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

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.

Our Commitment To Our Readers in 2018

Sarah Cox, Emma Gilchrist and Carol Linnitt

As a new year gets underway, we've been taking some time to reflect.

2017 was a breakthrough year for DeSmog Canada’s independent journalism and we really mean it when we say: none of this could have happened without our dedicated readers.

In the past year, our people-powered journalism reached four million people and our reporting informed coverage by the New York Times, Globe and Mail and CBC.

Thank you for reading, sharing and donating what you can to make this work possible.

The stories we cover don’t always have happy endings. But as journalists, we have a unique opportunity to shine a spotlight on abuses of power and increase public scrutiny of important issues. This can, and often does, change history. 

How Canada is Driving Santa’s Reindeer Toward Extinction

Not to be too glum just as the merry season hits its peak, but reindeer have been on my mind in more ways than one this week.

You see, reindeer are known as caribou in North America, and some of Canada’s herds are in serious trouble.

On a global scale, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature classified the reindeer as “vulnerable” in 2015 due to an observed population decline of 40 per cent over the last roughly 25 years.

When we think of caribou, many of us picture massive herds on epic migrations in the north.

But there are actually two main types of caribou: barren-ground caribou, who live on the tundra (these are the ones who migrate) and boreal or woodland caribou who prefer to chill in the forest.

How The Media Failed British Columbians on the Site C Dam

Media Failed British Columbians on the Site C Dam

There is much to debate about Monday’s decision by the B.C. government to move forward with the Site C dam, but one thing is not debatable: construction should never have started without a full review of costs and demand.

Who’s to blame for that review never happening? Of course the BC Liberals are ultimately responsible for charging ahead with the most expensive public project in B.C.’s history without certainty the power was either a) needed or b) the least expensive of the options available.

But those in power will always be prone to making bull-headed decisions in their own political interests. For democracy to function, a healthy news media needs to challenge the powerful and doggedly defend the public interest. In the case of the Site C dam, this simply wasn’t the case.

Can Reader-Funded News Save Canadian Journalism?

DeSmog Canada staff

Some newspapers dig. Some newspapers are a constant embarrassment to the powerful. Some manage to be entertaining, provocative, and fair at the same time. There are a few such newspapers in Canada.”

That statement probably doesn’t come as a shock to many Canadians in 2017.

What may come as a surprise is that the quote is actually drawn from a report published in 1970 by the Special Senate Committee on Mass Media. If Canada’s media landscape was stifled by mediocrity nearly 50 years, it’s positively suffocated by it now.

Why British Columbians Should Demand a Public Inquiry on the Site C Dam

Christy Clark

For years British Columbians have been left in the dark about the most expensive public project in our history.

All of that came to an end on Wednesday when the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) issued its final report on the Site C dam.

The results are, well, damning.

“This report indicates had the Liberals put this to the commission four years ago, Site C would not be built,” Mark Jaccard, a professor at Simon Fraser University's School of Resource and Environmental Management, told the Globe and Mail.

BREAKING: Site C Dam $600 Million Over Budget, Will Miss River Diversion Timeline, Says BC Hydro CEO

Site C dam construction

BC Hydro’s new CEO Chris O’Riley has written a letter to the B.C. Utilities Commission stating that the crown corporation will not meet the timeline for river diversion for the Site C dam, which will add $610 million to the project’s price tag.

BC Hydro has encountered some geotechnical and construction challenges on the project and the risk to the river diversion timeline has now materialized,” O’Riley wrote.

Based on the recent completion of a constructability review and an executive meeting with our Main Civil Works contractor on September 27, 2017, we have now determined that we will not be able to meet the current timeline for river diversion in 2019.”