Federal government criticized for leaving fracking chemicals off pollutant list →
DIsconcertingly, some chemicals commonly used in fracking which have been identified as carcinogenic are under-researched to the point where the Harper administration feels uncomfortable discussing their impact on the environment, since that impact is apparently not actually known:
OTTAWA - Environmentalists and legal experts are criticizing the federal government’s decision to leave toxic fracking chemicals off a list of pollutants going into Canada’s air, land and water.
"The government doesn’t know exactly which chemicals are being used for fracking and as a result doesn’t know the risk that may be posed by those chemicals," Joseph Castrilli of the Canadian Environmental Law Association, an Ontario-based legal-aid clinic for environmental issues, said Wednesday.
"They’re dangerous and they’re extensively used across the country."
Earlier this month, Environment Canada posted an updated list of chemicals that come under the National Pollutant Release Inventory. That inventory lists the sources and amounts released of 363 harmful chemicals.
Three environmental groups had asked the department to include fracking chemicals on that list.
A recent U.S. report found 750 different chemicals are used in fracking, at least 29 of which are considered toxic or carcinogenic. And a study by the Canadian Council of Academies concluded that the silence around such additives is a major roadblock in understanding the environmental impact of fracking, which extracts otherwise inaccessible oil and gas by fracturing rocks with high-pressure injections of water and other compounds.
"To assess any potential impacts and to design monitoring strategies, the exact chemical composition of the hydraulic fracturing additives, as well as toxicity assessments and persistence and mobility tests, are needed," the study said.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, in public materials and in meetings with government, has supported disclosure of fracking chemicals. Alberta and British Columbia already require it — although they exempt substances considered trade secrets.
Environment Canada ruled such chemicals aren’t used regularly enough or in large enough quantities to be inventoried.
"The quantities of (inventoried) substances used at individual wells are unlikely to meet the existing reporting thresholds for individual substances," say documents on Environment Canada’s website.
The documents add that the inventory was never intended to be an exhaustive list of pollutants.
"The (inventory) is a key tool for identifying and monitoring sources of pollution in Canada, but it does not provide information on all pollutants or every source of pollution."
Critics say Environment Canada’s response ignores possible cumulative effects. Nor does it consider that while fracking isn’t continuous at any one wellsite, that doesn’t mean releases aren’t continuous.
"In all years, somebody’s fracking somewhere in the country," Castrilli said.
"We know many of (the chemicals) are toxic," said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace.
"There are grave concerns right across the continent about this getting into drinking water. This is a basic issue of public right to know."
Environment Canada says it continues to study the issue as well as the Canadian Council of Academies report, which was released in April.
Toronto Ford Fest draws big crowd and LGBT protest →
#choking warning for the link
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s annual Ford Fest drew more than a thousand supporters to a park in the city’s east end, but the event was marred by some tense moments as LGBT activists were jeered at and told to go home by some supporters.
About six demonstrators protesting what they called Ford’s homophobia turned up at Thomson Memorial Park in Scarborough, holding signs that called for the mayor’s departure from office.
"He needs to be held accountable," said Poe Liberado, who faced loud jeers from Ford fans.
"His buffoonery is dangerous, his positions are dangerous and he needs to be taken seriously.
Ford drew heat from the LGBT community again recently after he remained seated while city council gave a standing ovation to organizers of Toronto’s World Pride festival.
He did not answer questions from reporters about why he didn’t stand along with fellow councillors, but said he’s not homophobic.
"He’s a disgrace," said protester Kevin Speight. "He’s embarrassing our city."
The mayor’s supporters, however, weren’t pleased with the anti-Ford sentiment, with a number of individuals getting into verbal confrontations with the protesters.
At one point, a few Ford fans grabbed the signs being held by the protesters, tore them up, and threw them on the ground, stamping on them in the process.
"Go home," they yelled. "This is Ford Nation!"
One man claims to have been assaulted. Toronto police said they are investigating the matter.
Most of the commotion took place out of the mayor’s sight, and a man who appeared to be on the mayor’s team insisted that everyone was welcome to attend Ford Fest.
Conservative government spends $4.9 million on public opinion surveys | Toronto Star →
According to an annual report posted quietly last week by Public Works and Government Services Canada, federal departments commissioned a total of 81 public opinion research projects worth $4.9 million in 2013-2014.
That’s up from $4.3 million spent on 72 projects the year before, but still less than the $6.5 million spent in 2011-12 when voters elected a Conservative majority government, and less than the $8.3 million spent in 2009-2010, the year after Stephen Harper’s government barely survived a prorogation crisis.
It’s also a lot less than the historic high of $29 million in 2004-05 when the Liberals were in power and annually spending tens of millions of public dollars to plumb public opinion.
What’s clear is that this kind of public opinion research is valuable.
It determines what Canadians’ priorities are and what they think of controversial and very political topics like prostitution, pipelines, the Senate, the oilsands, abortion, taxes, you name it.
