‘Canada will benefit from climate change’: comments from Ford appointee draw fire

Joe Oliver, the chair of Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator, Joe Oliver, seen here in 2015, wrote that Canada has “enormous agricultural potential if the land warms up” and “let’s not ignore the greater personal comfort of living in a more hospitable climate.”

The agency that operates Ontario’s electricity system is distancing itself from controversial climate-change comments made by its chair, Joe Oliver, a former federal finance minister appointed to the board last spring by Premier Doug Ford’s government.

Concerns about how seriously the environmental challenge is viewed by the province grew Monday as opposition parties — who last week took aim at Energy Minister Greg Rickford for quoting from a website denying the scientific consensus on climate change — flagged remarks from Oliver.

Oliver, 79, leads the board of the Independent Electricity System Operator, which runs day-to-day needs of the power grid and plans for its future needs. The agency, for example, is handling compensation for developers of more than 750 renewable energy contracts cancelled by the Ford government in July 2018.

In a commentary written for the National Post on August 15 and headlined “Canada will benefit from climate change,” Oliver referred to a study on its impact by Moody’s, a U.S. business and financial services company, and wrote the country has “enormous agricultural potential if the land warms up” and “let’s not ignore the greater personal comfort of living in a more hospitable climate.”

He also argued Canada is responsible for just 1.6 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and thus “cannot achieve a measurable impact on global temperatures.”

The New Democrats and Green party said Oliver’s remarks are troublesome amid escalating warnings about climate change from the scientific community and the United Nations, which has appointed former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney its special envoy on climate.

“To suggest, somehow, that Canada is going to benefit from global warming is the height of insanity. And it is a very, very dangerous opinion to have,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. “If he was being flip, shame on him, because this is nothing to joke about.”

The Independent Electricity System Operator said it “has no comment on personal views expressed by Mr. Oliver” and noted “addressing non-traditional threats to grid reliability such as climate change and cyber-attacks is part of the IESO’s corporate strategy to ensure the reliability of Ontario’s electricity system.” SOURCE

Defending our right to protest

Image: Sally B. Tuck/Flickr

CSIS is unlawfully monitoring water protectors and climate justice activists, according to BCCLA. This kind of police surveillance is not new, but it is deplorable.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is using public funds to launch a new project within his fossil fuel lobby “War Room” to diminish effective social action for rapid and just transition away from fossil fuels.

These activities are examples of the diverse ways that corporate interests have manipulated democratic institutions.

BC Civil Liberties Association lawyer Meghan McDermott at a press conference announcing the release of these heavily redacted documents showing that CSIS was tracking civil society organizations and passing information to Enbridge.  Photo credit: Canadian Press.

Democratic institutions of all kinds are being misused for the interests of fossil fuel companies. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is using public funds and public service employee capacity to think about how to root out and crush groups that are building a movement toward a sustainable future that provides opportunity and care for all people. His is not the first government to try to paint those working for a fossil-free future as deviants, criminals, or traitors – in 2012 Joe Oliver, then-Minister of Natural Resources, labelled us “radical groups” seeking to “hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.” The irony of this statement is not lost on me.

Joe Oliver’s statements were really formative for me personally – they came immediately after the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations in Durban in 2011, which I attended as a youth delegate. There I had witnessed Canada backed out on the Kyoto Protocol, and announce the approval of a $9B tar sands mine (it was then shelved in 2014 and purchased by CNRL in 2018). I remember standing in the airport in Toronto waiting for my luggage, exhausted from the disappointment that is international climate negotiations, and reading the news, and I saw this op-ed where Oliver slandered people like me for doing our best to stop fossil fuel interests from torching the planet with impunity. A few months later, the accusation that all climate activism was being funded by foreign interests came into vogue.

So it’s not very surprising to me that since the Harper era, police and security forces like the RCMP and CSIS have been used to track water protectors and climate justice activists and organizations, and other right-wing governments have taken up the mantle of accusing climate justice movements of being funded by foreign ideologues. Not surprising, but anti-democratic and disturbing.

Case 1: CSIS and RCMP sharing information with Enbridge

n brief, the BC Civil Liberties Association made a complaint to the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) in 2014 alleging that CSIS was monitoring groups like #IdleNoMore, Dogwood Initiative, and the Sierra Club of BC because they had been active in the struggle against the Northern Gateway Pipeline. Heavily redacted documents from this case were recently released and show that many more organizations were being monitored than initially thought (including the Council of Canadians). The monitoring results were being shared with Enbridge, the company behind the pipeline. CSIS is only meant to monitor groups undertaking activities that pose a threat to ‘public security’, and as BCCLA argues in the released documents none of the groups have any history “whatsoever of advocating, encouraging or participating in violent or other criminal activity.”  MORE

Doug Ford government appoints a Tory climate denier to board overseeing Ontario’s electricity system

Joe Oliver responds to a question in the House of Commons in Ottawa on May 11, 2015. File photo by Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

The right-leaning government of Canada’s most populous province has created a new job for a former Conservative cabinet minister who dismisses scientific evidence showing how much humans are changing the planet’s climate.

Joe Oliver, 76, previously a natural resources and finance minister in the government of former prime minister Stephen Harper, is now a board member of Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), a Crown corporation that oversees and manages the province’s electricity operations.

Energy Minister Greg Rickford, who also sat with Oliver in Harper’s cabinet and replaced the former as federal natural resources minister, announced the nomination through a news release on Thursday afternoon.

The move comes as Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government is under fire for slashing policies to address climate change and criticizing the federal government for requiring polluters to pay a tax for contributing to the problem. Peer-reviewed scientific research shows that climate change threatens to cause irreversible damage to the Earth’s ecosystems and its economy. MORE

False oil price narrative used to scare Canadians into accepting Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

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Alberta Premier Rachel Notley on Apr 15, 2018. Photo by Alex Tétrault

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is aggressively advancing a false narrative about heavy oil’s deep discount. She presents the problem in two parts, neither of which stand up to scrutiny.

First, Notley purports that the abnormally wide price spread affects every barrel of heavy oil leading to millions of dollars a day in losses to the Canadian economy. And second, that the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is crucial. Neither of these claims are supported by the facts.

Most Alberta oil is sheltered from the price discount

When you crunch the numbers, and include the variety of methods even the smaller players rely on to protect their exposure including long-term supply arrangements, hedging and access to rail, it turns out that only about 20 per cent of oilsands supply is actually affected by the light-heavy differential. MORE