‘It’s very easy to save a species’: how Carl Jones rescued more endangered animals than anyone else

Without Jones, the world might have lost the Mauritius kestrel, the pink pigeon, the echo parakeet and more – but the biologist’s methods are controversial


 ‘You’ve got to start with solutions, otherwise you do nothing’ … Jones at home in Carmarthenshire, Wales. Photograph: Richard Jones for the Guardian

Jones challenges the classic conservation wisdom that we must first precisely understand the reasons for a species’ decline and then restore its habitat. Instead, he argues that scientists must tweak the limiting factors on a species’ population – food, nesting sites, competition, predation, disease – with practical fieldwork.

“If there’s a shortage of food, you start feeding. If there’s a shortage of nest sites, you put up nest boxes. You don’t need endless PhD students studying a species for 20 years.”

Conservation science, he argues, is often too remote. “Do you sit back and monitor a sick patient or do you treat them and see what works? A lot of species have been studied to extinction.” MORE

Greta Thunberg nominated for Nobel peace prize

Climate strike founder shortlisted ahead of global strikes planned in more than 105 countries


Greta Thunberg, 15, holds a placard reading ‘School strike for the climate’, during a protest outside the Swedish parliament in Stockholm last November. Photograph: Hanna Franzen/EPA

Greta Thunberg, the founder of the Youth Strike for Climate movement, has been nominated for the Nobel peace prize, just before the biggest day yet of global action.

Thunberg began a solo protest in Sweden in August but has since inspired students around the globe. Strikes are expected in 1,659 towns and cities in 105 countries on Friday, involving hundreds of thousands of young people.

“We have proposed Greta Thunberg because if we do nothing to halt climate change it will be the cause of wars, conflict and refugees,” said Norwegian Socialist MP Freddy André Øvstegård. “Greta Thunberg has launched a mass movement which I see as a major contribution to peace.”

“[I am] honoured and very grateful for this nomination,” said Thunberg on Twitter. Tomorrow we #schoolstrike for our future. And we will continue to do so for as long as it takes.” She has already challenged leaders in person at the UN climate summit in late 2018 and at Davos in January. “Change is coming whether they like it or not,” she said.

National politicians and some university professors can nominate candidates for the Nobel peace prize, which will be awarded in December. There are 301 candidates for the 2019 prize: 223 individuals and 78 organisations. MORE

The Green New Deal Debate Is Coming To A Town Hall Near You

Sunrise Movement activists are planning roughly 100 town halls and a 10-stop nationwide tour.


The Green New Dealers are going local.

Sunrise Movement, the youth-focused climate justice nonprofit whose protests late last year helped spawn the Green New Deal, is planning to expand its upcoming 14-stop tour of the United States into a nationwide campaign with roughly 100 town hall meetings organized by its swelling ranks of local chapters, the group told HuffPost.

The events are aimed at drumming up support for the Green New Deal by explaining the local benefits of a sweeping national industrial plan to zero out greenhouse gas emissions and reduce poverty. The tour will include 10 big-ticket stops in cities including Boston; Des Moines, Iowa; and Paradise, California, which became ground zero for the state’s deadliest wildfire in history last year.

Members of Congress, activists and scientists are expected to speak at the events. A Sunrise Movement spokesman declined to confirm whether Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the authors of a joint resolution on the Green New Deal, would attend. MORE

Dianne Saxe calls on Ontario faith leaders to stand up for the climate: ‘What are the Ontario bishops and faith leaders doing?’


Dianne Saxe, Environmental Commissioner in Queen’s Park, Ontario on Dec. 6, 2018. Photo by Cole Burston for National Observer

I’ve got the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO), Dianne Saxe on the phone. It’s late afternoon, in the dead of winter, and she’s on backcountry roads, heading north for a rare weekend off. “I might cut out,” she warns me.

Dianne’s office reports on compliance with the Environmental Bill of Rights, as well as Ontario’s progress on climate change, energy conservation, and other environmental issues. As a staffer at Faith & the Common Good, a national, interfaith charity with the goal of championing environmental and creation care throughout our network of diverse faith & spiritual communities, I am eager to hear directly from the mouth of the commissioner herself how faith groups measure up on the climate action front. And I’m not talking only about energy efficient light bulbs and recycling — I mean broad, transformative change. Critical action is needed immediately because climate change is happening now and, as Dianne warns in her climate report, much worse is ahead.

So, what, according to Dianne, are religious leaders contributing to the public discourse on climate?

“Not much,” is the disappointing response.

For instance, as part of the ECO’s mandate to support the public use of the Environmental Bill of Rights, Dianne’s office has carefully reviewed the thousands of comments that were submitted on the proposed Cap and Trade Cancellation Act, 2018.

