Tag Archives: Stephen Harper

Hill Times: Harper to “Streamline” Environmental Assessments for $500 Billion of Resource Projects


Read this story from the Ottawa Hill Times on the Harper Government’s intention to fast-track $500 Billion worth of proposed resource development projects by “streamlining” environmental assessments. (July 2, 2012)

As the federal government looks to streamline the approval of an estimated $500-billion worth of investment in 500 mining and energy projects over the next 10 years, industry and environmental groups say they will wait and see how new timelines under Bill C-38, the Budget Implementation Act, will affect environmental assessments already underway.

Bill C-38, the Budget Implementation Act, passed its third and final reading in the House of Commons on June 18, days after a 24-four hour marathon vote on 159 bundled opposition amendments.

The Senate passed the controversial 425-page bill, which amends 70 pieces of legislation and contains 150 pages of amendments to environmental laws and the federal environmental assessment process, before adjourning for the summer on Friday, June 29.

Bill C-38 replaces the 1992 Environmental Assessment Act with a 2012 version that imposes a 24-month time limit on joint review panels involving the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the National Energy Board, and/or the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and 365 days on standard environmental assessments. The federal Environment minister can extend a review by up to three months, and Cabinet can further extend reviews. The federal minister of Natural Resources has similar authority to extend National Energy Board reviews.

In a May 29 appearance before the Senate Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver (Eglinton-Lawrence, Ont.) said that the reforms are necessary to streamline the approval of an estimated $500-billion worth of investment in 500 mining and energy projects over the next 10 years. Projects include oil and gas pipelines, mines, hydroelectric dams, oil and gas extraction, and wind and solar farms. Mr. Oliver estimated that the projects would create 700,000 new jobs over the next decade.

“Inefficient regulation leads to unnecessary and unpredictable project delays that can create additional costs for proponents and impede their ability to attract capital and stimulate economic activity,” said Mr. Oliver, who appeared before the committee alongside Environment Minister Peter Kent (Thornhill, Ont.) and Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield (Fredericton, N.B.). “Both industry and government are in agreement—Canada has suffered from this regulatory malaise for too long.”

Many of the 500 projects touted by the feds are already in some stage of assessment, however, and what the changes in Bill C-38 mean for projects already under review remains unclear. The budget bill contains transitional provisions for projects that are already under review. Under these provisions, the federal Environment minister will have the authority to decide whether assessments underway before Bill C-38 are sufficient, and will impose timelines on these current reviews.

Read more: http://www.hilltimes.com/news/news/2012/07/02/feds-look-to-streamline-$500-billion-worth-of-investments-in-resource-projects/31324


NDP Pushes Past Conservatives in Federal Polling


Read this story from The Vancouver Sun, reporting on a national survey by Global TV and Postmedia that gives the NDP a 3-point advantage over their Conservative counterparts. Is Stephen Harper paying a price for his controversial omnibus budget bill, which guts environmental laws and rolls back Old Age Security, among other dramatic non-budgetary policy changes? (June 22, 2012)

OTTAWA — The federal New Democratic Party has become the leading choice among Canadian voters — especially those in Ontario and Quebec — as the most favoured party to govern the country, a major new poll has found.

The national survey commissioned by Postmedia News and Global TV also reveals that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Tories are slipping in popularity and the once-powerful Liberals are continuing to wane.

Ultimately, the poll conducted this week by Ipsos Reid reveals a historic shift in political allegiances, as a growing consensus forms around the NDP among those Canadians who would like to see Harper’s Tories removed from office.

According to the poll, which asked Canadians who they would vote for if an election occurred today, the NDP under Thomas Mulcair would receive 38 per cent of the popular vote, up three points since last month. (That’s also well up from the 2011 election, when the NDP finished second with 31 per cent of the vote.)

The governing Tories would receive 35 per cent of the vote, down two points since last month (and also down from the 40 per cent they attained to win a majority government last year.)

