Must Reads from Last Week



Cumberland council looking to ban water bottling

Read more. The November 3, 2018, edition of this blog carried a similar article in which the Strathcona Regional District also took a stand against water bottling, and the July 7, 2018, edition carried various stories pertaining to water protection. Communities all over the world are fighting global corporate companies like Nestle, but also local business that want to profit from profiting from what is essentially a commons and should be a human right, since it is essential to sustain all life on Earth. As global warming increases and weather patterns change, droughts will occur in more areas and water will increasingly become a flashpoint. (For more on water, see the story of selenium pollution in the Elk Valley below.)

Most Canadian cities are totally unprepared for climate change

At the Union of BC Municipalities annual meeting this year, a resolution came to the floor which proposed municipalities start holding fossil fuel companies and other industries financially liable for the costs of damages and clean-up their activities result in, and which municipalities bear the brunt of the costs of. Climate change consequences and mitigation are part of that equation. Sadly, the resolution was voted down, and apparently many of the speeches against were from people who denied climate change was real. Read more.

Excerpt: “[Jason] Thistlethwaite and his colleagues measured the plans against 46 indicators that include baseline information, goals, implementation, evaluation and public participation. Almost all plans failed to include an assessment of the municipality’s vulnerability to specific climate change impacts,” the paper says. Only seven communities had identified specific neighbourhoods that might be vulnerable. A dozen identified specific local industries at risk.”

Many cities hadn’t done enough research to be able to write a comprehensive plan.

…and so West Coast Environmental Law has started the Climate Law in our Hands campaign

In the November 27, 2018, edition of Must Reads, we told you about the Climate Law in Our Hands campaign, but it’s worth highlighting again in light of the Huff Post article referenced above. The WCEL website has a lot of background and an update page where you can see the communities who have sent climate accountability letters to fossil fuel companies. The resources include sample letters for municipalities and regional districts.



BC’s climate plan

Part 1: Advance details: Watch here.

Part 2: Five bright spots. Read more.

Part 3: Press conference/announcement. Watch here.

Part 4: Read the full plan here.

Part 5: Listen to Andrew Weaver here.

Part 6: Live coverage on CBC. Live coverage of provincial government press conference announcing B.C.’s long-term climate change strategy with guest Alex Boston, executive director of Renewable Cities and fellow at SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University. An interview with Sonia Furstenau starts at 44:30.

But some people aren’t happy with the pace at which the BC NDP are implementing changes

A new group, Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island staged a sit-in on the Johnson Street bridge on Monday to bring attention to inaction on climate change. Read more. The group also has a Facebook page. “Extinction Rebellion is an international social movement that aims to drive radical change, through nonviolent resistance in order to minimise species extinction and avert climate breakdown.” They have been staging actions in Europe as well.

A living Christmas tree, complete with natural decoration

(Thanks to Maureen Bodie of Sea-to-Sky country).

For decades BC failed to address selenium pollution in the Elk Valley. Now no one knows how to stop it.

The journalists went to Sparwood to talk to residents about the poisoning of their water, and essentially the townspeople are afraid to speak out. Read more. The story also contains a 14-minute video which encapsulates the issue.
Excerpt: “Teck Resources is the world’s second-largest exporter of coal for use in steelmaking, with much of the resource making its way by train to the Westshore Terminals beside the familiar docks of the Tsawwassen ferry. Teck’s Elk Valley mines are some of the largest in Canada — and are poised to expand, despite rising concerns about their growing impact on fish and drinking water.”

The Narwhal also carried a story in July 2018 about the Teck mines in which they reported that “…two U.S. commissioners on the International Joint Commission have released a letter to the U.S. State Department that says Canada’s three representatives on the commission will not endorse a recent report that shows risks to aquatic life and humans from selenium pollution from five Teck Resources Ltd. coal mines.”



Plastics pollution motion passes House

Gord Johns, Courtenay-Alberni MP, introduced a private member’s bill, “calling for a national framework to reduce plastic pollution in Canadian waters. It has passed unanimously in the House of Commons… It identifies several important steps to preventing and disposing of plastic pollution in the marine environment. These include reducing plastic debris, reducing industrial use of single-use plastics, as well as providing annual funding for the cleanup of existing plastic pollution.” Read more.

