Watch a Green New Deal for all with Kanahus Manuel, David Suzuki and more

The LEAP Manifesto toured across the country to hear from prominent climate activists, students, organizers, workers, and people like you about how to build power and popular support for an inclusive, climate-safe economy and society through a Green New Deal for Canada.

The tour ended in Vancouver on June 21. Watch the webcast of the Vancouver event above.

Speakers featured: Ruben George, Kanahus Manuel, David Suzuki, Harsha Walia, Kimmortal and Avi Lewis, with MC Anjali Appadurai.

7:45 Sounds starts
9:05 Reuben George, Manager of the Sacred Trust, Tsleil-Waututh Nation
26:58 350 introduces the Barnstorm on GND for Canada
42:25 David Suzuki
1:05:55 Kanahus Manuel
1:25:00 Harsha Walia
1:53:45 Kimmortal
2:10:20 Avi Lewis (The Leap) – The Green New Deal

Teens Fighting To Take Feds To Court Over Trans Mountain Pipeline

The teens’ arguement was obviously one the Trudeau Government didn’t want to answer because, really, there was no moral answer they could make.

They argue the pipeline’s contribution to the climate crisis violates their right to a secure future.

Pipe for the Trans Mountain pipeline is unloaded in Edson, Alta. on Tuesday June 18,
Pipe for the Trans Mountain pipeline is unloaded in Edson, Alta. on Tuesday June 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/JASON FRANSON

A group of Canadian teenagers is fighting for the chance to take the federal government to court over the approval and purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline, after its application to the Federal Court of Appeal was blocked by the Canadian government earlier this month.

In early July, 12 challenges were launched against the pipeline by various groups, including several First Nations and environmental organizations. They questioned the pipeline on various grounds, including Indigenous land rights and ecological harm to the southern resident orcas.

Olivier Adkin-Kaya, 18, Nina Tran, 18, Lena Andres, 17, and Rebecca Wolf Gage, 13 — who collectively call themselves Youth Stop TMX — filed a challenge arguing that the pipeline’s construction was in violation of their right to life, liberty and security of person as young Canadians through its contribution to the ongoing climate crisis.

The teens are from four different cities across the country and they argue that the pipeline’s construction and subsequent carbon emissions would contribute to ongoing climate change in Canada and continue to negatively impact their physical and mental well-being. Group members cited negative impacts like increased wildfire smoke due to rising global temperatures and growing anxiety over the climate crisis.

Of the 12 challenges, only the teens’ was blocked from moving forward in the judicial process. Adkin-Kaya says he doesn’t understand why only their challenge would be blocked.

“It’s beyond me why, of all the parties filing judicial review applications, Trans Mountain Corporation and the Government of Canada singled out of the youth, the party representing those who will be the first experience the more severe effects of the climate crisis,” he told HuffPost Canada. MORE


Press Release: Canada seeks to block youth climate strikers from Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline challenge

Debate should be over, Canada is guilty of genocide

Image: Provice of British Columbia/Flickr

It’s no longer up for debate. Canada is guilty of genocide.

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls has found that Canada has and continues to engage in “race-based genocide.”

The inquiry called to investigate the circumstances surrounding the murder and disappearance of an estimated 1,200 Indigenous women and girls came to its conclusion after hearing from their family members, survivors of violence and expert witnesses, as well as conducting its own independent research.

This was not an academic exercise nor a political tactic, as some pundits in the mainstream press have suggested. The finding that Canada is guilty of genocide is based firmly on the evidence and law.

Canadians should not be shocked.

This is not the first time an inquiry or commission has come to this conclusion. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission into Indian residential schools also found Canada guilty of genocide — cultural, physical, and biological.

Canada is at a crossroads. Yes, an admission of genocide will have political and legal consequences, but that is a small price to pay.

False comparisons to the Holocaust

Canada’s political leaders have long professed a commitment to human rights and Indigenous rights at home and on the international stage. Yet the national inquiry found that it is Canada’s very breach of those rights that have led to genocide.

Various prime ministers have called out grave human rights violations and genocides committed by other states — and rightly so.

