indigenous rights

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.

B.C.'s 150-Year-Old Mining Laws Are Absurdly Outdated. Guess Who Benefits From That?

B.C. was recently labelled the “Wild West” in a New York Times article for our lack of financial rules or limits around political donations. While mining companies and their executives regularly fall within the top donors’ list to the B.C. Liberal Party, they have benefited from this notion of the Wild West for well over a century. 

In fact, B.C.’s mining laws were created more than 150 years ago during the gold-rush era of the 1850s. These laws were largely created by miners themselves to help guarantee unfettered access to new lands by creating the right of “free entry,” and were part of the strategy to help settle the colony. Tweet: Today, mining activity is still given priority over virtually all other land uses in B.C. http://bit.ly/2kMIz5I #bcpoli #bcmining #cdnpoliToday, mining activity is still given priority over virtually all other land uses in B.C.

In fact, the process for staking a claim has only gotten easier. Are you 18 years old, have $25 and access to a computer? Click and you have a claim staked anywhere — on private property, First Nations hunting grounds, key tourism areas, important salmon habitat or wildlife management areas. Mining activities are off-limits only in parks, under buildings and at certain archeological sites. In other words, mining exploration can take place in over 82 per cent of the province.

First-ever Indigenous Freedom of Religion Case Heads to Canada’s Supreme Court

A precedent-setting case that could affect the ability of First Nations to protect their sacred sites and which has implications for indigenous rights worldwide, is heading to Canada’s top court Thursday.

The Ktunaxa First Nation, based in Cranbrook, in a lawsuit against the B.C. government and Glacier Resorts Ltd, is arguing the first Canadian case based on aboriginal spirituality and freedom of religion and the case has drawn interveners from faith groups, human rights organizations and business groups from across Canada.

Lawyers acting for the Ktunaxa Nation and Kathryn Teneese, Ktunaxa Nation Council Chair, will argue that, in 2012, the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources violated the First Nation’s religious rights by approving the master plan for the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort in an area known as Qat’muk, the home of the grizzly bear spirit, where many key Ktunaxa spiritual beliefs and practices are centred.

Trudeau Approves Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline As Part of Canada’s ‘Climate Plan’

Justin Trudeau announced the approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline Tuesday, saying the project is integral to meeting Canada’s climate commitments.

Tweet: Sorry, what? @JustinTrudeau says #KinderMorgan is integral to meeting Canada’s climate commitments http://bit.ly/2g3PQLx #bcpoli #cdnpoli“Today’s decision is an integral part of our plan to uphold the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions while creating jobs and protecting the environment,” Trudeau told reporters at a press conference.

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project will twin an existing pipeline running from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C. increasing transport capacity from 300,000 barrels of oil per day to 890,000 barrels per day. Trudeau also approved an application to increase capacity of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline from 390,000 to 915,000 barrels per day.

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, the two pipelines combined represent an increase of 23 to 28 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent released into the atmosphere.

Under the Paris Agreement Canada pledged to reduce emissions 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Canada’s current policies aren’t expected to meet those targets. According to a recent analysis by Climate Action Network, Canada is expected to miss those targets by 91 megatonnes.

Trans Mountain and Line 3 put Canada at a further disadvantage when it comes to meeting those targets.

Federal Liberals Approval of Kinder Morgan Is Final Nail in the Coffin of ‘Reconciliation’

The federal Liberals have issued an approval for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline project, subject to 157 conditions.

In doing so, the government has granted permission for the Houston-based company to expand the capacity of its Edmonton-to-Burnaby network capacity by 690,000 barrels/day, fulfilling pleas by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley to allow giant corporations to export more carbon-intensive bitumen.

And it completely undermines any alleged commitment to “reconciliation” with Indigenous peoples.

It’s not as if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau doesn’t understand the stakes. In mandate letters sent to each of his ministers in November 2015, he emphasized a renewed “nation-to-nation relationship, based on recognition, rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.”

Trudeau also pledged that his government would “fully adopt and work to implement” the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which included the provision that “Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources.”

That dream has been slowly dying ever since.

Canada Fought to Include Indigenous Rights in the Paris Agreement, But Will Those Rights Be Protected Back Home?

First Nations chiefs

If you were to get lost in the bush, I could find you.”

It’s an oddly placed sentiment in the city heat of Marrakech, Morocco, yet an entirely appropriate one for an indigenous panel at the UN climate talks hosted by Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna.

