Canada is on track to achieve a national GHG target. No, really.

The latest GHG projection from Environment and Climate Change Canada shows Canada is on track to meet or exceed the target of 90% non-emitting electricity generation by 2030.

It is national sport to complain about Canada’s carbon policy failures. It’s no wonder with national plan after national plan failing to rein in rising GHGs as national targets fall by the wayside. Rio, Kyoto, and now Copenhagen are all GHG targets lost. Even now, with the federation implementing loads of climate policy that has materially bent downward Canada’s emissions curve, there is still much bemoaning the projected 2030 emissions gap.

While many are familiar with our 2030 commitment under the Paris Agreement to reduce GHGs to 511 Mt by 2030, and now net-zero by 2050, the federal government has just one other national GHG commitment – to generate 90% of our utility electricity from non-emitting sources by 2030. This target builds on a commitment by Prime Minister Harper to achieve the 90% objective by 2020.

Now, the latest GHG projection from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) shows Canada is on track to meet or exceed the target of 90% non-emitting electricity generation by 2030. Really.


It’s a big deal

Just last year, the 90% non-emitting target looked unattainable because the emission projection to 2030 indicated that Canada was on track to generate about 85% of its electricity from non-emitting sources. This shortfall looked persistent despite strong GHG reducing federal and provincial policies including a coal phase-out by 2030 in Alberta and nationally by 2030, carbon pricing for electricity under the federal carbon pricing backstop, and renewable subsidies in many jurisdictions. These policies build on significant efforts since 2005, notably in Ontario and Nova Scotia, when the share of non-emitting electricity nationally was 61%.



In this year’s emission projection, the share of non-emitting renewable generation hits 90% in 2030 in the ECCC Reference Case, a scenario that reflects current measures that have tangible implementation plans. The 90% target is then exceeded in the “With Additional Measures” Case that includes announced policy that is likely but missing specific implementation plans, such as published regulations.  For example, the federal Clean Fuel Standard is not included in the Reference Case but is included in the With Additional Measures Case.


What changed?

Three factors have materially altered this year’s electricity generation projection:

  • The new federal output-based pricing rule is fully pricing natural gas generating units by 2030, making them less competitive with non-emitting sources;
  • Planned electricity transmission interties from B.C. to Alberta and from Manitoba to Saskatchewan result in more hydro power displacing fossil generation; and,
  • New cogeneration units such as the one planned by Suncor in Alberta moves some utility generation to industrial generation (translating into increased GHG emissions for electricity generation from the industrial sectors and these are being accounted for separately), which is not included in the 90% utility generation target.

With these additions to the latest ECCC Reference Case, the 2019 projection for generation by natural gas-fired utilities (i.e. excluding industrial generation) is down 40% from 2018. Filling the gap is large hydro, which indicates the interties into Alberta and Saskatchewan from the hydro rich provinces of B.C. and Manitoba are a big deal.  It is also no surprise that other renewables lose market share as more low-cost hydro becomes available and lower overall demand for utility-generated electricity increases competition between generation types.



The generation shares in the 2019 Reference Case likely represent a minimum level of non-emitting generation.  In the With Additional Measures Case, which includes the Clean Fuel Standard, emitting generation sources will be impacted negatively while non-emitting sources will benefit.

Trending to net-zero GHGs

The federation is at work on some serious decarbonisation in the electricity sector. Emissions from fossil generation are now forecast in the Reference Case to be 24 Mt in 2030, down 80% from the 2005 level of 119 Mt. Canada’s electricity sector is now trending towards net-zero territory. And that folks, is a big deal and a big win for policy and technology innovation within Canada.

Governance matters on the road to net-zero

Still, it’s perplexing that the big win is buried on page 144 of a technical document submitted to the UNFCCC.  In an era of increasing carbon policy across the federation, there are big concerns over policy interactions that lead to efficiency and effectiveness risks.  These risks become more acute as more policy asks for more effort aligned with the deep net-zero 2050 target. If we can’t recognize big carbon policy wins, can we recognize big carbon policy losses?  Governance matters, and we need to take stock of policy outcomes and adjust as we go. Otherwise, net-zero will just be another GHG target lost. SOURCE


Indigenous land conflicts to persist unless sovereignty addressed, Wilson-Raybould says

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Jody Wilson-Raybould said protests like the dispute over a pipeline development in the ancestral Wet’suwet’en territory will happen again unless the Canadian government actively works towards addressing Indigenous sovereignty.

“This situation that we’re seeing in Wet’suwet’en territory, as we’ve seen in other territories around major resource development projects, are going to continue to happen until we address the fundamental underlying reality and of the inherent right of self-government of Indigenous Peoples and ensure that Indigenous Peoples can finally make their way and see themselves in our constitutional framework,” she said in an interview with Global News Ottawa Bureau Chief Mercedes Stephenson on Sunday’s episode of The West Block.

The Vancouver member of parliament said she understood the impact the railway blockades had on Canadians, but said it was both the responsibility of the RCMP as well as political leaders to come to an amicable solution.

