Never forget: Yes, there was a genocide. Why don’t we correct the wrong now?

Photo: Justin Trudeau/Twitter

…Today, Canada has a choice. It can continue to look away and praise itself as one of the best places in the world and quietly put the report on the shelf like it has in the past for all the previous reports (the Royal commission on Aboriginal peoples, and the public commission of inquiry into missing women in B.C. in 2012).

Or, it can decide to be courageous and brave and start decolonizing its institutions starting from stopping the abusive and racial profiling practices used by some local police forces, to overcoming the general apathy and complacency of the RCMP, to repealing the mother of all evil, the Indian Act.

Like any radical change, this decolonization process wouldn’t be easy or popular to adopt. Already, most of the major newspapers in Canada are, since the release of the report, aligning with editorial after editorial and opinion after opinion against the word “genocide” used in the report. Many have been acting offended and choosing to focus on the word genocide, while all the crucial issues discussed in the report have seemed already to be once again forgotten.  SOURCE

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‘The world should have stopped’: An Indigenous woman responds to Canada’s admission of genocide

Fact checking Jason Kenney and Justin Trudeau’s comments about carbon taxes and wildfires


Jason Kenney meets with Justin Trudeau in Ottawa on May 2, 2019. File photo by Andrew Meade

Last Friday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the causes of wildfires are “complex” and carbon taxes won’t stop them. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said a carbon tax is a way to reduce the pollution that causes extreme climate events such as wildfires.

Which one of them is right?

Short answer: Kenney’s comments aren’t false, but they are misleading, experts say. While Kenney is correct in saying that many factors lead to wildfires, the premier’s comments fail to mention that the global climate emergency is worsening the frequency and intensity of wildfires, and that top economists, including two Nobel prize winners in 2018, generally agree that putting a price on carbon emissions is an effective way to slow down and eventually reverse the crisis.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says a carbon tax won’t stop wildfires, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the opposite. Which one is right? Short answer: experts say Kenney’s statements aren’t false, but Trudeau is more right. #cdnpoli #ableg

“It’s not untrue, but it’s totally missing the point,” said University of Calgary climatologist Shawn Marshall, referring to Kenney’s comments.

Speaking in Calgary under a thick fog of smoke from fires in the northern part of the province on Friday, Kenney told reporters that Alberta has always had wildfires, and some parts of the boreal forest were overdue to burn. “They’ve had a carbon tax in British Columbia for 10 years. It hasn’t made a difference to the pattern of forest fires there … or in Alberta,” he said.

In B.C., the carbon tax introduced in 2008 by former premier Gordon Campbell’s government has generally reduced emissionsand affected some sectors that rely on fossil fuels, while allowing cleaner sectors to benefit.

“We need to be taking real action to prevent climate change,” Trudeau said Monday, referencing this spring’s wildfires in western Canada. “That’s why we’re moving forward on a price on pollution right across the country, despite the fact conservative politicians are pushing against that.”

Trudeau also said natural disasters are “becoming unaffordable” for Canadians and society. “We need to act in a way that puts more money in the pockets of Canadians, which is what we’re doing (with the carbon tax),” he added, referencing the rebate that means most Canadians will profit from the tax.

Kenney, who said he believes in climate change, is correct that wildfire is a natural part of the life cycle of Canada’s forests, said Mike Flannigan, a wildfire researcher at the University of Alberta. However, increased carbon emissions in the planet’s atmosphere are causing global temperatures to warm and conditions to become more favourable to wildfires, he added. Not only does the changing climate have longer, hotter and drier summers that leave the landscape more fire-prone — which Kenney correctly noted Friday — increased temperatures also increase the likelihood of lightning that can ignite more flames.

“We are seeing more fire on our landscape because of climate change,” Flannigan said. MORE

Here’s everything the Doug Ford government cut in its first year in office


File photo of Doug Ford by Alex Tétreault

Before Ontario Premier Doug Ford was elected last June, he made an array of ambitious campaign promises. He also vowed to create a “government for the people” that would rein in spending.

Friday marks a year since the Progressive Conservatives were elected and began their budget cuts. In April, Ford’s government laid out its plan to eliminate an $11.7-billion deficit from their budget, titled “Protecting What Matters Most”. That phrase has been used repeatedly to justify their cuts, including reductions in the budgets of 13 ministries, as well as a blueprint of shrinkage across public sectors and programs — impacting everything from trees to libraries to financial assistance for victims of crime.

In commenting on the government’s decision to adjourn till Oct. 28, one week after the federal election, Conservative house leader Todd Smith said the PC government has “achieved so much.”

The Ontario premier agreed, adding recently that his government was “moving at lightning speed.”

