The House: The damage done by the SNC-Lavalin scandal

SNC-Lavalin is at the centre of a claim that former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould was pressured by Trudeau government officials to help the organization avoid prosecution. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters )

In the week since the SNC-Lavalin story broke, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has changed his talking points several times.

After the story first hit, Trudeau insisted that the allegation in the Globe and Mail story — that Jody Wilson-Raybould had been pressured by the Prime Minister’s Office while serving as minister of justice to help the Quebec-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution in a bribery case — was false. He said Wilson-Raybould’s continued presence in cabinet, as minister for Veterans Affairs, spoke for itself.

Then she quit — and the message changed. Wilson-Raybould, Trudeau said, had never raised with him the suggestion that the PMO was pressuring her to go easy on SNC-Lavalin, and he made it clear to her that any decisions on the file were hers alone to make.

//www.cbc.ca/i/caffeine/syndicate/?mediaId=1443545667750

The shifting nature of Trudeau’s explanations suggests a recognition that the government’s messaging has gotten out of hand and a correction was needed to contain some of the blowback, said one member of former prime minister Paul Martin’s inner circle. MORE

RELATED:

Canada ‘falling behind’ on fighting corruption abroad: Transparency International director

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in a 1996 case that if government ethics laws are not strictly and strongly enforced, Canada will not be a democracy.

‘Damage is done’ in Indigenous community over Wilson-Raybould’s treatment: Kinew

Jody Wilson-Raybould
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould take part in the grand entrance as the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation commission is released, Tuesday December 15, 2015 in Ottawa. Veterans Affairs Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is quitting the federal cabinet days after allegations became public the Prime Minister’s Office pressured the former justice minister to help SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew says the federal Liberal government’s treatment of Jody Wilson-Raybould in the SNC-Lavalin scandal has done serious damage to the party’s reputation with Indigenous people in Canada.

Indigenous people have “made up their mind” on the issue, Kinew told CTV Question Period host Evan Solomon during an interview airing Sunday.

“Jody Wilson-Raybould appears to be the one conducting herself with integrity and the prime minister seems to be playing politics as usual,” he said. “I think that has damaged Trudeau’s reputation as being Canada’s first woke prime minister.” MORE

RELATED:

Liberals risk ‘brand damage’ over Wilson-Raybould controversy, says former Martin government official
Wilson-Raybould resignation spells trouble for Liberals

Bill McKibben: Climate Change Is Scary—Not the Green New Deal

It’s very clear that conservatives have one plan for dealing with the popularity of the Green New Deal: scaring the hell out of people.

AOC.jpg

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey announce Green New Deal legislation in Washington on February 7, 2019. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Myron Ebell of the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, the man who led the drive to pull America out of the Paris climate accords, said the other day that the Green New Deal was a “back-to-the-dark-ages manifesto.” That’s language worth thinking about, coming from perhaps the Right’s most influential spokesman on climate change.

Ebell’s complaint (and that of the rest of the Right) is that the set of proposals to address climate change and economic inequality put forth last week by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey would do too much, and cost too much. Indeed, he describes the Green New Deal this way: “It calls for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in 10 years, ‘upgrading all existing buildings’, and replacing our vehicle fleet with electric cars and more mass transit. And turning our energy economy upside down must be accomplished while ending historic income inequities and oppression of disadvantaged groups.” All of which sounds good not just to me, but to most people: Polling for the Green New Deal is through the roof, especially among young people so ably organized by the Sunrise Movement.

But even if ending historic oppression doesn’t catch your fancy, it’s not a return to the Dark Ages. A return to the Dark Ages is what happened in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit: Survivors dying in the convention center of a modern American city, locals organizing a makeshift “navy” to try to pluck people from rooftops after levees collapsed. MORE

‘Near Monopoly’: Canada’s Economy is ‘Dominated’ By a Small Handful of Corporations, Experts Warn

snclavalin_thumb

Why Justin Trudeau’s SNC-Lavalin scandal is a sign of Canada’s deeper problem with power concentrated in the hands of corporations

There are 117 Canadian companies who currently appear on the World Bank’s list of 250 firms blacklisted from participating in projects around the world under the organization’s fraud and corruption policy.

Most are affiliates of SNC-Lavalin, the company at the centre of a growing scandal involving Justin Trudeau’s PMO and former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, after Trudeau’s PMO reportedly pressured Wilson-Raybould to abandon corruption and fraud charges against SNC-Lavalin.

