The Vegetables Have Been Planted. Now What?

If you don’t have a succession plan for your garden, there’s still time to make one. Here’s what it is and why you need it.

In early July, after spring-planted peas are pulled, space becomes available alongside a row of potatoes hilled up with straw in my garden — an opportunity for one of many possible successions from bush beans to various greens or root crops.

Credit…Margaret Roach

You’ve planted the vegetable garden; the beds are increasingly full. But before you check that task off the list, take a closer look. The cilantro and lettuce are trying to tell you something: Once is almost never enough.

There will soon be vacancies, as some crops — those that are quick to mature or don’t tolerate heat well, or both — pass their prime.

Tomatoes, eggplants and peppers are generally planted just once. But other crops need sowing again and again to keep producing. Are you ready with more seeds — or better still, a homegrown supply of fresh transplants selected for summer right through fall harvest — to plug into every precious bit of available real estate?

This is succession sowing, an advanced level of vegetable-garden math.

The introductory lesson simply required calculating when it was safe to sow or transplant certain crops outdoors. Once you’ve mastered that, you need to learn which crops lend themselves to resowing, and how often, to insure a steady supply of vegetables over the longest possible season. You’ll also need to estimate how much available space there will be and figure out how to assign various plants to those empty spaces in an ongoing planting plan.

Friends who were working on their crop plan one long-ago winter taught me this. As farmers, their livelihood depends on maximizing every square foot of ground under cultivation. For each portion of a field — the equivalent of a garden bed — they made a simple chart, identifying three or four possible uses and assigning each planting an approximate date. Where the April-sown spring peas came out, the bush bean seeds could go in, followed in late summer by a fall root vegetable like beets or carrots.

If you don’t have a 2020 succession plan for your own vegetable garden, there is still time to retrofit one.

Credit…Margaret Roach

Getting the most out of the space is your goal, no matter where you’re gardening. But dates and plant choices vary in regions with shorter or longer frost-free seasons, or with extreme summer heat, which might be inhospitable for something that works farther north.


Vegetable-garden tuneup: make room for more

Raised bed of potato plants

IT’S NOT JUST THE BEDS OF FADED SPRING PERENNIALS and gone-by flowering shrubs that need a tuneup around here (and maybe in your yard, too?). The vegetable garden is screaming for attention, as cool-season darlings—the spinach and broccoli raab and various other once-succulent things—stretch up in protest, saying “No more!” How to achieve a continuing harvest with some simple succession-sowing tactics, in words and a captioned slideshow:

My mathematical equation starts on paper around June, like this:

1. Make a list of what you want more of (or a first crop of, if it’s a warm-season thing or if you simply didn’t plant an earlier crop).

2. Make a list of things that have gone by or will soon, to assess real estate that you can utilize. In early to mid-June my lists looked like the one below; yours may be very different. My July and August list–for my latest sowings of all–is at at the bottom of the story.

Trying to make room here for (as of mid-june*):

      • Beans (pole and bush)
      • Salad greens—repeat sowings
      • Arugula—repeat sowings
      • Cilantro
      • Basil
      • Chard
      • Summer and winter squash (I reserved a row for these, where cutting tulips, now faded, grow)
      • Maybe one bush cucumber plant?
      • Kales and collards
      • Tomatoes of not in yet (and peppers and eggplants if you grow them; I don’t)
      • (*For last-ditch crops for July and August sowings, see the end of the story)

Space coming available here from:

      • Peas (two long trellises full) by mid-July
      • Spinach
      • Arugula
      • Endive
      • Asian greens
      • Garlic (about mid-July or so, but I’m keeping it in mind for a fall prospect…maybe the late peas?)

Peas ready to harvest.3. Compare the lists, and start making matchups. Examples:

      • Pea trellises might be a good place for pole beans (or other vining crops like squash or cukes)…but then I might want to plant fall peas. Hmmmm…which do I want more?
      • Sometimes I place my young tomatoes just alongside the peas, knowing I’ll rip the peas out a few weeks after the tomatoes go in, but before they need all the space. Those years, I yank the pea trellis and insert tomato cages.

4. Also look for marginal spaces you can cheat by a few inches—or a foot. You’d be surprised how much produce you can pack into beds if they contain well-loved soil rich in compost. For instance, between your tomatoes and the path, hanging over the edge even, why not put parsley, the next generation of beets and carrots, cilantro, salad greens, or even a row of bush beans? I do.

5. As you start calculating, also study a “succession sowing” chart for your area, perhaps from your cooperative extension’s website or an organic-farming association. Identify how long you can wait to sow what and still get a harvest by frost time. My favorite one appropriate to my general region is from the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (a portion of which I reprinted above; to get the whole amazing thing, for every sowing or transplanting chore March through October, click here).