Protesters block rails in Vaughan, Ont. in latest Wet’suwet’en solidarity demonstrations

“It’s the responsibility of all of us. We got here to this place and leaders, elected leaders need to do their jobs, and that is to lead, to de-escalate the situation,” she said.


Tensions between the government and the Wet’suwet’en Nation have been escalating since Dec. 31, when British Columbia’s Supreme Court granted Coastal GasLink an expanded injunction that established an exclusion zone against protesters interfering with the construction of a $6.6-billion pipeline that is expected to carry natural gas from northeastern B.C. to a massive export plant being built near Kitimat.

If completed, the 670-kilometre pipeline would pass through the nation’s unceded territory not covered by treaty.

The project has the support of the elected band council — but not by the territory’s hereditary chiefs, which is where Wilson-Raybould said confusion comes in.

“We have the imposition of a colonial statute called the Indian Act, which has determined that First Nations groups elect leaders and that there’s nothing necessarily wrong with the elected leadership in the Wet’suwet’en territory, or that they may or may not speak for the Wet’suwet’en people. But so, too, do the hereditary chiefs,” she said.

The hereditary chiefs contend that governments do not have their consent and responded by issuing the company an eviction notice in early January, asserting the company was violating their traditional laws.

The RCMP said they had delayed enforcing the injunction for weeks to seek a peaceful resolution, but without one, they had no choice but to follow the court’s orders. On Feb. 6, the situation escalated and six people were arrested at the pipeline construction site by RCMP who were trying to clear the area. Since then, dozens more protesters have been arrested.


The anger felt by protesters in Wet’suwet’en have inspired protests and demonstrations all over Canada, resulting in massive rail blockades across the country. On Thursday, VIA Rail announced it would be shutting down a majority of its train services in Canada over the blockades.

A protester carries a sign at a rail blockade on the tenth day of demonstration in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ont., Feb. 15, 2020.
 A protester carries a sign at a rail blockade on the tenth day of demonstration in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ont., Feb. 15, 2020. Lars Hagberg / The Canadian Press

Wilson-Raybould, who was Canada’s first Indigenous attorney general and justice minister, said under the constitution, it is up to the Indigenous Peoples who reside in Wet’suwet’en to determine what happens on their territory. inue to impact resource development projects, will continue to impact other jurisdictions as exercised by the federal government and provincial governments until, as a country, we create the space necessarily… for Indigenous Nations to rebuild within a stronger Canada, said Wilson-Raybould.


“When we do that, when Indigenous Peoples finally see themselves and can exercise their inherent rights of self-government, the country will be the better for it.”

Wilson-Raybould, a former Liberal, sits as an independent MP after winning 30.7 per cent of the vote in last year’s federal election.

Following what was described by Wilson-Rconstiaybould as “consistent and sustained” pressure from members of the Trudeau administration to resolve criminal charges against SNC-Lavalin,  she was demoted from her position as attorney general and justice minister and dismissed from the Liberal caucus last year. In August, a report by the federal ethics commissioner found Prime Minister Justin Trudeau violated Canada’s Conflict of Interest Act.  SOURCE

A Nova Scotia ‘gold rush’ means more threats for at-risk Atlantic salmon, even in areas that are meant to be protected

As another new gold mine is proposed in the province, conservation groups are concerned its construction could decimate protected habitat for at-risk species in an area long-renowned for its angling and spawning habitat

St Mary's River1_At the confluence of the East Branch and West Branch_credit Irwin Barrett

A springtime flood along the St. Mary’s River in Nova Scotia. Local conservation groups worry that a proposed new gold mine will threaten the at-risk species that rely on this habitat. Photo: Irwin Barrett

Plans for a new gold mine threaten decades of restorative work on Nova Scotia’s longest river, which provides prime spawning habitat for at-risk wild Atlantic salmon, according to the St. Mary’s River Association.

The organization was founded in 1979 after salmon populations, once attracting famous anglers including Babe Ruth and Michael J. Fox, began to decline.

Since 2014, the association has spent $1.1 million rebuilding riverbanks and spawning habitat pulverized by historic log drives, and just last year received $1.2 million to shield this river from acid rain.

“We look after the river,” said president Scott Beaver, pointing to the fish ladders they’ve built over human obstacles and stocking initiatives to bolster salmon that are now finally returning to spawn.

Rare footage released Wednesday shows a spawning pair of salmon in McKeen Brook, a tributary of the St. Mary’s which Beaver and others in the Nova Scotia conservation community fear will come under a new threat from the proposed Cochrane Hill Gold mine.

gold mining Atlantic salmon species at risk Nova Scotia

Atlantic salmon, an at-risk species, are one of the primary concerns of conservation groups pushing back against a proposed gold mine near Nova Scotia’s St. Mary’s River. Photo: St. Mary’s River Association

The project, proposed by Atlantic Gold (Atlantic Gold was purchased by St Barbara, an Australian gold mining company, last year. St Barbara now runs Atlantic Gold Operations in Nova Scotia), would involve the construction of an open-pit gold mine one kilometre long, half a kilometre wide and a maximum of 170 metres deep alongside the river. In total, the project would involve some 240 hectares (roughly 450 football fields).

