How to Have a Safe Family Bike Ride

Some cities are closing off streets so families can safely cruise. On the road or the trail, here’s how to have a successful adventure on wheels.

Jason Whitman/NurPhoto, via Getty Images

The humble bicycle is the surprise star of lockdown. With youth sports on hold, car traffic down 75 percent or more throughout the country (according to the research firm StreetLightData), and cooped up kids doing parkour on living room furniture, family bike rides have never sounded better.

“Since Pokémon Go started I have not seen so many people out,” said Tara Goddard, an assistant professor at Texas A&M University who studies transportation and urban planning. “I live in a place with a huge number of single-family homes with yards, and it’s clear that’s not enough. People want to move and get out and be around people in a safe way.”

Bike rides offer all of that.

If your beach cruiser has mostly served as a drying rack for the past decade, it’s time to put it back to its intended use. Before you roll, though, you need to know a few things about keeping your family safe — and having fun — out on the road or trail.

Have the right equipment. Your bike doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive, but it does need to work. If it has been a while since you’ve ridden it, consider taking it to your local shop (which in many states is an essential business) for a basic tune-up, Dr. Goddard said. If you don’t have the cash for that, at least do a basic safety check, suggests Diana Hildebrand, a bike advocate and certified cycling instructor in Cleveland. She uses the abbreviation A.B.C.Q.:

      • Air. Check your tires. Usually the tire will show the suggested pounds per square inch for inflation.

      • Brakes. Pick up the front end of your bike, give the wheel a spin with your hand, and then squeeze the brake to ensure it’s working. Repeat with the back wheel.

      • Chain. Visually look over the chain to ensure it’s not completely rusted. Then, have another person pick up the rear half of your bike and give the pedal a turn to make sure your chain is rolling along as it should. Finally, while your helper is pedaling, shift through the gears to make sure everything is moving as it should.

      • Quick release. These are the levers that hold on your front and back wheels. Make sure they are screwed in tightly and in the “locked” position.

For kids, the right equipment is the bike that’s going to give them the most confidence, said Arleigh Greenwald, who runs Bike Shop Girl, a family-oriented bike shop in Denver. Sizing is a big part of that. Avoid the temptation of buying a bike a child will “grow into,” as that too-big bike can feel scary and hard to control.

For younger kids, parents will need to choose whether a pull-behind bike trailer or an add-on seat on their bike is a better option. Mrs. Greenwald said that is an individual choice. Both have benefits and drawbacks. Riders, however, should be aware that a baby seat on a bike will change a bike’s handling — and you’ll need a stronger kickstand to make up for the added weight.

 

Does proper equipment require a helmet? For your kids, yes. In many municipalities, children must wear helmets. They need to fit properly, too, which means covering your forehead and having straps that fasten snugly under your chin. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers a good guide, if you’re not sure if you’ve got the proper fit. For adults, they’re probably a good idea, though some bike advocates argue they are not as useful as people think. For example, Dr. Goddard says there is evidence that helmets may make drivers, and to some degree cyclists, less careful, because they give a false sense of security. Helmets, of course, won’t protect cyclists from the blunt force trauma of a pickup truck to the abdomen. Still: The aftereffects of traumatic head injuries are real and serious, and helmets may protect you in certain types of falls. Also, for parents: Your kids are watching. If you want them to take traumatic brain injuries seriously, it’s probably easiest to just model the behavior you want them to adopt.

Protect yourself. Unless you’ll be riding deep out in the country, proper equipment includes a mask. Because many bike paths are seeing upticks in use, it’s hard to guarantee that you won’t run into other riders, and while transmission risk while briefly passing someone outside is quite likely low, the Centers for Disease Control recently issued guidelines suggesting that everyone wear masks in public spaces. To keep enough space between you and other riders, wait to pass until the road is wide enough to give plenty of space.

Start in a parking lot. All those empty parking lots make perfect places to hone your skills, said Alison Dewey, the director for education at the League of American Bicyclists. You can use existing lines to perfect stopping quickly and making tight turns. Or you can draw your own obstacle course with chalk, Dr. Goddard said. She points to something called “traffic gardens,” or courses used to teach kids the rules of the road in Europe. Draw out streets, stop signs, even your favorite destinations — like the ice cream shop — and let your kids practice turning and stopping on their way around “town.”

Make it a game. Right now, pathways and off-road bike trails are crowded, which means cyclists may need to pass on the grass to maintain proper social distancing. Learning how to ride on a variety of surfaces, like grass and gravel, is important — and a good confidence booster — Mrs. Hildebrand said. Consider playing follow-the-leader through a nearby park, soccer field or green space to practice riding on dirt, gravel, grass and any other surfaces you can find.

One of Ms. Dewey’s favorite bike games is having a “turtle race.” Pick a point and see who can get there the slowest. “The person who puts their foot down first is out,” she said, adding that staying upright while crawling along will really boost your kids’ on-bike stability.

Bike polo, using a beach ball or whiffle ball and a couple of brooms, can be a fun way to get everyone feeling confident riding with one hand, in a group, and making tight turns. Not to mention, it’s impossible to play without laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of the game.

Have a family plan. Knowing what you’ll do in an emergency and how you’ll communicate on the road is vital to having a fun ride, Mrs. Hildebrand said. Before you head out, make sure you’ve covered the following:

      • How you’ll communicate. For young kids, saying “turn left” may not work, since they may not always get their right and left correct on the first try. Mrs. Greenwald suggests color-coding brake levers with electrical tape. For her daughter, “go to the green side!” means move to the right. Make sure your kids also understand warnings like watch out for that pothole, or give that dog plenty of room. Finally, discuss how your child will warn walkers or others that they’re passing. While bells are fun, they can be distracting for younger kids. For those who do understand which direction is which, vocal cues, such as “passing on your left,” may be a better option, because it tells other users exactly where you’ll pass.

      • Where you’ll ride in relation to each other. Mrs. Greenwald tends to ride behind and slightly to the left of her daughter. Mrs. Hildebrand usually takes up the same positioning since it allows her to both see the road ahead and be a buffer to traffic approaching from behind. With older children, it may be OK to let them lead, but before you leave home you should set the rules on how far they can ride ahead.

      • What the plan is in an emergency. Have a conversation about what to do if one of you gets hurt, or if you become separated. Mrs. Hildebrand said she and her family had many conversations about what they would do if they felt unsafe while riding or even if they were stopped by the police.

