Take Action! Tell government to prioritize people over corporate interests

Earlier today [Friday], we got two big pieces of breaking news.

The first was a leaked letter from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to our government laying out a list of demands for a massive oil bailout.1 It includes outrageous calls for climate regulation rollbacks, delaying laws that protect Indigenous rights, and suspending environmental monitoring. It even includes a demand to give Big Oil complete freedom to lobby the government without any regulation, reporting, or public oversight.

Second, in his morning announcement, Justin Trudeau spoke about government support for the oil industry. Thankfully, this announcement fell far short of what Big Oil is demanding. Instead, the focus was on providing funds for putting people to work cleaning up the thousands of abandoned oil wells all across Alberta. Trudeau announced $1.7 billion for orphaned oil well clean up and $750 million to help with methane reduction.2

Taxpayers shouldn’t have to shoulder the paycheck for the oil industry’s neglect, but this announcement would have been a lot worse if tens of thousands of people, like you, didn’t speak up against a bailout for Big Oil. Our pressure is working. And the work is far from over.

We must keep up pressure to ensure that the government invests in a Just Recovery to the COVID-19 pandemic that prioritizes people over corporate interests. Will you add your name in support of the 5 principles for a just recovery?

As CAPP’s crass leaked letter makes clear, the fossil fuel industry sees the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to further corporate interests while the public focuses their attention on supporting one another’s immediate needs. And, you can be certain they are not happy with today’s announcement.

In the coming days and weeks, they will crank up their lobby pressure to try and extract more from the government. But we know that money, resources and action coming from Ottawa need to go towards people, public health and bringing us out of this pandemic ready to face down the climate crisis.

What we need is a Just Recovery that puts people first, helps workers, builds resilience for the future, and establishes solidarity across borders. Can you sign or share these five principles for a Just Recovery supported by tens of thousands of people around the world? 

During his morning press conference, Justin Trudeau told reporters that “we can’t deal with one crisis by ignoring another — the climate crisis.” We will hold him to those words by fighting for a Just Recovery that brings us out of the COVID-19 crisis ready to tackle the climate crisis and create millions of decent jobs.

Cameron Fenton – 350.org

Deepwater Horizon oil spill still affecting fish in Gulf a decade later

Scientists have spent a decade researching the impact of the oil spill, one of the largest environmental disasters in US history, on marine life in the Gulf 

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in 2010 ( Getty )

A decade after the explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig caused 4.9m barrels of oil to spill into the Gulf of Mexico, marine scientists have found that fish in the region are still affected from the disaster.

On 20 April, 2010, a methane explosion on the rig caused it to catch fire and sink, around 40 miles from the Louisiana coastline. Eleven workers died and 17 others were injured in what became one of the largest environmental disasters in US history.

The impact on marine life was devastating. The toxic spill effected thousands of species from plankton to dolphins causing death and a range of consequences like impaired reproduction, reduced growth, lesions and disease.

Scientists have spent a decade since the spill researching its impact on marine life in the Gulf.

Writing in The Conservation, Dr Steven Murawski, marine ecologist at the University of South Florida, and Sherry Gilbert, Assistant Director of the university’s C-IMAGE Consortium shared their findings on how the oil disaster affected the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystems.

No baseline data on oil contamination existed for the Gulf of Mexico prior to the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the researchers noted that oil was already in the Gulf from past spills and natural seeps.

NOAA states that since the 1960s, there have been at least 44 oil spills, each over 10,000 barrels (420,000 gallons), affecting U.S. waters.

As much as half of the oil that enters the coastal environment comes from natural seeps of oil and natural gas, according to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

The University of South Florida team created a baseline of oil contamination in the Gulf by spending 250 days at sea, sampling 15,000 fishes and taking 2,500 sediment cores.

Studies were conducted from 2011 until 2018 to learn what impacts the oil spill had on the health of marine species and how oil affected the ocean floor.

Crucially, all fish suffered from the effects of the pollution.

They wrote: “Importantly, no fish yet sampled anywhere in the Gulf has been free of hydrocarbons – a telling sign of chronic and ongoing pollution in the Gulf. It is not known if similar findings would result from ecosystem-wide studies elsewhere because such surveys are rare.”

Red snapper, important for commercial fishing, suffered skin lesions after the Deepwater Horizon disaster but these had declined by 2012.

In other species, like golden tilefish, grouper and hake, there is also “evidence of ongoing and increasing exposures to hydrocarbons over time” causing a decline in health.

Deepwater fish, which are a food source for larger marine life, were also affected.

Significant amounts of crude oil from the spill made its way to the sea floor, carried there by “marine snow” – a shower of organic material including plankton and soil particles which falls from the surface to the deep ocean.

In the aftermath of Deepwater Horizon, oil slicks on the ocean surface were set fire to in order to prevent it choking the coastline.

However, according to the researchers, burning crude oil meant thousands of toxic carbon compounds were created and trapped in the marine snow.

