Canada: 2019 B.C. Budget: Infrastructure Pipeline

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B.C. finance minister Carole James delivers the 2019 provincial budget on February 19, 2019. Image via B.C government website/Flickr

On February 19, 2019, British Columbia issued its 2019 budget, which the provincial government stated is “the largest infrastructure investment in B.C.’s history”.

TAXPAYER-SUPPORTED CAPITAL INVESTMENT

B.C.’s 2019 budget includes new capital investment commitments in the healthcare, transportation and education sectors, with the taxpayer-supported infrastructure spending on hospitals, schools, post-secondary facilities, transit and roads forecast to be C$20.1-billion over a three-year fiscal plan. Key taxpayer-supported projects highlighted as part of the current and planned investments include:

  • Education: In the education sector, the 2019 B.C. budget forecasts to invest C$2.7-billion over the three-year fiscal plan to support major replacement, renovation, expansion and maintenance projects in K-12 facilities, and a further C$3.3-billion on capital projects for post-secondary institutions. A key highlight is the C$450-million allocated for a student housing loan program over six years to build approximately 5,000 new student housing beds for the province’s post-secondary institutions.
  • Healthcare: The 2019 B.C. budget looks to invest C$4.4-billion over the three-year fiscal plan to support major construction projects and upgraded health facilities, medical and diagnostic equipment and information management/technology systems, with investments supported by the province and other sources (including regional hospital districts and foundations). Key projects noted in the 2019 budget include:
    • Phase 1 of the Royal Columbian Hospital Redevelopment in relation to which construction commenced in early 2017
    • Phase 2 of the Royal Columbian Hospital Redevelopment where the procurement started in fall 2018, with construction planned to commence in 2020
    • The new St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver in relation to which procurement is planned to commence in fall 2019 and construction is planned to commence in fall 2020.
  • Transportation: An investment of C$6.6-billion over the three-year fiscal plan is forecast in order to “maintain the flow of people and goods” in B.C. Transportation projects highlighted in the 2019 budget include:
    • Building the Broadway subway in Vancouver
    • Replacing the Pattullo Bridge with a new four-lane bridge
    • Interim safety and reliability improvements to the George Massey Tunnel.

However, in relation to the transportation projects, the budget flags that the timing of capital spending is subject to several factors including funding from the federal government and market conditions. MORE

SNC-Lavalin: Did Justin Trudeau break the law?

Analysis: On its face, Trudeau is accused of the same malfeasance attributed to Trump — meddling in the wheels of justice for political gain

Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump. CP/AP

It’s increasingly clear that Canada isn’t particularly happy with Justin Trudeau for allegedly trying to interfere with the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. As Jane Philpott said upon her resignation from cabinet on Monday, “the solemn principles at stake are the independence and integrity of our justice system.”

Solemn principles are one thing, but did Trudeau break the law?

Below, the National Post bothered a bunch of legal experts to find out.

MORE

Bill C-69 is our chance to level up Canada’s environmental laws, and we can’t afford to miss it

Parliament buildings (Photo: Shane Zurbrigg via Flickr)

Canadians depend on the federal government to safeguard our families, our health and the environment from pollution, toxic contamination and other potential harms. But in 2012, our environmental safety net was drastically weakened, leaving Canadians with toothless laws and flawed decision-making processes that put the environment and public at risk.

Right now, we have a chance to rebuild and strengthen these fundamental legal protections, through the legislative changes contained in Bill C-69. The Impact Assessment Act proposed in the bill will be a much-needed replacement for Canada’s existing assessment law—a law that isn’t working for the environment, communities or project proponents, as we’ve seen repeatedly in recent years.

Unfortunately, a small but vocal group of opponents is attempting to kill Bill C-69 as it works its way through the Senate. The majority of criticism comes from groups based in Alberta or connected to the oil patch—such as the convoy that rolled into Ottawa this week spreading divisive messages about everything from pipelines to immigration. Most of the critiques aimed at Bill C-69 are misleading, and many are blatantly false.

And while detractors hint at widespread controversy over the bill, recent polling paints a very different picture. The latest nationwide poll by Abacus Data found that 63 per cent of Canadians who are aware of Bill C-69 agree that it is a step in the right direction. MORE

Generation symbiocene

Old and young must unite to form Generation S – a force to combat corporate gigantism and to shape cultural and social revolutions.

The world witnessed the rise of the Greta Thunberg-led revolt against the climate crisis by school-age teenagers across the world in 2018. From within what popular media call Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2012) a young woman has emerged as a global leader.

