Unreasonable delay: Former SNC-Lavalin VP Stéphane Roy avoids trial

The judge decries “the culture of complacency” that contributed to delays in the case.

Proceedings against former SNC-Lavalin vice-president Stéphane Roy were suspended on Tuesday because it has taken too long to bring him to trial.

Roy was charged in 2014 with fraud, bribing a foreign official and violating United Nations sanctions against Libya in connection with SNC-Lavalin’s operations in that country.

The third charge was later dropped.

Roy’s lawyers argued that the delay — it has been around 60 months since Roy was initially charged, and his trial was not scheduled to begin until late spring — violated his right to a speedy trial.

Judge Patricia Compagnone agreed, ruling that delay was unreasonable and ordering a stay of proceedings. MORE


Case thrown out against former SNC-Lavalin exec
What would a 10-year ban on federal contracts actually mean for SNC-Lavalin?

Petition: You Deserve Answers on SNC-Lavalin

Canadians expect their government to work for them – yet when it comes to real action on the housing crisis, medication coverage for all or protecting workers, people are told to wait for help while corporate insiders are given a direct line to the Prime Minister.

Add your name and call for a public inquiry into Prime Minister Trudeau’s SNC-Lavalin scandal HERE

Canadian regulator won’t consider climate impacts of Trans Mountain

NEB chief environmental officer Robert Steedman chats with NEB vice-president of regulatory Sandy Lapointe and Jim Fox, NEB VP of strategy and analysis, prior to a Senate hearing in Ottawa on Feb. 7, 2019. Photo by Andrew Meade

Canada’s energy regulator, the National Energy Board (NEB), has dismissed a legal motion requesting that it consider all climate change impacts in its review of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline and tanker expansion project.

In a decision released on Tuesday, the regulator ruled out the motion from the environmental organization Stand.earth to “meaningfully consider the general impact” on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change associated with oil that would be transported on the proposed pipeline.

A separate NEB panel made an entirely different decision in 2017, requiring a larger evaluation of climate change impacts, during its review of the proposed Energy East pipeline, a project that was later terminated by its proponent, TransCanada.

The Trans Mountain project would expand an existing pipeline system, tripling capacity to transport up to 890,000 barrels of bitumen and other petroleum products from Alberta to a terminal in Burnaby, B.C. SOURCE


Youth-led climate protests sweep across Europe

Thousands of youth strikers gather in Parliament Square in central London to protest the government's lack of action on climate change.
Thousands of youth strikers gather in Parliament Square in central London to protest the government’s lack of action on climate change. Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Thousands of young people in the U.K. are up in arms — not about Brexit, or the latest royal family gossip, but about climate change.

Students walked out of schools today in cities across the U.K., and other parts of Europe — the latest demonstration in what has become a global youth climate strike. This movement started six months ago when Swedish teen Greta Thunberg began leaving school every Friday to protest on the steps of her country’s parliament. Thunberg’s environmental activism is still going strong, and she has delivered powerful speeches to both the U.N.and the World Economic Forum on the urgency of climate change.

They want leaders in government to:

  • Declare a climate emergency and take “active steps to achieve climate justice”
  • Adjust curriculum to make the ecological crisis a priority in public education
  • Do more to communicate the severity of the problem to the general public
  • Lower the voting age to 16, so that young people can have a voice in determining their future

“Refillable” battery tech could allow electric cars over 5000km range

Image result for “Refillable” battery tech could allow electric cars over 5000km range

A new type of electric car technology that uses a combination of battery and hydrogen power has an energy density so high it could allow a passenger car to travel over 5000 km, only stopping to quickly refill the battery fluid.

While there remains a lot of contention between the pros and cons of using hydrogen to power zero emission vehicles versus lithium-ion battery electric powered vehicles, breakthroughs like this continue to bring the topic to the fore.

Using a patented “flow” system that creates electricity via a single fluid to power a vehicle, as well as producing hydrogen as needed, the technology is currently being tested at Purdue University, Indianapolis using golf carts.

The system is similar to the Scottish “flow battery” technology that hit the news last year; although that system uses a membrane to pass ions through two separate “containers” of fluids, whereas the new system has no membrane and uses just one “container” of fluid. MORE

As Awareness Grows About Food’s Role In Climate Change, What Solutions Exist?

After a decade of work to connect food and climate, four experts say the link is being made, but much work remains to be done.

Despite the growth in coverage, dialogue, and action to address climate change, food and agriculture remain far from the conversation. And yet we know that food and agriculture play a major role in the production of global greenhouse gas emissions—as much as 24 percent by some estimates. Take the recent interactive report from the New York Times highlighting the ways in which countries can dramatically reduce emissions; it gave less than one full sentence to food and agriculture.

As part of Civil Eats’ 10th anniversary, we’re hosting a series of roundtables this year to look at the past, present, and future of the issues critical to the U.S. food system. Given the urgent need to act, and the strong swell of momentum behind policy solutions such as the Green New Deal, we begin this year with a focus on climate change.