6. Remember the basic “best practices” of vegetable-garden care to maximize yields:

      • Plant short rows every other week for a sustained but manageable supply of salads, greens, bush beans, cilantro.
      • Keep picking! Continual harvesting delays a plant’s instinct to “bolt” or set seed.
      • Weed to reduce competition for moisture, light and nutrients (asparagus, onions and garlic, in particular, really suffer with competition).
      • Remember which way the sun travels in summer, and don’t accidentally put someone who’ll be small on the shady side of someone who’ll be tall (unless it’s intentional, such as to shade summer salad).
      • Water deeply on a regular basis, drenching the entire root zone.  (Note: With a sprinkler, this takes many hours. Soaker hoses or drip emitters are more direct if properly placed in beds.)
      • There are more tips in the slideshow below (like hilling your potatoes!).

kale fritatta7. Waste not! Many “gone-by” greens (so long as they’re not positively woody) are tasty cooked.  Mustard, for instance, and many other elements in a “spicy mesclun” salad mix you may have let stand a week too long to be salad material any longer could serve up beautifully with a minute in the sauté pan. (Some can also go into a pot of vegetable stock for the freezer, like this.)

Don’t just toss the arugula that’s started to bolt; have you ever wilted it in garlic and olive oil that contains a chopped tomato or a little tomato sauce and a few red pepper flakes, then tossed it all into pasta, with some grated cheese for good measure? (An old friend handed this combination down to me, as his mother had to him; I smiled when I saw it’s also a formal “recipe,” and if you prefer such details, try this link.)

Or make a “pie” (like the fritatta, above) with the last of the spinach and other green, leafy things. Sauté some onion and garlic in olive oil, wilt the greens right in the same pan when the onion’s tender, crumble in feta (or your choice of cheese), and whisk then add some eggs.  Bake in a 350-degree oven in an oiled baking dish, with extra oil drizzled on top. (More recipes for handling the harvest are here.)

Dishes like those simple ones make vegetable-garden tuneup time like its own special harvest season, with a delicious reward for the work, and the promise of more to come.

8. A P.S., sort of: Nonstop seedlings! Most experts–both vegetable farmers and pro gardeners like my friend Lee Reich–say that the greatest productivity and efficiency comes from having transplants on hand to plug in all season long, not just in spring. Watch Lee’s video above, or read more about that in the second half of the chat we had one spring about growing from seed in general.

WHEN I GET TO MY latest sowings, in July and August, after the longest day has passed and the days slowly get shorter, I try to adjust for the fact that things grow differently than in spring. A former High Mowing Organic Seeds staffer turned farmer, Katie Spring, told me to think like this:

“What I learned at High Mowing is what we call ‘The Fall Factor,’” she said. “As the days grow shorter, you add time to the days to maturity on the seed packet. If you’re going based on your first frost date, you can basically add two weeks to the time that crop will take to reach maturity.”

With a 60-day something-or-other, you’d basically make it like a 75-day crop, and count back that long from frost. It’s hard to get it exact, says Katie–but we try, and use The Fall Factor as a guideline. Both Katie and I like to err on the side of maybe starting things a little bit earlier, but not so early that things start to bolt in the high-summer heat.

Select varieties that work with that in mind. My latest list of all, for the fall garden, includes direct-sown things and also some I started earlier in flats, in anticipation. And again: don’t forget to leave room for the garlic! The list:

      • Arugula, from 21 to 40 days (baby or mature leaf size)
      • Bush beans, about 60 days (have insulating fabric ready if early cold threatens)
      • Beets, for roots and beet greens
      • Braising greens mix (mustard, kale, collards, Asian greens…)
      • Broccoli raab, about 40 days
      • Broccoli (60 days from transplants started 15 weeks before first frost.) Try ‘Piracicaba,’ from Hudson Valley Seed Library or Turtle Tree Seed, or the leaf broccoli Spigarello from Johnny’s.
      • Cabbage (60 days from transplants started about 15 weeks before first frost) or Napa cabbage (about 10 days faster)
      • Carrots (a storage kind like ‘Rolanka’ from Turtle Tree, plus some smaller types for fall eating)
      • Cauliflower (60 days from transplants started about 14 weeks before frost)
      • Chard
      • Chicory, endive, radicchio
      • Cilantro
      • Collards, about 60 days but nice as a baby green
      • Daikon (60 days) and other faster radishes
      • Dill
      • Kale, about 60 days but nice in half that time as a baby green
      • Lettuce, leaf and head type and mesclun mix, about 21-30 days to first cutting
      • Mustard greens, about 45 days (faster as baby greens to spice a salad)
      • Peas; shelling, sugar snap, and snowpea type; and also a row or block of thickly sown peas for harvest as pea shoots for salad, when they’re 3 or 4 inches tall
      • Radish
      • Scallions and other hardy bunching onions, for fall use and to overwinter
      • Spinach
      • Squash, summer variety, fast bush type (I sowed a 48-day variety July 1)
      • Turnips, 40-50 days, faster for greens; rutabaga


Farmers struggle for guidance after federal court bans popular herbicide

One of the most widely used herbicides in the United States can no longer be sprayed on 60 million acres of crops this year, after a federal court ruled Wednesday that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency broke the law in approving versions of the herbicide.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court ruling, in response to a lawsuit filed by conservation groups, negates the federal registration of certain versions of the weedkiller dicamba, a herbicide which has been used since the 1960s but modified in recent years by Monsanto for widespread use on genetically modified soybean and cotton crops.

