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reeves report: Rebuilding ‘science team’ at ELA a tough task

Researchers at the Experimental Lakes Area in northern Ontario.

When Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on May 17, 2012 that funding for the Experimental Lakes Area would no longer be renewed by the federal government, scientists and environmentalists saw this for what it was—another salvo in Harper’s ever-expanding conflict with science and the products of that research.

Long before the ELA—a vast, 58-lake living freshwater laboratory near the Manitoba-Ontario border—was saved by an 11th hour deal between Ottawa, two provincial governments and (Read more…)

Progressive Proselytizing: Wynne suing Hudak is hardly going to help her

The de facto practice of being a politician is to not so subtly imply all manner of scandalous inanities about one’s opponents. When there is an actual underlying scandal, the shrill accusations from opponents tend to reach a fever pitch, and how an incumbent politician deals with the scandal breaking around them can make or break them.

From Rob Ford to Chris Christie to Stephen Harper, we have seen quite a range of different responses to political scandals. But the approach that Kathleen Wynne is taking to the email deletions over the gas plant cancellations seem to be the oddest (Read more…)

the reeves report: Deal reached to save Experimental Lakes Area

Ontario’s Experimental Lakes Area.

After months of negotiation, Queen’s Park announced Tuesday morning a deal has been struck to transfer ownership of the Experimental Lakes Area living laboratory in northern Ontario to the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

As part of the deal to keep the freshwater research facility alive, Ottawa—which abruptly cancelled its funding for ELA in early 2012 to save $2 million annually—has committed $250,000 a year for four years in surplus assets and operational funding to help cover transition costs.

Ontario, meanwhile, has earmarked $2 million a year towards keeping the 58-lake research facility going since opening (Read more…)

The Ranting Canadian: "You’re either with working women and men or you’re…

“You’re either with working women and men or you’re against them.”

- Peter Kormos (1952-2013)

It has been one year since we lost Peter Kormos, a former Ontario MPP who died too young, at the age of 60. Kormos, who died on on March 30, 2013 of natural causes, wasn’t an ordinary politician. He set the bar high, as a political leader and as a member of his community. The above video is a tribute that was played at his memorial last May. It’s 11 minutes long, but it’s worth watching.

For those who don’t know (Read more…)

the reeves report: Time running out on ELA interim agreement

Researchers working at one of 58 lakes in the Experimental Lakes Area in northern Ontario.

Only three days remain to finalize the interim agreement to find a new operator for the Experimental Lakes Area laboratory in northern Ontario, but the province’s resource minister is “optimistic” things will work out.

“We are optimistic that we’ll have some positive news very shortly,” said Natural Resources Minister David Orazietti Thursday.

It’s possible all parties may agree to an interim continuation of the already interim agreement if no permanent arrangement can be found, he said, but currently the Liberals don’t believe more time will be (Read more…)

the reeves report: Field naturalists granted construction stay at Ostrander Point

The south shore at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County (Photo by Terry Sprague.)

The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists were awarded a stay of construction at Ostrander Point this week that will prevent wind developer Gilead Power from beginning construction on their nine-turbine, 22 megawatt project until the outcome of the appeal is known.

“Now, Gilead Power will not be able to destroy any habitat before we can ask for leave to appeal,” said Myrna Wood, PECFN president. “We are relieved, as early migration has begun and spring melt is starting to create the conditions needed by (Read more…)

the reeves report: Reports question NEB’s approval process for Northern Gateway and Line 9 pipelines

Enbridge under fire as opponents of controversial pipeline projects worry the Canadian energy giant will be ill-prepared to handle potential ruptures throughout Southern Ontario and on B.C.’s rugged coast.

Opponents of Enbridge’s Line 9B pipeline in Southern Ontario are scrambling in the wake of its tentative approval earlier this month by the National Energy Board to highlight just how dangerous overhauling the 38-year-old, 639-kilometre pipeline could be for flora and fauna alike.

Approximately 100 protesters, First Nations members, students and concerned citizens gathered on the front lawn of Queen’s Park in Toronto the day after the NEB’s ruling (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: Disappointment with the Ontario Liberal Party lack of social media communication

The OLP has a convention next week, if you weren’t aware. It’s their annual general meeting – the one that was originally going to be held in London, but got moved to Toronto due to speculated Spring Election concerns.

Several bloggers (myself included) of the Liberal persuasion (Ontario or Federal) have been inquiring for awhile since last year before Christmas to some of our contacts within the OLP hierarchy about the possibility of being present at this to live-blog or live-tweet it or social media it in general.. you get the idea – as we did for the OLP’s leadership (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: An Extreme Of Capitalism?

Anyone who reads my blog regularly and has drawn the conclusion that I am anti-capitalism would be completely wrong. I have nothing against business, entrepreneurship, nor corporations, per se. And I do believe that those who take risks should be appropriately rewarded.

What I am against, however, is extreme imbalance. I have nothing but withering contempt for the winner-take-all attitude that sees life as a zero-sum game. Such thinking betrays an unschooled mind and a woefully underdeveloped character, in my view. And that is exactly the mentality pervasive in so many realms today, be they political, economic, social, business, etc. (Read more…)

the reeves report: Ontario strengthens tools to combat invasives

MNR Minister David Orazietti introduces the Invasives Species Act at Queen’s Park.

Groundbreaking legislation a first of its kind in Canada – aims to fill in legislative gaps in combatting invasive species in Ontario.

Ontario is attempting to clear away some of the regulatory red tape and overlap that keeps Ministry of Natural Resources officials from moving quickly to combat invasive species with a new Invasive Species Act introduced late last month.

The bill, which MNR staff began working on in earnest last summer, would give Ontario greater authority over banning particular species and their transportation into and within the (Read more…)

the reeves report: Ontario Court backs Gilead Power at Ostrander Point

South Shore of Ostrander Point (Image from CountyLive.com)

Seven months after learning a contentious wind project at Ostrander Point had been halted by the Environmental Review Tribunal, an Ontario divisional court overturned that decision Thursday, paving the way for development to begin later this year.

In July 2013, the Tribunal agreed with the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists that if development of a nine turbine, 22.5 megawatt project from wind proponent Gilead Power was allowed to proceed that local Blanding’s Turtles – a provincially threatened species – would suffer irreparable harm from vehicle traffic on access roads leading (Read more…)

the reeves report: Federal court knocks Ottawa for failing to protect endangered species — Ontario could be next

Woodland caribou listed in Canada as a species-at-risk. (Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller is warning Queen’s Park could face sharp reprimands by the courts for its failure to uphold wildlife protections under the Endangered Species Act.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a federal court confirmed last week the Government of Canada does indeed have a responsibility to follow its own species at risk legislation.

The decision, handed down by Madam Justice Anne Mactavish on Feb. 14, stated the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the federal Ministry of the Environment “acted unlawfully in failing (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Andrea Again

Sorry for the provincialism of some of my recent posts, but I can’t quite ignore political hypocrisy on any level. Three recent entries have attempted to chronicle the sad devolution of Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Howath from that of principled politician to political opportunist; with the tantalizing prospect of power, she has forsaken the NDP’s traditional constituencies of the poor and working class (sorry, I guess you folks just don’t have a strong enough electoral presence) for her new BFF, small business and ‘the middle class.’

Quite properly, and much to their credit, The Toronto Star is not giving (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: An Invitation To The Dance Party

What dance party is that, you ask? Why, the one being hosted by the leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party whose name, it is rumoured, is in the process of being rejigged into the New Dance Party.

At least, that is how it appears to this political observer. As I opined yesterday, Ms. Horwath seems to be in the midst of an identity crisis, at least if her silence on key progressive issues such as the minimum wage is any indication. But perhaps that crisis is to be short-lived, given the letter she has sent to Premier Kathleen (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Andrea Horwath: Labour’s Fair-Weather Friend?

In light of her refusal to say much about anything, a political disease she may have caught from her federal cousins, Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath is being viewed increasingly as little more than a political opportunist. Probably the most recent example of this sad state is her reticence to articulate a position on Ontario’s minimum wage.

Two weeks ago, Martin Regg Cohn offered this:

When did the party of the working poor lose its voice? Listen to the sound of Horwath clearing her throat when she finally emerged from the NDP’s Witness Protection Program this week — nine days (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: Tough night for the Ontario Libs & Wynne

Last night, there were 2 byelections in Ontario, which were seen as a test of what the political winds are like in Ontario these days. The Ontario Liberals and Premier Kathleen Wynne was hoping to wrest away Thornhill from the PC’s, while Niagara Falls, in Tim Hudak’s backyard, it was seen as a test to see which opposition party would wrest it away from the OLP.

It was not a very good night for the OLP: in Thornhill, the PC candidate won comfortably – with vote totals only slightly down from the last general election, while in Niagara Falls, Liberal (Read more…)

the reeves report: Indirect Impacts of Pipelines Should Be Included in Assessments

If oil and gas pipeline proponents can talk about indirect economic benefits stemming from new pipeline infrastructure, opponents should be able to consider the environmental impacts of those indirect actions when arguing against them, according to the Pembina Institute’s federal policy director.