“I had my staff review most of the 11,000 comments and saw no evidence of leadership from the faith communities,” she reports. “What are the Ontario bishops and faith leaders doing?” MORE

 

Ethics Scandal Threatens Canada’s Golden Boy

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Justin Trudeau lost another minister, and now the survival of the Canadian leader — who once enjoyed near rock-star status — may hinge on whether she’s the last.

The resignation … of Jane Philpott, a star minister at the Treasury Board, was the second high-profile woman to quit the cabinet over a raging ethics controversy. The departures are devastating for Trudeau and his brand, built in part on gender inclusivity.

The scandal was sparked by his one-time attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, who says he and key aides pressured her to end the prosecution of the construction firm SNC-Lavalin Group on corruption charges. She didn’t, was later shuffled into a different post and then quit. Trudeau says he was just trying to save jobs at the company. 

As he joined other key ministers in a climate rally in Toronto, Trudeau thanked Philpott but said his Liberals must stay the course and that voters “need our total commitment to tackling the big things and getting them right.”

Trudeau led the Liberals from third place to victory four years ago. But with his party’s poll numbers dropping and a sluggish economy ahead of elections in October, his future depends on whether his lawmakers still see him as their best bet for a repeat. MORE

Scandal and matriarchy: How Jody Wilson-Raybould makes me want to be a better lawyer

Jennifer TaylorThere were so many standout moments from Jody Wilson-Raybould’s testimony before the House of Commons Justice Committee on Feb. 27. But, for me, one line stood out the most:

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.”

That’s how Wilson-Raybould — the first Indigenous person to be Canada’s minister of justice and attorney general — concluded her opening statement, drawing on her ancestors, the legal system of the Kwakiutl nation and her own history as an Indigenous woman and lawyer.

This one line made me want to be a better lawyer, a better daughter, a better truth teller in my own life.

Wilson-Raybould’s testimony was the climax of the SNC-Lavalin scandal that has enveloped Canadian politics for the last month. For context, it happened the same day as Michael Cohen’s testimony before the oversight committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. Compared to our force-fed diet of Trump-related scandals, the SNC-Lavalin story has felt, at times, rather quaint and Canadian — even though it stems from criminal charges that the Quebec company bribed Libyan officials to secure contracts. SNC-Lavalin is currently on trial for these charges in Quebec.

On Feb. 7, the Globe and Mail reported that Wilson-Raybould had faced pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office to intervene in the SNC-Lavalin prosecution. The implication: The refusal to oblige was behind her recent cabinet reassignment (some said demotion) from Justice to Veterans Affairs (she has since resigned from cabinet). Instead of continuing with the trial, the political objective would be for the Crown and defence to negotiate a remediation agreement (aka a “deferred prosecution agreement” or “DPA”) under Part XXII.1 of the Criminal Code, a new set of provisions enacted (pretty quietly) last year. This agreement would stay the criminal proceeding and avoid the political and economic ramifications of a criminal conviction for SNC, which employs thousands of Canadians. MORE

 

‘Coverup!’: Opposition erupts as Liberals shut down emergency meeting on SNC-Lavalin affair

Opposition MPs wanted to press Liberals to call Jody Wilson-Raybould back to testif


Opposition MPs want Jody Wilson-Raybould to return to the Commons justice committee. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Opposition MPs hurled angry claims of a “coverup” today after Liberals used their majority to shut down an emergency meeting of the committee probing the SNC-Lavalin affair.

The meeting was requested by Conservative and NDP members to press the Liberals to recall Jody Wilson-Raybould to testify again, even though the Liberals already had defeated a similar motion.

But less than 30 minutes after the meeting began, the Liberals voted to adjourn.

“I have never been so disgusted by the conduct of my Liberal colleagues,” said Conservative MP Michael Cooper after the committee broke.

“They have done the bidding of the PMO.”

Opposition MPs were making another bid to bring the former attorney general back to testify before the committee today, warning that Canadians would see any attempt by the Liberals to block them as evidence of a “coverup.”

Justin Trudeau is transforming the justice committee into the Justin committee

While casting their votes, opposition MPs shouted at their Liberal counterparts, calling their actions “despicable” and “disgusting.”

“I’m strongly voting opposed and I’m shocked at the behaviour of my colleagues,” said NDP MP Tracey Ramsey.

The committee is scheduled to meet next on Mar. 19 — a closed session that coincides with the tabling of the federal budget.

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RELATED:

TORONTO STAR EDITORIAL: Liberals shouldn’t try to muzzle Jody Wilson-Raybould
EDMONTON SUN EDITORIAL: Justin Trudeau MIA on helping Alberta amid SNC-Lavalin scandal

SNC-Lavalin affair: We answer your most pressing questions

The SNC-Lavalin scandal shows no signs of dying down — and neither does readers’ appetite for more details about what went on, why and how.

