With Two Weeks Until #GlobalClimateStrike, Organizing Intensifies in 100+ Countries to Win ‘Livable Future for All’

“Our message will be clear—we must act now to avoid the worst effects of climate change because all of our lives depend upon it.”

Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg joined other young people outside the U.N. headquarters in New York City Friday. (Photo: Katie Holten/Twitter)

As youth with the Fridays for Future movement took to the streets Friday, two weeks ahead of the global #ClimateStrike planned for Sept. 20, environmental activists continued to raise awareness about the upcoming protests being organized in more than 100 countries.

Climate campaigners already have registered over 2,500 strikes worldwide, with more than 450 actions planned for the United States, the advocacy group 350.org announced in a statement Friday.

To register for an event or find one near you, visit globalclimatestrike.net. For U.S. strikes, visit strikewithus.org.


The demonstrations on Sept. 20 will kick off a week of action that coincides with a United Nations climate summit in New York City. Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, 350.org’s North America director, said Friday that the global strike “is an intergenerational and multiracial moment to make our stand for our right to transformative climate action that preserves a sustainable, healthy, and livable future for all.”

“With the leadership of young people backed by grandparents and parents alike, health workers, teachers, cab drivers and more, now is the time for all of us to come together to demand that real climate leaders at the national, state and local levels hold fossil fuel companies accountable for decades of negligence and damage,” added Toles O’Laughlin, recognizing the youth activists that inspired the global movement.

Some of those youth activists—including Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg—gathered outside the U.N. headquarters in New York Friday, chanting: “No more coal! No more oil! Keep the carbon in the soil!”

Friday was the second consecutive week that Thunberg joined youth protests for urgent climate action outside the U.N. headquarters following her two-week journey across the Atlantic on a carbon emissions-free sailboat. Thunberg tweeted Friday, “Even though I’ve taken a sabbatical year from school, I will still demonstrate every Friday wherever I am.”

Xiye Bastida of Fridays For Future NYC explained that the global strike on Sept. 20 “isn’t a goal, it’s a catalyst for future action.”

“It’s a catalyst for the engagement of humanity in the protection of Earth,” Bastida continued. “It’s a catalyst for realizing the intersectionality that the climate crisis has with every other issue. It’s a catalyst for the culmination of hundreds of climate activists who won’t stop fighting until the climate emergency is over.” MORE


Why Justin Trudeau’s main foe in 2019 is the Justin Trudeau of 2015

A leader who frames every issue around ideals can expect blowback when he can’t – or won’t – live up to them

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a Liberal Party fundraising event alongside Liberal MP Marco Mendicino in Toronto on Wednesday, September 4, 2019. (Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Justin Trudeau of 2019 — the leader who is now seeking re-election — is not the Justin Trudeau of 2015, the young politician who became Canada’s 23rd prime minister on a sunny day in November four years ago.

For one thing, the Trudeau of 2019 now knows exactly how much trouble can result when you make an open-ended, but absolute, promise to implement electoral reform.

The promises of 2015 (simple and aspirational) have become an actual record of governing (messy and imperfect). Not everything went according to plan. Some things didn’t get done. There is now a list of missteps and controversies for Trudeau’s political opponents to recite and dwell upon, from a vacation on the Aga Khan’s island to the SNC-Lavalin affair. If Trudeau was a different kind of politician in 2015, he is now some degree closer to being just another politician in 2019.

He has campaigned and governed using the language of ideals: change, reconciliation, diversity, feminism and gender equality, transparency and openness, “sunny ways,” “we’re back,” supporting the middle class, fighting climate change. He has been heralded (particularly in the pages of American magazines) as the right sort of leader for this perilous moment.

The price of pursuing the ‘vision thing’

Harper tended to downplay his vision of a smaller government and a more conservative country. Instead, he favoured a transactional, incremental politics that worked hard to seem unthreatening. Other than plastering the country with “Economic Action Plan” billboards, Harper tried to avoid attracting any more attention than was absolutely necessary.