According to a project description submitted to Canada’s Impact Assessment Agency, the mine would produce two-million tonnes of gold-bearing ore per year and have a life span of just six years. (St Barbara did not respond to The Narwhal’s request for comment.)

The company has yet to release an environmental impact assessment for the project as it makes its way through environmental review, which it began in 2018.

Mine proposed at height of river conservation

The Cochrane Hill mine would, as described in the company’s project description, process excavated rock into a gold concentrate which would then be transferred 142 kilometres to Atlantic Gold’s existing Moose River mine, where the gold is extracted.

gold mining Atlantic salmon St. Mary's

The Moose River gold mine in Nova Scotia. The company behind this mine is proposing a new project in the province, one conservation groups worry will further endanger at-risk species like the Atlantic salmon. Gold concentrate produced at the Cochrane Hill mine will be transported and further processed at Moose River. Photo: Raymond Plourde

The initial processing at Cochrane Hill would result in tailings ponds on site, contained behind dams perched above the St. Mary’s watershed. Any treated effluent would be discharged into the Cameron Lakes, which drain through McKeens Brook, arguably the most productive spawning habitat on the river, according to Beaver.

In 2018, Beaver met with representatives of the mining company, who described the project plan.

“My life completely changed,” Beaver said of the meeting.

The proposal caused a similar upset for the Nova Scotia Nature Trust, which, since 2006, has constructed a network of protected properties totalling 540 hectares along the St. Mary’s.

A sandbar on the St. Mary’s River in Nova Scotia, a protected area local conservation groups worry is under threat from a proposed gold mine. Photo: Irwin Barrett

The trust — which has a mandate to acquire the most ecologically significant properties throughout Nova Scotia and protect them in perpetuity — has been busy with the banks of the river with its unusual abundance of old-growth and floodplain forests. Ancient hemlocks, maples, oaks and spruce in these rare forest zones provide habitat for a suite of at-risk species.

“This is starting to become a major natural corridor,” Bonnie Sutherland, executive director of the Nova Scotia Nature Trust, told The Narwhal.

“You have habitat connectivity for wildlife, the chance for long-term viability for these amazing floodplain forests, the old growth hemlocks, habitat for endangered turtles and birds and maybe, someday, the Atlantic salmon can make a comeback.”

“It’s pretty ironic that this proposed mine is coming at the height of conservation achievement on this river,” she added.

gold mining St. Mary's River Atlantic salmon species at risk

Spring reflections in an inlet of the St. Mary’s River in Nova Scotia. Photo: Irwin Barrett

Mine requires road through land trust 

The proposed Cochrane Hill mine would necessitate the realignment of nearby Highway 7, sending it through protected Nova Scotia Nature Trust land.

Doing so would require paving over old-growth hemlocks, disturbing resident wildlife with noise, dust and vibrations, Sutherland said, adding the trust learned about the realignment in a letter from Atlantic Gold.

The nature trust’s mandate makes consent for such road construction impossible, Sutherland said. The road could be forced through, but that would require the provincial government to expropriate trust land under the Mining Act or Highways Act, she said.

Rachel Boomer, spokesperson for the provincial Environment Department, declined to answer specific questions about the possibility of road realignment through trust land.

Boomer said the project is currently undergoing a joint federal-provincial environmental assessment, which will consider “potential impacts to all species, including Atlantic salmon.”

“Once the [environmental assessment] document is submitted, Nova Scotia Environment and the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada will host a joint comment period where members of the public are invited to comment,” Boomer wrote to The Narwhal in an email. “Any member of the public can submit information at that time, and it will be considered in the assessment of the mine project.”

But the environmental review hasn’t relieved the nature trust’s concerns about the potential impacts of the project, or the highway rerouting.

“Expropriation would be wrong on so many levels,” Sutherland said. “This is something you don’t realize is a threat until it looms over you.”

Since 2013, the provincial government has built upon the charitable efforts of the Nova Scotia Nature Trust by announcing some 3,800 additional hectares of protected public land alongside the river in forthcoming provincial parks, wilderness areas and nature reserves, which together with Nova Scotia Nature Trust land covers some 4,300 hectares, enveloping 54 kilometres of St. Mary’s riverbank.

The expropriation of this or any protected land for industrial use could undermine the entire effort, Sutherland said.

One mine in a potential ‘string of pearls’

The Ecology Action Centre is a Halifax-based environmental advocacy charity, which has kept a close watch on Atlantic Gold’s so-called “string of pearls” — four Nova Scotian gold mines intended to open in sequence over the next few years.

The first mine in the string, the Moose River gold mine, is already in operation. Three additional mines — the Beaver Dam project, 15 Mile Stream gold project and Cochrane Hill, itself planned for 2023 — are in the process of federal environmental review.

gold mining Nova Scotia species at risk

The area surrounding the proposed gold mine. Map: St. Mary’s River Association

Charlotte Connolly, campaign support officer with the Ecology Action Centre, is quick to differentiate these modern mines from those of Nova Scotia’s past — underground, high-yield mines following gold veins or deposits.

