Canada Post spent over $21 million in legal fees fighting pay equity case

Gisèle Morneau, one of the original complainants in the pay equity case, said she’s disappointed Canada Post spent so much money “to fight equal rights.”

Canada Post spent over $21 million in legal fees fighting against correcting a wage gap between male and female employees in a pay equity case that dated back to the early 1980s, the Star has learned.

The amount has finally been revealed after the Crown corporation tried to keep it secret for six years, following an Access to Information request.

Gisèle Morneau, one of the complainants in the original pay equity case, chuckled when told about the dollar figure

“I am not surprised. But I am disappointed that this money was spent to fight equal rights,” she said, speaking in French over the phone from her Quebec City home.

“The amount is so high that I am overwhelmed.”

In the late ’70s and early ’80s, there was a marked pay gap between the salaries of mostly male letter-carriers and mail-sorters, and mostly female clerical workers like Morneau.

Her union, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, first filed a human rights complaint on behalf of 2,300 clerical workers in 1983, but Canada Post resisted and took it all the way to the Supreme Court.

In 2011, the court ruled that it had to make up half of the all the lost wages to its eligible employees.

Canada Post began sending out cheques, with interest, in August 2013. But Morneau said by that time it was too late for some of her colleagues. Several had died. All of them missed out on the opportunity to get the pay bump they wanted back at the start of their careers.

“It would have been much better for us to have this money when we were younger,” said Morneau, and probably cheaper for Canada Post. SOURCE

Ontario Launches Anti-Carbon Tax TV Ads Paid For By Taxpayers

Nickels pour out of gas pumps, heating vents and grocery shelves in the ad.

Nickels pour out of a man's heating vent in a new ad paid for by Ontario taxpayers. The ad takes aim...
Nickels pour out of a man’s heating vent in a new ad paid for by Ontario taxpayers. The ad takes aim at the federal government’s carbon tax. DOUG FORD/TWITTER

TORONTO — The Ontario government is calling the federal government’s carbon tax a money drain in new TV attack ads paid for by taxpayers.

“The federal government is charging you a carbon tax,” a narrator says over video of the price at a gas station rising.

“You’re paying a nickel more per litre.”

The government-produced advertisement shows nickels pouring out of heating vents and from under piles of fruit at a grocery store.

Embedded video

Doug Ford

We’re fighting the carbon tax because it hurts seniors, workers, families and small businesses.

The people of Ontario deserve to know the real costs of this punishing tax, and we’re going to make sure they do.

The ad cites a statistic that the carbon tax will cost the average Ontario family $648 a year by 2022, but fails to mention that the federal government says it’s rebating 90 per cent of the revenue back to taxpayers.

This year, the average Ontario family will pay about $256 more because of the carbon tax but will receive a $300 rebate, according to the parliamentary budget office.

This graph from Ontario's Financial Accountability Offices compares the average cost of the Wynne government's...
FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE OF ONTARIO This graph from Ontario’s Financial Accountability Offices compares the average cost of the Wynne government’s cap-and-trade program and the federal government’s carbon tax backstop. The federal carbon tax was applied to Ontario because Premier Doug Ford’s government cancelled cap and trade.

MORE

Climate Change Litigation: Urgenda Update

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Court decides Netherlands has a duty of care to reduce emissions by at least -25% by 2020

In Urgenda Foundation v. The State of the Netherlands (2015)(Urgenda), the State of Netherlands was found by the court to have an affirmative duty toward its citizens to take action against climate change (see previous posts on the topic here and here). Since the initial decision, plaintiffs in other jurisdictions have used it as a framework to bring court challenges alleging their respective governments’ failure to mitigate the deleterious effects of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

…Despite appealing the decision, the Dutch government followed the District Court’s original order to take steps to reduce GHG emissions to limit the global temperature rise to 2ºC. This recommendation is in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report 2007, which the Netherlands had signed on to. Among other things, the report states that in order to avoid a 2°C rise in global temperatures, the total GHG emissions by countries, including the Netherlands, must be 25-40% lower than 1990 levels by 2020.