Unfortunately, the response of many politicians, journalists, and armchair critics to the inquiry’s findings has amounted to denial — and that is precisely how genocide is allowed to continue in plain sight.

Much of the debate among media commentators has focused on false comparisons to the Holocaust. In their minds, if millions did not die within a short time, then it simply cannot be called a genocide.

But in law, the Holocaust is not the standard of what constitutes a genocide.

The Holocaust is one of the worst examples of genocide, but not the only way in a which a systemic, state-sponsored genocide can occur.

Both international law and the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide define genocide as a crime that can occur in a variety of forms, and which may or may not involve the mass killing of a targeted group.

The definition of genocide in Article II of the Convention includes killing members of a national, racial or ethnic group — like Indigenous peoples. The definition also covers other acts: causing serious bodily or mental harm; creating the conditions of life to bring about the destruction of a group; preventing births in a group; and the forced transfer of children from the group.

A state need only commit one of these acts to be guilty of genocide. Sadly, Canada is guilty on all these fronts when it comes to its treatment of Indigenous peoples. MORE


Scheer Says He Knows What It’s Like to Worry about Bills. On $264,400 a Year

Conservative leader wants to be the working-class hero, with Trudeau the son of privilege. It’s a tough sell.

‘Scheer is paid $264,400 a year. He lives rent-free in a taxpayer-funded 34-room mansion with a chef, chauffeur and household manager.’ Photo from Andrew Scheer, Flickr.

“I know what it’s like when families feel anxious that they won’t make it to the end of the month,” the Conservative leader told Michael Smyth of the Province. “Someone who’s never had to worry about that can’t possibly relate to it on a personal level.”

Scheer is paid $264,400 a year. He lives rent-free in a taxpayer-funded 34-room mansion with a chef, chauffeur and household manager.

He might remember his parents feeling anxious about making it to the end of the month when he was a child. They were solidly middle class — his mother a nurse, his father a unionized librarian and proofreader at the Ottawa Citizen. But they had nine children, so money was likely tight.

But as a career politician, Scheer surely hasn’t worried about paying the bills for a long time. He had a history degree and limited work experience when he was elected as an MP in 2005. He’s done political staff jobs, part-time work as a server and briefly sold insurance in a friend’s agency.

Then at 25, Scheer hit the jackpot. He was elected MP for Regina-Qu’Appelle, and started collecting about $140,000 a year — about $195,000 in current dollars.

Less than two years later, Scheer was appointed assistant deputy chairman of committees of the whole and a deputy Speaker. The title has a vaguely Dwight Schrute quality, but the job brought a 10-per-cent pay increase over the base pay for an MP.

And after the Harper government was re-elected in 2011, Scheer was elected Speaker. That took his pay to $236,600 and gave him an apartment on Parliament Hill and taxpayer-paid housing in The Farm, a 5,000-square-foot residence on four acres.

Since he was elected as an MP at 25 in 2005, Scheer has collected about $3 million in salary. For the last eight years, he’s lived in housing paid for by taxpayers.

He isn’t doing anything wrong. Parliament approved the pay plan.

But it’s ridiculous for him to claim that “I know what it’s like when families feel anxious that they won’t make it to the end of the month.” MORE


Alberta Can Transition from Oil and Gas and Have a Strong Economy. Here’s How

‘Tens of thousands’ of people would be put to work immediately in high-skill jobs, say advocates.

Lliam Hildebrand: Alberta’s workers need to escape the oil boom-and-bust cycle. Renewable energy can help. Photo from Iron & Earth.

What will a transition away from oil and gas mean for workers in Alberta?

Perhaps greater job security than in the boom and bust heydays of the oilsands, comparable wages and less time apart from family.

This is not a utopian pipe dream. Over the past month The Tyee spoke with experts across the province and the country who said Albertans have the skills and desire to build the sustainable energy system necessary to address our climate emergency.

“A lot of the people that support the pipeline are also very pro-renewable energy,” said Lliam Hildebrand, who spent years working in the oilsands and now runs a group called Iron & Earth that advocates for policies connecting oil workers to the millions of jobs required to build a low-carbon economy in Canada.

Decades of employment for laid-off Albertans could be unlocked by our political leaders in a matter of days.

Teck’s Frontier oilsands project heads to McKenna for review

Workers are pictured next to heavy machinery in an undated photograph in a Teck Resources document about its Frontier oilsands project.

A massive new oilsands project is inching closer to getting built in Alberta, despite serious concerns about its detrimental effect on bison herds and the rights of Indigenous people living nearby.

Only the federal environment minister’s approval stands in the way of Teck Resources’ $20-billion, 260,000-barrel-per-day Frontier project, which would be the first new open-pit petroleum-mining construction in the country’s oil patch in many years.

But approval this year will be a tricky undertaking, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government struggling in its eagerness to present itself as capable of both protecting the environment and boosting the economy.

A joint review panel from the Alberta Energy Regulator and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency last week deliveredits verdict on the Frontier project to the minister, Catherine McKenna, who must now choose whether to approve or reject the project before an October election or risk not getting to make the decision at all.

That extensive report says the 292-square-kilometre site north of Fort McKay is in the public interest despite “significant adverse project and cumulative effects on certain environmental components and Indigenous communities.”

A map showing the location of Teck Resources’ Frontier project. Photo supplied by company


“We find that the project is likely to result in significant adverse environmental effects to wetlands, old-growth forests, wetland- and old-growth-reliant species at risk, the Ronald Lake bison herd and biodiversity,” it says.

The Ronald Lake bison is a small population of disease-free wild bison that Indigenous Peoples in the area hunt for food. According to the report, the animals’ range includes the project’s almost 30,000-hectare footprint, and there is concern the project could prompt the herd to move northward into Wood Buffalo National Park, where they could come into contact with herds known to carry bovine tuberculosis or brucellosis.

“It would have significant consequences for the herd and the asserted rights, use of lands and resources, and cultural practices of Indigenous communities who are connected to the herd,” the report says.

McKenna to review panel’s verdict

McKenna thanked the panel for “their diligent work through an exhaustive review process” in a statement supplied by her office, which repeated assertions that the government was serious about protecting the environment, fighting climate change, and advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, as well as supporting good jobs and economic opportunities for middle-class Canadians.

Teck says the project will create 7,000 jobs during construction and require up to 2,500 workers during operation.

A schematic of Teck Resources’ planned operation at its Frontier project in northern Alberta. Photo from company website

The company, Canada’s largest diversified miner, mostly produces copper, metallurgical coal and zinc worldwide, but has recently built some Canadian oil and gas exposure. It expects the project to produce about 3.2 billion barrels of bitumen over four decades of life. The company expects to pay around $12 billion in federal taxes during that time, as well as $55 billion to Alberta in taxes and royalties and $3.5 billion in municipal property taxes.

If McKenna decides the risks outlined in the report are too great, it will be up to cabinet to determine whether those effects are justified. The federal government has until Feb. 28 to make its decision. MORE


Pending approval of new oilsands mine cause for concern

Pembina Institute and Ecojustice react to Joint Review Panel recommendation to approve new oilsands mine

Environmental concerns could dash Teck’s hopes of building massive oilsands mine



Five years after Mount Polley disaster, taxpayers still on hook for cleaning up mining accidents

B.C. is supposed to have a polluter-pay policy, but that’s not the reality on the ground according to experts

Red Chris Mine Tailings Pond
View of the north dam and lower seepage collection dam at the Red Chris mine, owned by Imperial Metals, in northwestern B.C. Photo: Garth Lenz / The Narwhal

s been five years since the Mount Polley tailings dam burst and spilled 24 million cubic metres of mining waste into critical salmon habitat in the Fraser River watershed, but B.C. hasn’t learned its lesson, according to a new report released on Tuesday.

If another mining accident happened today, B.C. taxpayers would still be at risk of paying the clean-up bill according to the report released by the First Nations Energy and Mining Council, which calls on the B.C. government to compel mining companies to provide funds for cleanup.

