Tag Archives: The Tyee

First Nation says Alberta oilsands plan will ‘annihilate’ its lands and future


Read this article from Canadian Press, published by The Tyee. Excerpt: “Your plan, your land, your future? This is not our plan, it’s the governments plan to annihilate our lands and our future.” – Chief Allan Adam (August 24, 2012)

Read more: http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/Aboriginal-Affairs/2012/08/24/First-Nation-says-Alberta-oilsands-plan-will-annihilate/


Scientific Findings and Political Message Control – Crawford Kilian


Article by Crawford Kilian at The Tyee. “Dr. [Kristi] Miller, a DFO scientist, published
an article in the U.S. journal Science last January. She was trying to
identify reasons why so many salmon die in the rivers just before
spawning — a phenomenon called prespawn mortality… [Her] testimony in August may help clarify the specific causes of the 2009
Fraser sockeye collapse. But DFO’s credibility, never high since the
destruction of the cod fishery, is in danger of collapsing like the 2009
Fraser sockeye run.” Read article


New Clayoquot fish farm proposal spawns call for moratorium


From the Tyee – May 19, 2011

by Tyler Harbottle

A proposal from one of B.C.’s largest fishery operators to establish a
new 56-hectare open-net fish farm in Clayoquot Sound has led to calls
for a permanent moratorium on such facilities.

“We don’t want to see expansion of salmon farming in net cages at all,” said Michelle Young of the Georgia Strait Alliance, one of a group of organizations calling for the ban.

Mainstream Canada,
which already operates 14 open-net salmon farms in Clayoquot Sound and
produces around 25 thousand tonnes of fish annually, submitted a tenure
application to the provincial government, according to the Coastal
Alliance for Aquaculture Reform.

This is the first proposal under a new arrangement where
the provincial and federal governments share the role of vetting

The alliance — which also includes the David Suzuki Foundation and Living Oceans Society cites a litany of issues with open-net salmon farming, such as sea lice, algae blooms, marine mammal deaths and waste deposits on the ocean floor. 

The proposed farm would contain 12 open-net cages
measuring 1,230 metres in length and 30 metres in width, and would
produce some three thousand tonnes of salmon every year, according to a
Mainstream statement.

“We would like see transition to closed containment farming,” said Young. 

Closed system aquaculture tanks
limit the impact on the surrounding ecosystem by “controlling the
interface between the fish and the natural environment,” according to a
Coastal Alliance publication.

But Mainstream has no intention of making the transition. “They don’t feel it’s economically viable,” said Young.

In a statement
issued by Mainstream, the company said it is “following the development
of closed-containment aquaculture,” but is not yet prepared implement
such technology.

“We believe that present technology for open net pens
allows for sustainable aquaculture, and we aim at demonstrating this in
our operations through management of environmental impacts.”

Mainstream conducted extensive studies of the surrounding
ecosystem, the ocean floor, currents and animal habitat before filing
its application, according to the statement.  The company does not
expect its operations will have an impact on any of them.

But Bonny Glambeck from the Friends of Clayoquot Sound is not convinced.

“We are basically playing Russian roulette with our ecosystem,” she said.

Glambeck said the addition of another farm to the area
would further amplify the diseases found in wild salmon populations and
contribute additional toxins to the marine environment.

“Then there’s the issue of sustainability,” she said. “How many farm sites are we going to have in Clayoquot Sound?”

The proposed farm would be located near Plover Point on
the east side of Meares Island, an area rich in marine life and popular
amongst sea-kayaking tourists, said Glambeck.

Twenty-two fish farms currently operate in Clayoquot
Sound, but none exist in the ecologically important area off Meares
Island, she said.

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The Tyee: Harper Let Loose – Political Panel Round-up


From TheTyee.ca – May 3, 2011

by Tyee Staff & Contributors

Colleen Kimmett

“It’s like winning bingo on the Titanic,”
said my fellow election viewer Mitch Anderson, referring to Elizabeth
May’s win and Jack Layton’s minority in the wake of a Harper majority
this evening.

Watching the election results roll in with a
handful of others in Anderson’s apartment in East Vancouver felt indeed
like a historic event, even Titanic in the realm of Canadian politics.
The Bloc Quebecois is virtually dissolved, its leader resigned, and the
Liberal party is, as Peter Mansbridge put it, “near destruction.”

What it signifies for the future of Canada
is less certain. While some in the room tried to look on the bright side
— this election is a historic first for both the New Democratic and
Green parties — other were worried that, like the fated ship, their
Canada is sinking into a deep, dark place. Especially the artists, women
and homosexuals.

Jack Layton has a big job ahead of him, but
I think he could unite progressives in this country to defeat the
Conservatives in the next election. Working with his new Quebecois
cabinet will be a challenge, but perhaps the bigger challenge will be
breaking through to those who don’t identify with either French or
English speaking Canada. A victorious Conservative MP Jason Kenney told
the CBC’s Terry Milewski that internal party polling showed the new
Canadian vote, especially in the Greater Toronto Area, was a hugely
important to the Conservatives’ win.

I am an optimist. When there is a growing
chorus for change there will be equal push for things to remain
constant. I predict the next four years will be a polarizing, but
interesting period in Canadian politics.

Colleen Kimmett writes about food and environment for The Tyee and others.

Charles Campbell

The biggest loser this election night is
not Michael Ignatieff or his Liberal party. It is the Canadian
electorate. As British Columbians should know rather well, the biggest
determinant in the outcome of many Canadian elections is which side of
the political spectrum splits its vote. In all but one of the last six
elections, the Conservative or Reform/Conservative vote has fallen
within two points of 38 per cent. The only true majority tonight is the
60 per cent of Canadians who didn’t get a government they supported at
the ballot box.

What happened to make this so? Of course it
began with that loveless marriage eight years ago of the two parties to
the right. Quebec yet again revealed its uncanny ability to vote with
one collective mind. Prime Minister Stephen Harper showed remarkable
skill in framing issues his way. The Liberals received the final payback
for decades of arrogance and, as Jack Layton so resonantly put it
during the English debate, sense of entitlement. Finally, the difference
in tone of the NDP and Liberal campaign ads revealed that Canadians are
more easily swayed by comedy than scare tactics.

And while the prognosticators and heir
apparent Bob Rae try and sort out the Liberals’ future, the rest of us
can now go home for four whole years, thankful we don’t have to face an
election we don’t want. Right?

Charles Campbell is a Tyee contributing editor.

Rafe Mair

There are a great many enormous questions
to be asked and answered. It would be foolish to think that Quebec
separatism has ended and indeed I would argue that the extent of the BQ
loss was bad news. While they were in Ottawa in some numbers, separatism
could be handled by dealing with the BQ across the floor. Now it is
leaderless even though their twin, the PQ, seems poised to win Quebec
provincially. It is as I said in a speech some years ago: “If there were
not a Bloc Quebecois we would have to invent one.”

 Separatism will be
different in Quebec. Although Stephen Harper has representation,
sovereignists will be looking at Jack Layton to express their ambitions
and he won’t do so. Prime Minister Harper will use the public purse as
best he can as is traditional, but I foresee a great deal of ferment

Separatism has always been a political
force in Quebec and, like poison ivy, its venom waxes and wanes with the
moment. The target of the next incarnation of separatism will be what
Jacques inelegantly called the “ethnics.” This has been going on but the
pressure will increase once the Bloc and PQ sort out, in a blood bath,
who will lead what and where. They can count and know that separation
needs these “ethnics.”

British Columbia will be an interesting study. I
think many British Columbians, much like Albertans, have shrunk from
voting NDP because they were seen as a party of labour leaders,
professors and what my father would call “parlor pinks.” Layton, now at
least officially leading the “government in waiting,” has the
opportunity to gain for the NDP the traditional slightly leftish voter
who once voted Liberal or Red Tory.

Former Socred minister Rafe Mair’s column runs every other Monday in The Tyee.

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Fall of Vancouver’s Viaducts Could Aid Rise of Eastside


From The Tyee – April 11, 2011

by Christopher Pollon

The demolition and removal of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts could
begin in as little as five years, opening a wide swath of virgin land
to public space and development — and forming the eastern core of
Vancouver’s new 21st-century downtown.

