Courage Coalition has endorsed 7 bold and brilliant candidates.

Courage has endorsed 7 bold and brilliant candidates. They are running on a Green New Deal that adequately tackles the climate crisis, centres Indigenous rights, and transforms our economy for the many, not the few.

These candidates have a platform and media attention. If enough of us help amplify their voices, we can move the party to the left and shift what issues this election is about.

Can you take two minutes right now to follow and like them on Twitter and Facebook? (And then like and amplify their stuff later.)

Here are the 7 candidates:

Christine Paré — Papineau, QC

Jacqueline Wiens — Orléans, ON

Kalden Rangdrol Dhatsenpa — Longueuil Charles-Lemoyne, QC

Konstantine Malakos — Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, QC

Steven R Scott — LaSalle-Émard-Verdun, QC

Svend Robinson — Burnaby North-Seymour, BC

Yvonne Hanson — Vancouver Granville, BC

*We chose to endorse these candidates based on their responses to our questionnaire. We only considered candidates who completed it.*


Talks will resume today for CUPE education workers

Oct 4, 2019: The Canadian Union of Public Employees will resume bargaining today with the Council of Trustees’ Association and the Government of Ontario, on behalf of 55,000 education workers.

Ongoing talks are aimed at ending the work-to-rule job action that will escalate to full strike on Monday, October 7, if no deal can be reached before then.

Starting at 4:30 p.m. today, the parties have agreed to suspend public communications regarding the substance and process of negotiations, while bargaining continues.

CUPE represents educational assistants, custodians, early childhood educators, office administrators, library workers, tradespeople, instructors, IT specialists, child and youth workers, psychologists, social workers, speech-language pathologists and many others. SOURCE

Sign the petition: I support CUPE education workers

This Toronto businessman retrofits classic cars with electric motors

When Davinder Singh was in high school, around the turn of the millennium, he couldn’t wait for B.C.-based Ballard Power Systems to come out with its hydrogen fuel cell. At the time, he believed his first car would be, as he put it, “water-powered.”

That didn’t happen, and he ended up buying — and fixing — a series of gas-powered cars. “They were always, constantly, breaking down, these combustion vehicles,” Singh said.

At some point, he asked himself: Why don’t I go electric? This was 2010, and the Tesla Roadster was available. But it was priced at around $100,000 and was out of Singh’s reach. He said other available electric vehicle (EV) options “were not desirable.”

That’s when the Toronto-based entrepreneur said he started “scheming” on a plan: converting a gas guzzler into an electric vehicle. Singh went from studying cell biology and working in the pharmaceutical industry to learning everything there was about the design and engineering of e-cars

In 2012, he successfully retrofitted his 1985 Jaguar XJ6. Singh now runs Epic Car Conversions, which specializes in converting internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles into 100 per cent EVs. The company has retrofitted about 40 vehicles, mostly high-end vintage cars, including Porsches and other Jaguars.

Epic removes all the combustion components of the vehicle, from the engine to the fuel tank to the exhaust, and custom builds an electric drive unit specific to the car being retrofitted. It includes assembling a motor, inverter, battery pack and charger. It’s a simplified unit that requires very little maintenance, said Singh. “You will not have to see your mechanic ever for oil changes, spark plugs or tune-ups.” 

Singh has a team of about 10 people, including mechanics and machinists, and the retrofitting process can take about two months — depending on the amount of customization involved, it can take longer.

Because each retrofit must be custom-built “from scratch,” the switch isn’t cheap. Singh said prices range from about $25,000 for a battery with a 100-kilometre range (good for city driving) to $45,000 for a 250-km battery. He said some builds can be more than $85,000, but those are rare and typically include more range and customized paint jobs.

The high cost poses a challenge, said Singh, because his company is competing with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like Tesla, Nissan and Ford — companies that buy and build EVs in bulk. He said Epic’s advantage is its ability to customize any car.

And it’s looking to branch out. With help from the Canadian government, Singh’s startup has made connections in places like Thailand and India, where Singh has been promoting Epic’s electric-drive unit for use in vehicle fleets (like company cars or buses). He’s also had conversations with a municipality in the Greater Toronto Area.

Keeping maintenance and fuel costs low is the reason Singh started on this journey. But helping cut carbon emissions is also important for this father of one. 

“If we have more electric vehicles on the road … we’ll have cleaner air for the next generation.” SOURCE

Toronto declared a Climate Emergency. Now what?