The participants in this roundtable are: Renata Brillinger, Executive Director, California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN); Rosie Burroughs, farmer and rancher, Burroughs Family FarmsJon Foley, Executive Director, Project Drawdown; and Anna Lappé, author of Diet for a Hot Planet and director of the Food & Democracy program at the Panta Rhea Foundation. Civil Eats’ editor-in-chief, Naomi Starkman, and managing editor Matthew Wheeland facilitated the wide-ranging discussion. The conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity. MORE


Newfoundland’s offshore oil gamble

The largest oil spill in the province’s history has researchers calling for stronger oversight while government plans to double production by 2030

Image result for searose oil spill
Husky Energy’s SeaRose facility. (Husky Energy photo)

The ocean swells were reaching more than eight metres high when the SeaRose decided to resume pumping oil in the middle of one of Newfoundland’s worst storms in decades.

That decision in November by the SeaRose, a floating production and storage vessel operated by Husky Energy, led to the largest spill in the region’s history. More than 250,000 litres of crude dumped into the ocean when a subsea flow line disconnected in the heavy seas.

For two Canadian researchers, the incident is just the latest evidence that the offshore oil and gas industry needs the oversight of an independent environmental agency to better protect Newfoundland’s Grand Banks region.

York University’s Gail Fraser and the University of Waterloo’s Angela Carter say it’s critical the offshore energy industry have stricter regulation, at a time when Newfoundland is trying to dramatically expand oil production in the ecologically sensitive region.

“Our concern, in light of that spill, is that the system is obviously not working,” said Carter, a Newfoundland-raised political scientist who focuses on the environmental politics of oil and climate change. “How is it possible that this was a procedure that was deemed acceptable? There’s something really wrong here.”

Fraser and Carter are asking the federal and provincial governments to establish a new, independent environmental authority they say would avoid the economic conflicts of the current regulator, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB).  MORE

Half of European companies have no carbon reduction plan despite admitting climate change risks, report finds

Dirk Meister | Moment | Getty Images

More than half of European companies have no carbon reduction targets in place despite 75 percent of those surveyed believing their business will be meaningfully affected by climate change, a report said Tuesday.

In its annual report, non-profit firm CDP analyzed environmental disclosures from 859 companies. It found that 53 percent still had no targets for their total emissions, and only a third of those that did had strategies which extended beyond 2025.

CDP also recognized 76 European companies as pioneers for global action, including L’Oreal, Unilever, Bayer, and ING. The CDP, previously known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, has energy information on more than 570 cities worldwide. MORE


The silence/shame double bind for women in power

Image result for The silence/shame double bind for women in power
Jody Wilson-Raybould is just the latest high-profile woman to face the dilemma of staying silent or speaking out, of being powerless or shamed.

The saga unfolding around former Liberal cabinet minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has been characterized as many things – evidence of the old guard that still pulls the levers in Ottawa, of the over-centralization of power in the PMO, and of hypocrisy in the Liberal government’s promises of reconciliation and feminist government. But it is also fundamentally about gender and power – about shaming and silencing. It’s about who is expected to keep quiet and whose voices are heard.

Powerful women are often ridiculed and disgraced for their public speech, as I detail in my book Ms. Prime Minister.

For example, former prime minister Kim Campbell’s speaking style was characterized as shrill, strident, arrogant and hectoring, reflecting unease with her desire to seek and hold power. A vocabulary of expletives is routinely mobilized to condemn women who speak out.

Political scientist Kathleen Hall Jamieson calls this the “silence/shame” double bind: Stay silent and be powerless, speak out and be shamed. After all, women’s silence represents submission to patriarchal authority structures. Speech, on the other hand, epitomizes defiance of such authority, and it evokes fear. What will women say? What kind of damage might it do to the men who hold power? The discomfort with women’s speech is evident in the attempts to silence and shame Jody Wilson-Raybould. SOURCE


Green New Deal: Saving America or turning it socialist?

What’s the best path to move the United States toward an emissions-free future? For most voters, the answer has as much to do with their economic worldview as their ideas about the environment.

Given its sweep, it’s not surprising that critics are blasting the plan as “socialist.” The label may not be fair in a literal sense, but it points to a vital question of how to best care for both the planet and its people at a time when climate change has rising urgency. Is the answer more capitalism or less? 

The plan calls for a vast remaking of the US economy. In just 10 years, it envisions a phaseout of all greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Ditto for for cars on the road. Meanwhile, massive spending on high-speed rail systems would coax long-distance travelers off airplanes and onto trains.

Oh, and while all that is slashing greenhouse gas emissions to zero, this legislation would also seek to fix a host of social ills, with the promise of things like jobs and health care for all. Absent from the legislation are references to things like incentives, markets, or private-sector innovation.

Welcome to the Green New Deal, which depending on your view looks like either the salvation or bane of the US economy.

Given its sweep, it’s not surprising that critics are blasting the plan as “socialist.” The label may not be fair in a literal sense, but it points to a vital question of how to best care for both the planet and its people at a time when climate change has rising urgency. Is the answer more capitalism or less?