It signals governments when to pivot on a policy, how to tailor advertising messages, and when they needn’t worry about an issue no matter how much the Opposition goes on about it.
Ever wonder why Prime Minister Stephen Harper constantly says the number one priority of Canadians is the economy? Polls with big sample sizes that probe the views of thousands of Canadians tell him so.
Guess where “helping the middle class” — which Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau mostly focuses on — falls? In two recent polls conducted in January it was named as a priority by only 0.2 or 0.4 per cent of Canadians. Abolishing the Senate — the subject of NDP Leader Tom Mulcair’s Roll Up the Red Carpet campaign? Just 1.3 or 1.4 per cent of Canadians thought it a priority.
Outside of government, the Conservative party reported to Elections Canada that it spent no money on polling last year. However, that’s not the whole picture.
The party did conduct public opinion surveys according to a party source, but it was reported under the heading “research,” a catch-all category on which the Conservatives spent nearly $290,000.
The party denies it takes advantage of being in power to probe public opinion using public dollars so it doesn’t need to spend on surveys itself.
Federal guidelines prohibit departments from asking questions related to electoral voting intentions, or political party preferences or party standings with the electorate.
“The government does not do polling for the party,” said Conservative party spokesman Cory Hann. […]
The Finance study said that 6 per cent of Canadians told the pollster the Conservative government should focus on “poor government/dishonest politicians/accountability” — ahead of taxes, debt/deficit, or energy issues.
And other issues that the Conservative government spends a lot of time talking about — crime, the military, Alberta’s oilsands, or better regulation of wireless services — barely register as priorities, with just 1 per cent of less of Canadians citing those as top of mind issues.
Canada's defence diplomacy hurt by tight budget, report says →
#also remember that canada's 150th celebrations are coming out of the DND budget
Overstretched staff and drastic cuts to travel and hospitality are compromising Canada’s defence diplomacy program, considered a crucial tool for advancing military and trade interests at a time of complex global insecurity, according to a new internal evaluation.
The report, completed more than six months ago but only recently released on the National Defence website, also warns of a lack of direction, co-ordination and resources required to meet objectives of the government’s global engagement strategy. […]
Walter Dorn, a professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, said shortchanging diplomacy is detrimental to Canada’s contributions to the world and our reputation on the world stage.
“The military co-operation program does essential work in training and educating officers from abroad, particularly in peace operations,” he told CBC News. “Canada is no longer the prolific peacekeeper it once was. For the cost of one fighter jet, Canada can run its defence diplomacy program for years. The government is showing short-term thinking to the detriment of the country’s long-term contributions and reputation.”
"Haha! Americans don’t have free healthcare!"
Yeah it’s actually a serious problem people are literally dying can this stop being a silly nationalistic insult?
Federal party leaders headed west seeking pipeline advantage →
#federal election 2015
OTTAWA — The two major federal opposition leaders are heading west this summer hoping to take advantage of the hostility of many British Columbians for the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
But Opposition leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau might want to reconsider making the $7.9 billion megaproject a central campaign plank in the 2015 election campaign, warns Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s B.C. lieutenant.
James Moore said both opponents risk sharing the fate of former provincial New Democratic Party leader Adrian Dix, who in 2013 blew a huge lead in the polls and was rejected by voters after deciding to oppose Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline expansion.
“If Justin Trudeau and Tom Mulcair want to take the Adrian Dix approach to saying no to any development in Western Canada and particularly in British Columbia in the next election, they’re going to have the same outcome in the next election as Adrian Dix did,” said Moore, who in 2012 harshly criticized Enbridge for its clumsy attempts to win public support for the pipeline megaproject.
“The public (according to polls) is split on the matter. But what the public is not split on is the idea of politicians is being reflexively against any development in British Columbia. They always reject that.”
Moore was subjected last month to several days of ridicule as opposition MPs, and especially Mulcair, accused him and B.C.’s other Tory MPs of “hiding” from the media rather than defending the government’s support of Northern Gateway.
Instead, the government relied on cautious statements from Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford, who said only that the government was endorsing Enbridge’s project subject to it meeting 209 conditions imposed by a federal review panel in December.
Moore, the industry minister, dismissed the notion he was dodging responsibility to speak on a major B.C. issue. He noted that it’s standard practice for the minister responsible for the decision, in this case Rickford, to speak for the government on any matter under his or her responsibility.
Moore was asked if he believes Enbridge has, since the company’s darkest moments in 2012 after a U.S. regulator lambasted the company, made strides in winning “social licence” to proceed with the $7.9 billion project. […]
Both Mulcair and Trudeau are planning B.C. visits in August, while Harper has tentative plans to head to the West Coast sometime this summer, according to an official in his office.
Do you have any links as to what the Harper government has said/done to/about environmentalists?