Image result for toronto city council

Watching Toronto City Council debate its climate emergency declaration, it was clear that even the most battle-scarred of politicos had been moved (dare I say scared?) by the tens of thousands of youth-led climate strikers who’d marched past City Hall the previous Friday.The motion – co-sponsored by Mayor John Tory and Councillor Mike Layton – passed unanimously. Greenpeace supported it because it’s more than just words, though there’s still a lot of work required to turn these intentions into action.

Mike Layton

Part of my remarks at today’s city council debate in climate emergency and acceleration motion.

Embedded video

In declaring a climate emergency, Toronto City Council has committed to:

    • Set a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target in line with keeping warming below 1.5 degrees. The City has set a new target of net zero by at least 2050, and will look at ways to achieve this target by 2040. It will also set interim targets and carbon budgets to ensure that we are on track to meet those long-term targets.
    • Explore financing mechanisms to adequately fund climate action in the 2021 budget cycle (more on this below).
    • Meaningfully consult and cooperate with Indigenous communities on the development and implementation of the TransformTO climate action plan, in line with the City’s commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
    • Apply the City’s Equity Lens to TransformTO decision-making in order to ensure that strategies include and benefit equity-seeking groups.
    • Collaborate with youth to increase their participation in the development and implementation of TransformTO.
    • Apply a climate lens to evaluate the climate impacts of major City decisions including financial decisions.
    • Create a low-carbon jobs strategy that supports a decent work agenda and expands green industry sectors.
    • Initiate a plan to become a green investment City and exclude fossil fuels from City investments.

Turning these commitments into reality is still going to take a lot of work – keeping up the pressure in a context of competing budget priorities and a pro-fossil fuel lobby that never quits. Toronto does have some credibility on the file, as greenhouse gas emissions within the city are down 44% relative to 1990 (with the provincial coal phase-out lending a helping hand).

The easy reductions, however, are largely gone. Getting to net-zero is going to be harder. And expensive, though of course doing nothing or not enough is terrifyingly more expensive. MORE

‘Job intensive:’ Study says clean energy fast track to employment growth

Some of the 30,000 solar panels that make up the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s new 2-megawatt photovoltaic array in Albuquerque, N.M. on April 20, 2011. File photo by The Associated Press/Susan Montoya Bryan

New research says job growth from clean energy will dramatically outpace that from fossil fuels over the next decade — as long as future Canadian governments maintain or increase attempts to fight climate change.

“The clean-energy sector is a good-news story that no one’s talking about,” said Merran Smith of Clean Energy Canada, a think tank based at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. “There is nothing to fear about moving forward on climate action.”

Earlier this year, the group released research that found Canada’s clean-energy sector — which encompasses renewable energy and energy conservation — had already produced 300,000 jobs by 2017.

Further study made public Wednesday projects job growth in the sector to significantly outperform most other parts of the economy.

Using recognized economic modelling tools, it suggests that direct jobs from clean energy will grow at a rate of 3.4 per cent a year between 2020 and 2030. That’s nearly four times the Canadian average.

The same models suggest fossil fuel industries will slowly lose jobs over that time.

Smith said the data shows clean energy employment could reach nearly 560,000 by the end of the next decade. That’s 160,000 new jobs, more than enough to make up for the 50,000 jobs which fossil fuels are expected to shed.

The study also forecasts money flowing into clean energy will grow 2.9 per cent a year. Fossil fuel investment is expected to shrink.

Fossil fuels will be bigger than clean energy for years to come. But what the research shows, Smith said, is that new jobs and growth will come from the latter.

“The fast lane is clean energy,” she said. “This is where we’re seeing job growth.”

Her conclusions are in broad agreement with others in the field.

“Deep decarbonization will be job intensive,” said Mark Jaccard, an energy economist at Simon Fraser University.

Fossil fuel alternatives require more labour, he said.

Kent Fellows of the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy agreed. He said studies in British Columbia, which has had a carbon tax for more than a decade, suggest climate measures didn’t cost jobs and may have added some.

“They show that either you’re pretty stable or maybe you’ve got a little bit of an increase in employment,” he said. “The fears of losing jobs everywhere are probably misguided.”

The British group Carbon Tracker has found that while solar and wind provide only three per cent of global energy, they account for one-quarter of all new generation. And few of the world’s cars are electric, but they make up 22 per cent of sales growth.

Automation is removing jobs from the oilpatch. Between 2014 and 2016, Alberta’s production grew by nearly 10 per cent but 39,000 fewer people were employed.