The early results of a feasibility study
unveiled Friday, April 7 at Simon Fraser University’s Harbour Centre
show that three “viaduct removal concepts” are currently being
considered by the City of Vancouver, ranging from removing 20 per cent
of the structures in five years to complete removal in 20 years.

The viaducts, which connect Vancouver’s
eastside to the downtown via raised concrete “bridges,” are the only
major pieces of Vancouver’s abandoned 1970s freeway design ever built —
a plan that would have destroyed much of present-day Strathcona and
Chinatown. At the time, a funding shortfall and an extremely effective
grassroots protest ensured that the rest of Vancouver’s freeway vision
never materialized.

Now almost 40 years old, the viaducts have
created an unusual opportunity, one which has city planners and
developers collectively salivating: land equivalent to about five city
blocks underlies the structures, which would reappear as if by magic if
the viaducts disappear.

“Let’s make a bold decision to get rid of
the viaducts,” said Vancouver’s visionary former co-director of
planning, Larry Beasley, one of five speakers at the capacity-filled event
presented by SFU’s City Program. “Then, convene a great international
urban design competition to design the eastern part of the core. Let’s
decide to design our city.”

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The Tyee: A New, Greener NDP in British Columbia


From The Tyee – April 1, 2011

by Andrew McLeod

Even before British Columbia NDP leadership candidates headed into an April 2 debate in Vancouver centred on environmental sustainability, observers were noting the role green issues have had in the campaign.

That role provides a contrast both to the recent BC Liberal leadership race and the NDP’s own record in the 2009 election.

“They’re talking about issues unprompted by
us,” said Kevin Washbrook, a Conservation Voters of B.C. board member.
“Generally I’d say it has a place of prominence in the race. More so
than it did in the Liberal race.”

CVBC is evaluating Mike Farnworth, Adrian
Dix, John Horgan, Nicholas Simons and Dana Larsen’s positions and may or
may not endorse anyone, but won’t have that ready for at least another
week, he said.

The group Organizing for Change put a list of questions to all of the leadership candidates in both the Liberal and the NDP races.

“In the Liberal race it was like pulling teeth to get answers
to those questions,” said provincial OFC lead Lisa Matthaus. Of the
Liberals, just Mike de Jong answered, and he did so at the very end of
the campaign, she said.

“With the NDP they’ve all responded, except
for Dana Larsen,” Matthaus said. And since responding, they’ve
continued to release environmental positions. “It’s interesting to see
how much more the NDP is making the environment part of the debate among

‘Huge departure’ for NDP: Vicky Husband

All the front runners have picked up the
environmental banner, said long time environmentalist Vicky Husband, who
added she believes John Horgan is the most committed among them.

“We never saw Carole James take a strong stand on an environmental
issue,” said Husband. Comparing the race to where the NDP was in the
last election, she said, “I think it’s a huge departure. I think they
were on the wrong side, certainly on the carbon tax issue.”

While the NDP championed other important
environmental issues in the campaign, including re-evaluating
run-of-the-river hydro projects, the carbon tax position put them
offside with a large part of the environmental community, said Husband, a
past conservation chair of the Sierra Club B.C. and a veteran of
campaigns to preserve Clayoquot Sound rainforest, the Great Bear
rainforest and wild salmon fisheries.

The Pembina Institute’s Matt Horne, who was
among prominent environmentalists who denounced the NDP’s axe-the-tax
position in 2009, said the NDP candidates all support keeping the carbon
tax, though they would tweak it in various ways to make it work better.
“[It] is a significant change from where they were in the last
election,” he said.

While there’s further to go if B.C. is to meet its goals for carbon emission reductions, it’s a positive step, he said.

Platform details

John Horgan
was the first to release an environmental platform. The Juan de Fuca
MLA’s long list said he’d expand the carbon tax, invest in transit, pass
an Endangered Species Act and protect more old growth forests.

