Must Reads from Last Week



NIPR Green Party candidate nomination meeting

The nomination meeting at which Green Party members in the North Island-Powell River riding will choose their 2019 Federal election candidate is coming up! The NIPR Greens have never had more than one candidate nominee - this is history being made in 2019, folks! Everyone can attend, though only GPC members can vote.

DATE/TIME: March 10, 2019, 2-4 pm
LOCATIONS: Black Creek Community Centre and Powell River Library (simultaneously).

Climate Law in our Hands: Courtenay Council decides to send climate accountability letter

“We’re not specifically interested in signing a letter that is adversarial, and so what we’re looking to do is actually draft a letter that is more designed to create dialogue and discussion, it’s not going to be as adversarial as the one that was presented to us,” said [Mayor Bob] Wells.” Read more.

Now, Courtenay Council is not bringing a lawsuit against the fossil fuel companies, but some jurisdictions are. So, lest you think this is a bit part in the play of global warming action, read this article on the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is going to bat for “Big Oil…Those suits, according to NAM, are a result of a coordinated campaign by activists “to disparage U.S. manufacturers with a focus on America’s largest energy manufacturers.” Never mind that it is the taxpayers will have to foot the bills for global warming-related climate consequences. Read more.

How a town dies: Port Alice pulp mill closes

Neucel Specialty Cellulose has been dormant since 2015, though had about 20 employees still working. The other day, “a fella who showed up here from China and everyone was sent home.” Neucel makes up 70 per cent of the community’s tax base and is owned by the Canadian arm of a Chinese company called Fulida. The mill still hasn’t paid its taxes, which were due back in July of 2018, totalling around a million dollars. Directly related to the unpaid taxes, Port Alice had to close its arena in 2018. The curling rink has not been operating, and the town has decided not to fill its CAO (Chief Administrative Officer) position. As well, the village’s entire operating budget has had to be cut back. Port Alice has a population of about 700 and, when the mill was operating, it employed about 400 people. Read more.



Site C

Part 1: Unraveling the NDP’s new spin around power prices and the Site C dam

“…the NDP is now doing precisely what its report justifiably criticizes the Liberals for doing with IPPs — manufacturing a need for Site C’s power while saddling generations of British Columbians with a project which will produce energy that cannot be sold for even close to the price it will cost to produce it.” Read more.

Part 2: Site C dam could still be cancelled at ‘11th hour’

The Site C dam could still be stopped by an “eleventh hour” court ruling, according to the lawyer representing B.C. First Nations opposed to the massive hydroelectric project near Fort St. John. The B.C. government, BC Hydro and West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations were in B.C. Supreme Court Feb. 28 to set a 120-day trial, expected to begin in March 2022, but the Province, First Nations, BC Hydro enter talks to explore alternatives to legal action. Read more.

Part 3: Connecting the dots - SNC-Lavalin, the Site C dam, and continental water-sharing

It’s worth reading to the end of this article. SNC-Lavalin has been involved in the construction of the Site C dam.  Read more.
Excerpt: “Water has no substitutes. When you need water—for crops, for households, for industry, for fish and wildlife habitat, for tourism—nothing but water will do. Its value is limitless, and this writing has been on this wall for generations. It was back in the mid-1950’s that the U.S. government tasked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) with ensuring that “America never runs out of water”. As the story goes, USACE mapped Canada’s water resources, with nine major engineering proposals being tabled. Every one relies on B.C.’s Columbia River to transfer northern water west of the Rockies and B.C.’s Peace River to transfer northern water east of the Rockies. Site C is the last dam to be built. To ensure that Canada could not stand in the way of such plans, trade agreements were signed: first the FTA, then NAFTA, and soon the USMCA—that stripped Canadian sovereignty over our water resources. Enter Site C.”

Trans Mountain

Part 1: NEB ‘reconsideration’ report a new low

“The board did admit that the pipeline and associated tanker traffic could devastate orcas, threaten the marine economy with the risk of oil spills and erode Aboriginal cultural practices… But hey, the benefits are so worth it, the NEB concluded.” Read more from the inimitable Andrew Nikiforuk.

Part 2: Alberta’s deceptive ads

This blog previously told you about the deceptive ads being paid for by the Alberta taxpayers, telling lies about all the benefits the pipeline would bring, and the costs being incurred by its delays. Here’s another blog post debunking the lies in those ads. “This blog is part of the Corporate Mapping Project, a research and public engagement initiative investigating the power of the fossil fuel industry in Western Canada. The CMP is jointly led by the University of Victoria, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and Parkland Institute. This research was supported by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).”