Smith points out the modelling assumes that Canadian climate measures either stay in place or are increased — an assumption which the current federal election campaign has thrown in doubt.

“We’ve got three parties that are not only committing to keep these policies but build on them,” Smith said. MORE

Support for Liberals plummets among Indigenous voters: poll


TORONTO — Recent polling suggests the Liberals have dramatically lost support among Indigenous voters.

The poll from Environics Research, commissioned by the Aboriginal People’s Television Network, surveyed 1,024 Indigenous voters across the country and found 40 per cent voted Liberal in the 2015 election, but now just 21 per cent support the party.

According to the survey, 26 per cent support the Conservatives, 17 per cent support the NDP and 16 per cent support the Green Party.

However, Environics Research notes that since 58 per cent of respondents said they could still change their minds before the election on Oct. 21, the Indigenous vote is still up for grabs.

Sheila North, the former grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, told CTV News that enthusiasm for Liberals among Indigenous voters has certainly waned since the last election.

“The Liberals, back in 2015, talked a big game,” she said. “They talked a lot of nation-to-nation relationships and what we saw in the last four years was not exactly as it was sold.”

It’s worth noting that the survey was conducted between Sept. 4 and 13, before news of Trudeau’s blackface scandal broke.

The poll showed 63 per cent of Indigenous voters struggle to make ends meet and are most concerned with the environment, the economy and the government in this election.

They’re also concerned about jobs, access to drinking water, child welfare and housing.

“The climate emergency is one of the key issues at the door,” said Leah Gazan, a well-known Indigenous advocate and the NDP candidate for the riding of Winnipeg Centre.

Winnipeg Centre is one of the poorest ridings in the country, with almost 20 per cent of its population comprising of Indigenous people.

“They also do face a lot of barriers,” said Robert-Falcon Ouellette, the Liberal incumbent for the riding and an Indigenous man. “There is a lot of poverty and they want someone who’s going to champion – to try and lift them out of poverty.” MORE

A data-based dismantling of Jason Kenney’s foreign-funding conspiracy theory

Every core tenet of the Alberta premier’s paranoid policy is flatly and demonstrably false.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks at the NASCO conference in Columbus, Ohio on Sept. 20, 2019. Twitter photo

As long as the foreign funding conspiracy theory was a lone researcher’s crusade, this thing had a great run.

Underdogs are popular, and suspicion of foreign plotting is a guaranteed box office winner.

Now that it’s official Alberta government policy, however, things are about to get a lot trickier.

The foreign funding conspiracy theory is a house of sand, where every pillar crumbles to the touch.

At its core, this theory, which Jason Kenney has adopted as the Alberta government’s, is that the province has been targeted by a cabal of American foundations led by the Rockefellers in a deliberate campaign of economic sabotage.

By directing money and influence to an anti-pipeline movement called the Tar Sands Campaign, these foundations seek to advance American energy interests by landlocking Canadian oil.

As I wrote earlier in September, the sham outrage over foreign money is just a cynical ruse. Unscrupulous governments are employing it around the world to discredit, silence and intimidate environmental dissent, and ultimately to choke off resources to activist groups.

Nobody cares about foreign money, least of all Jason Kenney.

No sooner did the premier release the terms of his foreign funding inquiry than he set off for New York, cap in hand, to raise more foreign money for the oil industry.

The Canadian oil and gas industry, jauntily waving the maple leaf, is loaded with over a hundred billion dollars in foreign ownership. It sells millions of barrels of oil to foreigners every day, and now wants a pipeline to increase the foreign markets it can sell to.

And all of this is cheered on daily in a foreign-controlled national newspaper chain.

That’s just by way of a little perspective.

The claim of conspiracy is an accusation of fraud

The direct or indirect claim of conspiracy, at its heart, is an accusation of fraud and breach of trust, based entirely on circumstantial evidence. It’s the suggestion that charitable dollars are diverted for a covert purpose and that multiple organizations are colluding in that deception.

A scheme like this would necessarily involve senior foundation leadership acting in concert, and with malice, to subvert the bona fide charitable objectives of their organizations.

That’s a serious claim that has inflamed public opinion, and damaged reputations and community trust within Canada. It should not be made lightly or on thin evidence, and should be treated with special skepticism when advanced by government leaders.

Not least because we’re in a climate emergency and have better things to do than discredit those working hardest to address it.

