- The federal government has suggested it could replace a team of smokestack pollution specialists by turning to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, appearing to contradict its own description of the scientists and their work on Environment Canada’s website.
The apparent contradiction comes as hundreds of charities and organizations across Canada will stage what they are calling a “Black out, Speak out” event on Parliament Hill on Monday, denouncing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government for adopting policies they describe as anti-environment and anti-democratic. Read full story on Canada.com.
- Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page is calling the government’s bluff in his office’s quest to get the details from the government of its billions of dollars in federal cuts, saying the request has “constitutional significance” for Parliament. “By voting on the Budget Implementation Bill, Parliamentarians are exercising their constitutional role of authorizing the raising and spending of public finances. Without knowing the impact of the measures that are contained in that instrument, it is impossible for them to exercise this power constituent with their constitutional responsibilities. The information must be provided as part of the democratic process of Parliamentary governance,” said Mr. Page in an email interview with The Hill Times from Berlin, Germany, where he is attending the 17th International Conference of Social Security and Actuaries and Statisticians, held by the International Social Security Association. Read full story on hilltimes.com.
- From Global News, coverage of yesterday’s BlackOutSpeakOut campaign to bring attention to the federal government’s war on nature and democracy: The opposition has attracted the usual civil society groups, but also some strange bedfellows. Former Conservative fisheries minister John Fraser appeared with Davis Suzuki for a news conference in Vancouver denouncing the government as anti-democratic. He noted that in 1982 the Conservatives stayed out of the House for two weeks to block a Liberal omnibus bill and he called on Conservative MPs to speak out now that their own party is the offender. “Silence is not an option,” Fraser said. “Private members have got to speak up but they won’t speak up unless the public gets behind them.”The Canadian Federation of Municipalities, which often supports the government, called over the weekend for the bill to be split. Read the full story on GlobalNews.ca
- Journalist Dan Gardener doesn’t mince words in his essay, Is He Lying Or Merely Incompetent? about the Harper government’s record on climate change: In 2011, after the Conservatives won their long-desired majority, the government delivered a Throne Speech. Climate change wasn’t mentioned. Same for the 2012 budget. The budget did, however, scrap the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, a body created by the Mulroney government to provide expert policy advice to the government. It’s not needed any more, Kent said. There’s lots of policy advice out there. Just Google it.Last week, the environment commissioner, who works within the auditor general’s office, reported on the government’s climate change plan. There isn’t one, he said. Or rather, there isn’t anything sufficiently coherent and developed to be worthy of the name. Rather than putting a price on carbon emissions – either by a cap-and-trade system or by a carbon tax – the government went with command-and-control regulations and the commissioner’s report noted that the government doesn’t know what the costs of its regulations will be, or whether they will do any good. The commissioner also reported that, if current trends persist, Canada’s emissions in 2020 will be 7.5 per cent higher than they were in 2005, not 17 per cent lower, as the government had committed.That takes us to Monday, when John Baird – foreign affairs minister and former environment minister – defended the government’s decision to scrap the NR-TEE in the House of Commons.“Why should taxpayers have to pay for more than 10 reports promoting a carbon tax, something that the people of Canada have repeatedly rejected?” Baird fumed. “That is a message the Liberal party just will not accept. It should agree with Canadians. It should agree with the government to no discussion of a carbon tax that would kill and hurt Canadian families.”
Presumably, Baird meant “kill jobs,” not Canadian families, however, given the government’s penchant for rhetorical excess we can’t be sure. Read the full article on dangardener.ca.
This hour protestors are gathering on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, to show their opposition to the Alberta tar sands, and specifically the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline that could be built from Alberta across the U.S. to carry tar sands bitumen to Texas refineries.
I would dearly love to be there, but by the time this event was organized I was committed to helping with all-day events for Moving Planet day this past Saturday, and a sustainability workshop on Sunday. As I live a 5 1/2 hour drive from a direct Ottawa flight, and am a 24 hour drive away from Ottawa, I struggled with the decision about giving up my local commitment to building sustainability or traveling (and burning carbon) to make a very important national statement to our government and to other Canadians. In the end, a friend suggesting a low-carbon alternative. She couldn’t attend, either, but recruited a friend in Ottawa to go. As it turns out, a friend and fellow Citizens Climate Lobby member was in Ottawa visiting her daughter this weekend, and so we were able to negotiate extending her ticket so that she could attend today’s event, and represent both of us. It’s a creative and low-carbon solution, so thanks Kaaren for the idea, and thanks, Val for standing up for all of our children’s future on Parliament Hill today!
The event is being livestreamed here.
Meanwhile, here’s Robert Redford “Punching Back at Big Oil”
When you challenge Big Oil in Houston, you can bet the industry is going to punch back. So when I wrote in the Houston Chronicle earlier this month that we should say no to the Keystone XL pipeline, I wasn’t surprised when the project’s chief executive weighed in with a different view.
The corporate rejoinder, written by Alex Pourbaix, president for energy and oil pipelines for the TransCanada Corp., purported to cite “errors” in my oped. Let’s set the record straight, point by point.
First, the Keystone XL, as proposed, would run from Canada across the width of our country to Texas oil refineries and ports. It would carry diluted bitumen, a kind of crude oil, produced from the Alberta tar sands. On those points, we all agree.
I say this is a bad idea. It would put farmers, ranchers and croplands at risk across much of the Great Plains. It would feed our costly addiction to oil. And it would wed our future to the destructive production of tar sands crude. Click here to read the full article on RSN.org
Climate quote of the day, from Canada’s Auditor General Sheila Fraser:
“Canada needs a national, long-term, climate-change strategy — one that will allow us to mitigate and adapt to changes, to cover the costs and to engage Canadians in adjusting both their attitudes and their activities.”
Ms. Fraser was found to be the third “most trusted Canadian” in a Readers Digest poll published this month, behind environmentalist David Suzuki and building contractor Mike Holmes. Her 10 year term is ending on May 30th. She didn’t mince words in a farewell speech this week, and made particularly pointed remarks about two national policy areas: Climate change and First Nations.
Although this video is nearly three years old, it is just as true now as it was then. Rick Mercer considers the Harper government’s oil industry approved “environmental” strategy in “Oil Rules”: