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The Common Sense Canadian home page: BC Hydro’s 5,000-page plan: Public given just 1 week to respond

BC Hydro gave the public all of one week, stretching through Labour Day Weekend, to respond to its 5,000-page draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) – and that doesn’t sit well with a Vancouver-based water advocacy group. The BC Tapwater Alliance is calling for extended public consultations on the crown corporation’s plan for meeting future power demand in the province. In an open letter to Energy Minister Bill Bennett, coordinator Will Koop writes: “After downloading all of the 80 component documents associated with the report (almost 5,000 cumulative pages), and scanning through all of the documents, we concluded that the Minister’s (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian home page: Al Jazeera comes to America

Somewhere in the United States on August 20, 2013, a technician flicked a switch and Al Jazeera America joined the other networks that bring television news to Americans. At that moment, Al Jazeera became the first new source of American TV news in two decades and the first not owned by Americans. Ali Velshi, who has been charged with the responsibility of establishing Al Jazeera America in the US, explains how Al Jazeera intends to be different from its competitors — a difference that he hopes will win viewers, stimulate informed opinion and widen perspectives in a nation known for (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian home page: The Ecology of Wealth

What is a man to do with a “main palace” of 420 rooms, a customized Boeing 747 jumbo jet for his exclusive use, a private zoo and amusement park, and a stash of $700 million in jewels? This is the dilemma facing Prince Alwaleed, whose $20 billion in assets gets him ranked by Forbes magazine as the richest person in Saudi Arabia. But wealth has not been easy for Prince Alwaleed. For 25 years, according to an article about him in Forbes, he has been “lobbying, cajoling and threatening when it comes to his net worth listing.” In 2006 (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian home page: BC Hydro customers victimized again with $750M Powerex settlement

In the year 2000, the price for electricity in California rose almost overnight by nearly 1300%. For its role in this fraud, BC Hydro’s energy trading subsidiary, Powerex, recently agreed to pay back $750 million to the state. Yet Energy Minister Bill Bennett maintains the government and Powerex’s innocence. Independent economist Erik Andersen doesn’t buy it. “Dumping this penalty onto the shoulders of BC Hydro customers is an act of accountability avoidance. The BC cabinet should be ashamed for continuing to make BC Hydro customers victims targeted for the immoral, if not illegal conduct of others.”

The Common Sense Canadian home page: BC Hydro inflates demand to justify Site C Dam

Throughout the past several decades, Hydro has consistently been off by 10-20% in its forecasting and that proud tradition continues today, with the release of its draft Integrated Resource Plan. This chronic overestimation of our power demand helped justify a massive investment in sweetheart private power contracts (IPPs) over the past decade, for which we are now paying 2-3 times the market rate…According to Stats BC, last year we were a net exporter of over 5,800 GWhrs of power – more than 10% of our domestic demand – yet we lost $360 million on power sales. Meanwhile, Hydro remains (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian home page: Beaver Lake Cree case reveals flaws in environmental review process

A fundamental flaw in the environmental assessment process is that it focuses on each proposed development as something that stands alone. But an individual well or dam is not separate or isolated from its surroundings – air, water, plants and animals pay no attention to our imposed, artificial boundaries…A lawsuit launched by the Beaver Lake Cree Nation, illustrates the problem. The Beaver Lake people are suing the federal and provincial governments for failing to uphold indigenous rights, guaranteed by treaties and the Constitution, to fish, hunt, trap and gather plants and medicines.

The Common Sense Canadian home page: The Thorium reactor energy option

For half a century, the electrical power industry has been trying to make success of failure, safety of danger, and efficiency of wastefulness because it chose the wrong nuclear fuel to produce electricity from reactors. Instead of using thorium, it used uranium, and the economic, political and environmental costs of this mistake have been incalculable. But “mistake” is technically not the correct word. The decision to use uranium rather than thorium was more a tragic misjudgment, a foolish choice based on the worst of reasons. At the end of World War II, the United States was flush with political and (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian home page: The Carbon Dilemma

The carbon dilemma first received public attention in 2012 when Bill McKibben, an American environmentalist and founder of, publicized the growing conflict between the known carbon that is stored in fossil fuel reserves — the equivalent of 2,795 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide — and the amount we can afford to burn, the equivalent of 565 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide. If the traumatizing effects of increased global temperatures are to be avoided, this means that 80 percent of these carbon reserves — presently valued at about $20 trillion — must remain unused in the ground. Meanwhile, investment in fossil (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian home page: Is geoengineering a silver bullet for climate change?

Geoengineering to combat climate change is largely untested. Because we’ve stalled so long on reducing carbon emissions and still aren’t doing enough, we may have to consider it. What will that mean? As it relates to climate change, geoengineering falls into two categories: solar radiation management and carbon dioxide removal…But rather than rationalizing our continued use of fossil fuels in the false belief that technology will enable us to carry on with our destructive ways, we really need governments, scientists and industry to start taking climate change and greenhouse gas emissions seriously. We can’t just engineer our way out (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian home page: How Alberta oil companies bought BC election – and the media missed it

One man, Allan Paul Marking, an Alberta Oil dude, gave $150,000 to the Liberals. Alberta oil and gas companies Encana and Cenovus gave them $68,000 and Texas based Spectra Energy gave $33,000. Many made donations to the NDP too, just in case. No one can be surprised at these gifts – after all it’s all neat and legal. What I do criticize is the lack of mainstream media attention. This isn’t brain surgery here. The man who pays the piper calls the tune. If you think that this money doesn’t make Premier Clark think nice things about them when she’s (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian home page: LNG plant’s comment period extended over missing river controversy

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) announced today that it’s extending the public comment period for a controversial, proposed Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) plant near Prince Rupert. Concerns were raised last week by West Coast Environmental Law over an incorrect map in the project description documents, which made Canada’s second largest salmon river, the Skeena, disappear. “We are very pleased that the CEAA has acknowledge the potential confusion that resulted from this incorrect map,” says WCEL Executive Director Jessica Clogg. “It’s a small piece of good news for the Skeena salmon.”

The Common Sense Canadian home page: Corky Evans on what’s wrong with the BC NDP

I remember when one of the Leaders I worked for asked some guys many of us know to purge our Party of the troublemakers (that was not the word he used.) They did a good job. The “troublemakers” were sidelined and we became an effective, and boring, machine. Leaders and Leaders staff tell MLA’s what they can and cannot say and punish independent thinking. Or, worse, speaking their mind. We are now a modern political machine, and we sound like one. We are rarely, anymore, embarrassed. There is no blood on the floor at Convention. We have become a (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian home page: Sacred Headwaters mine stand-off: Meeting CEO fails to ease tensions

An emergency Aug. 17 meeting between Fortune Minerals CEO Robin Goad and the Tahltan Nation elders who recently issued his company an eviction notice from the Sacred Headwaters failed to ease tensions over a proposed mine, according to a local environmental group. “Goad continually asserted his company’s legal right to be in the area. He also referenced the millions of dollars his company and their investors have spent to develop their project.” Much of this conflict can be attributed to the mixed signals coming from BC Liberal Government. After promising to protect the Sacred Headwaters in the recent provincial (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian home page: The Rite of Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring

This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the first performance of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. The event in Paris on May 29, 1913, was a watershed moment for classical music, an evening of seemingly cacophonous noise that redefined our human character, presaged the barbarous decades to come, and reshaped our understanding of nature. Indeed, the performance — first presented as a ballet — was so pivotal in the history of Western culture and thought that everyone with even a modest interest in personal insight and cultural awareness should hear and feel the transformational power of its music.

The Common Sense Canadian home page: Mine’s CEO to meet with Tahltan elders in Sacred Headwaters over eviction notice

Fortune Minerals CEO Robin Goad is reportedly flying into the Sacred Headwaters, in northwest BC, for an emergency discussion this evening with elders of the Tahltan Nation. The 5 pm meeting will address the eviction notice issued by a group of 30 or more Tahltan elders, referring to themselves as the Klabona Keepers, to Goad’s company on Wednesday, according to Shannon McPhail, Executive Director of Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition. McPhail, whose organization is supporting the elders’ action, has spent the week at their camp, amid Tahltan traditional territory in the Klappan, or “Sacred Headwaters”.

The Common Sense Canadian home page: We can’t ignore the little things that keep us alive

In our concern with protecting grizzlies and polar bears, whooping cranes and redwood trees, wolves and caribou, we give short shrift to the small creatures that keep the planet livable. Tiny organisms and plant roots filter water as it percolates through soil; insects, bacteria and fungi help plants, animals and dung decompose to create soil; bacteria in legumes capture atmospheric nitrogen and fix it in soil…Insects are important parts of ecosystems, providing services such as pollination, food and pest control. Of all insect species, very few are harmful to humans, yet we spray powerful chemicals that kill all insects (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian home page: Malaysian energy giant makes Skeena River disappear in LNG proposal

You would think Malaysian energy giant Petronas would have learned a lesson from fellow fossil fuel pipeline and coastal export terminal proponent Enbridge’s “disappearing islands” debacle last year. Enbridge was caught downplaying the risks of its proposal by making 1,000 square km of islands vanish from the Douglas Channel in a digital animation of its tanker route from Kitimat. Curiously, Petronas is following in Enbridge’s infamous footsteps with a blatantly inaccurate project description document for its proposed Pacific Northwest LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) terminal near Prince Rupert. In it, the company made Canada’s second largest salmon river, the Skeena, disappear.

The Common Sense Canadian home page: Canada’s Green Economy needs public investment

While public banks in countries like China, the US, the UK, Germany, Denmark and Brazil are investing billions in renewable energy development, as clean tech expert Will Dubitsky explains, Canada lacks such critical tools for addressing climate change and building a green economy. “Why can’t Canada do similar things via the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada? Moreover, why can’t the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board create a clean tech portfolio to optimize Canadian participation in one of the world’s fastest growing industries for job creation, the clean tech sector?”

The Common Sense Canadian home page: Let’s get serious about cigarette litter – no ifs, ands, or butts

In 1965, half of Canadians smoked. By 2011, that had dropped to about 17.3 per cent, or 4.9-million people, with only about 13.8 per cent daily smokers. Unfortunately the downward trend has levelled off in recent years, and tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death in Canada, according to researchers at the University of Waterloo. “More than 37,000 Canadians will die prematurely this year due to tobacco use. Each day, 100 Canadians die of a smoking-related illness,” the 2013 report, “Tobacco Use in Canada: Patterns and Trends”, says.

The Common Sense Canadian home page: Runaway train fuels runaway narrative

Read Kevin Logan’s analysis of the Lac-Mégantic train disaster. Logan provides a comprehensive breakdown of the facts, and where the mainstream media lost sight of the truth. Using a series of Google Earth maps, Logan points out the mistakes made by the National Post’s own illustration detailing how the tragedy occurred. Logan writes, “It’s near inconceivable a 10,000-tonne train more than a kilometre long carrying 79 cars could just pick up and move on its own up a hill. But that’s what a train did one month ago, according to official record, to begin an ill-fated journey ending 12 kilometres (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian home page: Slocan Valley resident recounts disaster in paradise

It was a normal summer day. It was the height of the tourist season. Bed and breakfasts, restaurants, and retail stores were were swollen with visitors. Kayaks, canoes, rafts and tubes filled the Slocan River as swimmers cooled themselves at public and private beaches along the river. Others were in their gardens, assessing if the beans were ready for canning and the garlic ready for digging. People picked raspberries and blueberries from the loaded bushes, dug potatoes, plucked zucchini, and lettuce for dinner. What wasn’t normal, however, was the drone of helicopters flying over the Slocan Valley’s Winlaw area, dumping (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian home page: Problem-solving psychology

Writer Ray Grigg urges Canadian government to action in problem-solving current and future environmental challenges. Grigg writes, “The psychological dynamics of problem solving are well known. When a problem is identified and assessed, and when a corrective strategy is formulated and activated, then people begin to feel better. Hope replaces the feeling of inevitable defeat that is the result of inaction. Uncertainty and procrastination are corrosive to contentment and lethal to optimism.”

The Common Sense Canadian home page: Scientists work to solve mystery of dying bees

Bees are endlessly intriguing, and incredibly useful to us – and not just for honey and wax. If bees disappeared, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to grow much of what we eat. Bees pollinate crops ranging from apples to zucchini. Blueberries and almonds are almost entirely dependent on them. Some experts say they’re responsible for one of every three bites of food we eat. The economic value of pollination services from honeybees alone is estimated at $14 billion in the U.S. and hundreds of millions in Canada.

The Common Sense Canadian home page: With Justin Trudeau, Canada now has two Conservative parties

With so many Canadians eagerly awaiting the end of the anti-democratic, unaccountable Harper regime, some seem to be inclined to support any alternative that may stand a chance for replacing the Cons in 2015, after the next federal election. But maybe we should take a pause to think this through just a little more. Canadian Idol Trudeau, though he hasn’t said that much so far, has already shown that he shares many of the policy positions of Harper. This is where things get scary.

The Common Sense Canadian home page: Clark & Redford: What their cozy relationship means for BC pipelines

Premier, I’m a simple man who by nature asks simple questions. You and Alberta premier Redford have evidently agreed that there will be a pipeline from her province through ours to the sea and that BC will make some money out of this deal. 1. Is this the end for Enbridge Northern gateway?; 2. What will the new pipeline do to satisfy those of us with serious environmental concerns about Enbridge?; 3. Does this musing by you and Redford have any bearing on Kinder Morgan who, incidentally, have had several recent spills?