The Great Canadian Tax Dodge

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Watch the video: The Great Canadian Tax Dodge (51:35)

It is estimated that up to $80 billion leaves Canada every year, untaxed. Much of it is siphoned off to Canadian-made offshore tax havens. This film documents the birth of the Canadian Tax Fairness movement and examines the issue of tax avoidance, exposing the sophisticated corporate strategies and tax loopholes commonly used to legally avoid tax.

France’s Emmanuel Macron says real ‘ecocide’ going on in Amazon

File photo of French President Emmanuel Macron. Photograph:( AFP )

The Amazon needs better management to end the “ecocide” that is going on in the rainforest, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday ahead of a G7 summit at the weekend.

As forest fires rage in Brazil, Macron told French news website Konbini that the issue would be discussed at the meeting of world leaders this weekend in Biarritz.

“The Amazon is burning and this is an issue that concerns the entire world, because it is a source of biodiversity,” Macron said.

“We have a real ecocide that is developing everywhere in the Amazon and not only in Brazil,” he added.

Continuing a clash with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, he criticised Brazil’s management of the Amazon.

“We need to find good governance of the Amazon. This means we need to involve NGOs and local populations much more than we do now, and we need to stop the industrial deforestation that is going on everywhere,” he said

In a tweet on Thursday, Macron had said the fires are “an international crisis” as the Amazon forests are the lungs of the planet, producing 20 per cent  of its oxygen.

“People forget, the Brazilian president forgets, but France is in the Amazon. France’s biggest exterior border is between Guiana and Brazil, so we are there,” he added, referring to the French overseas territory on the northern coast of South America.

Macron said that at the G7 he would try to mobilise world leaders to raise financing to reforest the area as soon as possible and to develop mechanisms to prevent forest fires. MORE

What Satellite Imagery Tells Us About the Amazon Rain Forest Fires

Scientists studying satellite image data from the fires in the Amazon rain forest said that most of the fires are burning on agricultural land where the forest had already been cleared.
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Most of the fires were likely set by farmers preparing the land for next year’s planting, a common agricultural practice, said the scientists from the University of Maryland.

Satellite images like the one below show smoke plumes from fires emanating from agricultural areas.

Maxar Technologies

The majority of the agricultural land currently in use in Brazil’s Amazon region was created through years of deforestation.

“Most of this is land use that have replaced rain forest,” said Matthew Hansen, who is a co-leader of the Global Land Analysis and Discovery laboratory at the University of Maryland.

“Brazil has turned certain states like Mato Grosso into Iowa,” said Mr. Hanson, referring to the Brazilian state on the southern edge of the Amazon region. “You’ve got rain forest, and then there’s just an ocean of soybean.”

The grid of maps show the month-by-month pattern of fires across the Amazon rain forest in Brazil each year since 2001. The increase in fires every August to October coincides with the season when farmers begin planting soybean and corn.

These maps were created using current and historical data from two NASA satellites, Terra and Aqua, which can detect the infrared radiation emitted by fires.

Comparing the area that burned in August this year to an average of the areas burned during the same month in the previous five years illustrate part of the reason why this year’s fires have garnered so much attention.

Scientists at Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research calculated that there were 35 percent more fires so far this year than in the average of the last eight years. MORE

 

Philippine bill seeks to grant nature the same legal rights as humans

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  • A coalition in the Philippines is pushing for legislation of a “right of nature” bill, which would confer legal personhood on nature.
  • The bill, should it pass into law, will create a paradigm shift in existing human-centered environmental laws and make individuals, governments and corporations more responsible and accountable when dealing with nature.
  • The bill, currently in the drafting, adequately represents the connectedness between indigenous peoples and their ancestral domains, an indigenous women’s rights activist says.
  • The bill is part of a growing movement around the world to recognize ecosystems and species as legal entities, as a way of boosting their protection amid intensifying threats.

MANILA — Who speaks up in court for a dolphin or a turtle when its habitat gets polluted? Does an animal even have the right to legal redress in such a case?

Those are the questions underlying a push by environmental activists and lawyers in the Philippines to expand legal protection for the environment, strengthen indigenous people’s rights over ancestral domain lands, and hold individuals, government and corporations accountable for environmental abuses and lapses.

Initiated by the Philippine-Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI), the “right of nature” bill is currently in the draft stage. Though it has yet to be filed with either house of Congress, when it does it will be the first bill of its kind to be considered for legislation in the Philippines.

Inspired by similar initiatives in Latin American countries such as Ecuador and Bolivia, the RON bill’s main purpose is to grant nature legal personhood. This would endow it with rights currently associated with humans, including the right to exist and thrive; to habitat and diversity of life; to water and clean air; to equilibrium; to restoration; to be free from chemical trespass; to natural evolution; and to develop sustainably.

“We want to recognize nature as a distinct entity with legal personality,” says Macki Maderazo, the PMPI’s legal counsel. “When you say it has a legal personality then a person can represent nature before a court of law and can seek damages or prosecute persons who committed violations under the bill,” he adds.

