Opinion

Bigger, Hotter, Faster: Canada’s Wildfires are Changing and We’re Not Ready

BC Wildfires by MCpl Gabrielle DesRochers, Canadian Forces Combat Camera

By Ed Struzik for The Tyee.

While doing research for a book I was writing on wildfire, I posed two questions to a number of experts: “Do you think there will be another Fort McMurray-like fire in the future? If so, where do you think it will happen?”

Everyone agreed on the first question. Fort McMurray was not an anomaly. It will happen again, sooner rather than later, and likely with deadly consequences.

Rallying Cry: Youth Must Stand Up to Defend Democracy

Enbridge Rally Vancouver Zack Embree

Henry Giroux, McMaster University via The Conversation Canada.

According to famed anthropologist Arjun Appadurai, the central question of our times is whether we’re witnessing the worldwide rejection of liberal democracy and its replacement by some sort of populist authoritarianism.

There’s no doubt that democracy is under siege in several countries, including the United States, Turkey, the Philippines, India and Russia. Yet what’s often overlooked in analyses of the state of global democracy is the importance of education. Education is necessary to respond to the formative and often poisonous cultures that have given rise to the right-wing populism that’s feeding authoritarian ideologies across the globe.

Water Usage in B.C.’s Northeast Requires Indigenous Consent

Fracking wastewater B.C. Photo: CCPA

By Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and Ben Parfitt

One of the most important things that all Green and New Democratic Party MLAs agreed to in reaching their historic agreement to cooperate in governing together is their  “foundational” support of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Declaration is absolutely unambiguous in stating the “urgent need” for governments to respect and promote the inherent rights of Indigenous Peoples to their lands, territories and resources.

Enter the $8.8 billion Site C hydroelectric dam, a project that former premier Christy Clark vowed to push past the point of no return, but that remains years away from construction.

Nature Offers The Best Defense Against Flooding

BC flood

Spring flooding in Canada this year upended lives, inundated city streets and swamped houses, prompting calls for sandbags, seawalls and dikes to save communities.

Ontario and Quebec's April rainfall was double the 30-year average. Thousands of homes in 130 Quebec municipalities stretching from the Ontario border to the Gaspé Peninsula flooded in May. Montreal residents raced to protect their homes and families as three dikes gave way and the city declared a state of emergency. The Ontario government had to boost its resources for an emergency flood response.

In Atlantic Canada, some parts of New Brunswick recorded more than 150 millimetres of rain during a nearly 36-hour, non-stop downpour. In B.C.'s Okanagan, rapidly melting snowpack and swelling creeks caused lake levels to rise to record heights. The City of West Kelowna declared a state of emergency and evacuated homes.

Is Christy Clark Ramping Up for Another B.C. Election?

christy clark bc election

By Matt Price for iPolitics.

Don’t think for a second that it’s Christy Clark’s nature to go quietly into the night. In response, the B.C. NDP and Greens may have no choice other than to forge a pact to work together in a snap election.

During the press conference in which Christy Clark responded to the agreement between the BC NDP and Greens to cooperate in a minority government, TV cameras caught a glimpse of her speaking notes. The biggest word written on the page was “humble”; apparently she was reminding herself to dial down her signature scrappiness and appear gracious.

Clark also went on to say she would not resign, but would respect the process by a drafting a throne speech and holding a confidence vote — and not right away, either, but a few leisurely weeks later. Then, she named a cabinet that included rumoured candidates for the Speaker’s job, thereby taking them out of contention. With a one-vote difference between Clark’s Liberals and the ‘GreeNDP’ alliance, the question of who will put up the traditionally neutral Speaker has emerged as a key one.

Will a Repackaged National Energy Board Be Able to Meet Canada’s 21st Century Challenges?

Idle No More, Zack Embree

By Chris Tollefson, Executive Director Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation.

Early on in its remarkably candid treatise released today, the Expert Panel tasked with advising the Trudeau government on how to modernize the National Energy Board (NEB) observes that the issue it was asked to grapple with “is much larger than simply the performance of the NEB in and of itself”: read the panel report here.

