Opinion

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.

Sat, 2014-11-22 17:56Carol Linnitt
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Canada’s Petro-Politics Playing Out on B.C.’s Burnaby Mountain

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The way tensions between pipeline opponents and Kinder Morgan contractors have escalated during the last week should come as a surprise to no one.

The mishandling of the National Energy Board review of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker proposal has created the conditions for the situation now unfolding on the mountainside.

And with the continuing loss of faith in these federal reviews — which even before being refigured to “expedite” energy proposals were already ill-equipped to grapple with the larger societal issues, such as climate change, related to energy proposals — we can expect to see more controversy across B.C. and likely along the route of TransCanada’s Energy East.

How did it come to this?

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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