Monsanto touted its dicamba-tolerant crop system – widely viewed as a successor to the popular Roundup – as the largest biotechnology launch in its history. But the bumpy rollout of the technology has led to millions acres of crop damage and damage to natural areas , thousands of farmer complaints and hundreds of lawsuits blaming the company for the problems.

The vast majority of soybean and cotton crops in the U.S. have already been planted, and the spraying of herbicides on those crops is happening now. About two-thirds of soybean farmers and the majority of cotton farmers plant dicamba-resistant seeds.  Farmers have already purchased herbicides to accompany the seeds.

On Thursday though, soybean and cotton farmers, pesticide applicators and agriculture officials across the country scrambled for guidance after the decision, which means that many farmers no longer have a herbicide that will work to kill weeds in their fields. In some cases, the uncontrolled weeds may damage entire crop fields, costing farmers thousands of dollars.

“Honest to God, right now, I don’t know what to tell people,” said Jean Payne, president of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, which includes pesticide applicators. “This is unprecedented. This is not something that has happened in my career, ever.”

No fault of their own

Since 2017, the use of the herbicide dicamba has skyrocketed, after Monsanto, which was bought by Bayer in 2018, introduced new genetically modified soybean and cotton seeds that could be sprayed by dicamba. The company, along with BASF and Corteva, also made new versions of dicamba the EPA approved initially in 2016.

The need for the herbicide arose after many types of weeds became resistant to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and most popular weedkiller in the world.

But the new technology has come at a high cost.

Millions of acres of non-resistant crops and natural areas across the Midwest and South have been damaged by the herbicide moving off of where it was applied. Earlier this year, a federal jury in Missouri awarded $265 million to a peach farmer whose farm was damaged. Hundreds of similar lawsuits are pending.

A coalition of conservation groups sued the EPA over the registration.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the EPA violated the law when it approved dicamba in 2018 because it did not properly consider the effect of the herbicide on other farmers and the natural environment.

The three-judge panel, which heard oral arguments in April, agreed with plaintiffs, finding that the EPA underestimated and ignored many risks that dicamba posed because of its widespread off-target movement. The court also ruled that the EPA should have considered the economic cost of the anti-competitve situation created by farmers being forced to adopt dicamba-resistant seeds in order to protect themselves from drift.

The court, expressing concern for farmers who rely on the technology, ruled that the EPA did not have “substantial evidence” to support its decision.

The EPA has yet to issue guidance on what the ruling means. The Association of American Pesticide Control Officials has asked for clarification from the EPA, said Andrew Thostenson, program specialist with North Dakota State University Extension Service.

“I would be surprised if there wasn’t clarity on this thing relatively soon,” he said.

While the EPA has not yet issued guidance, the Illinois Department of Agriculture, which oversees pesticides in the nation’s top producing soybean state, said the court ruling “clearly calls for the stop of use, sale and distribution” of the herbicides.

Tavium, another dicamba-based herbicide sold by Syngenta, is not affected by the decision; however, that herbicide is not available in large numbers.

In their ruling, federal judges indicated that it would mean an immediate ban of the herbicides.

“We acknowledge the difficulties these growers may have in finding effective and legal herbicides to protect their DT crops if we grant vacatur. They have been placed in this situation through no fault of their own. However, the absence of substantial evidence to support the EPA’s decision compels us to vacate the registrations,” Justice William Fletcher wrote in a decision on behalf of the three-judge panel.

Companies disagree

Bayer spokeswoman Susan Luke said the company “strongly disagrees” with the ruling and is assessing its options. Bayer’s product website gives farmers updates on the situation as it evolves.

“If the ruling stands, we will work quickly to minimize any impact on our customers this season. Our top priority is making sure our customers have the support they need to have a successful season,” Luke wrote in an emailed statement Wednesday night.

BASF spokeswoman Odessa Patricia Hines said the decision “has the potential to be devastating to tens of thousands of farmers.”

“We are currently reviewing the Order and are waiting on further direction from the U.S. EPA on actions they will take as a result of this Order. We will use all legal remedies available to challenge this Order and we remain committed to serving our customers with safe and effective crop protection solutions, including Engenia herbicide,” Hines said.

Uncharted territory

University of Illinois weed scientist Aaron Hager said in his 27-year career, nothing like this has ever happened.

“We’ve never dealt with anything like this before,” Hager said.

Farmers remove weeds in order to ensure their crops aren’t outcompeted by other plants. If a weed stays in the field, it can take much-needed nutrients and sunlight from crops. This could, in turn, lower the yield and lead to less money for farmers, Hager said.

Hager said the decision could leave many farmers without a chemical option to spray on their fields. Many weeds, including waterhemp and Palmer amaranth, have developed resistance to all other approved herbicides on soybeans in many places.

Hager said depending on the level of weed resistance, some farmers could lose very significant amounts of soybeans to the ultra-competitive weeds. Hager said this is similar to prior to the introduction of dicamba-resistant seeds. Some farmers in that time had to basically mow over fields that became infested with weeds.

Farmers are still able to do mechanized removal of weeds, through a cultivator or hoe, but for many farmers who have thousands of acres of crops, that can be time-consuming or cost large amounts of money.