Violence against women: the Montreal Massacre

December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. This year is the 29th anniversary of the killing of 14 women, 13 of whom had the intolerable audacity to want to become engineers. PM Justin Trudeau had more pretty words to say on the subject, which ring a little hollow given the charge of his being condescending and sexist towards a female BC First Nations Chief (see below). An article today in The Conversation ends with this call to action: “If gendered violence is to be eradicated, we need to start from the ground up and traverse the pathways of its escalation, intervening at every step of the way with tangible nets of safety and security, eliminating the attitudes, barriers and values that keep such violence intact. Until then, the violence will continue unabated.”

Violence against women: Women politicians and the abuse they get

This blog has referenced the double standard, verbal abuse, and threats women in politics routinely get. This article talks about comments directed at Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez in the US, and Catherine Dorion, a Quebec Solidaire victor this year.

Excerpt: “The attacks on Dorion and Ocasio-Cortez are meant to inhibit their audacity and to chill their ambitions, because they both represent a radical break from the status quo. And, they’re effective. They talk to average people as average people. If they can’t be stopped on the ground, the only other option is to stop them through systemic forces, which is easy when the media establishment is conservative and easily shocked when things are done differently… Ocasio-Cortez shouldn’t have to find ways to bypass those structures that make it difficult to be a woman in politics. Dorion shouldn’t have to endure a weekly controversy intended to get her to screw up so she can be pilloried. Until we accept difference in politics, we will never make political life as easy or comfortable for women as it is for men.”

Canada Pension Plan invests in US private prisons, including migrant detention

Last Monday, a group of committed folks braved the rain and wind in Vancouver to attend one of the CPP Investment Board’s public meetings in November, where they demanded action on getting our retirement savings out of Trump’s immigration prisons that detain children and families. Read more and more.

Elizabeth May in the House of Commons on the GM plant closure

In this speech, Elizabeth May talks about disruptive technologies, and the woeful lack of action by the Liberal government to take meaningful action on global warming. Watch/listen here. Where the federal government is failing to act, perhaps the provinces will pick up the slack, much as the states are doing in the US.

…and Elizabeth May proposes all party ‘war cabinet’ to address the climate crisis

“It takes a very different kind of mindset to respond to a crisis this fundamental, where we’re distracted by day-to-day politics,” she explained. “We’re not paying attention to the biggest threat that’s in front of us. For a war cabinet or all-party committee to succeed, “it should be representative of Parliament: so New Democrats, Liberals, Conservatives, but preferably those who understand climate issues,” she added. “We could put together a solid effort that’s non-partisan.” Sadly, a Conservative MP “called the proposal impractical. Climate change “is an important issue, but the economy is an important issue, getting our energy to markets is an important issue, there’re a number of issues that we have to tackle,” he said. “We need to tackle them together.” Read more.

In light of the crises foretold by Gwynne Dyer in The Climate Wars, May’s call for a war cabinet seems completely appropriate. Countries are going to have to address the consequences of global warming one way or another. If we bury our heads in the sand until the sandstorm inundates us completely, we will have lost our opportunity to do anything more than fight mightily just to survive, and that will get messy.

Carbon pricing in Canada

Child soldiers of a different kind: Lawsuit accuses Trudeau of selling out millennials on climate change

This blog has had links to young people – sometimes children – around the world taking actions to protest their governments’ inactions on climate change. Here’s another one. Read more.

Election 2019: Liberals gaining on Tories in race to fill 2019 candidacy slate

According to this article, the Green Party has 18 confirmed candidates across Canada, eight of whom will be running in Quebec. NIPR hopes to have its GPC candidate by the end of February 2019.