Part 3: [Alberta] court rejects B.C.’s request to declare Alberta oil export law unconstitutional

In May 2018, the Alberta Legislature passed the Preserving Canada’s Economic Prosperity Act, to allow limits on fuel exports to B.C.; however, it was never actually brought into force in Alberta. As part of “using every tool in the toolbox,” B.C. brought suit in Alberta, and the attorney general of B.C. alleged in a statement of claim that the Act was meant to counteract steps taken by B.C. in its opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline project. B.C. had asked Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench to declare the law unconstitutional, but Justice R.J. Hall wrote in a decision issued Friday that since the law was never officially proclaimed, the request to strike it is premature. Read more.

Part 4: Lawyer for SNC-Lavalin was Trudeau’s pick for Indigenous consultations on Kinder Morgan

In a bizarre case of “Oh what tangled webs we weave,” Elizabeth May is asking the Liberals how it was that SNC-Lavalin’s lawyer was Trudeau’s choice to ‘repair’ the flawed consultations on the Trans Mountain pipeline.


Part 1: CleanBC vs LNG: Here’s the ‘missing chart’ that explains the gap

This is from December 2018, but it’s worth reading again. “Climate pollution from Industry is projected to stay stubbornly high. And the primary cause is — you guessed it — pollution from LNG Canada..Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, criticized approval of the project, saying “adding such a massive new source of (greenhouse gases) means that the rest of our economy will have to make even more sacrifices to meet our climate targets.” The big unanswered question is who in British Columbia will be assigned the burden of making extra cuts to offset LNG Canada’s pollution. The CleanBC plan kicks that can down the road.” Read more.

Part 2: LNG market to reach $19.73 Billion by 2026

In this article of such rosy earnings forecasts, Steelhead LNG is listed as one of the major players. The Comox Valley just had a presentation by five different LNG/fracking opponents last week, and the consensus among them was that over its entire life cycle, LNG is more hazardous in terms of emissions than coal was/is. It’s reputation for being a “bridge fuel” from fossil fuels to renewables is based on lies that don’t take into account all the processes involved from start (gas wells) to finish (burning).

Part 3: British Columbia service plan identifies five key gas projects

This article came out late February, after Steelhead LNG announced it was ending the Kwispaa project. At the LNG information night mentioned above, one of the presenters warned people not to be complacent that we had heard the last of Steelhead LNG. This article seems to confirm that. “The province’s Oil and Gas Commission has named five major gas projects for the period between 2019 and 2022…These projects include LNG Canada, an FID on which was taken in October 2018; the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which will deliver feed gas to LNG Canada; the Woodfibre and Steelhead LNG export projects, which are expected to reach FIDs over the next 1-2 years; and the WesPac LNG facility being developed on Tilbury Island.” (emphasis added) Read more. (NOTE: This article is available to subscribers only, which this this blog is not.)

Part 4: LNG infrastructure market: Global industry size, etc.

This article also names Steelhead LNG as a major player and is forecasting an equally glowing future for the industry.

Coastal GasLink ordered to stop work on Wet’suwet’en Territory due to non-compliance with BC Energy Assessment Office permits

Twitter contains a post from the Unist’ot’en Dark House, dated March 1, that Coastal GasLink has been ordered to stop work on the trap line “until June 12, 2019, or until the trap line is no longer in use due to seasonal restrictions.” This blog cannot find the media release anywhere else. However, we did find this short piece on the CFTK-TV website, in which Coastal GasLink acknowledges “it has violated some conditions of its permit.” According to the Unist’ot’en media release, Coastal GasLink has not, in fact, ceased its work and continue to block access to trap lines, and were operating heavy machinery within metres of trap lines. Here is the media release on Twitter.



Election 2019

Nanos survey finds Canadians believe Elizabeth May is the most ethical leader

Now if we can just get people to vote based on that belief! Read more.

Elizabeth May: Community Matters Tour

As part of her tour, E. May was recently in Nova Scotia where she spoke about the Northern Pulp mill and the forestry industry there. Her words are just as relevant for the forestry industry in BC. “if we’re looking for meaningful ethical work, there’s a lot of opportunities across this province that don’t involve logging and putting chipped forest into ships leaving for overseas…We should be bringing back a saw log industry. We should be bringing back processed finished wood. Value added.” Read more.

Also read this piece by Ecojustice on the Northern Pulp mill. They are alleging that the Nova Scotia Environment Minister has a conflict of interest in assessing the request by Northern Pulp to pump effluent into the Northumberland Strait.

