Justin Trudeau made reconciliation a top priority. Four years later, what’s changed?

Since the Liberals took power in 2015, Ottawa has poured billions into programs and services for Indigenous peoples and vowed to “renew” the relationship. But many Indigenous leaders say there’s much more work to do

justin trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets attendees at the closing ceremony marking the conclusion of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls at the Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec on June 3, 2019. After two and a half years of hearings, a Canadian inquiry released its final report on the disappearance and death of hundreds, if not thousands of indigenous women, victims of endemic violence it controversially said amounted to “genocide.” – ANDREW MEADE , AFP/GETTY IMAGES

OTTAWA—It started with a promise.

Like so many before him, Justin Trudeau spoke to Canada’s Indigenous peoples last February, and vowed to do better. For too long, he said, Canada has failed. It has fallen short of its own Constitution, which enshrines Indigenous rights even as successive governments neglected to recognize them.

From the floor of the House of Commons, the prime minister pledged to change that. At long last, Ottawa would work with Canada’s Indigenous peoples — hundreds of First Nations, Métis nations, and Inuit peoples of the North — on a new relationship, one in which the federal government recognizes their rights in new legislation and dismantles the colonial dynamic that has been so damaging for so long.

In short, it was key to the reconciliation between Canada and Indigenous peoples that Trudeau and his Liberals have championed at every turn since they took power in 2015.

And it fell apart.

Protesters denounced the initiative in rallies across the country. The Assembly of First Nations charged the process was dictated by Ottawa and called for it to stop. It even caused a rift in Trudeau’s cabinet between then-justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and others, according to Canada’s former top bureaucrat. In the end, the promised legislation was shelved, and the government shifted to tinkering with internal policy and passing bills to support Indigenous languages and child welfare.

It’s just one chapter in the story of reconciliation over the past four years, a deep and complex challenge the Trudeau Liberals hoisted on their own shoulders through their words and actions in government. Billions have poured into infrastructure and social services, yet advocates and leaders say there are serious shortfalls. And while efforts to “renew” the relationship have been welcomed, many also doubt the government’s willingness to truly challenge the colonial foundations that have wreaked so much harm.

With less than three months before the next federal election, Indigenous leaders and policy experts say the prominence of reconciliation under this government has brought some positive changes, but also halting progress and disappointment.

“When we talk about the niceties of establishing and maintaining these respectful relationships, that also has to be married with tangible, substantive change,” said Ry Moran, director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Winnipeg.

“So long as we have these massive inequalities, we can’t really begin to have that conversation of reconciliation.” SOURCE

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PSAC stands firm in demanding fair compensation for Phoenix

A message from PSAC President, Chris Aylward:

“Just months away from an election, the federal government is trying to sow divisions within the federal public service after refusing to provide fair compensation for Phoenix damages to almost 60% of their unionized workers – the PSAC membership.

The government has begun mass emailing public service workers about the meagre Phoenix compensation package that smaller government unions recently accepted. In the message, the government attempts to create division and put pressure on the PSAC to accept its offer, by singling-out our refusal to take less than what our members are owed.

Some unions saw fit to accept a few days of leave as universal compensation for 4 years of emotional and financial suffering – they have their own priorities and that was their decision to make. Their choice was made easier no doubt by the inclusion of a ‘me too’ clause in the agreement that will give those unions any additional compensation secured by PSAC in a future deal.

Let me be clear: the current offer on the table is far less than what our members deserve, and we will not be pressured into taking a bad deal. Our union is larger than all other federal government unions combined, and we will not allow ourselves to be set back by what other unions have accepted. Unlike them, we currently have 140,000 PSAC members negotiating new collective agreements at the bargaining table and we can and will use that leverage to get the comprehensive deal our members deserve.

After years of showing up to work without knowing if you would get paid correctly – or at all – you deserve a cash settlement, not a few days of leave that could be scheduled and delayed at the discretion of your employer, depending on the particular wording of your collective agreement or your employment circumstances.