Modern open-pit gold mines operate differently, aiming to extract only small flakes of gold diffused throughout tonnes of rock. Rock is excavated, crushed and treated to leach out gold. The remnants are then deposited in a waste pile and resulting chemical muds are stored in tailings ponds, which remain long after the life of a mine.

 “To put a mine here is a terrible idea,” Connolly told The Narwhal.

Nova Scotian gold rush?

Despite participating in efforts to conserve land along St. Mary’s River, the provincial government has been supportive of the mine proposal, offering one per cent royalty rates and a Mineral Resources Development Fund, which aids prospectors and developers alike in their search for gold.

The Mining Association of Nova Scotia has taken to the airwaves of CBC to declare a “gold rush” in the province, suggesting, among other things, that the industry’s high wages could be a solution to the economic woes of rural Nova Scotia, a claim the Ecology Action Centre considers exaggerated because this mine has a five or six year lifespan.

“During gold rushes, everyone loses their minds, only seeing dollar signs,” Charlotte said. “They forget every other important thing in the world.”

 Michael Parsons, a geochemist and research scientist with Natural Resources Canada, said that while uranium, zinc and lead do occur naturally in Nova Scotian rock, they don’t tend to appear in mining wastes at very high concentrations.

“The main contaminant of concern at most gold deposits in Nova Scotia is arsenic,” he said, “which occurs naturally in the bedrock around these deposits, and can be concentrated during mining and milling.”

Another concern is mercury. In days gone by, mercury was commonly used in the gold extraction process and is therefore well represented in the historic tailings of Nova Scotia, some of which reside at Cochrane Hill, relegated there by underground gold mines between 1868 and 1928.

If disturbed, this mercury could be another source of environmental contamination, a very real possibility to which Parsons has dedicated significant research.

No open-pit excavation

 Following their presentation from Atlantic Gold, Beaver and the board of the St. Mary’s River Association transformed from volunteers to activists: consulting experts on the polluting perils of gold mining, meeting with relevant ministers, MLAs and the premier, organizing protests, erecting signage and hosting public information sessions.

Beaver is heartened by the number of area residents vocally opposing the Cochrane Hill Gold Mine, deeming it too great a risk to the social, economic and ecological values of the river.

gold mining Nova scotia protest Atlantic gold

Local conservation groups have been organizing protests, erecting signage and hosting public information sessions to raise awareness about the implication of the new gold mine proposal. Photo: St. Mary’s River Association

This collective cry of opposition, however, has focused on the negatives. There has been a great deal of good news on the St. Mary’s River in Beaver’s lifetime, which he decided to showcase with an underwater camera in just the right place, at just the right time.

Saving Salmon is the joint initiative of photographer Nick Hawkins and writer Tom Cheney, collecting stories of Atlantic salmon conservation from across eastern North America, sometimes in words, sometimes in pictures — and now in footage.

The pair accepted Scott’s invitation to visit the St. Mary’s River and joined him for several expeditions in the summer and fall of 2019.

Their reward, aside from a great many photos and clips, were 15 minutes of quality footage of a female salmon on her nest, an exceedingly rare filming opportunity which had thus far eluded the Saving Salmon team.

Beaver has confirmed with both the Atlantic Salmon Federation and Nova Scotia Salmon Association that such footage has never before been captured in the Maritimes, and it was taken, of all places, in McKeens Brook, immediately downstream of where the Cochrane Hill Gold Mine proposes to discharge its treated effluent.

This footage and accompanying photos have been collected and edited into an exhibition which Beaver intends to tour, confronting the espoused profitability of the Cochrane Hill Gold Mine with the resurgence of the St. Mary’s Salmon. The footage alone was launched during a press conference Feb. 12 in downtown Halifax.

“If they push a mine through to the St. Mary’s, there’s no place in Nova Scotia, in my mind, that can be protected from mining,” he said. “The St. Mary’s is the sacred spot.”

The St. Mary’s River in Nova Scotia is considered important habitat for many species, both in and out of the water. Photo: Irwin Barrett



The powerful example of the Wet’suwet’en resistance

Lekeyten of Kwantlen First Nation, photographed at the Gidimt’en Checkpoint on Wetsuewt’en territory in 2019. Photo by Michael Toledano

It took longer than it should have, but Canadians are finally paying attention to the struggle at Wet’suwet’en. The hereditary chiefs and supporters first built cabins on their traditional territory in 2010 to try to stop a pipeline from being built across their land but their campaign has grown thanks to effective solidarity actions.

In an era where despair and cynicism about the fate of the planet is widespread, the campaign at Wet’suwet’en has been an important example of what it takes to resist corporate projects that will further pollute the land and air.

The camps at Wet’suwet’en are trying to stop Coastal GasLink from building a pipeline through their traditional territory. The pipeline will carry liquefied natural gas (LNG) to a port at Kitimat where it can be shipped overseas, making a few people extremely rich.

In solidarity with their camps, actions and blockades have been set up all over Canada. Regular protests, including in Vancouver and Victoria, have stopped traffic, disrupted ferry service and even pushed the Throne Speech back, as politicians were physically blocked from entering the Legislature.