“Post-spill studies found that levels of oil compounds on the seafloor in the area affected by the spill were two to three times higher than background levels elsewhere in the Gulf,” according to the report.

Numbers of foraminifera, minute single-celled organisms which are a food source for larger marine life, dropped up to 90 per cent in the months following Deepwater Horizon and the species diversity declined 30-40 per cent.

Oxygen levels also decreased making survival more difficult for organisms on the sea bed. The researchers estimate that it could take up to a century for the deep ocean ecosystem to recover.

As they continue to assess the impact of the Deepwater Horizon spill, the scientists called for more transparency from the oil industry, including on routine equipment failures and discharges of drilling muds, to have a better understanding of what’s happening in the ocean in real time. SOURCE


A decade after the BP oil spill: Sick fish, Gulf pollution, and human health problems


Methane Levels Reach an All-Time High

Credit: Richard Hamilton Smith Getty Images

preliminary estimate from NOAA finds that levels of atmospheric methane, a potent heat-trapping gas, have hit an all-time high.

Methane is roughly 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, and while it stays in the atmosphere for only around a decade, as opposed to centuries, like CO2, its continued rise poses a major challenge to international climate goals.

“Here we are. It’s 2020, and it’s not only not dropping. It’s not level. In fact, it’s one of the fastest growth rates we’ve seen in the last 20 years,” said Drew Shindell, a climate scientist at Duke University.

To gauge methane levels, scientists regularly gathered samples of air from dozens of sites around the world and analyzed them at NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. By comparing measurements, they were able to determine the global average. In 2019, the concentration of atmospheric methane reached nearly 1875 parts per billion, the highest level since record-keeping began in 1983.

Even more troubling, 2019 saw the second-largest single-year leap in two decades. However, this figure may change, as preliminary estimates have trended high, said Ed Dlugokencky, a research chemist at NOAA. The final numbers will likely be unveiled in November after a more detailed analysis.

“We’re still waiting to see what the final number is going to be, and it’s going to be many months before we know that,” Dlugokencky said. “But the fact that methane is increasing means it’s further contributing to climate change.”

Methane emissions primarily come from natural sources, like wetlands, and manmade sources, like farms and oil and gas wells. In wetlands, microbes excrete methane, an issue that humans can do little about. On farms, cows and sheep belch methane—a problem that people can address by raising fewer livestock.

“Eat less beef and less dairy. That’s the most straightforward thing,” Shindell said. “For the sake of our own health, we should be doing that anyway.”

The easiest way to stem methane pollution, however, is to limit its release from oil and gas drilling sites, he said. Natural gas is mostly methane, and it is prone to leaking from wells. There are essentially two ways to deal with this problem. The first is to burn the natural gas that seeps out, which turns the methane into carbon dioxide. The second is to plug the leaks.

Companies can install recovery equipment that allows them to collect the natural gas that would otherwise seep out. They can then sell this gas, helping to offset the cost of the equipment. By one estimate, oil and gas firms could cut methane pollution by 45 percent at no net cost.

Despite this, many companies are reluctant to pay for recovery equipment. Firms will instead spend their limited capital on a new drilling site, for instance, which will yield a greater return on investment, Shindell said, though practices vary.

“I think that has taken on urgency because in recent years we have witnessed a surge in production of oil and natural gas,” said Devashree Saha, a policy analyst at the World Resources Institute. “Increasing the oversight and regulation of oil and gas production is the only way to go right now.”

Methane levels were more or less flat from the late 1990s to the early 2000s. They began to rise after 2006 thanks, at least in part, to more oil and gas drilling. Their recent uptick threatens the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, as scientists had assumed that methane concentrations would stay level and then drop off when they projected how countries would meet their climate targets. Experts say that curbing methane emissions is needed to limit warming in the short term, buying humanity much needed time to adapt to climate change.

“You see the benefits in the first decade or two that you make cuts. You see fewer people dying from heat waves. You see less powerful storms and all of the stuff that comes from climate change,” Shindell said. “As long as we’re still using fossil fuels, we should at least not be leaking out lots and lots of methane.” SOURCE

The Canada Pension Plan is making a killing on war production

Eurofighter Typhoon F-2000A (Image: Andrea Graziadio​/Flickr)

Image: Andrea Graziadio​/Flickr

On April 14, The Guardian reported that BAE Systems sold £15bn (about CAD $26.3 billion) in arms and services to the Saudi military during the last five years.

That article quotes Andrew Smith of the U.K.-based Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) who says, “The last five years have seen a brutal humanitarian crisis for the people of Yemen, but for BAE it’s been business as usual. The war has only been possible because of arms companies and complicit governments willing to support it.”

Pension plans appear to play a role too.

The Ottawa-based Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) has noted that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) had $9 million invested in BAE Systems in 2015 and $33 million in 2017/18. With respect to the $9 million figure, World Beyond War has noted, “this is an investment in the UK BAE, none in the US subsidiary.”