Support for the Liberal party, now heading into an unpredictable leadership race that won’t include its current leader Bob Rae, is also shaky. The party would get 18 per cent of the vote, down one point from its showing in the 2011 election.

The Green party would receive about four per cent of the vote. And the Bloc Quebecois, once powerful in its province, is now running second to the NDP there.

Ipsos Reid president Darrell Bricker said in an interview Friday that the findings are part of a significant trend which shows Canadians are becoming more polarized around key issues such as the economy, the role of government, and taxes.

He said left-wing, “progressive” voters are now coalescing around the political voice that offers the strongest opposition to Harper’s government.

“That’s what’s happening now for the NDP,” said Bricker.

“We’re seeing that there is an opposition emerging. People who are against Harper figure that they have the best chance of defeating them, and that’s where they are going.”

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/ahead+Tories+Canada+wide+poll+Liberals+struggle/6827125/story.html

Conservative MP James Moore poses in front of an artist's depiction of a wild BC salmon; last week, Moore abandoned the real thing.

BC Conservative MPs Who Abandoned Our Wild Salmon May Find Voters Abandoning Them


Note well the names that follow, for they are British Columbia MPs who voted for the final destruction of the Pacific Salmon, the sea going Rainbow trout (Steelhead), river resident Cutthroat, resident Rainbow trout, river dwelling Dolly Varden and Bull trout:
Don Albas, Ron Cannan, John Duncan, Ed Fast, Kerrry-Lynne Findlay, Nina Grewal, Richard Harris, Russ Heibert, Randy Kamp, James Lunney, Colin Mayes, Cathy McLeod, James Moore, Andrew Saxton, Mark Strahl, Mark Warawa, John Weston, David Wilks, Alice Wong, Wai Young, and Bob Zimmer.
These toadies are our Conservative Members of Parliament, the blind followers of ultra-conservative Stephen Harper. They voted for Bill C-38, which in itself was a gross abdication of democracy in that it was an act to amend the Budget Act, yet included in it critical amendments to the Fisheries Act and many other environmental protections, making it all but a slam dunk for developers to ravage salmon habitat.
These lickspittles uttered not a word of objection (except Wilks, when caught on candid camera, before promptly recanting) that Harper abused an omnibus bill in order to restrict debate on amendments to the Fisheries Act, then proceeded to vote for it.
The Conservative Party under Brian Mulroney and Stephen Harper started their war on our salmon back in the 1980s when they muzzled Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) scientists over the Alcan plan to lower the Nechako River, near Prince George, to dangerous levels, thus threatening runs of sockeye salmon en route to their spawning grounds. The danger came in summertime, when excessive heat would meet low waters – a certainty which then-Fisheries Minister Tom Siddon called “an acceptable risk”. DFO scientists had studied Alcan’s plans and vigorously opposed them and one by one they were moved sidewise, given early retirement or forced by their own code of honour to remove themselves.
The government passed an order-in-council forbidding the usual environmental assessment process, clearly knowing that it would have to call these scientists to give evidence, thus exposing the Kemano Completion program for what it was – naked aggression against the salmon.
Along the way, the DFO, mandated to protect the fish, was instructed to support Atlantic salmon fish farms on the west coast, driving another nail into the coffin of our sacred signature salmon. DFO, unable to enforce the act while supporting the presence of fish farms chose, under stern political guidance, to avoid enforcement of their mandate to protect west coast salmon. Now they have virtually no power to restrain any development. They are eunuchs.
Here’s how the Sudbury Star put it:

Bill C-38 does a lot more than simply implement the federal budget. It eviscerates many of Canada’s historic environmental laws, and establishes a new regime that promotes unrestrained economic development at the expense of environmental protection. For starters, Bill C-38 will repeal the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, one of the foundational pieces of legislation, which for decades has required an assessment of impacts when development is proposed. In place of the Act, the Conservatives are offering new legislation that will severely restrict the required assessment of environmental impacts, and limit opportunities for input from the public and First Nations.

