Pipeline fight is not over, and Canadians everywhere have a stake


A shot of Fort McMurray, Alberta in 2012. Photo by Kris Krüg from Flickr

The Trudeau government and the petrobloc (the fossil fuel industries and their political, financial and media allies) would like you to believe that the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline (TMX), intended to triple the flow of diluted bitumen from the Athabasca Sands to the port of Vancouver, is a done deal.

But the latest approval of TMX by the Trudeau government and the industry-friendly National Energy Board does not settle the issue.

There are significant legal challenges from six major First Nations whose territories include much of the proposed pipeline route through B.C. Ecojustice is litigating in the Federal Court of Appeal to defend the critically endangered southern resident orcas. The B.C. government is taking its case for jurisdiction over the transport of diluted bitumen within B.C. to the Supreme Court.

The Indigenous-led, grassroots place-based resistance that encouraged the Texas-based multinational Kinder Morgan (founded by two former Enron executives) to walk away from the project, is re-emerging, after the construction delay imposed by the Federal Court of Appeal in August 2018.

And the federal election in October could give the balance of power to two parties – Greens and New Democrats – which are opposed to the pipeline.

Now, a new front has opened up: a national campaign to halt fossil fuel subsidies on which projects like TMX depend.

B.C. residents in the sacrifice zones of the pipeline project know of its local, regional and global environmental risks, from tank farm fires, pipeline rupture, oil tanker spills and orca deaths, to intensified planetary heating. These concerns didn’t always resonate with Canadians elsewhere, facing economic insecurity and public service cutbacks.

But the federal government’s 2018 purchase of the pipeline has added an enormous new risk to Canadian taxpayers. While the petrobloc touts TMX as a route to economic prosperity, taxpayers may see more pain than gain.

Buying the pipeline alone cost taxpayers $4.4 billion, far more than analysts said it was worth, with a further nine to 12 billion dollars needed for expanding its capacity, locking Canada further into planet-heating infrastructure while creating far fewer permanent jobs than investment in renewable energy.

Independent analysts like Andrew Nikiforuk and J. David Hughes argue that optimistic pro-pipeline estimates of Asian demand for Canadian bitumen downplay such factors as escalating construction costs, the completion of two other pipelines by 2022, high transportation costs, alternative supply sources and lower-quality product.

“Trans Mountain has been losing money since Ottawa overpaid for it, leaving taxpayers on the hook,” economist Robyn Allan told me. “Revenues from tolls on the existing line are insufficient to cover all the interest expense or any of the principal amount the government borrowed to finance the acquisition of the 66-year-old pipeline. Billions more in taxpayer-funded subsidies will be required to finance the expansion since shipper tolls will not cover the cost of building it.”

This is why Kinder Morgan walked away: capital costs were too high and Trans Mountain’s expansion ceased to be commercially viable. Any reasonable cost-benefit analysis reveals that there are no net economic benefits from the expansion, either, and the obvious environmental costs are staggering.”

So why did the feds bail out such a toxic investment?

A senior researcher at Alberta’s Parkland Institute told me that TMX has become a political symbol. Serious climate action means ending fossil fuel subsidies (as Trudeau promised in 2015) and investing directly in sustainable energy and infrastructure.

Yet Canadian governments continue to pour about $3.3 billion annually (according to the International Institute of Sustainable Development) into direct support for an industry whose business model entails knowingly jeopardizing the habitability of the planet. That amount would fund job retraining for 330,000 workers, including in greener industries with potential for exporting technology and energy. MORE

Greens plan to expand on Trudeau’s coal phase-out to include oil and gas


Green party Leader Elizabeth May (centre) and Green candidates announce their commitment to ‘just transition’ for fossil fuel workers in Vancouver on Aug. 7, 2019. Photo by Stephanie Wood

The Green Party of Canada is endorsing the work of a task force formed by the Trudeau government to phase out coal power nationwide by 2030 and help workers transition to new jobs, but wants to take the plan a step further.

Party Leader Elizabeth May said Wednesday that the Greens fully support all 10 recommendations made by the Task Force on Just Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities, which released its final report on coal workers and communities this spring.

At an event in Vancouver on Wednesday, joined by Green candidates from around British Columbia, May said she’d like to implement a similar process with a panel to visit communities dependent on oil and gas.

May said her plan is to ensure no workers are left out of work as the energy industry changes. “We are not at war with fossil fuel workers,” May said. “We are not willing to leave any part of Canada or any community behind.”

National Observer has reported that the task force exclusively researched conditions for coal workers. It recommended a large range of actions, such as $300-million to create a jobs bank, as well as community supports such as transition centres where workers can find information on jobs and training.

