Former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is quickly learning what happens to whistle-blowers in Canada

The Trudeau inner circle’s counter-offensive against former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is reminiscent of what’s happened to many truth tellers over the years.

When people engaged in questionable conduct don’t like the message, they tend to target the messenger.

As a result, Wilson-Raybould was disparaged in the media by anonymous sources, who said she was “difficult to get along with”.

She was described as someone “who others felt they had trouble trusting”.

One “insider” claimed to Global News that she’s “always sort of been in it for herself”.

“It is a pillar of our democracy that our system of justice be free from even the perception of political interference and uphold the highest levels of public confidence.”

That certainly wasn’t the view of B.C. Indigenous leaders who’ve worked with Wilson-Raybo

uld for many years. Several have spoken out in her defence. MORE


Wilson-Raybould battled Bennett, other ministers over Indigenous rights framework

We can decide to live within the limits of our planet

A ring-tailed Lemur sits in the sunshine at the Manor Wildlife Park, near Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales, Britain February 3, 2019. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden - RC132307E8D0

As much as 70% of the world’s genetic biodiversity may already be extinct Image: REUTERS/Rebecca Naden

Are we living within nature’s limits? Or are we putting ourselves at profound risk of climate change, resource scarcity and a depleted world? Does the Fourth Industrial Revolution offer new opportunities or pose new threats? The World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Environmental and Natural Resource Security has spent the last two years trying to answer these questions.

We have entered the era of the Anthropocene

Humanity is reshaping the natural world. Nowhere on Earth has escaped our influence, from the deepest ocean trench to the outer limits of the atmosphere. We have truly entered the era of the Anthropocene.

Every year, we produce enough steel to make a girder that could circle the earth nearly 100 times, and we pour enough concrete to make a car park the size of England. In our lifetimes, plastic production has increased twentyfold, of which only 10% has been recycled. Every year, we produce our own weight in plastic, and the world uses 500 billion plastic bottles – around one million every minute. There could be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050, according to a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Another recent report estimated the mass of all mammals on Earth and concluded that by weight, 60% are livestock (mostly cattle and pigs), 36% are human and just 4% are wild animals. The world has 1.5 billion cows, 1 billion pigs and 1 billion sheep, and we raise more than 50 billion chickens annually. Three quarters of agricultural land supports livestock, and nearly two fifths of grain is fed to animals rather than people. MORE


Climate change: Teenage environmentalists protest in Paris

Greta Thunberg’s campaign in September gained traction across the world.

A Swedish schoolgirl has taken her environmental fight to France.

Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg is spearheading student strikes against inaction on global warming.

She joined hundreds of others at a protest in Paris.

It was Paris that was the host city for the signing of the climate accords. But President Emmanuel Macron, besieged by yellow vest protestors, dropped his plans to raise the price of fuel to combat greenhouse gas emissions after the protests that swept across the nation.

It’s taboo to talk about Canada’s real corporate scandal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits CFB Esquimalt. Photo: Adam Scotti/PMO

While the SNC-Lavalin scandal has torn another strip off the “sunny ways” prime minister, there’s another corporate scandal that makes the financial figures in that case — mere hundreds of millions of dollars in fraud and bribes — seem like pocket change. But no major political party will touch it, which speaks to the manner in which an all-party commitment to bedrock Canadian militarism squelches democratic discourse and strangles any opportunity for real economic justice.

The corporate scandal you won’t hear about on the campaign trail is the largest procurement project in Canadian history, one that will result in forking over at least $105 billion in corporate welfare to war manufacturers for a completely unnecessary fleet of Canadian warships.

With every political campaign comes the costing question: how will modest investments in daycare, housing and pharmacare be paid for when Canada struggles with debt and deficits? But the question that will not be asked is whether voters want to mortgage their grandchildren’s financial future for a project that will line the pockets of Irving Shipyards and the world’s largest war profiteer, Lockheed Martin.

On February 8, the Canadian government awarded the design contract for those warships to Lockheed Martin. Even working from the false assumption that these warships are needed — no logical rationale has been provided — critics have pointed out that the design proposed by Lockheed Martin has never been built and tested; hence, any real sense of the cost (and such megaprojects have a way becoming sinkholes for billions robbed from the public purse) is conservative at the estimated $105 billion. Once committed, there is no way the government will say no when Lockheed Martin and Irving Shipyards call out for another $10-$30 billion in “unforeseen costs.” MORE

Wilson-Raybould battled Bennett, other ministers over Indigenous rights framework

Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick denied Globe and Mail report he rebuked Wilson-Raybould over speeches

Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick said former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, right, battled Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, left, and other ministers over an Indigenous rights framework. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The federal government’s top bureaucrat revealed Thursday that Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former Justice minister, was locked in a fierce battle with Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett and other ministers over the direction of a promised piece of legislation central to the government’s reconciliation agenda.

Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick said a Sept. 17, 2018, meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould, which has emerged as a key event in the SNC-Lavalin affair, was actually in response to cabinet tensions over the direction of the promised recognition and implementation of an Indigenous rights framework.

The framework was meant to enshrine the Constitution’s section 35, which affirms Aboriginal rights, in federal law, allowing First Nations to reconstitute their governance structures outside the Indian Act. Trudeau announced the framework during a speech in the House of Commons in February 2018.

Wernick said the prime minister met with Wilson-Raybould to discuss “very serious policy differences” between the former justice minister, Bennett and other ministers over the framework. MORE


More court challenges expected over new Trans Mountain Pipeline decision

National Energy Board to deliver its decision on reconsideration of marine effects of pipeline expansion that is meant to tap into new markets in Asia for Alberta oil

Even before the National Energy Board delivers its answer Friday on its reconsideration of the $9.3-billion Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, opponents say there is likely to be more court challenges of any decision.

Last fall, several First Nations, including the Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish, as well as environmentalists and municipal leaders, said the expedited re-examination of marine traffic effects of the project, including on killer whales, was inadequate and could create grounds for another court challenge.

The Trans Mountain marine terminal in Burnaby. JONATHAN HAYWARD /THE CANADIAN PRESS

Among concerns was that the review’s 155-day timeline was too short and its scope was not broad enough, including that it was restricted to a 12-nautical mile strip along the coastline.

Eugene Kung, a staff lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law who has worked with First Nations in the past on court challenges of Trans Mountain, said Thursday the feeling is that the flaws of the review process have not been addressed. MORE

Alberta hikes minimum wage, adds food service jobs for the third straight year

Premier Rachel Notley at Transcend Coffee in Edmonton on Friday, April 15, 2016. Photo from Government of Alberta

Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour was a key plank in the Alberta New Democratic Party’s 2015 election platform. At the time, Alberta was tied for the lowest minimum wage in Canada ($10.20 per hour) and had the dubious distinction of having the highest level of income inequality and the largest gender income gap.

“All in all, minimum-wage hikes don’t hurt our economy, they help more working Albertans share in the province’s prosperity.”

With staged, pre-announced annual increases in 2015-2018, the NDP government increased Alberta’s minimum wage to $15 an hour — the highest in the country — as of October 1, 2018. Adjusting for inflation, this is about a 40 per cent increase over a 36-month period.

Any proposal to increase the minimum wage by any amount in any province seems to be met with dire warnings of big job losses and impending economic doom. In Alberta, the government’s actions have generated considerable public debate, some bold predictions, and the proliferation of myths of who makes minimum wage and whether minimum wage hikes correlate with employment effects (i.e. job losses or gains). MORE