Canadian cities ‘missing the bus’ on electric transit, report finds


Clean Energy Canada wants to see the federal and provincial governments earmark funding specifically for electric vehicles to help offset the higher upfront costs of electric buses.  (JENNIFER GAUTHIER / STAR FILE)

VANCOUVER—Canadian cities are lagging global leaders when it comes to electric buses, according to a new report by Clean Energy Canada released Thursday.

Shenzhen, China is leading the way with more than 16,000 electric buses and a fleet that’s 99.5 per cent emissions-free, the report notes. Cities such as Amsterdam and Los Angeles, meanwhile, are pushing forward with targets for 100 per cent electric buses by 2025 and 2030 respectively.

But Canadian cities are taking too long to transition from diesel-powered buses to electric, according to the new report — even though shifting to more electric buses could improve air quality, fight climate change and support Canadian e-bus companies.

“We’re missing the bus on this one,” said Merran Smith, Clean Energy Canada’s executive director. MORE

SNC-Lavalin affair raises the issue of the role of former judges

Image result for SNC-Lavalin affair raises the issue of the role of former judges
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Trudeau speaks to reporters in Sudbury, Ont. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The SNC-Lavalin scandal has proven to be an insatiable beast with tentacles reaching deep into the political and legal worlds — perhaps even as far as the Supreme Court of Canada.

Politically, the allegations of interference with the justice system have deeply damaged the “sunny ways” Liberal brand and catapulted the Conservative Party ahead of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in pre-election opinion polls. And, as most scandals do, the SNC affair has led to a series of high-profile resignations. Former minister of justice and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould may have been the first out the door, but her departure was quickly followed by the principal secretary to the prime minister, Gerald Butts, the president of the Treasury Board, Jane Philpott, and, most recently, the clerk of the Privy Council, Michael Wernick.

The government, in its scramble to defuse the political crises, launched a half-hearted study into the allegations before the Liberal-controlled justice committee appointed Anne McLellan to advise the PMO on the role of justice minister and attorney general in cabinet.

But none of this, rightly so given that the rule of law is at stake, has quieted the continuing questions about Trudeau’s integrity and his leadership.

And now there seems to be a rising grumbling that the legal profession should consider what activities former judges can be permitted to engage in after retirement.

After all, the short history of the SNC scandal does reveal a who’s who of the legal profession.

Former Supreme Court of Canada judge Frank Iacobucci, who is now senior counsel at the law firm Torys, was actively involved in SNC-Lavalin’s defence — even signing his name to a letter to the Public Prosecution Service advocating for a deferred persecution agreement.

Wilson-Raybould hired former Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell to provide her with legal advice about the scope and application of solicitor-client privilege.

Even the PMO got into the former judge game by floating the idea of retaining former Supreme Court Chief justice Beverley McLachlin to provide a legal opinion on deferred prosecution agreements.

The re-examination of permissible post-judicial activities may all just be a convenient distraction for those who wish to turn the channel away from the actions of the prime minister and his office. But there may be some merit considering what activities judges should be permitted to engage in during their golden years.

Should judges go gently into the good night of retirement? Or should they rage, rage against the dying of the light?

Should former judges have been involved in the SNC case at all? MORE

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Relations between Trudeau, Wilson-Raybould began to fray over her Supreme Court pick: Sources

 

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Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court, CP sources say

Doug Ford’s repeal of the Far North Act won’t gain the respect of Indigenous communities


Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Natural Resources Minister John Yakabuski seen at the Conservative government’s swearing-in ceremony on June 29, 2018. Photo by Alex Tétreault

Late last month, Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government confirmed that it plans to repeal the Far North Act, seeking to reduce “red tape” and increase “business certainty” in the Ring of Fire – a mineral deposit located near James Bay. While Premier Doug Ford is not the first to think he has found a key to unlocking the resource potential of Ontario’s north, this strategy is sure to backfire.

Ontario’s far north is inhabited almost exclusively by Indigenous peoples with ancestral homelands in the area covered by Treaty 9. It is a vast landscape of swampy boreal forest, a gigantic carbon sink that is also home to rare creatures such as the woodland caribou and the wolverine. Except for the De Beers diamond mine near Attawapiskat, there has been almost no industrial scale development in the whole region, which is why mining the hyped-up nickel and chromite deposits in the Ring of Fire region will require major new roads and other infrastructure.