(Not) reconciliation: Trudeau urges First Nation chief to respect Trans Mountain supporters

In this article, the PM is questioned about the flawed consultations conducted with First Nations along the Trans Mountain pipeline corridor. Eschewing his usual talking points, Trudeau cautioned Chief Kukpi7 Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Band, who is also the secretary-treasurer of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, to not so easily dismiss the position of bands who do not agree with her position on the pipeline. The PM’s comments occurred during the Q&A period following his speech at the 2018 AFN special chiefs’ assembly. (You can see the schedule for the entire AFN Special Chiefs Assembly here. Elizabeth May was scheduled to speak at 10 a.m. on December 6.)

In an article previously referenced in the Must Reads, some representatives from bands who agreed to support the pipeline later reported they did so because resisting other past government projects proved counterproductive, especially when the benefits associated with such projects, like band member employment, passed them by. At the AFN meeting, Trudeau focused on what some refer to as reconciliation’s low-hanging fruit, when he promised federal government action to reform the child welfare system and to promote FN languages.

Update: Since PM Trudeau took it upon himself to chide Chief Kukpi7 Judy Wilson from the podium, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs has issues an open letter to Trudeau, calling his comments condescending and sexist. The Tyee has printed the entire communique.

(Not) reconciliation: Coldwater chief won’t accept Trudeau’s apology until prime minister visits community

Prime Minister Trudeau is very adept at looking and sounding sincere, and seems able to conjure up tears and verbal tremors at will. In the AFN Assembly referenced above, Trudeau apologized that “his government didn’t “didn’t do a good enough job” carrying out consultations with First Nations over the pipeline. The Federal Court of Appeal has ruled the government took an “unreasonable” approach that didn’t allow for a meaningful two-way conversation.” But Coldwater Chief Lee Spahan says he won’t accept the apology until Trudeau visits their community, just as Trudeau had visited the Cheam First Nation, which did support the pipeline. Read more.

(Not) reconciliation: ‘Our way of life in its last hour,’ First Nations tell pipeline hearings

“This is our last hour to say no to tanker traffic … our way of life is in its last hour,” an impassioned Chief Harvey Underwood of the Tsawout First Nation told the board. Chief Don Tom of the neighbouring Tsartlip First Nation said all he has left is hope the board will stop the project. “I have hope, but I have very little confidence.” Read more. In response to this article, Elizabeth May tweeted, “This article about the testimony given by Tsawout and Tsartlip Nations, whose territory I represent in the House of Commons, is a must read. I am honoured to work with and support these powerful First Nations in their fight against Trans Mountain.”

Reconciliation: Co-development of a National First Nations, Inuit and Metis Languages Act


The Department of Canadian Heritage, the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis Nation are working together to co-develop national First Nations, Inuit and Métis languages legislation that will reflect the distinct geographical, political, legislative and cultural context impacting language preservation, promotion and revitalization. Read more about their collaborative work. Read more.

What if economic development was an act of reconciliation? Introducing Indigenomics

Check out the Indigenomics Institute, watch a video from January, and read articles from March and July 2018. “The Indigenomics Institute is the leading research, education, and engagement platform for supporting the rebuilding and design of Indigenous economies of Indigenous peoples worldwide. The Institute works to facilitate the realization of Indigenous modern political, economic, legal and community development objectives.” They are starting the Indigenomics Series, which “will add insight into key Canadian voices that highlight the significance of this emerging economy, its role in Canada and the required response to move towards a $100 billion Indigenous economy.”

2019 could bring Canada’s first Green government – in PEI

“People are discontent and dismayed with conventional politics,” [Peter] Bevan-Baker said. “People are looking for something that doesn’t sound or smell or taste like a conventional politician.” Read more.

A must read? – “Slick Water,” by Andrew Nikiforuk

Review by Chris Alders: “I have just finished reading the superbly researched and written 2015 book, Slick Water: Fracking And One Insider’s Stand Against The World’s Most Powerful Industry, by Andrew Nikiforuk. The book is at once a history of fracking and a case study centring on the remarkable Jessica Ernst, an Albertan who dared to defy the utterly unethical and illegal actions of the energy giant Encanta, the Alberta Energy Regulator, and the Alberta government. Both frightening and inspiring, the book is a testament to the word integrity, in Ernst’s case, and its absolute antithesis in the form of Big Oil and its governmental surrogates and toadies. This book is indispensable to understand the level of pure, unadulterated greed and wilful complicity that subsumed entire ecological systems and human health.”