Plan your route.

Cycling when you feel scared isn’t much fun, so picking a place to ride that feels safe is the key, Dr. Goddard said. The good news is that many cities are making rapid changes to try to accommodate social distancing as more families ride outside. In May, Seattle announced it would permanently close 20 miles of low-volume streets to through traffic to make room for more bikes and pedestrians. New York recently announced it would temporarily close 12 miles of streets.

If you aren’t near any closed streets, consider letting your city know how much safer streets would mean to you. Then, look for routes where traffic moves slowly, Dr. Goddard said. Sometimes that means opting for a street that may be narrower but sees more languid traffic. “If drivers have to move more slowly that tends to feel a lot safer,” she said. Consider elevation gain, too. Google Maps shows topography, so you can make sure you aren’t in for a monster hill climb.

Mrs. Greenwald always rides her planned route at least once by herself before bringing her kids out. “I look at the route and I try to predict: One, what will traffic be doing? And two, what will they do?” she said, meaning her children. She also looks for trouble spots, for example, whether to ride onto the sidewalk to cross at a particularly dangerous intersection.

You can also just ask other riders. Cyclists love to help other cyclists find safe routes, because the more bikes that are out, the more drivers are primed to watch for riders and the safer things tend to be for cyclists. Consider posting on a neighborhood site like NextDoor, or in a local Facebook group, that you’re looking for quiet roads to ride. People for Bikes, a cycling advocacy group, offers an app with low-stress rides called RideSpot, which may be a good jumping-off point for finding a safe route near your home.

Ditch your own workout goals. These rides are not going to get you in shape for that summer triathlon, but that’s fine, because that triathlon is most likely canceled. Mrs. Greenwald suggests starting with just 15-minute outings until you get an idea of your family’s fitness and stamina. Let the slowest rider set the pace, and make the trip about having fun — not burning off dinner. “For me, it’s never just the bike ride, it’s the destination. Maybe we’re going to the creek to find ducks, or we’re going for ice cream. The ride is part of that, and now my daughter loves going on bike rides,” she said.

Pack a few things. A first-aid kit is a must, Mrs. Hildebrand said. Hers always has Band-Aids, hand sanitizer, alcohol wipes and poison ivy lotion just in case they go exploring off-road. If your child has allergies or asthma, bring an extra inhaler and EpiPen. And bring snacks and water. “Kids will get dehydrated before you do,” she said, adding that trying to coax a hungry child through the last mile of a bike ride is no one’s idea of a good time.

Do what you need to do to feel safe. Dr. Goddard is a firm advocate in cycling where you feel safest, even if that’s the sidewalk. However, she adds that the sidewalk has its own problems. To begin with, some municipalities ban bikes on sidewalks. You’re also outside the main line of sight of many drivers. If a driver turns into a driveway, you may not be seen. That said, there’s never shame in getting off your bike and walking until you feel it’s safe to begin riding again. SOURCE

EU plan for 3bn trees in 10 years to tackle biodiversity crisis

Concern that new strategy, which also includes protecting primeval forests, ‘lacks tools’

Many countries have been preyed on by logging companies. Photograph: Ioana Moldovan/Greenpeace Romania

The European commission will launch a sweeping effort to tackle the global biodiversity crisis on Wednesday, including a call for 3bn trees to be planted in the EU by 2030 and a plan to better protect the continent’s last primeval forests.

The draft policy document, published online by an environmental NGO, admits that to date in the EU, “protection has been incomplete, restoration has been small-scale, and the implementation and enforcement of legislation has been insufficient”.

Scientists and environmental groups, commenting on the leaked draft of the strategy, say that while the new goals are welcome and impressive, there is a still distinct lack of tools with which to implement them.

“It’s a good and ambitious document, but what is also obvious is the lack of strategy of how to implement it, and a lack of discussion of why previous documents of this type failed,” said Przemysław Chylarecki of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

The new strategy calls for nearly one-third of EU land and sea to become protected zones. Currently, 26% of land and 11% of seas are classed as protected areas, but the European commission acknowledges this has not been enough to tackle the degradation of the natural world and threat of extinction to some birds and animals. Environmentalists say even these previous targets for protection have not been met in practice.

“The proposed strategy lacks game-changing ideas and instruments for reaching the targets. We already know today that existing frameworks are not delivering, so why should we wait,” said Robert Cyglicki, programme director of Greenpeace in central and eastern Europe.

He welcomed the new strategy but said it would be 2024 before it became clear if new binding measures would be adopted, and called for immediate discussions over funding and enforcement mechanisms.

Some elements of the programme, such as protecting migratory bird populations, are hard to implement without a global approach, and the paper calls on the EU to intensify efforts to make biodiversity a central part of its diplomacy.

It will also turn the spotlight on the EU’s €60bn-a-year common agricultural policy, which has been criticised for fuelling a steep decline in nature, with a call for a quarter of the EU’s agricultural land to be organically farmed by 2030.

Environmentalists warned the plan’s headline target to plant at least 3bn trees by 2030, “in full respect of ecological principles”, should only be a small part of the solution.

“Planting 3bn trees is a really spectacular and visual goal, but it has been shown that planting new trees is not a panacea and doesn’t always help,” said Chylarecki.

More important will be the goal to map, monitor and “strictly protect” the EU’s last remaining primeval forests, which have survived in almost every member state, but remain threatened by human activity, such as illegal logging.

These older forests provide a natural shield against climate change, but in many countries have been preyed on by logging companies, with national governments either ignoring the situation or lacking the resources to properly police logging.

Why are trees good for the environment?

“We believe an integrated approach that also includes smart financial mechanisms and social aspects is the key aspect of a future European biodiversity governance framework,” said Romania’s environment minister, Costel Alexe, who has said he wants to better protect the large area of old-growth forests in the country.

César Luena, a Spanish socialist MEP and vice-chair of the European parliament’s environment committee, agreed that the 2030 targets “will need to be covered by legislation to make them binding” on member states.

“If the new strategy remains just a collection of ideas, nothing will ever happen,” he said in emailed comments. He said the strategy “seems more ambitious than the previous one but there are still areas for improvement”.

Luena said EU member states needed to comply with existing laws, noting that in the last week alone, the European commission launched legal action against 19 governments over failures on EU environmental law – a tally of charges far from unusual in the commission’s monthly round up of infringement proceedings.