Thostenson said he has been receiving constant calls from farmers since the decision was announced Wednesday night.

“Right now, there’s just a lot of unknowns,” said Thostenson.”If you’re a farmer getting ready to spray your weeds, we don’t really have any good answers for them right now.”

In recent years, dicamba has been used to kill “super weeds” that have developed resistance to other pesticides. Without dicamba, many farmers don’t have very good options of how to kill these weeds, Thostenson said, which could lead to some farmers illegally spraying the herbicide because they have in the past.

In 2015 and 2016, dicamba-tolerant crops were planted, but the herbicides were not yet approved, and many farmers illegally sprayed older versions of the herbicide.

Right now is when many farmers are spraying their crops, he said.

“The timing on this thing couldn’t be worse. It could not be worse timing,” Thostenson said.

The American Soybean Association, which represents more than 300,000 soybean farmers said in an emailed statement it is disappointed by the decision.

“ASA is reviewing the court’s decision to fully determine its repercussions on the soy industry, but regrets that the future of dicamba – a very effective weed management product when used responsibly – is on the line,” the statement said.


COVID-19 Highlights Indigenous Inequities in Canada

The stubborn tendency of non-Indigenous Canadians to turn away from “Indigenous issues” and seek a return to “normalcy” remains an ongoing barrier to change.

Image: Reuters

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians have shown their support for front-line workers. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other political leaders have told Canadians “we are all in this together” and “no expense will be spared” to ensure the health and safety of Canadians.

Yet, when it comes to the persistent and glaring inequities facing Indigenous communities in Canada, many of these same leaders, as well as Canadians, have fallen drastically short. The stubborn tendency of non-Indigenous Canadians to turn away from “Indigenous issues” and seek a return to “normalcy” remains an ongoing barrier to change.

On April 27, 2020, for example, the Dryden town council in northwestern Ontario voted 5-2 against a motion calling for the resignation of Conservative Sen. Lynn Beyak. Beyak made national headlines last year when she refused to remove racist letters from her website and was subsequently suspended from the Senate for failing to take sensitivity training seriously.

Dryden Mayor Greg Wilson said some councillors felt it was beyond their jurisdiction to comment on federal matters. But as Fort Frances town councillor Douglas Judson pointed out: “Municipal resolutions comment or call for action by other levels of government all the time.”

Leaders from the Grand Council Treaty 3 (GCT3) and Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) publicly condemned Dryden council’s decision. NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler said:

“As leaders we must seize every opportunity to support reconciliation and speak out against racism … it is the duty of all Canadians to stand against racism and bigotry … hurtful comments that ignore our shared colonial history must be denounced.”

COVID-19 highlights Indigenous inequities

COVID-19 has illuminated longstanding inequities in Indigenous communities, such as the lack of clean drinking water, overcrowded housing and inadequate health-care access in dozens of First Nations, as Cindy Blackstock and Isadore Day recently explored in an op-ed for the Globe and Mail and documented by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

These conditions, created by decades of colonial policies and actions and inactions, make it much more challenging to follow basic public health guidelines, such as frequent hand washing and physical distancing.

Moreover, the federal government recently acknowledged that its funding for Indigenous organizations has “fallen short” and its COVID-19 data on Indigenous peoples is “limited.”

The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples is suing the federal government for “inadequate and discriminatory funding” to respond to COVID-19 among off-reserve and urban Indigenous people.

Some companies, meanwhile, seem to be exploiting the pandemic to build pipelines or extract resources on Indigenous territories that Indigenous people staunchly oppose. Alberta’s energy minister even said: “Now is a great time to be building a pipeline because you can’t have protests of more than 15 people.”

Widespread avoidance

I conducted interviews and fieldwork over 18 months in the Rainy River District in northwestern Ontario to explore the attitudes of people like Beyak and her supporters. I found out they are not as rare as some would like to think.

In fact, in my book, Canada at a Crossroads: Boundaries, Bridges, and Laissez-Faire Racism in Indigenous-Settler Relations, I show that non-Indigenous Canadians, whatever their personal views, seek to avoid discussing racism and colonialism at all costs.

Part of the issue is about language and self-perception. Far too many Canadians do not see themselves as settlers when that is clearly the case.

Many settler Canadians routinely express a sense of group superiority and entitlement and feel threatened by Indigenous people who stand up for their rights, defend their lands and publicly assert their Indigenous identities and cultures. Perhaps even more common is the unwillingness of settlers to say or do anything about the racism in their midst.

Inter-group contact is not enough to overcome these racist and colonialist structures as these attitudes often coexist with a history of intermarriage and cross-group friendships.

Many settlers in northwestern Ontario refer to Indigenous friends or family members as “good Indians,” exceptions who prove the rule. Some even look to Indigenous people for validation of their racist views. Most commonly, racism and colonialism remain elephants in the room, and Indigenous-settler relations can be friendly so long as no one talks about “politics.”

Reconciliation: A way forward

The silver lining in my research is that many Indigenous and settler people are interested in finding new ways of relating to one another.