Indeed.

Since the 2013 Northern Gateway pipeline hearings, our national energy regulator has been buffeted by one controversy after another.  The NEB must bear some of the blame for this.  Its work on the Northern Gateway, Kinder Morgan and Energy East files underscore that its expertise does not lie in the realm of environmental assessment.  But it is also a victim of history — an institution conceived and born in an era (almost 60 years ago) long before Indigenous rights, climate change and decarbonization had political, let alone legal, salience.

The Grisly Truth about B.C.’s Grizzly Trophy Hunt

Grizzly bear trophy hunt

Grizzly bears venturing from dens in search of food this spring will face landscapes dominated by mines, roads, pipelines, clearcuts and ever-expanding towns and cities. As in years past, they’ll also face the possibility of painful death at the hands of trophy hunters.

British Columbia’s spring bear hunt just opened. Hunters are fanning across the province’s mountains, grasslands, forests and coastline, armed with high-powered rifles and the desire to bag a grizzly bear, just to put its head on a wall or its pelt on the floor as a “trophy.”

According to B.C. government statistics, they will kill about 300 of these majestic animals by the end of the spring and fall hunts. If this year follows previous patterns, about 30 per cent of the slaughter will be females — the reproductive engines of grizzly populations.

How Propaganda Works to Divide Us

Trump protest in London

Political propaganda employs the ideals of liberal democracy to undermine those very ideals, the dangers of which, not even its architects fully understand.

In the early years of DeSmog’s research into anti science propaganda, I thought of energy industry PR campaigns such as “junk science,” “clean coal,” and “ethical oil” as misinformation strategies designed to dupe the public.

Although that’s obviously true, I now understand that propaganda is far more complex and problematic than merely lying about the evidence. Certainly propaganda is designed to deceive, but not in a way you might think. What’s more, the consequences are far worse than most people who produce and consume it realize.

My deeper understanding evolved after I interviewed Jason Stanley and read his important book How Propaganda Works. The American philosopher and Yale University professor will speak about the history and dangers of demagogic propaganda at UBC’s Point Grey Campus in Vancouver on April 27 (7 p.m. Buchanan A210, 1866 Main Mall).

Are B.C. Taxpayers Paying $3.5 Billion for Massey Bridge to Make Room for Coal, LNG Exports?

Massey Bridge

This article originally appeared on The Tyee.

There are places one can sit and consider the past and future with equal clarity. On this October day, Harold Steves, 79, an outspoken environmentalist and Richmond city councillor, looks from the riverbank at the end of Richmond’s Rice Mill Road.

Directly in front of him is the Fraser River, and directly below his feet lies Highway 99’s George Massey Tunnel. Given a $22-million seismic upgrade a decade ago, it was said by then-B.C. transportation minister Kevin Falcon that the tunnel was safe and a future twinning would eliminate the twice-daily commuter bottleneck.

But if today’s B.C. government has its way, work will start late this year on a massive $3.5-billion bridge, financed through a Public-Private Partnership (P3), to be completed by 2022.

Which means a stiff toll to pay off private creditors in the years ahead. Which will also mean that the perfectly safe, perfectly good tunnel will be removed.

Canada Has the Longest Coastline in the World. Guess How Much of it is Protected?

Canada Marine Protected Areas

The federal government recently created two marine protected areas in the Pacific region and has committed to increase ocean protection from one per cent to 10 by 2020. But will this be enough?

Canada has the longest coastline of any nation, but our country doesn’t end at its ocean shores. With a 200-nautical-mile economic zone and international obligations, Tweet: Canada is responsible for 3M sq/km of ocean (BC, AB, Sask & Manitoba combined http://bit.ly/2nyKGPC #bcpoli #cdnpoli #bcelxn17 #YVR #YYJCanada is responsible for almost three million square kilometres of ocean, an area roughly the size of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba combined.

Although that’s a big area, thinking of the ocean in square kilometres is just skimming the surface. The ocean isn’t just a cold, wet seascape blanketed by howling winds. Below the surface, life thrives throughout the water column, top to bottom, warm or cold, winter or summer.

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