Sweden and Latvia have been accused of not implementing parts of the EU’s birds and habitats directives, Malta is faulted for not conserving endangered bluefin tuna, while France, Cyprus and Lithuania are said to have neglected to write EU air pollution standards into national law.

The EU should also offer funding benefits for those governments serious about hitting targets, said campaigners.

“At the EU level we need some sort of financial stimulus that would make it attractive for countries to focus on biodiversity,” said Marta Grundland, a campaigner with Greenpeace Poland.

“Right now, I don’t feel it’s a EU priority or a national priority. After climate this is the second biggest threat we are facing, and it’s all connected. If we want to help with the climate crisis we should also tackle the biodiversity crisis.” SOURCE

Coal industry will never recover after coronavirus pandemic, say experts

Crisis has proved renewable energy is now a safer investment, and accelerated the shift

Climate activists in front of the coal-fired Jaenschwalde power station in the Lausitz region, Germany, protesting against open-cast mining in November 2019. Their banner reads: ‘Love for the Lausitz. Not for the coal.’ Photograph: Christian Mang/Reuters

The global coal industry will “never recover” from the Covid-19 pandemic, industry observers predict, because the crisis has proved renewable energy is cheaper for consumers and a safer bet for investors.

A long-term shift away from dirty fossil fuels has accelerated during the lockdown, bringing forward power plant closures in several countries and providing new evidence that humanity’s coal use may finally have peaked after more than 200 years.

That makes the worst-case climate scenarios less likely, because they are based on a continued expansion of coal for the rest of the century.

Even before the pandemic, the industry was under pressure due to heightened climate activism, divestment campaigns and cheap alternatives. The lockdown has exposed its frailties even further, wiping billions from the market valuations of the world’s biggest coal miners.

As demand for electricity has fallen, many utilities have cut back on coal first, because it is more expensive than gas, wind and solar. In the EU imports of coal for thermal power plants plunged by almost two-thirds in recent months to reach lows not seen in 30 years. The consequences have been felt around the world as well.

This week, a new report by the US Energy Information Administration projected the US would produce more electricity this year from renewables than from coal for the first time. Industry analysts predict coal’s share of US electricity generation could fall to just 10% in five years, down from 50% a decade ago. Despite Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to “dig coal”, there are now more job losses and closures in the industry than at any time since Eisenhower’s presidency 60 years ago. Among the latest has been Great River Energy’s plan to shut down a 1.1-gigawatt thermal plant in North Dakota and replace it with wind and gas.

Rob Jackson, the chair of Global Carbon Project, said the pandemic was likely to confirm that coal will never again reach the global peak seen in 2013: “Covid-19 will slash coal emissions so much this year that the industry will never recover, even with a continued build-out in India and elsewhere. The crash in natural gas prices, record-cheap solar and wind power, and climate and health concerns have undercut the industry permanently.”

Records are falling thick and fast. By Friday, the UK national grid had not burned a single lump of coal for 35 days, the longest uninterrupted period since the start of the industrial revolution more than 230 years ago. In Portugal, the record coal-free run has extended almost two months, the campaign group Europe Beyond Coal recently reported.

 A stack of coal at a power station in Geertruidenberg, Netherlands, in 2010. Photograph: Jock Fistick/Bloomberg via Getty Images

 

Last month Sweden closed its last coal-fired power plant, KVV6 in Hjorthagen, eastern Stockholm, two years early because the mild winter meant it was not used even before the pandemic. Austria followed suit with the shutdown of its only remaining coal plant at Mellach. The Netherlands said it would reduce the capacity of its thermal plants by 75% to comply with a court order to reduce climate risks.

Elsewhere in Asia, the picture is mixed. A few years ago, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines were expected to be the industry’s biggest growth areas, but the pandemic, falling renewable prices and a growing divestment campaign have put several major coal projects on hold. The party of South Korean president Moon Jae-in has been re-elected on a pledge to phase out domestic coal use, and many in his ruling coalition are pushing to end financing of overseas projects. In Japan, the big three commercial lenders and the governor of the Japan Bank of International Cooperation have recently said they will no longer accept proposals for coal generation.

Other money taps are also being turned off, as investors and finance houses respond to scientific advice and campaigns by divestment activists and school strikers such as Greta Thunberg.

“The economics of coal were already under structural pressure before the pandemic,” said Mark Lewis, the head of sustainability research at the investment management arm of French bank BNP Paribas. “And coming out of it these pressures will still be there – but now compounded by the impact of the pandemic.”

BNP Paribas is one of a growing list of financial institutions which have chosen to sever ties with coal. The bank said last week that it would accelerate its planned exit from coal financing to 2030 to bring its portfolio in line with the Paris climate goals sooner.

In the same week, the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund – the world’s biggest – ditched a host of coal mining and energy companies, including Glencore, Anglo-American, Vale and AGL over climate concerns. This follows coal blacklisting announcements by BlackRock, Standard Chartered and JPMorgan Chase.

The fossil fuel has fallen from favour in the eyes of many investors due to rising climate concerns, cheaper renewable energy alternatives and a public backlash against air pollution.

“The public health benefits of cleaner air will be front and centre after weeks of lockdown that have prompted blue skies and clean air in Asia’s megalopolises,” Lewis said. “This pressure from the finance sector will only accelerate going forward, pushing the cost of capital for coal projects even higher.”

Even before the pandemic, Australian coal companies said they were finding it hard to find financing for mines and port facilities due to the international divestment campaign. This is not the only economic squeeze. A near-30% fall in the price of thermal coal has made more than half of production unprofitable, prompting several firms to warn of pit closures and layoffs.

 Coal mine and processing facility in Liulin, Shanxi province, China. Photograph: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

 

The elephant in the room is China, which burns half of the world’s coal and is the biggest financier of mines and power plants in Asia and Africa – largely to provide an export market for its domestic manufacturing and engineering firms. A few years ago, domestic coal consumption fell, prompting hopes that president Xi Jinping was committed to a shift away from dirty, high-emitting power production. But after the lockdown, the political priority is to jumpstart the economy. Provincial governments are now working on a slew of new thermal plants. But they are running at less than half of capacity because demand for coal has not returned to its previous level.

“Covid-19 has made clear that China and India have built more than they need. Even before the crisis, they had overcapacity. Now with lower demand, you can see everything is a mess,” said Carlos Fernández Alvarez, lead coal analyst at the International Energy Agency.