Trudeau’s approach has been nearly the opposite. He has been prominent and loud. He has embraced “the vision thing.” As much as he has promised to do specific things, he has done so using broader appeals to ideas and ideals.

As a consequence, he’s given voters ample opportunities to measure reality against his own words.

Consider that stated commitment to gender equality and feminism. Trudeau’s government has passed pay equity legislation, uses gender-based analysis to assess the design of its own policies and made a deliberate effort to achieve gender parity in its public appointments.

But his cabinet also has refused to block the sale of light-armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia, a country where women are subjected to official oppression. And Trudeau’s most damaging crisis came when he ran afoul of two strong, independent-minded women: Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is embraced by Jody Wilson-Raybould, then the minister of justice, after delivering a speech on the recognition and implementation of Indigenous rights in in the House of Commons Feb. 14, 2018. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

For nearly every one of Trudeau stated ideals, there have been similar complications and compromises.

The prime minister who enthuses about the power and purpose of diversity has welcomed 40,000 Syrian refugees and increased annual immigration — but his government sent emissaries to the United States to discourage asylum seekers from walking across Canada’s southern border. A leader who invokes his children to explain his commitment to combat climate change is still being pressed to explain how he could approve the Trans Mountain expansion — even if neither of the Greens nor the NDP can quite bring themselves to argue that the oilsands should be shut down in the near future.

The politician who condemned the Harper government’s attempt to ban the niqab during citizenship ceremonies could be heard again earlier this year when the prime minister spoke about the Christchurch massacre and the threat of white supremacists — but he has been criticized for not doing more to fight Quebec’s Bill 21. After promising a more collaborative approach to federalism, Trudeau has found himself fighting openly with the premier of Canada’s largest province. The nice young man who promised sunny ways found himself accused of trampling all over the Shawcross doctrine.

In their defence, the Liberals might argue that governing is hard and nobody’s perfect, that compromises are both necessary and unavoidable, and that ideals — even if they’re imperfectly lived — still matter. But any space between words and actions allows room for cynicism to grow. MORE

Canadian Human Rights tribunal orders Ottawa to compensate First Nations children

The tribunal order amounts to a major victory for fairness and justice, said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, seen here in July, 2019.

More than 54,000 First Nations children could be eligible for compensation after a human-rights tribunal ordered the government to act, says the Assembly of First Nations.

On Friday, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal said the federal government willfully and recklessly discriminated against Indigenous children living on reserve by failing to provide funding for child and family services.

“The panel finds it has sufficient evidence to find that Canada’s conduct was willful and reckless resulting in what we have referred to as a worst-case scenario under our [Canadian Human Rights] Act,” it said.

“What is more, many federal government representatives at different levels were aware of the adverse impacts.”

Canada must provide compensation of up to $40,000 to First Nations children who were unnecessarily taken into care on or after Jan. 1, 2006, the tribunal said, adding its orders also cover parents or grandparents and children denied essential services.

The tribunal order amounts to a major victory for fairness and justice, said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, adding it is about the safety of children and their right to be with their families.

“No government should be fighting these fundamental values,” he said in a statement Friday. “We have to work together to give life to this ruling.”

In response to the tribunal, a spokesperson for Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan said the federal government will need time to review the order to ensure it receives the full attention it deserves.

Ottawa is dealing with a broken system that needs to be fixed, he added, saying the government has prioritized system-wide reform designed to put the needs of Indigenous children first while citing a list of investments.

“We understand that systemic issues require systemic responses,” press secretary Kevin Deagle said. “Today’s order touches on important and complex issues that we take very seriously.”

Mr. Deagle did not say whether the federal government was considering an appeal.

The tribunal has affirmed that Canada knew about continuing discrimination and harms to children and failed to act, said Cindy Blackstock, the executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society.

The society brought forward the original complaint against Canada, along with the AFN, in 2007 and argued the federal government failed to provide First Nations children the same child welfare services available elsewhere, contrary to the Canadian Human Rights Act.

