Saturday, February 25, 2017 - 16:50 • Michael Harris
Justin Trudeau, Broken Promises

This article originally appeared on iPolitics.

The man sitting at the head of the table has a face that should be on money.

It is calm, etched with wrinkle lines of infinite patience, utterly immune to honeyed words. Grand Chief Stewart Phillip has heard more vows than the parsons in Reno’s drive-thru wedding chapels — most of them destined to be broken by the politicians who made them. Yet behind the softness, the weary eyes suggest something else. These are undefeated eyes.

I am in the downtown Vancouver boardroom of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs and the gentle voice is saying some very tough things.

My wife and I were scheduled to march in the Chinese New Year’s parade in Vancouver, until we found out that Trudeau was going to be there,” he says. “No way was I going to meet him unless I was on one side of the barrier, and he was on the other.”

Thursday, February 23, 2017 - 16:24 • Carol Linnitt
Shawnigan Lake
Shawnigan Lake

B.C. environment minister Mark Polak announced today she is revoking a permit granted to Cobble Hill Holdings for the disposal of 5 million tonnes of contaminated waste in a local quarry in the Shawnigan Lake watershed, roughly 40 kilometres north of Victoria on Vancouver Island.

Effective immediately, I am cancelling the waste discharge permit for Cobble Hill Holdings because the company has failed to meet the requirements outlined in my Jan. 27 letter,” the minister stated in a press release.

Polak said the company did not provide B.C. with proof of financial security in the form of a letter of credit by a determined deadline.

Cobble Hill Holdings has been given multiple opportunities to respond to outstanding non-compliance and has repeatedly missed deadlines with respect to its permit requirements,” the minister stated.

The company was cited for non-compliance both this fall and last for failing to control water runoff from the waste site, a fact that heightened concerns of Shawnigan Lake residents who felt that the project would contaminate their drinking water.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 11:43 • Eric Swanson
Winter Coast Salish Gathering. Photo by Zack Embree.
Winter Coast Salish Gathering. Photo by Zack Embree.

With federal decisions on major oil pipeline and tanker projects in the headlines, many suggest our elected officials should lean more on science to make these kinds of decisions.

Those exhortations sound very reasonable. But they reveal an enormously important misunderstanding about the role of science in making decisions on major resource projects.

Take the case of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project on the West Coast.

On one side, you have staunch opposition from the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and other coastal and Fraser River First Nations, West Coast municipalities like Vancouver, Burnaby and Victoria, and a sizable percentage of B.C.’s voting public.

On the other side, you have staunch support from Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, the mayors of Calgary and Edmonton, and a sizable percentage of Alberta’s voting public.

Tweet: 'Is one side simply too dumb to understand the science — or simply willing to flatly ignore it?' #bcpoli #cdnpoliIs one side simply too dumb to understand the science — or simply willing to flatly ignore it?

Of course not.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 13:30 • James Wilt
Wind River in the Peel Watershed. Photo by Peter Maher
Wind River in the Peel Watershed. Photo by Peter Maher

Almost 40 years ago, former federal judge Thomas Berger issued a final report in the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, at the time Canada’s longest, largest and most comprehensive industrial project review.

The massive two-volume report was the product of exhaustive consultations between 1974 and 1977 with Dene, Métis and Inuit peoples, and recommended that the proposed construction of a gas pipeline be delayed for a full decade in the Northwest Territories and permanently barred from the Northern Yukon as it would “entail irreparable environmental losses of national and international importance.”

It turned out to be an incredibly pivotal moment in the history of Indigenous rights and ecological protections in Canada, arguably helping to preserve the largely pristine Northern Yukon, Mackenzie Delta and Beaufort Sea for the decades since.

And on March 22, 2017 — a single day before his 84th birthday — Berger will fight another battle on behalf of the region, this time representing three Yukon First Nations (Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in, Na-cho Nyak Dun and Vuntut-Gwitchin) and two environmental organizations (Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and Yukon Conservation Society) in the Supreme Court of Canada over land-use planning in the Peel Watershed.

Monday, February 20, 2017 - 17:37 • Discourse Media

This investigation was reported by Trevor Jang for Discourse Media. It is the second part of an ongoing investigation into how government negotiates with First Nations for major resource development projects.

Nestled in the forests of northwestern British Columbia, Richard Wright hauls a 30-pound moose chest out of a smokehouse. He shot the animal a few days ago, just a few kilometres north of camp.

You want your wood to smoulder, not flame or get too warm. So you either get some alder or some cottonwood, which changes the flavour that you’re adding to the meat,” Wright says, after placing the chest in the back of his trunk, followed by the legs, rump, backbone and spine.

Wright is preserving food in the way the Gitxsan people here have for many generations. The act also has a deeper purpose; this camp, where he and others are living off the land for the past two years, is a form of protest, an occupation of a sort.

The Madii Lii camp, which includes a cabin, smokehouse, greenhouse and garden, strategically blocks the path of the proposed Prince Rupert Gas Transmission (PRGT) pipeline. The 900-kilometre pipeline is proposed to carry natural gas from northeastern British Columbia to the Pacific NorthWest LNG (PNW LNG) export terminal proposed for Lelu Island on the province’s north coast.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 12:23 • Andrew Nikiforuk
Oil spill
Oil spill

This article originally appeared on The Tyee.

A study commissioned at the request of a First Nation says the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has not reported accurately on the scale or impact of daily crude oil and salt water spills in the petro province.

The regulator has not provided “the public with accurate, credible, complete, unbiased and timely information and fails in its responsibility to protect the environment,” the study concluded.

Kevin Timoney, author of the report and an independent ecologist based in Alberta, called for the province’s auditor general to audit “the failure of the regulator.”

Timoney’s review of the regulator’s spill database found spills that were not recorded in the database at all, or didn’t include information on volume spilled. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 15:01 • Judith Lavoie
Site C dam construction
Site C dam construction

Sandbags, bales of weed-free straw, crushed gravel and silt fencing are among the extra supplies BC Hydro has stockpiled at the Site C dam construction site to avoid federal fines.

In early January the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency issued BC Hydro with a Notice of Intent to Issue an Order after inspectors found that “no erosion and sediment contingency supplies” were to be found at three sites.

The agency also noted BC Hydro could face fines of up to $400,000 for not meeting the conditions set out in its environmental certificate. 

It’s not the first time BC Hydro has been found in contravention of the law. In May, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency found BC Hydro had failed to measure air pollution and threatened BC Hydro with a $400,000 fine.

BC Hydro, in a Jan. 5 letter to the Environmental Assessment Agency, said all measures had been taken to restore the Site C project to a “state of conformity,” and, after studying photographs supplied by BC Hydro, the agency agreed that there was no need to issue the order, which could have resulted in hefty fines.

Friday, February 10, 2017 - 11:50 • James Wilt
Justin Trudeau Broken Promises Town Hall Electoral Reform
Justin Trudeau Broken Promises Town Hall Electoral Reform

Reconcile with Indigenous peoples. Make elections fairer. Invest many more billions in public transit and green infrastructure. Take climate change seriously.

Those are just a few of the things that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party committed to in the lead-up to the 2015 election, offering up a fairly stark contrast to the decade of reign by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. And on Oct. 19, 2015, almost seven million Canadians voted for that Liberal platform. In his victory speech, Trudeau spoke of “real change” and “sunny ways” and “positive politics.”

Fast forward almost 500 days.

Many major promises have been broken, and sentiments seemingly abandoned. Frankly, it’s getting rather difficult to keep up with the amount of backtracking and shapeshifting happening in Ottawa.