A generation of right-wing politicians ruins Preston Manning’s dream of ‘green capitalism’

Preston Manning in 2013 (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).
Photo: David J. Climenhaga

Let’s start with a pop quiz. Who said this?

“One of the biggest issues will be the question of how much of current revenue from non-renewable resources should be saved and how those savings should be invested … so that, if the day ever comes that oil and gas isn’t as significant as it is now, there’s something to replace it.”

If you thought Rachel Notley, you would be wrong.

The answer is Preston Manning, once upon a time the godfather of the Canadian right. He was speaking back in 2006 in an interview with Canadian Business Magazine.

Later in the same interview, he noted “there is a growing concern about environmental conservation and I think the question is not whether you make a major effort to improve environmental quality and environmental conservation but how is it to be done? Do you rely increasingly on government regulation and intervention or do you rely more on the marketplace?”

In other words, something like the carbon tax Jason Kenney has promised to eliminate in Alberta if he is elected in two weeks and that Andrew Scheer vows to destroy if he becomes prime minister next fall, or the cap-and-trade system in Ontario that Premier Doug Ford has already torn up and tossed away.

Manning has spoken about this a lot over the past 20 years, although for some reason he is awfully quiet lately. He may or may not have seen that the environmental impact of unchecked capitalism threatened the survival of the planet, but he certainly figured out that a deteriorating planetary environment presents an existential threat to capitalism.

He may also have worried that a cynical new generation of Canadian right-wing politicians would not be able to resist picking the low-hanging fruit offered by new taxes and higher prices, which are always unpopular at first but are key parts of the market-oriented solutions Manning had in mind. MORE

Shouldn’t we want MPs who don’t conform?

The list of so-called maverick MPs over the past few decades is small. Parties usually weed them out, with the help of the media.

Image result for Shouldn’t we want MPs who don’t conform?
Photo: Independent Members of Parliament Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould make their way to speak with the media before Question Period in the foyer of the House of Commons in Ottawa, on April 3, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

ith the expulsion of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus, I began to think back on the other so-called “maverick” MPs I’ve come across over the past two decades. Who were the folks who dared to challenge the party line, or speak out of turn, or were just a little oddball? The list is pretty darn small, mostly male, and the individuals don’t last long in either their caucus or federal politics.

I’m thinking of Conservative MPs Brent Rathgeber, who tired of PMO micromanagement, and Garth Turner, turfed for saying too much in his blog. There was Bill Casey (Conservative, now Liberal), Carolyn Parrish (Liberal) and John Cummins (Conservative). There was earnest and outspoken Liberal MP Keith Martin; NDP MP Bruce Hyer who bristled at vote whipping on the long-gun registry; and yes, even Maxime Bernier. In the more polite vein, there is Michael Chong, one of the sole voices in the Conservative Party calling for intelligent carbon pricing and parliamentary reform. And thank goodness for Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who consistently bucks the trend of uber-partisanship in favour of rational arguments and civility.

Within the Liberal Party ranks in the 1990s and early 2000s, there was a very identifiable group of anti-abortion, social conservatives who found their home in caucus – people like Tom Wappel.

But overall, MPs are a fairly obedient bunch, and the events of the last few weeks should give you an indication why. It turns out Parliament Hill is a bit like Grade 8: Sticking your head out from the crowd is social suicide. And God help you if you don’t know how things work around here, as former Liberal cabinet minister Sheila Copps has driven home with her criticism of Wilson-Raybould and Philpott. You’ll be called out for your political inexperience and naïveté. MORE


Doug Ford and his caucus forgot to mention something when they filled up their gas tanks last weekend

A sample of fhe photos Ontario MPPs posted on Twitter on March 31 reminding them is was the last day to fill up their vehicles before the federal carbon tax kicked in and increased gas prices. Graphic by Fatima Syed

Ontario’s leaders were at the pumps all weekend reminding residents that the federal carbon tax was kicking in Monday.

From Kenora to Oxford to Ottawa and Toronto, all 55 members of the Progressive Conservative provincial government of Doug Ford posted photographs of themselves at gas stations warning drivers to fill up their tanks before a federal price on pollution adds to the cost.

