Category - Canada

Canada reneges on emissions targets as tar sands production takes its toll

A new pledge to cut greenhouse gases by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030 is less ambitious than previous goal and lags far behind US and EU targets.

The Guardian, By Suzanne Goldenberg, May 15

Canada has retreated on past promises to fight climate change, setting out lower targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions than any other industralised country so far ahead of a critical conference in Paris.

The announcement was a setback to efforts to reach a deal in the French capital that would limit warming to 2C (3.6F), the threshold for dangerous climate change.

Under the announcement, Canada committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

The Globe and Mail: Ottawa commits to 30-per-cent cut in emissions, but not for oil sands


The Guardian (multimedia): The New Coal Frontier

Around 27bn tonnes of coal are thought to be locked under the ground of the Galilee Basin in the outback of Queensland. A huge proposed complex of coal mines is planned here, including the world’s largest thermal coal project.

So are railway lines and a massive expansion of the Abbot Point port on the Great Barrier Reef.

What will this mean for the Aboriginal community, the Great Barrier Reef and the world’s climate?

[…]

Now the rapacious outsiders are back. Massive mining operations are looking to plunder a gigantic new coal frontier in the Galilee Basin. There are 247,000 sq km (95,400 sq miles) of coal: a land mass the size of Britain.

This is a story about the indigenous people – and the loss of Aboriginal lands. It is about Queensland’s fragile environment and the damage a massive new port and thousands of coal container journeys exporting coal would cause to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the most precious ecosystems on earth.

And it is about the world’s climate – if the complex is fully developed, greenhouse gas emissions from the burned coal would top 700m tonnes a year, bringing irreversible climate change ever closer.

Were the Galilee Basin a country, it would be the seventh largest contributor of carbon dioxide in the world, just behind Germany.

Vox: The awful truth about climate change no one wants to admit
The Ecologist: Thawing Arctic carbon threatens ‘runaway’ global warming
Siberian Times: New warning about climate change linked to peat bogs
Huffington Post: [Larsen B] Antarctic Ice Shelf Is A Few Years From Disintegration: NASA
Live Science: Antarctica’s Ice Attacked from Above and Below

Harper Government Threatens BDS Supporters with Hate Crime Charges

Rights groups say newly revealed policy change is meant to “scare” critics of Palestinian oppression

Common Dreams, By Lauren McCauley, May 11

The Canadian government is threatening to charge those participating in boycotts of Israel with a hate crime, CBC revealed on Monday.

The information came following an attempt by the news agency to obtain clarification on statements made by federal ministers about a “zero tolerance” approach to supporters of the international Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement protesting Israeli apartheid and occupation of Palestinian land.

In response to the query, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, who is in charge of federal law enforcement, sent reporters “a detailed list of Canada’s updated hate laws, noting that Canada has one of the most comprehensive sets of such laws ‘anywhere in the world.'”

“Such a move could target a range of civil society organizations, from the United Church of Canada and the Canadian Quakers to campus protest groups and labour unions,” CBC reports. “If carried out, it would be a remarkably aggressive tactic, and another measure of the Conservative government’s lockstep support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”

The Intercept: Canadian Government Says Free Speech is for Offending Muslims — Not Opposing Israel

Broken Covenant: Blistering report on 9 years of Harper agenda

The Council of Canadians, May 8

Ottawa – Hot on the heels of the Conservative defeat in Alberta, Maude Barlow is calling on Canadians to send the federal Tories packing as well. Her new report, Broken Covenant: How Stephen Harper Set out to Silence Dissent and Curtail Democratic Participation, outlines the damage done to all aspects of Canada’s democracy under Harper’s watch.

“Stephen Harper has clear-cut an entire movement. Like an old growth forest, the complex and intricate landscape that made up the civil society/federal government relationship took decades to create. Like a clear-cut, the damage was meant to be absolute. And like a clear-cut, there is no easy blueprint for how to rebuild the rich and multifaceted diversity that made it unique,” writes Barlow in the report.

A scathing indictment of nine years of the Harper agenda, Broken Covenant examines the Harper government’s impact on our democratic institutions, families and workers, women, First Nations, the environment, health care, arts and culture, farmers, human rights and social equality.

Report – Broken Covenant: How Stephen Harper set out to silence dissent and curtail democratic participation in Canada

Passport Canada To Crack Down On Terror Suspects, Sex Offenders

The Canadian Press, May 7

Montreal – Ottawa says it is introducing passport measures to prevent people they call would-be terrorists and sex offenders from travelling abroad.

The changes would allow authorities to cancel, revoke or refuse passports for national security or terrorism purposes.

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney and Citizenship Minister Chris Alexander made the announcement on Thursday at Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.

[…]

Blaney and Alexander also said people who have their passports revoked or cancelled will have to wait 10 years before applying for another.

