Government

Canada On Precipice of ‘Huge Step Forward’ For Environmental Assessments

Justin Trudeau Catherine McKenna EA Review

Hope may finally be in sight for fixing Canada’s environmental assessment process, after a four-member expert panel released a promising report on the heels of consultations in 21 cities across the country.

Historically, the focus of Canada’s environmental assessment has been on “avoiding harm” and “significant adverse impacts” associated with new projects, but the new approach recommended by the panel would shift the focus to a “net contribution to sustainability,” said Anna Johnston, staff counsel at West Coast Environmental Law.

The recommendations that the panel has made address a number of the concerns that were raised by the scientific community,” said Aerin Jacob, conservation scientist for the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. “I was pleasantly surprised.”

Three Ways to Improve Alberta’s Toothless Energy Regulator

Alberta Energy Regulator

By Barry Robinson, Ecojustice.

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) is Alberta’s one-stop regulatory body for the oil and gas industry. When it was created in 2013 by the merging of the former Energy Resources Conservation Board and parts of Alberta Environment and Parks, the AER made bold claims about transparency, enforcement and becoming a “world-class” regulator.

Unfortunately, the AER has failed to live up to its promises. The AER has shown over and over again that it is either unable or unwilling to enforce its own laws, directives and orders. The AER has become a toothless regulator.

As a public interest lawyer I see first-hand how the AER’s failures affect Albertans.

'He's a Liar': Why British Columbians Are So Over Justin Trudeau

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. Tweet: Grand Chief Stewart Phillip has heard more vows than parsons in Reno’s drive-thru wedding chapels http://bit.ly/2m63oML #bcpoli #cdnpoliGrand 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.”

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: 500 Days of Trudeau’s Broken Promises

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.

Alberta Energy Companies Pumping Money into Brad Wall's Saskatchewan Party

Alberta companies, many involved in the oil and gas sector, contributed more than $2 million to Premier Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party between 2006 and 2015.

That’s according to a new online searchable database created by Progress Alberta, a progressive, non-profit government watchdog group, that compiles nine years worth of party donation disclosures.
 
Energy companies topped the list, including $126,923 from Crescent Point Energy, $83,347 from PennWest Petroleum and $68,108 from Cenovus Energy.
 
An additional $850,000 has flowed into the party’s coffers from other provinces, bumping the total of out-of-province donations to around $3 million since 2006 (banks and pharmaceutical companies from Ontario make up another significant chunk). Tweet: Out-of-province $$ makes up ¼ of all recent SK Party corporate donations http://bit.ly/2emrI5d @PremierBradWall #skpoli #oilmoney #cdnpoliCollectively, out-of-province corporate donations make up one-quarter of all recent corporate donations.

I’m Still Waiting for an Interview With a Government Scientist About the Diesel Spill Near Bella Bella

Oil spill near Bella Bella

I’m irritated today. Maybe it’s a case of the Mondays. Maybe it’s because B.C.’s pipeline incident webpage has been down for over a month. Or maybe it’s because the amount of oil spilled from a pipeline into an Alberta wetland, first reported on October 6, remains undetermined.

But I think the real reason is that a media request I placed with the B.C. government on Thursday last week — to speak with a scientist about the barge that ran aground on the central coast last week and its tug that’s leaking diesel into Heiltsuk territory— has yet to be fulfilled.

Not that I’ve been ignored. No, on the contrary, I’ve received helpful messages along the lines of ‘don’t lose hope, Carol! We’re going to connect you with a real, live scientist soon. Very soon!’

Yeah, um, not holding my breath.

Top 5 Questions Christy Clark is Dodging by Cancelling the Fall Sitting

Christy Clark doesn’t like Victoria. At least, she said as much in an interview with the National Post: “I try never to go over there. Because it’s sick. It’s a sick culture. All they can think about is government…”

Maybe that’s why Clark pulled the plug on this fall’s legislative session. As a bonus, that means her political opponents won’t get the opportunity to ask her any questions … well, not in the legislature at least.

Unfortunately for the powers that be, we rang up a few folks. Here are their top five questions for Clark.

National Energy Board is a Captured Regulator in Urgent Need of Overhaul

National Energy Board panel

This op-ed originally appeared on the National Observer.

After more than a year I decided to withdraw as an expert Intervenor at the National Energy Board hearing into Trans Mountain’s Expansion Project. I came to the discouraging conclusion that the Board was on a predetermined course of action to recommend approval of the Project. The Board did this by narrowly scoping its list of issues, removing cross-examination, and refusing to compel answers to information requests made by myself and most other Intervenors.

Corporations cannot regulate themselves. Their first priority is to maximize returns for their shareholders. Regulation is an accepted method in Canada to ensure private interest is not achieved at the expense of the public interest. Government steps in and establishes a regulatory framework to protect public health, safety and the environment as well as to attain objectives related to the nation’s economic and social goals.

Regulatory capture takes place when the regulator ceases to be independent and advances the commercial interests of the industry it is charged with regulating. The Board’s behaviour during the Trans Mountain hearing not only turned the process into a farce, it exposed the Board as a captured regulator.

Orange Crushed: Have the Alberta NDP Lost Their Way?

Exactly a year has passed since the centre-left New Democratic Party (NDP) rolled to a stunning win in Alberta.

Yet it’s still deeply surreal to think about that victory on May 5, 2015, which increased the party’s seat count from four to 54 in the 87-seat legislature and elevated former labour lawyer Rachel Notley to the position of premier.

After all, the Progressive Conservatives (PCs) — a union-bashing and petroleum-entrenched behemoth of a party — had governed the province without challenge since 1971.

For much of the ‘90s and 2000s, the province was led by Ralph Klein, an austerity-obsessed alcoholic who cracked jokes about human-caused climate change, berated homeless people for being unemployed and blew up a hospital to save a bit of money.

Jumbo Glacier Resort Should Be the Last Fake Municipality B.C. Creates: Andrew Weaver

A municipality should have residents — and grizzly bears and mountain goats don’t count, according to B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver who tabled a private member’s bill in the legislature Wednesday aimed squarely at the controversial Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality.
 
Weaver’s bill to amend the Local Government Amendment Act would repeal the Liberal government’s 2012 changes to legislation that made it possible for mountain resort municipalities to exist without residents.
 
The 2012 changes were designed to push through development of Jumbo Glacier Resort, a proposed 6,300 bed resort in the wilderness of the Purcell Mountains, 55 kilometres west of Invermere — a project strongly opposed by local residents and First Nations.
 
Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality was created in November 2012 and the province then appointed a mayor and two councillors. Even though the municipality had no residents or buildings, it became eligible for provincial government grants of $200,000 a year and about $50,000 in federal gas tax money.

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