In January, 2016, the tribunal found Canada had indeed been discriminatory, noting it acknowledged “the suffering of those First Nations children and families who are or have been denied an equitable opportunity to remain together or to be reunited in a timely manner.”

There have been multiple orders issued by the tribunal since then, Ms. Blackstock said, adding it highlights “ingrained” government discrimination.





Chris Selley: Somehow, the missing and murdered Indigenous women inquiry just got worse

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau literally copped to Canada committing genocide under his watch. And then, somehow, nothing happened

Back in June, the debate over whether Indigenous Canadian women are victims of genocide drowned out many concerns and criticisms that had been levelled against the inquiry that concluded they are. Those came not least from the families of victims, who alleged a lack of empathy compounded by endless staff turnover, a glacial pace of evidence-gathering and a lack of transparency. This week CBC reported the inquiry also made some very basic factual errors.

The final report alleges “Indigenous women and girls now make up almost 25 per cent of homicide victims,” when of course it’s 25 per cent of female homicide victims. In her preface, commissioner Michèle Audette claims “statistics show … Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered or missing than any other women in Canada.” Statistics Canada pegs it at around 2.7 times more likely.

“We were on the ground, we were with the families,” Audette explained. “Sometimes we were able to see that numbers don’t connect to the reality on the ground.”

This validated widespread concerns that the inquiry was disastrously uninterested in collecting actual data about victims, perpetrators and circumstances, but it gets worse: Corrections made to the report in light of CBC’s inquiries are not annotated, nor have they been included in all versions — including the official one filed with the government.

Some are understandably worried the inquiry’s useful findings might be overshadowed by such blunders. But if anything I think it could be a useful reminder, because the discussion following the report’s release came nowhere near running its course. At one point, amid much waffling, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau literally copped to Canada committing genocide under his watch: “We accept the finding that this was genocide, and we will move forward to end this ongoing national tragedy.”

And then … nothing. We are about to have an election campaign in which a head of government has admitted at the very least to failing to prevent genocide — itself a breach of international law, putting Trudeau’s Canada in the same league as Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbia. A lot of perfectly mainstream jurists and commentators said they agreed with this. And now, bupkes.

I suspect a lot of people who claim to support the inquiry’s findings are rolling their eyes at this point. It’s not, you know, GENOCIDE-genocide. Justin Trudeau’s not going to wind up in The Hague, for heaven’s sake.

All I can say is read the report. Its legal analysis concedes “there is little precedent in international law for situations where the state is the perpetrator of genocide through structural violence, such as colonialism,” but it very much implicates Canada in GENOCIDE-genocide, “in breach of (its) international obligations, triggering its responsibility under international law.”

It’s not, you know, GENOCIDE-genocide

Most ridiculous were the folks who ostensibly supported the report’s findings but accused skeptics of getting too hung up on the genocide thing….Just because you’re accusing a person or entity of a novel kind of genocide doesn’t mean you aren’t accusing them of something that needs answering for. It’s a big word for a reason. MORE


Tzeporah Berman reveals what she’s planning to do with US$2-million in Climate Breakthrough Project funding

“Whether I’m talking to people in Norway or Argentina or Ecuador, they’re struggling with the same issue.”— Tzeporah Berman

Tzeporah Berman of Stand.earth is working with groups in Sweden and the United States on the feasibility of a fossil-fuel nonproliferation treaty.
Tzeporah Berman of Stand.earth is working with groups in Sweden and the United States on the feasibility of a fossil-fuel nonproliferation treaty.

In the same year that Parliament declared a climate emergency, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers forecast an increase of 1.27 million barrels per day of crude oil being extracted in Canada by 2035. And the Liberal government approved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which will triple shipments of diluted bitumen to the Pacific coast.

Berman attibuted part of the problem to international climate agreements.

According to her, governments have zeroed in on “negotiating the space in the atmosphere—who gets to pollute and how much”.

