More than half of Canadians say charges against SNC-Lavalin should go to criminal trial: poll

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More than half of Canadians say fraud and corruption charges against SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. should go to a criminal trial rather than a negotiated settlement where the Montreal engineering and construction giant would pay fines and avoid prosecution, according to a new survey.

The numbers, provided exclusively to The Globe and Mail and CTV News, are based on a Nanos poll of 750 Canadians from Feb. 28 to March 1. The poll comes after testimony from former justice minister and attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould to a parliamentary justice committee on Feb. 27, when she alleged “consistent and sustained” political pressure from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other senior officials to shelve the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

Before the committee, Ms. Wilson-Raybould alleged inappropriate conduct on the part of Mr. Trudeau and 11 people in the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office and the Office of the Minister of Finance. This included Mr. Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, and former principal secretary Gerald Butts, as well as Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick, Finance Minister Bill Morneau and his chief of staff, Ben Chin. The committee will hear this week from Mr. Butts, who resigned shortly after Ms. Wilson-Raybould quit cabinet on Feb. 12, and hear again from Mr. Wernick.

SNC-Lavalin, which is facing criminal charges over allegations of bribery in Libya between 2001 and 2011, has been seeking a negotiated settlement in which a company admits wrongdoing and pays a fine, but avoids a trial. Last September, however, the federal director of public prosecutions, Kathleen Roussel, informed the company that the prosecution would continue. MORE

Basic income project improved lives, but ‘now it’s back to the food bank’

The lives of more than 400 low-income Ontarians receiving a basic income under the province’s three-year pilot project were showing “significant improvements” before the Ford government killed the experiment last summer, according to a new report.

Participants reported less stress and depression, fewer health problems and a greater ability to work, buy healthy food, upgrade their education and secure stable housing, says the report being released Monday by the Basic Income Canada Network.

Krystal Miller, a single mother, says the change in the basic income pilot project will send her “back to the food bank.”Krystal Miller, a single mother, says the change in the basic income pilot project will send her “back to the food bank.”  (BARRY GRAY / THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR)
“Many respondents talked about working hard their whole lives, often at multiple jobs, but never really having a life — until basic income made that possible,” says the report, which tries to gauge the impact of the ill-fated anti-poverty initiative in the absence of official government research.  MORE

Children push ahead with historic lawsuit to force Trump administration to tackle climate change

Judge already ruled there could be constitutional right to a safe environment

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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

A group of children are suing the US government for failing to protect them against climate change, in a case which could force the authorities to rapidly decarbonise the American economy.

The unprecedented lawsuit accuses successive administrations of knowing the science of climate change but not taking enough action to protect US citizens from the damage it causes.

The case, first filed in 2015, was initially dismissed by most legal observers as hopeless, but in 2016 a federal judge, Ann Aiken, stunned the government by refusing its attempt to end the case.

Ann Carlson, a professor of environmental law at UCLA, said this was a major development as no court had ever previously upheld the idea the government had a duty to provide its citizens a stable and safe environment.  “[But] I think that Judge Aiken actually does a very good job of saying it’s not radical to ask the government to protect the health, and the lives and the property of this current generation of kids.” MORE


Can they save us? Meet the climate kids fighting to fix the planet


We Have A Climate Crisis On This Planet

We Have A Climate Crisis On This Planet, Below2C

A Yale University survey shows more than 70 percent of Americans agree we must limit global warming. The climate emergency is real, but the chaos is larger than the climate disruption. New research shows the frequency and severity of heat waves will get worse. Sea level rise, extreme weather events, drought, crop failure, and water scarcity are driving countries to stop the flow of climate refugees. Poor islands and developing nations are seen as collateral damage.

Inaction is a criminal response

There are two main forces driving inaction. Air, water, and soil are sacred gifts of nature. But frackers, miners, loggers, and land developers see the sacred as inconvenient externalities. The GOP mindset is all about money. Our priceless sacred gifts of nature are seen as worthless because no money is involved.

The goal is clear, but people are easily distracted by daily events and short-term rewards. The 24/7 media and twitter-man keep Americans glued to the TV and silent, with no time to think, read, or act.

Fear, greed, and hate are unspoken reasons for inaction. We are facing an ethical crisis where future generations are helpless victims. [a recent post explores fear as a motivator] MORE

Extinction Rebellion Rising Up In Canada

Extinction Rebellion Rising Up In Canada, Below2C
Source: Extinction Rebellion Canada Facebook page

The Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement was formally launched with a declaration and a direct action on October 31, 2018 in London, England. Just over four months later, how is it faring?

First off, XR was formed as an explicitly direct action-focused movement. Guardian columnist and XR supporter George Monbiot has written, “This is a movement devoted to disruptive, non-violent disobedience in protest against ecological collapse.”

UK Actions

UK-based XR campaigner Tiana Jacout has commented, “We have tried marching, and lobbying, and signing petitions. Nothing has brought about the change that is needed.” And her colleague Gail Bradbrook has stated, “Only large-scale economic disruption can rapidly bring the government to the table to discuss our demands.”

 “XR community [should] never say we’re a climate movement. Because we’re not. We’re a Rebellion.”

To date, some of the group’s direct actions in the UK have included: blocking roads that lead to Parliament Square (October 31), blocking and spray-painting the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (November 12), shutting down the Brazilian embassy with an LGBTQ+ dance party (November 15), occupying five bridges in central London (November 17), calling on the BBC to make coverage of climate breakdown a top priority (December 20), and disrupting Fashion Week to highlight the climate impacts of disposable fashion (February 17).


