Fishers, First Nations fight Northern Pulp mill’s proposed effluent pipeline into ocean

After half a century of discharging contaminated waste into Boat Harbour, the Nova Scotia mill is proposing a new plan to pipe 85 million litres a day of warm treated effluent further into the ocean — where locals fear risks to a critical seafood industry

Northern Pulp mill Nova Scotia
The Northern Pulp mill in Pictou, Nova Scotia, pictured December 6, 2018. Photo: Darren Calabrese

Greg Egilsson, who is chair of the Gulf Nova Scotia Herring Federation, has been fishing here in Caribou Harbour for more than 30 years. He says Caribou Harbour is an important spawning ground for herring and lobsters, a nursery area for rock crabs and scallops.

He points along the shoreline to a fish plant he says employs about 100 people during fishing season.

Egilsson — like hundreds of others who fish the waters of the Northumberland Strait from Nova Scotia, PEI and New Brunswick — is eagerly awaiting May 1 when lobster season starts, and after that, seasons for all the other seafood treasures that come out of these waters.

But this year, the fishers and all the local industries that depend on the inshore fishery, are also waiting for something else — albeit nervously.

On March 29, Nova Scotia’s Environment Minister Margaret Miller will deliver her verdict on the plan by the 52-year-old Northern Pulp mill on Abercrombie Point for a new effluent treatment facility. The minister can either accept it as is, reject it outright, or ask for more information about the planned project. MORE

 

Ford government increasing energy bills and pollution, says watchdog in final report


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

The Ontario government is increasing energy bills, air pollution, health impacts and greenhouse gas emissions through policies that promote the use of fossil fuels, says the province’s environmental commissioner, Dianne Saxe, in her final report released on March 27, 2019.

Her report notes that the economy in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, relies on fossil fuels for 75 per cent of its energy, which results in a “hefty” health, economic and environmental pricetag.

Under the previous Liberal government, she said this pricetag added up to $24 billion each year to import fossil fuels such as oil, petroleum products and natural gas, between 2010 to 2015.

“If we were even 10 per cent more efficient, Ontarians could save from $1.6 billion to $2 billion every year,” Saxe said in a statement.

But she also noted that Ontario had been making progress in measures to encourage the conservation of energy since 2007. At least until last week, when she said that the Ford government cancelled and reduced funding for “proven, effective conservation programs.”

The report is likely the last one to be published by Saxe in her current role. She is expected to leave on April 1 as the Ford government proceeds with plans to reduce powers of her position and merge it into the office of the auditor general. MORE

The answer to climate breakdown and austerity? A green new deal

Business as usual is causing environmental destruction and spiralling inequality. Our bill is a radical plan to address both

Liberals block new SNC-Lavalin ethics probe as Trudeau insists his team is ‘more united than ever’

Prime minister downplays caucus divisions over SNC-Lavalin affair


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the Liberal caucus is more united than ever, despite divisions over the government’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair. (Patrick Doyle/Reuters)

Liberal MPs have voted down an opposition motion to launch a Commons ethics committee probe into the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, who broke with party ranks to vote in favour of an NDP motion calling for a public inquiry into the SNC-Lavalin matter, said he opposes an ethics committee hearing at this time because it is “premature.”

He pointed out that the justice committee is still awaiting a written submission, texts and emails from former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, the Liberal MP whose allegations of political interference in her work as attorney general touched off the scandal which has dominated federal politics for weeks.

“To me, it makes far more sense to see what is said in that statement, to see how justice reacts to that and whether they think any of that new information is something worth reconsidering their previous decision to close off their study,” Erskine-Smith said.

Apart from Erskine-Smith, no other Liberal members spoke during the committee meeting. He said the Liberal members met before the meeting began and decided he would speak for the group.

Frustrated Conservatives called the vote further evidence of a government effort to sweep a scandal under the rug.

“Liberals had a chance to put their votes where their mouths were, and instead they decided to vote for another coverup,” said Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre.

Conservative MP and ethics critic Peter Kent had drafted a motion to launch an inquiry, call former cabinet ministers Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott to testify by April 5 and formally request that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau broaden a waiver to allow them to speak freely. MORE

RELATED:

Liberals block push for ethics committee probe of SNC-Lavalin scandal
How to change the channel on SNC-Lavalin? Let’s attack a judge!