Francois Paulette, revered Canadian indigenous leader and elder from the Dene Nation, told an international crowd of delegates, campaigners and press that back in Canada, his place is in the wild.

It is there Paulette learned from his elders the meaning of sin: “The biggest sin a man can make is to abuse the earth.”

And now that’s why we’re in the place we’re in and why there is global warming.”

Although Paulette said he is not one for the city — he’d rather be on a riverbank back home in the Northwest Territories — he’s no stranger to international diplomacy. At his sixth UN climate summit, Paulette is more determined than ever to ensure indigenous perspectives and rights are central to international climate plans.

By all appearances Canada seems determined to do the same.

Alberta’s Carbon Tax Doesn’t Equal ‘Social Licence’ for New Pipelines, Critics Say

Implement an economy-wide carbon tax, attain “social licence,” score a federal approval for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

That’s been the advertised logic of the Alberta NDP since the introduction of its Climate Leadership Plan a year ago. Nearly every mention of carbon pricing and associated policies — a 100 megatonne oilsands cap, coal-fired power phase-out and methane reduction target — has been accompanied by a commitment to “improve opportunities to get our traditional energy products to new markets.”
 
Such a sentiment was reinforced with Premier Rachel Notley’s retort on Oct. 3 to the announcement of federally mandated carbon pricing: “Alberta will not be supporting this proposal absent serious concurrent progress on energy infrastructure.”

But for some, Tweet: #Alberta NDP’s rhetoric represents a fundamental misunderstanding of #sociallicence http://bit.ly/2fzLs7Y #ableg #bcpoli #cdnpolithe Alberta NDP’s rhetoric represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the point of social licence, with the government assuming that moderate emissions reduction policies allows it to ignore serious concerns about Indigenous rights and international climate commitments.

The Paris Agreement Is Now In Effect. In Canada You’d Never Know

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s performance at the UN Climate Summit in Paris last December wooed and amazed the international community.

Fresh off the election circuit, Trudeau proudly proclaimed, “Canada is back,” to a cheering crowd of global delegates.

Just days later Canada, along with the rest of the international community, signed the Paris Agreement, a historic treaty designed to limit global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius (or as close to 1.5 degrees as possible) that came into effect Friday, November 4.

But A LOT has happened in the interim in Canada, between signing the document and its coming into force.

Much of that does not bode well at all for climate action.

Federal Government Hit With Multiple Legal Challenges Against Pacific Northwest LNG Project

The federal government’s approval of the $36-billion Pacific Northwest liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal proposed for Flora Bank near Prince Rupert, B.C. violates First Nations rights and was based on flawed information, according to three separate legal challenges filed Thursday at the Federal Court of Canada in Vancouver.

Representatives from the Gitwilgyoots and Gitanyow First Nations as well as SkeenaWild Conservation Trust filed court actions requesting judicial reviews of the project’s approval which granted majority Malaysian-owned Petronas permission to build an industrial export facility atop sensitive eelgrass beds at the mouth of the Skeena River in a region scientists have identified as a ‘salmon superhighway.’

It’s important to bring this forward in a court of law so that a spotlight can be shone on not only the deficiencies in the law, but deficiencies in the way the law was applied here,” Chris Tollefson, legal counsel for SkeenaWild, told DeSmog Canada.

Kamloops Councillor Claims Ajax Open-Pit Mine Application Violates Canadian Charter

Just over a hill, beyond the rolling grasslands that flank Kamloops, there’s a looming problem that could upend the lifestyle of neighbourhoods on the outskirts of the city and, after years of debate about whether a massive open-pit mine would be a good neighbour, one city councillor is appealing to the provincial government to suspend the process, claiming it might violate Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The proposal for a gold and copper mine less than three kilometres from a school and even closer to homes, with a tailings pond and dam sitting above a city of 90,000 people, has divided Kamloops residents and city council since an application for the Ajax mine was made by Polish mining company KGHM Polska Miedz more than six years ago.

Many of those living closest to the planned urban mine worry about the proximity of the tailings pond — a concern exacerbated by the disastrous 2014 Mount Polley tailings pond breach — and believe that, despite promised mitigation measures, toxic dust will be carried by prevailing winds that blow from the direction of the mine over their homes and that slope stability and watersheds could be affected.

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