Canada’s health organizations demand action to prevent catastrophic climate change

Global warming is already causing devastating consequences in the form of flooding and fires. This is going to be an election topic in Canada this year. It’s good to see health activists speaking up. “In an unprecedented move, five national health organizations representing doctors, nurses, medical officers, and public health professionals gathered in Ottawa to call for urgent action to prevent catastrophic climate change on Feb. 5.” Read more.

Black Canadian activists pressured to be “quiet” leaders

Ed Broadbent and Rosemary Brown are seen at a 1975 meeting of candidates for the federal New Democratic Party leadership. Broadbent was the eventual winner. (CP PHOTO/Ryan Remiorz)

Like feminists, LGBTQ2 activists, HIV activists, First Nations activists, Black activists are told to not be too pushy, too loud, too aggressive, too challenging, too…anything. Rosemary Brown, a Black woman originally from Jamaica, ran for the leadership of the Canadian NDP in 1975. Do any of us know that? She was elected to the BC Legislature. Do we know that? Brown believed in working from within the system. Given the Black Lives Matter movement in Canada, this kind of ‘quiet leadership’ may not have had the kind of effect people like Brown were hoping for. Read more.
Excerpt: “To unsettle the system of shy elitism in Canada, we need to contest oversimplified solutions to the so-called problem of Blackness in Canada. We must also generate critical questions about when and why a Canadian state recognizes Black activists.”

Reconciliation: A Nova Scotia gas company seeks to remove Aboriginal protesters from project

This story is reminiscent of the Wet’suwet’en and Unist’ot’en experience with the RCMP at the Coastal GasLink blockade, and with the ‘consultation’ with First Nations on Trans Mountain. According to this article, First Nations protesters have been at the site of this proposed facility in Nova Scotia since 2014. The company says that, “This [injunction] was necessary and comes after attempts at engagement and discussion with the individuals at the site. We remain committed to keeping the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia, surrounding communities, landowners and other stakeholders engaged as we advance this important project.” Sounds suspiciously like Justin Trudeau saying they will consult with First Nations but that the Trans Mountain pipeline “will be built” even before they engaged in any of the court-mandated consultations that had been lacking the first time around.
Excerpt: “Alton Natural Gas LP intends to use water from the Shubenacadie River to flush out underground salt deposits to create the caverns east of Alton, N.S., then pump the leftover brine solution into the river. Members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation argue that the project will damage the 73-kilometre tidal river, which runs through the middle of mainland Nova Scotia. ‘They think they can go ahead and do whatever they want to do irregardless of our Mi’kmaq people being consulted and the impact on our treaty rights and our land and our water,’ [Dorene] Bernard said Friday.”

In the footsteps of a long line of matriarchs

The take-away from this - and the cause of many people’s cynicism - is that we don’t expect our politicians to be truth tellers. It seems Prime Minister Trudeau didn’t expect his Attorney General to be a truth teller, either. Read more.
Excerpt: “I come from a long line of matriarchs and I am a truth teller in accordance with the laws and traditions of our Big House. This is who I am and this is who I will always be. Gila’kasla.”

And on the topic of Jody Wilson-Raybould invoking “Big House” laws in Canada’s Parliament, read this article. “Observers say it’s resonating deeply in Indigenous communities, with some including legal scholar Christina Gray suggesting Wilson-Raybould’s assertion of First Nation principles as her guidepost is a “pivotal” moment in Indigenous-Canadian relations.”

Watching the rise of the extreme right wing in Canada

Saskatchewan columnist Doug Cuthand often talks about how racism thrives in what he calls ‘Indian country.’ In this piece, he addresses the “yellow vest” protest on Parliament Hill, which was supported by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier and Faith Goldy. Goldy is a white nationalist who has been a loud-mouthed right-wing gadfly; she believes the white race is superior and must be protected. When she tried to speak at the rally, a group of Indigenous rights protectors booed and shouted her down. She in turn told the group, “If you don’t like our country, leave it.” A hilarious comment to a group of Indigenous people.” Read more.



Food security

Part 1: On-land fish farms and greenhouses go together in Wisconsin

…and they’re certified organic, apparently. It’s aquaponics - the water the fish are raised in is used to grow the food in the greenhouses. The food is being sold within a 400-mile radius of where its grown. Read more.

Part 2: What does local food need to thrive?

This is a really inspiring story about local food security. Read more.

Part 3: Farming water

Shasta Ranch in California encompasses both a (used-to-be) river full of salmon and a (used-to-be) verdant pasture perfect for raising cattle. The Nature Conservancy bought the ranch for $14 million in 2009. The goal was to prove that “conservation and agriculture could co-exist. However, “how the green fields of Shasta Big Springs Ranch ultimately dried up, and the unintended consequences that marked various efforts to conserve the property, reflect the challenges of our warmer, drier future.” The water rights were sold to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and eventually, that body made the decision to keep all the water for the fish, and to to stop irrigating the ranch land.