SNC-Lavalin controversy shows danger of dabbling in economic nationalism


Seven weeks of carnage in Canadian politics prove Justin Trudeau’s choice to stare down the independence of the justice system for the benefit of a corporation was a bridge too far, Heather Scoffield writes.  (JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

If economic nationalism exists on a spectrum, where Donald Trump’s America is at one end, and hands-off, open economies are at another, Canada has traditionally been somewhere in the middle.

Yes, politicians advocate for Canadian corporations, negotiate trade deals on their behalf, and deal in programs and incentives to encourage their growth. But no, they don’t force companies to locate here, or compel trading partners to buy their wares, or jimmy with Canadian institutions to pave the way.

The SNC-Lavalin controversy shows the gravitational pull of the Trumpian side of that spectrum. But if there’s anything that’s heartening in the vitriol that has infected the public discourse on this matter, it’s that Canadians seem to generally agree: don’t go too far in that direction.

From day one, SNC-Lavalin has made little secret that Ottawa should head to that place. MORE

Votes in B.C. and P.E.I. give the Greens two shots at making history


Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has been her party’s sole MP since 2011. That could change with the Nanaimo–Ladysmith byelection on May 6. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has been her party’s sole MP since 2011. That could change with the Nanaimo–Ladysmith byelection on May 6. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)The stars could be aligning for the Green Party of Canada to catch a lucky break — and just in time for October’s federal election.

A federal byelection in the B.C. riding of Nanaimo–Ladysmith gives the Greens a chance to make a pre-election breakthrough. Nanaimo–Ladysmith is one of the party’s target ridings and the byelection there could take place just days after a provincial Green Party makes history in the smallest province.

Voters in Nanaimo–Ladysmith will be heading to the polls on May 6 for a byelection — the last opportunity Canadians anywhere will have to cast a federal ballot before the scheduled general election on Oct. 21. It follows the resignation of former NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson, who quit her seat to mount a successful bid for provincial office.

The timing couldn’t be better for the Greens. Last night, the P.E.I. government announced the next provincial election will be held April 23.

Normally, a provincial election in P.E.I. wouldn’t have any implications for a federal contest at the other end of the country. But the Greens are leading in the polls in P.E.I. If that lead holds, the Greens could form their first government anywhere in Canada. MORE

RELATED:

Greens in lead as Liberal premier calls Prince Edward Island election for April 23

Climate emergency demands less traffic, more walkable cities


Wikimedia Commons photo of Paris street

The climate emergency exploded onto the headlines in 2018, with a relentless series of disasters leading up to the UN COP 24 climate conference in December. But the people cutting climate pollution by creating delightful urban spaces on an unprecedented scale should be headline news in 2019.

I experienced some of this climate action in October, joining throngs of Paris residents enjoying warm fall days on the new linear park along the River Seine. At the time the national government of France was in court attempting to get this well-loved park turned back into the noisy, congested national highway it was previously (except during summer festivals). The court ruled in favor of year-round access and climate action while I was in Spain.

Photo of busy riverside park in Paris, which was formerly a highway, by Eric Doherty

 

Anne Hidalgo is the Mayor of Paris and Chair of C40 Cities, a group of large city governments committed to the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement. “Cities have been the loudest voices calling for bold and urgent climate action, because we are conscious of the threat it poses to our citizens […] Cities are ready to lead on the transformations necessary to secure the future that we want” said Hildago in a C40 media release.

Hildago is aiming to rapidly cut automobile traffic by 50 per cent, and has already cut traffic volumes significantly. Paris’s successes have largely been achieved by re-allocating space to transit lanes, protected bicycle lanes, pedestrianized streets and plazas, and most famously by creating linear parks along the River Seine. These actions are popular, and not just because they create nicer urban spaces and reduce local air pollution. MORE

Lobbied 22 times, Trudeau government proposes to let Alton Gas dump saltwater into Shubenacadie River


Mi’kmaq activist Dorene Bernard stands on the shores of the Shubenacadie River, a 72-kilometre tidal river that cuts through the middle of Nova Scotia and flows into the Bay of Fundy, in Fort Ellis, N.S. on July 31, 2018. Photo by Andrew Vaughan/CP

An Alberta oilpatch company met with federal officials 22 times last year to lobby them about major fossil fuel projects. Ottawa is now drafting rules to specifically allow the company, AltaGas, to dump saltwater into a major Nova Scotia river.

The government says the proposed rules would reduce risks to “fish, fish habitat, and human health from fish consumption” by creating limits on brine release into the Shubenacadie River as part of the Alton Gas project, which federal officials would then oversee.

The federal government is pushing a plan that would allow an energy company to dump saltwater into a tidal river over the objections of local Indigenous communities, @Lindsayleejones reports, as eyebrows raised over Ottawa’s priorities.

A government spokeswoman also said that it was in the early stages of consultations on the matter and would ensure high environmental standards on any decision.

But the Trudeau government’s proposed regulation and the direct benefit it would provide one company is raising eyebrows in light of the Trans Mountain pipeline imbroglio and SNC-Lavalin affair.

In all three cases, the Trudeau government attempted to propose policies under heavy lobbying pressure from the companies involved, Texas-based Kinder Morgan, Quebec-based SNC-Lavalin, and now Alberta-based AltaGas. MORE

Budget 2019: Liberals add $4.5B for Indigenous services as reconciliation effort continues

Fully a quarter of new spending in Budget 2019 is earmarked for Indigenous services

The federal Liberal government plans to spend $4.5 billion over the next five years to try to narrow the socio-economic gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people — part of a plan to keep reconciliation at the forefront of this fall’s campaign narrative.

Speaking to reporters, Finance Minister Bill Morneau stressed the Liberals have been committed to reconciliation from the beginning of their mandate.

“It is a continuation of what we’ve been doing since Day 1,” Morneau said. “It is driven by the fact that we know in this country, we need to get this right. We’ve got a lot of work to do and we are going to stay on it.”

After the fiscal blueprint was tabled, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said he thought the government is moving in the right direction while he stressed the need to get resources out to communities to ensure they have meaningful impacts on the ground.

“If we are going to have true reconciliation in Canada, we have to close the gap,” Bellegarde said. “We have to maintain the momentum for that.” MORE

Trudeau government promises electric car subsidies, public transit support, wind and tidal power

Bill morneau and trudeau
© ADRIAN WYLD,MIGUEL MEDINA,SEAN KILPATRICK/AFP/Getty Images/ Bill Morneau and Justin Trudeau in happier times

Now if only he can keep his job in the fall election.

Up in Canada, the Trudeau government’s new budget includes C$ 300 million to provide a C$ 5,000 incentive toward the purchase or electric or hydrogen-powered cars that cost under C$ 45,000. According to the budget:

Transportation accounts for about one quarter of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, mainly coming from gas- and diesel-powered cars and trucks. The future of transportation lies in the increased use of zero-emission vehicles—cars and trucks powered by rechargeable electric batteries or hydrogen fuel cells. While these vehicles are not yet common in communities across Canada, they can provide a cleaner, more efficient way to transport people and goods and, over the long run, help Canadians reduce the everyday cost of transportation.

That is why Canada has set a target to sell 100 per cent zero-emission vehicles by 2040, with sales goals of 10 per cent by 2025 and 30 per cent by 2030 along the way. By becoming an early adopter of this new technology, Canada will help the Canadian zero-emission vehicle market advance, making zero-emission vehicle options more readily available and affordable for more and more Canadians.

London Bicycle Café 🚲⚡☕️@LdnOntBikeCafe

Meanwhile, e-bike, and electric cargobike sales have gone astronomical in Europe without government subsidy. Continuing to subsidize the auto industry while *adding* taxes to electric bikes (13% at the border…) doesn’t help solve our biggest problems. 🚲⚡️

National Observer@NatObserver

The Trudeau government is proposing to help subsidize the cost of buying an electric car by up to $5,000, but has declined to establish a more stringent sales mandate, opting instead for voluntary targets. #Budget2019 https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/03/19/news/budget-proposes-rebates-electric-cars-voluntary-sales-mandate #cdnpoli

Now I could argue about the hydrogen, but they will never cost less than $C45k so they are a moot point. The recognition that there are other forms of low-carbon transport, like subsidies for electric bikes and transit fares, would also be nice, but let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth. MORE