In Halifax, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland was blocked from entering city hall to meet with mayor Mike Savage.

People have occupied banks and have shut down highways. But the highest profile actions right now are happening along rails: supporters have occupied railway tracks in Toronto, at Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory on the Toronto-Montreal and Toronto-Ottawa rail corridors, and on the Candiac commuter rail line just outside of Montreal.

These actions are non-violent civil disobedience at their finest: they have caused economic disruption and, importantly, have forced Canadians to pay attention to the fight against Coastal GasLink.

The symbolism of choosing to shut down rail is important. Canada’s railway is entwined with our history of colonialism. Canada’s first major political scandal saw Prime Minister John A. MacDonald forced to resign for having accepted political donations in exchange for the contract that would be the railway.

The railway was the critical link that allowed Canada to flood the west with White settlers while also sending state troops to forcibly confine Indigenous nations to reserves. The railway played a key role in genocide.

And, the CPR was built using effectively slave labour from Chinese workers, as many as 4000 who died as a result extreme and dangerous working conditions.

In an era where despair and cynicism about the fate of the planet is widespread, the campaign at Wet’suwet’en has been an important example of what it takes to resist corporate projects that will further pollute the land and air.

When Indigenous people block rail lines, they’re targeting the veins of colonial Canada. By stopping the flow of blood, they are forcing Canadians to pay attention.

I love rail. Maybe it’s because my parents held early birthday parties for me at the Halton County Railway Museum in Rockwood, Ontario. Maybe it’s because I used to run outside, barefoot, whenever we heard the freight trains pass, half a mile up the road from my Grandmother’s house, and count the number of cars the train had. Maybe it was the faint memory I have of travelling to northern Ontario by train at the age of three and watching the sun dance through the tree branches we passed (those tracks have all been removed). There is a sentimental quality to watching the world pass while you’re on a train, and it symbolizes so many contradictions of living in a settler-colonial state.

That’s why these solidarity actions can’t simply be seen as protests. As Montreal Gazette journalist Christopher Curtis posted on Twitter, “In Kahnawake, the blockade of a commuter rail to Montreal is about solidarity with the #Wetsuweten but also pride in Turtle Island, in sovereignty, in securing a future for Indigenous youth across the country.”

The desire to push through this pipeline project under the guise of economic prosperity is another in a long list of examples where profits are king and the damage that a pipeline will cause to the land and air don’t matter. Our obsession with resource extraction will be our eventual demise. We know that the atmosphere is warming. We know that LNG pipelines leak methane into the atmosphere. We know that pipeline projects destroy forests and waterways. So why are politicians hell-bent on ensuring this project passes?

The LNG market is a trillion-dollar industry whose time may be running out. Large infrastructure projects like pipelines cannot get built without the full support of government, even if that support means sending in militarized state agents to force people off their land.

We need to listen to the Wet’suwet’en traditional leadership. We need to heed their call that this project is folly and needs to be stopped. They’re experts in knowing how to care for the land: they’ve been doing this for time immemorial.

Yes, even when it inconveniences us. Even though my parents had their trip to visit me this weekend cancelled by Via Rail, it’s an inconvenience that pales in comparison to the “inconvenience” that Canada has imposed on Indigenous nations on this land. And just wait – the “inconvenience” that will accompany catastrophic climate change will be a different kind of chaotic hell.

We need to act before it’s too late, and Wet’suwet’en shows us the way. SOURCE

‘Kill the pipeline, save the land’ — Wet’suwet’en supporters block Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls

Hundreds of people marched from Highway 420 to the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls Sunday afternoon to show solidarity for Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs’ opposition to a natural gas pipeline in British Columbia.

Meeting between Trudeau and cabinet ministers to discuss how to handle anti-pipeline protest underway

Prime Minister is foregoing today’s planned trip to Barbados

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the Incident Response Group will talk about how to handle the protests against a natural gas pipeline that crosses Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia. (Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is meeting with an emergency group Monday to discuss anti-pipeline blockades that have shut down swaths of the country’s train system.

Trudeau says the Incident Response Group will talk about how to handle the protests against a natural gas pipeline that crosses Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia.

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs are opposed to the project.

The group was described upon its inception in 2018 as a “dedicated, emergency committee that will convene in the event of a national crisis or during incidents elsewhere that have major implications for Canada.”

Doug Ford asks for ‘immediate action’

Trudeau is foregoing today’s planned trip to Barbados, where he was slated to meet with Caribbean leaders to campaign for a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council.

He faced criticism last week over his presence in Africa and Europe as the protests were beginning, so Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne will represent Canada in Trudeau’s place.

There’s mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford spoke with Trudeau late Sunday and issued a statement urging the federal government to take action.

“Premier Ford asked the prime minister to take immediate action and provide detail on a clear plan to ensure an end to this national issue,” the statement read.

Scheer wants end to ‘illegal blockades’

Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said last week that Trudeau should tell Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to use his authority under the RCMP Act to end what he called the “illegal blockades.”

But Trudeau shot back, arguing that Canada is not a country “where politicians get to tell the police what to do in operational matters.”

