Health Professionals to Federal Political Parties: Action Needed to Prevent Catastrophic Climate Change

February 5, 2019 – Ottawa (ON) – On February 5, CAPE joined forces with the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), the Urban Public Health Network (UPHN) and the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) and made a public Call to Action on Climate Change and Health to Canada’s federal political parties.

“Last summer, tens of thousands of Canadians had their lives disrupted by wildfires, millions in western Canada were forced to breath  harmful levels of air pollution for days or weeks at a time, while millions in central and eastern Canada were exposed to extreme heat for prolonged periods” noted Kim Perrotta, Executive Director of CAPE.  “In the fall, the International Panel on Climate Change painted a bleak picture of a world if we allowed global warming of 2 degrees Celsius.  There is an urgent need for deep action on climate change and the election platforms of our political parties must reflect that reality.”

“We are the generation in charge during the last time window for humanity to decrease its emissions enough to maintain a livable climate. The next 12 years are critical: Members of Parliament elected in the 2019 federal election will ultimately have the opportunity to ensure a healthy response to climate change or be responsible for devastating climate-related impacts that will be visited on our children and future generations,” said Dr. Courtney Howard, President of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE). “Just as when we do CPR during a code blue in the hospital, we need to push hard, push fast, and not stop in order to ensure a healthy outcome.” TAKE ACTION!

John Ivison: PBO report on Trans Mountain purchase is sombre reading for a government that likely overpaid

Morneau may not have been fleeced, but certainly paid at the high end of the valuation scale, apparently assuming that everything would proceed smoothly


Finance Minister Bill Morneau speaks with reporters about the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s report on the Trans Mountain pipeline outside the House of Commons Thursday.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

The sticker price Kinder Morgan put on the Trans Mountain pipeline when it entered negotiations with the federal government last year was $6.5 billion. Hence, finance minister Bill Morneau and his team thought they’d scored a bargain when they sealed the deal at $4.4 billion.

But it looks increasingly like he may bought a cat in a sack.

In all probability, the pipeline will take longer to build than anticipated; the construction costs will be greater; and the risks associated with the project mean the discount rate will be higher.

If any of those variables moves in the wrong direction, the value of the pipeline falls off a cliff. For example, PBO estimates that it is not worth the government proceeding with construction if the project is delayed a further two years and construction costs rise just 10 per cent.

What are the chances of that? As one veteran of the government infrastructure projects commented: “I’ve never seen one come in ahead of schedule or below budget.” MORE

 

‘Shocking’ failure to cut emissions from biggest-polluting sector in UK as others improve

Concerns lack of progress cutting greenhouse gases from cars will hamper future climate targets even as overall emissions fall

Transport is the sector responsible for most of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions
Transport is the sector responsible for most of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions ( Getty/iStock )

Zero progress has been made in reducing climate-harming emissions from the UK’s most polluting sector, according to new government figures.

In 2017 levels of greenhouse gases from cars and other forms of transport did not fall at all.

Campaigners accused the government of ignoring the “elephant in the room” and investing in new roads at the expense of the nation’s future climate targets.

With more and more electricity coming from renewable sources, transport is now firmly established as the biggest polluter, responsible for over a quarter of the UK’s emissions.

“We could be starting the kind of decline on transport emissions as we’ve done with power but instead both the government and the car industry are idling on the issue.”

Overall the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 42 per cent since 1990, with a 3 per cent drop between 2016 and 2017, the most recent period for which figures are available. However, while most sectors have seen considerable declines of up to two-thirds in the past three decades, transport pollution has fallen by just 2 per cent. MORE

The glaring hole in Trump’s address: Climate change


(Al Drago)

President Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night zigzagged between paeans to unity and sops to his hardcore base. He eulogized World War II soldiers and then wheeled on immigrants and leftist rivals at home. But absent amid the nativist demagoguery and partisan jockeying was any reference to the threat looming above all others: climate change.

That’s no surprise. Trump is an avowed climate skeptic who casts environmentalist efforts as challenges to American sovereignty, not ways to stave off a planet-wide disaster. As much of the United States endured a deep freeze last month, Trump took to Twitter to plead for more “global warming.”

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need

Experts quickly noted that the president was confusing weather with climate — and that the warming of the Arctic could lead to sharper, snowier cold spells in the North American winter.

“Only with an ill-informed citizenry could you plausibly dismiss the consensus of the world’s scientists based upon a single cold spell,” wrote climate scientist Michael E. Mann. “Trump and, more to the point, the fossil fuel interests whose bidding he is doing have weaponized the public’s poor understanding of science.”

Trump is certainly at odds with the global scientific community — including leading scientists in the United States and even in his own government. In November, the Trump administration tried to bury the terrifying findings of its own National Climate Assessment by releasing it the day after Thanksgiving. In that report, researchers affiliated with a number of federal agencies offered alarming conclusions about the increased risk of natural catastrophes because of the changing climate. MORE

RELATED:

Charlie Baker will urge Washington to act on climate change
Extreme weather cost the nation 247 lives, nearly $100 billion in damage in 2018 as billion-dollar disasters become more frequent

OPP review of leaks prompts fresh concerns about Doug Ford’s friend heading police force


NDP leader Andrea Horwath and Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliot speak to the legislature on Oct. 3, 2018. Photos by Carlos Osorio

An Ontario government request for an Ontario Provincial Police investigation into a leak of its secret plans for healthcare has prompted fresh concerns about what will happen if a friend of Premier Doug Ford gets to lead the provincial police force.

The Ford government called the OPP to launch a probe after an internal investigation concluded that an unnamed Ontario government employee was responsible for a massive leak of documents to the official Opposition NDP about the creation of a “super agency” to overhaul healthcare in the province. The employee has been fired.

