Limiting Scientists’ Free Speech: A New Canadian Tradition

Ah, Rick, I love you, and your honesty and willingness to use your celebrity status to remind Canadians what our nation has come to under Stephen Harper. Thanks!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=advh4xb6gRQ&feature=youtu.be]

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Wondering what all the fuss is about? Listen to Dr. Andrew Weaver, a climate scientist from the University of Victoria, discuss the current clampdown on Canadian scientists by the federal government:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUUVkW_mnlE&feature=youtu.be]

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More links:

Canadian Federal Research Deal “Potentially Muzzles” U.S. Scientist: Arctic Research Agreement Contains “Excessively Restrictive” Language

Prestigious Science Journal Slams Harper Government’s Muzzle on Scientists

Information Commissioner Called Upon to Probe “Muzzling” of Federal Scientists

Idle No More Challenges Enbridge’s Pipedreams

Everything that we do to water, we do to life because water is life. It’s not just us – we are all connected, we have to protect everything that lives, that shares the earth that we doIdle No More is about us standing up and speaking up. We have never been asleep, and now more than ever we are awake and we are standing up…If we keep waiting for change, it’s never going to come.” 

Eleven year old Ta’Kaiya Blaney addresses the crowd at Courtenay, B.C. Idle No More rally at the end of December.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=tH5Er9y4A4U]

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More links:

Stephen Harper prepares to fail his biggest test as PM

UN Expert: Canadian Authorities Must Begin Meaningful Dialogue With Aboriginal Leaders

Idle No More Challenges Canadians’ Commitment to Truth & Reconciliation

Photo: www.trcm.ca
Photo: www.trcm.ca

As I write this, Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat Cree First Nation has been fasting for 28 days as she awaits a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.  Last week, without acknowledging Chief Spence or the growing Idle No More movement, Mr Harper agreed to a meeting with Canadian First Nations leaders on January 11.

Idle No More has been called Canada’s civil rights movement;  it’s true that many anti-INM on-line comments point  to a racism bubbling away underneath the surface of our nation, so famous for its politeness. Even some Canadians who support First Nations right to self-determination are in the dark about the specific demands and grievances of First Nations that have led to the INM movement and Chief Spence’s hunger strike. Recently, I was approached by the head of security in a mall as I sat at a table preparing my sign for an Idle No More rally. Indicating my sign, which read: “We Are All Treaty People”, he said “I don’t understand that”. He was not being confrontational but seemed sincerely perplexed. Once I realized he wasn’t threatening to throw me and my sign out of the mall, I did my best to explain that the reason he and I, both descendants of European settlers, were able to call this land home was because of the treaties that were signed by the Crown with the indigenous peoples who have called this land home since time before memory. You can’t have a treaty with only one signatory; there’s always two. First Nations people have a “treaty card” which allows them to access some of the treaty rights promised to them. We settlers have the right to call Canada home; our Canadian passport is our “treaty card”.

Idle No More rally at The Forks, Winnipeg, Dec 21, 2012
Winnipeg, Dec 21, 2012

I wasn’t taught this history in school. The Canadian history I was taught didn’t articulate the concepts of  Terra Nullius and the Doctrine of Discovery, but they nonetheless undergirded the stories my classmates and I were told. Terra Nullius (latin for “empty land”) is the idea that no peoples before the Europeans had a sovereign clam to Turtle Island/North America and the Doctrine of Discovery views indigenous North Americans as inferior to Europeans, thus justifying the taking away of their territory. Both of these concepts have been used to claim indigenous peoples’ lands for centuries. Not surprisingly, First Nations people reject both of these concepts.  Defenders of the Land articulate their rejection of these concepts in this demand that:

Canada repudiate the concepts of Terra Nullius and the Doctrine of Discovery, which have been used to unjustifiably claim Indigenous Peoples lands, as factually, legally and morally wrong; and declare that such concepts must no longer form part of law-making or policy development by Canada nor be the basis of arguments presented to the court.