The Centre for International Governance Innovation – a leading Canadian research organization focused on international governance – released a report which discusses the unique potential for influence that international treaties and precedents have in climate change litigation in other jurisdictions. For example, the fact that a national government has adopted the IPCC Reports (which both the Netherlands and Canada have) makes it difficult for them to contest a plaintiff’s claim that certain levels of GHG emissions must be met because these governments have previously agreed on the appropriate levels in these Reports. Although plaintiffs “cannot directly derive rights from treaty provisions or resolutions that have been adopted during the various climate change conferences, these provisions and resolutions can help — by means of the open standard of a socially responsible duty of care — in defining the duty of care standard that a government must practise in judicial matters.”

The International Implementation of the Urgenda Framework

The approach used by the Urgenda Foundation has been taken up by plaintiffs in other jurisdictions, including New ZealandIndiaSwitzerlandIrelandBelgiumUnited StatesGermanyFranceUnited KingdomColombiaEuropean UnionPakistan, and Canada. We highlight a few of these cases below.

Canada

In November 2018, an environmental group called ENvironment JEUnesse (ENJEU) applied to the court to authorize a class action against the Canadian government on behalf of Quebecers aged 35 and under. Like Urgenda, ENJEU claims that Canada’s GHG emissions targets are insufficient to avoid the impacts of climate change.

The motion for authorization to institute a class action brought by ENJEU seeks a declaration that by adopting dangerous GHG emissions targets, the Canadian government is violating the class members’ Charter rights and is not ensuring that the class members live in a safe climate, thereby shirking their duty to act against climate change. The class members are seeking $100 each, amounting to $340 million total – all of which would be placed into a fund for the implementation of anti-climate change measures.

The Canadian government argues that claim goes beyond the bounds of justiciability. The government’s lawyers argue that “this class action asks the court to interfere in the legislative and the executive branches,” and the “courts cannot dictate to the federal government a way forward.”

The Quebec Superior Court justice heard arguments in early June from ENJEU and the Canadian government on the threshold issue of authorizing the class action proceeding. The court has not yet released its decision.

United States

In Juliana v. United States, a number of youth filed a climate lawsuit in 2015 against the U.S. government. Lower courts have been allowing the proceedings to continue, but sustained motions by the U.S. government and an enjoinment of the proceedings in 2018 by the Supreme Court of the United States, have meant that the case has not progressed.

The complaint accuses the U.S. government of causing climate change, thereby breaching the government’s duty of care toward its citizens by violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property, and failing to protect public trust resources. The plaintiffs are asking for the government to be required to “develop a plan to reduce CO2 emissions so that atmospheric CO2 concentrations will be … consistent with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.” MORE

Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez move to declare climate crisis official emergency

Exclusive: Democrats to introduce resolution in House on Tuesday in recognition of extreme threat from global heating


Sanders with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Pramila Jayapal. Data shows nations are not on track to limit the dangerous heating of the planet significantly enough. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

A group of US lawmakers including the 2020 Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders are proposing to declare the climate crisis an official emergency – a significant recognition of the threat taken after considerable pressure from environment groups.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic congresswoman from New York, and Earl Blumenauer, a Democratic congressman from Oregon, plan to introduce the same resolution in the House on Tuesday, their offices confirmed.

A Sanders spokesperson said: “President Trump has routinely declared phoney national emergencies to advance his deeply unpopular agenda, like selling Saudi Arabia bombs that Congress had blocked.

“On the existential threat of climate change, Trump insists on calling it a hoax. Senator Sanders is proud to partner with his House colleagues to challenge this absurdity and have Congress declare what we all know: we are facing a climate emergency that requires a massive and immediate federal mobilization.”

Climate activists have been calling for the declaration, as data shows nations are not on track to limit the dangerous heating of the planet significantly enough. The UN has warned the world is experiencing one climate disaster every week. A new analysis from the economic firm Rhodium Group today finds the US might achieve less than half of the percentage of pollution reductions it promised other countries in an international agreement. MORE

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Extinction Rebellion and PR agencies call for industry to declare ‘climate conflicts’

Climate activists Extinction Rebellion are supporting a letter signed by more than a dozen PR agencies announcing their refusal to work on fossil fuel briefs, and calling for the industry to declare its ‘climate conflicts’.