“So, they’re all focused on how much we burn,” she said. “And what I didn’t realize until I started deeply looking into the supply side of things was that the terms fossil fuel or oil and gas or coal don’t even appear in the thousands of pages of the Paris Agreement.”

But Berman pointed out that there’s no requirement on any of them to curb the amount of oil, gas, and coal extracted from the ground.

“We have no plan to cap or phase down the production of fossil fuels in the country—no plan,” she declared.

…Berman revealed that Stand.earth, the Stockholm Environment Institute, and the Washington, D.C.-based Centre for International Environmental Law have already convened a strong international working group.

It’s exploring the idea of a fossil-fuel nonproliferation treaty.

Berman has also given a great deal of thought about how municipal and county governments could do more to address the climate crisis.

She pointed out that local authorities played a key role in addressing the nuclear crisis and they’ve led the way in pushing the 100 percent renewable energy agenda.

Berman discussed the possibility of them passing land ordinances against the expansion of fossil-fuel infrastructure.

…the world is on track to see temperatures rise by nearly 4 C this century.

That could seriously disrupt food production and lead to famines.

This temperature rise would also cause huge numbers of deaths in heat waves, lead to longer forest-fire seasons, and intensify hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons.

“I have made a decision that my work will focus for the next 10 years on trying to reduce the production of fossil fuels,” Berman said. “Quite honestly, at that point if we are still on for a four-degree and unsafe climate trajectory, then I plan to refocus my work on community resiliency and adaptation.” MORE



Elizabeth May: We have had decades to stop the climate crisis. The era of procrastination must end

Federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May meets with the Toronto Star editorial board on Tuesday.
Elizabeth May is the leader of Canada’s federal Green Party

For all my life I have had a deep connection to the natural world. And I do mean all my life.

My mother used to tell me that when I was about 2 I told her I hated airplanes. As I had never been in one, she asked why. “Because they scratch the sky.”

When I was 13, I set my course to become an environmental lawyer. This path was interrupted by my parents’ somewhat impetuous decision to move the family from Hartford, Conn., where my father was a senior insurance executive, to a tiny village on Cape Breton Island. Almost as an afterthought, my parents made a financially disastrous decision to buy a restaurant and gift shop. Instead of pre-law university in my late teens to late 20s, I worked as a waitress and cook in the family business. And every winter I ended up fighting the local pulp mill over its plans to spray pesticides over our island.

My life got back on track when I discovered I could go to law school without an undergraduate degree. I was known as an activist, described by CBC’s The Fifth Estate as “the 23-year-old waitress who stopped the pulp company dead in its tracks.” Without knowing it was even possible, my activism helped me gain admission to Dalhousie University law school.

Which brings me to why climate change is personal: In 1986, the minister of the environment decided he needed someone in his office with a reputation for environmental activism. I was practising law with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre in Ottawa when he asked me to join his staff. I was an unlikely choice — not a supporter of his party and, as I warned him against hiring me, “I am the kind of person who would quit on principle.”

I will be forever grateful for that chance to be the minister’s senior policy adviser. Even though, sadly, I did end up quitting on principle, I learned the workings of government — when it works — and I learned the science of climate change.

Those were heady times for anyone wanting to see government act on the side of the planet. I was part of Environment Canada’s work to stop acid rain, create national parks, clean up the Great Lakes, develop new environmental legislation and negotiate the treaty that saved the ozone layer.

I was also educated about climate change by Environment Canada scientists. In the last week of June 1988, Toronto hosted the world’s first publicly accessible international climate science conference. I was one of the organizers.

It ended with a call to reduce our emissions by 20 per cent below 1988 levels by 2005.

This is the point in this little story when I want to weep. We knew. We promised. In 1992, I was at the Rio Earth Summit, holding my infant daughter in my arms, watching our prime minister sign the treaty to save the climate.

The horrible reality is that since making the promises to curb greenhouse gases, emissions have grown. We have emitted more greenhouse gases since 1992 than between the beginning of the Industrial Revolution until 1992. MORE

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