Friday, November 17, 2017 - 14:55 • James Wilt

There’s no telling if the 220 square-kilometres of unlined tailings ponds in the Alberta oilsands are leaking contaminated waste into nearby water sources, according to the government of Canada.

That claim was made in an official response to NAFTA’s Commission for Environmental Cooperation despite strong scientific evidence suggesting a clear linkage between the oilsands’ 1.3 trillion litres of fluid tailings and the contamination of local waterways.

The response comes after a June 2017 submission by two environmental organizations and a Dene man alleging the federal government was failing to enforce a section of the Fisheries Act that prohibits the release of a “deleterious substance” into fish-frequented waters.

Sunday, October 1, 2017 - 13:18 • Judith Lavoie
Diseased, disfigured farmed salmon BC

Fugitive fish from a collapsed salmon farm in Washington State are showing up in the waters off Campbell River, Tofino, Sechelt and Saanich, but, last week, delegates at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention side-stepped a debate on salmon farm licensing.

Instead, an emergency resolution from the Victoria council asking the province to deny any more open-net aquaculture permits and to phase out existing open-net operations in favour of land-based pens, was referred to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities for further discussion.

The Victoria resolution, which also called for a transition plan for workers and adequate consultation with Indigenous governments, said the proliferation of open-net fish farms, stocked with Atlantic salmon, threatens local waterways and wild fish “undermining the economic, social and ecological wellbeing of local communities.”

Friday, September 29, 2017 - 15:52 • Carol Linnitt
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Freedom of Information Canada

The federal government received a failing grade in a new national audit of freedom of information regimes across Canada.

The vast majority of federal departments under the Liberal government, which campaigned on a promise to increase information disclosure and transparency in Canada, failed to fulfill requests within the legal timeframe, the audit found.

I was surprised at the depth of the how poor the federal performance in the audit was,” Fred Vallance-Jones, audit lead author and associate professor at University of King’s College, told DeSmog Canada. “That wasn’t expected.”

Friday, September 29, 2017 - 13:33 • Christopher Pollon
BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver

B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver was never a big fan of LNG, he says, because he never thought the BC Liberal plan for a multi-billion domestic natural gas export industry was even possible. But that was the past: when it comes to the future of clean energy in British Columbia, what is possible?

In the following interview with journalist Christopher Pollon, the climate scientist turned politician expounds on LNG, Site C, and the imminent arrival of energy alternatives like geothermal, “pumped storage” hydro and more.

Weaver conducted this interview via speakerphone as he drove a broken microwave oven to a Victoria-area depot for recycling. Being Green, it seems, is a full-time gig.

Thursday, September 28, 2017 - 15:49 • Judith Lavoie
Coho fry, Cowichan River

B.C. hasn’t been particularly good at including Indigenous populations in the decision-making process. First Nations are often brought to the table after high-level political decisions have already been made — leading to significant social and legal conflict over consultation, consent and the management of natural resources.

Legal challenges of Site C, the cumulative impacts of B.C.’s sprawling oil and gas operations and the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline are all current examples of what these conflicts look like.

But it doesn’t have to be so, say a team of researchers from by the University of Victoria’s POLIS Water Sustainability Project and the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources in a new report, which proposes B.C. manage water resources via a co-governance model based on a principle of collaborative consent.

Imagine Indigenous people being involved at the highest level of policy-making and reaching an agreement that is good for everyone,” said Merrell-Ann Phare, founding executive director of the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources and lead author of the report.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017 - 14:28 • James Wilt
NDP leadership debate

It feels like an eternity since federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair received the boot from delegates at the party convention in April 2016.

The lengthy leadership race hasn’t exactly helped that feeling.

Most candidates launched their campaigns in February. Nine debates were held between March and September. But we’re almost at the end of the tunnel. Voting for the first ballot, via both mail-in ballots and online, commenced on Sept. 18 and concludes on Oct. 1. If needed, second and third ballots will be collected by Oct. 8 and Oct. 15.

While there are only four candidates left in the race — Guy Caron, Jagmeet Singh, Charlie Angus and Niki Ashton — there are an enormous number of combined proposals related to energy, climate and environmental policies (especially compared to what was discussed during the federal Conservative leadership race).

Let’s take a look at what’s on offer from the NDP candidates.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 - 12:45 • Christopher Pollon
Natural Gas LNG BC NDP Government

For years, Nexen's Aurora project envisioned transforming Digby island near Prince Rupert into a sprawling $20 billion LNG plant shipping 24 million tonnes of liquified B.C. natural gas to Asia. 

On September 14, Aurora officially backed out, reinforcing the words written in this year’s NDP election platform.  “[Ex-premier Christy Clark] bet everything on natural gas prices and left the rest of B.C.’s economy without support,” it reads. 
“Resource communities and families have paid the price. That’s got to change.”

But change to what?  With the rise of B.C.’s new NDP government, forged with the support of the B.C. Greens under climate scientist Andrew Weaver, there is now an opportunity to reset and find more realistic ways to tap the wealth of natural gas in the Peace region. 

The idea that there is going to be a big mega project like Petronas [Pacific NorthWest LNG] was nothing but a pipe dream,” says Andrew Weaver.  “The real question is, what are we going to do with the resource?”

Monday, September 25, 2017 - 13:35 • Guest
BC Liberals, Freedom of Information

By Andrew MacLeod for The Tyee.

For two years leading up to the May election, the government of British Columbia regularly broke its own law for responding to freedom of information requests, a report from the province’s information and privacy commissioner found.

Overall, I am frustrated to see that government routinely operates in contravention of B.C. law,” acting commissioner Drew McArthur wrote in Timing is Everything: Report Card on Government's Access to Information Responses.

The report examined responses made during the two-year period that ended March 31. It found that in one out of five cases, the government failed to meet the deadlines for responding that are legislated in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.