Thanks to companies like SNC-Lavalin, the Financial Post suggested Canada is fast gaining a reputation for being “home to the most corrupt companies in the world.”

“Six companies dominate the Canadian banking industry. Four companies dominate the internet-service-provider market. Three companies dominate English-language television broadcasting, the supermarket industry, and wireless telecommunications. A duopoly dominates the airline industry. And so on. Oligopoly players are fat and happy.”

But according to experts, the  troubles facing SNC-Lavalin and Trudeau’s PMO are actually symptoms of an economy that has become dominated by a small handful of very powerful and very influential corporations. MORE

Judge Denies TransCanada’s Request for Most Pre-Construction Work on Keystone XL Pipeline

Ruling Deals Yet Another Setback to Proposed Dirty Fossil Fuel Project

Image result for keystone xl pipeline
The Keystone XL pipeline would bring oil from Hardisty, Alta., to Steele City, Neb. (Natalie Holdway/CBC)

Great Falls, MT — A federal court ruling today further delayed the proposed Keystone XL pipeline by reaffirming that TransCanada cannot conduct any construction activity on the controversial tar sands pipeline and continuing to block most pre-construction field activities, including construction of worker camps.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Montana ruled in November that the Trump administration violated bedrock U.S. environmental laws when approving a federal permit for the pipeline. The ruling blocked any construction while the government revises its environmental review.

Today, the court largely stood by that ruling, finding that TransCanada is unlikely to succeed on its appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. It also ruled that TransCanada remains blocked from constructing worker camps and conducting most other pre-construction activity along the pipeline route. The court did allow TransCanada to store pipe in storage yards located off the pipeline right of way, but only on private land that has been properly surveyed and analyzed. The court noted that any investment of resources would be at the company’s own peril. MORE

RELATED:

U.S. judge denies request for Keystone XL pipeline pre-construction work

Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq chiefs demand full jurisdiction in coming child welfare legislation

Paqtnkek Mi’kmaq Nation Chief Paul Prosper says keeping child welfare under provincial jurisdiction “is contrary to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” Photo: Assembly of NS Mi’kmaq Chiefs.

Mi’kmaq chiefs in Nova Scotia are adding their voices to the growing number of Indigenous leaders concerned that the Trudeau government could soon table a child welfare bill that doesn’t give full jurisdiction to First Nations.

On Friday the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs issued a press release calling on Ottawa to ensure the latest draft legislation is amended to include full jurisdiction for First Nations over child welfare.

“The legislation, in its current form, does not recognize the inherent right to self-government which would allow First Nation communities to rightfully assume jurisdiction and governance over their own child welfare matters without the permission of Governments,” Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation Chief Paul Prosper says in the statement. MORE

How to pay for the Green New Deal: Make the fossil fuel industry pay

Image result for new green deal

Last week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced resolutions on a Green New Deal [H.Res.109/S.Res.59]. It outlines in broad strokes how the U.S. government should work toward the plan—a bold and potentially visionary set of policies to create a rapid drawdown of greenhouse gas emissions, provide for millions of well-paying jobs, advance equity and justice for communities on the frontline of climate change, and more.

While unanswered questions abound (including whether the proposed resolution will truly bring us the transformative changes we need), one question that opponents of the plan are quick to raise—and which must be addressed—is how do we pay for it? And while many supporters of the Green New Deal have brought forward a variety of possibilities, from public financing, to simply printing more money (aka the New Monetary Theory), to raising taxes on the wealthiest of Americans, there’s a practical and profoundly fair answer that almost no one has brought forward: Make the fossil fuel industry pay.

To be sure, the question of funding has been raised by those who are invested in the status quo—particularly those who stand to gain the most from our current fossil fuel economy, including the Koch brothers, other billionaire CEOs, and the politicians in their corner. The question is often designed to raise the dreaded specter of taxes as a poison pill for action. So for those interested in advancing transformative solutions, it can be tempting to avoid this discussion of funding altogether. But avoidance won’t make the question go away. The drastic changes in our energy sources, infrastructure, and more on the scale that the Green New Deal calls for will require significant funding. We must address how to pay for it—and we must pursue the most profoundly just option. The entities that have knowingly brought us this planetary disaster (and profited greatly from it) should foot the bill for reversing course.

