Alberta public pension manager loses big in oilpatch investments

A pumpjack works at a well head on an oil and gas installation near Cremona, Alta., on Oct. 29, 2016. File photo by The Canadian Press/Jeff McIntosh

Alberta’s public pension manager has lost millions after investing in smaller energy companies at a time when the entire sector is in decline, an analysis has found.

The left-wing think tank Progress Alberta found that Alberta Investment Management Corp., or AIMCo, has invested $1.1 billion from public service pensions in junior and intermediate oil and gas firms since 2016.

Most of those companies lost value well before the COVID-19 crisis and oil supply war that has driven the commodity’s price to record lows. At least one company has gone bankrupt despite the injection of tens of millions of pension dollars.

“The vast majority of them were in really rough shape before the crisis,” said Duncan Kinney, one of the authors of the think tank’s report released Wednesday.

AIMCo controls about $118 billion in 31 pension, endowment and government funds, including the Alberta heritage fund, a rainy-day account financed by oil and gas royalties. It is intended to be run at arm’s-length from the government.

The previous NDP government brought in a provision that stipulated a small portion of AIMCo’s funds be used to support new jobs, infrastructure and industry in the province.

The report says that of the $406 million invested under the Alberta Growth Mandate, nearly $270 million — two-thirds — went to the energy sector.

Of the 32 separate investments made under the NDP provision, five were in real estate, one in agriculture and one in renewable energy. The rest were in oil and gas and all have lost value.

One, Trident Exploration, went under last year despite a $60-million injection of pension funds. Others have had to renegotiate their debt. Others, such as Pieridae Energy, in which AIMCo has invested $120 million in debt and equity, are high-risk investments, says the report.

Many have large environmental liabilities that can no longer be shuffled off in bankruptcy due to a recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling.

AIMCo CEO Kevin Uebelein has previously acknowledged his funds are disproportionately invested in Alberta.

Analysis finds Alberta public pension manager loses big in oilpatch investments

He has said local managers are able to find good investments where those outside the province can’t, giving AIMCo what he called a “home-field advantage.”

Kinney disputes that. He pointed out that AIMCo has consistently failed to meet targets for returns set by one of its largest clients, the Local Authorities Pension Plan for public employees of villages, towns, cities, hospitals, college and school boards.

Kinney also questions the agency’s independence from government.

He notes there is legislation that gives politicians significant influence in AIMCo, unlike the Canada Pension Plan. Recent laws introduced by the United Conservatives give the finance minister power to reassign portions of AIMCo’s portfolio to a manager of the government’s choice.

As well, pension funds under AIMCo’s control are no longer free to seek other management.

“AIMCo is not a truly independent pension fund manager,” Kinney said.

In an email, AIMCo spokesman Denes Nemeth disputed that.

“AIMCo operates at arms-length from the government, on commercial terms and with complete operational independence, in particular as it relates to investment decisions, and always in the best interests of clients.”

Kinney noted that several of the companies that have received AIMCo investments are financial supporters of the UCP or of groups that support the party.

“Those companies are in the tank for UCP,” he said. “The links are troubling.”

Nemeth denied any political influence.

“There is absolutely no merit to the suggestion that AIMCo selects investments on the basis of what political party a particular company may support.”

AIMCo reported a return of 10.6 per cent for its various clients in 2019.

The Progress Alberta analysis came out the same day as the Globe and Mail reported that AIMCo had lost $4 billion in risky trades made since the COVID-19 pandemic and oil price crash. Sources told the newspaper that AIMCo acknowledges its executives were not fully aware of the risks.

The Globe said the loss wiped out about one-third of the fund’s profits from last year. SOURCE

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2020

It’s time to let the fossil fuel industry die

Instead of bailing out big oil, let’s bail out ordinary people instead

‘It’s clear that we need to end the fossil fuel economy, and replace it with one that is built with environmental sustainability and social equity as foundational principles.’ Photograph: Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images

On the inaugural Earth Day, Americans flooded streets and college campuses to channel their fears, desire, hopes and longings into their vision for a better future. All these years later, we have failed to heed their call.

This Monday, two days before Earth Day’s 50th anniversary, oil futures went negative for the first time in history. Buyers were so eager to offload oil commitments that they were willing to give their crude away at cost. This crash only emphasizes the inherent instability of the carbon economy and the need to create a more stable future. We need to disentangle our society from fossil fuels and let the industry die.