Alvarez said coal had been hit hardest by the pandemic, but he cautioned the decline could be temporary unless governments invest in renewables to pull economies out of the lockdown. “We have to look at this structurally. If there is high energy demand again in the future, it will probably be coal that picks up the slack because it is the marginal supplier,” he said.

While nobody is expecting coal to disappear any time soon, Ted Nace, director of Global Energy Monitor, believes the balance has shifted for good. “Coal is definitely on the downturn and this pandemic is going to accelerate that. Demand should come back to some degree next year. But there is a very strong argument that it is not going to just bounce back.” SOURCE

 

 

Asylum seekers find work in Quebec’s COVID-19 hard-hit care homes

Carole Ze Benedicte, who is originally from Cameroon, poses at the entrance to her apartment in Montreal, on Saturday, May 16, 2020. File photo by The Canadian Press/Graham Hughes

Some of the of asylum seekers who have come to Canada in recent years have found the path to a new life has taken them straight to the front lines of Quebec’s COVID-19 crisis, where hundreds are believed to be working in hard-hit long-term care homes.

Ze Benedicte Carole, an asylum seeker from Cameroon, is recovering at home after being infected with COVID-19. She was working as a volunteer at a long-term care home in Montreal’s west end.

The 34-year-old, who arrived in Canada four years ago as a temporary foreign worker, said she started looking for a way to help her adopted country after being laid off from her job in food services.

When Premier Francois Legault called for more people to sign up to become “guardian angels,” as he has repeatedly called those working in health and long-term care homes, she volunteered.

“My dream has always been to work in a (long-term care home) to help people who are in trouble, and to feel important in society,” she said.

Ze Benedicte said she was assigned to what was supposed to be a “cold” zone of a care home, where she helped with tasks such as cleaning. But soon after, residents in her area were found to be carrying the virus.

Three days later she started experiencing headaches, fevers and muscle pain, despite having worn a mask, gloves, gowns and visors.

When she called the province’s COVID-19 telephone line, she says she was told by a health-care employee that she couldn’t get a test because she didn’t have a medicare card — despite having a social insurance number and having worked in a COVID-positive environment. Feeling demoralized, she started to cry.

“When we die at the front lines, we’re called guardian angels,” she said. “But when we need to be treated on equal footing, we’re not guardian angels. We’re nobody, we’re invisible.”

Ze Benedicte, who was eventually able to get tested after seeking help from a migrant rights group, says she’s finally feeling better two weeks later despite persistent fatigue and aches.

She says she’s eager to return to work and hoping to eventually work in a long-term care home full time.

Asylum seekers on front line of Quebec’s COVID-19 battle in care homes

She is one of thousands of asylum seekers who have taken jobs in long-term care homes or other front-line services, where some are paying the price for their decision to care for others.

Montreal North, where many asylum seekers have settled, has the highest infection rate in the city, spurred by crowded housing conditions that make social distancing impossible and a population that largely works in essential jobs such as food production, health care or security.

Ruth Pierre-Paul, who advocates on behalf of Montreal’s Haitian community, says hundreds of those who crossed the border irregularly in recent years have sought out jobs in long-term care homes as a quick way to enter the workforce, due to a short training period and large bank of available jobs.

She and other advocates are calling on the Quebec and Canadian governments to grant permanent residence to the many asylum seekers who are working in essential services as a recognition of their work during the pandemic.

“These people are living a double stress: they have to work and are on the front lines of a battle that could put them in the grave, with a status that gives them no benefits and makes them more vulnerable,” Pierre-Paul said.

She said asylum seekers don’t have access to subsidized daycares or Quebec medicare cards and aren’t covered by the provincial workplace health and safety board despite working some of the riskiest jobs.

Ze Benedicte, who supports the calls for permanent residency, also worries about those who are undocumented, who can’t access emergency financial aid.

Last week, independent legislature member Catherine Fournier tabled a motion to recognize the contribution of “hundreds of asylum seekers, mostly of Haitian origin,” working in long-term care homes, and to ask Ottawa to “quickly regularize their status, in order to recognize the work accomplished during the current health crisis.”

The motion was rejected by Legault’s party, with the premier later appearing to suggest it could encourage more asylum seekers to cross the border, which is currently closed due to the pandemic.

“They’re asking me to support the arrival of asylum seekers,” he said when questioned. “Neither the government of Quebec or Canada supports that now.”

Pierre Kiosa Nakatala, 45, brought his family to Canada last year through the unofficial border crossing that has popped up at Roxham Road, on the Canada-U.S. border, after fleeing violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Motivated by his Christian faith and a love of caring for the elderly that began with his own grandmother, he trained to become an orderly. Now, he’s working long shifts tending to the sick and sometimes the dying in a hard-hit care home in Montreal North.

Many of his colleagues have gotten sick, meaning that two workers now have to do the work of three or four.

He worries about catching the virus and taking it home to his wife and three young children, who don’t always understand they can’t hug their father until he’s had a shower.

While he hopes to be granted permanent residency, he says it’s not his main motivator in working in the care home.

“We didn’t do this to have documents,” he said. “We did it to help.”  SOURCE

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2020

Ban hunting, fishing, and non-essential travel, Indigenous Nations tell government

Ban hunting, fishing, and non-essential travel, Indigenous Nations tell government

This May long weekend, parts of Canada are easing restrictions put in place two months ago as part of the battle against COVID-19. For some, this brings a sense of relief. But others, especially those outside urban areas, fear this will heighten the risk of a coronavirus outbreak in their communities.

Nearly every Indigenous community in central and northern B.C., from the Tahltan to the Haida, is denying access to visitors to protect community members from COVID-19, and calling on the premier to ban non-essential travel as the province enters the next phase of its restart plan. Already, as part of this second phase, “many front- and back-country trails, beaches, picnic areas, washroom facilities and boat launches for day-use” have been reopened, according to the government.

“We want them to tell people they must stay away. We are telling visitors to stay away and may even have to demand it to keep our communities safe,” said Garry Reece, mayor of the Lax Kw’alaams Band, in a joint release with the Metlakatla Band. Both communities are located north of Prince Rupert on the Pacific Coast.

“More isolated First Nations communities such as ours are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of this pandemic — one of many we have suffered through historically — as are the many members of both our nations who now live in Prince Rupert.”

The B.C. government’s decision to declare hunting and fishing “essential services” on April 23, 2020, has also alarmed Indigenous communities.

“We’re very concerned about the hunting and fishing that’s been added to the list of essential services,” said Linda Innes, Gitxaala (Kitkatla) Nation chief councillor, during an online conference called Our United Coast on May 3.