The Fisheries Act will also be gutted by the omnibus bill, as fish habitat protections will be removed. Tom Siddon, the former Tory minister of Fisheries and Oceans in Brian Mulroney’s government, expressed his outrage over this regressive step to managing the economically important fisheries resource.

Why would the government want to gut the Fisheries Act?

Anyone in mind who might like these changes?

Here’s what Postmedia reports:

Federal fisheries officials were having “troubling” disagreements with Enbridge Inc. over the company’s interpretation of its responsibility to protect fish habitat along the Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline route before the company submitted its project proposal in 2010, according to internal documents.

Enbridge was concluding some of the crossings, over an estimated 1,000 waterways, were low risk when fisheries biologists felt the same were medium or high risk to fish and fish habitat, according to emails obtained through the Access to Information Act.

Here’s what The Northern View wrote, reporting on Prince Rupert Council’s opposition to C-38:

Bill C-38 also includes the changes to the Environmental Assessment system for big industrial projects, and the provision that gives the federal cabinet final say over decisions made by the National Energy Board. This change has lead to a considerable loss of confidence in the Enbridge Joint Review Panel hearings by local Northern Gateway opponents, who, at the last hearing in Prince Rupert, repeatedly accused the panel of being stripped of credibility and authority.

Many, including me, have been making the point for years that under our system, Members of Parliament do not represent their constituencies but, instead, return to their ridings to tell us what Ottawa is doing to us and that we can like it or lump it.

I understand, from personal experience, how hard it is for an individual to disagree with the leader and do so publicly. But surely a time comes when the leader is so egregiously in contempt of an MP’s interests that he/she must lay it on the line, knowing it will be politically fatal. If this is not the case, what the hell do we need the MP for anyway? Is their only role to do what they’re told and check it out when a constituent’s pension cheque is late?

One of the consequences of this tight discipline is that the MP no longer informs him/herself of contentious issues. I spoke with my Tory MP, John Weston, a couple of weeks ago and it was obvious that he knew dick-all about the pipelines issue, to add to his utter ignorance of the private power (IPPs) issue. Why learn the other side when you’re going to vote as you are told? What’s the point of cluttering one’s mind with facts when they don’t count for a damn thing when you come to vote?

The system stinks but it will survive as long as the government has absolute control over government members. Here we have the proof – every single BC Conservative MP voted in favour of further decimating our Pacific salmon and their cousins.

For shame! On our Tory MPs for not standing up for their province and on all of us for not understanding how our dishonest system fails us, thus not doing anything to force a change.


Widespread Oppostion to Gutting of Fisheries Act Through Bill C-38: Sun Special Report


Read this investigative report – the second part of a four part series from the Vancouver Sun examining the Harper Government’s clash with conservationists over its omnibus budget bill and the Enbridge pipeline. This installment focuses on the concerns of fisheries biologists, academics, conservationists and First Nations over Harper’s plan to gut the Fisheries Act through Bill C-38. (June 6)

Otto Langer has devoted his adult life to protecting fish habitat.

Now he wonders if it was all for nothing. The retired head of habitat assessment and planning for the federal Fisheries Department in B.C. and Yukon describes the Conservative government’s planned changes to the Fisheries Act as the biggest setback to conservation law in Canada in half a century. And he takes it very personally.

“I feel I have wasted my lifetime, that I should have done something else,” says Langer, who now predicts a gradual decline in fish habitat if the changes take effect.

Through a massive package of proposed laws in Bill C-38, Ottawa plans to limit federal protection of fish habitat to activities resulting in serious harm to fish that are part of a commercial, sport or aboriginal fishery. Across the country, hundreds of scientists have condemned the change.

“It’s going to remove freshwater protection for most fishes in Canada, which can’t be a good thing,” says University of B.C. zoology department professor Eric Taylor, who also cochairs a federal committee that advises the government on species at risk.

“Habitat is not just a place to live; it’s a place to breed, rest, avoid predators, get food.”

Taylor argues the Fisheries Department should be fighting for biodiversity. “They should have an interest in protecting Canada’s aquatic biodiversity – for all Canadians. They now seem to be abandoning that.”

Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Keith Ashfield has said the changes will focus federal protection efforts “where they are needed,” provide clearer and more efficient regulations, and create partnerships with provinces, aboriginal groups and conservation organizations.

He promised to provide better enforcement of the rules, and also to protect “ecologically significant areas,” such as sensitive spawning grounds or where the cumulative impact of development is a concern.

So-called minor works, such as cottage docks and irrigation ditches, will be identified and no longer require permits, said Ashfield, who refused to be interviewed for this article.

Critics consider the bill a regressive step that is certain to have serious impacts on fish.

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Canada+fish+face+upstream+battle/6737525/story.html

Oppostion House Leader Nathan Cullen has come out swinging against Harper's Bill C-38 (photo: Chris Roussakis/QMI Agency)

Opposition Parties Turn Up Heat on Harper’s Omnibus Bill


Federal opposition parties, along with Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, are ratcheting up their campaign against Stephen Harper’s Bill C-38 omnibus budget bill. Party representatives say they’ll use any tools at their disposal to push the Prime Minister to abandon a number of non-budgetary items in the 400-plus page bill – including the controversial gutting of the fisheries act, watering down of environmental assessment processes and upping the age for old age security benefits.

NDP Opposition House Leader Nathan Cullen and Liberal MP Marc Garneau described to CBC’s Evan Solomon this week the parliamentary roadblocks their parties are prepared to place in the path of Bill C-38. Chief among these tactics is the use of votes on amendments to individual clauses of the bill – as many as 400, according to Cullen – designed to slow down the passage of the bill and force Harper to consider breaking it into smaller pieces.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has been actively attacking the omnibus bill as well – raising the issue through social media and teaming up with the Liberals to augment her political effectiveness. May is unable to debate the bill at the committee level as her party lacks official status, but as Garneau explained to Solomon, his party is working with May to represent many of her proposed amendments to the bill dealing with the stripping of environmental regulations and protections.

May’s petition to abandon Bill C-38 has garnered over 20,000 likes and shares on facebook this week. Watch her video below explaining her party’s issues with the budget bill and calling on citizens to take action to stop it.

The most controversial non-budgetary components of the bill – particularly the gutting of habitat protections from the Fisheries Act – continue to draw widespread media coverage and provoke growing outrage amongst environmental groups and voters across the country. However, it remains to be seen what effect these measures will have on the majority Harper Government’s plans with Bill C-38, expected to go to a vote in the House as soon as next week.




A Canada Day message for the Harper Government


I listen to the radio and TV news and see our country being devastated by the Conservative Government. We have lost the worlds confidence, in our governments thinking, actions and leadership. The government has disgraced the Canadian people on the world stage, the United Nations, the Peace process, and almost every normal way of dealing with the world. Instead of leading the world in the cleanup of pollution, the government wants to lead the world in polluting it and calling anyone, who doesn’t agree with them, radicals, terrorists, etc. etc.

The Harper government also loves to give away our money to rich and profitable corporations. When first elected, $19 billion in back taxes of corporations, foreign and domestic, gone. The $15 billion surplus the Liberals left as a cushion. gone. Rolling back the taxes, to 15%, of huge, very profitable foreign and domestic corporations, gone, billion dollars for a one day G8/20 meeting, gone and with the same breath telling the people, that paid out all this money, that they must cut back on all the services that Canadian people rely on and pay for. That is our money! We don’t give you that money to be given away! We give you that yo provide services for us, the people of Canada! You have no right!

I would like the people of Canada that don’t agree with the way our government is running/ruining our country and want to protest that fact peacefully and with no dialogue, only a general disgust with the Harper Government’s wicked ways. Please wear your Canadian flags upside down on Canada Day. By doing this small gesture, we can tell our friends and neighbours, that we care about Canada and we don’t like the direction the Harper government headed and we would like to change direction to a more calm and peaceful way of life. We can feel proud that we don’t stand for Harper’s, down with the people of Canada, attitude and “the Canadian people don’t care about the things we are doing” talk.