When the Liberals first introduced the Far North Act in 2010, they did so over the objections of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN). The plan was to “protect” 50 per cent of the boreal wilderness, while “partnering” with First Nations in decision-making and revenue-sharing so as to facilitate mining. But while celebrated as an ecological victory, the scheme was actually designed to manage the increasing volume and credibility of claims to Indigenous governance authority in the region. Ontario, in the years prior to the act’s passage, had been forced to pay off mining companies to settle litigation alleging that Ontario was failing to facilitate access to companies’ mineral assets in the face of Indigenous resistance.

With the Far North Act, then, Ontario was trying to maintain the facade that it alone has the jurisdiction to make land-use decisions in Treaty 9 territory. Under the scheme that Mr. Ford now wants to scrap, remote First Nations are given funding to create community-based land-use plans that map out in detail the historical and contemporary uses of various parts of their territories. Communities can identify areas of significant value such as burial sites, fishing areas or traplines, and may designate areas as open for – or closed to – mineral exploration. But, in the end, the Minister decides whether to approve the plan; final authority remains with the province to make a decision in the “best interests of all Ontarians.” MORE

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Ford government proposes to scrap controversial law placing ‘restrictions’ on development in northern Ontario

Lametti, opposition parties pledge to uphold Wilson-Raybould’s new rules for defending Indigenous lawsuits

Former PCO clerk Michael Wernick warned that the former justice minister’s directive could ‘gutted at the stroke of a pen.’

Liberal MP Jody Wilson-Raybould, left, issued formal guidelines for lawyers defending the government against lawsuits from First Nations before she was shuffled out of the Justice minister role in January; new Justice Minister David Lametti, Conservative Justice critic Lisa Raitt, and deputy NDP justice critic Murray Rankin have all endorsed those guidelines. The Hill Times photographs by Andrew Meade

Attorney General David Lametti and the opposition justice critics say they will stand behind former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould’s instructions to government lawyers, telling them to give fair treatment to First Nations suing the government over treaty rights, after departing PCO clerk Michael Wernick warned Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s instructions could be “gutted” by a new government or attorney general.

Two Canadian lawyers who represent First Nations in treaty cases say the directive was a step toward reconciliation, but only has as much strength as the government of the day gives to it.

“It’s not legislation,” said Kate Gunn, a lawyer with First Peoples Law in B.C. “A lot of it depends on the extent to which government, the bureaucrats are committed to pushing for it to be fulfilled.”

Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s directive included 20 guidelines for the government and its lawyers as they deal with litigation over treaty rights with Indigenous peoples. The guidelines say that government lawyers should not object to First Nations’ claims of historical use of a territory when there are “no conflicting interests” involved; that oral history should be treated respectfully as evidence; that the government should try to settle disputes out of court; and more.

Government lawyers have for years fought back against lawsuits from Indigenous people and First Nations by using “delay tactics” in court that make fighting the cases too expensive for the First Nation or Indigenous group behind the suit, said Scott Robertson, a lawyer with Nahwegahbow Corbiere Genoodmagejiig Barristers & Solicitors and the president of the Indigenous Bar Association of Canada.

Those tactics have included challenging First Nations’ sovereignty over the lands they had long occupied, he said. MORE

Trudeau a Threat to Liberal Chances, Must Go: Martyn Brown

Odds for RCMP probe rising, says former top aide to BC Liberal premier.

Trudeau LavScam cartoon
Cartoon by Greg Perry.

On Friday, Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen offered some advice to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that he is likely to ignore. Let Jody Wilson-Raybould have her (additional) say. Stop muzzling her with cabinet confidence and solicitor-client privilege. Waive it.

“The longer he continues this cover-up,” Bergen said of Trudeau, “the longer he moves heaven and earth to keep himself protected, the worse this gets for him.”

Does it get worse? Or will Canadians tire of the saga and move on, as the Liberals this week bet by moving to shut down the inquiry?