“I think it should be made clear that people should not be travelling beyond their local area to engage in these activities.”

Port Simpson (Lax Kw’alaams), B.C.  A.Davey

 

Alberta government shelves ‘fair deal’ report

Image: David J. Climenhaga​

Alberta’s so-called “fair deal” panel, which might have seemed like a good idea when Premier Jason Kenney announced it last fall, presents something of a political problem for a government that has let Ottawa do the heavy lifting throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Premier Kenney pitched the rhetorical roadshow as a way to help ruggedly individualistic Albertans cast off the dead weight of Ottawa’s collectivist mentality and, in the words of the notorious Firewall Manifesto, “take greater charge of our own future.”

Most of the ideas the nine-member panel was instructed to explore came straight out of the risible independantiste screed penned in 2001 by Stephen Harper, three of his market-fundamentalist college teachers and a couple of hangers on.

But faced with an actual crisis caused by the coronavirus, Kenney’s United Conservative Party government mostly bowed to federal decisions, did its best to upload the costs onto the feds and concentrated on yelling at the likes of Norway and China. The former was attacked for its lack of enthusiasm for getting back to the carbon economy as quickly as possible; the latter, inspired by U.S. President Donald Trump, presumably to deflect the blame for any shortfalls in the province’s efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19.

This makes it pretty obvious to Albertans who are paying attention — say what they will about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — what level of government you need to go to in a real crisis.

To put this metaphorically, it’s all very well to say that an Englishman’s home is his castle, but when fire breaks out in the castle kitchen, your imagined Englishman will still likely ring the fire brigade!

Which means that most of the panel’s presumably predetermined recommendations — replacing the RCMP with a provincial force, no longer cooperating with Ottawa to collect taxes, finding ways to wiggle out of the Canada Health Act, appointing provincial chief firearms officer dedicated to not enforcing the gun-control provisions of the federal Criminal Code, and dumping the Canada Pension Plan and replacing it with a provincial version — either have lost some of the cachet they appeared to have a few months ago or have already proved to be unpopular with voters.

More provincial autonomy as a general theme has certainly lost lustre now that Albertans have seen how little our provincial government is willing to do about anything, no matter how important, that isn’t among the bees in Premier Kenney’s bonnet.

The idea of grabbing CPP funds contributed by Albertans so that the UCP can dip into our retirement security to prop up Kenney’s beloved oil industry just about moved participants to tears of fury at some of the panel’s 10 small “town halls” across the province.

Despite the panel’s baked-in assumption Alberta gets a raw deal from the rest of Confederation and its apparent effort to lead witnesses to the conclusions the government wanted, plenty of people got up on their hind legs at the town hall I attended January 9 in Fort Saskatchewan to proclaim their love of Canada and advise panel members they thought this province needs to start working with our fellow citizens instead of just yelling at them.

Soon after came the coronavirus, making their case for them.

Given all this, it should come as no surprise that nothing was said about the panel’s report until Saturday, May 16, when the government revealed in a rare long-weekend news release the report was in its hands.

How long the government has had it remains a mystery. The panel was supposed to report at the end of March and received an extension until mid-April. News reports have indicated it was submitted this month. But on Sunday a member of the panel suggested in a tweeted remark that the government has had a final copy for more than a month.

Whenever it was received, the report can now sit on the shelf until a more promising moment to implement Harper’s bad ideas, which even Ralph Klein had the good sense to spike back in 2001.

“I look forward to giving this report and its recommendations the proper attention it deserves once we have safely started to implement our relaunch strategy,” Kenney said in Saturday’s news release. The middle of a long weekend, needless to say, is an appropriate time for publishing information a government would like voters to forget about as quickly as possible.

If you want to know what the panel recommended, you’ll just have to wait till a time of Kenney’s choosing.

“Government will announce a date for the public release of the report once the urgency of the COVID-19 response has subsided,” the government’s press release explained, a judgment, of course, that is entirely in the government’s hands.

The panel, chaired by former senior mandarin Oryssia  Lennie, included Preston Manning, the godfather of the Canadian right; Stephen Lougheed, president of Alberta Innovates and son of the late premier Peter Lougheed; Donna Kennedy-Glans, a former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister now a blogger whose blog sometimes advocates some sort of sovereignty-association; law professor Moin Yahya; and backbench UCP MLAs Drew Barnes, Miranda Rosin and Tony Yao. The ninth member of the panel, former Assembly of First Nations regional chief Jason Goodstriker, died suddenly on January 16. SOURCE


David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions at The Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. This post also appears on his blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

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Right-wing neoliberals are softening up Albertans for austerity on steroids

TAKE ACTION! Public funds should be for public health, not private profits

 

English

Around the world, governments fund critically important medical research and development using public money — including more than $1 billion already committed by the Canadian government to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, as well as diagnostic tests and medicines.

Publicly funded research has led to dramatic healthcare innovations. In Canada alone, researchers have used government funds to support the discovery of an Ebola vaccine, insulin, the cardiac pacemaker and more.

Unfortunately, most countries — including Canada — rarely demand that the resulting health innovations be safeguarded for public health, or be made affordable and accessible to those who need them most.

In fact, these publicly funded vaccines, medicines and health technologies are often sold to private companies, who then determine who receives access to them — and at what price.

This is unacceptable.

Safeguards can make the difference

Simply put: publicly funded medical innovations — including urgently needed medicines, vaccines and other technologies — should be used to meet the needs of public health providers, not private pharmaceutical companies. Today, as governments spend billions to develop the tools needed to fight COVID-19, we must ensure that the resulting medicines and vaccines are affordable and accessible to everyone who needs them.

We can make that happen. By requiring that medicines, vaccines and other medical tools developed with public funds in Canada are affordable and accessible for patients and health systems around the world, we can protect our public investments in medical research and development.

Take action today!

Today, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is asking 30,000 Canadians to join us in demanding that Canada’s Minister of Health make one simple policy change:

Canada’s medical research and development funding system should include safeguards requiring that any medicines, vaccines and any other health innovations discovered or developed with Canadian public funds be made affordable, accessible and available for everyone that needs them – free of patents, monopolies and high prices.

By signing our petition, you’re helping us send a clear message to the Canadian government that urgently needed medicines, such as those being developed against COVID-19, will be available to those who need them most – including to Canadians who paid to develop them.