Extinction Rebellion staged a protest at Cannes Lions last month

Extinction Rebellion staged a protest at Cannes Lions last month 

The letter commits each signatory to disclose, while respecting client confidentiality, the percentage of their turnover categorised by industry, including income from fossil fuel companies and other high-carbon clients by the end of this year.Several agencies have already disclosed the information.

The letter reads:

“We know many of our colleagues and friends across the creative industry are anxious/terrified about the climate emergency. We also know that disclosing climate conflicts will be too early, and too controversial, for many agencies today.

“But, we firmly believe that we cannot serve climate solutions, whilst still serving the industry’s most answerable for causing the climate emergency.

“Disclosure is only the first step on a journey that must lead to divestment – divesting agency client rosters of these clients. Agencies need to align our businesses with the climate science, just like everyone else.

“Thanks for the nudge, XR.”

Futerra co-founder Solitaire Townsend said the agency spearheaded the letter to “help put agencies on the right side of history”.

The full letter, sign up for agencies and individual creatives, agency client disclosure reports, and other resources are available here.

SOURCE

 

Why women should oppose nuclear power

Pregnant women don’t get x-rays. There’s a reason

It may come as no surprise to learn that it was women who first raised the alarm about just how dangerous radiation exposure might be to humans, but especially to women and their children. As the late Walter Wolfgang, a co-founder of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), recalls in Carol Turner’s book, Corbyn and Trident:

”Around the time of Britain’s first atomic tests many women in particular became concerned about the health dangers of radiation, its effect on unborn children and so on. This was much discussed in scientific journals at the time, and found a reflection in political magazines such as Tribune and New Statesman. Through opposition to testing, people became aware of the problem with nuclear weapons. Then politicos such as myself got involved, concerned about Britain’s foreign policies and international relationships. There was a coalescence between the two that led to the foundation of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.”

Dr_Alice_Stewart_with_Edinburgh_doctors_and_nurses._Wellcome_L0075308

Dr Alice Stewart (third from left) with Edinburgh doctors and nurses. (Photo: Wellcome Trust/WikiCommons)

What is surprising is that, decades later, we still find ourselves trying to impress these truths upon the public, and even on reluctant women politicians. After all, it was back in the 1950s that these dangers first became apparent, through the pioneering work of a woman, Dr. Alice Stewart, who died 17 years ago, on June 23, 2002 at 95.

Stewart, a British doctor, medical researcher and epidemiologist, was the first person in the world to link x-rays given to pregnant women and the damage done to their children. She showed a cause between the mother’s x-rays and subsequent cancer in their children. Needless to say, as both a woman, and a physician, who demonstrated how even exposure to low levels of radiation causes negative health effects, Stewart faced hostility and discrimination. Her obituary in The Guardian recalled these struggles:

“Resisted briefly by the medical profession, this finding later led to dramatic changes of practice. But it was aggressively opposed by many physicists and radiobiologists, by the committees of the international commission for radiation protection (ICRP), and by the powerful nuclear lobbies, within and outside government, that ICRP appeared to serve. The Oxford findings implied that low-level radiation — being imposed on nuclear workers and the public by fallout and nuclear-waste disposal — could be far more serious in its effects than had been officially admitted.”

Today, pregnant women don’t get x-rays. So why do they live near nuclear power plants? Stewart’s research showed an unnaturally high rate of leukemia among children born to women who had had x-rays while pregnant. Decades later, more than 60 studies worldwide now show an increased rate of leukemia among children under five years old living close to nuclear power plants. The closer the children lived to the reactor, the higher the leukemia rates. MORE

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Green technology will not save us

Putting our faith in technology alone to fight climate change is mistaken.

Image result for justin trudeau andrew scheerIn our climate emergency, technology alone is not a panacea.