Here’s a list of everything the Ford government has cut in its first year in office:

Environment

  • Cancelled Cap and Trade
  • Ended electric and hydrogen vehicle incentive program
  • Cut 700+ green energy projects
  • Shut down White Pines Wind Project
  • Proposed cuts to protections of species at-risk
  • Removed electric vehicle chargers from GO station parking lots
  • Slashed 50 per cent of flood management funds given to conservation authorities
  • Eliminated funding for 50 Million Tree Program
  • Ended Drive Clean, a mandatory biannual emissions test program for vehicles and light-duty trucks more than seven years old
  • Axed the Green Ontario Fund, which provided funds through cap and trade to help make properties more energy-efficient

Health

  • Cancelled free prescription medication given to those under 25 through the Pharmacare program
  • Cancelled the opening of new overdose prevention sites
  • Cut the Liberals’ promised $2.1 billion over four years for new mental health funding to $1.9 billion over 10 years
  • Revoked current and future funding for the College of Midwives of Ontario
  • Dissolved Local Health Integration Networks and merged them under one new umbrella body called Ontario Health
  • Slashed the number of paramedic service providers from 59 to 10
  • Proposed ending OHIP’s medical emergency coverage for Ontarians travelling outside the country
  • Planned to cut Toronto Public Health by $1 billion over the next 10 years. That translates into cuts in school breakfast programs, daycare and restaurant inspections, water-quality testing, pre- and postnatal care for single mothers, and detection of emerging threats to public health. (Reversed retroactive acts; future cuts remain)
  • Scrapped funding for three supervised drug-use sites (two in Toronto, one in Ottawa)
  • Trimmed $1 million in funding from Leave the Pack Behind, an agency that helps young people quit smoking

Education

  • Rolled back sex-ed curriculum
  • Removed $100-million budget for school repairs (due to cancellation of cap and trade)
  • Cancelled Ontario’s first planned French-language university
  • Removed $25 million from the Education Programs-Other (EPO) Fund, which will limit grants available for school programs like after-school jobs for youth in low-income neighbourhoods; tutors in classrooms; leadership programs for racialized students; daily physical activity for elementary students and more
  • Dropped financial assistance for college and university students by more than $300 million
  • Removed free tuition for low-income students
  • Cut tuition fees by 10 per cent
  • Scrapped over $300 million in funding for three satellite university campuses
  • Increased class sizes, potentially resulting in over 3,400 lost teaching jobs over next four years
  • Cancelled three summer curriculum-writing sessions, including one that was mandated by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and two others relating to American Sign Language and Indigenous languages for kindergarten students
  • Shutdown the Harmony Movement, which provides diversity, equity, and inclusion education
  • Scrapped the Ontario College of Trades

Legislative positions

  • Privatization Officer
  • Chief Scientist
  • Investment Officer
  • Environmental Commissioner’s Office
  • Ontario Child Advocate
  • French Language Commissioner
  • Voluntary buyouts offered to thousands of Ontario public service workers
The Big Story Podcast@thebigstoryfpn

“It’s happening all at once and it’s happening without clarity.” Are the cuts to services in Ontario’s new budget more severe than voters expected? Or is Ford’s government just fulfilling their promise to balance the budget? @fatimabsyed explains. https://thebigstorypodcast.ca/2019/04/29/is-doug-ford-cutting-ontario-to-the-bone-or-is-this-what-voters-signed-up-for/ 

Is Doug Ford cutting Ontario to the bone? Or is this what voters signed up for? – The Big Story

There has been news of cuts to various services, ministries and program funding nearly every single day since the Ford’s PC government dropped the Ontario budget two weeks ago, and the list is…

thebigstorypodcast.ca

  • Reduced legal aid by 30 per cent
  • Disbanded Anti-Racism Directorate
  • Withheld $14.8 million in promised funding from existing and new sexual assault centres
  • Dissolved Ontario’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, the tribunal that has awarded financial assistance to crime victims since 1971, as well as the law that provides financial aid to the victims of violent crime

Municipal affairs

  • Cut Toronto City Council in half
  • Planned to cut funds to repair social housing
  • Asked municipalities and school boards to find 4 per cent in “efficiencies” (i.e., cuts) to services

Arts, culture and tourism

  • Retroactively slashed $5 million from the Ontario Arts Council
  • Cancelled the Indigenous Culture Fund
  • Dropped grants for the Ontario Music Fund by more than 50 per cent
  • Reduced funding to regional tourism organizations by $17.5 million
  • Announced the termination of the Beer Store contract, jeopardizing 7,000 jobs
  • Cut $9.5 million from Tourism Toronto (25 per cent of funding) and $3.4 million from Ottawa Tourism

