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14 November 2014



News

Canadian Environmental Bill Of Rights 14 November 14

Since the 1960s, when North Americans began to express concern about protection of the environment, one proposal for achieving this has been the formulation of a "right" to environmental quality. In Canada, environmentalists have been pressing for an environmental bill of rights since the early 1970s.

They reason that as fundamental as the right to food, shelter or freedom from discrimination is the right of all members of society to live in a safe physical environment in which the continued diversity of non-human life is also ensured. The most recent opinion polls in this country confirm the increasing commitment of Canadians to the well-being of their natural environment.

An environmental bill of rights would be a law seeking to remove obstacles that prevent individuals and public interest groups from participating in the environmental decision-making process and litigating issues of environmental degradation. It would also enshrine the right to a healthy environment.

Environmental rights legislation has been enacted in a number of North American jurisdictions, most recently the Northwest Territories. The Environmental Rights Act passed by the Territorial Assembly on 6 November 1990 gives individuals the right to clean air, water and soil, and the power to sue polluters if the government fails to act.

More than 130 countries across the world already recognize the right to a healthy environment in their constitutions.

The NDP have tabled a bill in the House of Commons while the Suzuki Foundation and Ecojustice campaign for this right.

View October 30, 2014 Eco Justice article
View July 24, 2014 David Suzuki Foundation article
View May 10, 2013 The Tyee article
View Ontario's Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR)
View Backgrounder: Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights
View An Environmental Bill Of Rights For Canada

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Manitoba Resumes Polar Bear Park Review 14 November 14

Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship (MCWS) has started another round of ‘consultations’ about establishing the proposed Polar Bear Park around the west and south sides of Hudson’s Bay. Their letter to stakeholders indicates the “park would protect a highly ecologically significant landscape as well as enhance the areas reputation as an international tourism destination.”

To date there is no specific information as to which lands in the three million hectare designation would be protected from development. Manitoba Hydro dams, a railway system, town sites, roads and various corridors already exist within the planning boundaries.

The October 28 letter refers to ‘legal protection for specific areas.’ Manitoba CWS’s own ecological methods verify that isolated protected areas are not sustainable and can actually put species and ecosystems at risk if ecological standards regarding representation and size are not upheld.

Currently Manitoba is far behind in its commitments to represent each natural region with sustainable and permanent protected areas, which can be designated under different laws or Acts. All protected areas include protection of the land under one Act, and removal of crown mineral rights under the Mines Act. Manitoba Parks still have resource management, recreation management and access zones, which are not protected lands. Recently Chitek Lake Park was made permanent, after being protected for 15 years. This kind of step does not actually increase the protected lands in Manitoba.

View Proposed Polar Bear Park
View Hudson Bay Lowlands Proposed Protected Areas
View Manitoba Geological Survey Map – Land Uses
View Manitoba Government Wildlife Management Areas – Northeast Region
View Manitoba's Green Plan Version 2
View Protecting Manitoba’s Outstanding Landscapes
View more on Manitoba Wildlands Protected Areas/Parks Reviews page

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New IPCC Report - Clear and Present Danger 14 November 14

Three comprehensive studies have been issued by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) over the past year. The Synthesis Report, released, November 2nd, at a meeting in Copenhagen, caps work on the fifth assessment of climate science and mitigation from the IPCC has completed since 1990.

The reports demonstrate that “we have the means to limit climate change,” said Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC, in a statement. “The solutions are many and allow for continued economic and human development. All we need is the will to change, which we trust will be motivated by knowledge and an understanding of the science of climate change.”

The results offer up a stark choice. Unless we quickly curtail our fossil fuel dependence, we face "further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems."

“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal,” the report concludes.

View Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability
View November 13, 2014 David Suzuki Foundation article
View November 11, 2014 Huffington Post article
View November 10, 2014 USA Today article
View November 8, 2014 The Telegraph article
View November 2, 2014 Grist article
View November 2, 2014 Climate Code Red article
View November 2, 2014 The Guardian article
View November 2, 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science article
View more on Manitoba Wildlands IPCC page

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Republicans Push Obama To Veto Keystone XL Pipeline 14 November 14

"Let's get one thing straight: this vote is nothing more than an empty act of political theater, because Keystone XL is President Obama's decision. We're confident that when everything's said and done, the President will recognize that a new pipeline spewing emissions and polluting our land is the last thing Americans need — and we'll keep pushing for rejection." said May Boeve, Executive Director of 350.org.

