Opinion

Site C’s Shaky Economic Justification Is Proof It’s Time To Make Decisions Differently

Site C Decision

This piece originally appeared on the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

There is no question that the new B.C. government’s decision to proceed with the Site C dam was a very difficult one. The previous government left them with a poison pill.

With $2 billion already spent, the Horgan government faced a no-win choice, with substantial political and economic costs for either terminating or proceeding with what is one of the largest and most expensive capital projects in B.C. history.

I don’t envy them.

The Problem With Relying (Too Much) On Industry-Hired Professionals

From West Coast Environmental Law

When Randy Saugstad realized that clearcut logging by forestry giant Tolko was probably going to affect the water he uses to raise cattle on his ranch, he went to the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

We know,” they told him. “But we don’t have the power to stop them logging.”

They explained that B.C.’s forestry laws turned over the final decision about whether to log upstream from his ranch to Tolko’s foresters. Randy’s fears were later realized and his stream wrecked, so he sued Tolko, ultimately forcing the company to settle for an undisclosed amount (although the company continues to deny responsibility).

How The Media Failed British Columbians on the Site C Dam

Media Failed British Columbians on the Site C Dam

There is much to debate about Monday’s decision by the B.C. government to move forward with the Site C dam, but one thing is not debatable: construction should never have started without a full review of costs and demand.

Who’s to blame for that review never happening? Of course the BC Liberals are ultimately responsible for charging ahead with the most expensive public project in B.C.’s history without certainty the power was either a) needed or b) the least expensive of the options available.

But those in power will always be prone to making bull-headed decisions in their own political interests. For democracy to function, a healthy news media needs to challenge the powerful and doggedly defend the public interest. In the case of the Site C dam, this simply wasn’t the case.

What DeSmog Canada’s 5-Star Transparency Rating Means

DeSmog Canada

This week DeSmog Canada received a 5-star ranking from the international watchdog initiative Transparify for our commitment to donor transparency.  

We’re excited about our Transparify ranking but even moreso about the importance of promoting transparency among media-makers.

The production of fearless public-interest journalism in Canada is a rarity. And in our incredibly monopolized media landscape, there is an urgently growing need for in-depth journalism that holds the public’s right to know as a guiding principle.

The Disturbing Double Meaning of Trudeau's 'Sunny Ways'

Justin Trudeau Sunny Ways

This piece originally appeared on the Dogwood website.

Sunny ways, my friends. Sunny ways!” For most people, that line in Justin Trudeau’s victory speech two years ago heralded a return to “positive politics” after 10 years of Stephen Harper’s icy glare.

It’s also a reference to tricking someone into taking their clothes off.

B.C. Flooding Farmland for Site C is Economic Folly

Site C farmland Ken Boon Garth Lenz

As many countries move away from big hydro projects, B.C.’s government must decide whether to continue work on the Site C dam. The controversial megaproject would flood a 100-kilometre stretch of the Peace River Valley and provide enough power for the equivalent of about 500,000 homes.

The B.C. Utilities Commission, an independent body responsible for ensuring British Columbians pay fair energy rates, found the dam is likely behind schedule and over budget, with completion costs estimated at more than $10 billion. In a “high impact” scenario, it may go over budget by as much as 50 per cent.

Catherine McKenna Says Canada Has a Climate Plan. Prove It.

Catherine McKenna, COP23, climate plan

By Ross Belot for iPolitics.

The first thing you have to do is have a plan; you have to implement your plan, and then you have to ratchet up ambition. That’s part of the Paris agreement, and that’s what we’re absolutely committed to doing.”

That’s Environment Minister Catherine McKenna in an interview she gave to the Globe and Mail before heading to Bonn for the COP23 climate talks.

Let’s just start by saying it’s really good to hear that McKenna understands she needs a plan. Two years into her mandate, she hasn’t shown us one. An actual plan would include numbers that add up to the stated goal. McKenna has offered no such thing.

A Good News Story About the News in British Columbia

The Vancouver School of journalism is having an impact on the media landscape

Why has B.C. become home to Canada’s most vibrant news ecosystem? Credit the wellspring of creativity here — the province’s beauty and potential has long attracted change-makers.

Hidden amid gloomy tales of the decline of Canada’s news media is a success story in southwestern British Columbia.

Here, a cluster of digital outlets have flowered by paying for top-notch investigative and solutions-focused reporting. They are forging new business models and training the next wave of journalists.

Why British Columbians Should Demand a Public Inquiry on the Site C Dam

Christy Clark

For years British Columbians have been left in the dark about the most expensive public project in our history.

All of that came to an end on Wednesday when the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) issued its final report on the Site C dam.

The results are, well, damning.

“This report indicates had the Liberals put this to the commission four years ago, Site C would not be built,” Mark Jaccard, a professor at Simon Fraser University's School of Resource and Environmental Management, told the Globe and Mail.

Government Inaction, Industry Tactics increase Caribou Risks

caribou

October 5 came and went, and Canada’s boreal woodland caribou are still in trouble. That was the deadline the federal government gave provinces and territories five years ago to come up with caribou range plans for the iconic animals. Not one met the deadline.

Why should we care about caribou? Beyond the fact that we should care about all animals that play important roles in the ecological makeup of this “super natural” country, caribou are indicators of forest health. When caribou are healthy, it’s a sign the forests they live in are healthy. Forests provide numerous ecological services, such as preventing floods, storing carbon and regulating climate, as well as habitat for animals and plants and livelihoods and resources for people.

Failing to protect caribou habitat affects many Indigenous Peoples' rights, cultures and traditional livelihoods, and risks tarnishing Canada's reputation in the global marketplace. U.S. and international customers buy our products on the understanding that we’ll protect wildlife and honour commitments to Indigenous peoples.

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