Positive Indigenous-settler alliances exist. In Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, the Freedom Road campaign brought together activists, evangelical Christians, business people and urban and rural Indigenous people to create a 24-kilometre route to link Shoal Lake 40 First Nation to the Trans-Canada Highway. In the Rainy River District, First Nations and municipalities worked together to protect their shorelines from flooding or pooled their resources to purchase medical equipment at the Fort Frances hospital.

Crises are often an opportunity for groups to develop new ways of working together to protect their mutual interests and to find a new footing on which to grapple with Canada’s past and move forward on a more equitable and sustainable path.

The COVID-19 pandemic represents one such crisis: for settlers and their governments, it could be an opportunity to live up to all the recent talk of reconciliation. This would mean respecting Indigenous nations’ political autonomy and jurisdiction, including the right to regulate who enters the community and on what terms. It would also mean providing the necessary funding and other supports to prevent and manage disease outbreaks.

Although there may be regions where this is happening locally in Canada, we continue to see instances like Dryden where settlers overlook or oppose the call to rectify these inequities.

It is imperative to speak out against racism — whether interpersonal or institutional. We must build new relationships based on respect for Indigenous sovereignty, fulfilment of treaty obligations, and a spirit of partnership.


The ConversationJeff Denis, Associate Professor of Sociology, McMaster University

Indigenous advocates urge action as government delays MMIW action plan

CTV News: MONTREAL — Advocates are upset over the federal government delaying the release of an action plan on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, a year after a federal inquiry released its final report.

Fourteen years ago, Melanie Morrison’s sister Tiffany left their home on a summer night and never came back. Morrison said police didn’t take her case seriously and years later, Tiffany’s remains were found less than a kilometre from home.

Morrison was one of 750 people who testified that the federal inquiry in MMIW that ended last year.

“This has been decades of women being treated this way and discarded,” she said.

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised action, he acknowledged that the COVID-19 has delayed the release of a plan. Kahnawake Chief Gina Deer said women’s lives shouldn’t have to wait.

“Through just our community we had the blockade and now COVID but we are still managing,” she said. “Mind you, it’s at a much slower pace, but we are taking care of business.”

In a statement to CTV News, the Minister For Crown Indigenous Affairs said “We acknowledge we must redouble our efforts to eliminate the systemic racism arising from colonial policies and attitudes. The spirit of those we have lost will continue to guide our work.”

One researcher found at least 65 Indigenous women have been killed since the inquiry’s report was published in June, 2019.

“It’s going to take more than rhetoric for us to believe and start really establishing a trust relationship,” said Indigenous human rights activist Ellen Gabriel.

Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal Executive Director Nakuset that despite any government pauses, Indigenous groups are still working for change, but much work remains on issues such as safe transportation, better daycare and mental health support.

“Whether or not Canada delays the action plan, doesn’t mean Indigenous organizations don’t move forward,” she said.


The best way to “reform” the police is to defund the police.

Five years ago people were told, “Don’t worry, we’re going to take care of it. We’re going to give the police some implicit bias training. We’re going to have some community meetings. We’re going to give them some body cameras and it’s all going to get better.” And five years later, it’s not better. Nothing has changed. People are not going to listen to any more pablum about community meetings.

Minneapolis is a liberal city in both the best and the worst senses of the word. Five years ago, they fully embraced the idea that they could get out of their policing problem by having people sit around and talk about racism. They tried all these tactics to restore community trust in the police while at the same time the police were permitted to on waging a war on drugs, a war on gangs, a war on crime, and criminalizing poverty and mental illness and homelessness.

It’s not just Minneapolis. One of the things you heard a lot was this idea that we needed to jail killer cops. This is a dead-end strategy. First of all, the legal system is designed to protect police. It’s not an accident. It’s not a bug. It’s a feature. Secondly, when police are prosecuted, the system tosses them out and says, “Oh they were a bad apple. We got rid of them. See, the system works.”

So people are realizing this type of procedural reform will do nothing to change policing. Where’s the evidence?



Canada can hit climate targets without ruining economy, economists and climate experts say

Pandemic shutdown ‘a really painful way to get a decrease in emissions,’ climatologist says

Farmer Ron Lamb installed solar panels to power his irrigation systems on the family farm near Claresholm, Alta. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Last November, the United Nations Environment Program released its annual Emissions Gap Report, which found that in order to limit global warming to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels, CO2 emissions would need to drop by 7.6 per cent annually over the next decade.

Given that worldwide emissions are estimated to have risen by about 0.4 per cent in 2019, this seemed like an unattainable goal.

A recent study published in Nature Climate Change, however, suggests that as a result of global shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, emissions in 2020 could drop by roughly seven per cent.

At first glance, it might appear as though a devastating economic shutdown is the only way to reach those UN targets. But some experts say this isn’t the case, and insist there is a way to have economic growth and reduce emissions that adhere to the UN guidelines.

Storefronts in Ottawa’s Glebe neighbourhood are reflected in a window sign on March 24, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)


“We can’t have this [kind of a shutdown] for tackling climate change — absolutely not,” said Corinne Le Quéré, a Canadian professor of climate change science at the University of East Anglia and lead author of the Nature study. “This is a really painful way to get a decrease in emissions.” She also noted that it likely won’t last.