Right now, in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic and a climate emergency, we have an unprecedented opportunity to do so: a unique financial imperative to push for the systemic change necessary to protect our planet and our communities.

For decades, fossil fuel companies have been burning through carbon reserves at the expense of everyday consumers. Propped up by profit-centric public officials and greedy Wall Street financiers, they have thrived even as their primary product is an unparalleled moral and financial hazard. Now, as Covid-19 shocks the world into realizing the depth of its addiction to oil, we are seeing just how destabilizing this reliance on fossil fuels is.

Take Harvard University, which despite boasting a pre-pandemic endowment of more than $40bn, has turned in recent weeks to playing austerity politics: enacting hiring freezes, declining to meet the broader community’s requests for aid and refusing to guarantee pay for some workers. Harvard’s excuse for this behavior? That market losses have significantly shrunk its holdings, creating, in Harvard president Larry Bacow’s words, “less capacity to support our existing operations”.

This pressure is in no small part due to its unsustainable investments: rough calculations suggest that Harvard may have lost $700m through its fossil fuel holdings alone. This is merely a symptom of broader institutional ties, including a trustee who also serves as Exxon’s top lawyer.

For years, economists have warned of how the carbon bubble’s rupture might take much of the economy along with it. What we’re seeing now is a preview of what that will look like. Broad societal entanglements with the fossil fuel industry make crashes like this all the more dangerous, and if even the richest and most powerful institutions are paying the price, imagine what the consequences are for those without a multibillion-dollar endowment to fall back on. 

It’s clear that we need to end the fossil fuel economy, and replace it with one that is built with environmental sustainability and social equity as foundational principles. Achieving this goal demands the innovation and leadership of our educational, governmental, and financial institutions.

At this critical juncture in history, the fossil fuel industry is mobilizing to remain part of our social fabric long into the future. Either we give it the bailouts, corporate welfare and investment it needs to continue business or as usual, or we seize this moment to craft a better future.

If we’re going to overcome powerful special interests and achieve serious climate action, we must let the fossil fuel industry die now. The call to action is clear: to all of our elected officials, bail out people rather than big oil. And to our institutions of financial power, from higher education to Wall Street, invest in a just and stable future rather than the industry destroying our planet.

On Monday, the oil was practically begging to be left in the ground – let’s leave it there, buried, along with our societal dependence on fossil fuels. Let’s make the 50th anniversary of Earth Day the day we commit ourselves to a more just and stable system, and never look back. SOURCE

Ilana Cohen, Connor Chung and Joseph Winters are organizers with Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard

Flooding will affect double the number of people worldwide by 2030

New research finds 147 million will be hit by floods by the end of the decade – ‘the numbers will be catastrophic’

People wade in the chest deep floodwater in suburban Cainta, east of Manila, Philippines, in 2009. Such events will affect twice as many people by the end of the decade. Photograph: Pat Roque/AP

The number of people harmed by floods will double worldwide by 2030, according to a new analysis.

The World Resources Institute, a global research group, found that 147 million people will be hit by floods from rivers and coasts annually by the end of the decade, compared with 72 million people just 10 years ago.

By 2050, “the numbers will be catastrophic,” according to the report. A total of 221 million people will be at risk, with the toll in cities costing $1.7tn yearly.

When WRI first developed its flood modeling tool in 2014, the predictions felt “like a fantasy”, said Charlie Iceland, director of water initiatives at WRI.

“But now we’re actually seeing this increase in magnitude of the damages in real time,” Iceland said. “We’ve never seen these types of floods before.”

Floods are getting worse because of the climate crisis, decisions to populate high-risk areas and land sinkage from the overuse of groundwater.

The worst flooding will come in south and south-east Asia, including in Bangladesh, Vietnam, India, Indonesia and China, where large populations are vulnerable.

The effects will be less dire but still increasingly serious in the US, where the risk is highest for coastal flooding. The US ranks third among countries with the most to lose from urban coastal flooding in the next 10 years, after China and Indonesia.

Coastal flood damage in the US will soar from $1.8bn in 2010 to $38bn in 2050, with half the country’s exposed population in just three states – Louisiana, Massachusetts and Florida.

What are now once in a lifetime floods could become daily occurrences for most of the US coastline, according to a separate study.