The question of what to do about climate change was also largely avoided; none of the tweets even mentioned the phrase “climate change” or addressed the cost of failing to adequately address the problem.

Ontario’s leaders were at the pumps all weekend reminding residents that the federal carbon tax was kicking in Monday.

From Kenora to Oxford to Ottawa and Toronto, all 55 members of the Progressive Conservative provincial government of Doug Ford posted photographs of themselves at gas stations warning drivers to fill up their tanks before a federal price on pollution adds to the cost.

The question of what to do about climate change was also largely avoided; none of the tweets even mentioned the phrase “climate change” or addressed the cost of failing to adequately address the problem.

Rod Phillips


Tomorrow life gets more expensive for you because of the Federal Carbon Tax. Ontario has a plan that does our share to reduce emissions without a tax. A Carbon Tax is not the only way to fight climate change – that’s why we are using every tool at our disposal to fight this tax.

Asked about it later at a news conference — held to herald the end of the province’s Drive Clean program, an automotive emission control test — Premier Ford said he doesn’t believe Ottawa will follow through on something that has been written into federal legislation and regulation and is written into tax forms.

“Nobody trusts the federal government when they cross their fingers and they say they will eventually, eventually, that’s a magical word, give money back to us,” he said. “I’ve yet to see governments give money back.” MORE

Canada can’t rely on luck to protect northern waters

Image result for Canada can't rely on luck to protect northern waters
Tanker Jana Degagnes under tow by the Canadian Coast Guard on March 22, 2019 after breakdown in the Cabot Strait. Photo from the Canadian Coast Guard
Last week marked the thirtieth anniversary of the catastrophic Exxon Valdez oil spill. As director of the largest, local conservation group in Alaska back then, my life was immediately overtaken by trying to compel response to the spill, manage clean-up of oiled marine life, and search for long term policy fixes.

Typically, this anniversary is a time when I reflect on how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go to protect the safety of our seas and mariners, especially in northern waters.

But, instead I was transfixed by a narrowly averted disaster as the disabled Viking Sky cruise ship rolled in heavy seas off the coast of Norway. With over 1,300 passengers and crew at risk, a dramatic rescue was launched, lifting close to five hundred passengers one-by-one from the foundering ship to a helicopter battling strong winds. Nine crew members of a nearby cargo ship also had to be plucked from the sea when they were forced to abandon ship in the extreme conditions.

At the same time last week, the Canadian Coast Guard had to dispatch two icebreakers to assist a tanker loaded with 8,000 tons of oil products. The tanker had lost its steering after its rudder was damaged by heavy ice in Cabot Strait off the southwest coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.

In both cases passengers and the marine environment got lucky. Response equipment was in the area. No one killed, no fuel spilled.

But with Arctic ship traffic on the increase, we can’t afford to rely on luck. MORE


Environmentalists call for Carbon Capture and Storage – with forests

Amazonian rainforest
CC BY 2.0 Amazonian rainforest/ Lloyd Alter

Greta Thunberg, Margaret Atwood, Michael Mann, Naomi Klein, David Suzuki, Bill McKibben, George Monbiot and more make the case.

We go on about wood here on TreeHugger, but often fail to see the forest for the trees. In fact, those forests could save us, by sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere faster than we are making it. Instead, we are chopping them down and, in many parts of the world, failing to replant them. Every thing we say about the wonders of wood construction are meaningless if we don’t replace every tree we turn into CLT and NLT and DLT and every other form of wood we invent.

Writing in the Guardian, a long list of environmental luminaries, from Greta Thunberg to Brian Eno, have written an important letter calling for protecting and restoring ecosystems.

By defending, restoring and re-establishing forests, peatlands, mangroves, salt marshes, natural seabeds and other crucial ecosystems, large amounts of carbon can be removed from the air and stored. At the same time, the protection and restoration of these ecosystems can help minimise a sixth great extinction, while enhancing local people’s resilience against climate disaster. Defending the living world and defending the climate are, in many cases, one and the same. This potential has so far been largely overlooked.