These figures also indicate that CPPIB investments in BAE increased after Saudi Arabia began its airstrikes against Yemen in March 2015.

The Guardian adds, “Thousands of civilians have been killed since the civil war in Yemen began in March 2015 with indiscriminate bombing by a Saudi-led coalition that is supplied by BAE and other Western arms makers. The kingdom’s airforce is accused of being responsible for many of the 12,600 killed in targeted attacks.”

That article also highlights, “Exports of British arms to Saudi that could have been used in Yemen were halted in the summer of 2019 when the Court of Appeal ruled that in June 2019 that no formal assessment had been made by ministers to see if the Saudi-led coalition had committed violations of international humanitarian law.”

It doesn’t appear that the Canadian government or the CPPIB have reflected much on international humanitarian law either.

In October 2018, Global News reported that Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau was questioned (by Member of Parliament Charlie Angus) about the “CPPIB’s holdings in a tobacco company, a military weapons manufacturer and firms that run private American prisons.”

That article notes, “Morneau replied that the pension manager, which oversees more than $366 billion of CPP’s net assets, lives up to the ‘highest standards of ethics and behaviour.'”

At that same time, a Canada Pension Plan Investment Board spokesperson also replied, “CPPIB’s objective is to seek a maximum rate of return without undue risk of loss. This singular goal means CPPIB does not screen out individual investments based on social, religious, economic or political criteria.”

In April 2019, Member of Parliament Alistair MacGregor noted that according to documents published in 2018, “the CPPIB also holds tens of millions of dollars in defense contractors like General Dynamics and Raytheon … ”

MacGregor adds that in February 2019, he introduced “Private Member’s Bill C-431 in the House of Commons, which will amend the investment policies, standards and procedures of the CPPIB to ensure that they are in line with ethical practices and labour, human, and environmental rights’ considerations.”

Following the October 2019 federal election, MacGregor introduced the bill again on February 26 of this year as Bill C-231. To see the two-minute video of that proposed legislation being introduced in the House, please click here.

As we work to ensure that public pensions allow people to retire with peace of mind, let us be sure that isn’t at the cost of peace on earth. SOURCE

Brent Patterson is the executive director of Peace Brigades International-Canada. You can find him at @PBIcanada @CBrentPatterson. 

Green Party of Ontario: Join us for a conversation on Basic Income, Apr 23

Millions of people are out of work and in need of financial help to stay afloat.

That has everyone talking about a Universal Basic Income.

So we’re bringing together some big thinkers for an online conversation with Mike Schreiner on April 23.

They’ll dispel the myths and discuss why a Basic Income is needed in our increasingly disrupted world.

Our speakers include a CEO activist, an official UN observer, and a participant from Ontario’s short-lived Basic Income pilot

Together with Mike, they’ll talk about why a Basic Income makes sense now and after we get through COVID-19.

Sign up for this free webinar.


Matthew Chisholm
Green Party of Ontario


Sign our petition to re-open community gardens.

Register for Local Green New Deals Webinar Thursday, April 23, at 7 p.m. Eastern, 8 p.m.

Please join this webinar

I hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe at this time. Right now, we’re still in the emergency response phase of this crisis – doing all we can to stay safe. As we adjust to this new reality and pandemic curves across the country start to flatten, we can begin planning what we want our communities and society to look like once we have pulled out of this crisis.

Like you, COVID-19 is on my mind every day. Beyond the immediate health threats of the virus, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about its impact on our communities. We’re not just experiencing one crisis, but a series of interlocking ones. COVID-19 is laying bare the fact that decades of putting profits before people has left our social systems and economy unable to cope. Many people are without the means to pay rent, keep food on the table, access life-saving health care, and stay safe at home at the same time. The climate crisis, driven by the intertwined interests of governments and corporations to produce profit at all costs, rages on.

When we start planning reconstruction, we have some important questions to ask ourselves. Should we go back to normal, reconstructing precarious work, inequality and structural racism? Or should we build a society that works for everyone and the planet?

Truth be told, I’m not that interested in going back to normal. As Arundhati Roy said, this pandemic is “a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.” We need to transform this world into one where people and the planet are cared for, and we need to imagine that world so we can build it.

We’re seeing some exciting ideas about what this transformation can look like. The Council of Canadians and our Fredericton Chapter are hosting a webinar to showcase some of these new proposals and the people working on them. Will you tune in?


George Nickerson from Fredericton Local 054 of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers will tell us about Delivering Community Power, a campaign to vastly reshape the services of Canada Post to include postal banking, clean energy generation, seniors’ care and a made-in-Canada electric fleet of vehicles.

Rebecca Keetch from Green Jobs Oshawa will share their bold plan to put former auto manufacturing workers back to work producing much needed medical equipment and protective gear for medical workers. In the long term, Green Jobs Oshawa hopes to nationalize the GM plant to manufacture electric vehicles.