Social services

  • Cut $1 billion from social services across the board
  • Scrapped Basic Income Pilot Project
  • Cancelled $1 increase minimum wage
  • Cut Workplace Safety Insurance Board payments to injured workers by 30 per cent
  • Killed Bill C-148, which provided part-time workers the same pay as full-time workers, guaranteed 10 days off (2 days paid) and more
  • Removed rent control for new units
  • Severed library services funding in half
  • Ended the Roundtable on Violence Against Women
  • Slashed $84.5 million funding for children and at-risk youth, including children’s aid societies
  • Cut $15 million from the Ontario Trillium Foundation

Research

  • Cut funding to MaRS Discovery District
  • Eliminated funding for public policy think tanks such as the University of Toronto’s Mowat Centre, which conducted research on Ontario’s role in Canada and the world, as well as the Institute for Competitiveness & Prosperity, launched under former PC premier Mike Harris
  • Cut funding to two artificial intelligence institutes by $24 million
  • Cancelled a technology accelerators program of $9.5 million, a college-based applied research projects worth $6.7 million; $5 million in funding to the Institute for Quantum Computing; $1.5 million in funding to the Lazaridis Institute, and $750,000 for bioindustrial innovation.
  • Pared $5 million in funding for stem cell research
  • Eliminated funding for Gambling Research Exchange Ontario
  • Cut all funding for Ontario Centre for Workforce Innovation, a pilot program led by Toronto’s Ryerson University to collate research on employment and training

Editor’s Note: This article was updated on June 7, 2019 at 5:17 p.m. EST to include additional cuts.

SOURCE

Grassroots movement to address climate crisis


Organic farmer Brenda Hsueh introduces the Green New Deal to people in her barn at Black Sheep Farm outside of Scone. PAT CARSON

The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres does not talk about climate change, he talks about a “climate crisis,” adding that “we face a direct existential threat.”

The Paris Agreement on climate was signed by 195 nations, including Canada, in 2017. On April 2, 2019 the Government of Canada announced in a news release that Canada’s climate is warming twice as fast as the global average. The report added that Canadians are experiencing the costs of climate-related extremes first hand, from devastating wildfires and flooding to heat waves and droughts.

In January of 2019, the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) reported that climate change is linked to depression, anxiety and stress disorders in Canada.

There is a grassroots movement afoot to address the climate crisis in Canada and it’s called the Green New Deal. The Green New Deal is a political idea to tackle the climate crisis.

There have been more than 150 Green New Deal town hall gatherings across Canada this month alone, in cities like Toronto and Vancouver and smaller communities like Barrie and Wiarton. On May 25 there was one in a barn on a farm outside of Scone on Grey Road 3.

“In part it comes out of the LEAP manifesto and a lot of different progressive groups wanting to push society to make changes, not just on climate issues, but on social justice issues too,” explained Brenda Hsueh, an organic farmer who hosted the event at Black Sheep Farm.

Hsueh decided to take up the challenge of hosting a town hall because as an organic farmer most of her work is done in isolation and she wanted to see who else in her community was as angry and frustrated with society’s lack of action on this major issue.

Twenty-four people from different walks of life and different ages, including several local organic farmers, showed up as concerned as Hsueh about the climate crisis and the need for action now.

The Green New Deal calls on workers, students, union members, migrants, community organizations and people all across the country to gather and design a plan for a safe and prosperous future for all. It is a vision of rapid, inclusive and far-reaching transition, to slash emissions, protect critical biodiversity and meet the demands of the multiple crises.

In her opening remarks, Hsueh asked people to be “mindful that we are gathered today on the traditional land of the Three Fire Confederacy of the Ojibway, Potawatomi and Odawa people.”

Before beginning small group discussions she explained the concept of “green line” statements as a way to identify what people want to see and support in communities and the country. “Red line” statements identify what people do not want to see or support. The statements might be about labour, Indigenous peoples, food, disabilities, public transportation, health, agriculture, war, youth and faith to name just a few social justice topics. MORE

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The Two-Row Wampum: The Grandfather of All Treaties

Reconciliation is  best achieved by understanding and honouring the Two-Row Wampum Treaty between Indigenous and the new arrivals.

A film by Candace Maracle

The Grandfather of All Treaties or the Two Row Wampum–otherwise known as the Kaswentha–is considered the most important diplomatic instrument in First Nation’s history.

Formed in 1613, Kaswentha bound together Dutch colonists and the original five Nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy in a mutual commitment to live side by side as sovereign nations, in peace and friendship, for “as long as the grass is green, as long as the rivers flow downhill and as long as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west”. The Kaswentha was later renewed with the French, British and American governments under the framework of the Silver Covenant Chain agreements.