The report also found many coal workers felt mistrust for the government, and doubt in its abilities to fulfill promises of a stable transition.

May said visiting communities helped address that mistrust, and will do the same for people in oil and gas. “There’s more trust in honesty. We can say this is the plan, this is the timeline, and how much time do you need to adjust? What are your needs?” she said. “Empowerment and agency are the things that remove fear for all of us.”

She said planning for transitions, as well as oilsands cleanup, should start sooner than later, or else it could result in rushed, inadequate government assistance.

“We have to plan for the cleanup,” she said. “The same guys who drilled the oil wells can help us in reclaiming abandoned oil wells to geothermal power producing.” MORE

 

Will Greens ever compromise climate for power? Never.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May at a Trans Mountain pipeline protest on Burnaby Mountain. Photo: Elizabeth May/Facebook
Photo: Elizabeth May/Facebook​

“Before voters take her seriously, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May must be frank and clear about what her newfound willingness to partner with the Scheer Conservatives would mean in practice.”

rabble reporter Karl Nerenberg is absolutely right. Canadians have a right to know where I stand. If a newly elected caucus of Green MPs were to find ourselves with the balance of responsibility, we would talk with all the other parties. That is the process. But we will never agree to a single confidence vote in favour of a government that is not in lock-step with a commitment to hold to the clear warnings of the global scientific community that we must achieve the Paris target. That target is no more than 1.5 degrees global average temperature increase (above that before the Industrial Revolution). It requires the rapid phase-out of fossil fuels as well as massive reforestation. Small measures, like keeping existing carbon taxes in place, are woefully inadequate.

It must be noted that Canada’s current target was put in place under former prime minister Stephen Harper and is wholly inconsistent with the Paris target. Only the Greens have a plan to meet the 1.5 degree Paris target. None of the others have commitments that come close.

Canadian prime ministers — even in a minority — have significant autonomy and power to do huge damage that never requires a vote in parliament. The points made by Nerenberg in arguing that I had somehow missed the inherent dangers of Conservatives in power are exactly the points I made in January 2006 to the NDP telemarketer who caught me at home cooking dinner and tried to convince me to donate. At that time, I was not a member of any party. As executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada, I pushed back, expressing my horror at the NDP decision to bring down the minority government of former prime minister Paul Martin. That administration had just brought in a commitment (with all provincial governments buying in) to universal childcare, to the Kelowna Accord with Indigenous nations, and to a real plan for Kyoto (now long forgotten). The telemarketer had pressed on “There’s no need to worry about Stephen Harper,” he told me. “The most he could get will be a minority.” I laid out for that telemarketer all the things a prime minister could do without ever taking them to Parliament, just as Karl Nerenberg did in his article on Monday, July 22.

Exactly as I had feared, within weeks of becoming prime minister, Harper cancelled our commitment to Kyoto — without a single debate in Parliament. He cancelled the billions of dollars for climate action announced in the 2005 budget. Just as when Canada is on the right side of history, under Harper, we punched above our weight becoming climate saboteurs.

We cannot negotiate with the atmosphere. The window on 1.5 degrees is closing. Without a complete shift in direction, we will blow past 1.5 degrees, past two degrees and put ourselves on an irreversible course to the point of no return — before the next election in 2023.

What is the “point of no return?” It is going to two degrees and tripping over the red line to unstoppable, self-accelerating, runaway global warming — in which the worst case scenario is too terrifying to contemplate.

The stakes are too large for a typical political cop-out. While we have the chance to secure our children’s future, Greens will never agree to support any government that fails to address the climate emergency. As we propose in “Mission: Possible, the Green Climate Action Plan,” we have to reduce the partisanship, put in place the equivalent of a “war cabinet” and make survival the business of government.

So “the very best thing” is not propping anyone up. It is serving as prime minister in a nation mobilized and unified to ensure Canada once again punches above our weight and gets us — humanity — through the climate emergency to a livable, thriving world grounded in equity and justice.  SOURCE

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Where’s the urgency in the NDP’s politics?

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath. Photo: Ontario NDP/Flickr
Photo: Ontario NDP/Flickr

How do you know it’s effectively over for a political institution like the NDP, despite lingering vital signs? The critical point is the emergence of a plausible replacement, in this case the Greens under Elizabeth May. They’re a presence in Ottawa and now rival the NDP in polls.

Till then you don’t want to imagine it. It’s like the CBC: you may not like it but it’s needed. With someone else filling that slot, even in a sharply different way, their departure becomes thinkable.