Another ranch, also with a salmon spawning river, has tried a different approach to maintaining both agriculture and salmon, with very different results. Read more.

Job security: Top 9 ethical issues in artificial intelligence

This article is from 2016, so is already majorly outdated, but the issues raised here remain. AI, or machine learning (ML) is becoming more and more prevalent. Massive job loss isn’t because of too much political oversight - it’s because corporations are automating. Amita Kuttner, Green Party candidate for Burnaby-North Seymour and an astrophysicist, said in a webinar recently that in 10-12 years, around 60% of jobs currently done by humans will be performed by machines.

The goal of every global corporation is to reduce its labour costs. Before WW1 over 50% of the Canadian workforce was in agriculture. By the end of WW2 that figure was about 5% (not verified numbers). In the US, in 1910 farm jobs accounted for 33% of the workforce, but by the end of the 20th century, this number was down to 1.2%. That same article notes that,86 percent of food service jobs are at high risk of being automated by 2030. So are 75 percent of transportation and warehousing jobs; 67 percent of real estate, rental, and leasing jobs; 67 percent of retail jobs; and 62 percent of manufacturing jobs.” This was all because of mechanization and automation of manual labour.

This massive disruption is about to be repeated and so we also need to pair the concept of automation with the concept of Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI) and even lifelong learning, and all that fits together with GPC’s stance on encouraging small businesses in Canada. Entrepreneurship can flourish when people are free to explore and be creative and inventive.

From prejudice to pride: The Indigenous Ainu of Japan

The Ainu, the Indigenous people of Japan, have fought Japanese domination for centuries. As this century unfolds, their efforts are finally paying off. Photo by Chris Willson/Alamy Stock Photo

This article is from 2017, but it’s on the theme of reconciliation. In the past, Japanese archaeologists “paid little attention to traces of a northern Indigenous people who still call this land home—the Ainu. For much of the 20th century, Japanese government officials and academics tried to hide the Ainu. They were an inconvenient culture at a time when the government was steadfastly creating a national myth of homogeneity.”

Tribes use Western and Indigenous science to prepare for climate change

High-resolution climate models are giving Indigenous tribes vital information about how their territories and natural resources will be affected by climate change. Photo by Greg Vaughn/VWPics/Alamy Stock Photo

The February 16 edition of Must Reads brought you two stories on this theme: One from Canada and one from Australia. Here’s a story from Washington State, where “Northwestern tribes and the University of Washington climate group have joined forces to help protect salmon, roots, trees, and other important resources.”

UN Development Program and Open Government Partnership sign Memorandum of Understanding

UN Development Programme (UNDP) and Open Government Partnership (OGP) signed…in New York, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in which they reaffirm their joint commitment to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through open government initiatives…We will join forces to accelerate joint activities and support for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, with particular emphasis on SDG 16 on peace, justice and inclusive institutions as well as SDG 5 on gender equality. Read more.

Press freedom under attack: Why Filipino journalist Maria Ressa’s arrest should matter to all of us

Read more. This article makes clear this is not an issue only in the Philippines. The author, Peter Greste, was jailed in Egypt under terrorism charges. The United States used anti-terrorism laws to silence journalists who were leaking non-sensitive information to the press. Australia similarly has used the law to silence journalists.

In Canada, our government is perhaps taking a different tack: Using ‘initiatives’ to supposedly support journalism, but perhaps what it might do is support corporate journalism rather than truly independent, investigative journalism, but there are incentives for independent news organizations and subscribers.

Independent journalists themselves are banding together. See the Canadian Journalism Innovators project. “With the nine participating media outlets so far — the Narwhal, Taproot Edmonton, the Pointer, Indian and Cowboy, the Sprawl, Media Indigena, the Public Record, the Deep, the Discourse — and a growing number of supporters who believe in this work, Canadian Journalism Innovators’ goals are threefold: Mobilize funding to create sustainable business models for public service journalism; Accelerate innovation through collaborative research and development; Ensure women and people of colour are equitably represented among founders and leaders of new digital media.”

Avaaz makes it into Time Magazine

Global activists from Avaaz set up cardboard cutouts of Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, bearing the words “Fix Fakebook,” in front of the European Union headquarters in Brussels, on May 22, 2018. John Thys—AFP/Getty Image

Last week this blog told you about a new campaign Avaaz is launching, to address fake news by fundraising on Donald Trump’s tweeted lies. Well, Time Magazine reports Avaaz’s “initiative is intended to prevent the spread of “fake news” on Facebook and Twitter as governments come under growing pressure to regulate social media.