It’s time to tell ourselves a different story of the history of North America. Here’s one:

Centuries ago Europeans – endowed with a colonial/exploiter world view that allowed them to view brown-skinned non-European people as inferior in both intellect and humanness – showed up as uninvited guests on the shores of Turtle Island. More often than not, their indigenous hosts were gracious and shared their knowledge of food, medicine, and terrain to help the bumbling, poorly-equipped settlers survive. In the hundreds of years since that first meeting, settlers have repaid their hosts’ hospitality by taking over the “whole house” and shoving them into the basement while stealing their children. We settlers have enjoyed ourselves and enriched ourselves immensely while we’ve exploited the heck out of the place. We’ve eaten most of the food in the fridge, burned up the firewood, fouled the water and air, and thrown toxic garbage everywhere. Occasionally we discover there’s something in the basement we want so we head down the stairs, shove the original owners of the house further into one of the corners and grab what we want. Woe to any of the original owners who make a fuss about this state of affairs. If they have a hard enough time adjusting  to the new reality, they’re shoved into a closet in the house called a prison.

It’s 2013, time for non-aboriginal Canadians to come to terms with our unpleasant colonial past, and its ugly tentacles that reach all the way to the present. One of the many tentacles is the federal government’s omnibus budget bill, C-45. Another tentacle is the sense of entitlement found in online comments (“I never signed a treaty, I never took anybody else’s land, I never sent anybody to residential school, so why am I supposed to pay for this forever?”). The colonial/exploiter mindset has been normalized in North America, but that doesn’t mean it can’t change. As settlers, a first step to changing it and ourselves is a commitment to realizing our own entanglement in it. After that, in humility and in recognition of our  ingrained prejudices, we can ask our First Nation brothers and sisters what they would like us to do to help facilitate change.

We are all part of Turtle Island now, and our stories are inextricably entwined. In 2010, The Truth & Reconciliation Commission, set up in response to Canada’s acknowledgement of its shameful residential school history, held a National Event in Winnipeg. I was in the audience during a Buffy St Marie concert when Elijah Harper, the trail-blazing Chief and MLA who stood up in the Manitoba legislature 20 years ago to stop a national constitutional accord in its tracks because of its disregard of First Nations rights, was invited onto the stage. Mr. Harper acknowledged his own painful residential school past to the crowd of thousands, but went on to say that it was now time to walk into the future side by side, First Nations and nonaboriginal Canadians. Idle No More is an invitation to start down that road, one imperfect and tentative step after another.

while all canadians should support Idle No More

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Information is powerful. Here’s First Nations Policy Analyst Russel Diabo speaking about First Nations Treaty Rights in Canada and the current federal government’s moves to eliminate them:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECi_7G0QAgw]

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More links:

IdleNoMore.ca

In Canada We Are All ‘Treaty People’

What If Natives Stop Subsidizing Canada?

The Drumbeat Continues

harper please meet with chief spence

The story of the Idle No More is far from over. Over the holiday season, when people are generally too busy celebrating with friends and family to pay attention to political or social movements (there’s a reason why Stephen Harper shut down Parliament not once but twice in December). However, Canada’s indigenous people have shown that they are not going to allow their treaty rights to be ignored, no matter what the season, and have kept up the momentum that started on December 10. The Idle No More movement calls for a new relationship based on mutual respect between Canada and its First People, and for the protection of the waters and the land. There have been round dances in shopping malls, marches blocking highways, and blockades of roads and railways across the country. Chief Theresa Spence is in her third week of fasting within sight of our House of Parliament, and has been joined by a handful of  elders across the country. All of these events have been peaceful but they show a steadfast determination on the part of First Nations to stop the deterioration of the treaties that Canada was founded on and to ensure there is clean water, clean air, and a stable climate for future generations.