Your message to Canada’s Minister of Health

Dear Minister Hajdu,

As the 2020 COVID‑19 pandemic has made clear, public funding to develop new medicines, vaccines and other health technologies is essential. Governments around the world have committed billions of dollars to develop the public health tools that we all need for COVID‑19 — including the Canadian government which has committed more than $1 billion to COVID‑19 research and development.

Public funding is often the backbone of medical R&D, supporting the discovery and development of new medicines, vaccines and other health technologies that we all need. In Canada alone, researchers in publicly funded labs have discovered an Ebola vaccine, insulin, the cardiac pacemaker, a vaccine for haemophilus influenzae and many others.

However, the way that the medical research and development system functions today often prices lifesaving health technologies out of reach for patients and health systems – even when the public has paid to develop them.

That’s because even when governments spend public money on health research, the innovations they pay for almost inevitably are sold and become the property of private pharmaceutical companies rather than the public. That in turn means that companies are free to charge whatever they want and even essential lifesaving medicines are often accessible only to those who can afford to pay high prices for them, instead of those who need them most.

This is unacceptable – public funding for medical research should produce medicines, vaccines and other medical tools that are affordable and accessible to everyone that needs them. Medicines shouldn’t be a luxury.

Canada can take immediate, common-sense steps to help change this reality. Any public funding for medical research and development should include enforceable requirements that the final products be affordable, accessible and available for everyone who need them – whether they are in Canada or around the world. Public funding for medical research should deliver medical technologies that patients and health systems can afford and access.

That’s why I am urging you, Minister Hajdu, as a representative of the Canadian government and the federal Minister of Health, to take the following action:

      • Prioritize patient access over private profits by immediately implementing safeguards and conditions, requiring that any recipient of Canadian public funds be required to make any medicines, vaccines, diagnostic tests, and other health technologies discovered or developed with public funds available and accessible for everyone that needs them, including Canadians and people living in low- and middle-income countries, at an affordable price, free of patents and monopolies.

There is no more urgent time than now. Canada has already committed more than $1 billion to fund research into medicines and vaccines that can stop the spread of COVID-19. But without safeguards in place, there is no guarantee that the public health tools funded by your government will be affordable and accessible to people in Canada or around the world most at risk from this disease.

Medicines shouldn’t be a luxury. Canada’s taxpayer dollars should not be used to provide private pharmaceutical corporations with intellectual property. By making this one, simple change, your government can help ensure that urgently needed medicines – including those being developed to fight the spread of COVID-19 – will be available to those who need them most, and to the Canadians who helped pay for them.

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

English

 

Degrowth: New Roots for the Economy

The signatories of this letter – more than 1,100 experts and over 70 organizations from more than 60 countries – offer five principles for the recovery of our economy and the basis of creating a just society. 1) Put life at the center of our economic systems. 2) Radically reevaluate how much and what work is necessary for a good life for all. 3) Organize society around the provision of essential goods and services. 4) Democratize society. 5) Base political and economic systems on the principle of solidarity. — Angela Bischoff

Re-imagining the Future After the Corona Crisis

The Coronavirus pandemic has already taken countless lives and it is uncertain how it will develop in the future. While people on the front lines of healthcare and basic social provisioning are fighting against the spread of the virus, caring for the sick and keeping essential operations running, a large part of the economy has come to a standstill. This situation is numbing and painful for many, creating fear and anxiety about those we love and the communities we are part of, but it is also a moment to collectively bring new ideas forward.

The crisis triggered by the Coronavirus has already exposed many weaknesses of our growth-obsessed capitalist economy – insecurity for many, healthcare systems crippled by years of austerity and the undervaluation of some of the most essential professions. This system, rooted in exploitation of people and nature, which is severely prone to crises, was nevertheless considered normal. Although the world economy produces more than ever before, it fails to take care of humans and the planet, instead the wealth is hoarded and the planet is ravaged. Millions of children die every year from preventable causes, 820 million people are undernourished, biodiversity and ecosystems are being degraded and greenhouse gases continue to soar, leading to violent anthropogenic climate change: sea level rise, devastating storms, droughts and fires that devour entire regions.

For decades, the dominant strategies against these ills were to leave economic distribution largely to market forces and to lessen ecological degradation through decoupling and green growth. This has not worked. We now have an opportunity to build on the experiences of the Corona crisis: from new forms of cooperation and solidarity that are flourishing, to the widespread appreciation of basic societal services like health and care work, food provisioning and waste removal. The pandemic has also led to government actions unprecedented in modern peacetime, demonstrating what is possible when there is a will to act: the unquestioned reshuffling of budgets, mobilization and redistribution of money, rapid expansion of social security systems and housing for the homeless.

At the same time, we need to be aware of the problematic authoritarian tendencies on the rise like mass surveillance and invasive technologies, border closures, restrictions on the right of assembly, and the exploitation of the crisis by disaster capitalism. We must firmly resist such dynamics, but not stop there. To start a transition towards a radically different kind of society, rather than desperately trying to get the destructive growth machine running again, we suggest to build on past lessons and the abundance of social and solidarity initiatives that have sprouted around the world these past months. Unlike after the 2008 financial crisis, we should save people and the planet rather than bail out the corporations, and emerge from this crisis with measures of sufficiency instead of austerity.

We, the signatories of this letter, therefore offer five principles for the recovery of our economy and the basis of creating a just society. To develop new roots for an economy that works for all, we need to:

1) Put life at the center of our economic systems.

Instead of economic growth and wasteful production, we must put life and wellbeing at the center of our efforts. While some sectors of the economy, like fossil fuel production, military and advertising, have to be phased out as fast as possible, we need to foster others, like healthcare, education, renewable energy and ecological agriculture.

2) Radically reevaluate how much and what work is necessary for a good life for all.

We need to put more emphasis on care work and adequately value the professions that have proven essential during the crisis. Workers from destructive industries need access to training for new types of work that is regenerative and cleaner, ensuring a just transition. Overall, we have to reduce working time and introduce schemes for work-sharing.

3) Organize society around the provision of essential goods and services.

While we need to reduce wasteful consumption and travel, basic human needs, such as the right to food, housing and education have to be secured for everyone through universal basic services or universal basic income schemes. Further, a minimum and maximum income have to be democratically defined and introduced.

4) Democratize society.