Martyn Brown, who as premier Gordon Campbell’s chief of staff handled scandals buffeting the B.C. government during the 2000s, thinks that this week Trudeau has moved closer to the brink of disaster. The heightened prospect of an RCMP investigation makes Trudeau an anchor sinking the party he once rescued with his leadership.

Now, says Brown, it’s time for Liberal insiders to convince Trudeau to step down.

But the biggest bombshell, in Brown’s view, was dropped by former Treasury Board president Jane Philpott, Trudeau’s other cabinet minister to resign in dismay over LavScam.

What Philpott had to say in her interview with Maclean’s magazine on March 21 proves she’d “gone rogue,” says Brown.

“I’m not accusing anybody of anything illegal or contrary to the Criminal Code,” emphasizes Brown. But Philpott raised enough questions to possibly prod the RCMP to launch an investigation, and that would mean a severe hit to Trudeau’s political fortunes. MORE

RELATED:

Liberal scramble to help SNC-Lavalin warrants investigation

If the RCMP end up taking over the investigation of the SNC-Lavalin scandal, as it increasingly looks like they should, the prime minister will have no one to blame but himself.

Why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal is dividing Congress


In this Jan. 19, 2019, file photo, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, (D-New York) waves to the crowd after speaking in New York. To Democratic supporters, the Green New Deal is a touchstone, a call to arms to combat climate change. To Republican opponents, it’s zealous environmentalism, a roadmap to national bankruptcy. Lost in the clamor is the reality that, if passed, the much-hyped Green New Deal would require the government to do absolutely nothing. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

WASHINGTON — To Democratic supporters, the Green New Deal is a touchstone, a call to arms to combat climate change with the full measure of the nation’s resources and technological might. “A mission to save all of creation,” in the words of Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey, one the plan’s lead authors.

To Republican opponents, the much-hyped plan is a dystopian nightmare, a roadmap to national bankruptcy in pursuit of zealous environmentalism. “A big green bomb” for the economy, says Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming.

Lost in the clamor is the reality that, if passed, the Green New Deal would require the government to do absolutely nothing. It exists only as a nonbinding resolution because Democrats have yet to fill in the potentially treacherous details of how to pay for the Green New Deal, how to carry it out and what, exactly, it will do.

Announced to great fanfare in February, the Green New Deal calls for a “10-year national mobilization” on the scale of the original New Deal to shift the U.S. economy away from fossil fuels such as oil and coal and replace them with renewable sources such as wind and solar power. It calls for meeting “100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources,” including nuclear power.

The plan has broad support among Democratic activists, and all six of the 2020 presidential contenders serving in the Senate have signed on as co-sponsors, putting it at the forefront of the party’s sprawling primary race.

Republicans have mocked the Green New Deal as a progressive pipedream that would drive the economy off a cliff and lead to a huge tax increase. They call it more evidence of the creep of “socialism” in the Democratic Party, along with “Medicare for All” and a sweeping elections reform package that would allow public financing of congressional campaigns. MORE

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More than a third of millennials share Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s worry about having kids while the threat of climate change looms
Gaetz drafting ‘Green Real Deal’ climate resolution

More Frack Quakes Rattle Alberta, Cause Deaths in China

Regulator shuts down operations near Red Deer. Thousands protest in Sichuan.

Gail Atkinson
Seismic hazard expert Gail Atkinson on dangerous earthquakes triggered by fracking: ‘It is not just happening in Western Canada. It can happen anywhere.’

On Monday Albertans living around the oil-service city of Red Deer, got an early morning wake-up call – a 4.6 earthquake.

Vesta Energy, a privately owned oil and gas company, halted its fracking operations west of the city after the company most likely triggered the quake that temporarily shut down power to nearly 5,000 residents.

It was one of the largest recorded tremors ever to shake central Alberta.

A day later, Mar. 5, the provincial energy regulator ordered the company to suspend fracking operations and report all seismic data for the last three months.

The order announced the regulator was suspending operations at the well site “in order to protect the public and the environment.” Among the harms fracking induced earthquakes can cause are “adverse effects to the environment, public safety and property damage and/or loss,” said the order. MORE