The Guswenta: Two Row Wampum Belt is a Symbol of Sovereignty

A treaty like no other, the Kaswentha is symbolized by two parallel rows of Purple Wampum between three rows of white beads. The rows of Purple beads represent the entirety of the peoples in the agreement, something that is often extended to represent all Onkwheonwhe (Indigenous) and non-Onkwheonwhe peoples, past, present and future. Three rows of white beads represent Peace, Friendship and Respect between the two nations, an understanding that keeps them separate while binding them together as neighbors.

Another way to look at it: The white Beads represent the “River of Life” and the Purple beads two distinct canoes that travel side by side, supporting one another but never threatening or infringing upon the other.

This documentary examines these central tenets and the Indigenous mobilization that is happening across North America as a response to the failure to honour this 400-year-old agreement and the power of the people to affect real change in the world. SOURCE

Stanford scientists creating ways to quickly, accurately and inexpensively find natural gas leaks

From production to consumption, natural gas leaks claim lives, damage the climate and waste money. Research teams at Stanford are working on better ways to find and fix gas leaks quickly and inexpensively from one end of the system to the other.


Stanford’s Robert Jackson used this specially equipped car to survey Manhattan and several other cities in search of natural gas leaks. (Image credit: Robert Jackson)

As it flows through pipelines from wells to stovetops, natural gas is prone to leaking, threatening not only human safety and health but also the health of the planet.

Over the past 10 years, natural gas leaks and explosions in U.S. residential and commercial neighborhoods have killed 73 people, injured 412 others and caused more than $500 million in property damage. Gas leaks and other emissions throughout the industry emit a third of all human-made methane, a greenhouse gas 36 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Researchers at Stanford and elsewhere are looking for fast and affordable ways of detecting leaks throughout the natural gas supply chain in an effort to reduce damage and save lives.

“While a large portion of methane in the atmosphere comes from agriculture and livestock, natural gas leaks are found throughout the gas distribution system,” said Stanford professor of geophysics Mark Zoback, director of the Natural Gas Initiative, which funds much of the work at Stanford tracking down and mitigating leaks.

When burned to produce electricity, natural gas releases about half the carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour that coal does, as well as less sulfur and nitrogen oxides, making it a tempting alternative to coal.

However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that the oil and gas industry emitted approximately 8 million metric tons of methane in 2016 – the equivalent of emissions from 43 million cars in a year. A 2014 study by Adam Brandt, an associate professor of energy resources engineering at Stanford, found that such leaks can negate some but not all of the climate benefit of switching from coal to natural gas, as some experts, including Zoback, have advocated.

Working with postdoctoral scholar Arvind Ravikumar, Brandt recently led the Mobile Monitoring Challenge – a contest to find the most affordable and accurate ways of detecting natural gas leaks – along with colleagues from Stanford, Colorado State University and the Environmental Defense Fund.


A drone-based methane detector competes in the Mobile Monitoring Challenge at a natural gas facility in Colorado. (Image credit: Sean Boggs/Environmental Defense Fund)

In the course of the contest last year, drones whizzed overhead, trucks rumbled by and helicopters zoomed through the sky at controlled testing facilities in Fort Collins, Colorado, and Sacramento, California. MORE

Senate changes to environmental assessment bill are worse than Harper-era legislation: experts

©Garth Lenz --1618
Tailings for Imperial Metals’ Red Chris Mine perch above a B.C. lake. Proposed new rules for reviewing major projects like mines and pipelines have been majorly revised by the Senate. Photo: Garth Lenz / The Narwhal

Following intensive lobbying by the oil and gas industry, the unelected Canadian Senate has approved more than 180 controversial amendments to Bill C-69. Experts describe the amendments as incoherent, badly drafted and an attempt to dodge climate change considerations

Jason Kenney travelled to Ottawa only days after he was sworn in, telling members of the Senate’s energy committee that Bill C-69 was the “culmination of a full-frontal attack” on Alberta’s economic prosperity.

But the Senate’s surgery is so extreme, with many of its wide-ranging amendments mirroring requests from the oil and gas industry, some verbatim, that environmental law experts say Canada would be better off leaving the Harper-era environmental assessment legislation in place.

Following a report from an expert panel that travelled across the country, hearing from stakeholders in 21 cities, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna introduced Bill C-69 in February 2018, saying the new legislation would ensure “more timely and predictable project reviews” that would attract investment and development.

The 340-page bill replaces the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency with the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada. The bill also makes changes to the Navigable Waters Act and overhauls the beleaguered National Energy Board, replacing it with a Canadian Energy Regulator.

The new impact assessment agency would review all major projects in the country, assessing not just the environmental impacts but also the social, economic and health impacts, as well as the effects on Indigenous peoples.

The bill establishes timelines for assessments and requires that impacts on Indigenous rights and culture be considered early on in the planning process. MORE

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Senate Playing With Fire on Environmental Bills