Things really began happening after the 2011 election consolidated the Conservative majority, which is to say, after the Conservatives had very little to lose. Early in 2012 the Conservatives offered a peculiar definition of ‘eco-terrorists’ in their condemnation of those who oppose the pipeline. Joe Oliver, at the time Natural Resources Minister, defined radicals as “a group of people who don’t take into account the facts but are driven by an ideological imperative.” Also, radicals are at least sometimes eco-terrorists. Also, anyone who “threatens to hijack our [the government’s] regulatory system” — of what is unclear — and who will “stop any major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth” — ‘Canadians’ here being narrowly defined — falls into this category of ‘radicals’.
So if you oppose the pipeline even ideologically, since 2012, to the Harper administration, you’ve been a radical and possibly even an eco-terrorist. Because of the cost to Canadians you are causing with your zany views about living sustainably and not, you know, systematically destroying the land and other renewable resources in the nation. And also because of your interruptions of the regulatory … systems.
Which is dangerous, since these “eco-terrorists” were explicitly identified in Harper’s new anti-terrorist strategy about a month later. Environmentalists were identified as “implacable adversaries.” IMPLACABLE ADVERSARIES. Not only environmental groups but also “vulnerable individuals” would be targeted under these policies, which is an interesting choice of words.
This article is so much. Here’s a particularly interesting paragraph:
The minister said that, in addition to foreign threats, the government would be vigilant against domestic extremism that is “based on grievances – real or perceived – revolving around the promotion of various causes such as animal rights, white supremacy, environmentalism and anti-capitalism.”
ONE OF THESE THINGS IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER. Listing white supremacists alongside environmentalists, anti-capitalists, and animal rights activists is a pretty fierce categorical error. Also, let’s be concerned about “perceived threats”. Okay! Someone being perceived to be highly concerned about the scientifically supported environmental impact of a pipeline is a threat, and also is totally the same as someone being perceived to be a white supremacist. That’s a reasonable comparison. (Forgive my sarcasm. I find it impossible to be deadpan about this shit.)
The article also points out that this categorization of those with environmental concerns basically categorizes any aboriginal groups as “implacable adversaries” as well, which seems to be particularly targeting.
It also notes that the Harper administration is probably misspeaking and has no intention of targeting anyone who’s conscientiously objecting to
poor environmental decisions made by the government, but let’s hold them accountable for their words anyway. If nothing else, David Suzuki retired from the board of his own foundation with concerns about whether his organization could do adequate good with the attention the government may give him, personally, under these policies.
In May of 2012, legislation started being pushed through, kind of in secret?Bill C-38, called the “Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act,” had a lot of other implications; please look at that Tyee article, which lays out the various provisions in the article that affected environmental policy. Highlights include funding for things that are now happening re: audits of charities and political activities; $8 million was allocated to this endeavor. The dissolution of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy may have also contributed to a policy vacuum that allows the government to prioritize “the economy” over environmental and other concerns.
It looks like every other party opposed it, in a pretty big way. It was heralded as an affront to democracy, kind of in the way the Conservatives are now accusing the courts of being an affront to democracy? Weird. It was passed after a marathon parliament session of 22 hours in June of 2012.
Remember the war on science? That actually started in 2005, according to that timeline, but became very prominent in 2011. Environmental research has been systematically devalued and in some cases openly attacked since then. Any environmentally concerned folks in science are thus also being targeted.
This targeting of professionals is also still happening now. Meteorologists maybe can’t talk about climate change out loud? This same article notes that Harper openly prioritizes “the economy” over the environment, again, and that oilsands advertising has doubled since 2012.
We also have claims of spying on anti-oilsands groups in April 2013. Here’s a June 2013 interview on Nanaimo, BC radio implicating (maybe baselessly; I didn’t vet this guy) the RCMP and CSIS in the targeting & surveillance of First Nations groups for their activism on the environment, among other things.
This is not a comprehensive list. Things have still been happening since 2012 but have been a little harder to quantify. Try these:
Happy to add any further links y’all add on the reblog.
BREAKING: Court system essential part of democracy →
#an ongoing saga
Canadians should not be worried about the judicial system undermining democracy, says the president of the Canadian Bar Association, in response to recent comments by Conservative parliamentarians criticizing and questioning the judiciary.
“The courts are essential and integral to a democracy. They play a very important role in the citizens’ ability to see that justice is done, to protect their rights and to see that laws are adopted and applied properly, Fred Headon told CBC Radio’s The House in an interview. […]
…Headon said Canadian judges are acting with “a fair degree of deference to Parliament” and that the scope given to the courts is defined by law.
Headon argues that parliamentarians have plenty of ways of pushing back.
“You can advise or ask the government to appeal that decision, and if that doesn’t lead to a satisfactory outcome for you, as a parliamentarian, can actually adopt another law,” said Headon.
LEGISLATORS THAT ADOPT LAWS FEEL THE LAW IS BENEATH DEMOCRACY. Conservative MPs continue to be unintentionally funny in that way that makes you want to cry and then move. This article is a follow-up to one published last week:
A Conservative MP says recent court decisions that call on the government to change legislation amount to a trend.
Dan Albas, the MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla, says that while he respects the courts he also believes an increasing number of groups are using litigation to advance policies the government will not put forward. […]