[…]

“We won’t allow the Canadian passport to be used as a tool by terrorists to carry out unspeakable acts of violence, criminal acts, and Canada will not tolerate this type of behaviour,” he told a news conference at the airport.

Canada passes law expanding spy agency powers

AFP, May 7

Canadian lawmakers passed a new anti-terror law on Wednesday dramatically expanding the powers and reach of Canada’s spy agency, allowing it to operate overseas for the first time.

The move came in response to the first terror attacks on Canadian soil last October, when a gunman killed a ceremonial guard and stormed parliament, and a soldier was run over in rural Quebec.

A large number of critics — including celebrated author Margaret Atwood — have vehemently decried bill C-51 as an unprecedented assault on civil rights, saying it lacks oversight and is overly broad.

It criminalizes the promotion of terrorism, makes it easier for police to arrest and detain individuals without charge and expands the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s (CSIS) mandate from intelligence-collection to actively thwarting terror plots and spying outside Canada.

[…]

The government insists the new measures target “terrorists” and not law-abiding citizens.

But the opposition New Democratic Party said the law is “vague, dangerous and won’t make Canadians safer.”

“Thousands of Canadians took to the streets to protest this bill which will erode our rights and freedoms,” NDP MP Randall Garrison said.

Wait a minute… All this time they were spying on themselves?

Alberta election 2015 results: NDP wave sweeps across province in historic win

Wildrose Party, led by newly elected leader Brian Jean, once again Alberta’s Official Opposition

CBC, May 5

It’s a massive shock that turns Canadian politics on its head: the NDP has won a majority government in Alberta.

“I think we might have made a little bit of history tonight,” leader Rachel Notley told her supporters Tuesday night. “Friends, I believe, that change has finally come to Alberta. New people, new ideas and a fresh start for our great province.”

The NDP won 53 ridings. Wildrose took 21 seats, while the PCs took 10. There was a tie in one Calgary riding — Calgary-Glenmore — between the PCs and NDP. A recount will take place in the next few days.

The Liberals and the Alberta Party each claimed one seat.

Notley believes the election was record-setting in terms of the number of women elected.

National Post: Electorate anger combined with strong NDP campaign brought end to Alberta PC dynasty
National Post: Alberta Tories’ 43-year reign ends: Prentice quits party, resigns his seat as NDP sweeps to majority

“There’s no greater fortune in life than to be a Canadian and an Albertan. We are all so very, very lucky.”

National Post: Alberta election results 2015: A riding-by-riding breakdown of the vote
CBC: Alberta Election 2015: Voters pick Wildrose Party as Official Opposition
Ian Welsh: Alberta Elects the New Democratic Party (NDP)

Thousands march in evening protest in downtown Montreal

Police quickly declared the demonstration illegal, arrests made

CBC, March 24

Thousands of protesters hit the streets of downtown Montreal Tuesday night as part of student protests against the province’s austerity measures.

Crowds gathered at Parc Émilie-Gamelin at 9 p.m. before marching along the downtown streets.

Police quickly declared the protest illegal, saying an itinerary of the route was not provided, and began making arrests.

CTV News: Montreal students protest for second night, police disperse crowds

Obama Vetoes Keystone XL Bill

The Canadian Press, By Alexander Panetta, February 24

Washington – U.S. President Barack Obama made good Tuesday on a threat to veto a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, bringing the two sides in the long-running controversy to a rare point of agreement: their battle is far from over.

”The president’s veto of the Keystone jobs bill is a national embarrassment,” said the top Republican in the House of Representatives, John Boehner.

”We are not going to give up in our efforts to get this pipeline built — not even close.”

[…]

Even the White House concurred that the issue is far from settled. It pointed out that Tuesday’s announcement was a step in a long, winding process — not a final destination.

The president cast the veto as a matter of procedural principle. In his letter to Congress, Obama said the bill he was scrapping had improperly tried to usurp presidential authority.
Read More

Movement afoot to have Vatican repeal edicts on ‘heathen’ natives

The Canadian Press, By Chinta Puxley, February 10

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission is weighing whether to ask the Vatican to repeal the Papal Bulls of Discovery that granted 15th-century explorers the right to conquer the New World and the “heathen” aboriginal people that called it home.

Chair Murray Sinclair says the commission examining the impact of Canada’s residential schools is looking carefully at the 1455 and 1493 Catholic edicts as part of its final report.

Many argue the proclamations legitimized the treatment of aboriginal people as “less than human.” Crown sovereignty in Canada can be traced back to those papal bulls and neither Canada nor the United States has repudiated them, Sinclair said.
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Supreme Court rules Canadians have right to doctor-assisted suicide

The Globe and Mail, By Sean Fine, February 6/7

Canadian adults in grievous, unending pain have a right to end their life with a doctor’s help, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday.

The unanimous ruling, by establishing that the “sanctity of life” also includes the “passage into death,” extends constitutional rights into a new realm. The courts have used the 1982 Charter of Rights to establish gay marriage and to strike down a federal abortion law. The new ruling will change the way some Canadians are permitted to die.