Local Green New Deals imagine and demand ways for economic interventions to rapidly bring communities across the country into the sustainable, just, resilient, low carbon future. These proposals reveal the kind of change that is possible: we can have bold, local responses to a global emergency.

Will you join us? The webinar will be on Thursday, April 23, at 7 p.m. Eastern, 8 p.m. Atlantic. Please register in advance here.

In solidarity,

Robin Tress, Climate and Social Justice Campaigner
Margo Sheppard, Fredericton Chapter of the Council of Canadians

P.S. Have you seen Green Jobs Oshawa’s proposal to make personal protective equipment yet? Read more and sign their petition here!

10 lessons from COVID-19 that could help us save the planet

Image of planet earth Omercan

Like many of us these days, I find myself wavering between despair and hope. In the depths of the COVID-19 crisis, words like “unprecedented” do not adequately reflect the magnitude of this massive disruption. In the charitable sector, we are also straddling both reactive and proactive strategies. We prioritize the immediate needs of vulnerable communities while planning a better future. In particular, I’ve been asking: What parts of this collective experience could have a lasting impact on the ways we relate to nature and climate change?

Before this virus took over our lives, people were largely still behaving as if there was no climate or biodiversity crisis. While 2019 finally ignited more widespread awareness that something had to give — thanks largely to millions of youth on the streets — policy-makers were slow to apply the reforms needed. Those with wealth or influence — indeed, most of us — went about our busy lives flying, driving, consuming, investing, and staking our future on an economy that was killing the planet.

And then COVID-19 hit.

Now, remarkably, people are taking drastic measures to flatten the curve. Is it possible that COVID-19’s influence could shift our culture in a way that benefits climate action and nature? For starters, the billions of dollars that will be spent to ensure an economic recovery is a huge opportunity for policy-makers to enable a transition to a just and green economy. But what about the rest of us? Do we want to go back to how things were?

I am not here to peddle a post-pandemic utopia, but rather share ideas that could help us build regenerative cultures once our economy starts up again, and we physically reconnect. I offer these 10 seeds of hope as habits and behaviours to cultivate:

1. Trust in science and experts. Around the world, we turn first to public health officials for the latest news, advice and guidance. They have become our new celebrities. Fake news is challenged like never before in an effort to save lives. Could these new trusted ambassadors help us shift to limit global warming to 1.5 C and maintain planetary health?

2Believe disruption is the new normal. Banning international travel seemed like a radical idea when the coronavirus started spreading. Now it seems minor. Each day, new realities and challenges hit and we adapt. Could this mean that we accept major lifestyle transformations to live within the boundaries of our planet’s limits? Could we become more resilient (or better, antifragile) in the face of climate catastrophe?

3Connect more, travel less. As we move our work online (and endeavour to decrease the digital divide), our new ways of working could drastically minimize the need for greenhouse gas/waste-producing conferences and business travel. Heck, with grandma now on Zoom, we can be more connected to family than ever while staying off those cruise ships.

4. Build essential local solutions. As health-care and front-line workers navigate insufficient stocks of ventilators or masks, this crisis has exposed the vulnerability of our global supply chains. Governments that don’t want to be caught off guard again are saying that life-saving supplies need to be locally sourced. Climate activists have long been advocating for more local procurement for reducing the carbon costs of shipment. Could the future be more local?

5. Cook, bake, share, grow. Across Canada, there are record-highs of bread-baking. Gardens are being planned and food waste is down. We have new appreciation for those who stock our grocery shelves (and the income they deserve) and what it means to get food onto our plates. Our food consumption patterns, built around an industrial agricultural system, have been huge contributors to the loss of biodiversity and the cutting of carbon-rich forests. Is it possible we will build new habits around food that champion a more regenerative system?

6Caremongering. I’ve been inspired by the growing movement of “caremongering” in Canada that has received international attention as people look out for their neighbours and strangers. The experiences of marginalized people most affected by the virus have been brought forward, including homeless people, new immigrants, women in violent domestic situations, remote Indigenous communities and seniors in long-term care. Privilege is being surfaced to those of us with space, savings, internet access and jobs that can be done remotely. We’ve seen volunteerism grow, foundations step up their giving, and communities respond. We’ve seen love and decency shine, and greed put into the shadows. What could this mean for how we apply our privilege to advance social equity and caremongering for Mother Nature?

“Before this virus took over our lives, people were largely still behaving as if there was no climate or biodiversity crisis.”

7. Honour the role of our elders. We are at risk of losing our elders to the virus. We are upending our societies to protect these most vulnerable community members in exchange for all they have given us throughout their lifetimes. Across the many Indigenous communities with whom we work, we are reminded that the elders are the ones who have held onto the language, the cultures, and the teachings, despite the impacts of colonization. For Indigenous communities, the loss of their elders would mean the next generation would lose opportunity for cultural resurgence. Indigenous ways of knowing convey what we all must learn from nature and our responsibility in treatment of other species. Could COVID give us pause to listen with deeper connection to the teachings of these elders?

