No party with 39% of the vote should get 100% of the power.
The Trudeau Liberals promised to end first-past-the-post, and make every vote count. In February 2017, the Liberals announced they were breaking their promise. Trudeau stated, “It was my choice to make.” He stated that if you don’t agree with his decision, “That is what elections are for.”
We CAN get electoral reform back on the table. In the event of a minority government situation, we would like to see parties make action on electoral reform a condition of their support.
An analysis by The Narwhal found many rural municipalities are deeply reliant on oil and gas payments for their tax revenue — some as much as 96 per cent. A new UCP government proposal to cover for industry is controversial among some rural officials who say they’re forced to cut services while companies are ‘flouting the process’
F or small, rural municipalities in Alberta, the fortunes of a single oil and gas company can be acutely felt.
This summer in Mountain View County, a rural area just north of Calgary, gas company Trident went bankrupt, leaving 4,700 orphan wells and hundreds of thousands in unpaid taxes in its wake.
Bruce Beattie, the reeve of Mountain View, which has a population of about 13,000 people, told The Narwhal Trident’s sudden fall places a significant burden on the county.
The county “will be looking at a reduction of half a million dollars in our revenue from the oil and gas sector,” Beattie said.
He’s hopeful the county can survive the shock by tightening its belt.
“When you have 363-odd bridges, for example, to look after and 2,800 kilometres of roads — those numbers are significant,” he said.
“That kind of an impact is definitely going to be felt at the municipal level.”
Mountain View is by no means alone.
Earlier this year, the Rural Municipalities of Alberta — the organization representing Alberta’s rural counties and municipal districts — put out a press release, saying a survey of its members found many oil and gas companies hadn’t been paying their taxes.
The amount of lost income for rural municipalities, the association said, is “unprecedented.”
The survey found at least $81 million in unpaid taxes from oil and gas companies had accumulated across the province, creating a “significant hole in rural municipal budgets throughout Alberta.”
In 2015, new rules came into effect, requiring for the first time oil and gas companies publicly disclose how much money they pay to governments, from the municipal to federal.
The findings show two thirds of Alberta’s rural municipalities received tax payments from oil and gas companies totalling more than $2 million in 2018.
In some cases, the taxes from oil and gas companies made up more than 90 per cent of local governments’ available tax revenue.
But as the experience of Mountain View shows, a high reliance on industry payments can create a deep vulnerability for local governments that must weather the highs and lows of a sometimes volatile market economy.
The fragility of the tax base is opening up new concerns for municipalities across rural Alberta who are openly questioning measures by the current government to step in and give parts of the industry a break. MORE
Emily Riddle: Here we are in 2019 and the discourse in this election around the ‘nation-to-nation’ relationship has been very different. Photo by Conor McNally.
Tan’isi. My name is Emily Riddle. I’m nehiyaw from Treaty 6 with a few things to say about the federal election. Welcome to The Run.
There are opportunities when settlers elect a government that chooses to provide funding for services, such as health and education, negotiated in treaties.
But don’t assume the outcome of federal elections will provide major gains for Indigenous peoples.
Settler law made in the House of Commons affects our lives, and the actions taken (or not taken) by the next federal government will have serious implications for our inherent and treaty rights.
I’ve worked in First Nations policy and studied Indigenous governance for the past 10 years. I’ve seen the shift from aggressive anti-Indigenous legislation and policy under the Harper government, which gave rise to resistance through groups like Idle No More, to perhaps a more gentle erosion of inherent and treaty rights under the Trudeau government, along with some meagre increased funding for education, health and infrastructure.
I recently moved from Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh territories back to my home territories in Treaty 6. The conversations around the election in Alberta are very different than those in British Columbia.
Many suspect that Alberta will go entirely Conservative. In some ridings, including Sturgeon County-Parkland, where my First Nation finds itself, the riding has historically been solidly Conservative. With the provincial United Conservative Party budget coming on Oct. 24, many First Nations people in Alberta are bracing themselves for possible cuts to Indigenous services and programs at both the provincial and federal levels (should Conservative leader Andrew Scheer form a government).