You start noticing what they’re not, and haven’t been for a while. At their start, in the Depression of the ’30s, as the CCF, they knew they had the answer to the questions the country was asking: How did we get into this mess and how do we get out? The answer was something like socialism or co-operation.

In recent years they don’t show that confidence — never mind what the specific answers might be. They’re more like: “We’re a grown-up party too and dammit, we deserve our turn.”

…But forget the past. What youth are most serious about is the present, in which they’re starting to drown. Urgency may be the socialism of today.

The Liberals speak well on, say, democratic reform, but did nothing about it when they had the chance. Same with climate catastrophe or ongoing water disaster in Attawapiskat, which roared back this week. A Liberal mouthpiece said they’d “be travelling up to the community as early as next week.'”

That’s their idea of speed — except when SNC-Lavalin’s involved. Then they become The Flash.

If there’s any future for the NDP (versus ENDP) it might be as the UDP: the Urgent Democratic Party. MORE

Green Party support grows as alarms sound on climate crisis

Elizabeth May at podium in 2015. Photo: Bob Jonkman/Flickr
Photo: Bob Jonkman/Flickr

What do Ireland, the British Parliament, and Ottawa and Vancouver city councils have in common? All voted in 2019 to declare a climate emergency.

Following the Green Party win in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith byelection, both the NDP and the Liberals proposed climate-change emergency resolutions for debate in the House of Commons.

On May 16, the day the motions were being debated, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May presented “Mission Possible,” a 20-point green action plan.

The first point calls climate the greatest security threat the world has ever seen.

For the Greens, climate is no longer just an environmental issue — it requires putting Canada on a war-like footing, directed by a multi-party inner cabinet, on the model Winston Churchill employed during the Second World War to combat fascism.

The Green Party 20-point plan calls for an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to the climate emergency

Since its inception in 1983 the Green Party of Canada has not attracted enough voter support to be seen as a big threat by other political parties. But recently announced voting intentions for the Greens at 12 per cent now have other parties paying attention.

The Green Party has been gaining political representation: in P.E.I., where it now forms the Official Opposition, and in New Brunswick, where it has party status. Green Party leaders have won seats in Ottawa and in four provinces, and hold the balance of power in B.C.

With 17 elected Green Party members at the provincial and federal levels, the Greens look to be competitive in a number of federal ridings across Canada in the October 21 election.

The first-past-the-post electoral systems used in Canada have worked against the Green Party. A vote for a small party is often considered a wasted vote because it means not defeating a troublesome government or boosting a more likely winner.

When feelings run strong against a ruling party, supporting a fourth party amounts to being complicit with those wielding power.

However, a vote for a third or fourth party is also an opportunity to send a message to parliamentarians and the public.

In a minority government situation, with a multi-party parliament, a small party can be the linchpin in a coalition or influence the legislative and spending agenda, and can even determine which party forms government.  MORE

Young Canadians launch website tracking climate commitments of federal parties

You are now able to easily compare climate change commitments on Shake Up the Establishment. You will want to bookmark this incredibly useful resource.

Image result for national observer: Young Canadians launch website tracking climate commitments of federal parties
Cameron Fioret, Manvi Bhalla, Taro Halfnight and Janaya Campbell are tracking climate action commitments of federal parties on a new website called Shake Up The Establishment. Photos courtesy SUTE

Four young Canadians are tracking the commitments of federal political parties on the climate crisis as campaigns rev up for the fall election.

Shake Up The Establishment is a website run by Manvi Bhalla, Janaya Campbell, Taro Halfnight and Cameron Fioret, all graduates or students of the University of Guelph.

The team will volunteer their time to help voters compare the environmental plans of the Liberals, Conservatives, New Democratic Party and Greens ahead of the election that is to be held on or before Oct. 21, 2019.

“We were all discussing how we would want to vote in the upcoming election,” said Bhalla, who studied biomedical science, and has researched at the Hospital for Sick Children and worked as president of the local chapter of Oxfam Canada, in a phone interview May 26.

“We didn’t actually know who the best candidate or party would be immediately. And we thought, if we felt this way, then other individuals also might feel this way.” MORE

Jagmeet Singh’s call for fossil fuels ban leapfrogs the Leap Manifesto

“The NDP is coming late to the issue of dealing comprehensively with climate change. Can it compete effectively with Elizabeth May’s Greens on this front? We shall see.” – Thomas Walkom

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on May 7 in Ottawa. “The NDP is coming late to the issue of dealing comprehensively with climate change. Can it compete effectively with Elizabeth May’s Greens on this front?” asks Thomas Walkom.
Jagmeet Singh’s New Democrats have discovered climate change. 