That’s because hurricanes are stronger, seas are higher and rain patterns are changing, all because of global heating caused by humans.

River floods will get worse in the US, but those damages will stay about the same, as large investments will be made in flood protection. SOURCE

Trans Mountain costs are too high for taxpayers

The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates expanding the Trans Mountain pipeline’s capacity will cost $9.3 billion if the project is completed by Dec. 31, 2021.Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward

Ever since Trudeau bought the Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan, taxpayers have been on the hook for its multi-billion dollar construction price.

This price has continued to rise, now reaching a whopping $16 billion.

With new polling showing public support for the pipeline plummeting, and global investors walking away from fossil fuel projects faster than you can say the words ‘climate change’ – politicians are particularly vulnerable to further pressure.

The numbers are clear: Canadians don’t want any more public money spent on this pipeline.

Sign the petition calling on the government to drop Trans Mountain once and for all, and invest our $16B in renewables instead.

We Face Another Colossal Failure of Capitalism: Chomsky

The philosopher recalled that Cuba has shown its solidarity with other peoples despite the U.S. sanctions against it.

Linguistic and philosopher Noam Chomsky, U.S., 2020.

Linguistic and philosopher Noam Chomsky, U.S., 2020. | Photo: EFE

The Spanish news agency EFE Tuesday published an interview with Noam Chomsky who holds that the pandemic shows the failure of neoliberalism, which within the United States is aggravated by President Donald Trump administration.


Democrats Abandoned the Working Class Decades Ago: Chomsky

“The first lesson is that we are facing another massive and colossal failure of the neoliberal version of capitalism. If we don’t learn that, next time something similar happens will be worse,” Chomsky said.

“Governments cannot do anything. They are being the problem and not the solution… The U.S. is a catastrophe due to the game they bring in Washington. They know how to blame everyone except themselves, even though they are responsible,” he added.

Asked about his country’s management of the pandemic, Chomsky noted that the Trump administration cut the health budget just shortly before the crisis began.

“The way that this has developed is surreal. In February, the pandemic was already wreaking havoc, everyone in the U.S. recognized it. Just in February, Trump presents budgets that are worth looking at… He made cuts amid a pandemic and increased funding for fossil energy industries, military spending, and the famous wall,” the U.S. philosopher recalled.

Michelle Fay Cortez

The NIH’s Covid-19 treatment guidelines (new today!) specifically recommended against the use of hydroxychloroquine in combination with azithromycin, the drug combination touted by President Trump  via @technology

U.S. Virus Treatment Guidelines Reject Trump-Backed Drug Combo

A panel of medical experts convened by the U.S. National Institutes of Health recommended against the use of a drug combination touted by President Donald Trump for Covid-19 patients.

Regarding the future, he believes that the shaping of new relations between human societies and natural ecosystems depends on what the next generations do.

“It depends on young people. It depends on how the world population reacts. This could lead us to highly authoritarian and repressive states that expand the neoliberal agenda even more than now. Remember: the capitalist class does not budge,” Chomsky said.

“Amid the pandemic, regulations restricting mercury and other pollutant emissions have been removed… It means killing more U.S. children and destroying the environment. They don’t stop.”

He also highlighted that, while integration mechanisms such as the European Union fail to help its member countries timely, Cuba deploys its solidarity even with developed countries.

“The only country that has shown genuine internationalism has been Cuba, which has always been under the U.S. economic stranglehold and has survived somehow to continue showing the world what internationalism is about,” Chomsky stressed.​​​​​​​

VIDEO: Trump’s Catastrophe

Nova Scotia mass shooting lays bare media’s white male bias

The mainstream media’s need to paint white men who do horrific things as nice people who suddenly snapped remains a glaring problem in coverage of violent crime in Canada

Mountie Car Nova Scotia shooting.jpg

The suspect’s car in Nova Scotia mass shooting resembled RCMP vehicle except for the car number.

We have a real bias problem in mainstream media when it comes to white men who commit horrible crimes. It’s called “Exceptional White Male Syndrome.”

We have known about this problem for decades and while there has been some improvement over time, one glaring reality remains: a need for the mainstream media to paint white men who do horrific things as nice people who suddenly snapped.

The reporting around this week’s mass shooting in Nova Scotia – the largest in the country’s history – was no different, with the Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper, offering in a headline that the “Nova Scotia mass shooter was a denturist with a passion for policing.” You would never know that the gunman brutally killed 17 innocent people, including an RCMP officer, and left a number of homes on fire in his wake.