"Understand what this project is: It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else. It doesn't have an impact on US gas prices," Obama said recently, according to ABC News. "If my Republican friends really want to focus on what's good for the American people in terms of job creation and lower energy costs, we should be engaging in a conversation about what are we doing to produce even more home grown energy? I'm happy to have that conversation."

With Congress voting to approve the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline, will the tarsands bitumen pipeline make as much a difference as lobbyists expect. Since June, crude oil selling prices have declined by 28 percent, pushing the price that oil from new wells in Canada may command below what the expected cost will be to produce it.

Tarsands bitumen extracted from Alberta, which the proposed pipeline would carry to Nebraska, en route to refineries on the Gulf Coast, will cost between $85 and $110 to produce. This depends on which drilling technology is used, according to a report in July 2014 by the Canadian Energy Research Institute, a nonprofit whose work is often cited by Keystone proponents. West Texas Intermediate crude oil currently trades at $76.67.

View Oil Change International A Vote for KXL = Climate Denial page
View November 14, 2014 350.org press release
View November 14, 2014 USA Today article
View November 13, 2014 CNBC article
View November 12, 2014 Huffington Post article
View October 9, 2014 Huffington Post article
View November 2014 Sierra Club photo

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The Blue Dot Movement 31 October 14

A healthy environment should be a constitutional right for Canadians. There are over 100 countries around the world that have this enshrined in their constitution. With the Blue Dot Tour, David Suzuki wants to wake Canada up to how important it is for Canada to join other countries who have enshrined the right to a healthy environment as a constitutional right.

The ultimate goal of Suzuki’s Blue Dot Tour is for Canadians to support the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms including the right to live in a healthy environment. According to Suzuki, Canada is falling behind the rest of the developed world as, unlike most other wealthy industrialized nations, it does not yet include the right to a healthy environment in its charter.

“To me, the concept of sustainability is the long-term commitment of society to ensure that no generation suffers a decrease in opportunity or fulfillment of basic needs. There can be no need greater for any of us than a healthy environment,” Suzuki said.

“Recognition in the charter is the final step in protecting the right to clean air, fresh water, and healthy food for all Canadians. This ensures that we all benefit from a healthy environment, world-class standards, and a say in the decisions that affect out health,”
- Blue Dot Tour website

View David Suzuki biography
View October 29, 2014 Straight.com article
View October 28, 2014 The Manitoba article
View October 14, 2014 Ottawa Citizen article
View October 13, 2014 The Concordian article
View September 30, 2014 CBC News article
View July 24, 2014 Huffington Post article

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Ottawa Regulation: Kill Wild Fish Save Farms 31 October 14

Proposed regulations for the aquaculture industry do not deliver on the responsibilities of Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ (DFO) to protect wild fish, fish habitat and Canadian fishery waters from the negative impacts of aquaculture, according to Friends of the Earth Canada (FOE Canada), the Conservation Council of New Brunswick and independent biologist, Alexandra Morton.

The proposed regulation would have re-assigned a DFO regulatory priority, the conservation and protection of the wild fishery to another agency, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, by allowing the President to decide to authorize deposit of deleterious substances outside aquaculture facilities. This will kill wild fish.

The open-pen net aquaculture salmon industry profits from use of a common resource, the ocean, without having to compensate for impacts, including disease and parasite outbreaks, pollution of ocean floor, displacement and killing of other creatures and loss of livelihoods dependent on healthy wild populations environment.

Farmed salmon are also fed wild fish, ground up and compressed into food pellets. However, these pellets are soaked with fish oil causing farmed salmon to be much fatter than wild salmon. You can recognize farmed salmon by the solid white bars of fat that streak through the flesh of farmed salmon. Many toxins bind to fat, so the more fat in a product the greater the potential for bioaccumulated toxins.

View October 22, 2014 Conservation Council of New Brunswick article
View October 22, 2014 Friends of the Earth article
View October 21, 2014 Joint Submission by Friends of the Earth and the Conservation Council of New Brunswick
View Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River - Final Report
View Report: Fish and seafood consumption in Norway – Benefits and risks
Visit Alexandra Morton website

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Stephen Harper Recognized As Climate Criminal 31 October 14

According to a 2014 Climate Change Performance Index from groups Climate Action Network Europe and Germanwatch, Canada occupies one of two bottom spots among all 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Among the 20 countries with the largest economies (G20), only Saudi Arabia ranked lower than them.