Port Coquitlam MLA Mike Farnworth’s
environmental platform includes keeping a steady amount of land in the
Agricultural Land Reserve, moving salmon farms to closed containment,
giving local governments more say on significant projects, restricting
raw log exports and planting more trees. He’d keep the carbon tax and
extend it to industrial emitters, using it to pay for transit and other
green initiatives.

Adrian Dix,
who represents Vancouver-Kingsway, would use carbon tax revenues for
transit and green infrastructure, invest in the park system and protect
endangered species and ecosystems. He’d also recreate Environmental
Youth Teams to create jobs for young people doing green work.

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Tyee Special Report: In America’s Capital, a Fierce Fight over Oil Sands


From TheTyee.ca – Match 14, 2011

by Geoff Dembicki

In the hallways and offices of America’s capital city, a
war is being quietly waged out of view of most Canadians and Americans.

The outcome will decide North America’s energy future and its impact on the planet’s climate.

The tactics are all the high pressure
persuasion and hard-ball politicking that tens of millions of dollars
can buy — many of those dollars contributed by Canadian taxpayers.

The war pits America’s largest
environmental groups against some of the world’s wealthiest corporations
and their “allies” in the Canadian and Albertan governments.

The battle line divides two viscerally
opposed camps: Those arguing that North America’s deepening dependence
on Alberta’s oil sands industry represents a pragmatic solution to
looming energy crises, and those who say relying on oil sands crude
marks an irreversible step closer to climate change catastrophe.

The prize, at end of the day, will be votes cast by politicians.

Will Washington’s legislators pass laws
that have the effect of opening the oil sands spigots wider, assuring
that Alberta’s bitumen crude increasingly, and permanently, flows into
the U.S. market?

Or will they legislate against high carbon
emissions fuel sources as a measure to reduce climate change? That could
severely constrict the flow of oil sands’ output into the U.S., dashing
the profit dreams of corporations — and some Canadian officials — who
have already bet hugely on providing bitumen-derived crude for American

The Tyee goes to the story

With so much on the line, there has been
surprisingly scant coverage of how this battle is being waged and by
whom. Until now. Beginning today, The Tyee is publishing The War for the
Oil Sands in Washington, an in-depth, multi-part series that begins
with three stories this week and many more in the coming weeks.

The reporting comes out of months of research capped by a week spent
in Washington late in February, during which I interviewed oil sands
lobbyists, environmental advocates and the congressional insiders either
side hopes to influence.

What I found was an intense lobbying
campaign being waged by each camp, both battling for the sympathies of
Congress and the White House administration. The odds are clearly in
favour of the oil sands coalition, which holds enormous political
influence and has won major legislative victories on several fronts. But
the green coalition, especially with Barack Obama in power, has more
clout than its limited resources might suggest. 

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Farnworth, Horgan fill environmental gap in leadership race


From TheTyee.ca – Feb 23, 2011

by Colleen Kimmett

NDP leadership hopeful Mike Farnworth became the second candidate to release an environmental platform yesterday.

Farnworth’s platform promises include:

  • Opening all existing IPP power purchasing agreements for public review, and a moratorium on all new IPPs.
  • A “no net-loss” policy for the Agricultural Land Reserve in each
    region and an enhance Buy BC program and BC Food First policy to
    support local food production.
  • The creation of a “blue belt” to protect wild salmon spawning and
    migration areas and a move to innovative closed containment
    aquaculture technology.
  • Repeal of the Significant Projects Streamlining Act that strips
    decision-making from local governments.
  • A shift of carbon tax revenue to transit and low-carbon green
    initiatives and inclusion of industrial emitters to pay the tax.

Last week NDP leadership candidate John Horgan released his environmental platform,
which touched on many of the same topics. He also promised to continue
lobbying for a federal moratorium on coastal tanker traffic and offshore
oil and gas drilling.

Today, Horgan issued a press release promising to revive Buy BC, a local food labelling and marketing program which was promised in the Liberal’s 2008 agriculture plan but has yet to be implemented. Liberal candidate George Abbott also promised to fund program if elected.