I don’t think Stephen Harper, wily politician though he is, has any idea of the fire he has ignited. Although the embers of discontent with his dictatorial, non-parliamentary ways have been glowing for years, and his particularly abrasive brand of neoconservative, pro-corporate, anti-science and anti-consensus politics has been fanning them even more strongly since he was elected to a majority government in May 2011. One would think that any politician with the smarts to get himself elected Prime Minister of Canada would be savvy enough to realize that ignoring the request of a First Nations leader who feels strongly enough about the plight of her people to go without food, and settle in a tipi away from home and family over the Christmas season, makes him look churlish and uncaring. It would have been easy for Mr. Harper to stop by to see Chief Spence on Christmas Day, and offer her what she was asking for – the opportunity to have a conversation about the plight of her people with the leader of Canada. But Mr Harper chose not to do this. In fact on December 21st when tens of thousands of Canadians, Aboriginal and Nonaboriginal, were marching and drumming and dancing in protest of his government’s legislation, and Chief Spence was in her second week of fasting, our prime minister tweeted Mmm… bacon along with a link to a Simpsons video. Really, Mr. Harper? That tweet, while appropriate for an adolescent, is not fitting to one who is in the position of leading the nation. Mr. Harper has been very successful at the politics of divisiveness and confrontation, but has no tools to respond to a humble Aboriginal woman who is willing to suffer greatly, even unto death, to improve the lot of her people and protect the land. Harper’s dilemma is almost Biblical, during this season when Christians the world over celebrate the birth of a child born into the humblest of circumstances.

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12)

  Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).

The mainstream media has even started to take notice. An opinion piece in Macleans magazine written by Brigette De Pape, the Parliamentary Page who became Canada’s most famous protestor when she held up a “Stop Harper” sign in the House of Commons , wrote that Idle No More is a Christmas gift to all Canadians:

In the face of a Harper majority government, which was elected with a mere 39 per cent of the vote in 2011, we’ve been asking for an end to unjust policies, and a transformation of a broken system.

In the face of climate change that threatens the survival of humanity, coming to the public consciousness in the 1960s with Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and then by the UN Commission in the 1970s, we’ve been searching for a solution to a path towards a clean future.

Since the beginning of consumer culture, we have been searching for some kind of meaning amid all the stuff.

Since the 15th century and the beginnings of colonization, we’ve been searching for a way to face our history, and to transform relations between settlers (non-Aboriginal people) and First Nations.

All the things we have been asking for have arrived at a shopping malls near us – in the form of the Idle No More movement.

Sylvia McAdam, one of the four Saskatchewan women who called for a National Day of Action on Bill C-45 that inspired the Idle No More movement, put it this way:

Bill C 45 is not just about a budget, it is a direct attack on First Nations lands and on the bodies of water w all share from across this country.”

First Nations from coast to coast are standing together and declaring “We are the land. We are the water. We will protect ourselves.” They are offering the descendants of settlers the opportunity to recognize our part in the colonization of this country and its indigenous people, and to build a new relationship of mutual respect for each other and the land. Perhaps the much-heralded end of the Mayan Calendar on December 21st 2012 wasn’t about the end of the world, but rather about the end of the world as we know it. The Idle No More movement offers all of us the incredible opportunity to be part of creating a brave and bright future for everyone.

while all canadians should support Idle No More*

More links:

IdleNoMore.ca

The Anishinabe Legacy

Idle No More: A Drumbeat Is Heard Across The Nation

Image: Aaron Paquette
Image: Aaron Paquette

There are a lot of things I could write about on this crisp winter morning; NOAA’s updated 2012 Arctic Report Card, for example (hint: it ain’t lookin’ good) or the aftermath of the tragedy in Newtown Connecticut on Friday, or the (related) fact that American drones have killed nearly 200 innocent Pakistani children in the last few years. But I’m going to focus on a Canadian story that has been mainly overlooked in the mainstream media here at home – although Al Jazeera covered it last week, and some local media did a good job of reporting on it. On December 10, International Human Rights Day, the First Nations people of Canada took to the streets, to their MPs offices, and to Ottawa, to send a message to the government of Stephen Harper that they were “idle no more”.  The federal government’s sweeping omnibus budget bill C-45 bill, passed last week with little discussion in the House of Commons, is an insult to all Canadians who value clean air, clean water, and a stable climate but it is particularly insulting to First Nations people. As Dustin Hollings wrote at CFNE.org, addressing non-aboriginal Canadians:

“…the Harper Government is out to do a few really nasty things to all of us right now. There are a bunch of bills on the table but the basic timeline is shaping up like this… 1) Remove Environmental water protections acts. 2) Strip Aboriginal First Nations of Treaty rights (the final assimilation). “

18 year-old Ocean Morin, who organized the Idle No More rally in LaRonge, Saskatchewan that brought out hundreds of people, put it this way:

“As a child our parents, grandparents, elders and our leaders all said our children are the future, but I have a strong belief that if this bill is passed, there will not be much of a future for future generations to come.”

The Idle No More Manifesto is available on their website. I’ve reposted it in full here because it deserves to be read and shared widely. The First Nations are standing up for a sustainable future for ALL of our children.

MANIFESTO

We contend that:
The Treaties are nation to nation agreements between Canada and
First Nations who are sovereign nations. The Treaties are agreements that cannot be altered or broken by one side of the two Nations. The spirit and intent of the Treaty agreements meant that First Nations peoples would share the land, but retain their inherent rights to lands and resources. Instead, First Nations have experienced a history of colonization which has resulted in outstanding land claims, lack of resources and unequal funding for services such as education and housing.
We contend that:
Canada has become one of the wealthiest countries in the world by using the land and resources. Canadian mining, logging, oil and fishing companies are the most powerful in the world due to land and resources. Some of the poorest First Nations communities (such as Attawapiskat) have mines or other developments on their land but do not get a share of the profit. The taking of resources has left many lands and waters poisoned – the animals and plants are dying in many areas in Canada. We cannot live without the land and water. We have laws older than this colonial government about how to live with the land.

We contend that:
Currently, this government is trying to pass many laws so that reserve lands can also be bought and sold by big companies to get profit from resources. They are promising to share this time…Why would these promises be different from past promises? We will be left with nothing but poisoned water, land and air. This is an attempt to take away sovereignty and the inherent right to land and resources from First Nations peoples.
We contend that:
There are many examples of other countries moving towards sustainability, and we must demand sustainable development as well. We believe in healthy, just, equitable and sustainable communities and have a vision and plan of how to build them.
Please join us in creating this vision.

Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nation is on her sixth day of a hunger strike to get Stephen Harper and the federal Conservatives and Queen Elizabeth to meet with First Nations leaders, include First Nations in decision, and to observe and honor treaty rights.   Chief Spence has stated she is willing to die for her people and this cause.

Graphic: Nora Loreto
Graphic: Nora Loreto

We can all get involved in this awakening:

Idle No More calls on all people to join in a revolution which honors and fulfills Indigenous sovereignty which protects the land and water. Colonization continues through attacks to Indigenous rights and damage to the land and water. We must repair these violations, live the spirit and intent of the treaty relationship, work towards justice in action, and protect Mother Earth.

Write letters to PM Harper, to your MP, to your local newspaper, talk to people, share this story on social media. Suggestions for supporting Chief Spence are listed above. You may not be able to do everything, but I know you can do something. If you want to attend the next IdleNoMore event, circle December 21st at noon (MST). Idle No More has put out a call to all singers and drummers from across Turtle Island (North America) to come together for a Global Synchronized Awakening. Everyone can join in (make sure you synchronize your time with noon MST); visit IdleNoMore.ca for details:

The heartbeat of the drum, the heartbeat of Mother Earth, is the heartbeat of the people.
Drums are the oldest living instruments on earth, and their vibration helps us tune into the natural frequency of the earth, connecting us to all that is through a shared heartbeat.
The drum combines animal and plant life to make an instrument that rings not only through the air, but across time. All the elements of Nature are used in the creation of the drum, representing the circle of life in all its aspects.
Our songs hold the stories of our past and the visions for our future.

