February 26, 2009

The Coalition Against Water Privatisation in South Africa writes today that, "For three days (Monday 23rd – Wednesday 25th February) the appeal against the historic High Court judgement on the rights of poor communities to equitable, adequate and affordable access to, and enjoyment of, water was heard in front of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein."

The CAWP legal team "reiterated and expanded on the core arguments (on) the immediate need for practical relief and affirmation of the constitutional right to water access..."

"On the first day of the hearing, the small court over-flowed with residents of affected communities in Gauteng and the Free State, under the banner of CAWP."

February 25, 2009

The Canadian Press reports this afternoon that, "Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff is positioning himself as a staunch defender of the Alberta oil sands."

The article continues, "He's brushing aside a 20-page spread in National Geographic magazine that outlines environmental concerns around the northern Alberta industry. The Liberal leader says he doesn't take lessons from foreign publications. He says the oil sands need to be made more sustainable, but he's proud of the industry and called it a world leader."

The full article can be read at

February 25, 2009

The Calgary Herald reports that, "The Dene Nation and the Assembly of First Nations -- along with the Pembina Institute's office in Yellowknife-- are raising concerns about the risk of toxic waste from the oilsands seeping into the Northwest Territories' water supply."

PEMBINA RECOMMENDS TRANSBOUNDARY WATER AGREEMENT "The environmental think-tank is calling for several protections, including a halt on new projects until tougher environmental rules are in place, and a transboundary water agreement with the Northwest Territories."

FIRST NATIONS MOTION FOR HEARINGS AND DRY TAILINGS TECHNOLOGY "Last week, the two First Nations groups passed a motion saying both the federal and provincial governments have failed to adequately protect water, fish and migratory species...The motion, which will be sent to Edmonton, Yellowknife and Ottawa, calls for extensive environmental hearings in the Northwest Territories and a commitment to use dry tailings technology for all future oilsands developments."

February 25, 2009

The National Union of Public and General Employees writes in Straight Goods that, "Barack Obama reaffirmed Wednesday when he flew to Ottawa for his first foreign visit as president of the United States that he wants labour and environmental 'side agreements' brought into the main body of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)."

OBAMA RAISED NAFTA WITH HARPER WHILE IN OTTAWA "The president told a joint news conference with Stephen Harper on Parliament Hill that he raised the issue during their first face-to-face talks since Obama took over from George Bush on January 20."

February 25, 2009

This month's issue of National Geographic contains a 24-page feature on the tar sands, titled Scraping Bottom. The impact could be huge - the magazine has 50 million readers in 32 languages.

Colimnist Don Martin writes in today's Ottawa Citizen that, "It opens to a three-page aerial spread of pristine boreal forest dotted with lakes beaming through the trees as a luminescent robin-egg blue. This is the 'before' picture. Flip over the fold-out at the front of this month's National Geographic magazine and you're confronted by the 'after' photo, a ground zero of environmental devastation, with sickly grey ponds bisected by slick roadways prowled by mammoth trucks carrying now-discounted black gold."

"This photo shoot for the magazine's influential global audience is described as the 'baby-seal moment' for Alberta's oilsands, a public relations hell equal to a seal pup's skull-clubbing death that no amount of damage control can overcome, no matter how reasoned the argument."