Now, hundreds of thousands within Gen Z have responded to Greta’s leadership and have created a global social movement, School Strike 4 Climate.

It is no exaggeration to say that within Gen Z there is now the vanguard of a global movement challenging all the forces that are causing humans to commit climacide and ecocide. In addition, our wise teenagers now know that the climate crisis is an integral part of a much bigger crisis.

The symbiocene

In my forthcoming book, Earth Emotions, I make the case for a generational change where the post-baby boomer generations unite to form a new social movement.

I call this united movement, Generation Symbiocene or Gen S. Gen S will lead the rest of humanity into the Symbiocene.

In the essay, After the Anthropocene, recently published in this journal, I made the case for a new epoch in human history: the Symbiocene. The Symbiocene is a meme that represents the very opposite of the period of human dominance known as the Anthropocene.

The new meme has been created to achieve nothing less than complete change of the biophysical and emotional foundations of society from the ecocidal to the symbiotic, from the destructive to the nurturing.

While the Anthropocene is generating despair and desolation, the Symbiocene gives generously of hope and optimism.

The most urgent tasks for Gen S will be to protest and fight against gigantism. By gigantism, I mean the dictatorial governments of nation states and corporate rulers that exercise authoritarian and totalitarian control over almost all aspects of our lives. MORE

On March 15, the Climate Kids Are Coming

A massive, international, youth-led mobilization will demand action on the climate crisis.

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Mad as hell: Greta Thunberg is not letting leaders get away with inaction on the climate crisis. (Christian Charisius / Picture-Alliance / dpa / AP Images)

Beware the Ides of March, all you climate wreckers out there. The Climate Kids are coming, in massive and growing numbers, and they are not in the mood to negotiate. They know that you—whether you’re a fossil-fuel executive, a politician who takes fossil-fuel money, or a Fox News hack who recycles fossil-fuel lies—have put their future in grave danger, and they are rising up to take it back.

On March 15, tens of thousands of high-school and middle-school students in more than 30 countries plan to skip school to demand that politicians treat the global climate crisis as the emergency it is. Shakespeare made the Ides of March famous with his soothsayer’s warning in Julius Caesar, but ancient Romans actually saw it as a day for settling debts. What bigger debt is there than the theft of a livable future? At the March 15 School Strike 4 Climate, young people will call in that debt and, in the United States at least, demand real solutions in the form of the Green New Deal championed by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. MORE

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Global #ClimateStrike: March 15

Fracking and the major role it plays in causing earthquakes in Alberta

https://globalnews.ca/video/embed/5021425/WATCH: When we think of the wide open prairies, we don’t usually think of earthquakes — but they are more common than you may believe. Tiffany Lizée explains.

Earthquakes in the prairies are more common than you think.

READ MORE: 4.6 magnitude earthquake hits central Alberta near Red Deer

Of the roughly 2,800 earthquakes recorded in Alberta over the past three decades, almost half of those have occurred on prairie land. Shifting tectonic plates have caused earthquakes on the prairies, however, scientists are finding human activity may also be a major factor.

Eaton’s research suggests there is increasing evidence that earthquakes can be induced by injecting fluids from oil and gas operations deep into the earth.

“What we’ve seen, starting at about 2013, in Western Canada is that we have more frequent earthquakes of [significant] magnitude and they’re related to oil and gas activities,” said Eaton.

Hydraulic fracking involves pumping water, sand and chemicals into the ground under extreme pressure, which cracks the rocks and minerals and then releases the oil and gas trapped inside. MORE

David Suzuki: Carbon, climate, and corruption coalesce in concrete


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The recent scandal facing Canada’s government has concrete at its base. As one of Canada’s largest engineering and construction companies—employing 50,000 people through offices in more than 50 countries and operations in more than 160 countries—SNC-Lavalin uses a lot of concrete. Infrastructure projects are important to industry and governments. They provide employment, keep GDP and the economy growing, and offer “concrete” proof that progress is being made.

But, as the Guardian points out: “As well as being the primary vehicle for super-charged national building, the construction industry is also the widest channel for bribes. In many countries, the correlation is so strong, people see it as an index: the more concrete, the more corruption.”

SNC-Lavalin, which has already been sanctioned by the World Bank for bribery and corruption, faces similar charges at home. But as a major Quebec-based employer with its hand in some of the country’s largest infrastructure projects, it’s seen by provincial and federal governments as too important to fail. MORE

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