We asked what you still want to know about the controversy and got hundreds of emails and messages in response. Here are the answers to some of the most common questions we received. We will update this story often.


Jody Wilson-Raybould, Canada’s former attorney general, testified before the House of Commons justice committee that the staff of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pressured her on the issue of criminal charges against SNC-Lavalin.  (LARS HAGBERG / AFP/GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO)

What is SNC-Lavalin accused of doing?

It all started on Feb. 19, 2015, when the RCMP charged SNC-Lavalin and two subsidiaries with fraud and corruption over its actions in Libya, where the company made billions of dollars over years through public contracts.

Police allege that between 2001 and 2011, the company bribed Libyan officials to the tune of nearly $47.7 million and defrauded various Libyan organizations of about $129.8 million. SNC-Lavalin pleaded not guilty.

What would a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) mean for SNC-Lavalin?

 MORE

Companies like SNC-Lavalin must be monitored for shady donations across Canada, B.C. watchdog says

VANCOUVER—As another scandal plays out in Ottawa, government watchdog groups are calling for wider scrutiny of SNC-Lavalin’s activities in jurisdictions like British Columbia, where the company donated to the ruling political party at the same time it was being awarded large public infrastructure contracts.

However, the watchdog groups also argue that the evidence and allegations of corruption against the Quebec engineering firm demonstrate why all corporate donations need stronger rules and regular audits.


Quebec’s Charbonneau Commission, which concluded in 2014, found that many companies, including SNC-Lavalin, regularly bribed politicians to get government contracts.  (ADRIAN WYLD / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

“It’s essentially a form of legalized bribery,” said Duff Conacher, founder of Ottawa-based Democracy Watch, referring to lax rules allowing corporations that benefit from political decisions to donate to political parties.

For years, Democracy Watch has advocated campaign finance limits because of the risk that large donors can wield oversized influence on politicians who start to feel more beholden to the wealthy people, corporations and unions that fund their campaigns than to the wider electorate.

Though Quebec, British Columbia and the federal government have lowered donation limits and banned union and corporate donations, companies have found ways around those regulations. Conacher said the rules end up being a “charade” without regular audits. MORE

What Justin Trudeau doesn’t understand about Indigenous-government relations

OPINION: By offering Jody Wilson-Raybould the position of Minister of Indigenous Services, the prime minister signalled that he still has a lot to learn about reconciliation, writes Charnel Anderson

Jody Wilson-Rabould

Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould serves as an MP for the riding of Vancouver Granville. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

One of the federal Liberal government’s stated priorities is to renew the relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canada. It’s among the most important relationships to this country, according to Justin Trudeau — but recent events involving Jody Wilson-Raybould call into question the prime minister’s commitment to reconciliation.

Last Wednesday, during his testimony to the justice committee about the SNC-Lavalin affair, the prime minister’s former top aide, Gerald Butts, revealed that, in January, Trudeau had asked Wilson-Raybould — then the attorney general — to lead Indigenous Services Canada. The offer was more than a political faux pas: it demonstrated an unmistakable ignorance about the government’s relationship with Indigenous peoples. It was an offer she could, and did, refuse.

Wilson-Raybould, a member of We Wai Kai Nation, in British Columbia, hasn’t been shy about her opposition to the Indian Act, which she would have been tasked with administering had she taken up Trudeau’s offer. In 2016, she said that “the Indian Act is not a suitable system of government; it is not consistent with the rights enshrined in our constitution, the principles set out in [the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples], or calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”

On the face of it, Trudeau’s desire to appoint an Indigenous person to lead ISC may seem fitting — who better to administer the government’s Indigenous portfolio than an Indigenous person who is aware of the cultures and values of Indigenous peoples in Canada? But even a cursory look at relations between this country and Indigenous communities over the past 150 years reveals why this interpretation is misguided.

Truth comes before reconciliation.

It’s worth reminding readers that the Indian Act, first passed in 1876, was designed to assimilate Indigenous peoples.

This is what Sir John A. Macdonald — who, for nearly 10 years, beginning in 1878, was the Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs (the 19th-century equivalent of Minister of Indigenous Services) — had to say about the Indian Act: “The great aim of our legislation has been to do away with the tribal system and assimilate the Indian people in all respects with the other inhabitants of the Dominion as speedily as they are fit to change.”

The Canadian government has historically tried to wipe out Indigenous people’s cultures: that is the basis of Indigenous-government relations; it’s also the reason why more than one Indigenous person has told me that they’re vehemently opposed to working in the public sector.  MORE