The world’s disturbing inaction as the Genocide Convention turns 70

As the world sees more and more people desperately seeking safety, whether it be economic or physical, more and more countries are turning to xenophobia and authoritarianism. This will only be exacerbated as catastrophic global warming consequences start to bear down on us if the world doesn’t act collectively – and quickly. Turning migrants away isn’t yet seen as genocide in the same vein as the Rohingya crisis is, or Yemen, or the Yazidi, but if the world’s leaders don’t agree and follow through on actions to mitigate carbon emissions, the climate wars will lead to more and more genocide. The International Criminal Court and the UN seem impotent and world leaders like Donald Trump are thumbing their noses at everyone outside their borders. Read more.

Excerpt: “The ICC is under fierce partisan attack. Nationalism and xenophobia in Europe and Asia have produced authoritarian regimes, emboldened by a White House that has relinquished moral leadership and condones their worst behaviour. And the UN Security Council, responsible for acting on humanity’s behalf, stands by mute and dysfunctional. Most troubling of all, there has been a resurgence of the very crimes the Genocide Convention was intended to address… So inaction in the face of mass atrocity has sadly become the norm.”

 Understanding the toxic US-Saudi Arabian relationship

If you don’t yet know about the podcast,Best of the Left,” we encourage you to check them out. Episode #1226 lays out the history of the US-Saudi love affair (and, by extension, Canada’s), which is based solely on access to the oil in Saudi Arabia. You may think this is obvious, and in many ways it is obvious. However, over the decades since Roosevelt first established this relationship with the then Saudi king, the power dynamic has shifted to the extent that we now see both Canada and the US excusing the blatant murder and dismemberment of an American permanent resident journalist and Saudi critic, in Turkey. And, relating to the link above regarding the Genocide Convention, we note how mute our government is on the war in Yemen, and how the American government is actively participating with the Saudis in that war. According to this podcast, the Saudis tried to conquer Yemen early in the 20th century but were unsuccessful then. That puts the current conflict there in a different light. Both the Canadian and the US governments are essentially saying to Saudi Arabia, “You can do anything you want. It’s okay. We’ll swallow the bitter pill.”

According to the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, “Ottawa views its relationship with Saudi Arabia in large part through the prism of its ties with the U.S. Its cost-benefit calculations (emphasis added) are, therefore, similar to Washington’s.” So when Donald Trump feeds Saudi Arabia ways to explain away the murder of a US journalist on Turkish soil by referring to “rogue actors,” or states openly that he won’t jeopardize the arms deals with Saudi Arabia over something as trivial as the murder of a journalist, Canada can’t really take a different stance. This seems to put both Canada and the US in a delicate sovereignty/national security risk situation.

Give me convenience or give me death

How the developed world’s plastic-dominated convenience is killing people in other countries. Read more. And check out the Green Party of Canada’s #RefuseSingleUse campaign.

How global warming works

The How Global Warming Works website has four short, easy-to-understand videos on how global warming happens. Each one gives progressively more information, but even the longest is under 5 minutes.

The juxtaposition of climate change and economics: US economists win Nobel Prize for work on climate and growth

“The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the two men had won the prize – which is not one of those originally instigated by Alfred Nobel – because they had “designed methods for addressing some of our time’s most basic and pressing questions about how we create long-term sustained and sustainable economic growth”. The two men, it continued, had “significantly broadened the scope of economic analysis by constructing models that explain how the market economy interacts with nature and knowledge”. Read more.


Part 1: Listen to Elizabeth May’s comments in advance of COP24. She deals directly with the misinformation being perpetuated by the Liberals and by Rachel Notley about how much money Alberta is losing by not having a pipeline.

Part 2: COP 24 got underway on Monday, and even though Canada will likely be in line for another fossil award as we prop up our wholly inadequate Harper Targets, Elizabeth will be there to try and infuse some hope. You will be able to follow her activities by visiting this page on our National Party Website.

Part 3: During the opening ceremony, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had four messages for world leaders.

