If Canadians knew the full extent of the Harper government’s war on science, they would be clamouring for the reinstatement and full funding of dozens of federal scientific programs and hundreds of scientists axed over the past year. Since the passage of omnibus budget Bill C-38, the Harper Cabinet has moved at blitzkrieg speed to make these cuts.
Canada’s Information Commissioner, Suzanne Legault, agreed at the end of March to launch an investigation into the extensive muzzling of federally-funded scientists at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada and other federal agencies (1). Her (Read more…)
Having gone through the early stages of environmental assessment, the Raven Coal Mine – proposed amid a thriving shellfish industry in Vancouver Island’s Fanny Bay – was stopped in its tracks last week. A jubilant Jonn Snyder of CoalWatch Comox Valley – a group formed to deal with the threat of the mine – remarked on the verdict, “A review of the screening comments seems to indicate significant gaps in the Application, some of it having to do with public, First Nations, and stakeholder consultation; hydrology issues; and marine baseline studies.” The rejection comes on the heels of a (Read more…)
Brian Mulroney needed political help in Quebec and persuaded all the premiers to support a set of constitutional reforms – labelled the Meech Lake Accord – whereby all the other premiers would postpone their constitutional ambitions until Quebec was settled nicely away with its “Distinct Society” designation AND a veto over all future constitutional proposals. If you’ve advanced past Politics 101 you will see that once satisfied, Quebec could and would veto other changes such as Senate reform. With a few hours to go, Manitoba Premier Gary Filmon moved that the Meech Lake Accord be debated and asked special leave, (Read more…)
It can hardly come as a surprise to anyone that governments – like corporations – employ spin to portray their actions in the best possible light (and to cast their opponents in the worst possible light). Nor is it news that many corporations – and the PR companies they employ – operate a revolving door for helpful politicians. So, should it come as any surprise to learn, as Joyce Nelson reveals in the current issue of Watershed Sentinel, that Peter Kent was appointed as a senior lobbyist by PR giant Hill & Knowlton while he was running as a Conservative (Read more…)
Scientists often come up with new discoveries, technologies or theories. But sometimes they rediscover what our ancestors already knew. A couple of recent findings show we have a lot to learn from our forebears – and nature – about bugs.Modern methods of controlling pests have consisted mainly of poisoning them with chemicals. But that’s led to problems. Pesticides kill far more than the bugs they target, and pollute air, water and soil. As we learned with the widespread use of DDT to control agricultural pests and mosquitoes, chemicals can bioaccumulate, meaning molecules may concentrate hundreds of thousands of times (Read more…)
Within the next four years, BC Hydro, once as good a power utility as there was in the world, will be broken up. It is, you see, presently bankrupt by private corporation standards, and only keeps, barely, afloat because it can and does go to us the taxpayers and consumers for more money. This will end because the taxpayers/ratepayers will be tapped out. Just what form the break-up takes, we’ll have to wait and see, but as sure as God made little green apples, she’s a goner.
Strange things can happen when salmon eat chickens. Such a diet is unprecedented and bizarre, a violation of the biological order that has occurred over millions of years of evolutionary history. Nature, it seems, does the unusual when human ingenuity tampers with its traditions. And the consequences can be dire. But this is a complex subject that requires some context — an understanding of details first requires an understanding of principles.
With over two weeks to go in the election, I wrote in thetyee.ca and on this website: “It surprises me that Adrian Dix is playing softball with these issues. This is looking like ’09 all over again. Mr. Dix, your position on the Kinder Morgan tanker port proposal was nice but marred by the delay…Politics is a blood sport and your nicely, nicely approach is letting Premier Clark get away with murder. Despite a fivefold increase in the provincial debt, she’s painting you as wastrels and her government as careful money managers!”…The environmentalists must now gird (Read more…)
The annals of contemporary political history make one thing clear: Elections are invariably won and lost on a single issue – and that issue is most often the economy. The NDP lost this election for three reasons – all of which relate back to that one central point: 1. Despite compelling evidence in their favour, the NDP failed to destroy the Liberals’ economic credibility; 2. Mr. Dix failed to understand the difference between being fair and being nice; 3. Unlike their opponents, the NDP have no sense of storytelling, no narrative arc to which they can attach their myriad policy (Read more…)
Premier Christy Clark was right when she told the Canadian Press it’s, “the people of British Columbia that choose the government.”…Politicians have known for a long time that the news media makes a lot of money during political campaigns and elections, and they make even more when elections are close. While Clark doesn’t come out and say this word for word, there are hints of this idea within her words. And she’s right, it’s a good thing Canadians don’t listen to the polls, or else we’d just all give in, or give up. While it’s undoubtedly a shocking (Read more…)
Independent biologist Alexandra Morton has been busy during the BC election campaign, traveling the province to raise the issue of protecting wild salmon from fish farms and viruses. Here, as voters prepare to go to the polls, she offers her frank assessment of what is in the best political interests of her beloved wild salmon: “Individually, most NDP candidates I spoke to know salmon feedlots have to be removed from wild salmon migration routes. As environment critic Rob Fleming stated this on CBC on March 23, he knows this. Therefore, I think wild salmon have the greatest chance for survival (Read more…)
Watch Rafe Mair’s powerhouse speech on the upcoming BC election: “Christy Clark has on the side of her bus,’Debt Free BC’. We owe $171 Billion dollars! Since the Liberals came to power, our per capita share of debt has gone from a little over $5,000 to $40,000 – every man, woman and child…Ask the folks in Greece or in Cyrpus or in Italy what happens when the day of reckoning comes. And the day of reckoning is going to come with this.” Mair continues, “We have now a situation in British Columbia that keeps me from shutting my (Read more…)
Following a polling debacle in last year’s Alberta election and troubling signs in BC as voters prepare to cast their ballots, John King questions the motives and methods of pollsters and the corporate media who publish them. “Suddenly, obscure pollsters, often funded by unknown sources, are constructing the narrative that the ailing B.C. Liberal Party checked itself into the ER, bandaged itself up, and is making a contest out of what was anything but…Polls closing out the last working week leading into the election show wide discrepancies. An Angus Reid poll has the NDP out in front by (Read more…)
Listen to this half-hour interview by CJSF 90.1 FM’s Sylvia Richardson of The Common Sense Canadian’s Damien Gillis on the eve of the provincial election. The two compare the Liberals’ and NDP’s true economic records and their positions on pipelines and tankers, private river power projects, forestry policy, Site C Dam, natural gas fracking and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
Throughout the past term, BC’s three sitting Independent MLAs – Bob Simpson from Cariboo North, Vicki Huntington from Delta South, and Abbotsford South’s John van Dongen – have proven the pundits wrong, injecting new energy and ideas into a Legislature ordinarily dominated by caucus discipline. All three incumbent Independents are running again in Tuesday’s provincial election, joined by other high-profile candidates like Arthur Hadland from Peace River North. With polls tightening in the final days of the campaign, it’s not unthinkable that a handful of Independents could hold the balance of power in a minority government.
From Common Sense Canadian contributor Kevin Logan comes this multimedia examination of Premier Christy Clark and the BC Liberal Party’s real stand on proposed oil pipelines and tankers in BC. “What they have neglected to tell British Columbians is that their government has entered into binding agreements that ensure the success of pipelines from Alberta to the BC Coast…The June 2010 ‘Equivalency Agreement’, done in secret by the BC Liberals with the Harper Conservative Government, forfeits BC’s ability to review, assess and decide on these pipeline proposals which threaten to transform the province as we know it.”
They say bad things come in threes. For BC Premier Christy Clark, today’s series of gaffes perfectly confirm that theory. Just when her campaign was gaining ground – with new polls showing a much-narrowed 4-7 point gap between the Liberals and front-running BCNDP – Clark’s “Debt Free BC” campaign bus has hit a few nasty speed bumps. From allegedly spoiling her own ballot, to a damaging document leak, to revelations that the knives are already out within her own party for the embattled BC Liberal leader, this has been a day from campaign hell.
Piscine reovirus (PRV), known to cause heart and skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMI), is a disease that so weakens wild salmon that they may be unable swim the oceans or migrate to their spawning grounds. The presence of PRV-HSMI in BC’s wild salmon was not revealed by the provincial government or the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), the two agencies that are supposed to be monitoring the condition of marine health. Once again disclosure of PRV-HSMI came from independent biologist Alexandra Morton. The credibility of her April, 2012, findings were supported by Professor Rick Routledge, a Simon Fraser University fish (Read more…)
At a 1972 international conference in India, a reporter asked Bhutan’s king about his country’s gross national product – a measure of economic activity. His response was semi-facetious: He said Bhutan’s priority was not the GNP but GNH – gross national happiness. Bhutan’s government has since taken the concept of GNH seriously and galvanized thinking around the world with the notion that the economy should serve people, not the other way around.
The thing that has always bothered me about Justin – ever since his entry onto the public scene at his famous father’s funeral – is that he’s never appeared to stand for anything real. Years later, even following a lengthy leadership race and literally thousands of media clips and public appearances, I still don’t know what core principles motivate his drive to lead the country. Based on his few tangible policy statements, if Justin stands for anything, it’s selling out Canada’s strategic resources to the Chinese and exploiting the climate-destroying Tar Sands. Where his father tried and failed to build (Read more…)
Independent economist and Common Sense Canadian contributor Erik Andersen’s open letter to the leaders of BC’s four major political parties on the eve of the May 14 provincial election. “On the evidence there seems no case for the development of Site C. Hydro is financially crippled because it not only produced fictional narratives about future demand, but worse, acted on these exaggerations with tens of billions in contractual long-term obligations with IPP’s. Secondly, to knowingly build a new generation facility that needs to sell at $100,000 per GWhr or more in order to break even – when the regional demand (Read more…)
The huge body of the dead humpback whale lay silently on the beach at White Rock, BC, as if it had chosen this spacious stretch of sand as a conspicuous and welcoming place to die. Its death on June 12, 2012, seemed important, perhaps because of the great size of its corpse, perhaps because of the incongruity of such a massive shape on a flat and vacant beach. The whale looked serene in death, like a dark grey boulder that was reverently placed there by some mysterious force from the deep ocean. As if to confirm this, its body was (Read more…)
The Northwest Transmission line is a 344 km, $600 million taxpayer-subsidized hydroelectric corridor. Despite receiving $130 million in federal “green infrastructure” funding and over $300 million from BC Hydro so far – much of that covering $200 million in ballooning cost overruns – it is designed to power mining operations in the Sacred Headwaters region, such as Imperial Metals’ Red Chris proposal. Contractors clearing the right-of-way for the NTL have piled the cut trees into giant fifty foot tall tipi-shaped piles. Instead of selling the wood – some 490,000 cubic metres are being cut to clear corridor – the trees (Read more…)
On the side of the Christy Clark bus are the words “Debt Free BC”. This statement stands as the all-time whopper in BC history. What is important to know about the debt is that in 2001, when the Liberals took over, each man, woman and child owed a shade over $8,000. Today we each owe $40,000 – five times what we owed before this so-called business-oriented, fiscally careful bunch of cheats and hypocrites took over. No matter how you crunch the numbers, the NDP governments in their decade look like misers and skinflints next to this bunch…It surprises me (Read more…)
On the side of the Christy Clark bus are the words “Debt Free BC”. This statement stands as the all-time whopper in BC history. What is important to know about the debt is that in 2001, when the Liberals took over, every man, woman and child owed a shade over $8,000. Today we each owe $40,000 – five times what we owed before this so-called business-oriented, fiscally careful bunch of cheats and hypocrites took over. No matter how you crunch the numbers, the NDP governments in their decade look like misers and skinflints next to this bunch…It surprises me (Read more…)