Emma Gilchrist

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Emma Gilchrist is Executive Director of DeSmog Canada. She is a writer, editor and citizen engagement specialist based in Victoria, B.C.

Emma grew up in a small town in northwestern Alberta where she saw firsthand how oil and gas development plays an important role in Canadian communities. She went on to earn a journalism degree from Mount Royal University in Calgary. In 2015, Emma was the recipient of the Horizon Award from Mount Royal for outstanding achievements in the first 10 years after graduation.

Emma has worked as a reporter and editor in Canada and the U.K., including stints at the Calgary Sun, Calgary Herald, Cambridge Evening News and BBC Essex. While at the Calgary Herald, Emma created a weekly environmental column and website called The Green Guide, which won an Alberta Emerald Award, a Canadian Newspaper Association Great Ideas Award and was featured by the Online Journalism Review.

Most recently, Emma served as the Communications Director for the Dogwood Initiative, a citizen’s advocacy group that helps British Columbians have more say in decisions about their air, land and water. In 2012, Dogwood was nominated for a Katerva Award, described by Reuters as the “Nobel of sustainability.”

Emma’s writing on travel, health, fitness and the environment has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Financial Post, Montreal Gazette, Ottawa Citizen, Edmonton Journal, Vancouver Province, The Tyee, Up! Magazine and the Huffington Post.

You can contact Emma via e-mail at emma [at] desmog [dot] ca

B.C. Is Taking the Kinder Morgan Question to Court. Here’s What you Need to Know.

Horgan BC reference case Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline.png

With the announcement on Wednesday that the B.C. government will file its reference case on the ability of the province to regulate the transport of diluted bitumen in the Court of Appeal by April 30th, it’s finally official: the much-debated constitutional question will be put to the test.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has repeatedly said that B.C.’s intention to regulate the transport of diluted bitumen will “break the rules of Confederation,” but provinces have strong jurisdiction over the environment according to Jocelyn Stacey, an assistant professor specializing in environmental law at UBC’s Peter A. Allard School of Law.

‘They’re Not Getting How the Constitution Works’: Why Trudeau, Notley Can’t Steamroll B.C. on Kinder Morgan Pipeline

Notley Trudeau Kinder Morgan Pipeline Constitutional

In the fall of 1981, Jack Woodward was a young lawyer in Ottawa when NDP leader Ed Broadbent and prime minister Pierre Trudeau struck a deal to include aboriginal rights in the Canadian constitution.

I banged out a first draft,” Woodward recalls. “I typed it out on a manual typewriter. I had to do it in a hurry.”

In less than an hour, Woodward had laid the foundation of Section 35, the part of the Canadian constitution that recognizes and affirms the rights of Indigenous peoples.

In the ensuing 37 years, Woodward has come to know a thing or two about Canada’s constitution. For one, he fought the Tsilhqot’in Nation’s title case for a quarter century, resulting in the landmark Supreme Court ruling that the nation holds title to about 1,900 square kilometres of its traditional territory in B.C.

So when Woodward hears pundits and politicians bandying around the phrase “unconstitutional,” his ears perk up.

What's The ‘National Interest’ Anyways? Conflict Resolution Expert Adam Kahane on Canada’s Oil Pipeline Debate

Trans Alaska Oil Pipeline

As the national conversation about the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline goes thoroughly bananas, one thing is becoming crystal clear: this conflict is likely to get worse before it gets better.

Thankfully, there are people out there who specialize in resolving conflicts like this — people like Canadian Adam Kahane who has been credited with helping to end Colombia’s civil war.

For Kahane — the author of the book Collaborating with the Enemy: How to Work with People You Don't Agree With or Like or Trust — the most striking thing about the pipeline debate is that the rules are not clear.

The question of who gets to decide on what in Canada between the provincial and federal governments on one hand and Indigenous rights holders on the other hand is not settled,” he told DeSmog Canada in an interview.

That Time a Foreign-Owned Newspaper Called Out Environmentalists for Taking Foreign Money to Fight a Foreign-Funded Pipeline

Foreign Influence, foreign funding

On a certain level, Vivian Krause and her cadre are right when they accuse Canadian non-profits of taking foreign money. American philanthropists do give money to Canadian non-profits.