This means enabling all people to participate in the decisions that affect their lives. In particular, it means more participation for marginalized groups of society as well as including feminist principles into politics and the economic system. The power of global corporations and the financial sector has to be drastically reduced through democratic ownership and oversight. The sectors related to basic needs like energy, food, housing, health and education need to be decommodified and definancialised. Economic activity based on cooperation, for example worker cooperatives, has to be fostered.

5) Base political and economic systems on the principle of solidarity.

Redistribution and justice – transnational, intersectional and intergenerational – must be the basis for reconciliation between current and future generations, social groups within countries as well as between countries of the Global South and Global North. The Global North in particular must end current forms of exploitation and make reparations for past ones. Climate justice must be the principle guiding a rapid social-ecological transformation.

As long as we have an economic system that is dependent on growth, a recession will be devastating. What the world needs instead is Degrowth – a planned yet adaptive, sustainable, and equitable downscaling of the economy, leading to a future where we can live better with less. The current crisis has been brutal for many, hitting the most vulnerable hardest, but it also gives us the opportunity to reflect and rethink. It can make us realize what is truly important and has demonstrated countless potentials to build upon. Degrowth, as a movement and a concept, has been reflecting on these issues for more than a decade and offers a consistent framework for rethinking society based on other values, such as sustainability, solidarity, equity, conviviality, direct democracy and enjoyment of life.

Join us in these debates and share your ideas at Degrowth Vienna 2020 and the Global Degrowth Day – to construct an intentional and emancipatory exit from our growth addictions together!

In solidarity,

The open letter working group: Nathan Barlow, Ekaterina Chertkovskaya, Manuel Grebenjak, Vincent Liegey, François Schneider, Tone Smith, Sam Bliss, Constanza Hepp, Max Hollweg, Christian Kerschner, Andro Rilović, Pierre Smith Khanna, Joëlle Saey-Volckrick

This letter is the result of a collaborative process within the degrowth international network. It has been signed by more than 1,100 experts and over 70 organizations from more than 60 countries.
See all signatories here

SOURCE

New advocacy group joins push for green recovery from COVID-19’s economic shock

Environmentalists want stimulus funds to focus on ‘shovel-worthy’ sustainable projects

In this file photo, Oliver Bishop, general manager of hydrogen at Shell, manipulates a hydrogen refuelling station in Vancouver in 2018. The federal government may look at hydrogen production as part of a sustainable recovery plan. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Official plans for an economic recovery package in Canada — green or otherwise — are still in their infancy.

There is likely to come a time when governments will use stimulus spending to boost their wounded economies. But nearly all of the federal government’s attention is still consumed by the profound challenges of containing a contagious disease and reopening communities amid an ongoing health threat.

Civil society, though, is not waiting to push the Liberal government to focus any recovery plan on emissions-reducing and sustainable projects — a push that now includes a group of environmental, financial and political figures who are hoping to draft a set of recommendations over the next two months.

The independent “task force on a resilient recovery” includes individuals who are already prominent in the discussion around moving toward a greener future, but also the former chief risk and strategy officer with the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (Barbara Zvan), the president of the Insurance Board of Canada (Don Forgeron), and a former deputy minister in the federal department of finance (Michael Horgan).

Among the group’s 14 members are also three former political advisors: Mira Oreck, who was a senior official in the office of British Columbia Premier John Horgan; Mitchell Davidson, former director of policy for Ontario Premier Doug Ford; and Gerald Butts, former principal secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The task force’s stated goal is to help seize a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity to build back “better,” according to an announcement to be released today.

Gerald Butts, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s former principal secretary, is a member of a new group that describes itself as “a task force on a resilient recovery.” (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

 

Bruce Lourie, the environmentalist and author who is now president of the Ivey Foundation, which helped organize the group, told CBC News the impetus was twofold: both to make sure the government didn’t take its eye off the ball and invest in the “wrong kinds” of areas for the future, and to continue advancing work the foundation had already begun before the pandemic.

The task force’s report will add to a growing supply of green-focused analysis. The Canada Green Building Council released a set of recommendations last week and a coalition of clean energy experts and operators has also written to the prime minister with suggestions.

The group launching on Tuesday also holds out the possibility of showing some cross-partisan support for a set of green ideas.

“A carbon tax is obviously what people think about when they think about green policy, but there’s lots of other things that can be done that are still green,” said Davidson, who co-authored the Ontario Progressive Conservative party’s platform in 2018. “I think that the question is, if we’re doing recovery projects and we’re keeping a focus on environmentalism, we should also keep a focus on things that matter to individuals as well which is getting them back to work, putting money into people’s pockets.”

Three-part test for areas of action

Ahead of any final recommendations from his group, Lourie already sees some areas for potential action.

First, the federal government could focus on plans to retrofit homes and buildings — which account for 12 per cent of this country’s greenhouse gas emissions — to increase the energy efficiency of Canada’s physical structures. Such an initiative would create work for tradespeople across the country while reducing both energy costs and emissions.

The Liberal platform in last year’s election already promised free energy audits and interest-free loans for homeowners and landlords as part of a plan to retrofit 1.5 million homes. But expanded funding could drive even faster and deeper change.

As part of a long-term project, the federal government could look to expand the production of hydrogen, particularly in Alberta, Lourie says — an idea that is now being studied by another group in that province.

Federal funding for municipal transit systems could also be used to expand the use of electric buses.

The task force says it will evaluate ideas according to a three-part test — determining whether policies are economically timely and lasting, environmentally sound, and both equitable and feasible.

There are other issues that will come to bear on any recovery plan.

The current economic downturn has, for instance, disproportionately impacted women, service industries and low-wage workers. The health crisis has brought new attention to supply lines and how much Canada depends on international suppliers for important products like medical equipment. The state of long-term care, particularly in Ontario and Quebec, has been exposed as a significant weakness.

There will no doubt be calls to address such concerns with new investments.

The timing and implementation of any recovery plan will also depend on how well COVID-19 is contained and how long significant health-related restrictions remain in place.

Shovel ready vs. shovel-worthy projects

But there is significant pressure, both in Canada and abroad, to make sure that government stimulus is used to ensure long-term sustainability in the face of that other global threat — and that speaks to how much the climate conversation has advanced over the last 10 years.

A decade ago, when policymakers were trying to counter that last significant recession, the focus was “shovel-ready” projects — infrastructure projects that could begin quickly, providing employment and economic activity for the short term. Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna has already adopted that phrase to explain how her department is analyzing potential projects.