I pay close attention to federal elections, party platforms and bills tabled in the House of Commons. But I don’t vote in federal elections. I view not voting as a small political dignity I’m able to maintain as a Treaty 6 person whose people have never given up the right to govern ourselves and our territories.
Voting has historically been connected to the “enfranchisement” of First Nations people. When a First Nations person was enfranchised, they ceased being able to access any inherent and treaty rights and were “welcomed” to Canada as a full citizen.
But if our first experience with Trudeau taught us anything, it’s that First Nations people are at least “Citizens Plus” — we have additional rights as Indigenous people that go beyond our rights as Canadian citizens.
Many Indigenous people see voting differently, with some thinking of it as a harm-reduction technique. Others choose to vote as proud Canadians or dual-citizens of their Indigenous nation and Canada.
However, there are only 12 ridings in Canada where Indigenous people make up 20 to 50 per cent of the population and have a significant impact on who will be elected. Considering we used to be 100 per cent of the population and govern ourselves, showing up to the polls seems like a very small political act.
We can’t ignore the fact that a Conservative federal government likely means increased Indigenous death. Cutting essential services, which conservative governments often do, is a form of state violence, and we know that Indigenous peoples often lack access to basic needs such as clean drinking water and health care.
Unsurprisingly to any First Nations person from Alberta, Justin Trudeau inherited a few things from his father, including some of the logic of the proposed Indigenous Rights, Recognition and Implementation Framework from the 1969 Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian Policy. Groups such as Idle No More, Defenders of the Land and Truth Campaign Networks asserted that the framework sought to convert Indigenous nations into an ethnic minority within Canada, devoid of rights as nations.
So here we are in 2019, and the discourse in this election around the “nation-to-nation” relationship has been very different. Trudeau is certainly not talking about “Canada’s most important relationship” like he did in 2015 or at the beginning of his term as prime minister.
In fact, the New Democratic Party and the Green Party of Canada are the only ones who have revealed their platform positions on Indigenous issues. Both contain significant promises to work towards mending the relationship with Indigenous peoples, including increased spending on health and wellness, child welfare and education. It’s important to remember that we only make up a significant population in 12 federal ridings, so these promises are still directed at settler voters.
To the settlers who show up to vote with their relationship with Indigenous peoples and our territories in mind, please know that your responsibilities extend beyond that small act. If you live in an area with a treaty, learn your rights and responsibilities under that agreement. If you live in an unceded area, learn about and support the nations whose territory you occupy.
Rather than voting, my responsibility is to continue to advocate for the return of our territories from Canada and the renewal of our own governance systems, as I have argued elsewhere.
No matter what prime minister Canadians elect on Oct. 21, the relationship with Indigenous peoples will be fraught as long as Canada continues to claim sole sovereignty over our territories. SOURCE
Investment services are going unaccounted for in the fight against climate crisis, but with awareness comes action.
Millions of people around the world went on strike for the climate this September. It was galvanising to see such a huge demonstration of support for tackling the climate crisis.
But while it was encouraging to see political systems under a bright spotlight, another system is left unscrutinised in the battle to save our planet. We have no chance of meeting the Paris goals if the investment system is working against us.
Surprisingly, one of the biggest components of this system is our pension savings. They are invested in companies by our pension providers and prop up many of the companies who are destroying the climate. They can and should be building a climate just world.
The investment system plays a crucial role in providing finance to the companies which dominate our economy. The very same companies who have a significant impact on the climate emergency. Investors’ decisions about where and how to invest are reflected in the world that we see around us. It’s no coincidence that we’re speeding into a climate crisis when only 10 of the top 100 pension providers have their investment portfolios aligned with the Paris goals.
It’s easy to feel powerless when thinking about the workings of the investment system. It feels abstract, distant, and is a world full of jargon. But we don’t have to relate to it in this way.