8. Get outdoors. Nature is healing. Suddenly a walk through a green space has become an essential destresser in these anxiety-inducing times. That’s because trees and nature impact body chemistry. Instead of movie theatres and shopping malls, could this appreciation for the natural spaces in our communities lead to protection of nature and our health?

9. Tell people how they can help. People just need to be asked. They want consistent information from leaders and they will largely follow that advice. We all want to do our part. As someone who has been advocating my whole career for human rights, the environment and climate action, I’m often asked, “What can I do?” For nature and the climate, there is much we can all do: Avoid single-use plastic, take fewer flights, eat a plant-based diet, or donate to environmental organizations. Massive individual behaviour change will lead to system change. We are watching it right now.

10. Recognize our interconnectedness. Perhaps, most importantly, this is a moment of reckoning for humans on this planet. COVID-19 most likely started in a bat that infected other species, to humans, and then travelled around the world. Imagine, just one bat toppled entire economic systems. And the way to stop the virus is for every one of us to do our part within the system. Never before has there been such a painful lesson that I hope we remember for a long time to come: We are all part of nature and hold a stake in its future.

My greatest hope is that we are able to transform from this crisis with new compassion and connections. From our losses, there will be scars. But from our experience, there may be new cultures that define a healthier future.


Joanna Kerr is the President of Tides Canada


Concerns about food supply grows as pandemic crisis deepens

Produce for sale at Tantallon Farmers Market in Nova Scotia, October 2019. Photo courtesy Edible Earth Farm.

As COVID-19 continues to batter the economy, an increasing number of sectors are sounding the alarm about Canada’s food security.

Below, is an open letter initially signed by 158 food and environmental organizations, academics, farmers, and sustainable-food advocates from across the country. Since then the list has grown to 163 signatures as of the publishing of the letter.

That April 3 letter to the Prime Minister and the Canadian Ministers of Agriculture, Fisheries, and the Environment urges “transformative” change to our food system.

April 3, 2020

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau, and Ministers Marie-Claude BibeauBernadette Jordan, and Jonathan Wilkinson:

We, the undersigned, call for immediate transformative change to Canada’s food, agriculture, and fisheries systems from an industrial to an agroecological model. Agroecology is farming with nature to improve soil health, biodiversity, and natural ecosystem function; to increase the capability of land to sequester carbon; and to provide local, seasonal, healthy food. Its basic principles can also be applied to fisheries.

The coronavirus pandemic underscores the emergency need for this transformative change in order to enable ecological resilience and food security across Canada in the months and years to come. Agroecology also provides the single greatest opportunity for a resilient economy, meaning one that is decentralized, ecological, meets local needs, and offers widespread employment.

The United Nations and many non-governmental organizations, including Canada’s National Farmers Union, have made clear that industrial food, agriculture, and fisheries systems are major contributors to the climate crisis, the global loss of biodiversity, and the imminent extinction of one million species world-wide. In Canada, we have lost one-third of bird populations since 1970, and now risk losing wild bees, salmon, caribou, and other species upon which our ecosystems and food systems depend.

Besides environmental impacts, the industrial food, agricultural, and fisheries systems have resulted in negative social, economic, and health impacts, including collapsed rural economies, massive farm debt, decreased food security, and physical and mental health issues in both rural and urban populations. Food systems that do not respect nature, we are now learning, also greatly increase the risk of pandemics; as David Quammen, author of Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic recently wrote, “We disrupt ecosystems, and we shake viruses loose from their natural hosts. When that happens, they need a new host. Often, we are it.”

“As with the rest of the world, Canada does not have time to spare. We cannot subject our lands, rivers, oceans, health, and economy to another year of the industrial food system.”

The UN and NGOs see agroecology as the solution to these crises. The UN’s 2013 report Wake Up Before It’s Too Late states, “we need to see a move from a linear to a holistic approach…which recognizes that a farmer is…a manager of an agro-ecological system.” Likewise, the NFU’s 2019 report Tackling the Farm Crisis and the Climate Crisis: A Transformative Strategy for Canadian Farmers and Food Systems notes, “agriculture must increasingly re-merge with nature and culture to create a much more integrated, life-sustaining, and community-sustaining agroecological model of human food provision, nutrition, and health.” And the International Commission on the Future of Food and Agriculture states in its 2019 report Food for Health that agroecology “combines quantity and quality and maximizes the benefits to the health and wellbeing of the planet and its people.”

Agroecology, while far more productive than industrial agriculture, focuses on long-term resiliency, not short-term profit, and therefore is part of an entirely different, but certainly not new, food system.

Agroecology is already well understood and projects around the world have proven its benefits. Such benefits are even possible over massive areas: John D. Liu’s documentary Hope in a Changing Climate depicts the large-scale ecosystem rehabilitation accomplished on the Loess Plateau in China, and the lessons from that project are now being applied to restoration projects in Jordan, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, and Spain.