The Wilderness Committee supports the environmental
platforms of both Farnworth and Hogan. “I thought they compared very
favourably,” said its policy director Gwen Barlee. “They’re both
comprehensive, they’re talking about legislative changes, important
movement on energy, retaining the carbon tax and moving on climate
change in a significant way.

“They set a bar and we hope that other candidates will
meet that bar. Because two weeks ago, discussion of the environment was
missing in action, not only in the NDP leadership race but also
definitely with the Liberal leadership race.”

The NDP’s environmental support suffered in the 2009
provincial election when then-leader Carole James took an anti-carbon
tax position. That move alienated some environmental organizations that had traditionally been on side with NDP policies.

Barlee said she thinks these platforms will help heal
that rift. “I think people are sort of saying ‘show me the money’.
They’re looking for leadership on the environment, and I think the
environmental community will act accordingly.”

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The Tyee: Unethical to Brand Oil Sands Ethical?


From the Tyee.ca – Feb 10, 2011

by Colin Campbell and Andrew S. Wright

Ezra Levant’s powerful but critically flawed argument
re-branding Alberta’s oil sands as “ethical” appears to be re-shaping
Canadian public policy as Prime Minister Harper and Environment Minister
Peter Kent adopt the catch phrase — despite both ministers having not read
the original work. As the catch phrase “ethical oil” enters the lexicon
of Canadian political language, the need for a productive facts-based
debate in Canada, a debate leading to real conservation solutions,
appears to be more urgent than ever.

This is especially true in British Columbia
where candidates in the Liberal party leadership race have
systematically failed to embrace discussion of environmental and
conservation policies as an integral part of their policy platform

Critical debate is important because
arguments that the oil sands contain almost half the world’s total known
oil reserves and will therefore ensure world peace, global food and
energy supplies for the next half century are dangerously flawed.
Current oil sand production of two million barrels a day is technically
limited by water availability to approximately a maximum of five million
barrels a day, a mere fraction of the world’s daily consumption. This
misrepresentation promises economic stability yet ignores global (peak)
oil supply concerns, the technical upper limit of oil sand production,
and climate change. Alberta’s oil sands development will not deliver
global economic stability in the face of these issues.

Pipelines that import risk

At risk is our often forgotten dependency
on the services of healthy natural systems which are as important as
economic benefits, and in ignoring this reality the first of many
weaknesses of the argument is exposed. In examining the benefits of the
proposed Enbridge pipeline to Kitimat, consider the grizzly bear family,
photographed in an estuary not 10 kilometres from the proposed west
coast tanker route that penetrates the heart of the Great Bear
Rainforest. This area provides many valuable food-based sustainable jobs
in the salmon, halibut and shellfish fisheries. An accident comparable
to the Exxon Valdez spill or the Gulf of Mexico eruption in these
treacherous waters would render this estuary and the ecosystems that
support rich wild fisheries in the region fallow. The “at risk” grizzly
family is a metaphor for our own lives. Pipelines in these pristine
environments import risk for which there is no insurance — just the
cost of desecration.

Levant’s notion of ethical oil involves
little more than choosing “to buy oil from nice guys”. It comforts us by
redirecting our judgment to the dealer and away from the consequences
of the deal that we are making. It is not this simple. If an oil source
is to be judged as ethical, then the list of considerations made must
include its long term greenhouse gas emissions, contributions to ocean
acidification, the rate at which a major watershed is made toxic and the
cumulative impacts on future generations. We should also consider
buying preferentially from nations that use their oil revenues to
develop renewable energy sources.

Furthermore the arguments’ rudimentary moral appraisal implies no
framework in which oil from sources with the lowest carbon footprint are
utilized first, their revenues applied to fuel switching strategies,
thereby deferring the worst oil for last use (hopefully never). Until
means to accurately measure and compare the virtues of oil source A
versus oil source B are developed we must ask the question, is it
unethical to brand Alberta’s oil sands as ethical?

Levant’s thesis assumes that we must
continue to use oil, ignoring the environmental impacts and offers
permission to proceed by establishing the good character of the vendor.
This massive (unethical?) distraction is compelling because human nature
will seek an honorable reason to avoid resolving a pressing problem and
the hard endeavor of seeking progressive solutions.

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