There are now XR Facebook pages in most Canadian cities and XR chapters have participated in actions in VictoriaOttawaCharlottetown and other communities. MORE

The Canada Infrastructure Bank and the perversities of predatory capital

Photo by Chris Wattie

In their election platform and in ministerial mandate letters, the federal Liberals promised they would “establish the Canada Infrastructure Bank to provide low-cost financing (including loan guarantees) for new municipal infrastructure projects.”

This had the potential to be a positive initiative. The federal government can borrow at very low rates — significantly below provincial and municipal government rates. In mid-2017, the federal government could borrow for a 10-year term at 1.4 per cent and over 30 years for just two per cent. These rates are at or below inflation, and close to historic lows. The federal government could also potentially use the capacity of the Bank of Canada to finance public infrastructure projects directly, as had been done until the 1970s.

Unfortunately, it took very little time for the Liberal government to break its promise and succumb to the pressure of big money, turning this into a privatization bank instead. MORE

Trudeau Liberals Seek To Shift Focus Away From SNC-Lavalin With Climate Change Ad Campaign

The ads will be aimed at commuters.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a cabinet shuffle at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on March 1, 2019.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a cabinet shuffle at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on March 1, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will try to shift the focus from the SNC-Lavalin affair to his preferred campaign battleground — climate change — with the release this week of the Liberal party’s first election-year ads.

Radio ads will air in the four provinces where the federal government is imposing a carbon tax after their conservative provincial governments refused to levy their own price on carbon: Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick.

The ads stress that the money raised from the tax will be rebated directly to residents in those provinces. In new radio ads aimed at commuters, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warns that “some politicians want to go back to the Harper years when pollution was free.” MORE

Monique Keiran: First Nations deserve a role in species-at-risk strategies


VICTORIA, B.C.: OCTOBER 3, 2012-A pod of orcas swim near Pender Island in Victoria, B.C. October 3, 2012. (DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST). For City story by Judith Lavoie. Photograph By DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Half of the plans developed in Canada over the past 13 years for the recovery of threatened and endangered species might lack constitutionally required Indigenous consultation, according to a recent study by Carleton University researchers.

The researchers examined recovery strategies and management plans developed from 2006 to 2017 for species considered endangered, threatened and of special concern under the federal Species at Risk Act. Fifty-two per cent of the documents showed no evidence of Indigenous involvement, despite a legal requirement that governments consult with Indigenous Peoples.

Last year’s ruling by the Federal Court of Appeal is one example. The court reversed approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and ordered the federal government to re-do parts of its consultation with Indigenous Peoples, as well as have the National Energy Board consider the environmental impacts of increased tanker traffic off the coast resulting from the expanded pipeline. Before the ruling, it became clear that the government had green-lighted the project before its consultations with B.C.’s First Nations were complete.

Learning from that mistake, the B.C. government’s proposed environmental-assessment rules include, for the first time, specific requirements for consultation with First Nations. The proposed legislation refocuses the assessment process on Indigenous consent, early engagement, clear timelines and consideration of other issues related to climate change, pollution targets and the effects of projects on future generations. MORE



Testimony brings out ‘Big House’ rules

Wilson-Raybould stays true to Indigenous roots

Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould started and ended her statement with the same word, Gilakas’la, which means “thank you” but also means “welcome.” (Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press)
Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould started and ended her statement with the same word, Gilakas’la, which means “thank you” but also means “welcome.” (Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press)

At the end of her unprecedented 30-minute statement to the House of Commons justice committee regarding the “inappropriate pressure” she experienced for months by the prime minister and nearly a dozen government officials to have federal prosecutors drop criminal charges against SNC-Lavalin, former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould made it crystal clear why she was there.

She said: “I will conclude by saying this — I was taught to always be careful of what you say — because you cannot take it back — and I was taught to always hold true to your core values and principles and to act with integrity — these are the teachings of my parents, grandparents and community. I come from a long line of matriarchs and I am a truth teller in accordance with the laws and traditions of our Big House — this is who I am and who I will always be.”

In case anyone has questions remaining, the issue between Jody Wilson-Raybould and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is an Indigenous issue.

It is a Canadian issue, yes. It is a political issue, yes. But it is undeniably an issue of an Indigenous person taking a principled stand against a Trudeau-led government, an issue of a Kwakwaka’wakw refusing to give up being Kwakwaka’wakw, and an issue of what Canada looks like through Indigenous eyes. MORE


What Are The Indigenous ‘Big House’ Laws That Jody Wilson-Raybould Invoked?

It’s time to stop calling climate activists hypocrites

The talking point is based on a logical fallacy, and those who employ it should stop

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Ever heard the argument that climate protesters are hypocrites because they drive cars, use petroleum products and otherwise don’t practice what they preach? It’s a PR line designed to shut down criticism without addressing its substance, and, what’s worse, it’s a logical fallacy.

This isn’t about politics. Everyone has the right to their opinion, and if yours is that climate change isn’t real, or isn’t a threat, or that it is but we should keep burning fossil fuels anyway, you’re welcome to it. But if your argument rests on a non-sequitur, then don’t be surprised when the rest of us point and laugh when you trot it out.

The central fallacy is this: one doesn’t need to abstain from using the oil that powers society today in order to argue for change tomorrow.

Whether you agree with them or not, climate activists are participating in a social debate over how we respond to climate change. They’re advocating for a broad shift away from fossil fuels and a corresponding investment in renewable energy. In many cases they’re just arguing that government subsidies currently going to oil companies should be redirected to the development of alternative energy sources.

“We must fight in the world we have, not the world we want.”

They aren’t denying they use petroleum products; we all do. They’re arguing that this fact itself is a problem and advocating for societal change. MORE