Elizabeth May

Is Trudeau Quietly Turning His Back On Fixing Canada’s Environmental Laws?

Justin Trudeau Environmental Reform DeSmog Canada

Scientists and environmental groups breathed a sigh of relief when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau quickly followed through on a campaign promise to modernize Canada’s environmental laws.

Within a year of being elected, the Liberals initiated four parallel reviews of key environmental legislation weakened or eliminated under former prime minister Stephen Harper.

But now, as that review process is coming to a close, experts are back to holding their breath.

Canada’s New Carbon Price: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Canadians could be forgiven for being a bit confused about how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is doing on climate change these days.

Last week he approved one of the largest sources of carbon pollution in the country — the Pacific Northwest LNG export terminal in B.C.

The week before that his government announced it would stick with Harper-era emissions targets.

Now Trudeau has announced the creation of a pan-Canadian carbon-pricing framework, which means our country will have a carbon tax nation-wide for the first time ever.

So are we hurtling toward overshooting our climate targets or are we finally getting on track?

Elizabeth May Calls Site C ‘Litmus Test’ for Trudeau’s First Nations Promises in New Video

Justin Trudeau and his cabinet must uphold their promise to respect First Nations rights when it comes to federal decision-making for the Site C dam, federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May told DeSmog Canada while visiting a portion of the Peace River that will be flooded should the $9-billion project proceed.

To me this project represents the litmus test for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his entire cabinet in their central commitment to establish a nation to nation relationship built on respect for Canada’s Fist Nations,” May said during an interview for a new DeSmog Canada Site C video.

May and DeSmog Canada were in the Peace Valley for the annual Paddle for the Peace where hundreds of people representing local landowners, First Nations, and environmental organizations voiced their opposition to the Site C dam.

Site C Dam Permits Quietly Issued During Federal Election

Construction on the Site C dam on the Peace River

Former prime minister Stephen Harper’s government issued 14 permits for work on the $9 billion Site C dam during the writ period of the last election — a move that was offside according to people familiar with the project and the workings of the federal government.

“By convention, only routine matters are dealt with after the writ is dropped,” said Harry Swain, the chair of the Joint Review Panel that reviewed the Site C dam. “Permits and licences are only issued when a government considers the matter to be non-controversial and of no great public importance.”

Swain served for 22 years in the federal government, ending as deputy minister of Indian and Northern Affairs and later Industry. In an exclusive interview with DeSmog Canada last year, Swain said the B.C. government shouldn’t have moved ahead with construction on the dam until the demand case became clearer.

Everyone Wants to Know What “New Canada” Will Do At COP21: Elizabeth May

As the COP21 climate talks get underway in Paris, Canada is enjoying a newfound place in the international spotlight.

Canada announced today it will contribute $30 million to finance climate projects in the world’s least developed countries as part of a larger $2.65 billion pledge that will support the transition to low-carbon energy sources in developing nations.

This contribution is a significant overhaul of Canada’s previous $300 million pledge under the Conservative government.

Canada recognizes the importance of supporting adaptation action in the most vulnerable countries, which are struggling with the impacts of climate change,” Catherine McKenna, environment and climate change minister, said. “We are proud to be part of this joint effort to further support the Least Developed Countries Fund.”

Even Bill Gates expressed his appreciation for Canada's larger pledge.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also told media Canada still has work to do.

Elizabeth May’s Call for an 'Energy Efficiency Army' Makes All the Sense for a Stagnating Alberta

Frankly, we need an army of carpenters, electricians and contractors going out to plug leaky buildings,” federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May said during the August 6 leaders debate. “Thirty per cent of carbon pollution comes from the energy we waste and the money we waste heating the outdoors in the winter and cooling it in the summer.”

The suggestion’s an awfully good one. Especially in Alberta.

For one, the thousands of contractors out of work due to the oil price slump could serve as potential soldiers in this so-called army.

There’s also enormous untapped energy-saving potential in Alberta: in fact, it’s the only province or state in North America that doesn’t sport a long-term energy efficiency program — that sure means something when 55 per cent of Calgary’s emissions can be attributed to electricity generation.

Will the War on Science Become an Election Issue?

Death of Evidence Rally

The number of anti-science decisions the federal government has made in recent years is staggering: axing the long-form census, trying to shut down the Experimental Lakes Area, sending media relations personnel to accompany scientists at international conferences.

There are so many mindboggling instances, in fact, that the non-profit organization Evidence for Democracy has decided to create an interactive website to chronicle them all.

Even for those of us who are following the issue closely, it’s still hard to keep track of it all,” says executive director Katie Gibbs.

Thrown Under the Omnibus: C-51 the Latest in Harper’s Barrage of Sprawling, Undemocratic Bills

In 1982, an omnibus bill proposed by the Pierre Trudeau government provoked such indignation in parliamentarians that the official opposition whip refused to show up in the House of Commons.

Back then the custom was for Parliament to ring noisy “division bells” when opposition whips pulled a no-show and in this case they rang loudly — for two whole weeks.

The noise was so unbearable that parliamentarians were supplied, and this is no joke, with earplugs at the door.

While the division bells no longer ring, the passing of the Harper government’s most recent and certainly most contentious omnibus bill, the anti-terrorism bill C-51, has created a tremendous amount of noise.

Yet the federal Conservatives seem to have found that old pile of earplugs.

Obama’s New Climate Plan Leaves Canada in the Dust

In the ongoing battle to win approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, Canada has repeatedly justified its climate inaction by pointing to the fact that it shares similar emission reductions targets to the U.S. In August of last year, Prime Minister Stephen Harper even wrote a letter to President Barack Obama inviting “joint action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector” if such efforts would help green-light the Keystone XL.

But this week’s announcement that Obama will use his executive authority to introduce a nationwide emissions reduction plan that targets more than 1,000 of the country’s most highly polluting power plants might leave Canada squarely in the dust.

Obama’s new plan — already being called the “most ambitious anti-global warming initiative of any U.S. president” — will introduce new standards by 2015 to decrease the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of power plants (responsible for 40 per cent of the country’s carbon pollution) by 30 per cent from their 2005 levels by 2030.

Joe Oliver Draws Criticism For Calling Canada a “21st Century Energy Superpower"

joe oliver responsible resource development

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver is attending the East Coast Energy Conference this week, where he said: “Canada is emerging as a 21st century energy superpower – unmatched in reliability, responsibility and potential.” His comments bring Canada’s attempt to situate itself at the centre of North American energy security to the forefront.

The statement was made while addressing relations between Canada and the U.S., the world’s largest trade partnership exchanging $700 billion annually, according to a press release put out by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).

As the global middle class grows, so too will global energy demand. Canada can meet that demand: we have solid economic fundamentals and unprecedented energy wealth,” Oliver said.

Mark Jaccard, professor at Simon Fraser University’s School of Resource and Environmental Management, says the title “energy superpower” means little more than Canada’s reliance on fossil fuel exports.

Presumably it means that a country receives significant revenues from energy exports,” he told DeSmog Canada. “Linking this reality to the word ‘superpower’ might best be described by adjectives such as hubris and hype.”

Jaccard added that Canada’s rush to become an energy superpower “is like trying to become a major exporter of…social harms” because fossil fuels are the “primary cause of catastrophic climate change.”

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