“The lack of financial assurance for mining disasters is a serious policy gap in British Columbia — one that increases the risk of another Mount Polley,” said report author and economist Jason Dion. “By implementing smart financial assurance requirements, B.C. can better protect the public while still ensuring a thriving mining sector in the province.”

The cost of cleaning up B.C.’s abandoned mine sites was pegged at more than $500 million in 2016.

Financial assurance is a system of ensuring funds are available to pay for a cleanup even if a company goes bankrupt. It screens out companies that can’t afford the risk of their own projects.

British Columbia currently relies on a phased system of financial assurance, in which companies do not have to put up the full estimated clean-up cost up front; companies can rely in part on the value of the untapped commodities in the ground, an approach that is vulnerable to commodity swings, company bankruptcies and technological innovations at competing mines elsewhere in the world, Dion says.

Two tailings dam failures expected each decade under current regulations

The expert panel that reviewed the cause of the Mount Polley mine disaster warned B.C. can expect two dam failures every 10 years unless mining laws are updated. Nearly five years later, no fines and no charges have been laid against the mine’s owner Imperial Metals, which is now on precarious financial ground. One economist has estimated that British Columbians are on the hook for a $40 million clean-up bill for the Mount Polley disaster.

“B.C. has a polluter-pay policy under its Environmental Management Act, but that’s not the reality on the ground,” said Allen Edzerza of the First Nations Energy and Mining Council.

“By accepting our recommendations, the government would not only ensure that polluters pay when there are disasters, it would also reduce the risk of another Mount Polley by giving mining companies a financial incentive to reduce risk in their operations.”

The recommendations would bring the mining sector into line with other heavy industrial sectors – pipelines, offshore oil and gas production, tanker traffic and nuclear power generation – which must provide financial security against the risk of disaster, in many cases up to $1 billion, according to the report.

A June report from the First Nations Energy and Mining Council found that British Columbia does not need to reinvent the wheel in terms of mining rules. It can emulate other jurisdictions such as Quebec and the United States. MORE

Deadline coming: Scientists tell environment minister to speed up conservation

Catherine McKenna is surrounded by Carleton University faculty and students during a funding announcement for two energy efficient building research projects at the university, in Ottawa on Friday, July 26, 2019. File photo by The Canadian Press

Some of North America’s top conservation scientists have written to the federal government urging it to speed up land protection in Canada.

The 32 scientists from 23 universities and other organizations say Ottawa is not on pace to meet the 2020 conservation targets it promised in an international agreement. The letter, addressed to federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, also warns the government not to include in its totals land that’s protected by provincial regulations or informal agreements instead of actual legislation.

“The natural world is telling us through all the indicators that we need to speed up the rate of protection if we’re going to have any chance of slowing and stopping this decline,” said Jeff Wells of the Audubon Society, who signed the letter and speaks for his colleagues.

Canada has promised to conserve 17 per cent of its lands and water by 2020 under the Convention on Biological Diversity, an international treaty ratified by all UN members except the U.S. Just months before the deadline, Canada stands at 11.2 per cent.

The letter encourages the government to turn to First Nations for help. It says so-called Indigenous protected areas — land set aside from development and managed by local First Nations — are the fastest way forward.

“With a large country like Canada, that means you have to have some very large protected areas,” Wells said. “The federal government has made some of the biggest investments in history trying to move forward, but it’s still going to take some very big landscapes to reach that goal.

“As far as we could see, the only way to do that is support the Indigenous proposals for protected areas.” MORE

Climate Emergency Declarations: How Cities Are Leading The Charge

  • By declaring a climate emergency, cities are adopting more powers to help curb the effects of climate change
  • The national government needs to declare an emergency and put resources in place to enable councils to help reduce carbon emissions

The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (greater than 95% probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia. GETTY

One Small Step

By declaring a climate emergency, cities are adopting more powers to help curb the effects of climate change . In New York, the city council has set new carbon reduction targets for its major buildings, Sydney have added climate considerationsin any new policy or infrastructure decisions, while Shropshire Council, a rural district in the English Midlands, has committed to being carbon-neutral by 2030. In each case, these local governments have also used their declarations as a means to exert pressure on national decision-makers. There is no single definition of a climate emergency declaration, but many see it as a drive for carbon neutrality and a mandate for further political action.