Luckily, we have an in. The pension that you’re saving for and paying into isn’t sat quietly in a vault waiting for you to retire. Quite the opposite, it’s invested in companies that create the products and services we interact with day to day. Your pension isn’t just a number on a screen, it creates the tea you drink and the train station you commute into. It also creates a lot of things you’ll almost certainly be unhappy with. MORE
Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old environmental activist, made headlines at the recent United Nations climate summit. In a fiery speech, she berated the world’s governments for their persistent failure to curb climate change.
“How dare you steal my dreams and my childhood with your empty words?” she demanded.
Thunberg is one of the more prominent young activists who have taken to the streets to protest this political dereliction. While this latest feeble UN climate summit was being held, thousands of schoolchildren were staging protests in front of legislatures around the world. They waved placards demanding that governments finally get serious about averting an environmental catastrophe.
As I watched the demonstrations on my TV screen, I applauded these young people, but couldn’t suppress a doleful sigh and shake of my head. They are among the billions who suffer from a huge blind spot in their perception of the planet’s mounting malaise.
They are directing their wrath against the wrong perpetrators of climate change. It’s not the world’s governments; it’s the world’s big multinational corporations, to whom governments have become meekly subservient.
The planet is being polluted by air-borne and water-borne industrial waste — the detritus of the prevalent capitalist economic system. Its core operating function is based on the irrational assumption that infinite economic growth can be maintained indefinitely on a planet with finite natural resources.
Perpetuating a colossal myth
It’s a colossal myth that is being perpetuated because, without it — without unchecked global warming, depletion of natural resources, deforestation, wildlife extinction, air and water pollution — capitalism could not long survive. It’s eventually doomed, anyway, of course, if it’s permitted to keep demolishing the planet and most of its inhabitants. That permissiveness, however, can only be withdrawn by the world’s governments, which still show no sign of becoming the world’s saviours.
Political leaders, far from restraining corrosive corporate greed, lavish its CEOs and major investors with massive tax cuts and billion-dollar subsidies. Our governments’ blatant pretence to be sincerely concerned about Earth’s declining viability shouldn’t fool any intelligent person. MORE
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, centre, says the city will see leave to have the Supreme Court of Canada hear an appeal of a B.C. Court ruling that overturned a local bylaw prohibiting the use of single-use plastic bags. She is supported by Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne, left, and Squamish Mayor Karen Elliott at an announcement in Vancouver on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019 | Photo: Jeremy Hainsworth, Glacier Media
The fight over Victoria’s ban on single-use plastic bags is going all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Mayor Lisa Helps confirmed Wednesday that Victoria will seek leave to appeal a lower court decision that struck down the city’s bylaw in July.
“The fundamental bottom line is that this is more than about plastic bags,” she said. “The decision, if allowed to stand, could potentially, substantially challenge the authority of local governments to make decisions in line with our communities.”
Under the bylaw, businesses were barred from providing customers with single-use plastic bags and instead had to charge 15 cents for a paper bag or $1 for a reusable bag.
The Canadian Plastic Bag Association, which represents manufacturers and distributors of plastic shopping bags, launched a court challenge before the bylaw took effect in July 2018.
Victoria won in B.C. Supreme Court, but lost at the B.C. Court of Appeal, which found that the primary purpose of Victoria’s bylaw was to protect the natural environment rather than to regulate business. As such, the city should have sought provincial approval for the bylaw, but failed to do so, the court said.
Helps said Victoria fundamentally disagrees with the ruling and will argue that it runs contrary to the principle that “lawmaking and implementation are often best achieved at the level of government that’s closest to the citizens affected.”
Helps said the principle was previously mentioned by the Supreme Court of Canada and will form the basis for the city’s appeal.
She cautioned, however, that the Supreme Court only hears about 10 per cent of cases that seek leave to appeal.
“So it’s a long shot, but we think it’s an important enough issue for municipalities across this country.”
The Canadian Plastic Bag Association said in a statement that it’s considering all options in consultation with legal counsel and will comment in due course.
Helps announced the appeal at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver. She was accompanied by Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne, Squamish Mayor Karen Elliott and other municipal officials.