Not only is this headline tone-deaf to the trauma experienced by the families of the victims, but it’s irresponsible journalism.

We should be focused on what happened and how to prevent these kinds of mass killings in the future, not writing a heartfelt biography of the killer. Whether or not he was a nice man is irrelevant.

The Globe and Mail is not the only outlet guilty of this. In fact, we are so used to this kind of treatment from mainstream media, that we knew it was only a matter of time before we would start to read that the shooter must have been troubled or pushed to his limits by outside forces.

This gives the public a false sense of security that this must just be an exceptional situation or an anomaly. When in fact, the majority of mass shootings in Canada and the United States are carried out by white men.

We have a real crisis of violence in Canada.

According to statistics, firearm-related violent crimes have increased by 42 per cent since 2013 and 60 per cent of homicides involve firearms. Toronto just experienced its worst year yet with 771 shooting incidents in 2019.

We also know that most of the victims of violent crime are women and they’re mostly killed by men and about half are killed by their spouse or intimate partner. In fact, a woman is killed every 2.5 days in Canada.

At the same time as white men receive sympathetic treatment, the media has an obvious counter-bias for Black and Indigenous peoples – even when they are the victims. Racialized people are often described by their perceived faults – as a runaway, homeless or suffering from addictions.

Take, for example, the violent death of young Indigenous girl Tina Fontaine in 2014. The Globe’s reporting back then focused on the fact that Fontaine had drugs and alcohol in her system – instead of the fact that she was brutally killed and her body thrown in the river.

These kinds of headlines not only perpetuate stereotypes but also invite readers to, at least subconsciously, blame the victim.

The research also tells us that gun violence is linked to hate crimes against women. And that the rise of right-wing, white nationalist groups with access to handguns and military-style assault rifles presents a clear threat to Canadians.

It’ll be weeks or months before the public knows all the facts surrounding what happened in Nova Scotia. Until then, mainstream media should take a closer look at how they present white male perpetrators of crime. Let’s put the focus back on the victims who had their lives taken away so soon. They deserve better. SOURCE

Pamela Palmater is a Mi’kmaw citizen member of Eel River Bar First Nation and the Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University. 

Denmark and Poland are refusing to bail out companies registered in offshore tax havens

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki arrives for the second day of the European Union leaders summit, held to discuss the EU's long-term budget for 2021-2027, in Brussels, Belgium, February 21, 2020. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS/Ritzau Scanpix/via REUTERS

    • Denmark and Poland won’t give financial aid to companies registered in offshore tax havens.
    • Governments around the world are scrambling to bail out their economies with huge stimulus packages amid the coronavirus crisis.
    • Denmark and Poland are the first to exclude firms that incorporate themselves in famous tax havens, meaning they can avoid domestic business taxes.
    • “Companies based on tax havens in accordance with EU guidelines cannot receive compensation, insofar as it is possible to cut them off,” a translation of a Saturday statement from Denmark’s finance ministry said.
    • “Companies that seek to dodge their obligations to broader society by cutting their tax bills shouldn’t expect to get bailed out when things go wrong,” Robert Palmer, the executive director of Tax Justice UK, told Business Insider.

Denmark and Poland are refusing to let companies registered in offshore tax havens access financial aid from their coronavirus bailout packages.

The Danish finance ministry on Saturday extended its bailout program into July but stressed that firms based in tax havens would no longer be covered.

“Companies seeking compensation after the extension of the schemes must pay the tax to which they are liable under international agreements and national rules,” a translation of the statement said.

“Companies based on tax havens in accordance with EU guidelines cannot receive compensation, insofar as it is possible to cut them off under EU law and any other international obligations.”

Poland took similar measures on April 8. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said large companies wanting a chunk of a roughly $6 billion bailout fund must pay domestic business taxes.

“Let’s end tax havens, which are the bane of modern economies,” he added.

London coronavirus lockdown
A bench roped off by the police in London.  REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo


Tax havens are countries that have low or no business taxes. Companies that officially register themselves at addresses in them often avoid paying business taxes to the countries in which they operate.

Among the most famous havens are Gibraltar, the Bahamas, Andorra, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, and Panama.