Part 4: This blog has previously had links to stories about 15-year-old Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg. Greta is attending COP24, and her message was: “Our political leaders have failed us.” Today at COP24 she met with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Speaking at a press conference after, she says: “I told him that for 25 years countless people have stood in front of UN climate conferences, begging world leaders to stop emissions. But clearly that has not worked, emissions are continuing to rise over and over. I will not beg the world’s leaders for change. I will tell them that change is coming whether they like it or not.” Thunberg called on others from her generation to act. “We have to realize what the older generations have done to us, what a mess they have created… (and) we have to make our voices heard.”

Part 5: You can get updates on COP24 here.

Part 6: BC youth with the BC Council for International Cooperation are at COP24. Check them out here. The COP24 delegation also wrote a report, “Top 10 Climate Issues for BC Youth … and What We’re Doing About It.” Read it here.

Part 7: Listen to Sir David Attenborough’s speech at COP24. “If we don’t take action…the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.” The video includes clips from people all over the world, using the People’s Seat to speak directly to the attendees at COP24. See what you can find out about the Act Now bot.

Part 8: COP24 will put climate diplomacy to the test
“Parties already showed their ability to reach consensus on critical issues at COP21. However, the geopolitical landscape has gone through profound changes since then. With the rise of populist movements and the election of leaders unwilling to act on climate change — as in the United States, Brazil and Australia, among others — the ability of the United Nations’ climate process to initiate domestic action seems to be in jeopardy.” Read more.

Part 9: Setting climate targets for 2020 is much too late

Elizabeth May put out this statement on December 6.

Royal Dutch Shell ties executive pay to carbon reduction

“The Anglo-Dutch company has made the move after pressure from investors, led by asset manager Robeco and the Church of England Pensions Board. The groups said they believed “climate change to be one of the greatest systemic risks facing society today”.” Read more.

Canadians view marine shipping as increasingly important amid trade and pipeline debates

Caution: Check the original source. Here’s an Angus Reid poll commissioned in partnership with the Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping. The Clear Seas website has the following information (emphasis added) in its About Us link, which illustrates the reach of the petroleum sector’s tentacles not only within the government of Canada, but also in commissioning polls such as this one by Angus Reid:

“Clear Seas received seed funding in 2015 through equal contributions of $3.7 million from the Government of Canada (Transport Canada), the Government of Alberta (Alberta Energy) and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). Our funders saw the need for an independent organization that would be a source of objective information on issues related to marine shipping in Canada…Our board of directors is composed of scientists, community leaders, engineers and industry executives with decades of experience investigating human, environmental and economic issues related to our oceans, coastlines and waterways.”

While Angus Reid is known for its careful crafting of polls and unbiased reporting of poll results, readers must be cautious and astute enough to realize that Clear Seas has an agenda in commissioning this poll. (Note: BC residents were much more hesitant about shipping petroleum-related products via waterways than residents in Alberta and Atlantic Canada.)

Richard Branson and the Indian government are offering $3 million to reinvent air conditioning

According to Drawdown, the #1 solution for biggest impact to stop and reverse climate change is to change refrigeration to get rid of dangerous fluorocarbons that are worse than C02 and Methane. Read more.

Chinese eyeing Antarctic food sources

“In October, China, Russia, and Norway vetoed a grand plan to create the world’s largest marine reserve in Antarctica. The proposed reserve, five times the size of Germany, would have been home to penguins, whales, seals, sea birds, and much more. The three countries were reported to have stubbornly blocked what would have been a remarkable commitment to global wildlife conservation… With the marine reserve defeated, it’s not difficult to imagine how this will turn out. In fact, last month Asia Sentinel described how China plunders the high seas, and with no one to protect it.  The Antarctic can basically be seen as one vast no-man’s ocean. What or who is to stop China from doing what it wants down there once those mega-boats they are working on are finished? Which begs the question—what is to happen to the wildlife of this region when the Chinese factory ships arrive? Read more.

When art amazes: Australian Aboriginal women “Mark the Infinite”

“…all of the artists in the exhibition are leaders, healers and keepers of the family. Matriarchs, in short.” Read more. And here you can read profiles of the women who make up this show.

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