Canada is the only nation to sign on to the Kyoto Treaty and then to publicly abandon it. Under the Kyoto Treaty Canada was supposed to have lowered emissions 6 percent between 1990 and 2012, but instead emissions have risen 26 percent since 1990. The United States (which never ratified Kyoto), has seen emissions rise by 16 percent in the same period, 10 percent less Canada.

"Despite the growing climate crisis, the Harper Government is doing everything in its power to sabotage global problem-solving efforts," argued Mike Hudema, Climate and Energy campaigner with Greenpeace, Canada in a press release;"By endangering and blocking progress on an international climate agreement and prioritizing the tar sands over the health of people on this planet Harper is further jeopardizing the lives of millions that will die or become displaced due to the climate crisis."

View October 27, 2014 MTL Blog article
View October 21, 2014 Huffington Post article
View October 21, 2014 New Republic article
View November 22, 2013 The Star article
View German Watch The Climate Change Performance Index Results 2014
View One Blue Marble information page

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B.C. Chiefs Stand Against FIPPA 31 October 14

The Canadian government announced October 12th, it had ratified the controversial Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA). A legal challenge from the Hupacasath First Nation is still before the courts. The deal, which China has already ratified, will go into effect on October 1 and lock Canada into the sweeping agreement for at least 31 years.

“This is a truly sad day for Canada,” says Brenda Sayers, representative of Hupacasath First Nation. “Hupacasath First Nation is deeply disappointed that the Federal Government would ratify the Canada-China FIPA while the case is still before the Federal Court of Appeal and the decision is reserved. This decision is an injustice and an affront to our time honored judicial heritage and shows no respect for the judicial process. The people of Canada should be alarmed that our constitutional rights have been stolen from our hands.”

Brenda Sayers, stated, “This deal will pave the way for a massive natural resource buyout and allow foreign corporations to sue the Canadian government in secret tribunals, restricting Canadians from making democratic decisions about our economy, environment and energy.”

Steven Tatoosh, Chief Councillor of Hupacasath, added “...he Government of Canada breached its fiduciary duty to consult First Nations on our respective constitutionally-enshrined and judicially-recognized Aboriginal Title, Rights and Treaty Rights.”

Canadian trade agreements require discussion and a vote in the House of Commons plus a ratification by the provinces.

View October 16, 2014 Union of BC Indian Chiefs open letter
View October 15, 2014 We Stand Together blog post
View September 12, 2014 The Council of Canadians media release
View September 12, 2014 Government of Canada media release
View June 12, 2014 WC Native News article
View June 11, 2014 Ha-Shilth-Sa article

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California Megadrought Continues 31 October 14

The past few years have been California's driest on record. Forecasters predict that punishing droughts like the current one could become the new norm. The state uses water rationing and a 90-year-old water distribution system to cope until the rains come. The system is a huge network of dams, canals and pipes that move water from the places it rains and snows to places it typically doesn't, like farms and cities.

"The system that we have was designed back in the 1930s through 1950s to meet population and land use needs of the time," says Doug Parker, director of the California Institute for Water Resources in Oakland. "Now things have changed in the state and that system really hasn't evolved to keep up with the times in California," he says.

California’s three-year drought comes into sharp focus in Tulare County, the dairy and citrus heart of the state’s vast agricultural belt, where more than 500 wells have dried up. Across California water shortages are getting worse. In just a month, the Water Resource Board’s list of communities at risk of running out of water in 60 days has grown from 8 to 12.

View California Department of Water Resources Daily Reservoir Storage Summary
View October 24, 2014 AlterNet article
View October 23, 2014 Yahoo! News article
View October 22 , 2014 NPR article
View October 6, 2014 The Weather Channel article
View September 27, 2014 CBS San Francisco article
View February 7, 2014 NASA article

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Environment Act Review - Manitoba Wildlands Responds 22 October 14

Two reviews of the Manitoba Environment Act, proclaimed during the election writ after the Pawley government fell in 1988, are ongoing in Manitoba.

The Manitoba Law Reform Commission was directed to review the Act in late 2013. Their review included a discussion paper no longer available, one public event, and a series of in person in depth interviews with Manitobans who have interacted with the law in various capacities.

Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship (MCWS) also issued a discussion paper, and solicited review comments. The paper is posted in the online public registry. The folder on the registry refers to the Environment Act Consultation. To date there is little indication that a consultation will be conducted.

Both discussion papers had a specific set of goals, or agenda. MCWS did not hold any focus groups, interviews, workshops or discussions. The goals outlined in the department’s discussion paper are based on faulty assumptions about current environmental conditions in the province.

The risk arising from this process is that a changed Environment Act with numerous amendments will be handled only in the Legislature from this point. Further ‘consultation’ is required, especially about the Classes of Development definitions, and the Clean Environment Commission.

View Manitoba Wildlands Cover Letter, and Recommendations for changes to Manitoba Environment Act.
View Manitoba Government Conservation and Water Stewardship Public Registry
View Discussion paper on government website
View Manitoba Law Reform Commission, current projects page
View more on Manitoba Wildlands Governments page

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Pimicikamak Occupy Jenpeg Hydro Dam 22 October 14

Pimicikamak protesters have forced employees of Manitoba Hydro out of the Jenpeg generating station in Northern Manitoba, only emergency staff remain at Cross Lake. The Pimicikamak delivered an oversized eviction notice September 29th, to staff at the station and the employee housing complex, both of which are located on the Nelson River in Pimicikamak territory. Several hundred Pimicikamak citizens carried out the eviction notice with the support of the four traditional councils that comprise the elected government of Pimicikamak.

"The building is empty, locked, undamaged and under the Pimicikamak flag," states a release from the Cree Nation, which is located approximately 525 kilometres by air north of Winnipeg.

'The project has turned a once bountiful and intimately know homeland into a dangerous and despoiled power corridor.'- said Cross Lake First nation Chief Cathy Merrick on the Jenpeg generating station. Pimicikamak guarantees the safety and well-being of these people, and ensures that hydro facilities will not be damaged."

"This is our home; we will not let it be trampled," said Chief Cathy Merrick. "This dam has been great for the south but for us it is a man-made catastrophe. Hydro needs to clean up the mess it has created in our homeland. Hydro needs to treat us fairly."

Premier Selinger is taking over negotiations after a visit to Cross Lake by Minister Struthers and Hydro CEO Thompson last week.

View October 21, 2014 Winnipeg Free Press article
View October 17, 2014 Aboriginal Peoples Television Network News article
View October 17,2 014 CBC News article
View October 17, 2014 Official Pimicikamak Statement on the Takeover of Jenpeg
View October 17, 2014 Winnipeg Free Press article
View October 16, 2014 Global article
View October 16, 2014 The Globe and Mail article

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Bayer Busting Bees Again 22 October 14

Bayer - the company that makes Bayer aspirin, seems to not care that it's chemicals are killing bees or affecting the bird population of North America. As the toxic reality of neonicotinids began to surface in mainstream media and lawsuits began to happen, Bayer promptly rolled out another chemical insecticide, equally potent and toxic to the environment; Flupyradifurone.

Flupyradifurone can enter the environment through a number of different insecticide applications covering a large number of 'pests' in a variety of crops. It can also enter groundwater and the aquatic environment through surface run-off. Flupyradifurone can be applied as a plant spray, as a soil drench and as a seed treatment, and can persist in the environment through "carry-over" from one growing season to the next.

Ottawa has moved to approve the new Bayer insecticide even with Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) issuing a warning about the risks of introducing it into the environment. "Flupyradifurone may pose a risk to bees, non-target beneficial arthropods, and freshwater and saltwater invertebrates when used for foliar application. Flupyradifurone may pose a risk to birds and small wild mammals when used for soybean seed treatment."

Studies have proven that long term exposure to neurotoxins like neonicotinids impair bees' ability to find their hives and changes the pollen collecting behaviours of honey bees – leading to colony collapse.

View October 10, 2014 Sierra Club Canada article
View October 4, 2014 CBC Radio article
View September 5, 2014 CBC News article
View July 9, 2014 Nature article
View July 7, 2014 Functional Ecology article
View March 26, 2014 PLOS One research article
View Flupyradifurone Toxicology report by the Californian EPA

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