Please join me on July 1st and wear, your flag, pin or whatever, that has a Canadian flag on it, upside down as a very peaceful and silent protest.

Thank you.

If you don’t feel this way, HAPPY CANADA DAY!

Postmedia photo

The Religion Factor in Canada’s Environmental Politics


Canadian politics has traditionally avoided the religion factor. By common agreement, belief has been deemed a private matter, a facet of a candidate’s qualifications for election that is not relevant to his or her ability to represent voters in parliament or to function as prime minister. The media has generally been respectful of this sensitivity and has averted coverage and commentary that touches on personal religious beliefs. This may be changing.

Most environmentalists and scientists, together with a growing number of Canadians and others, are often bewildered by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s aversion to address or even to mention the spectre of global climate change. This profoundly important environmental issue is prominent in many political discussion in many countries of the world, an integral part of their budgets, economic plans and energy policies. All but a fringe minority now accept the essential science explaining climate change and are taking measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Not so in Canada.

This lapse has focused attention on Prime Minister Harper, particularly because he is such a powerful and skillful political leader who meticulously manages, controls and directs much of Canada’s domestic and foreign policy — this nation’s governance is now the image of Stephen Harper. His response to environmental issues has been perplexing, provocative and worrisome. Green Party MP Elizabeth May outlines these concerns in her response to the government’s 2012 budget, the devious C-38 omnibus bill that devotes 170 of 425 pages to repealing, amending or otherwise weakening existing environmental regulations, while also withdrawing financial support from key scientific research that is environment related (Island Tides, May 17/12).

A mere sample is staggering: no funding for the Polar Environment Arctic Research Laboratory, the definitive and authoritative monitor of northern climate change; withdrawal of financial support for the Kluane Research Station, a 50-year project studying high-latitude ecological changes; the slashing of almost all marine pollution monitoring; and dissolution of the National Round Table on Environment and Economy, the only institution that attempts to find sustainable business options that are satisfactory to both industry and environmentalists. Despite arguing austerity, the government found an additional $8 million of scarce money for Revenue Canada to more closely monitor environmental charities to be certain excessive funds are not being used for “political” advocacy. “Nearly half of the budget implementation bill,” writes May, “is directed at re-writing Canada’s foundational environmental laws.” This includes the Fisheries Act, the Species at Risk Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Decisions once based on public processes guided by science now move to ministerial discretion.

The Prime Minister’s seemingly anti-environment and anti-science agenda has prompted Andrew Nikiforuk, a prominent Canadian journalist, to search for the root cause of this behaviour. In his quest for an explanation, Nikiforuk has broken from convention, raised the sensitive religion issue, and written an opinion piece in TheTyee.ca (Mar. 26/12) titled, “Understanding Harper’s Evangelical Mission”, subtitled, “Signs mount that Canada’s government is beholden to a religious agenda averse to science and rational debate.”

Nikiforuk had obviously pondered the Prime Minister’s political behaviour, trying to explain why the leader of a modern, progressive and technologically sophisticated country would muzzle public comment by government-funded climate scientists, make no serious effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions, block or stall international agreements on greenhouse gas reductions, provoke the ire of every environmentally conscientious country on the planet, officially withdraw Canada from the Kyoto Protocol, promote rampant fossil-fuel development, and assiduously avoid any mention or discussion of climate change anywhere in his tightly controlled government. To an inquisitive journalist, this behaviour is an anachronistic idiosyncrasy that invites exploration.

Because the Prime Minister will not publicly discuss his religious views, Nikiforuk’s conclusions are conjectural. But the Prime Minister is known to belong to an Alberta fundamentalist Protestant church that espouses “evangelical climate skepticism”. Nikiforuk contends that this church holds seven tenets which “not only explain startling developments in Canada but should raise the hair on the neck of every thinking citizen regardless of their faith: 1. Disdain for the environmental movement, 2. Distrust of mainstream science in general, 3. Distrust of the mainstream media, 4. Loyalty to the party, 5. Libertarian economics as God’s will (God is opposed to government regulation or taxation), 6. Misunderstanding of divine sovereignty (God won’t allow us to ruin creation), 7. Unreconstructed Dominion theology (God calls on humans to subdue and rule creation).”