In a brief, powerful opening paragraph, the court explained why it was creating a new constitutional right to autonomy over one’s death in some circumstances: Those who are severely and irremediably suffering, whether physically or psychologically, “may be condemned to a life of severe and intolerable suffering” by the government’s absolute ban on assisted dying. “A person facing this prospect has two options: she can take her own life prematurely, often by violent or dangerous means, or she can suffer until she dies from natural causes. The choice is cruel.”
Read More

CSE tracks millions of downloads daily: Snowden documents

Global sites for sharing movies, photos, music targeted in mass anti-terror surveillance.

CBC News, By Amber Hildebrandt, Michael Pereira & Dave Seglins, January 28

Canada’s electronic spy agency sifts through millions of videos and documents downloaded online every day by people around the world, as part of a sweeping bid to find extremist plots and suspects, CBC News has learned. Details of the Communications Security Establishment project dubbed “Levitation” are revealed in a document obtained by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden and recently released to CBC News.

Under Levitation, analysts with the electronic eavesdropping service can access information on about 10 to 15 million uploads and downloads of files from free websites each day, the document says. “Every single thing that you do — in this case uploading/downloading files to these sites — that act is being archived, collected and analyzed,” says Ron Deibert, director of the University of Toronto-based internet security think-tank Citizen Lab, who reviewed the document.

The Intercept: Canada Casts Global Surveillance Dragnet Over File Downloads
The Globe And Mail: Canadian spies scoured file-sharing sites to track jihadis, document shows

Canadians told to prepare for lengthy battle against terrorism

The Globe And Mail, By Sean Fine, January 11

Toronto – Canadians need to gird for a long battle against terrorism while maintaining their unity and not singling out any religious groups for blame, Mayor John Tory and federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver told several hundred people demonstrating on a cold Sunday afternoon at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto.

“We must look evil in the eye and call it by its name – jihadist terrorism,” Mr. Oliver said at one of several rallies in Canada held in a gesture of solidarity with France, after Islamic terrorists attacked the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, the shooting of a policewoman and two hostage-takings left 20 people, including three gunmen, dead. Those attacks followed separate terrorist incidents in Ottawa and St-Jean-Sur-Richilieu, Que., in October in which three people, including one armed attacker, were killed.

Addressing terrorists directly, Mr. Oliver said they should know that they cannot divide Canadians. “You will not succeed because we are united by our determination to protect our values, our freedoms and our citizens, be they Christian, Jews, Muslims or Hindus. We will defeat you. We will ultimately win because we are in solidarity and we are strong.

He suggested the battle could last decades. “We need continued support and endurance. With that we will triumph over evil. . . and our grandchildren will live in freedom and peace.”

Urban Inuit: Nomads from the Arctic find new home in Canada’s capital

The Inuit migration south to Ottawa has picked up speed, a challenge for those used to traditional life

Al Jazeera, By Leyland Cecco, November 23

Ottawa, Ontario — Dion Metcalfe pulls up his shirt to reveal an inukshuk tattooed onto his stomach. The stone cairn, used to guide or mark a path in the North, is coupled with a compass and the names of his family.

“My Inuit name is Aalla; it means stranger,’’ he says as his fingers trace the Inuktitut syllabics.

For most of his life, Metcalfe has been a stranger. Born to an Inuit father and Dutch mother in St. John’s, Newfoundland, on Canada’s east coast, the family moved to Ottawa when he was six months old. His father went to a residential school, a system notorious for its abuse of students, and what he suffered there he inflicted on his son. Metcalfe grew up bullied at school and at home, caught between two cultures.

Long known as nomads of the Arctic, the Inuit have been migrating to southern urban centers for nearly a half-century now. To outsiders, the Arctic is a barren polar desert, but the Inuit communities thrived there for thousands of years, braving winters with little daylight, and in some areas, temperatures that dipped below -50°C. Dog sleds were once used both for day-to-day travel and hunting, these days largely replaced by planes and snowmobiles. Because of the uniquely isolated nature of life in the North, myths about Inuit lifestyle, such as kissing with noses, still persist.

Trans-Pacific Partnership talks going on in Ottawa

CBC, By Kristy Kirkup, July 3

Trade officials from Canada and other Asia-Pacific nations are meeting behind closed doors in Ottawa to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive free-trade proposal that could create one of the world’s largest trading blocks.

The TPP currently comprises 12 countries, including Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

The discussions between trade officials are taking place in Ottawa from July 3 to 12. Federal ministers are not participating in the talks.

“No ministerial meeting will occur on the margin of the officials’ meeting in Ottawa,” said Claude Rochon, a spokesman for the department of Foreign Affairs. “This is a working-level technical meeting, held by the TPP negotiating leads and a small number of focused working groups, that meet as required to continue to advance negotiations.”

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