The party had been reluctant to take too uncompromising a stand on global warming for fear of alienating potential voters. That reluctance has gone.

Now the NDP is calling for an end to the entire fossil-fuel industry in Canada.

“The future of our country cannot involve fracking,” Singh said Monday in Ottawa, referring to a controversial method of drilling for oil and natural gas. “It cannot involve the burning of any fossil fuel.”

He said Canada must adhere to carbon reduction targets that are much stricter than those proposed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government if it to seriously fight climate change.

And he declared that he now opposes ambitious plans by British Columbia’s NDP government to build a massive liquefied natural gas project in the province’s north.

[In the past] the Leap Manifesto’s call to ban any new fossil-fuel energy projects, from pipelines to fracking, was seen as too radical. No more. Now, with his call for a Canada free of fossil fuels, Singh has outleapt the Leapers. MORE

 

Canada: climate change threat could herald ‘dawn of new era’ for Green party

“A poll last week found 35 per cent of Canadians “are planning to vote for a party because they dislike another party even more and want to prevent that party from winning.” That was true for 40 per cent of supporters for both the Liberals and Conservatives. All because Trudeau broke a firm promise to have proportional representation in place for the fall election.”

 

Elizabeth May and her party believe voters are ready to ‘vote for real change’ in the upcoming federal election in October


 Elizabeth May, the leader of Canada’s Green party. Photograph: Darryl Dyck/AP

Elections have rarely been kind to Canada’s long-suffering Green party. Though many voters view it as the environmental conscience of the country, they often abandon it when it comes time to cast their ballot and the party’s leader Elizabeth May has sometimes been forced to fight for a place in debates between party leaders.

But as Canada confronts the effects of climate change, May and her party firmly believe the upcoming federal election in October will be different.

The Green’s growing strength was highlighted this week, when Paul Manly won a closely-watched regional election in British Columbia, taking the Nainamo seat from the leftwing New Democratic party, and forcing Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party into fourth place. He will become the federal Green party’s second MP.

May hailed Monday’s the victory as “the dawn of a new era in federal politics” which proved voters were “brave to vote for real change”.

The recent successes come amid growing recognition of the impacts of climate change in Canada. A recent government report has found that the country is warming at a rate twice that of the global average.

Carbon taxes and environment have moved to the centre of the country’s national discourse, and May is well-positioned to capitalize on growing frustration among voters, said Lori Turnbull, a professor of political science at Dalhousie University.

“May can run circles around the [leaders] on the carbon tax. She’s really an excellent, speaker and debater and she’s got more experienced in any of them in terms of running the federal party and being on the campaign trail,” said Turnbull. MORE

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Green Party win in B.C. shows climate issues could impact October

Canadians are serious about climate change, something that has largely escaped neoliberal parties. Perhaps this is a turning point.

Newly elected Paul Manly expects support to grow ahead of federal election

Green Party supporters hope Paul Manly’s byelection win signifies the clout which climate issues will carry in October’s federal election. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

British Columbia voters sent a message that Canadians are deeply concerned about the environment and climate issues will be at the forefront in October’s federal election campaign, jubilant Green Party supporters said Monday night.

Voters in Nanaimo elected Paul Manly of the Greens as their new member of Parliament, barely six months before October’s federal vote.

With 96 per cent of polls reporting in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith byelection, Manly received 37.1 per cent of the vote.

John Hirst, the Conservative candidate, was a distant second with 25.1 per cent of the vote. The NDP polled 22.9 per cent and Liberal candidate Michelle Corfield received 11.1 per cent of the vote.

“People really want to see action on climate change,” said Manly, who called his victory “historic.”
British Columbia voters sent a message that Canadians are deeply concerned about the environment and climate issues will be at the forefront in October’s federal election campaign, jubilant Green Party supporters said Monday night.

Voters in Nanaimo elected Paul Manly of the Greens as their new member of Parliament, barely six months before October’s federal vote.

Green Party wins federal byelection in Nanaimo-Ladysmith
With 96 per cent of polls reporting in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith byelection, Manly received 37.1 per cent of the vote.

John Hirst, the Conservative candidate, was a distant second with 25.1 per cent of the vote. The NDP polled 22.9 per cent and Liberal candidate Michelle Corfield received 11.1 per cent of the vote.

“People really want to see action on climate change,” said Manly, who called his victory “historic.”

Manly will become the second Green Party member in Parliament, joining Leader Elizabeth May.

His victory shows the other parties that Canadians are serious about climate change, Manly said, adding he expects the Green wave of support to grow in the October election. MORE

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Greens coast to victory in Nanaimo-Ladysmith byelection