You deserve a deal that recognizes that Phoenix problems will be with us for years to come; that there is still a backlog of 230,000 cases with new ones created every day, and that tens of thousands of workers have yet to have their last collective agreement fully implemented. But the government’s agreement with the other unions doesn’t do that.

You also deserve compensation that is equitable. The deal agreed to by the other unions rewards the highest earners because their days of leave are worth more, and punishes lower paid employees of the federal public service, many of whom are represented by the PSAC.

And just this month the government ended the incentives used to recruit and retain compensation advisors – jeopardizing progress on the Phoenix backlog and the stabilization of the system.

When all of this, and more, is taken into account, the government’s offer is nothing short of insulting. As we keep pushing for a fair and just agreement on Phoenix damages, members should be ready to see the government escalate their attempts to divide us – but we won’t let them. Instead, in the months ahead we’re going to escalate our own actions to secure the fair compensation that all PSAC members deserve.”


 

WASTE ONLY: How the Plastics Industry Is Fighting to Keep Polluting the World

Image result for the intercept: How the Plastics Industry Is Fighting to Keep Polluting the World
A portion of plastic bottle found on Mothecombe Beach at the mouth of the Erme Estuary in South Devon, England, on May 30, 2019.Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

THE STUDENTS AT Westmeade Elementary School worked hard on their dragon. And it paid off. The plastic bag receptacle that the kids painted green and outfitted with triangular white teeth and a “feed me” sign won the students from the Nashville suburb first place in a recycling box decorating contest. The idea, as Westmeade’s proud principal told a local TV news show, was to help the environment. But the real story behind the dragon — as with much of the escalating war over plastic waste — is more complicated.

A week after Westmeade’s dragon won the contest, the APBA got its own reward: The plastic preemption bill passed the Tennessee state legislature. Weeks later, the governor signed it into law, throwing a wrench into an effort underway in Memphis to charge a fee for plastic bags. Meanwhile, A Bag’s Life gave the Westmeade kids who worked on the bag monster a $100 gift card to use “as they please.” And with that, a minuscule fraction of its vast wealth, the plastics industry applied a green veneer to its increasingly bitter and desperate fight to keep profiting from a product that is polluting the world.

In this Nov. 2, 2014 photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a black footed albatross chick with plastics in its stomach lies dead on Midway Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The remote atoll where thousands died is now a delicate sanctuary for millions of seabirds. Midway sits amid a collection of man-made debris called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Along the paths of Midway, there are piles of feathers with rings of plastic in the middle - remnants of birds that died with the plastic in their guts. Each year the agency removes about 20 tons of plastic and debris that washes ashore from surrounding waters. (Dan Clark/USFWS via AP)In this photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a black footed albatross chick with plastics in its stomach lies dead on Midway Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands on Nov. 2, 2014. Photo: Dan Clark/USFWS via AP

At stake for them [the plastics industry] is not just the current plastics market now worth hundreds of billions of dollars annually, but its likely expansion. Falling oil and gas prices mean that the cost of making new plastic, already very low, will be even cheaper. The price drop has led to more than 700 plastics industry projects now in the works, including expansions of old plants and the construction of new ones by Chevron, Shell, Dow, Exxon, Formosa Plastics, Nova Chemicals, and Bayport Polymers, among other companies, according to a presentation from the regulatory affairs director of the BASF Corporation at the plastics industry conference.

The growing output of new cheap plastic further undermines the industry’s own argument that recycling can resolve the waste crisis. It’s already impossible for most recycled plastic to compete with “virgin” plastic in the marketplace. With the exception of bottles made of PET (No. 1) and HDPE (No. 2), the rest of the waste is essentially worthless. Around 30 percent of both types of plastic bottles were sold for recycling in 2017, though some of those may have wound up being landfilled or incinerated. The recent fossil fuel boom makes it even cheaper to make new plastic and thus, even more difficult to sell the recycled product. This, in turn, makes the plastics companies’ push for recycling that much more implausible — and their battle to kill efforts to limit plastics production even more desperate. MORE

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Until Emissions Drop, Nothing Has Been Accomplished: The Climate Resistance Handbook Is Here.

