mark jaccard, harper government

This is a guest post by Mark Jaccard, professor of sustainable energy at Simon Fraser University. 

In 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government asked me and four other economists if we agreed with its study showing huge costs for Canada to meet its Kyoto commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2010. We all publicly agreed, much to the chagrin of the Liberals, NDP and Greens, who argued that Kyoto was still achievable without crashing the economy. It wasn’t.

As economists, we knew that the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien should have implemented effective policies right after signing Kyoto in 1997. It takes at least a decade to significantly reduce emissions via energy efficiency, switching to renewables, and perhaps capturing carbon dioxide from coal plants and oilsands. Each year of delay jacks up costs.

Mr. Harper’s government knew this too. Years later, when environment minister Peter Kent formally withdrew Canada from Kyoto, he charged the previous Liberal government with “incompetence” for not enacting necessary policies in time to meet their target.

Tue, 2014-07-29 10:26Guest
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"The West Wants Out" of Ottawa's Energy Superpower Plan

chief ian campbell of the squamish first nation

This is a guest post by Will Horter, executive director of the Dogwood Initiative. It was originally published in the Toronto Star.

Earthquakes happen rarely in Canadian politics, but the fault lines are shifting again on the West Coast. As the next federal election draws closer, conditions below the surface should remind political observers of another seismic event a generation ago.

Back in the early 1990s, Stephen Harper and the insurgent Reform Party forced a tectonic shift, unleashing a powerful wave of western alienation that has realigned Canadian politics to this day. Their slogan was: “The West wants in.”

You could sum up the feeling in British Columbia lately as, “The West wants out.” Today you could get in your car in Kenora and drive clear across the Prairies to the coast without ever leaving a blue Conservative riding. But the road through the Rocky Mountains could become tricky indeed if Harper’s party doesn’t change course.

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