Bristol councilor Carla Denyer, who helped her city pass one of the United Kingdom’s first local climate emergency declarations in November 2018 explains:

“We are acknowledging we are in an emergency situation. The national government needs to declare an emergency and put resources in place to enable councils to help reduce carbon emissions . It’s the first step to radical action.”

Six months after Bristol made its initial declaration, the United Kingdom became the first country to announce a climate emergency and pledged to dedicate more resources towards mitigating climate change.

In many cases, smaller political structures and more power over local policy have enabled cities to make more ambitious goals for themselves than national governments. The town of Chico in California declared a climate emergency after witnessing the most destructive wildfire in state history. Chico has pledged to eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2030 and intends to adopt many of the resolutions outlined in the Green New Deal. Rocked by a heatwave that sent temperatures soaring to 47 degrees, Paris is the latest major city to declare a climate emergency. With major emission reduction projects already in place in the French capital, the city council has expanded its environmental plans by announcing it will open a “climate academy” geared to educating the public about the risks of climate change.

Student climate activists hold banners and shout slogans during a Fridays for Future event near the Houses of Parliament in London, U.K. Teenagers across the world have mobilized for climate action. Swedish activist Greta Thunberg said the continent's policymakers - including environmentalists - are all failing to heed the climate crisis.
Student climate activists hold banners and shout slogans during a Fridays for Future event near the Houses of Parliament in London, U.K. Teenagers across the world have mobilized for climate action. Swedish activist Greta Thunberg said the continent’s policymakers – including environmentalists – are all failing to heed the climate crisis. © 2019 BLOOMBERG FINANCE LP
Deal or no deal

Despite a vast array of pledges and policy changes, many declarations have been made in a more symbolic way. MORE

The Best Trees To Plant For Global Warming Have Three Blades & Generate Electricity



Wind turbines among treesWind turbines among trees image courtesy US Department of the Interior (

Recently, I was asked whether it was better to plant trees or build a wind farm to fight global warming. It’s an interesting question, given that reforestation has been in the headlines so much recently. The answer, calculated further down, is that if there’s an option to build wind energy, that’s better than planting trees.

A wind farm is about 8 times more effective at reducing CO2e annually than a forest, and the reduction is permanent, not temporary. Additionally, it eliminates a bunch of other air and water pollution, and reduces habitat destruction.

This isn’t to say “Don’t plant trees!” of course. That would be silly. But where there’s a good wind resource, if you can swing building a wind farm instead of spending the money on a forest, the world will be better off in the long run.

First though, the question raised an interesting false dichotomy. A false dichotomy is a dichotomy that is not jointly exhaustive (there are other alternatives), or that is not mutually exclusive (the alternatives overlap), or that is possibly neither.

Wind generation and trees (shorter ones, not California’s red giants) can co-exist easily and often do. One might think an actual dichotomy would be wind vs solar energy. But no, hybrid wind solar farms work just fine.

Imagine of wind turbines and solar panels courtesy Washington State Department of Commerce

A hybrid wind-solar farm. Image courtesy: Washington State Department of Commerce

And sometimes, there isn’t even an option to planting trees.

Offshore wind farm

Offshore wind farm. Image courtesy: US Department of Energy NREL

As Mark Z. Jacobson, the Stanford professor behind the 100% renewable plans for 139 countries by 2050, said when I asked him about this:

Wind turbines occupy the least footprint on the ground of any energy technology. The spacing area between them is always dual-purpose, so can be used for forestry, agricultural land, or solar panels.

That said, wind farms have one set of environmental advantages and trees have an overlapping set of advantages.

…Yeah, the wind farm would prevent the emission of about 8 times as much CO2e per year as the trees. And it would also prevent the sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide, particulate, and hydrocarbon pollution emissions. And it would prevent the habitat destruction and water pollution related to the extraction, refinement and shipping of the fossil fuels. MORE