“This is exhibit A of why Ron Taverner cannot be OPP commissioner,” said Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter.

The province’s integrity commissioner is reviewing the nomination of Taverner, a close family friend of the premier, to the position of police commissioner. The nomination was announced after the government had modified the job description to ensure that he would qualify, iPolitics reported last fall. MORE

RELATED:

What leaked government documents reveal about the Tories’ health plan

ANALYSIS: According to new files released by the NDP, the government has already taken steps to prepare for major structural changes to the health-care system. But they raise questions about much more than just privatization, writes John Michael McGrath

Inuit leader says Trudeau government’s new language bill imposes a ‘colonial’ system

File photo of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Natan Obed in November 2017 in Ottawa. Photo by Alex Tétreault

The national Inuit organization in Canada says the Trudeau government’s new Indigenous languages bill has failed to address Inuit rights.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) expressed “disappointment” Tuesday in Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez’s new legislation, Bill C-91, the Indigenous Languages Act, calling it a “symbolic gesture.”

The statement has put ITK at odds with both Ottawa and another major Indigenous organization, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), which welcomed the tabling in Parliament of the bill and said it “deserves the support of all Parliamentarians and all Canadians.”

Inuit Express Disappointment With National Indigenous Languages Bill

Inuit express disappointment with national Indigenous languages bill and lament the missed opportunity to end discriminatory language policies in Canada

February 5, 2019, Ottawa, ON – The national indigenous languages bill that was introduced by the Minister of Canadian Heritage in the House of Commons today is a symbolic gesture that does not address Inuit rights to speak our language, nor does it include provisions that are necessary to support its revitalization, maintenance, and promotion.

“Despite being characterized as a reconciliation and co-development initiative, the Government of Canada engaged Inuit in bad faith throughout this legislative initiative,” said Natan Obed, president of ITK. “The absence of any Inuit-specific content suggests this bill is yet another legislative initiative developed behind closed doors by a colonial system and then imposed on Inuit.”

Eighty four percent of Inuit within the 51 communities that make up Inuit Nunangat report the ability to speak our language – Inuktut – making it the most resilient indigenous language spoken in Canada. Inuktut has official language status in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, and is an official language of the Nunatsiavut Government, whose jurisdiction encompasses northern Labrador.

ITK initially welcomed this legislative initiative when it was launched in July 2017 as an opportunity to build on existing rights for Inuktut and to close the longstanding legislative gap that enables continued discrimination against Inuktut speakers.

“Our efforts to revitalize, maintain, and promote Inuktut are often blunted by inequitable federal funding policies that task us with doing much more with far fewer resources than what French and English speakers receive,” said Natan Obed. “At the same time, our people do not have the right to access federal services in Inuktut, relegating it to a status beneath English and French,” he said. MORE

Green New Deal: When politics was trumped by the weather


 The original image by Dominik Dancs/Unsplash 

It may be a bigger public investment programme than the Marshall Plan or the moon-shot, but thanks to US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the young people who back her, it may just get through. As an answer to climate change, the Green New Deal is the best humanity has right now. Which means that South Africa could reap the benefits too.

“If everyone is guilty, then no one is to blame,” said Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg at Davos two weeks ago. “And someone is to blame.”

Was this a veiled reference to Nathaniel Rich’s novella-length article “Losing Earth,” in which The New York Times Magazine took the unprecedented step of devoting an entire issue to climate change, ultimately blaming our collective failure to avert its worst effects on “human nature”?

Perhaps. Since rising to prominence in August 2018, the same month that Rich’s piece was published, Thunberg had drawn the attention of climate celebrities who appeared to despise the blamelessness hypothesis as much as she did. Chief among these was the journalist and filmmaker Naomi Klein, who’d laid into Rich for employing the “royal we” in place of the easily identifiable individuals that had been behind the massive increase in carbon emissions since the late 1980s — the fossil fuel executives and their plutocrat enablers, to be specific.

Back in November 2018, Naomi Klein wrote in The Interceptthat the Green New Deal “is not a piecemeal approach that trains a water gun on a blazing fire, but a comprehensive and holistic plan to actually put the fire out”.

She then added: “If the world’s largest economy looked poised to show that kind of visionary leadership, other major emitters — like the European Union, China, and India — would almost certainly find themselves under intense pressure from their own populations to follow suit.” MORE

RCMP attack on Wet’suwet’en camp: No reconciliation is possible under capitalism!

On Jan. 7 the RCMP, including members of the Tactical and Emergency Response Teams, attacked and dismantled the Gidimt’en checkpoint on Wet’suwet’en territory in Northern British Columbia, arresting 14 people. The Gidim’ten checkpoint was set up in December 2018 after the B.C. Supreme Court granted TransCanada Coastal GasLink an injunction to remove another camp, the Unist’ot’en checkpoint, which was established in 2009 to control and block access by pipeline corporations to Wet’suwet’en territory.

The Unist’ot’en camp website explained that while they expected “a large response, we did not expect a military level invasion where our unarmed women and elders were faced with automatic weapons and bulldozers”.

After the initial attack on the Gidimt’en checkpoint, the hereditary chiefs came to an agreement with the RCMP to allow the oil corporation access to do pre-construction work behind the Unist’ot’en checkpoint as specified in the injunction, while vowing that “this is not over”.

The Unist’ot’en have explained that

while the chiefs have a responsibility to protect the land, they also have a duty to protect our land defenders. Our people faced an incredible risk of injury or death and that is not a risk we are willing to take for an interim injunction. The agreement we made allows Coastal GasLink to temporarily work behind the Unist’ot’en gate. This will continue to be a waste of their time and resources as they will not be building a pipeline in our traditional territory.”

MORE