It is unclear whether other European nations will follow the example of Denmark and Poland, but it is unlikely that authorities in the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Luxembourg will do so. All four have provisions making them attractive to businesses that also allow them to be registered offshore.

“Together, they are responsible for half of the world’s corporate tax avoidance risks,” the Tax Justice Network said last year.

“Companies that seek to dodge their obligations to broader society by cutting their tax bills shouldn’t expect to get bailed out when things go wrong,” Robert Palmer, the executive director at Tax Justice UK, told Business Insider.

“The UK government should seriously look at copying Denmark’s approach. Any bailout needs to come with conditions to ensure good business behaviour.”

A spokeswoman for Her Majesty’s Treasury told Business Insider: “Obviously we’ve set up schemes at pace, and they are designed to support jobs in Britain.”

“Sometimes that will involve foreign companies who employ people in the UK for example. But we are looking into the specific point on tax havens where as you know we have already taken considerable action.”

british virgin islands
The British Virgin Islands. wikimediacommons/Henry A-W


Some industries are famous for making the most of offshore tax breaks — most notably the cruise industry, which has been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line, which make up more than two-thirds of the industry, are formally registered in Panama, Liberia, and Bermuda.

Several cruise ships have played host to major coronavirus outbreaks while at sea, drawing international media attention.

Cruise operators had called on the US government for a bailout and hoped the Senate’s $2 trillion relief bill would provide a lifeline. However, it stipulated that companies must be “created or organized” in the US, and the Cruise Lines International Association told The Washington Post on March 26 that major cruise lines would be unable to get aid.

Princess Cruises Diamond Princess
The cruise ship Diamond Princess anchored in Yokohama, Japan, on February 7.  Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters


Experts and campaigners in several nations have called on governments to go after offshore funds, saying that claiming these taxes is vital to weathering the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Sustainable, robust public responses to shocks require administrative capacity and tax resources,” Rasmus Corlin Christensen, a research associate at the International Centre for Tax and Development, told the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists earlier this month.

“Tax avoidance and global tax competition, more broadly, strain the ability of countries to raise those resources.”

Fabio Fazio, a prominent Italian broadcaster, said tax avoiders were complicit in deaths from the virus.

Doctor Giovanni Passeri relaxes in the doctor's lounge after completing a routine round of medical examinations during a night shift in his ward in the COVID-19 section of the Maggiore Hospital in Parma, northern Italy, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Most of the times he is on a night shift the couch is the best Passeri can get to stretch out. A cardboard box at right holds envelopes with the medical charts of discharged patients. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)
A doctor in a lounge after completing a round of examinations during a night shift in his ward in the COVID-19 section of the Maggiore Hospital in Parma, Italy, on April 8.  Associated Press


“It has become evident that those who do not pay their taxes are not only guilty of a crime, but of murder: if the beds and the respirators are not there they are partly to blame,” he wrote in an article for La Repubblica last month.

Alan Rusbridger, the former editor of The Guardian, said the UK government should force companies with offshore tax breaks to relinquish them in exchange for government aid.

“We’re starkly realising our public services are drastically underfunded. So here’s a suggestion: before any company receives a penny in public Covid-19 support they must first pledge to scrap any artificial tax avoidance arrangements in future,” he tweeted on March 22.

“A huge number of corporations engineer ways of avoiding putting any tax the way of our hospitals & other essential services,” he added. SOURCE


Singh defends platform, says tax hikes wouldn’t send businesses fleeing

Volvo and Daimler Tie Up to Develop Fuel Cell for Trucks

Daimler and Volvo Executives Question Geely's Alliance Plan ...

STOCKHOLM — Swedish truck maker Volvo said on Tuesday it had signed a deal with German rival Daimler to set up a joint venture to develop and produce fuel cell systems for heavy-duty vehicles.

Daimler will consolidate all its current fuel cell activities in the joint venture. Volvo said in a statement it will acquire 50% in the joint venture for the sum of approximately 600 million euros ($650.34 million) on a cash and debt free basis.

The deal was preliminary and non-binding it added.

Amidst a global pandemic, Hugh Segal’s call for a guaranteed annual income is even more timely

Hugh Segal’s latest book is called Bootstraps Need Boots: One Tory’s Lonely Fight to End Poverty in Canada. (UBC Press and Milan Illnycky)

With the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Canadian government has said that everyone who faces financial jeopardy due to the pandemic will get government help to pay for necessities such as rent and groceries.