The bill, touted as “revolutionary” among lawmakers, is expected to create a paradigm shift in existing environmental protection perspectives. Current Philippine laws on the environment are human-centered, Maderazo says, focusing on protecting the environmental rights of individuals but not of the environment itself. The RON bill presents a different perspective: nature gets legal protection because it’s recognized as a distinct legal entity that deserves legal representation. MORE

 

Naomi Klein: Why the Democratic National Committee Must Change the Rules and Hold a Climate Debate

A girl holds a sign that reads 'pull the emergency brake' as she attends a ceremony in the area which once was the Okjokull glacier, in Iceland, Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019. With poetry, moments of silence and political speeches about the urgent need to fight climate change, Icelandic officials, activists and others bade goodbye to the first Icelandic glacier to disappear. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
A girl holds a sign that reads “pull the emergency brake” at a ceremony to commemorate the Okjökull glacier in Iceland, on Aug. 18, 2019. Photo: Felipe Dana/AP

DEAR MEMBERS OF THE DNC:

Your meeting in San Francisco this weekend takes place against a backdrop that is literally on fire. You are gathering one month after the hottest month ever recorded in human history. You are meeting on the same week that smoke from a record number of wildfires in the Amazon rainforest turned day into night in the Brazilian megapolis of São Paulo. And you are meeting just days after Iceland’s prime minister led her country in its first funeral service for a major glacier lost to climate change.

This is the terrifying context in which you will vote on a series of resolutions to determine whether the presidential primaries will include a dedicated debate about the climate emergency. Not the already scheduled climate “forum” or climate “town hall,” which will surely be fascinating for those who seek them out — but a formal televised debate among the top candidates vying to lead your party and the country.

I am writing to add my voice to the hundreds of thousands of others who have called on you to use your power to turn that debate into a reality.

Many of you are already on board, including the chairs of several state parties, but you are up against some powerful opponents. Let’s take on their two main counterarguments in turn.

First, you will hear that the rules on debates are already set. And, as DNC Chair Tom Perez has declared, the party “will not be holding entire debates on a single issue area.” But here’s the thing: Having a habitable Earth is not a “single issue”; it is the single precondition for every other issue’s existence. Humbling as it may be, our shared climate is the frame inside which all of our lives, causes, and struggles unfold.

More immediately, climate breakdown is already pouring fuel on every evil that humans are capable of conjuring, from deadly wars to femicide to unmasked white supremacy and colonialism. Indeed, President Donald Trump is currently throwing a tantrumbecause he is being denied what he perceives as the United States’s manifest destiny to purchase the Indigenous-governed territory of Greenland, which has become increasingly valuable because of the wealth made accessible by melting ice. In short, there is nothing singular about planetary breakdown — it encompasses, quite literally, everything.

Other members of the DNC will argue that the climate debate must be shut down because if you give in to this wave of pressure, spearheaded by the Sunrise Movement, it will open up the floodgates for every progressive constituency demanding a dedicated debate of their own.

DNC HEADQUARTERS IN NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2019/08/13: Members of the Sunrise Movement hubs from all across New York state gathered for a raucous rally on August 13, 2019 outside of the DNC headquarters on 420 Lexington Avenue in New York City to pressure the NY members of the DNC to vote for a climate debate when the DNC gathers in San Francisco on August 22-24. (Photo by Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Members of the Sunrise Movement hubs from across New York gathered for a rally on Aug. 13, 2019, outside the DNC headquarters in New York City to pressure the state members to vote for a climate debate. Photo: Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
In truth, that will probably happen. And in retrospect, it probably would have served the country better to have a series of issue-based debates, rather than the incoherent free-for-alls we’ve been treated to so far. But the political and bureaucratic hassles you will face should you greenlight a climate debate need to be weighed against something far more important: the fact that, by breaking your own rules, you have a critical chance to model what it means to treat climate breakdown like a true emergency, which is precisely what the next administration needs to do if our species is going to have a fighting chance. And when you think about it (and I hope you do), that is a pretty fearsome responsibility. MORE

Trans Mountain and the Honour of the Crown: Indigenous legal challenges, round two

First Nations announce a new round of TMX legal challenges (Photo: Eugene Kung)

August 21, 2019

The federal cabinet’s re-approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline and Tanker Expansion Project (“TMX” or “the Project”) on June 18, 2019 was hardly shocking news. After all, federal cabinet ministers have been saying for years that ‘the pipeline will be built.’ They even spent $4.5 billion of public money to bail out the project when pipeline company Kinder Morgan decided to abandon it.

The only surprises – sad ironies really – were the fact that the approval came just hours after the federal government declared a climate emergency, and the Prime Minister’s paradoxical definition of free, prior and informed consent as described in the press conference following the approval.

Predictably, the second round of approval faces a second round of legal challenges. According to the Federal Court of Appeal Registry, twelve parties have applied for leave to judicially review the cabinet approval, including eight First Nations, two environmental groups, the City of Vancouver, and a collective of youth climate strikers.

In the first round of lawsuits, six First Nations, environmental groups and municipal governments challenged the original 2016 approval at the Federal Court of Appeal (FCA), and won a decisive victory in August 2018 (the Tsleil-Waututh case). That decision quashed the approvals, and sent the Project back for a redo of the National Energy Board review and constitutionally-required consultation with impacted Indigenous peoples.

We have reviewed thousands of pages of legal documents to provide the following highlights from the applications to the court. In this post, we’ll start by reviewing the timeline of events since the Tsleil-Waututhdecision and provide an overview of the law on consultation. Next, we highlight some of the overlapping key arguments from the eight First Nations Applicants, followed by a few specific examples from each Nations’ pleadings, starting from the west and heading east.

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