Fair is fair, according to Clare Demerse, and if oil and natural gas companies tout the economic benefits of upstream oil sands production and downstream refining when making the case for new pipeline infrastructure, organizations like Pembina should be able to include the environmental and climatic impacts associated from such activities in the national discussion about our (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Andrea’s Dilemma: Whither Blowest The Wind?

Were I a gifted artist (or any kind of artist, for that matter) I would draw Andrea Horwath in a two-panel caricature. In the first panel, index finger raised, she would be turning to her left, and in the second, to her right, testing the prevailing winds. That would, I believe, adequately capture what I, perhaps a tad harshly, characterize as the political prostitution of the Ontario NDP leader.

Like her long ago party leader, Bob Rae, who even today refuses to admit he made some grievous errors during his time as Ontario’s Premier by trying to placate and court (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: More On The Minimum Wage

There has been very much a predictable reaction from business to the Wynne government’s decision to raise the Ontario minimum wage to $11 per hour as of June 1. Even though this modest increase will do little to lift the working poor out of poverty, the commercial sector is running about shouting that the sky will fall, prognosticating a loss of jobs as they take up a defensive position against something that will, they claim, eat away at their profits.

The following video from City TV offers a smattering of a debate over the issue; unfortunately, I no longer seem (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: No gays in Sochi, and apparently no one on minimum wage in Thornhill

The statement yesterday by Sochi’s mayor that there were no gay people in Sochi was idiotic.

The statement today by Thornhill Progressive Conservative candidate, Gila Martow, is nearly as idiotic:

Thornhill provincial Progressive Conservative byelection candidate Gila Martow called the move to raise the minimum wage this week “a vote-buying, feel-good kind of message,” in an interview. “If you think about it, what does it mean? I don’t think that, especially in the Thornhill riding, there’s too many families… that are working ­— the parents ­— at real minimum-wage jobs,”… I would like you to show me a few families (Read more…)

the reeves report: Green neighbours collide over wind power project

It’s dispiriting when newly rival factions of the environmental movement clash over what has become a touchy subject in green circles. Worse when disagreements end up in the justice system.

Yet that’s exactly what played out this week in a Toronto appeals court.

In an issue the media have dubbed ‘turtles versus turbines,’ the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN), a group often led publicly by outspoken grandmother and wildlife advocate Myrna Wood, found themselves in court this week defending a landmark decision from the Environmental Review Tribunal in July, 2013 which halted a renewable energy project at Ostrander Point (Read more…)

the reeves report: Europe looks to coal to reduce electricity prices

One year after The Economist signalled an ”unwelcomed coal renaissance”, Bloomberg News reported Jan. 6 that Europe’s lust for lower energy prices was reviving lignite mining for coal-fired generation in a big way.

Lignite, a low-quality form of coal that contains less units of energy and greater volumes of carbon than traditional coal, is once again the prize European energy firms are seeking in open-pit mines in Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic in an effort to wrestle high-energy prices to the mat.

According to Bloomberg, new coal developments “go against the grain of European Union rules limiting (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Like A Scab: Tim Hudak

Like a scab (not the metaphorical kind so beloved of the extreme right) that I can’t resist picking away at, once more Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak looms large. Although I wrote about him again very recently, the magnitude of either his ineptitude or his arrogance, depending on one’s perspective, is worthy of further examination.

As noted in my previous post, young Tim recently announced his Million Jobs Act, one that promises untold riches in the form of ‘good-paying jobs with benefits’ for Ontarians if only we reduce corporate taxes and enact free trade with the other (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: Not good times for Tim Hudak/Ontario PC’s

Yesterday won’t count as one of Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak’s better days. First came this snippet from the Windsor Star that the party had “fired” their candidate in Essex from last election over a dispute on “right to work” legislation:

Dave Brister was fired today as the Ontario PC candidate in Essex for publicly criticizing the party’s support of right-to-work legislation…“I was asked to recant my opposition to RTW legislation in exchange for retaining my position & I refused to do so,” Brister tweeted. Brister was a popular and conservative Windsor city councillor before stepping down to run in (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: More Thoughts On The Minimum Wage

Although I have written several previous posts on the need to substantially increase the minimum wage so that it becomes a living wage, I have been planning an update. However, I doubt that today will be the day for that update since, once again over my morning coffee, I have come across two thoughtful letters in The Star that I feel compelled to share with you.

Although the first letter looks at the poverty pervasive in Toronto thanks in no small measure to the current Ontario hourly minimum of $10.25, the second looks at the broader provincial consequences of (Read more…)