Osborne, whose community recently passed its own ban on single-use plastic bags and straws, thanked Helps and Victoria council for their work on the issue.
“I’m really happy to see the kind of leadership from a city like Victoria, because small municipalities like Tofino and others simply don’t have deep pockets to be able to afford legal cases like these,” she said.
Elliott added that the Court of Appeal ruling strikes at the heart of local government’s power to regulate business practices.
“Local governments are part of the solution and we want the ability to reflect our communities’ values and long-term goals in our bylaws and regulations without having to ask permission,” she said.
Victoria is pursuing the appeal even as the federal and provincial governments contemplate their own bans on single-use plastics.
The province is currently getting public feedback on the issue, while the federal government announced in June that it will ban plastic bags and other items as early as 2021.
Helps acknowledged those efforts, but said the city felt the Court of Appeal decision had too many other implications to let it stand.
“So that’s why we’re seeking leave to appeal, but absolutely working with the province at the same time.”
She said the remarkable thing about Victoria is that since the bylaw was struck down, up to 97 per cent of businesses are still operating as if the bylaw was in place. “So there’s clearly social licence and there’s also political will,” she said.
The appeal will be handled by the city’s in-house legal counsel without the need to hire outside lawyers, Helps said. SOURCE
There were 278 demonstrations across Canada to call for action on climate change Friday, according to Fridays for Future. While tens of thousands of people crowded the streets in cities like Toronto and Montreal, protests in smaller centres still packed a punch.
In Yellowknife, organizer Kyle Rogers said more than five per cent of the city’s population of 18,800 — or about 1,000 people — showed up.
More than 1,000 people showed up for a climate strike in Yellowknife on Sept. 27, 2019, organizer Kyle Rogers says. KYLE ROGERS
“Climate change is the most important issue in history and we need to take drastic action now before it’s too late,” he said in an email to HuffPost Canada.
“The climate crisis warms the north three times the rate as the rest of the world. I helped with the strike because politicians around the world don’t do nearly enough to truly make a difference. It’s our future so we need to protect it.”
“We didn’t start the fire … but apparently we have to put it out,” demonstrators at a climate strike in Yellowknife say. KYLE ROGERS
Protesters congregate in Yellowknife to call for bold action on climate change, Sept. 27, 2019. KYLE ROGERS.
Another event in Picton, Ont. drew about 60 protesters. Picton is a community of 4,700 people, about 160 kilometres east of Toronto.
Many drivers who passed the action on Main Street gave support with thumbs up and honks, organizer Don Ross told HuffPost.
Ross, 65, said many baby boomers don’t think they need to do anything about climate change because it won’t impact them.
“It really bothers me,” he said.He and his wife Heather “feel our generation is ‘throwing our kids under the bus’ and we have a moral imperative to do something now.”
“We are the problem. We are the solution,” is protester Heather Ross’ message at a climate strike in Picton, Ont.DON ROSS
Demonstrators take to Main Street in Picton, Ont. to demand action on climate change on Sept. 27, 2019.
“At a time when the world is being driven to take action, here in Prince Edward County, we’re taking down a wind farm … It’s really sad.”
Three people protest to demand action on climate change in Terrace, B.C. on Sept. 20, 2019. LETICIA KISTAMAS
Terrace, B.C., a city in northwestern British Columbia with 13,600 people, saw climate strikes both this week and last week.
Leticia Kistamas, who organized the strikes there, said she’s very concerned about the future for her three children.
She said she’s particularly worried about the amount of plastic pollution in the ocean.
About 60 people came out for last week’s event, Kistamas said.
“We had people from all walks of life,” she said. There were people from Indigenous nations, conservation groups and political parties as well as “teachers, parents, children, grandparents, scientists and high school students.”
There was also an action in Moncton, N.B.
Newfoundlanders came out in droves for the strike in St. John’s.
The crowd was loud in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
Kids in Uxbridge, Ont. had impeccably painted signs.