As with the rest of the world, Canada does not have time to spare. We cannot subject our lands, rivers, oceans, health, and economy to another year of the industrial food system.

We call for the following shifts from an industrial model to an agroecological model to begin in spring 2020:

1. An immediate ban on the use of neonicotinoids, glyphosate, and other harmful pesticides (including herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides).

2. Immediate closure of fish hatcheries and a ban on trawling and transhipping.

3. An immediate end to government subsidies for industrial farming, and their replacement by government policies and assistance for regionally specific knowledge-sharing to support farmers’ transition to agroecological farming.

4. A public education campaign explaining agroecology and calling for backyard and community agroecological victory gardens.

5. Improved animal husbandry laws to ensure the health and wellbeing of livestock.

6. Support for the creation of ecological reserves and the protection, restoration, and expansion of forests, shelterbelts, riparian habitat, and wetlands.

7. The guarantee of food sovereignty for Indigenous peoples across this land, as well as adaptation of traditional Indigenous land knowledge and practices across Canada, as appropriate. Continuing down this path will be the next step in healing our relationship with the land and each other.


Dr. Kristine Kowalchuk, University of Alberta

Food Secure Canada

Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

Council of Canadians, Powell River Chapter, BC

Council of Canadians, Campbell River Chapter, BC

Council of Canadians, Edmonton Chapter, AB

Council of Canadians, St. John’s Chapter, NL

Food for Thought, Edmonton, AB

Keepers of the Athabasca


Ecology North, Yellowknife, NT

Safe Food Matters, Inc.

Green 13.org, Toronto ON

Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition

Toronto Non-GMO Coalition

Toronto Seed Library

Millions against Monsanto, Toronto

Beyond Pesticides Toronto

Earth Valley Organics

The Genetic Engineering Debate

Harvest Kenora, Kenora/Treaty 3, ON

Kids Right to Know Community Association


Ellen Schoeck, organic gardener since 1969, Edmonton, AB

Dr. Raquel Feroe, Fellow Royal College Physicians Canada, Edmonton, AB

Liane Faulder, journalist and author, Edmonton, AB

Dr. Mary Beckie, Community Engagement Studies, University of Alberta

Jenny Berkenbosch, Sundog Organic Farm, AB

Takota Coen, farmer and educator, Coen Farm, AB

Maryann Borch, farmer and homesteading skills educator, Good Note Farm, AB

Monika Igali, University of Alberta

Robert Wilde, Edmonton, AB

Rod Olstad, Edmonton, AB

Dr. Lu Carbyn, Adjunct Professor, Renewable Resources, University of Alberta

Jaynne Carre, MEDes, University of Calgary

Dr. Laurie Adkin, Comparative Politics and Environmental Studies, University of Alberta

Dr. Elisabeth Beaubien, Renewable Resources, ALES Faculty, University of Alberta

Scott Hall, Director Universal School Food Strategy, Maskwacis Education Schools Commission, AB

Eric Gormley, Edmonton, AB

Luke Wonneck, PhD Candidate, Sociology, University of Alberta

Paul Nelson, PhD Candidate, Sociology, University of Toronto

Kevin Van Tighem, conservationist and author, AB

Sarah Berger Richardson, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa

Dr. Jennifer Vansteenkiste, SSHRC Post-doctoral Fellow, University of Waterloo, School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability (SERS); Balsillie School of International Affairs, ON

Dr. David Schmaus, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, AB

Phoebe Stevens, PhD Candidate, School of Environment, Resources, and Sustainability, University of Waterloo

Jennifer Marshman, PhD candidate, Laurier Center for Sustainable Food Systems, Wilfrid Laurier University

K.E.Graves BHE’74, Truro, NS

Tonya Smith, Public Scholar/PhD Candidate, Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia

Dana Wood, Chef de Cuisine at Le Caveau Restaurant, Halifax, NS

Maureen Wyatt, Summerside, PEI

Dr. Harriet Friedmann, Professor Emerita of Sociology, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto

Katherine Koch, Head, Faculty Engagement (Sciences, Engineering and Business)
Library and Museums, University of Alberta

Dr. Deborah Barndt, Professor Emerita, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University

Dr. Kathleen Kevany, Faculty of Agriculture, Dalhousie University

Dr. David Fletcher, People Development Ltd, Antigonish, NS

Dustin Bajer, educator, beekeeper, writer, Edmonton, AB

Dr. Sherry Pictou, Women’s Studies, Mount St. Vincent University, NS

Lynn Siegal, Thornhill, ON

Lib Spry, director, playwright, PhD candidate, Queen’s University

Nick Aplin, Retired Engineer, Ottawa, ON

Michael Moore, permaculture instructor, Edmonton, AB

Thomasina Irwin, Edmonton, AB

Dr. Robin Buyers (retired), Community Worker Program, George Brown College, ON

Kiera Toffelmire, director, Programs and Partnerships, Second Harvest Food Rescue, Toronto, ON