Don Drummond, an economist who worked for the federal Department of Finance for 23 years, pointed out that emissions in Canada have almost flat-lined, on average, over the past few years during a period of economic growth (prior to the coronavirus pandemic).

This, he said, is evidence that reducing emissions to UN guidelines is possible.

“We’ve achieved higher growth with flattening emissions and we can and should go further and achieve positive growth with declining emissions,” said Drummond, an adjunct professor at Queen’s University and former chief economist at the Toronto-Dominion Bank. “That can be done, but we need a more concentrated policy effort.”

New opportunities

Drummond, who was one of the architects of the Goods and Services Tax in 1991, said there is a long history in Canada of scare-mongering that a given new policy will kill the economy, from the GST to the North American Free Trade Agreement. Quite often, it doesn’t.

Many governments around the world are trying to stimulate their economies during the pandemic, and this could be an opportunity to funnel money into green technologies, said Le Quéré.

There’s been an increase in the popularity of e-bikes, a green alternative to getting around cities. (Francois Mori/Associated Press)


She said that one of the key findings of the Nature study was that the biggest drop in emissions during the pandemic, behind the aviation industry, has been in surface transport. This, she said, could be one sector governments could target.

“The biggest reason why the emissions [went] down now is mobility. So we just don’t go anywhere. We don’t use our cars. Governments could say, ‘Well, we’re going to tackle that as we get out of confinement,'” Le Quéré said. That could “include everything from encouraging home-working for those who want to and who can, then developing infrastructure for … walking or cycling.”

While Drummond believes the federal government is likely to invest in methods to reduce emissions, he said it will likely be a long time — perhaps years — before we see stimulus packages aimed at revitalizing the economy, such as specific jobs programs.

In the meantime, he said the government can use other means to reach the 7.6 per cent emissions-reduction goal, such as disincentives — like the carbon tax on things like gasoline and heating fuels — which can be effective in bringing down emissions, particularly when that money is recycled back to people and businesses, as the federal government is doing.

“If you have the right incentives or the right disincentives in place, there can be growth that takes place that is not environmentally damaging,” Drummond said.

“I would say put a price on it … that’s what it really comes down to.”

Another could be investing in retrofitting buildings to make them more efficient, which would be very labour-intensive and could create more jobs. But Drummond said that would be “second best.”

On the path

Mark Jaccard, a professor of sustainability energy at Simon Fraser University, said transitioning to renewable energy isn’t as costly as some may think it is.

He said it would cost “at most, two years of economic growth spread over a 30-year period.” (In recent years, Canada has experienced annual growth in the 1.5 to 1.9 per cent range.)

Jaccard, who is currently working on the next IPCC report, said that this small sacrifice over an extended period of time is far better than the alternative.

Flood waters breach the Gatineau River and flood the neighbourhood in Gatineau, Que., in May 2017. More extreme weather is one consequence of climate change. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)


“It’s a slight difference in economic output over a 30-year period in order to prevent the dramatic crashing in your economy because of wildfires, acidified oceans, rising seas, major storms and pandemics that can happen from climate change,” he said.

Drummond agrees, noting that concerns about emissions reductions harming the economy will likely always be around, even if they are without merit.

Canada is already on the right path, he said, and the country can ramp up its efforts to see both economic growth and a notable reduction in emissions.

“It’s not like we’re asking to do something that’s never been done before. We are doing it right now, we’re just not doing it enough,” he said. “If you asked me to move a three-tonne rock, if I can move it an inch, I’m pretty sure I can move it a foot.”


Nicole Mortillaro Senior Reporter, Science: Nicole has an avid interest in all things science. As an amateur astronomer, Nicole can be found looking up at the night sky appreciating the marvels of our universe. She is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and the author of several books.

On George Floyd’s death, journalism and inclusive newsrooms

CBC News is committed to making changes to ensure content and leadership better reflect contemporary Canada

The death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd last month was a call to action for many but also left people across the U.S. and around the world with a deep sense of futility and sadness, another brutal reminder of the overt and systemic racism Black people experience and feel on a daily basis. (Jonathan Bachman/Reuters)

Two weeks ago today, George Floyd, a Black man, was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis. Bystander video captured the moment Floyd’s life ended under the officer’s knee, which had been pressed tight against his neck for a full eight minutes and 46 seconds.

That video lit the fuse on a powder keg of anger and frustration across North America and around the world. It was for many a call to action. It left others with a deep sense of futility and sadness, another brutal reminder of the overt and systemic racism Black people experience and feel on a daily basis.

Those same feelings swept through our newsrooms at CBC. At the same time, our audience, fed up with racism and white-dominated media, demanded accountability.

Just one example:

After days of detailed live coverage of U.S. protests by CBC News Network, we made a series of errors last Sunday morning. We broadcast video of police vehicles driving into crowds of protestors in New York City. The script was poorly worded and mischaracterized the events, framing them mostly from the police perspective. Our team realized this and improved the language, but when we rebroadcast the clip, we had a technical production error that cut the video short — not showing the final moments when the police drove into the crowd.