OFFICIAL FACEBOOK EVENT: http://www.facebook.com/events/312625895520410/

Graphic: Dwayne Bird, IdleNoMore.ca
Graphic: Dwayne Bird, IdleNoMore.ca

Fossils In Harper Government Recognized In Doha

Fossil-of-the-Day-405x332Yes, it’s the annual UN Climate negotiations, which means that it’s time for Canada to start receiving its Fossil awards.  This comes as no surprise to any Canadians who pay attention to what our current federal government is up to in Ottawa these days. It’s clear that they are dinosaurs in every sense of the word except DNA, and are intent on dragging our once proud and progressive nation back into the 20th Century.

Climate Action Network reports that Canada was singled out on climate finance in Doha with a first place Fossil Of The Day:

Canada was awarded the first place fossil of the day today in Qatar for Environment Minister Peter Kent’s dismissive approach to supporting climate action in poorer countries.

In media interviews yesterday, Minister Kent confirmed Canada’s intention not to contribute new funding in Doha to help poorer countries tackle climate change, saying that Doha “isn’t a pledging conference.”

In a letter to civil society groups, Minister Kent said that Canada does not support providing funding for emission reductions through the new Green Climate Fund – a fund that has been a major accomplishment of recent UN climate talks – until “a new agreement applicable to all…can be adopted by all parties.” Read full press release here.

Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, put it this way yesterday:

When it comes to progress on climate change negotiations, the best thing for Canada to do is to stay home and stop sabotaging the process, says the leader of the Green Party.

“Canada continues to be a country that pushes other countries to do less. Our role is not just an embarrassment, it’s reckless and brings our once good national reputation into disrepute,” argued Elizabeth May at a news conference in Ottawa today.”

Read the full Huff Po article: Greens Leader Accuses Tories of Sabotaging Climate Talks.

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explain to future generations it was good for the economy

Canadian Government To Refugees: You’re On Your Own

A week ago I was attending my last day of class at the Canadian School of Peacebuilding. The 15 students in my “Speaking Up, and Being Heard” class on citizen advocacy spent much of that Friday morning presenting citizen advocacy campaigns that synthesized what we had learned. All of the campaigns were important ones, and all were well done. There was one, though, that caught our classes’ attention as soon as the three students showed us the video they had prepared. By that afternoon, the video was posted on Youtube and the campaign had a Facebook page. The campaign was going public, and over the last week has garnered well-deserved media attention. Way to go, Matt, Deanna and Maureen!

Here’s the video, along with some more information about it and some of the media hits the campaign has received in the last seven days:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQiSe00HOec]

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Refugees not approved of or invited by the Canadian government will no longer have access to affordable healthcare. This leaves them stranded and without support in a foreign country. The long term costs of social welfare spending far outweigh the cost today.We believe that if Canadians stop to consider the effect which these changes will have on the most vulnerable portion of our global society, that our country’s savings of 59 cents per person will be seen as insignificant.Therefore, we have put together the 59 cent campaign in which we are asking all Canadians to place 59 cents in an envelope and send it to the Prime Minister’s office to let him know that we will not stand for these cuts.In 2011 Canada was proudly a place of hope and healing to 12,000 refugees; this is a fact in which we take pride and wish to take pride in for generations to come.Postage to the Prime Minister’s office is free.  Send your 59 cents postage free to:

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada, Office of P.M.
80 Wellington St.
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A2

59Cents.org

More links:
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Here’s another example of how Canadians, in particular doctors and other front line healthcare professionals, are mobilizing against this inhumane and short-sighted government policy:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75FmimeFnu8]

Canadian Democracy in Disarray

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There is mounting alarm and opposition across Canada, even among many conservatives, about the Harper government’s omnibus budget bill, Bill C-38. Yesterday Parlliamentary Speaker Andrew Scheer (a Conservative MP from Saskatchewan) denied Elizabeth May’s well argued Point of Order re: allowing Omnibus Budget Bill C-38 as a legitimate omnibus budget bill will bring our institutions into greater disrepute. I’m sure Mr. Scheer wasn’t at all swayed in his decision by his party’s leader, who is well known for not allowing any dissent within his ranks.