Curiously, Kenney’s public inquiry terms of reference are far more cautious than his fiery rhetoric. Despite tarring foundations and environmentalists as “anti-Alberta,” they sidestep entirely the issue of motive or intent, which is central to the allegation of conspiracy or bad faith.

The public, having been led to believe that charitable foundations are corruptly working against the public interest, is entitled to a deeper analysis of motive than the inquiry will examine.

That’s what we’ll look at here.

Background review

To assess the conspiracy theory’s veracity, I reviewed data from Candid, America’s most comprehensive foundation and charitable monitoring site.

With a $29-million budget and staff of 140, Candid gathers and maintains detailed data and statistics on hundreds of billions of dollars in grants by 155,000 U.S. and international charitable foundations, non-profits and all U.S. federal agencies. Public tax returns recorded and accessible. Most, but not all, major international funders are included.

The material is cross-referenced, tabulated and readily searchable.

So I searched it.

For the last nine months.

I surveyed tens of thousands of grants totaling well into the billions of dollars, looking for patterns, practices and organizational cultures. I double-checked for errors in coding and data entry (yep, found some). Looking for the network effect, I examined partnership constellations, funding pathways and changes over time.

A lot of superficially significant data often turns out to be just noise. It’s only with exposure to high volumes of data that one begins to discern materiality.

Candid’s data is not a substitute for detailed grant reviews — it’s best employed for detecting large patterns and trends.

My research took me further, to reviewing the backgrounds of directors and key employees of multiple foundations, and examining years of financial statements. I was looking for indicators of weak governance or undue influence within each of the impugned organizations. Family foundations have a tendency toward having family members in lead governance roles, whose priorities and biases can show up in granting patterns.

I checked whether the founder is alive and active in governance and oversight (two major funders are). I reviewed for direct or indirect evidence of impropriety — for instance, claims of misconduct by former employees or independent witnesses. I studied media reports, scholarly and industry research, and spoke to experts in the non-profit world, as well as to parties directly involved or who had personal knowledge of the circumstances.

I then reviewed the oil and gas sector.

What follows below is a distillation of that research.

Overall, there are variances in culture between philanthropic organizations and some steadfast consistencies. Some are very conservative and apolitical, even among the most environmentally committed. Others are more supportive of activism.

In reviewing thousands of grants, these patterns become more evident over time.

The foundations funding the Tar Sands Campaign bore no markers of fraud or unscrupulous conduct within leadership. All of them appeared to be transparent and fully compliant with all legal requirements. There is no direct evidence of misconduct.

But there were surprises. MORE


Scheer says he’d seek ‘judicial review’ of First Nation child welfare compensation

Deadline to appeal passes Oct. 7 — two weeks before election day

If he was prime minister, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he would seek a judicial review of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision on First Nations child welfare compensation. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer today called for a “judicial review” of a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision to compensate First Nations children harmed by the on-reserve child welfare system.

The tribunal ordered the federal government on Sept. 6 to pay $40,000 — the maximum allowed under the Canadian Human Rights Act — to each child apprehended from homes and communities under the on-reserve child welfare system.

The ruling also directed Ottawa to compensate some of the parents and grandparents of children who were apprehended.

Scheer said the decision could leave the federal government on the hook for billions of dollars in compensation.

“This is a far-reaching decision that has major impacts on multiple levels of government,” Scheer said.

“It would be appropriate to have a judicial review.”

A party spokesman later clarified Scheer’s statement by saying the Conservative leader would appeal the decision if he were prime minister right now. The deadline for the federal government to appeal is Monday — two weeks before election day.

Scheer has not said specifically what a Conservative government would do with this file if it forms government after Oct. 21. MORE


Ottawa ordered to compensate First Nations children impacted by on-reserve child welfare system
Trudeau ducks question on whether he’d accept First Nations child welfare compensation ruling


This Questionable Billionaire-Backed Climate Change Plan Is Straight Out of a “Simpsons” Episode

Geoengineering, the controversial idea that we can hack the planet to cool it off, is popular with the rich but potentially disastrous.

Image result for the simpsons: "Who Shot Mr. Burns?"

One of the more iconic storylines from The Simpsons was the 1995 “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” To force the city to rely on his power plant nonstop, Mr. Burns, the richest man in Springfield, built a giant mechanical shade that literally blocked out the sun. When he was shot and left for dead, literally every person in town was a suspect. It turned out that Maggie shot him for an unrelated candy-taking offense, but blotting out the sun was why everyone else would want him dead. The sun-blocker was supposed to be an implausible rich person fantasy, a dumb and literal attempt to control the basic aspects of nature. Now, decades later, a similar method is gaining popularity as a way to fight climate change.