These are the tenets, Nikiforuk suggests, that could now be directing Canadian policy through the singular authority of the Prime Minister. “Any Canadian listening to the news these days,” he writes, “might well conclude that the Republican extremists or some associated evangelical group has occupied Ottawa. And they’d be righter than Job, I believe.”

Because of the guarded privacy of the Prime Minister, Nikiforuk’s evidence is only circumstantial — without any direct links, his operative word is “believe”. But this belief is strong enough to lead him into territory traditional journalism has not explored, and to open an avenue of consideration that Canadians have been too polite, or perhaps too naive, to explore. In doing so, he has robbed our politics of an element of innocence and added a complicating new dimension to our environmental challenges.


Former Ministers Fraser, Anderson Should be Listened to on Gutting Fisheries Act…Siddon, Not So Much


This short blog is a result of a call from John Fraser.
This from the CBC, a news story across the land this week:
Four former federal fisheries ministers are questioning the government’s motives behind the inclusion of environmental protection changes to the Fisheries Act in the Budget Implementation Act.”

Mulroney-era Conservatives Tom Siddon and John Fraser, and Liberals Herb Dhaliwal and David Anderson, who both served under Jean Chretien, say in an open letter they don’t believe federal ministers have given plausible explanations for why so much environmental legislation has been included in a money bill.

Former fisheries ministers have sent an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, questioning his government’s decision to include major changes to the Fisheries Act in the omnibus budget bill. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

“Quite frankly, Canadians are entitled to know whether these changes were written, or insisted upon, by the minister of fisheries or by interest groups outside the government. If the latter is true, exactly who are they?” ask the four in an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

I find it interesting that Siddon has found religion, considering that when he was minister, the Kemano Completion Plan was authorized – a project that would have seen two major sockeye runs imperilled. I wonder if he’s now prepared to apologize to me and pay the insurer back over the conflict regarding my coverage of the issue at CKNW?

The fact that all four former federal fisheries ministers have taken a strong position on an omnibus bill that will not imperil but most surely devastate fisheries, fresh and salt water, across the land, should be taken seriously by the Prime Minister and his loyal lickspittles.

The two important voices are those of John Fraser and David Anderson,  both lifetime environmentalists who had, while in cabinet, the clout to protect fish and unhesitatingly risked their portfolios – something the present minister, Keith Ashfield, hasn’t the guts to do.

It’s not easy laying your ministry on the line, I can tell you from experience – but if you won’t, what the hell are you there for?

An omnibus bill is as it sounds – one bill to cover various areas of legislation. It’s traditional role has been one of housekeeping – fixing bad grammar, bad draughtsmanship and that sort of thing. Recent governments have taken it as vehicle where several unrelated, politically touchy areas are put into one bill to restrict the Opposition’s ability to oppose the individual issues.

It is a mark of an arrogant government that cares not for the spirit of parliamentary democracy and couldn’t care less for any who are not their supporters or, in Ashfield’s case, flunkies.

Scarcely a minor matter, the stripping away of protection of fish habitat is the death knell for an already badly wounded animal. The reason for it is to satisfy developers who traditionally pay big money into party bank accounts – I wonder if Tom Siddon is saying this now, since my saying it brought a lawsuit from him.

Canadians across the country must understand what this means and unite their voices against the Harper Herd no matter what their personal politics. This appallingly arrogant Prime Minister must be stopped before our Pacific salmon becomes a curiosity found only in occasional rivers to satisfy rich fishermen, as has become the case in Europe.

When John Fraser and David Anderson speak out on the subject of fisheries in this country they should be listened to.