Research shared exclusively with TIME shows that 86.6% of people support Avaaz’s new proposal known as Correct the Record, which activists and politicians say could be the most effective way to stop “fake news” from spreading online…The proposal is one of the first concrete suggestions for how to combat the spread of disinformation online, at a time when false news is increasingly affecting the outcome of elections and fueling violence around the world.

Exxon seeks regulator’s permission to dodge shareholders’ climate resolution

Have you noticed some of the big oil and gas companies trying to ‘green-wash’ their image by promoting renewable energy? Well, this article puts the lie to that.

“Colossal fossil ExxonMobil is turning to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for permission to dodge its own shareholders’ resolution calling on management to set and disclose targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement. In a January 31 letter to the SEC, Exxon said it “plans to omit the shareholder proposal from its 2019 proxy materials and prevent voting on the proposal,” Climate Liability News reports. “It asked the commission to confirm that it will not recommend enforcement action if it does so.”

It’s complicated: Is the obsession with plastic distracting us from the major threat?

Plastics are a problem, there’s no denying that. However, this article in The Conversation explores whether too much attention is being diverted from the real problem, which is global warming.
Excerpt: “…it is important not to forget the need for large-scale systemic changes needed internationally to tackle all environmental concerns. This includes longer-term and more effective solutions to the plastic problem – but also extending to more radical large-scale initiatives to reduce consumption, decarbonise economies and move beyond materialism as the basis for our well-being.”

5 science teams racing climate change as the the ecosystems they study disappear

“Earth’s physical features and its ecosystems are woven into a complex and dynamic system, and scientists are studying its many strands to paint a picture of how the world may look by 2100, and how that will affect people, landscapes and resources. These five science teams are racing global warming as the landscapes they study change before their eyes.” Read more.

The most villainous act in the history of human civilisation

“There’s a race between two tipping points. The tipping point of the public consciousness, which we want to see, and the tipping point in the climate system that we don’t want to see and that we’re coming perilously close to. For example, the melting of major ice sheets and the global sea-level rise that would entail. It’s a race between our ability to mobilise the public and policymakers to action and the increasingly devastating impacts of climate change we will see the further we go down this road of fossil fuel burning. That’s really the challenge, to turn this ship around as quickly as possible.”

Michael Mann also talks about Climategate, which was a massive hack and release of emails in advance of the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009 and, in that context, “The science that we are doing is a threat to the world’s most powerful and wealthiest special interests. The most powerful and wealthiest special interest that has ever existed: the fossil fuel industry. They have used their immense resources to create fake scandals and to fund a global disinformation campaign aimed at vilifying the scientists, discrediting the science, and misleading the public and policymakers. Arguably, it is the most villainous act in the history of human civilisation, because it is about the short-term interests of a small number of plutocrats over the long-term welfare of this planet and the people who live on it.” Read more.

The inevitable death of natural gas as a “bridge fuel”

Read more.

Diane Feinstein condescending to the children who will grow up in the century of global warming

OMG! Just listen to the patronizing, condescending tone. It’s astonishing! Apparently Feinstein’s office said the video was selectively edited, so here is the full version, on Facebook.

Food security: It’s not what you eat; it’s how it’s produced that matters

“Few of us really realise that the food we’re eating today is impoverishing the soil and contributing greatly to the tragic and catastrophic loss of biodiversity — we don’t realise because most of us are far removed from the fields that were once rich in topsoil, and are now desert and dust. This is what needs to change. We need to once again become connected to the food we eat. The real cost of cheap food has been this disconnection from reality….to even begin that conversation, “we need stop focusing on what we eat, and start focusing on how the food we eat is produced,” Heffron concludes. “I don’t care if you’re vegan or paleo, we can all do that.” Read more.

Weekly round-up on global warming activism

Check out the weekly round-up of news around the globe from Fossil Free News. It’s encouraging to see.

Women Warriors: A must-read list: The enduring contributions of African American women writers

Yes, these are American women, but sexism, misogyny and racism know no boundaries. These are powerful voices. Read more.

Also read this article on how Canada’s racial data gaps affect the labour market, the justice system, and health care.
Excerpt: “We don’t collect data based on race. We collect on everything else − but not on race. As a result, Canada is missing “everything…That reluctance led to a situation where we are unable to really measure or document, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the effect of some social and economic policies.” Meanwhile, the United Nations has repeatedly rebuked Canada for its lack of data on the ethnic composition of its population. And an increasing number of people − from academics to community organizations – are pushing to close the gap.”

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