The financial fallout of this crisis has reignited the idea of a universal basic income.

Hugh Segal has been advocating for a guaranteed annual income for decades, in part because of his own experience growing up poor in Canada.

Segal spoke with The Sunday Edition’s Michael Enright about his latest book, Boot Straps Need Boots: One Tory’s Lonely Fight to End Poverty in Canada.

Segal is a former Conservative senator and was chief of staff to Ontario Premier Bill Davis and later to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. He helped design the Ontario Basic Income Pilot for Kathleen Wynne’s government in 2016, which was later scrapped by Premier Doug Ford. Segal is now the Mathews Fellow in Global Public Policy at Queen’s School of Policy Studies.

Here are some highlights from his interview, edited for clarity and condensed.

How would a guaranteed annual income work?

It would work the same way the Guaranteed Income Supplement works for seniors. Now, it’s based on your income. If you’re beneath a certain level you get topped up automatically. People would get a cheque or an automatic deposit to their account on a monthly basis if they’re beneath the poverty line and need to be topped up.

It means you get topped up between what your income may be now — could be zero, could be $600 a month — to about $1,300 or $1,400 a month which would get you to about 75 per cent of the poverty rate. But unlike welfare it would encourage people to work. And if you did work, you could keep a large part of what you earned. It wouldn’t be clawed back, as it is in all of the provincial welfare systems across the country now.

Let’s be clear — provincial welfare systems, however well-intentioned and supported by good-hearted and committed public servants, don’t pay more than 40 or 50 per cent of the poverty rate anywhere in Canada. So it doesn’t lift anybody out of poverty. It actually traps people in poverty because if they try to work — or earn a couple of hundred bucks a month — that all gets clawed back, dollar for dollar. Conrad Black doesn’t pay dollar for dollar on his highest level of income. Why would we ask our lowest income Canadians to be paying tax at that level?


A report published in January from the Basic Income Canada Network, put a price tag on this: about $600 billion. Would it cost that much? And could we save that much?

I look at the numbers that came out from the Parliamentary Budget Office about three years ago when Pierre Poilievre, who is the finance critic of the Conservatives and was opposed to a basic income, asked them to take the pilot project — which I had designed for the Premier of Ontario at her request — and say: what would this cost Canada if this was actually put into place across the country?

The Parliamentary Budget Officer said it would probably cost about $60 billion without counting those federal and provincial programs. It would replace those and produce substantial savings for the taxpayer. That would bring the number down to about $25 billion nationally. That’s less than 10 per cent of Canada’s total economic cost in terms of running the store. That would be a very efficient investment, not only in reducing poverty, but also in reducing all the negative pathologies of poverty, like bad healthcare, health status, education outcomes and family difficulties, difficulty with the law — all of which cost taxpayers a tremendous amount of money.

How much support do you think the idea of a guaranteed annual income has politically in the country and in the population, with ordinary Canadians?

The numbers are clear. When the question is put, and it’s put by pollsters every couple of years, you get no less than 73 to 74 per cent Canadians who think it would be a good idea. It would be an improvement on what we’re doing now.

Conrad Black doesn’t pay dollar for dollar on his highest level of income. Why would we ask our lowest income Canadians to be paying tax at that level?– Hugh Segal

There are three groups who are deeply opposed: every employee of every finance minister anywhere in the world is opposed. Why? Because when you have a statutory program that says when a person reaches a certain income level it is automatically topped up, that means you lose discretion over spending because the law says the money has to go out as it does now for the OAS and for OHIP and for all those other things. So they oppose it as a matter of principle.

Secondly, my friends on the far right have this meme which they are totally taken up with, if you pay someone to do nothing, they will do nothing. To which my response is: so why is it that 80 per cent of the people who live beneath the poverty line in Canada have a job? Why is it that some of them have more than one but they can’t earn enough, depending on where they live, to get above the local poverty line? So it’s not about people sitting on their couch eating bonbons and watching soap operas. It’s about people who are working very hard but can’t put it together.

The third group who are opposed, are our friends on the far left. They come at it this way — we have properly designed programs, run by civil servants in government departments. Those civil servants are doing a good job, the best they can. They’re good people. They’re all members of our unions, which is legitimate and they pay their dues. We have a job to protect that. This could get rid of all those jobs because it’s an automatic cash payout. My view has always been that the basic income is only to replace welfare and programs that are cash transfers. All the other programs that we have, we need to keep, because they’re important.