In this downturn, there is talk instead of pursuing “shovel-worthy” investments — projects that cannot only get started quickly, but that also deserve to be funded because they fit within larger goals like reducing emissions.

In the United States, the stimulus package of 2009 did include significant funding for clean energy. But climate change was largely relegated to a secondary concern once global stock markets started to crash.

In 2020, there is a clearer and more widespread understanding that climate change is a central and immediate issue, even amid a global health crisis and an unprecedented economic shock.

“Ten years later, we’re much further along in terms of our understanding of the importance of having a more diverse economy,” Lourie said. “And having an economy that’s going to be one that will support our country in 10 years, not just in 10 weeks or 10 months.”  SOURCE


Aaron Wherry,Parliament Hill Bureau

Aaron Wherry has covered Parliament Hill since 2007 and has written for Maclean’s, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. He is the author of Promise & Peril, a book about Justin Trudeau’s years in power.

 

Canadian oil is now a U.S. election issue

Biden’s promise to cancel Keystone XL raises election stakes for long-delayed oil project

The Alberta government is funding the Keystone XL pipeline project. Above, this Nov. 3, 2015, file photo shows the Keystone Steele City pumping station, into which the planned Keystone XL pipeline is to connect to, in Steele City, Neb. (Nati Harnik/The Associated Press)

You can count the reasons some Canadians might now find themselves more heavily invested in this U.S. presidential election than they already were.

Say, about 1.5 billion more reasons.

That’s the number of dollars Alberta taxpayers are investing as an equity stake in the Keystone XL oil pipeline, whose fate might now hinge on the U.S. election.

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden announced Monday he’d scrap the pipeline if elected, making the Alberta-to-Texas project a campaign issue.

“The province of Alberta is now an owner of this pipeline,” said Dennis McConaghy, former vice president of the company building Keystone XL, now known as TC Energy. He was referring to the Alberta government’s minority investment in the project, announced in March.

“So all Albertans have a real stake in this.”

He called Biden’s election a late-stage risk to the completion of the project; construction has just begun on an anticipated two- to three-year building phase, amid more than a decade of on-again-off-again legal and political battle.

McConaghy warned that there will be more lawsuits if Biden tries killing it, and he cautioned the pipeline fight could last well past the election.

Why that announcement  

One possible reason for the announcement now: Biden is currently working to consolidate the support of skeptical progressives as he moves into the general election.

He’s set up task forces to build the party platform with supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders; the climate-change group, for instance, includes Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the first-term lawmaker who’s boosted the so-called Green New Deal and blasted Keystone XL.

Biden has also promised to rejoin the Paris climate accord on his first day in office, and might now point to his anti-pipeline position in the context of that debate.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Take a look. There are Dems AND GOP taking oil 💰. & they have all at 1 point compromised their positions: Keystone XL, change denying, etc. https://twitter.com/OpenSecretsDC/status/869943553987944449 

OpenSecrets.org

@OpenSecretsDC

As @POTUS #Trump prepares to pull out of the #ParisAgreement a look at the top recipients of the Oil & Gas industryhttps://www.opensecrets.org/industries/recips.php?cycle=2016&ind=E01 

View image on Twitter
“We are in the political season,” Bruce Heyman, Barack Obama’s ambassador to Canada, told CBC News, acknowledging that, in an election year, a candidate’s every gesture gets interpreted as campaign-related.

“But I think … he’s clarifying the positions he believes in.”

He said Biden is simply upholding the same conclusion Obama drew after a years-long, oft-delayed deliberation — that the project offers little benefit to the U.S., in terms of jobs and fuel prices, while undermining the transition to green energy.

Project proponents have contested those conclusions. Even Obama’s State Department at the time downplayed the climate impact, noting in environmental assessments that the proposed pipeline would likely not alter global greenhouse gas emissions.

Pipeline packs less political punch

This pipeline was, for a few years, the hottest Canada-U.S. political issue, and a high-profile irritant on both sides of the border.

That’s changed.

Joe Biden, left, was present when then-president Barack Obama, seen here in 2015, announced he would reject a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada. Biden now says he’d reject it again. The pipeline has the backing of President Donald Trump. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

 

In Washington, it’s become a lower-tier political topic, underscored Monday by the few U.S. news headlines and minimal reaction to Biden’s announcement.

The U.S. capital is now consumed by hyper-charged new debates about relations with China; the pandemic; and the future of global trade.

Canadian politicians are also less keen to elevate the issue these days.

Under Stephen Harper, Canada mounted a multimillion-dollar ad campaign to pressure the Obama administration — with subway posters, and broadcast and Internet spots, arguing the pipeline would create jobs, not carbon emissions.

Both the federal and provincial governments responded Monday with measured statements that avoided criticizing Biden.

Alberta Minister Sonya Savage said she wasn’t interested in speculating about potential U.S. election outcomes.

She said she would simply remind Americans of the project benefits: thousands of shovel-ready jobs at a time of mass unemployment, and a stable oil supply at a time of global instability.

Canadian politicians may also have domestic political incentives for avoiding a scrape with Biden now, in the midst of a hard-fought U.S. election.

Canadians’ view on U.S. election

Canadians are massively rooting for Biden against President Donald Trump, says one pollster. David Coletto at Abacus Data said he doesn’t see the pipeline being the issue that turns Canadian opinions on this election.

Coletto just completed an online survey of 1,727 Canadians, from May 14-17, which showed they favoured Biden by 56 percentage points against Trump (78 per cent to 22 per cent).

As for Keystone XL, his last poll on the topic was conducted three years ago and it showed qualified support for the pipeline: among 2,036  Canadians polled, 33 per cent approved of Keystone XL; 25 per cent opposed it, and 25 per cent said they could support it under the right conditions.

“While Biden’s position on Keystone XL may lose some fans, Trump’s negatives far outweigh Biden’s in most people’s minds,” Coletto said.

“Biden would have to do a lot more for Canadians to want Mr. Trump re-elected over him. … I don’t think this fundamentally changes anything [in Canadian opinion].”

Hillary Clinton and Obama opposed Keystone and most Canadians like them too, Coletto said.

Heyman said Canadians would also get along just fine with a President Biden.

“There’s nobody who’s going to be a better friend to Canada than Joe Biden,” Heyman said.

“And that will be a stark difference from what you’ve experienced over these last few years [under Trump]. …

“[He won’t be] threatening you with steel and aluminum tariffs. Threatening you with troops at your border. Threatening you with holding critical supplies during a pandemic.” SOURCE


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