Dr. Béatrice Lego, Campus Farm Coordinator, University of Toronto Scarborough

Marguerite Kephart, Montreal, PQ

Gini Dickie, Toronto, ON

Pauline Cashman, Toronto, ON

Ruth Anderson Donovan, Edmonton, AB

Irena Knezevic, School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University

Margo Sheppard, Fredericton, NB

Breanna Phillipps, MSc. Candidate, School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo

Rebecca Ellis, PhD candidate, Geography, Western University; Chair, Urban Agriculture Strategy Committee, London

Dr. Barbara Parker, Department of Sociology, Lakehead University

Dr. Tony Weis, Department of Geography, Western University

Bill Woolverton, President, Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice

Dr. Martha Stiegman, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University

Jo Hayward-Haines, co-founder, Peterborough Pollinators, ON

Darcy Kaltio, Blueberry Commons Farm Cooperative, Powell River, BC

Corey Matsumoto, Powell River, BC

Lynn McIntosh, holistic nutritionist, Powell River, BC

Dr. Jenna Butler, Red Deer College, and farmer, Larch Grove Farm, AB

Thomas Lock, educator and farmer, Larch Grove Farm, AB

Susan Short, Skookum Food Provisioners Co-op, Powell River, BC

Steve Short, Skookum Food Provisioners Co-op, Powell River, BC

Pat Christie, gardener, Powell River, BC

Michelle Zutz, Powell River, BC

Dr. Ken Collier, Department of Economics (retired), Athabasca University, living in Mission, BC

John Phillips, retired dairy farmer, Powell River, BC

Elka Weinstei, Toronto, ON

Lynne Rochon, Prince Edward County, ON

Maureen Simmonds, Powell River, BC

Rob Hughes, Routes to Roots Edibles, Powell River, BC

Kim Beno, Powell River, BC

Jay Scott, Toronto, ON

Anthony Garoufalis-Auger, Rapid Decarbonization Group, Montreal PQ

Daniel Horen Greenford, PhD candidate, Ecological Economics, Concordia University, PQ

Pamela Millar, Victoria, BC

David Suzuki on applying COVID-19’s lessons to climate change

Noted environmentalist David Suzuki said COVID-19 presents opportunities to tackle climate change in a new ways. Photo Jennifer Roessler courtesy of https://davidsuzuki.org.

David Suzuki put more than 350 people on hold Thursday evening after spotting salmon leaping in the ocean through the window of the Quadra Island home where he’s currently riding out the coronavirus pandemic.

Canada’s best-known environmental activist, scientist and broadcaster was participating in a Zoom call hosted by National Observer to discuss the intersection of COVID-19 and climate change.

But unable to contain his excitement, the 84-year-old naturalist wandered off-screen to alert his family to the beauty unfolding before him.

The moment only underscored the point he’d been making during his conversation with National Observer CEO and editor-in-chief Linda Solomon Wood, that despite the havoc COVID-19 is wreaking on people and their families, public health and economies worldwide, the virus was providing a breather for the environment.

“I was looking up at the sky today, and it was filled with geese … we’ve had pods of killer whales coming through, and I have the sense that Mother Earth is saying, ‘Phew, thank God, these busy people are giving me a break,’” Suzuki said. “And I hope that people who live in places like Shanghai and Beijing, in Delhi or Bombay, are looking up and seeing what it can be like when air is the way it should be, invisible and odourless.”

The pause of human activity has allowed nature some rebound, he said.

Suzuki acknowledged the burden millions of people are facing, but noted once the pandemic subsides, there is an opening to respond differently to climate change.

“This is a very, very tough time, but it’s a time when we can discover community,” he said. “It’s a huge opportunity, now, to say, ‘What the hell have we done wrong that got us into this mess, and how do we go about getting out of it?’”

And that doesn’t mean trying to re-establish yesterday’s economy, but redesigning it for the future, in a way that values the common fundamentals of life such as air, water and food. The constraints and laws of the natural world are not flexible, but the economy is a human construct that can be adapted, Suzuki said.

“Let’s change the damn thing so it makes some sense,” he said.

Asked what he’d say to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in relation to tackling the climate crisis, Suzuki replied he’s stopped talking to Trudeau about climate.

“The COVID crisis is a crisis for human beings, but the climate crisis is a crisis for life on the planet.” David Suzuki on the importance of battling climate change.

There was much adulation and hopefulness about Trudeau’s environmental commitment after his election and following Canada’s signing onto the Paris Agreement on climate change, he noted.


“But then he bought a pipeline,” Suzuki said.

The federal government’s $4.5-billion buyout of Kinder Morgan’s struggling Trans Mountain pipeline demonstrates politics trump the environment, even if the results have lasting reverberations for future generations, he observed.

“Even the future for his own children … that has to come second to the political reality that his highest priority is getting re-elected,” Suzuki said.