Technology, not taxes. That’s how Canadian conservatives plan to fight climate change. Their long-awaited proposal — unveiled last week — promises plenty of fiscal goodies for going green. Under the plan, companies could see hefty cuts in corporate taxes for using eco-friendly technology while homeowners could receive thousands of dollars in tax credits for adopting energy efficient products. Conservatives say these measures will help Canada meet its emissions targets (the country is signatory to the Paris climate agreement), move the global needle on climate action, and establish Canada as an environmental leader.

One thing the proposal won’t do is tax Canadians. “Our plan does not have a carbon tax,” the 60-page write-up emphatically states. That position clashes with the ruling Liberal government — and the governments of 40 other countries — who see carbon pricing as the best way to fight climate change. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calls the move, “putting a price on pollution”. Trudeau’s conservative rival disagrees with punitive taxes. At a rally last week, Andrew Scheer told supporters, “conservatives fundamentally believe that you cannot tax your way to a cleaner environment.” For Scheer, the real solution to reversing climate change “lies in technology”, which should be encouraged via tax subsidies.

Scheer’s position has some merit. A recent United Nations report found energy-efficient technology could — on an annual basis — cut 25 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions, 17 million tons of particular matter (linked to respiratory illness), and three billion tons of human-toxic waste. Sensors and software could also improve the energy efficiency of buildings, homes and cabins by up to 50 per cent, reduce metal consumption by up to 75 per cent and save precious natural resources, like water and land, by 200 billion cubic meters and 150,000 square kilometres respectively.

Renewable energy: a thermo-solar power plant. World Bank/Dana Smillie

But that not the whole story. The UN also warns that using green technology may be less beneficial (and in some cases, more harmful) than expected. It’s called the rebound effect – instances where technologically-driven advances in energy efficiency increase, rather than decrease, consumption leading to net-zero (or worse) emissions. For example, because electric cars cost less to run, consumers may drive them further and more often which wipes out the eco-advantage these vehicles have over their gasoline-powered counterparts. According to the Breakthrough Institute, a research centre that promotes tech solutions for environmental and human challenges, this effect means that “for every two steps forward we take in energy savings through efficiency, rebound effects take us one (and sometimes more) steps backwards.” This may erode up to 50 per cent of the eco-benefits promised by green technology by 2030, according to a paper by Barker, Dagoumas and Rubin.

Consumer behaviour affects energy efficiency in other ways, particularly at home. For example, British researchers have found buildings designed to save energy don’t always perform as expected, “partially because occupants behave in more complex ways than designers account for; they open windows, leave doors open, generate body heat, keep tropical fish tanks and install plasma TV screens”. To put it simply, buildings don’t use energy — people do. And predicting what people will do is notoriously difficult. A family must insulate their home to save energy only to then use those savings on buying home appliances that use even more energy.

This reality undercuts the idea that economic prosperity and climate action can — thanks to technology alone — go hand-in-hand. MORE

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How “stalkerware” apps are letting abusive partners spy on their victims

Many women are unaware that they are being spied on with apps hidden on their phones. App-store owners must do more.

stalkerware FRANZISKA BARCZYK

“He knew where I was at all times, who I was talking to on email, text messages, social media—all of it. He could see everything. I had no privacy,” says Anna (not her real name).

The news: Thousands of people, most of them women, have apps on their phones installed by their partners to let them spy on all their smartphone activity: email, text messages, even social media. Many of these apps can be downloaded from Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store. Most victims don’t know they’re being tracked, or don’t know how to stop it once they are.

The scale of the problem: Kaspersky found and removed 58,000 instances of stalkerware last year, after people downloaded its antivirus app to run scans.

Technology’s role: It’s not just stalkerware. Domestic-violence charity Refuge estimates that around 95% of its cases involve some form of technology-based abuse. Internet-connected devices and smart-home products could make the problem worse. Read the full story HERE.

What should you do if you’re worried about whether you have stalkerware installed on your phone?
  • Download antivirus software and run a scan
  • Use a fingerprint or pass code for every device
  • Regularly review which apps are downloaded
  • Check your security and notification settings carefully