A protester stands between Mohawk Warrior Society flags at a rail blockade in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ont., on Sunday. The protest is in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the LNG pipeline in northern British Columbia. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)


Thus far, the public-facing part of Trudeau’s plan appears to centre on discussions and negotiations, rather than police action.

Carolyn Bennett, the minister for Crown-Indigenous relations, is due to meet today with her British Columbia counterpart, Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser. Bennett is also ready to meet with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, should they give the go-ahead.

‘Did we learn from Ipperwash?’

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller met with Mohawk Nation representatives for hours on Saturday and said they made “modest progress.” The focus of their talks, he said, was on the pipeline in northern B.C. rather than the blockade on Tyendinaga territory near Belleville, Ont., which was at that point in its 10th day.

In an appearance on CTV’s political show Question Period, Miller pointed to the Oka and Ipperwash crises as reasons why dialogue is preferable to police intervention.

A police officer died during a police raid in 1990 when Mohawks at the Kahnawake reserve south of Montreal blocked the Mercier Bridge, which became the Oka crisis. Five years later at Ipperwash, Ont., one man was killed during a standoff over a land claim by Chippewa protesters outside a provincial park.

“Thirty years ago, police moved in in Kanesatake and someone died,” Miller said. “And did we learn from that? Did we learn from Ipperwash?”

But while Ontario Provincial Police have so far declined to enforce injunctions and remove protesters from that blockade, RCMP in B.C. have made more than two dozen arrests while enforcing similar injunctions near worksites for the pipeline at the centre of the dispute. SOURCE


Inside the meeting between Mohawks and Canada’s Indigenous services minister

Marc Miller asked Mohawks to temporarily stop demonstrations in Ontario and let trains through

A Mohawk Warrior flag flaps from the back of a dump truck facing the CN rail tracks. Traffic along one of Canada’s most important rail corridors has stopped, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has cancelled a trip to Barbados in light of the issue. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller asked the Mohawks of Tyendinaga to temporarily halt a demonstration that has shut down one of Canada’s most important rail corridors and allow trains through, a leaked recording of the closed-door meeting reveals.

But a phone call from a Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief undercut that request, according to the recording.

The phone call came in the middle of a Saturday meeting between Miller and representatives from Tyendinaga, along with other Mohawk communities, as he sought to find a resolution.

The Mohawks have vowed to keep the railways shut until the RCMP left Wet’suwet’en territory, which faced a multi-day raid by Mounties earlier this month.

The demonstrations have had a wide impact. VIA Rail has cancelled passenger traffic, CN Rail has issued temporary layoff notices, and on Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cancelled an international trip, citing “infrastructure disruptions.”

In the midst of Saturday’s meeting, Wet’suwet’en hereditary Chief Woos, who also goes by the name of Frank Alec, was patched through on a speaker phone. He told the room that the RCMP was still on his territory.

“I would suggest to you loud and clear that we want the RCMP out of Gidimt’en territory,” said Woos. An audio recording of part of the meeting was leaked to CBC News by a source who attended.

Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory sits about 240 kilometres west of Ottawa, launched their action in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs after they faced a raid from the RCMP earlier this month enforcing a B.C. court injunction.

Miller arrived in Tyendinaga Saturday and met the Mohawks in a ceremonial encounter on the CN train tracks to renew a 17th Century treaty between the Iroqouis and the British Crown known as the Silver Covenant Chain.

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller, second from left, leaves a Saturday meeting with protesters at a rail blockade on the tenth day of demonstration in Tyendinaga. According to a leaked recording, he asked the Mohawks of Tyendinaga to temporarily allow some trains through during another round of talks. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press) 


Miller then entered a closed-door meeting with 80 people reportedly in attendance. The minister sought to open channels of communication and find a resolution to the standoff on Ontario’s rail lines.

He wanted the Mohawks to allow some trains through during another round of talks, according to the recording, which was provided to CBC News by someone who attended.

“My wish is that we have a temporary draw back and allow the trains to go through,” said Miller.

He was immediately interrupted by a Mohawks resident in attendance, according to the recording.

“Get the red coats out first, get the blue coats out … then we can maybe have some common discussions,” said Mario Baptiste.

Miller said he would then come back to keep the talks going and move toward broader change for Tyendinaga and the rest of the country

“Obviously dealing with the context of the issue … it absolutely needs to be widened,” said Miller, in the recording.

Kanenhariyo, whose English name is Seth LeFort, speaks to the OPP liaison officers during a meeting on the train tracks Tuesday. The demonstrations have had a wide impact. VIA Rail has cancelled passenger traffic, CN Rail has issued temporary layoff notices, and the prime minister has cancelled an international trip. (Rozenn Nicolle/Radio-Canada)


That request was undercut moments later when Woos bolstered the Mohawks’ reasoning behind the rail line demonstration by speakerphone.

Woos told the room that while the RCMP operation was over, the police remained on the territory and continued to pose a threat.

“We want them out of there. We don’t want them there. They have a detachment right in the middle of nowhere, in their eyes. But in our eyes, it’s our territory,” he said.