“Geoengineering” is the umbrella term for a bunch of different propositions that involve physically manipulating the climate to cool the planet. “Dimming the sun” (spraying sulfates into the air to reflect sunlight back into space) is actually one of those options. Another is “cloud brightening,” spraying saltwater to make clouds more reflective for the same reason, and there’s also “ocean fertilization,” encouraging algae blooms to soak up carbon.

Millionaire entrepreneur and Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang has called for putting massive mirrors in orbit to shield the planet from sunlight. And Bill Gates is officially funding the first high-altitude geoengineering tests. As CNBC reports, thousands of planes would spray millions of tons of particles into the air to replicate the effects of a massive volcanic eruption.

There’s some non-Bond villain rational behind this. Proponents of this specific kind of volcano-copying geoengineering, like the Solar Radiation Management Governance Initiative, point to the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines. It blew 20 million tons of ash into the stratosphere, creating a cloud hundreds of miles wide and reflecting about 2 percent of sunlight hitting the Earth back into space. The next year, global temperatures dipped significantly. If we could recreate that in a controlled way, proponents argue, then we can save the ice at the poles and fight sea level rise.

The problem is it’s hard to do anything in a controlled way when we’re talking about endlessly complex natural systems. There’s already evidence volcanic eruptions like Pinatubo interfere with monsoons in Asia and Africa, completely throwing off the rain cycles that millions of people depend on for food and water. But we don’t know what else could develop as the geoengineering effects settle into atmospheric, oceanic, and ecological systems around the world. There’s even a chance that, with so many particles spread through the world, that we would lose blue skies forever to a hazy, shiny grey. It’s impossible to run traditional tests on any of these techniques because we don’t have multiple habitable planets to experiment on. And that says nothing of the fact that it doesn’t actually address the key cause of global warming, which is the build up of carbon. The world may not warm as rapidly, but the oceans would still absorb carbon and quickly acidify, resulting in mass die-offs like we see with the Great Barrier Reef.

According to reporter and climate activist Naomi Klein, the fact that geoengineering does not address the root causes of climate change is exactly its allure. In her 2012 book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. the Climate, she writes that for a long time, scientists were unwilling to advocate for geoengineering because they worried it would seem more enticing than safer, surer ways to fight climate change:

As Klein explains, more scientists are accepting that geoengineering may be a necessary Plan B, but we haven’t actually tried Plan A yet—scaling back greenhouse gas emissions. Geoengineering may be particularly appealing to wealthy backers, but there’s something that’s broadly comforting about the idea. If we can innovate our way out of climate disaster, then we don’t have to worry about producing and consuming less, and we don’t have to dramatically reimagine our society, economy, and lives. And haven’t humans managed to conquer nature in the past, as we have with dikes, dams, and artificial islands? Klein writes that “succumbing to the logic of geoengineering does not require any change from us; it just requires that we keep doing what we have done for centuries, only much more so.” MORE

Canada’s War on First Nations

Russel Diabo: Presentation as relevant today as in 2008


I developed this PowerPoint presentation about Canada’s War on First Nations (click here to access) in the summer of 2008 after the federal apology for Residential Schools and the announcement of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

Since before Confederation in 1867, to the 1876 Indian Act, to the Liberal 1969 White Paper on Indian Policy, to the Conservatives “Buffalo Jump of the 1980’s” Native Policy, successive Liberal or Conservative governments have continued to implement a First Nations Termination Plan to end the collective Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights of First Nations.

Despite the Trudeau government’s lofty promises and the use of a federal Justice Minister—who is an Indigenous Person—as camouflage, the federal War on First Nations continues albeit through stealth in secret Cabinet meetings, an internal federal Ministerial Working Group and about a hundred Termination Tables where over 400 Chiefs & Councils are negotiating the extinguishment/conversion of their Peoples’ Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights.

I urge you to read my presentation from 8 years ago as a benchmark to measure against the Trudeau government’s actions today and decide for yourself if I am right or wrong!

For your information, this is the message the RCMP and intelligence agencies didn’t like in their SITKA Report and I was singled out for mention because of it!

To access the presentation, use this address or click the link under “File attachment” below:

For more on project SITKA and Indigenous resistance, see this recent article in Briarpatch Magazine.

File attachments:
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