That’s all it took.

Someone edited a side-by-side comparison of the original footage with our video, posted it to social media, and within days, we were an international meme and “proof” of the media’s complicity with police. The audience reaction on social media was fierce and unrelenting.

It did not matter that we had corrected, apologized, ran the full video multiple times after the error and before it was ever pointed out. We apologized again. But as I told our staff in an internal note, intent and workflow do not matter when it comes to this story or matters of race.

The expectation is simply that we get it right. Every time. And that’s a fair expectation.

We didn’t meet that expectation last week. With the scrutiny on our work at its highest level, we owned up to some examples where our storytelling was one-sided, or missing perspectives, or nuance, or sensitivity.

A demonstrator in Atlanta faces a line of police during a protest last Monday. Scrutiny of the media’s coverage of the protests has been high, with audiences quick to point to missing perspectives and context. (Ben Gray/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/The Associated Press)

The pain is real

On the inside of CBC News, many of our staff were reeling. People of colour told us the Floyd story is personal and deeply felt. The pain is real. Our mistakes laid bare their long-held complaint that we aren’t moving fast enough to ensure our workforce — from entry level to leadership — looks like the country we serve. How can we ever deepen our awareness and understanding of race if more people of colour, more Indigenous people, more women, more people with disabilities, aren’t in positions of power and influence throughout our newsrooms?

And we heard complaints, not new, that our interpretation of CBC’s journalistic standards and practices (JSP) is so rigid it can muzzle within the organization important voices and lived experiences. Do our definitions of objectivity, balance, fairness and impartiality — and our insistence that journalists not express personal opinions on the stories we cover — work against our goals of inclusion and being part of the community and country we serve?

This question will be among the thorniest to untangle, for I believe strongly that our adherence to the JSP is the central reason CBC News is one of the most trusted news organizations in Canada. But I’m equally convinced that being open to this conversation and looking at the JSP through the prism of inclusivity will result in greater clarity for staff and managers, a mutual understanding of JSP intent and greater trust.

The central question we face: Can our journalists be active citizens of the world without compromising their objectivity?

We will make other changes, big and small at CBC News, Current Affairs and Local Services:

      • We’ve committed that one in two new hires in our department at all levels will come from underrepresented equity groups.
      • We will review our leadership and ensure we continue to hire and promote the very best by drawing from diverse groups.
      • Unconscious bias training will be mandatory for our journalists and anyone who leads people.
      • A CBC program for emerging diverse leaders will be expanded.
      • We are training editorial teams on how to think more inclusively when chasing interviews, guests and experts.
      • We will ask every CBC News program team this year to develop a strategy that makes the reflection of contemporary Canada one of the key pillars of their editorial choices.

And in addition, we announced a change to our Language Guide that will see us capitalize “Black” when we refer to racial identity or culture, as we did with the word “Indigenous” a few years ago.

We are committed to change.

But the overriding objective is that the inside of CBC News mirrors the makeup of the country we serve. Only then can our storytelling truly reflect the many interests, sensitivities, beliefs and viewpoints found in Canada.

Malaysia Hammond, 19, places flowers at a memorial mural for Floyd near where he was killed in Minneapolis. Floyd’s death and the widespread protests it sparked have prompted many institutions to examine their own practices and commit to doing more to address systemic racism. (John Minchillo/The Associated Press)

Brodie Fenlon is editor in chief and executive director of daily news for CBC News.

Nunavut leaders calling for systemic review of RCMP service in the territory

‘Deaths are being caused by the same force … here to protect us. This is very troubling,’ MLA says

Aluki Kotierk, president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., and six MLAs in Nunavut support a systemic review of RCMP service in the territory. (Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC)

A growing number of Nunavut leaders are calling for a territory-wide systemic review of the RCMP after more than 30 cases have emerged involving allegations of police brutality, misconduct and insensitivity.

“Absolutely, I think it’s important that there be a review of the RCMP. I think that’s a healthy way of seeing where things are at,” said Aluki Kotierk, president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the organization that represents Nunavut Inuit.

The Legal Services Board of Nunavut, the territory’s legal aid agency, sent two letters to the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP (CRCC) over the past year detailing those cases.

Many of the allegations against the RCMP come from Inuit women who complained to the board about the police response to domestic violence and sexual assault calls, as well as treatment in jail cells and degrading strip searches.

Front-line legal aid workers heard from community members about racism and cultural insensitivity by RCMP officers across the territory, Benson Cowan, the board’s CEO said in the first letter, dated June 13, 2019.

“Community members … have experienced this in countless ways, from a simple lack of cultural awareness and understanding … to outright racist comments, attitudes and actions.”

Six Nunavut MLAs have joined Kotierk and the legal services board in calling for the CRCC to conduct a full, systemic review of policing in the territory.

RCMP’s historical context

Kotierk said the language barrier between Inuit and a great majority of RCMP officers who work in Nunavut is a major issue — especially since officers sometimes must deliver life-altering and traumatic information.

The current relationship between Inuit and the RCMP is set in a particular historical context, Kotierk said.