Rene Mapile holds a sign reading, “Act now – it’s real” in reference to climate change Friday, September 27, 2019 while demonstrating at a climate strike in Picton, Ont. It was one of thousands globally.LUKE HENDRY/THE INTELLIGENCER
PICTON — Inspired by hope but driven by a need for urgent action on climate change, dozens of people staged a Fridays for Future climate strike on Main Street.
They, like those who gathered Friday in Quinte West and Sept. 20 in Belleville, were among hundreds of thousands around the world pressing politicians, polluters and others to slash emissions and pollution, shift to renewable energy sources – all within the next decade to prevent what scientists say could be a disastrous – and irreversible – warming of the planet.
“It’s doable,” said Don Ross of Milford.
“It’s not pie-in-the-sky.
“the solutions are all there. We need to rapidly embrace them and implement them,” he said.
Ross is a founder of the County Sustainability Group which formed in 2005. He said he promoted Friday’s demonstration online after attending the last strike in Belleville, then learning sisters Annette and Angela McIntosh of Milford had demonstrated alone in Picton on the same day.
Humans must stop burning carbon and abandon “the idea of infinite growth on a finite planet,” said Ross. “We’re sleepwalking into the future.
“What I would like to see is people not finding excuses anymore,” he said, adding people too often blame others for inaction on environmental issues.
“We’re way past excuses.”
Ross, like many present for the strike, said he was there out of concern for his children and grandchildren.
He spoke of the need for “looking in a child’s eyes and saying, ‘What am I doing now?’
“If your reaction is, ‘Nothing,’ then I think you really need to check your moral compass.
“Civilizations are judged by the world we leave for our descendants. I think to some extent we’re throwing our children under a bus.”
Yet he also said there are “tipping points” in both impending environmental damage and, on the positive side, the number of citizens rising in an attempt to reverse the trend.
Ross said locals are somewhat shielded from the effects of climate change, but it’s causing widespread problems in other parts of the world, including mass migration of refugees – something Friday’s demonstrators warned will increase.
Twins Angela and Annette McIntosh, 64, said the planned dismantling of local wind turbines is a mistake. Angela recalled young activist Greta Thunberg’s recent address to the United Nations.
“Here she is at the UN in New York, fighting to stop climate change, and they’re taking down wind turbines in Prince Edward County. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Annette said politicians “have got to something or the planet’s going to do it for them.
“It’s going to be an Armageddon.”
At Quinte West city hall, another crowd gathered for speeches by federal candidates Stephanie Bell of the NDP and Danny Celovsky of the Green Party, plus city councillor Terry Cassidy, and several residents, said Lori Borthwick, one of the organizers. A student strike at Albert College was also reported.
Back in Picton, Rosalind Adams of South Marysburgh handed out information about the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. She said the panel’s report on global warming is being misinterpreted by many, including Canada’s political parties. She encouraged people to read the report at tinyurl.com/warming15.
Canada’s emissions must be cut by 90 per cent by 2030 “to save a livable climate,” Adams’ handout read.
Despite frustration with the current situation, several people said they believed humanity is up to the challenge.
Don Ross said there may be more frequent climate strikes in the area.
“This isn’t over,” he said.
Bloomfield mother Daniela Kelloway said she and her family are trying to change their ways, including eating more plant-based foods and less meat.
“We’re taking small steps in that direction.”
She encouraged people to reduce consumption and, when shopping, ask themselves if they really need what they’re buying.
“I don’t think people ask themselves that quite enough.”
Sam Elgindy, who came with her two young children, said she had mixed feelings: disappointment with world leaders but optimism about the movement for a cleaner Earth.
“It’s a moment of hope. It’s a moment of inspiration,” Elgindy said.
“I want to see policymakers listen. I want to see commitments to action. I want to see tangible change.”
Federal candidates in the Bay of Quinte riding are to take part Oct. 3 in a debate on environmental issues. The 7 p.m. event at Belleville’s Centennial Secondary School, 160 Palmer Road, is part of the 100 Debates on the Environment, a national series.