March 22, 2017

Special to the Globe and Mail, March 21, 2017

This week, three Yukon First Nations and two conservation groups are at the Supreme Court of Canada, fighting to protect one of the planet’s most pristine watersheds – the Peel River Watershed. The case will have significant ramifications for First Nations rights and consultations.

The Peel is not yet a household name, but it is an ecological treasure.

I travelled to the Yukon a few years ago. The territory is known for gold, but it is rich in water, from clear lakes to the blue-green rush of the Yukon River. Walking along the river’s edge in Whitehorse, I felt the depth of history in a place where people have been living for thousands of years.

March 22, 2017

BC Premier Christy Clark

The Vancouver Sun reports, "[, Dogwood Initiative, and Leadnow] have identified $771,168 in donations to the BC Liberals from Kinder Morgan and related companies based on Elections B.C. records. The figure could be higher if lobbyists associated with the project also made donations under their names."

That article also highlights, "In February, Democracy Watch and PIPE UP Network filed a court challenge to overturn the provincial government’s Kinder Morgan decision [to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline] due to alleged conflicts of interest between [Premier Christy Clark] and project proponents, who have given $560,000 in political contributions over six years to the Liberal party."

Justin Trudeau's Liberal government approved the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline in November 2016, while Clark's Liberal government gave its approval in January 2017 after a financial deal was reached in which the company will pay the province a minimum of $25-million per year over the 20-year lifespan of the deal.

March 22, 2017

Canadian trade minister François-Philippe Champagne and European Union trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom.

European Union trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom acknowledges that the ratification of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) faces challenges in 6-8 EU member state countries.

The Globe and Mail reports, "Ms. Malmstrom told reporters [in Ottawa on March 21] that it is only a 'matter of time' before all 28 countries ratify the deal. 'All countries have promised to do their utmost to get this through their national parliaments', she said. She said she foresees no obstacles to ratifying CETA in more than 75 per cent of EU countries. 'I would say that in 20 to 22 countries, absolutely not a problem – it will pass smoothly', she told reporters. In the remainder of EU member states, such as Belgium, there is more resistance to legislator approval. 'There [have] been some countries where this is controversial. It is calming down a little bit', she said."

March 21, 2017

University of Prince Edward Island professor Kevin Arsenault writes in The Guardian, "At the Environmental Leader's Forum held during the last provincial election, the moderator asked each leader whether he would ban shale-gas fracking if elected premier. All leaders indicated they would, except Wade MacLauchlan, who suggested that, 'A moratorium may come through the Water Act process.'"

Arsenault notes, "In legislation, the word ‘shall’ indicates something must happen: the word ‘may’ signifies only that something might happen; and unfortunately, ‘may’ often indicates that something is not likely to happen ... especially when most people believe it should happen. There are 24 occurrences of the phrase ‘the Minister may’ in the 38-page draft Water Act, which is a huge problem. And unfortunately, the Act doesn’t say that there ‘shall’ or even ‘may’ be a moratorium on fracking: in fact, the word fracking is not mentioned."

He adds, "The omission of any mention of fracking will certainly come as a major disappointment to the lobby group Don’t Frack PEI"

March 21, 2017

Robin Tress, Naomi Metallic, Patti Doyle-Bedwell

The Council of Canadians hosted a public forum in Halifax this evening on what resource extraction would look like in Canada if the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) were implemented.

The outreach had noted, "We'll hear from local experts and advocates about what UNDRIP is, how it has been contravened by projects like the Site C dam in British Columbia and the Alton Gas project in Nova Scotia, and processes developed by Indigenous communities to give, or withhold, consent. Panelists will discuss the topic in broad terms as well as offer specific insights to ongoing projects and resistance movements."

The speakers were Patti Doyle-Bedwell and Naomi Metallic.