RCMP acted on behalf of the Canadian government’s efforts to colonize Inuit through actions such as forced relocation, taking children to residential schools and widespread sled-dog killings, she said.

Many of the allegations against Nunavut RCMP described in the two letters come from Inuit women who complained to the territory’s legal aid services board about police response to domestic violence and sexual assault calls, as well as treatment in cells and degrading strip searches.  (David Gunn/CBC)


It only makes sense, Kotierk said, to re-evaluate the role the Mounties ought to have in the North today.

“Because of those experiences that we have had with the RCMP, they’re not the first person that people think of to protect them, to protect the well-being of Inuit.”

CBC News reached out to all 11 regular MLAs in the territory via email, providing them with the board’s two letters.

Seven of the MLAs replied, six of whom said they support the call for the review. Gjoa Haven MLA Tony Akoak said he didn’t think it was appropriate to respond while the commission made its considerations.

David Qamaniq, who represents Tununiq, is one of the MLAs who agreed that Nunavut RCMP need a systemic review. He attended the 2018 inquest into the fatal police shooting of his 20-year-old son in Pond Inlet. The jury of that inquest concluded the death was a homicide, and the Qamaniq family is now suing the RCMP for cultural bias and lack of training.

“I strongly support [the board’s] call on the RCMP commission for a public review into policing services in Nunavut,” said Qamaniq, who has advocated that officers be equipped with body cameras.

Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone pointed out that the board’s letters cite a number of cases where Crown prosecutors stayed charges because of “egregious conduct of the police.”

“It is tragic to think that acts of police misconduct result in failures in the criminal justice system. This is clearly something that needs to be brought to light,” he said in an email to CBC News.

MLAs Pat Angnakak, Joelie Kaernerk, Cathy Towtongie and John Main said they all support the review, too.

The current relationship between Inuit and the RCMP is set in a particular historical context, says Kotierk. RCMP acted on behalf of the Canadian government’s efforts to colonize Inuit through actions such as forced relocation, taking children to residential schools and widespread sled-dog killings, she says.  (Valerie Zink/Reuters)


“The social conditions and challenges faced by women in Nunavut are huge — and a properly trained, empathetic, culturally aware and transparent police force is something that could help change things for the better,” Main told CBC.

Towtongie said RCMP should work with and consult the family of those in distress in order to de-escalate situations.

“We Inuit are filling the jails. Deaths are being caused by the same force that are here to protect us. This is very troubling,” Towtongie said in an email.

Territory should step in if CRCC doesn’t: leaders

If the commission does not initiate a systemic review of policing in the territory, the Nunavut government could, experts in police oversight told CBC News.

Ultimately, it is the territory that is responsible for providing policing services, which officials have contracted the Mounties to provide.

Kotierk and all six of the MLAs in favour of the review who spoke to CBC News said they support the Nunavut government initiating a review if the CRCC does not.

Arreak Lightstone went one step further, citing a lack of transparency in reports on investigations done by and into local RCMP, which are not made fully public.

“I support the formation of a Nunavut police oversight body to ensure that all Nunavummiut are knowledgeable of and confident in the police complaints process,” he said in an email.


Thomas Rohner is a reporter based in Iqaluit, where he’s lived for nearly six years. His special interests as a journalist include the criminal justice system and investigative reporting.


Judge approves a restraining order agaunst Minneapolic police.

To stamp out police and domestic military violence, Canadian provinces would be wise to follow this example

Police officers take guard during a protest over the death of George Floyd on May 31, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Police officers take guard during a protest over the death of George Floyd on May 31, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Changan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

A Hennepin County judge is ordering the Minneapolis Police Department to stop using all neck restraints and chokeholds when dealing with suspects.

The plan was first approved by Mayor Jacob Frey and the city council late last week, in cooperation with the state Department of Human Rights.

Judge Karen Janisch’s order says officers must immediately notify a supervisor if they see inappropriate use of force. Officers are also required to physically intervene against unauthorized use of force when possible, or otherwise “shall be subject to discipline to the same severity as if they themselves engaged in the prohibited use of force.”

Under the court order, the City of Minneapolis must implement the following measures:

      • Ban the use of all neck restraints and choke holds.
      • Any police officer, regardless of tenure or rank, must report while still on scene if they observe another police officer use any unauthorized use of force, including any choke hold or neck restraint.
      • Any police officer, regardless of tenure or rank, must intervene by verbal and physical means if they observe another police officer use any unauthorized use of force, including any choke hold or neck restraint.
      • Only the police chief or the chief’s designee at the rank of deputy chief may approve the use of crowd control weapons, including chemical agents, rubber bullets, flash-bangs, batons, and marking rounds, during protests and demonstrations.
      • The police chief must make timely and transparent discipline decisions for police officers as outlined in the order.
      • Civilian body-worn camera footage analysts and investigators in the City’s Office of Police Conduct Review have the authority to proactively audit body-worn camera footage and file or amend complaints on behalf of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department. 

“Today’s court order will create immediate change for communities of color and Indigenous communities who have suffered generational pain and trauma as a result of systemic and institutional racism and long-standing problems in policing,” Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero said in a written statement.


%d bloggers like this: