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9 October 2015


Protect Nopiming From Mining 30 October 15

The Wilderness Committee produced a document called A Greenprint for Nopiming Provincial Park last fall, when the Manitoba government asked for public comment before producing a management plan for the park.

In October 2015, the Manitoba government released its Draft Management Plan for Nopiming Provincial Park, and there was some good news. The province is looking at expanding protected areas in the park, safeguarding moose and woodland caribou, and better protecting rivers. However, these are things you would expect to happen. Nothing new really.

The biggest threat to Nopiming is mining activity. You can read more about mining in Manitoba parks in the Wilderness Committee report. Mining is destructive and has no place in a park. The Manitoba government still has not acted on what it said it would do.

Military exercises should not be conducted in the park, yet the southern region of the park definitely shows impacts of military activity, on virtually every lake shore. The Manitoba government has stated they will make these exercises less of an impact on the park, yet again they have not acted.

The time for words is long past. When will the Manitoba government make good on all of their promises for parks and protected areas.

Watch October 21, 2015 CBC News video
View October 21, 2015 Wilderness Committee article
View October 16, 2015 Wilderness Committee blog post
View October 15, 2015 Manitoba Government news release
View Wilderness Committee report

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Canada Still Needs To Tackle Climate Change 24 October 15

Stephen Harper is no longer the Prime Minister of Canada. After nearly a decade in power, Harper left Canada devastated when it comes to climate change. Canada is one of the highest per-capita polluters on the planet. Our Northern country will experience climate impacts and increased temperatures above averages predicted. In Harper’s wake we have a dismantled environmental regulatory system, maintains an embarrassing relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples, and allow a largely unregulated and heavily subsidized oil industry that is producing the dirtiest fuel on the planet.

The Liberal party promises to establish new, credible reviews for proposed development that are comprehensive, consider full and cumulative impacts, including upstream impacts like development in the oil sands, as well as greenhouse gas emissions. The question is what happens to the various energy projects currently under review in hearings across Canada.

Justin Trudeau promised to attend climate negotiations in Paris – COP 21 - with all of the provincial premiers and to work with the provinces on emissions reduction plans. The Liberals have also promised to work with other countries like Mexico and the U.S. in developing shared clean energy plans.

Climate Action is needed now and the time for action was ten years ago. Canada will test Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party’s commitment and resolve to honour all of their promises.

View Liberal Party Election Platform
View October 22, 2015 Montreal Gazette article
View October 21, 2015 Ecologist article
View October 20, 2015 Huffington Post article
View June 29, 2015 CBC News article
Visit Climate Welcome website

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New Direction For Canada With Justin Trudeau? 24 October 15

Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada won a majority government in the federal election. The Liberal Party of Canada dethroned the Conservatives in the federal election, held this past Monday, October 19. The Liberals, won with a promise of change.

During the campaign, the Liberals released an 88-page plan to boost support for post-secondary students, clean up the environment, and lower the tax burden for middle-class families. He also pledged to run three years of deficits to invest in infrastructure and bolster the economy.

Alex Marland, a political scientist at Memorial University in St. John's, said this election was driven by personality politics and the "celebritization" of leaders over more substantive issues.

"Despite the campaign's extraordinary length, we heard relatively little about the finer details of political parties' platforms, or about their potential cabinet members or candidates," he said.

The Liberal Party’s campaign platform comes with a long list of promises that they should have a relatively easy time turning into legislation with their majority. It might take a while to reverse almost 10 years of economic and regulatory change brought in by the Harper Conservatives. Justin Trudeau will be in the spotlight as Canadians and the world wait to find out if he will make good on his promises.

View Liberal Election Platform
View October 21, 2015 The Star article
View October 21, 2015 Canada Immigration Newsletter article
View October 20, 2015 CBC News article
View October 20, 2015 CBC News article

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Hydro's Methane Bomb 17 October 15

Hydroelectric dams constructions around the world is surging dramatically, guided by a false premise that dams produce clean energy, while study after study refutes this claim.

The principal environmental risk of hydroelectric dams is organic material—vegetation, sediment and soil—that flows from rivers into reservoirs and decomposes, emitting methane and carbon dioxide into the water and the air. Recent research identified increased risks from methane emissions.

Organic material—vegetation, sediment and soil—flows from rivers into reservoirs and decomposes emitting methane and carbon dioxide into the water and then the air throughout the hydro-electric generation cycle. Studies indicate that where organic material is the highest, hydro-electric dams can actually emit more greenhouse gases than coal-fired power plants.

Large dams contain enormous amounts of cement, which during the construction process uses massive amounts of energy that emits greenhouse gas emissions.

A 2011 study published in the science journal Science found that the "ability of terrestrial ecosystems to act as carbon sinks," could be one quarter less than previously thought.

Clearly, carbon and methane emissions from hydro dams is a concern - particularly with so many mega-dams being constructed around the world. More study is needed to determine full carbon and methane emissions from hydro dams and spillways in order to properly include them in climate change discussions.

View October 6, 2015 EcoWatch article
View October 29, 2014 Discovery News article
View October 29, 2014 Climate Central article
View July 31, 2013 Watts Up With That blog post
View February 5, 2010 Scientific American article
View February 24, 2005 New Scientist article

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Vote For the Environment 17 October 15

Environmental Defence and Equiterre released a summary, of the five major federal parties' positions on environmental issues, including climate change and the upcoming Paris climate negotiations, tar sands and the Energy East pipeline as well as renewable energy, public transit and the electrification of transportation.

Weakening of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act means approximately 90 per cent of major industry projects that would have undergone a federal review no longer will, according to the report.

West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL) and Quebec Environmental Centre did an analysis of all the policy and laws that have been re-written since the Harper government came to power.

Karine Peloffy, director general of the Quebec Environmental Law Centre, said Canada's environmental legislation is intrinsically tied into the fabric of the country's democracy.

"Our waters, species, and our very democracy have been put at risk by changes made to our environmental laws since 2011," Peloffy said.

"When these legal changes were first brought in, we could only speculate about the impacts they would have on Canadians and the environment. Unfortunately, our analysis indicates that our fears have been borne out on the ground."

'Canadian federal legislative changes over the past four years reveals a systemic dismantling of Canada's environmental laws. Since 2012 the federal Harper government has weakened or repealed many of Canada's oldest and most important environmental laws at industry's request, putting Canada's environment, communities and democracy at risk.' - from the introduction to Canada's Track Record on Environmental Laws 2011-2015 released by WCEL.

Manitoba Wildlands will be watching to see reversal of many environment law changes. We all need to consider what new Environment Laws and protection are needed.

View West Coast Environmental Law & Équiterre's Report
View David Suzuki Foundation Election Environmental Cheat Sheet
View Environmental Laws Matter Vote Environment page
View October 1, 2015 Équiterre article

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Manitoba Woodland Caribou Strategy 17 October 15

The Manitoba government has developed a 10-year Boreal Woodland Caribou Recovery Strategy. The two key goals of the Boreal Woodland Caribou Strategy are to maintain self-sustaining local populations of boreal caribou and ensure the effective management and protection of their habitat, the minister said.

Boreal caribou were listed as threatened in Manitoba in 2006 under the Endangered Species and Ecosystems Act. To date industry and Manitoba Hydro have not been required to avoid woodland caribou habitat when expanding operations. No fines or charges under the Act for impacts on habitat have occurred since 2006.

Wildlife biologists estimate there are 1,500 to 3,100 woodland caribou roaming Manitoba's forests in no fewer than 15 overlapping population clumps known as ranges, scattered across a broad swath of the province from the Churchill River in the northwest to Nopiming Provincial Park in the southeast.

View October 16, 2015 Wilderness Committee article
View October 15, 2015 CBC News article
View October 15, 2015 Manitoba Government news release
View October 15, 2015 Winnipeg Sun article
View October 15, 2015 Winnipeg Free Press article

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Lake Winnipeg Report Still Not Public 9 October 15

Manitoba's Clean Environment Commission (CEC) held public hearings in communities and downtown Winnipeg, starting December 2014, to assess the effects of regulation of Lake Winnipeg as a reservoir to serve Manitoba Hydro's system across northern Manitoba. The question put to them was whether to issue a final licence for regulation of the lake, on the same terms as the forty year old interim licence.

As of October 9, 2015 no one knows the status of the CEC report on Lake Winnipeg Regulation. Exhaustive hearings were held, after a forty year period with no public review and no environmental assessment of regulation of Lake Winnipeg, and Manitobans still do not know the results or recommendations.

The results of both Aboriginal Section 35 consultations and the CEC hearings must be in the Minister's hands before a decision about the requested final licence for regulation of Lake Winnipeg can be made. The CEC report is now well past the prescribed timeline in the Environment Act.

Manitoba Wildlands, a participant in the hearings, is concerned the Manitoba government may not realize how important this CEC set of recommendations is for the future of the Lake, and the communities around the lake. Many Manitobans are waiting for this CEC report. We expect it to be released very soon.

View Clean Environment Commission Lake Winnipeg Regulation hearings
View Manitoba Hydro Lake Winnipeg Regulation page
View Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship Lake Winnipeg regulation page
View more on Manitoba Wildlands Lake Winnipeg page

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What About First Nations Heritage Plants and Medicines? 9 October 15

Manitoba partnered with the Manitoba Forestry Association (MFA) and Trees Winnipeg to create the first provincial Heritage Trees Program in Canada, and has officially designated three Manitoba trees as heritage trees, Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Tom Nevakshonoff announced October 1, 2015.

"Special trees deserve recognition so they can be protected, especially if they have played an important role in Manitoba history or have unique characteristics," said Minister Nevakshonoff. "This program will help ensure these trees are protected and their histories are shared with locals and visitors alike."

If it is so easy to protect trees that have had an important role in the history of Manitoba, lets then protect the plants and medicines the original inhabitants of Manitoba have used for thousands of years? Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge studies have been done in enough communities in Manitoba. It would be easy to identify medicines and plants used by First Nations and recognise quite a few more Heritage Plants.

The announcement by Minister Nevakshonoff is profoundly lacking in understanding of the relevance of heritage plants in Manitoba. With so many First Nations in Manitoba it would make better sense to protect First Nation medicines as heritage plants that have truly played an important role in the history of the land. This would reflect a more conscious respect for the land and its inhabitants, some of whom have been here for thousands and thousands of years.

At best the announcement by the Manitoba Government and Minister Nevakshonoff is condescending. He needs to commit to protection of traditional medicine plants right away.

View October 1, 2015 Manitoba Government news release
View February 14, 2015 WC Native News article
View March 19, 2003 National Aboriginal Health Organization report
View 2013 First Nations Perspectives article
View Assembly of First Nations Honouring Earth page

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Fracking Bubble Bursting 9 October 15

The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that the supply of oil produced outside OPEC sources, primarily in the United States, Russia and the North Sea, will fall next year to its lowest level since 1992. The reason for the decline is the fall in price caused by a huge surplus of oil.

"After expanding by a record 1.7 million barrels a day in 2014, the latest price rout could stop U.S. growth in its tracks," the agency reported. U.S. output of shale oil will fall by almost 400,000 barrels per day in 2016.

Crude oil prices have declined more than 50 percent since last year. Fracking companies in places like North Dakota, West Texas, parts of Oklahoma and Kansas have all taken a big hit. Many are filing for bankruptcy protection or going out of business.

"There were a large number of new entrants into the fracking business during the last four to five years," said industry analyst James West of Evercore. "These are very small ... they were building out their fleet. And now they're finding there's no work out there, and so they're having to close their doors."

Currently, Wales, Scotland, the province of New Brunswick and the states of New York, Ohio, Texas and California among many others have all banned fracking.

View October 6, 2015 EcoWatch article
View September 23, 2015 The Wall Street Journal article
View September 13, 2015 article
View August 14, 2015 Informed Comment article
View July 26, 2012 article
View Keep Tap Water Safe Fracking Bans Worldwide

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B.C. Groups & Eight First Nations Challenge Pipeline 9 October 15

Eight First Nations are in a courtroom to argue Canada violated its legal duty to consult with and accommodate First Nations before approving Calgary based Enbridge’s pipeline, Northern Gateway. More than 200 conditions were attached to the approval.

Eight First Nations, four environmental groups, and one union group are presenting their challenges to the Federal Court of Appeal to underscore why the court should revoke Ottawa's approval of the controversial project.

The concerns range from protecting salmon spawning grounds, to First Nations lands rights, to the risks associated with increasing tanker traffic on the B.C. coast.

"One oil spill would devastate thousands of years of dependence on the sea," Gitxaala Chief Clifford White said Thursday before proceedings began.

Lawyer Cheryl Sharvit told the Federal Court of Appeal in Vancouver that the Nadleh Whut'en and Nak'azdli are not declaring the right to veto resource projects on traditional territories in British Columbia's Central Interior. Sharvit said the bands' asserted authority to govern their lands should have at least been considered by the Crown during consultations on the $7-billion pipeline proposal by Enbridge.

"The scale of the potential harm from Northern Gateway in their territory is unprecedented. They have never faced a risk this great, from their perspective, from a single project," Sharvit said. Sharvit said the Crown's refusal to discuss governance rights with the First Nations "does serious damage to the goal of reconciliation and protection of aboriginal rights."

View October 8, 2015 Alternatives Journal article
View October 2, 2015 Times Colonist article
View October 1, 2015 CBC News article
View September 30, 2015 National Observer article
View September 30, 2015 The Globe and Mail article
View September 30, 2015 CTV News article
View January 14, 2015 The Vancouver Sun article

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Manitoba Minnesota Transmission Project 2 October 15

Manitoba Hydro has filed its Environmental Statement (EIS or EA) for the Manitoba Minnesota Transmission Project (MMTP) to the Environmental Approvals branch of government. It is now posted on the online public registry, and available for review and public comments for 60 days. Public and Technical Advisory Committee comments affect decisions on the final EIS

The MMTP project connects converter stations in southern Manitoba, near Winnipeg, to a new line for export of energy to Minnesota. Using a combination of existing corridors, private lands, and public lands, the MMTP is an alternating current system to enable export of what the utility terms 'new green energy' from dams in northern Manitoba.

Many rural municipalities, farmers, towns, and First Nations are affected by the project.

The Manitoba cabinet is likely to issue its reference to the Manitoba Clean Environment Commission (CEC) to hold hearings soon. The stages of CEC proceedings would start in fall 2015 and go into the first half of 2016.

View Manitoba Hydro MMTP Scoping Document
View Manitoba Public Registry file 5750.00
View Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project
View more on Manitoba Wildlands Manitoba Minnesota Transmission Project page

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Climate Change In Canada's Election 2 October 15

Environmental Defence and Équiterre have launched an updated comparison looking at Canada's federal parties' main climate policies. Five parties have candidates in the election with the NDP, Liberals and PC parties apparently in a tie to win. Only six weeks after Canada's federal election, national governments will gather in Paris for United Nations talks to finalize a global climate change agreement. This further elevates the importance of climate change in Canada's upcoming federal election since Canada's positions at the negotiations could help the world come to a meaningful global agreement or hinder the process.

Current polls show Canadians are looking for greater leadership from the federal government on climate change. Canada's next Prime Minister will represent Canada at the 21st UN Framework on Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris.

World leaders have been charged with forging an agreement to prevent catastrophic climate change. The deadline for this agreement is December 2015 in Paris. Whether or not Canada plays a constructive role in these talks -- and how efficaciously Canada contributes to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions -- will be determined by the decisions we make at the polls.

Listen to October 1, 2015 Global Research News Hour episode 114
View October 2015 Environmental Defence Canada report
View September 17, 2015 Huffington Post article
View September 2, 2015 Storify article

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