What is holding back various provincial governments in this?

It’s a combination of two things. I think they’re looking to do this jointly with the feds because if you look at what happened after Mr. Davis did what he did, that Guaranteed Annual Income Supplement was spread to a few other provinces. Then Ottawa made it the Guaranteed Income Supplement for the whole country.

So there’s a need, in my judgment, for Ottawa to say to the provinces: those of you who want to reform welfare for the following purposes — increasing the connection to work, reducing the stigma, increasing the health status of people so they live longer — we’re prepared to help with that process. And yes, we’ll need federal provincial negotiation and the plan may look a little different in Quebec than it would look elsewhere. But that’s who we are as a federation.  SOURCE


Former senator Hugh Segal makes his pitch for a $1,320 basic income

Jagmeet Singh on Twitter: “Today we are calling for immediate help for all Canadians (Universal Basic Income)

Michael Moore Releases ‘Planet Of The Humans’ Documentary For Free On Eve Of Earth Day

Michael Moore has released Planet of the Humans, a documentary directed by filmmaker and environmentalist Jeff Gibbs and executive produced by Moore, for free on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The film, which initially screened at the Traverse City Film Festival in August, is making its world premiere today on Moore’s YouTube channel via his Rumble Media label.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP/Shutterstock (10450902f) Michael Moore speaks at the "Bernie's Back Rally" at Queensbridge Park, Long Island City, in New York Bernie's Back Rally with Bernie Sanders, New York, USA - 19 Oct 2019. (Credit: Shutterstock)

According to the filmmakers, Planet of the Humans takes a harsh look at how the environmental movement has lost the battle through well-meaning but disastrous choices, including the belief that solar panels and windmills would save us, and by giving in to the corporate interests of Wall Street.

Michael Moore Presents: Planet of the Humans | Full Documentary | Directed by Jeff Gibbs

Michael Moore presents Planet of the Humans, a documentary that dares to say what no one else will this Earth Day — that we are losing the battle to stop climate change on planet earth because we are following leaders who have taken us down the wrong road — selling out the green movement to wealthy interests and corporate America. This film is the wake-up call to the reality we are afraid to face: that in the midst of a human-caused extinction event, the environmental movement’s answer is to push for techno-fixes and band-aids. It’s too little, too late.

Removed from the debate is the only thing that MIGHT save us: getting a grip on our out-of-control human presence and consumption. Why is this not THE issue? Because that would be bad for profits, bad for business. Have we environmentalists fallen for illusions, “green” illusions, that are anything but green, because we’re scared that this is the end—and we’ve pinned all our hopes on biomass, wind turbines, and electric cars?

No amount of batteries are going to save us, warns director Jeff Gibbs (lifelong environmentalist and co-producer of “Fahrenheit 9/11” and “Bowling for Columbine”). This urgent, must-see movie, a full-frontal assault on our sacred cows, is guaranteed to generate anger, debate, and, hopefully, a willingness to see our survival in a new way—before it’s too late.

Featuring: Al Gore, Bill McKibben, Richard Branson, Robert F Kennedy Jr., Michael Bloomberg, Van Jones, Vinod Khosla, Koch Brothers, Vandana Shiva, General Motors,, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Nature Conservancy, Elon Musk, Tesla. Music by: Radiohead, King Crimson, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Blank & Jones, If These Trees Could Talk, Valentina Lisitsa, Culprit 1, Patrick O’hearn, The Torquays, Nigel Stanford, and many more.

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Bill McKinnen’s Response: Planet of the Humans Documentary

Comment by Gaianicity:

Well, there is quite a bit of torquing in the film but, as far as Bill McKibben is concerned, it is unfair to ignore his current position [see link above].

In the on-going effort to develop  climate solutions it is inevitable that there are going to be mistakes made over time. The important thing is whether there is any learning from the mistakes. That is how we make incremental progress. The most shocking thing I learned from the film was Al Gore’s change of direction.

So what works? Planting trees, Protecting our forests, Protecting biodiversity. Local gardening. Acting as stewards of the earth and life on it. Restoring and reclaiming land. Understanding that want is not need. Becoming active participants in democracy. Being compassionate.
And, of course, there is a list of things we should not be doing: extractivism, nuclear energy, militarism, ecocide.