A new guide to activism aims to inform and inspire a new generation of global climate campaigner

"People always tell me and the other millions of school strikers that we should be proud of ourselves for what we have accomplished," writes Greta Thunberg in the introduction to the new Climate Resistance Handbook. "But the only thing that we need to look at is the emission curve."“People always tell me and the other millions of school strikers that we should be proud of ourselves for what we have accomplished,” writes Greta Thunberg in the introduction to the new Climate Resistance Handbook. “But the only thing that we need to look at is the emission curve.”

Common Dreams editor’s note: The following excerpts are taken from the Foreward, by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, and the Introduction, by 350.org campaigner Daniel Hunter, of the new Climate Resistance Handbook (Or, I Was Part of a Climate Action. Now What?)recently published online. If you’re wondering how to build a powerful, strategic movement that can make big wins for climate action, this is your guide (pdf). The excerpts are published here with permission from the authors. Learn more or get your copy of the handbook here.

From the Foreward by Greta Thunberg:

I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.

Around the year 2030, we will be in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, that will most likely lead to the end of our civilisation as we know it. That is unless in that time, permanent and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society have taken place, including a reduction of CO2 emissions by at least 50%.

climate_resistance_handbook_greta_thunbeClick for more information or to download/purchase the handbook. And please note that these calculations are depending on inven‐tions that have not yet been invented at scale, inventions that are supposed to clear the atmosphere of astronomical amounts of carbon dioxide.

People always tell me and the other millions of school strikers that we should be proud of ourselves for what we have accomplished. But the only thing that we need to look at is the emission curve. And I’m sorry, but it’s still rising. That curve is the only thing we should look at.

Every time we make a decision we should ask ourselves; how will this decision affect that curve? We should no longer measure our wealth and success in the graph that shows economic growth, but in the curve that shows the emissions of greenhouse gases. We should no longer only ask: “Have we got enough money to go through with this?” but also: “Have we got enough of the carbon budget to spare to go through with this?” That should and must become the centre of our new currency.

I hope you will join me in acting. I hope this book helps give you a place to start and to keep going.

We have to act, to change the politics that allows this destruction to continue. We have to act urgently, because we simply have to find a way.

From the Introduction, by Daniel Hunter:

The sense of urgency on climate has never been higher than now. We are in a serious crisis. If humans want to have a planet like the one we have lived on for millions of years, we have to adjust. We have to change. We have to do it quickly.

Thankfully, we have a wealth of elders to learn from. Regular people have changed the course of history. They have overthrown iron-fisted governments, fought for inclusion, for more democratic and fair systems. While those in power resisted, those with less power used social movements to force change.

We can learn from them that change does not happen just be‐cause an issue is important. People have to wage a struggle to fight for the Earth’s climate. This is because the climate has an array of ene‐mies: governments, corporations, media sources, and at times our own consumption and behavior.

So we need to bind together to create the strongest movement possible. Movements win because they channel the feelings of ur‐gency, anger, fear — and our sense of this being wrong — into a force for change.

If you’re with me, then this book is for you. Let’s begin!

 

We have solutions to the climate crisis. Let’s speed up and implement them

Mike Hudema regularly posts on Twitter innovations and best practices in short videos that would help us avoid climate disaster and lead us towards a new green economy.

Posted below are some liks to his various postings. The question inevitable arises, why aren’t our leaders following these best practices?

MORE

Weeks after own deadline, PC government won’t say whether it’s done plans for Ontario Line

Premier Doug Ford has unveiled a map showing the proposed Ontario Line, which would spanning Ontario Place to the Ontario Science Centre, but has yet to reveal a detailed plan on the massive infrastructure project.