Since the 1950s, major fossil fuel corporations were on notice that their operations and products posed significant risks to the climate. These warnings continued throughout the 1960s and onward, but rather than reduce those risks, these corporations worked in collusion to subvert climate science, interfere with policy, and ultimately undermine the need for urgent action at a global scale. By taking this path, the fossil fuel industry knowingly contributed to climate change and its devastating impacts.

Today, there is a growing movement to hold these corporations accountable for their actions. MORE

George Monbiot: My generation trashed the planet. So I salute the children striking back

Across the country today, children left their classes to protest against climate change. This is my message to them


 ‘You have issued a challenge to which we must rise, and we will stand in solidarity with you. Though we are old and you are young, we will be led by you.’ Students take part in the climate change strike in London. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

The Youth Strike 4 Climate gives me more hope than I have felt in 30 years of campaigning. Before this week, I believed it was all over. I thought, given the indifference and hostility of those who govern us, and the passivity of most of my generation, that climate breakdown and ecological collapse were inevitable. Now, for the first time in years, I think we can turn them around.

My generation and the generations that went before have failed you. We failed to grasp the basic premise of intergenerational justice: that you cannot apply discount rates to human life. In other words, the life of someone who has not been born will be of no less value than the life of someone who already exists. We have lived as if your lives had no importance, as if any resource we encountered was ours and ours alone to use as we wished, regardless of the impact on future generations. In doing so, we created a cannibal economy: we ate your future to satisfy our greed.

Ours is a society of altruists governed by psychopaths

It is true that the people of my generation are not equally to blame. Broadly speaking, ours is a society of altruists governed by psychopaths. We have allowed a tiny number of phenomenally rich people, and the destructive politicians they fund, to trash our life-support systems. While some carry more blame than others, our failure to challenge the oligarchs who are sacking the Earth and to overthrow their illegitimate power, is a collective failure. Together, we have bequeathed you a world that – without drastic and decisive action – may soon become uninhabitable.

They denied all this because accepting it meant questioning everything they believed to be good. If the science was right, their car could not be right. If the science was right, their foreign holiday could not be right. Economic growth, rising consumption, the entire system they had been brought up to believe was right, had to be wrong. It was easier to pretend that the science was wrong and their lives were right than to accept that the science was right and their lives were wrong. MORE

Did the PMO ‘sideline’ Wilson-Raybould on failed framework negotiations? This chief believes so

Image result for jody wilson rainbow

As the scandal involving the Prime Minister’s Office and former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould continues to grow by the day, everything that led up to it erupting last week is now getting a closer look.

That includes Wilson-Raybould’s involvement in the failed Indigenous rights framework that fell apart late last year.

Or more so, her apparent lack of involvement in what was supposed to be a game-changer for First Nations and the dismantling of the Indian Act.

“I feel the Prime Minister’s Office held (Wilson-Raybould) back on this work,” said Chief Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Indian Band in British Columbia. “We were dealing mostly with Minister (Carolyn) Bennett who, as you know, rolled it out very terribly.” MORE

What is the Green New Deal and how would it benefit society?

This story was originally published by The Guardian and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey, along with dozens of co-sponsors, have introduced a vision for the Green New Deal. One Republican called it a “socialist manifesto”. Many environmental advocacy groups have hailed it, but some say it doesn’t go far enough. Others warn that its broad scope and the long list of progressive social programs it endorses could hinder its climate efforts.

So what is the Green New Deal?

The proposal outlines the broad principles of a plan simultaneously to fight inequity and tackle climate change. It does not contain policy details or advocate for specific ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But with a broad brush it aims to make the US carbon-neutral – net zero carbon emissions – in 10 years.

The Green New Deal recognizes that transition would require massive change. It endorses ways of ensuring that vulnerable populations – including the poor, people of color, indigenous populations and communities already facing environmental degradation – take part in the planning process and benefit from the green economy.

Would it end the use of coal, oil and natural gas?

No. But it would aim to offset any remaining greenhouse gas pollution with forests that absorb carbon dioxide, for example. It does not specifically address what role nuclear power or fossil fuels with carbon capture technologies would play. Nuclear power represents half of the carbon-free energy in the US, but it runs on mined uranium. Fossil fuels with carbon capture would still require drilling and cause pollution.

How ambitious is the Green New Deal?

Incredibly ambitious, both on climate change and with its reimagining of society.

Fossil fuels are deeply embedded in the US economy. Of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the US in 2016, 28% were from electricity, 28% were from transportation, 22% were from industry, 11% were commercial and residential and 9% were from agriculture. MORE