Four Former Federal Fisheries Ministers Line Up Against Harper’s Plan to Gut Fisheries Act


Read this story from Mark Hume in the Globe and Mail on the opposition from former Liberal and Conservative fisheries ministers to Stephen Harper’s plan gut habitat protections from the Fisheries Act in his omnibus budget bill. (May 30, 2012)

In a rare show of solidarity across party lines, four former federal fisheries ministers – two Conservatives and two Liberals – are speaking out against proposed legislative changes they say will lead to irreparable damage to fish habitat.

“They are totally watering down and emasculating the Fisheries Act,” said Tom Siddon, who was fisheries minister for Conservative former prime minister Brian Mulroney from 1985 to 1990. “They are really taking the guts out of the Fisheries Act and it’s in devious little ways if you read all the fine print … they are making a Swiss cheese out of [it].”

Mr. Siddon, now retired in British Columbia, will appear before a parliamentary subcommittee on Wednesday to voice the concerns he, John Fraser, Herb Dhaliwal and David Anderson have about Bill C-38. The omnibus legislation was brought in by the Finance Minister to deal with amendments to 60 different acts, and it includes changes to key provisions of the Fisheries Act, a powerful piece of legislation that dates back to Confederation.

Under the amendments, the Fisheries Act will shift its focus to protect only fish that support commercial, recreational or aboriginal fisheries. At the same time, some federal responsibilities will be offloaded to the provinces.

Mr. Siddon said the bill was strengthened in 1986 to broadly protect fish habitat and he is dismayed the government now wants to weaken it.

“The real scary part of this is that the one minister in Canada who has the constitutional duty to protect the fishery, which includes habitat, is the Fisheries Minister and these amendments essentially parcel out and water down his fiduciary responsibility, to the point that … he can delegate his responsibility to private-sector interests and individuals,” he said.

“I know from many experiences, whether it’s the issues of the gravel pit operators … placer miners …or pulp mills, that what they could get away with, they got away with, prior to 1985-86.”

Mr. Siddon said the proposed changes would never have been tolerated in Mr. Mulroney’s era.

Read more: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/bc-politics/four-former-ministers-protest-taking-the-guts-out-of-fisheries-act/article2446031/


Harper Plans Massive Auction of Arctic Oil Drilling Rights


Read this story from the Globe and Mail on the Harper Government’s expected auctioning off oil drilling rights in the Canadian Arctic. (May 16, 2012)

Ottawa has placed 905,000 hectares of the northern offshore up for bids, clearing the way for energy companies to snap up exploration rights for an area half the size of Lake Ontario. The scale of the offer indicates eagerness in the oil patch to drill for new finds in Canada’s northern waters less than two years after such plans were put on hold following the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico and a major Arctic drilling safety review.

The Arctic exploration auction resumes as the Harper government is promoting greater development of the country’s resources. It has taken steps to speed regulatory approvals for major energy projects such as the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, promising to limit the ability of environmental groups and other opponents to block or delay new developments.

The prospect of further northern drilling fits squarely with that mandate, said Jason MacDonald, spokesman for John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, which oversees the northern land auction.

“The bid call reflects the potential that we see for resource development,” he said. “The North is home to world-class natural resources that represent a tremendous economic growth and tremendous jobs potential for northerners – and, frankly, for all Canadians.”

The North is in the midst of change, as melting ice promises more open northern shipping routes, which might help companies bring northern oil to global markets.

The Arctic exploration auction resumes as the Harper government is promoting greater development of the country’s resources. It has taken steps to speed regulatory approvals for major energy projects such as the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, promising to limit the ability of environmental groups and other opponents to block or delay new developments.

The prospect of further northern drilling fits squarely with that mandate, said Jason MacDonald, spokesman for John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, which oversees the northern land auction.

“The bid call reflects the potential that we see for resource development,” he said. “The North is home to world-class natural resources that represent a tremendous economic growth and tremendous jobs potential for northerners – and, frankly, for all Canadians.”

The North is in the midst of change, as melting ice promises more open northern shipping routes, which might help companies bring northern oil to global markets.

Read more: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/reviving-arctic-oil-rush-ottawa-to-auction-rights-in-massive-area/article2435284/