“We do our traditions out there. We do our trapping and hunting. They are out there with guns, threatening us.”

Woos also said he wanted to “thank the Tyendinaga people” for their support.

Woos did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did Miller’s office.

After the meeting, Miller told reporters he achieved “modest progress” and some of the issues put on the table would be raised with the prime minister and federal cabinet. But the audio recording reveals his main request — that some trains be allowed through — went largely unheeded.

The Mohawks have set up two camps a couple of kilometres apart, along the CN tracks, but have put nothing across the tracks to block the passage of trains. The camps’ proximity to the rails, along with the Mohawks’ message to CN that they did not want any trains going through, was enough to shut down the tracks.

There was a festive atmosphere at both camps around the barrel fires following Miller’s meeting Saturday night, with some saying they were witnessing the start of an Indigenous uprising and revolution.

The Mohawks of Tyendinaga have shut down Hwy 401, one of Canada’s busiest highways, and the CN tracks in the past. This demonstration, however, has become one of the focal points of an evolving potential national crisis that has seen ports, intersections and train tracks blocked across the country.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cancelled an upcoming trip to Barbados as a result of the rail disruptions, which has forced VIA Rail to cancel passenger traffic across the country. CN Rail shut down its Eastern Canadian network and laid off employees as a result of the demonstration that began on Feb. 6.

Feb. 6 was also the day the RCMP launched early morning raids against Wet’suwet’en camps.

Protesters stand on the closed train tracks on the ninth day of the blockade in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, near Belleville, Ont. on Friday. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)


The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed the pipeline and said its construction violated their recognized rights over the territory. While several Wet’suwet’en bands signed deals for the project, the hereditary chiefs say they have jurisdiction over the nation’s territory and point to a 1997 Supreme Court decision as supporting their position.

“You had an illegal judge make an illegal injunction,” Tyendinaga Mohawk Kanenhariyo, whose English name is Seth Lefort, told Miller, according to the recording.

“And had the RMCP, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, militarized police, that are underneath the jurisdiction of the Crown, enter those territories with helicopters and AR-15s [assault rifles] on peaceful people living in their own territory and removed from their own territory.”

Miller said Trudeau and B.C Premier John Horgan had recently designated ministers to sit at a table with the Wet’suwet’en and Gtixsan hereditary chiefs. The Gitxsan also ended their own blockade of CN rail lines in New Hazelton, B.C., as a result of the agreement.

However, Woos said there were still some serious issues to iron out with the new process and nothing had changed in regards to the RCMP’s presence on his territory.

Miller said these were issues he would take to Trudeau and the federal cabinet.

“I need to go back to the prime minister and clarify exactly what the ask is,” said Miller.

“There is a lot of information that is getting either distorted or not clear…. I will go back to cabinet. I will go back to the prime minister. My understanding is that the Wet’suwe’ten leadership is properly engaged, that they traced a path forward.”

Two people talk at a rail blockade on the eleventh day of demonstration in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ont., Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. The protest is in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the LNG pipeline in northern British Columbia. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)


Against this backdrop the clock ticks on an injunction extended by the Ontario Superior Court last Friday.

The Ontario Provincial Police twice visited the main camp on Sunday, which sits on Wyman Road at the edge of the reserve boundary. The second visit was to inform the camp that an OPP plane would now be flying over the area.

Even so, red Mohawk Warrior flags flapped from the raised level rail crossing as masked young men wearing camouflage occasionally gazed through binoculars at the OPP cruisers up the road.  SOURCE

XR: the case for deliberative democracy

Climate Assembly UK begins this weekend. It’s a good start, says Alex Bradbury, but does not meet XR’s third demand for a Government-commissioned Citizens’ Assembly

Image by Lambeth XR.

‘Extinction Rebellion needs to find ways of reaching the people who think we’re some sort of weird cult.’

This remark, made by a member of the Extinction Rebellion (XR) Citizens’ Assembly Working Group, is met by a spontaneous flurry of jazz hands from everyone in the small Kings College London meeting room. No, we’re not all frustrated musical theatre performers; waving ‘jazz hands’ are used in XR, and other activist groups, to express agreement during a group discussion. I can’t resist pointing out the irony of our reaction – we’re all agreeing we need to be less cult-like by raising our hands in unison and waving them about. Everyone laughs, but it strikes me that this points to a deeper challenge in our work.

There are people who feel excluded by XR’s culture, but the democratic process we want to promote aims at radical inclusion. After all, we’re calling on the government to create and be led by a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice – a process that would put national decision-making in the hands of ordinary people from all walks of life. So it seems to me that reaching more people is actually about making a better case for something we are already calling for.

Most people with only a passing acquaintance of XR know that we are calling on the government to firstly declare an emergency, and secondly to halt biodiversity loss and reach net zero emissions by 2025. But many don’t know much about our demand for a Citizens’ Assembly. This is a randomly selected group of people from across the UK who will learn in-depth about the climate and ecological emergency, work through their differences, and determine how we get to net zero greenhouse gas emissions in a socially just way.