Some of the changes to the over 60 existing federal statutes included in this “budget” bill (a better name for it would be “Harper remaking Canada into his neocon image bill”) are:

  • The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act is repealed, and a weaker version is introduced, without a single day of hearings before the parliamentary environment committee.
  • The Species  At Risk Act is amended, as well as the Navigable Waters Protection Act. This removes protection of endangered species and their habitat when approving pipeline projects. (Hmmm – I wonder why the Harper government would be interested in this change?!)
  • The Fisheries Act is gutted by removing provisions for habitat protection.
  • Parks Canada Agency Act is trimmed and staff are cut. Reporting requirements will be reduced, including the annual report. 638 of the nearly 3,000 Parks Canada workers will be cut. Environmental monitoring and ecological restoration in the Gulf Islands National Park are being cut.
  • Canadian Oil and Gas Operations Act is made more industry-friendly. It will be changed to promote seismic testing, allowing increased off-shore drilling.
  • Nuclear Safety Control Act undermined. Environmental assessments will be moved to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, which is a licensing body not an assessing body, so there is built-in conflict.
  • Canada Seeds Act inspections are privatized. This is being revamped so the job of inspecting seed crops is transferred from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspectors to “authorized service providers” (the private sector). Monsanto, here we come!
  • Agriculture is affected. Under the Prairie Farm Rehabiliation Act, publicly-owned grasslands have acted as community pastures under federal management, leasing grazing rights to farmers so they could devote their good land to crops, not livestock. This will end. Also, the Centre for Plant Health in Sidney, B.C., an important site for quarantine and virus-testing on plants strategically located on Vancouver Island to protect B.C.’s primary agricultural regions, will be moved to the heart of B.C.’s fruit and wine country.
  • National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy is killed. NRTEE brought industry leaders, environmentalists, First Nations, labour, and policy makers together to provide nonpartisan research and advice on federal policies. Its demise will leave a policy vacuum in relation to Canada’s economic development (despite Minister Kent’s assertions in the House of Commons that such information is widely available on the internet!).
  • More attacks on environmental groups are funded. The charities section now precludes gifts which may result in political activity, and $8 million in new money is given to the Canadian Revenue Agency to harass charities. Yep, our tax dollars hard at work!
  • Water programs are cut. Environment Canada is cutting several water-related programs and other will be cut severely, including some aimed at promoting or monitoring water-use efficiency. The Municipal Water and Wastewater Survey, the only national study of water consumption habits, is being cut after being in place since 1983. Also cut is monitoring effluent: Environment Canada’s Environmental Effects Monitoring Program, a systematic method for measuring the quality of effluent discharge, including from mines and pulp mills, will be cut by 20 percent.
  • The Fair Wages Act is repealed.

Bill c-38 hits home in my region in a particular way by ending the funding of the Environmental Lakes Area. Since being established in 1968, the ELA (located near Dryden Ontario) has been a world-class research facility where the secrets of algae blooms, acid rain, mercury pollution, and the impacts of aquaculture have been unlocked. The Harper government is planning to shut the ELA down in Bill C-38.

It’s clear that Stephen Harper has a disdain for science in general, and environmental science, which tells us about the world we live in and human (particularly industry) impacts on it, in particular. Here a child weighs in on Bill C-38. See the links below the video to take action.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlK040UKUtQ]

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Take Action:

SaveTheELA.org

Lead Now.ca: Stop The Sellout

For Sale: All Of Canada

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  • 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.