There’s just one thing: it’s neither surprising nor clandestine.

The success of their argument comes down to one simple trick: strip away all relevant context and then replace it with conspiracy.

So let’s start with some context.

Why Canada’s Promise to Explore Charitable Status For News Organizations is a Very, Very Good Thing

Emma Gilchrist Carol Linnitt DeSmog Canada

A brief paragraph on page 186 of Tuesday’s federal budget held some of the best news for Canadian journalism in decades.

Over the next year the government will be exploring new models that enable private giving and philanthropic support for trusted, professional, non-profit journalism and local news,” the budget read. “This could include new ways for Canadian newspapers to innovate and be recognized to receive charitable status for not-for-profit provision of journalism, reflecting the public interest that they serve.”

I had to read it three times to believe it. The alarm bells have been sounding on the state of Canadian media for, oh, about 50 years.

The New Battle of Alberta

Crescent Falls

For decades, the ‘battle of Alberta’ has alluded to the intense rivalry between Calgary and Edmonton, especially on the ice or the football field.

The worst way to engage Edmontonians is to tell them how things are done in Calgary,” wrote Harvey Locke in a piece titled “The Two Albertas” for the Literary Review of Canada.

But as demographics shift, there’s a different kind of battle of Alberta brewing, one that doesn’t divide people along municipal boundaries. And that battle has elicited boycotts, harassment campaigns and even death threats.

Here’s What Alberta’s Wine Boycott is Really About

No, it wasn’t a weird dream, Alberta actually announced a boycott of B.C. wine on Tuesday.

The announcement by Premier Rachel Notley is just the latest move in an inter-provincial spat over the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, which would carry oil from Alberta to B.C.

It started with last week’s proposal by the B.C. government to guard against a potential oil spill. The province announced it will set up an independent scientific advisory panel to look at how diluted bitumen can be safely transported and cleaned up, if spilled.

This Vigilante Scientist Trekked Over 10,000 Kilometres to Reveal B.C.’s Leaking Gas Wells

John Werring in the field

If you’d met John Werring four years ago, he wouldn’t have been able to tell you what an abandoned gas well looked like.

We had no idea whether they were even accessible,” said the registered professional biologist.

That was before the summer of 2014, when he headed up to Fort St. John, B.C., on a reconnaissance mission. At that time, much was known about leaking gas wells in the United States, but there was very little data on Canada.

All Werring had to work with was a map of abandoned wells provided by B.C.’s Oil and Gas Commission. Armed with a gas monitor and a metal detector, he headed into what the gas industry calls the “Montney formation,” one of the largest shale gas resources in the world. Shale gas is primarily accessed via hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.

Most of these places, there’s nobody in the field,” Werring said. “You won’t see anybody for miles and miles. Just well after well after well.”

How Canada is Driving Its Endangered Species to the Brink of Extinction

DeSmog Canada Species At Risk caribou orca

Canadian governments are sitting by and watching as endangered species disappear, in what one environmental lawyer calls a “slow moving catastrophe.”

The latest blow comes as a deadline for provinces to outline plans to protect threatened caribou habitat blew by without a single province meeting the deadline.

This is 13 years after this species was listed as threatened. There’s been 13 years of decline of caribou, 13 years of deterioration of their habitat,” Ecojustice lawyer Sean Nixon told DeSmog Canada.

Caribou were first listed as threatened under Canada’s Species At Risk Act in 2004. It took eight years and litigation to get the federal government to come up with a recovery strategy, as required under law. That federal strategy ended up pushing the responsibility back to the provinces.

​​​​​​​How B.C. Outsourced Environmental Protection (And What You Can Do About It)

Professional Reliance DeSmog Canada

If you look closely at almost any major environmental controversy in B.C. in the past decade, you’ll find one common denominator: industry-paid “professionals” were trusted with our province’s environmental protection.

This, folks, is what is often called leaving the fox to watch the hen house. But, if you’re the B.C. government, you come up with one of the greatest euphemisms of our age for it: “professional reliance.”

This system, implemented under the BC Liberals in the early 2000s, means “professionals” hired and paid for by mining, logging, natural gas and other industries, have been trusted with B.C.’s environmental protection.

Most people would call that a conflict of interest. But in B.C. this is called business as usual.

Until now … maybe.