People must stop looking to political leaders to lead change when it comes to the climate crisis, he said.

Suzuki cited various examples of the Canadian government’s dismal performance in protecting the environment over the three decades since scientists first sounded the climate-change alarm at the Toronto Conference on the Changing Atmosphere in 1988.

“The political system cannot deal with (the climate crisis) unless civil society rises up and demands they do it,” Suzuki said. “Then, they will jump on board.”

Massive efforts on the part of the public are critical, Suzuki said, pointing to the half-million demonstrators who accompanied Greta Thunberg in the global march for climate action this past September.

“Dammit all if that isn’t a demonstration that politicians will pay attention to,” he said.

Suzuki figured if just 3.5 per cent of the global population truly committed to pushing for climate action, it would make a huge difference worldwide.

When asked why government is listening to scientists about coronavirus, but not about climate change, Suzuki cited government’s short-sightedness.

“When bodies are being carted out to the crematorium or the graveyard, you respond in a different way to something that is 10 years, 15 years down the line.”

But we have to engage as if we are at war with climate crisis, he said.

“This is the existential crisis of our time. And once you commit to saying that this is the target … then get on with it.”

There are lessons from government’s rapid response to COVID-19 that could be applied to climate action, Suzuki said.

“Yes, absolutely, if we took climate as seriously as the COVID crisis. And quite frankly, in my view, the climate crisis is, in orders of magnitude, a greater threat,” he said. “The COVID crisis is a crisis for human beings, but the climate crisis is a crisis for life on the planet.”

Government’s measures and responses to contain the coronavirus and its effects were unimaginable before the pandemic, he said.

It demonstrates huge opportunities to stem climate change, Suzuki said.

“I think the important thing is you make the commitment to solve it,” he said. “Then, you pull out all the stops — the old rules and constraints no longer apply.”

[Editor’s Note: On Friday, the day after the interview with Suzuki, Canada announced it would put a combined $2.5 billion toward cleaning up thousands of contaminated oil and gas wells in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan and to cutting a potent form of carbon pollution. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he wanted to support the industry’s workers and their families, help oil and gas companies avoid bankruptcy, while supporting his government’s environmental goals. The David Suzuki Foundation issued a statement lauding the Trudeau government’s action.]



Ford’s Ontario seeks to deny climate youth their day in court

Sophia Mathur is seen outside her home in Sudbury on April 16, 2020. Photo by Catherine Orlando

The Doug Ford government wants to deny a group of seven young climate activists their day in court.

The provincial government’s attorney general, Doug Downey, filed a motion asking an Ontario court to dismiss the young people’s case challenging its environmental policy on Wednesday, arguing that it would be impossible to prove the allegations of harm.

The seven youth — backed by environmental law charity Ecojustice and law firm Stockwoods LLP — filed their claim last November, arguing that Ford’s decision to rip up the province’s cap-and-trade program and weaken its 2030 GHG reduction target violated their right (and that of future generations) to a stable climate system and sustainable future.

“The allegations of harms attributed to Ontario’s actions are manifestly incapable of being proven,” the government wrote in the filing, dated April 15.

It adds: “The relief sought is vague, judicially unmanageable and unbounded in scope, particularly to the extent that it seeks declarations and orders in relation to a “stable climate system”, a “sustainable future”, and “science-based” targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emission reductions.”

That did not sit well with one of the seven young plaintiffs.

“We’re not being vague, we’re telling them we need to take action and being pretty specific,” 13-year-old Sophia Mathur said in a phone interview.

“It feels like the government is not listening to us,” she said. “We want action.”

The young people’s claim wanted the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to order the government to revise it much-maligned environmental plan to hit a science-based target considered necessary to avert the worst effects of climate change.

The province’s auditor-general said in December that the Ford government’s threadbare climate and environment policies were insufficient to meet Ontario’s 2030 emission reduction targets and riddled with errors and omissions.

Ford scrapped the cap and trade program, which was raising almost $2 billion a year, within days of forming government in 2018.

“It feels like the government is not listening to us,” says @sophiamathur, one of the young plaintiffs in a climate action case Ontario’s Ford government wants dismissed. “We want action.”

It then dismantled the broader climate action plan it funded, including incentives for Ontario residents to buy electric vehicles, rebates for energy-efficient building renovations, and support for clean technology business accelerators.

Ford’s government has also cancelled more than 700 green energy projects — including the shutting down of the White Pines Wind Project mid-construction — removed electric vehicle chargers from GO station parking lots, cancelled a $4.7 million program to plant 50 million trees, and cut $3.7 million in funding for conservation authorities.

“I’m pretty sure he knows he’s not taking enough action on the climate crisis,” Mathur said about Ford. “Seeing people telling him that he’s not doing enough is scaring him.”

The hearing on the motion is set for July 13.  SOURCE

Stand with the young Ontarians who are taking the Ford government to court!

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