Perhaps the most well-known examples of Citizens’ Assemblies are those that took place in Ireland in recent years. They paved the way for long-overdue reforms on topics such as abortion, gay marriage and even climate change. But there is also a large-scale assembly on climate with unprecedented powers taking place in France right now – initiated by President Macron in the wake of the Yellow Vest protests. In fact, there’s been a global groundswell of interest around deliberative democracy over the past couple of decades. From Australia to Poland, groups of randomly selected residents have been helping determine policy for years.

Democracy beyond the ballot box

Academics, activists and even some politicians are cottoning on to the idea that democracy doesn’t have to stop at the ballot box. But they face an uphill struggle in convincing the wider population. A 2018 Pew Center survey conducted across 27 countries found that 51 per cent of people were dissatisfied with how democracy was working in their country. People still firmly believe in the idea of democracy – the trouble is, we usually have quite a narrow experience of what that can mean in practice. For most, it starts and ends with elections.

We’re trapped: we don’t like the system we currently have, but we have trouble imagining anything beyond it. This is where Citizens’ Assemblies come in; they directly address some of the limitations of electoral politics.

Although we call it representative democracy, our parliament is far from representative demographically. Only 34 per cent of MPs are women, as opposed to 51 per cent in the population at large. For ethnic minorities, the figures are 10 per cent and 16 percent respectively. What’s more, elections incentivise politicians to focus on issues that will help them get re-elected. This means thorny decisions in areas such as climate change are more likely to be kicked into the long grass. MORE

A Win-Win Climate Solution Awaits

A Win-Win Climate Solution Awaits, Below2C

The year 2019 ended the hottest decade on record by being the year of climate emergency declarations. Globally, “one in ten people now live in a place which has declared a climate emergency,” reports The Verge. Canada declared a climate emergency in June of 2019.

Canada is locked-in to a Fossil-Fuel-Expansion Obsession

In spite of declaring a climate emergency, Prime Minister Trudeau continues to be all-in the for the fossils. Canadian taxpayers bought the Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion in 2018 and are now footing the bill for an expansion project whose cost estimates have ballooned to $12.6 billion from $7.4 billion. And it gets even worse.

Trudeau is now poised to announce the approval of the Teck Frontier project, a new giant Tar Sands mine—the largest ever—which will dump more than 4 million tonnes of carbon per year into the atmosphere until the 2060s. And yet just a few months ago in Madrid, Canada promised it will be at net-zero-emissions by 2050. This is very agonizing to watch. “They know [Trudeau and his cabinet] — yet they can’t bring themselves to act on the knowledge. Now that is cause for despair,” wrote Bill McKibben in TheGuardian.

Climate Solution? Energy Transition is the Answer

On January 3, 2020, Ottawa-based Abacus Data released a poll titled, “Energy transition: a widely accepted concept; Canadians want governments to work on it, not against it.” The poll shows that “75% say it [transition] is a global trend, beneficial for Canada in the long term. Most feel it is necessary and will happen.”

Yet business-as-usual persists, with most governments slow to announce bold emission control measures, and with some even in denial.

The Trudeau Government, caught in a bind between the fossil fuel economy and the need to transition to renewables, is not acting as quickly as Europe and Asia.

Europe has discovered that shifting a fossil fuel company to renewable energy can be surprisingly simple, because many of the needed technical and management skills are the same.

All of Norwegian oil giant Statoil’s wind energy department, for example, was recruited internally. Little was needed to retrain its engineers. If Statoil moved its offshore wind business into a separate company, it would be one of the 15 largest companies on the Oslo Stock Exchange.

And if the solar division of French oil company Total SA were separated from its parent company, it would be one of the world’s largest solar businesses.

With increasing divestment and the falling demand for oil, transition to ever-cheaper renewables is in the best interests of the industry.  Instead of buying pipelines and giving billions in fossil fuel subsidies to shore up an economically non viable “zombie” industry, Canadian citizens, through their governments, could take a smarter tack.

That is to give the industry government subsidies only on condition that it publish plans to transition to renewables at the rate of 8.5% a year. Compounded, the transition would be complete in 10 years, by 2030.

What about Alberta?

There are 60,000 old oil wells in Alberta with geothermal energy waiting at the bottom. And Southern Alberta and Saskatchewan form the sun belt of Canada, receiving over 2375 hours of sunlight a year. They could switch broadly to free unlimited solar energy, including concentrated solar power, which now serves communities in the US, Spain, Morocco, India and China.

Transforming the energy grid to upload all this power could be modeled loosely on FDR’s depression-based Rural Electrification Administration, still operating, and being copied in other countries.

All this development would stimulate the economy and increase employment.

Further procedural information is available on The Climate Mobilization website, and from daily Twitter reports of exciting worldwide innovations from Canada’s Mike Hudema (@MikeHudema), Stanford’s Mark Z. Jacobson (@mzjacobson), and Singapore’s green energy CEO, Assaad Razzouk (@AssaadRazzouk).

A Win-Win Situation for Climate

A win-win situation awaits us all: it simply requires political will, knowledge of existing solutions, and Canadian savvy and can-do.  We can and must collectively urge our governments to act quickly and dynamically to meet the emergency. SOURCE