The Ontario Progressive Conservative government is refusing to say whether it has finalized initial plans for its most important transit project, three weeks after a self-imposed deadline for completing the work has passed.

On June 3, then infrastructure minister Monte McNaughton pledged the government would submit initial business cases for the Ontario Line and other priority projects under Premier Doug Ford’s proposed $28.5-billion transit expansion “in the second half of June.”

With the end-of-month deadline now passed, the province would not give a yes or no answer about whether it has completed a business case for the Ontario Line, the $10.9-billion rail line that would run through the heart of Toronto and is the centrepiece of Ford’s plan.

“Ontario is actively providing project information to the federal government. That’s why, given that discussions are ongoing with our partners, we will not negotiate the details of critical infrastructure projects in the media,” Barbara Mottram, a spokesperson for Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, said in an email last week.

In a brief phone interview Thursday, Mottram reiterated the government’s position that “we’re continuing to work with our partners.”

Pressed to clarify her statement, in a followup email Mottram described the business case for the Ontario Line as “a living document” that “is continuously being informed by the experts at Metrolinx who are consulting with our partners and transit authorities.”

Pierre-Yves Bourque, a spokesperson for Infrastructure Canada, said Thursday the federal government hasn’t received a business case for the Ontario Line or any of the three other transit projects that are a part of Ford’s new plan.

“In fact, what we have received so far for these projects is a two-page document, which is not sufficient to make (a) clear analysis of these projects,” Bourque said in a statement. SOURCE

The rise of Alberta’s unapologetic petro-patriots

Legions of Albertans are showing their allegiance to oil by wearing their hearts on their sleeves (and caps and T-shirts and hoodies). Is it a defensive posture?


Thousands of Albertans at a Canada Action rally for the oil and gas industry, which is deeply entwined with their collective identity (Photograph by Guillaume Nolet)

Merchandise bearing the petro-positive logo has existed for about six years, but around Alberta lately it has become remarkable for its near ubiquity. People sport it walking through Calgary’s downtown mall on casual Fridays, or waiting on transit platforms. It’s on the sides of office buildings and highway billboards. It’s the uniform for a Little League baseball team in Drayton Valley. It’s on the welcome sign to the Spirit River rural district. It was on a toddler’s onesie when the manager of an Alberta produce stand announced the birth of his newborn son to the Facebook world.

“We should be so proud of ourselves. We’re speaking up,” rally emcee Cody Battershill proclaimed. “We’re taking action to take back our economy and take back the conversation.”

Petro-patriotism has gathered strength in oil country, after five years of economic slump. Albertans have long intertwined their collective identity with their province’s key industry, but have never before worn it on their chests like this. Like any patriotic/nationalistic movement, it identifies external foes: environmentalists (some abetted by foreign funding!) and the Trudeau government that have delivered pipeline delays and environmental measures like the carbon tax and an oil tanker ban on the northwest B.C. coast. Newly elected Premier Jason Kenney has eagerly donned the mantle as the industry’s chief defender: his campaign pickup truck bore the bumper sticker, too.

The pride comes, of course, with dollops of defiance: as much of the world and Canada demand climate change solutions, the petro-patriots insist Canadian fossil fuels are already the world’s most responsibly produced and that the burden to act should shift elsewhere; some still deny there’s a human-caused problem at all. “Global warming is a made-up story,” Vit Jankovic, a retired pipeline technician, told Maclean’s at the rally. “I like to think of it as scientists playing their video games to see who can get more warming in.”

(Photograph by Guillaume Nolet)

Polls show a stubborn gap between how Albertans and other Canadians feel about climate change and energy. It’s tough to even bring up climate change with many Albertans without them feeling under attack. Petro-patriotism is their way of fighting back. Wearing the shirt in much of the province (or in Saskatchewan) is akin to wearing a band shirt at the band’s concert. Are the gatherings and unabashed pride an urgent message to fellow Canadians, or is it a form of conservative virtue signalling within a safe space? To those who suit up, at least they’re doing something.  MORE