The writers note that this can’t be a substitute for decarbonization of industrial economies, but note that “natural climate solutions could help us hold the heating of the planet below.”Drax carbon capture and storageDrax carbon capture and storage/ Wikipedia/CC BY 2.0


Your New Healthy Habits? They’re Ancient

These early Native traditions spur physical well-being.

89hansen_primary.jpgNowadays, modern medicine is discovering that the traditional practices and lifestyles of Native Americans improve your health. Photo by Sebastian Pichler/Unsplash

Centuries before the arrival of Europeans in the Americas, Indigenous peoples had refined natural ways to become and stay healthy. Nowadays, modern medicine is discovering that the traditional practices and lifestyles of Native Americans improve your health. Before modern conveniences, here’s what they knew about vitality, health, and a better night’s sleep.


Native Americans were constantly on the move— foraging, playing. Any light activity two minutes of every hour will lessen your risk of dying prematurely by 30 percent.

Get outside

Lift your face to the morning sky and greet the day. Even a few minutes outdoors in the morning sets our circadian rhythm, manages weight, and improves sleep and vitality. Discover a nearby park. Our response to nature is powerful. Just a few minutes viewing trees, flowers, or water induces relaxation and reduces anger, anxiety, and pain.

Go barefoot

While you’re at the park, take your shoes off! Though not fully studied and incorporated into medical practice, some people report feeling relaxed and experiencing less pain, anxiety, and depression from stimulating their bare feet by connecting to soil. MORE


TAKE ACTION! PM Trudeau: Don’t let Imperial Metals off the hook for the Mt. Polley mining disaster

Image result for Sumofus PM Trudeau: Don't let Imperial Metals off the hook for the Mt. Polley mining disaster

Just today, Canada’s Auditor General released an alarming report urging Trudeau’s government to do a better job to sanction mining companies when they fail to protect Canadian waters and fish. 

And there is one mining company in particular that Trudeau needs to act on — Imperial Metals.

Almost five years ago, Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley Mine spilled 25 million cubic metres of toxic waste into pristine Quesnel Lake, one of the deepest lakes in the world. The lake is home to multiple fish species, and supplies drinking water to local communities. Until now, the federal government has let Imperial Metals off the hook for the largest mining waste spill in Canadian history — but we’re going to change this. 

The clock is ticking: the government has until August 4th, 2019, to charge Imperial Metals. That’s why we need to turn up the heat now and force Trudeau’s hand.

Tell Trudeau’s government not to let Imperial Metals off the hook. Enforce the Fisheries Act now!


A jogger runs past the Scattergood power plant Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, in Los Angeles. Los Angeles will abandon a plan to spend billions of dollars rebuilding three natural gas power plants as the city moves toward renewable energy, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)A jogger runs past the Scattergood natural gas power plant on Feb. 12, 2019, in Los Angeles. Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

THERE IT WAS in black and white ­— or black, white, and a palette of gentle greens and blues. With a headline predicting that natural gas “will thrive in the age of renewables,” the article made the case that there are limitations on solar and wind power and that — as a subhead spelled out in aquamarine type — natural gas “is part of the solution.” Why was the Washington Postweighing in on the need for continued production of this fossil fuel in the face of climate change?

Or was it? On closer inspection, the report wasn’t coming from the D.C. paper’s newsroom. Though the link takes you to a page published by WashingtonPost.com, the story is actually a publication of WP BrandStudio, the paper’s branded content platform. In other words, the article is really an advertisement, and the copy was paid for by the American Petroleum Institute. The tagline — “Content from American Petroleum Institute” — is plain to see if you’re looking for it, though easy to miss if you’re not.

It’s not surprising that the trade group representing the oil and gas industry would want to leap to the defense of natural gas now. The notion that the energy source is a “bridge fuel” that will somehow safely deliver us to wind and solar — and past the threat of climate change — has been vaporized by recent science. MORE

From Canadian Coal Mines, Toxic Pollution That Knows No Borders

Massive open-pit coal mines in British Columbia are leaching high concentrations of selenium into the Elk River watershed, damaging fish populations and contaminating drinking water. Now this pollution is flowing across the Canadian-U.S. border, threatening the quality of U.S. waters.

Teck Resources' Greenhills mine in British Columbia's Elk Valley.
Teck Resources’ Greenhills mine in British Columbia’s Elk Valley. CREDIT: GARTH LENZ

Samycia snapped a photo of the fish. For the last four years, Samycia, the owner of Elk River Guiding Company, a fly-fishing shop and outfitter based in Fernie, British Columbia, has been collecting photos of misshapen catches. Some have shortened gill plates. Others have snubbed noses, making them look like they swam into a rock. He and fellow guides have amassed nearly 40 photos.

Samycia started noticing the deformities about 10 years ago, but the sightings are becoming increasingly common. Scientists have found substantial evidence that the cause is selenium, a trace element, leaching from coal mines in the Elk River watershed. A 2013 study found heightened selenium concentrations downstream of mines in the Elk Valley, and a 2014 report linked high selenium to a slew of damaging ecological consequences in the river, including malformations and reproductive failure in fish.

Environmental groups now are raising concerns about harm to the ecosystem, ranging from the Elk River’s tributaries to waters downstream that cross into the United States. They also point to risks for human health in communities nearest to the mines, where selenium is contaminating drinking water. Meanwhile, tensions on both sides of the border are escalating: U.S. members of a binational water regulator sounded alarm bells last year, charging that Canadian members were suppressing scientific evidence related to the selenium pollution and its risks to the ecosystem and human health. The situation in the Elk has been called “a monumental selenium spill in slow motion.”

“We have one of the biggest selenium contamination issues in the world taking place in the Elk River,” says one biologist.



Canada is warming faster than we thought. What can we do about it?

While global temperatures have increased 0.8 C since 1948, Canada has seen an increase of 1.7 C — more than double the global average. And in the Arctic, the warming is happening at a much faster rate of 2.3 C, the Changing Climate report says.

A large stack from the Sault Paper Mill. Photo: Billy Wilson/Flickr
Photo: Billy Wilson/Flickr

new report leaked one day early from Environment and Climate Change Canada shows that Canada is experiencing warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world, with Northern Canada heating up at almost three times the global average.

The changing climate report was prepared in a similar way to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, as a synthesis of hundreds of peer-reviewed studies. It included details on a familiar catalogue of the impacts we can expect, not limited to increases in precipitation (particularly in winter), “extreme fire weather” and water supply shortages in summer, threatened freshwater systems, marine ecosystem collapse and a heightened risk of coastal flooding. As the Toronto Star noted, the report concluded that “even if countries around the world stick to their commitments under the 2016 Paris Agreement, Canada is still likely to experience a range of consequences like rising sea levels, shrinking glaciers and Arctic ice cover, increased risk of summertime water shortages and more frequent droughts, floods and wildfires.”

In some ways, this information is new — the degree and scope to which this land has and will be impacted has never been collated with this much certainty before. The idea that Canada will be impacted more than average by climate change may alert some people who have bought into the selfish and false talking point that we will not be terribly adversely impacted by this crisis, that it could even be a good thing for us. It may jolt others out of complacency. But for people who are already grappling with the full scale of the climate crisis, there’s been more than enough scientific evidence and Indigenous knowledge shared to indicate that this is an emergency. As the Northwest Territories Chapter of the Council of Canadians wrote, “We’ve seen the changes; now we have the data. But still there are people crying ‘fake news.’ Those of us wanting a livable planet need to step up the push for a Green New Deal for Canada and the NWT.”

We wrote about our takeaways from the special IPCC report on 1.5 C late last year for people interested it fighting for climate justice, and thought we would reiterate some of them in the wake of this Canada-specific report.

The most important thing to remember it’s still within our reach to avoid most of the future impacts the report describes. We have the solutions. We have many roadmaps for a fair transition on the necessary timeline, but to get there we will need to multiply the people power pushing for them. MORE


%d bloggers like this: