Archive for April 2014

B.C. government approves shipping more coal

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 by Dogwood Initiative

B.C. Government Secretly Approves Coal Permitting Amendment

B.C. government secretly approves coal permitting amendment

From the Powell River Peak: A flurry of coal washed ashore on Texada Island, near Lafarge Canada Inc.’s Texada Quarry coal storage facility was tested and showed high levels of arsenic.

Thanks to a dedicated Beyond Coal supporter from Burnaby, we learned that the provincial ministry of energy and mines secretly approved a permit amendment allowing Texada Quarries to expand its coal-handling operations by almost 20-fold, enabling it to become the final transfer point for up to 8 million tonnes of U.S. thermal coal via Fraser Surrey Docks.

It’s hard to believe, but the ministry approved the permit on March 12 without informing local First Nations, the regional government or anyone else for that matter.

It took some hard work with our allies to get the story straight so we could go public with the news, but it finally hit the mainstream media just a few days ago.

Now we’ve learned the shíshálh (Sechelt) First Nation is prepared to form a blockade to keep coal ships from passing through its territory.

Two things make this news even more outrageous. First, local residents and landowners haverepeatedly documented coal on the beach at the coal handling facility through sampling and photographs, but after repeated alerts sent to the provincial ministries of energy and mines and the environment, provincial technicians declared no contamination was present in the area.

Second, over the past two months, thousands of B.C. residents have been writing our ministers, calling their MLAs and having in-depth discussions with various provincial leaders about responsible government action on this project. So far, there’s no evidence that any of these leaders knew about the permit decision. But if they did and kept that knowledge from the public, that would be downright scandalous.

In light of the Texada Quarries permitting snafu, we can see it’s more important than ever the ministers of health and the environment recognize the provincial government’s responsibility – and unique authority – to step in on behalf of British Columbians and require comprehensive, transparent, independent and democratic environmental and health impact assessments before any more permits are granted for the Fraser Surrey Docks-Texada Island project..

Here’s how you’ve been fighting for that:

  • 2,871 of you sent letters to the ministers of health and the environment, asking them to ensure proper assessments of the Fraser Surrey Docks-Texada Island coal transshipment project. These letters came from people living in 83 of B.C’s 85 ridings.

  • Several Beyond Coal volunteers phoned their neighbours and other Dogwood supporters who wrote letters, and urged them to call their MLAs. One volunteer, Marilynn, got so inspired she spent more than eight hours over the course of four evenings phonebanking.

  • At least 44 people phoned their MLAs and reported back to us about how the conversation went. Thanks to callers like Marilynn, more than 50 additional people pledged to call their MLAs earlier this month.

While some MLAs have written pointed letters to Port Metro Vancouver calling for better assessment and public consultation on the project, no one at the provincial level has taken responsibility to ensure we get the facts we deserve about health and environmental impacts before permitting decisions are made.

Now’s the time for our ministers of health and the environment to step up before the remaining permits are granted. Please, call your ministers today:

Minsiter of Health Terry Lake – (250) 953-3547
Minister of the Environment Mary Polak – (250) 387-1187


Dan Heap, presente!

A commentary on one of our true Christian leaders.

Theology in the Vineyard


Dan Heap “on the march”.

They threw away the mold when Dan Heap left this earth on Friday. I do not expect to meet his likes again—as a politician or clergyman.

Imagine an Anglican priest picketing his own church for its failure to speak on the horrific genocide in the USA assault on Vietnam—over 2 million innocents killed. That was Dan in 1966. That was the first time i heard about Dan Heap.

Holy feces, Batman there are clergy like this?

Dan opened up new vistas on the gospel of peace and in my own city.

I first met him in the 70s when as a city councillor he was supporting Caesar Chavez. I called off basketball practice and took the team to City Hall for a rally on behalf of the California Grape pickers, I told him how much I appreciated his steadfast moral compass.

Then I learned that…

View original post 243 more words

Posted April 28, 2014 by allanbaker in Uncategorized

Making a positive step forward

A former 1940s-era military radar training facility in Huron East, Ontario, has been transformed into SolarShare’s newest solar project! Named Vanastra by SolarShare members, the project will generate enough clean energy to power 40 homes.

Read more about the project at:!

“Vanastra,” 366kW SolarShare project in Clinton, Ontario. 


Posted April 22, 2014 by allanbaker in Canadian society, Environment

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The Leaderless Revolution

Easter sunrise, 2014

Easter sunrise, 2014

The Leaderless Revolution

by Carne Ross

For those who are struggling with the fact that “the system” is broken, and who are looking for some positive thinking about alternatives, this book may be helpful.

Carne Ross synthesizes the thesis of his book in the Introduction – as do many authors. This (former) British diplomat says that there are four ideas that are at the heart of what he has written. These “simple” ideas (my words) are:

1)    In an increasingly interconnected system, … the action(s) of one individual or small group can affect the whole system very quickly.

2)    It is action that convinces others, not words. Show me, don’t tell me.

3)    Decision making is better when it includes the people most affected. Give people power and responsibility and they tend to use it wisely – and peacefully.

4)    We have lost agency. We need to take it back. We have become too detached from the decisions that are important to us.

Posted April 22, 2014 by allanbaker in Canadian society

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Is it time for a real war on cars?

The following was posted by the David Suzuki Foundation at:

Is it time for a real war on cars?

Credit: poeloq via Flickr

In railing against everything from bike lanes to transit spending, pundits and politicians often raise the spectre of a “war on cars.” Of course, there is no war on cars — but there should be.

Cars directly kill and hurt more people every year than most diseases, resulting in 1.5 million deaths and 78 million injuries needing medical care, according to the World Bank. Road injury is the eighth leading cause of death worldwide. Pollution from cars also causes acute and chronic health problems that often result in premature death — from heart disease and stroke to respiratory illness and lung cancer.Environmental impacts of cars are also well-known and wide-ranging, including climate change, smog and oily run-off from roads, not to mention the green space sacrificed for infrastructure to sell, drive, fuel and park them. Despite fuel-efficiency improvements, emissions from vehicles have more than doubled since 1970, and will increase with rising car demand in countries like China, India and Brazil, according to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

Because many people, especially North Americans, can’t conceive of a world without cars for everyone, we overlook major problems caused by our private automobile obsession. We’re rightly outraged when a company like General Motors ignores faulty ignition switches in some of its vehicles, thought to have caused 13 deaths over 13 years. The massive recall that followed was justified and necessary. But as a headline on Treehugger’s website argues, “It’s time for a bigger recall of a seriously defective product: The Car.”

The article continues, “Since we can’t recall every car all at once and redesign the entire country, there are at least things we can do to make it less bad. Significantly reduce speed limits. Make drivers pay the full cost of infrastructure construction and maintenance through the gas tax. Build the cost of medical care for those millions of injured by cars into the price of gas. Invest in walkable cities and alternative forms of transport.”

Seattle newsweekly The Stranger, only somewhat tongue-in-cheek, created a 2011 manifesto for a real war on cars. “We demand that car drivers pay their own way, bearing the full cost of the automobile-petroleum-industrial complex that has depleted our environment, strangled our cities, and drawn our nation into foreign wars,” it says. “Reinstate the progressive motor vehicle excise tax, hike the gas tax, and toll every freeway, bridge, and neighborhood street until the true cost of driving lies as heavy and noxious as our smog-laden air.”

As Treehugger notes, we can’t shift from car-centric societies overnight. And until we find ways to better design our urban areas, many people will continue to rely on cars. After all, in the “developed” world, and increasingly in the developing world, we privilege private automobiles when creating infrastructure, often at the expense of what we need for public transit, walking and cycling.

Some even claim automobile and oil companies bought and dismantled streetcar and urban rail lines from the mid-1930s to the 1950s to sell more cars and oil. Fuel efficiency wasn’t a concern because, before pollution and climate change impacts were known, gas sale profits were a priority. Many factors were involved in the development of car culture, but we now find ourselves in an era when much of our oil is burned to propel mostly single users in inefficient vehicles.

Even with today’s improved fuel standards, only about 15 per cent of the energy from each litre of fuel burned is used to move the vehicle, which typically weighs 10 to 20 times more than the passenger(s) it carries. That translates to about a one per cent efficiency to move those passengers.

Although we can’t stop using cars altogether, we can curtail their damage to people and the environment. We can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by cutting back on car use, choosing fuel-efficient vehicles, joining a car pool or sharing program and reducing speed. At the policy level, we need increased investment in public transit and cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, stronger fuel-efficiency standards, reduced speed limits, higher gas taxes and human-centric urban design.

Besides combatting pollution and climate change, reduced dependency on private automobiles will lead to healthier people, fewer deaths and injuries and livable cities with happier citizens. And that’s worth fighting for!

Yinka Dene Alliance says NO to Northern Gateway

Yinka Dene First Nations provide formal reasons for decision to Canadian officials at all clans gathering

NAK’AZDLI, BRITISH COLUMBIA – (April 12, 2014) – Hereditary and elected leaders, elders, youth and other representatives from the First Nations of the Yinka Dene Alliance gathered Friday as the nations issued formal reasons for decision upholding their ban of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline from their ancestral territories. The reasons were provided to Canadian federal officials during an all-day clans gathering held near Fort St. James.

The Yinka Dene Alliance is a coalition of First Nations opposed to the Enbridge pipeline whose ancestral territories comprise approximately 25 percent of the proposed pipeline route.

“Our decision to refuse consent for the Enbridge pipeline is a decision according to our own laws. It is binding and clearly set out in the Save the Fraser Declaration”, said Chief Fred Sam of the Nak’azdli First Nation. “This gathering is about our people giving the reasons for our rejection of the Enbridge pipeline, in our voices, on our lands, under our laws”. The Yinka Dene Alliance spearheaded the Save the Fraser Declaration, which bans the Enbridge pipeline from the territories of its signatories under Indigenous law, and has been signed by representatives of over 100 First Nations since 2010.

Brett Maracle, the federal official responsible for First Nations consultation on the Enbridge pipeline proposal, attended the gathering along with a team of federal officials to hear the reasons for decision. Clan members at the gathering each contributed to a gift that was presented to the federal officials for carrying the peoples’ message to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet. “This gift is made according to our laws to recognize these federal officials, and ultimately Stephen Harper and Canada’s cabinet, for hearing our formal notice that under no circumstances will heavy oil pipelines go through our territories” said Hereditary Chief Tsodih, Nak’azdli.

“It’s important for the Canadian government, and the public in BC and Canada, to know that our people act according to principles and responsibilities in our own system of law and governance”, stated Chief Tsodih.  “This gathering of our clans, for our leaders and elders to give reasons for the rejection of the Enbridge pipeline in an assembly according to our laws, affirms that our ban on the Enbridge pipeline isn’t a preference, it’s a determination under law.”

Many of the speakers at the gathering addressed the catastrophic effect that a spill from the Enbridge pipeline would have on their territories. “The risk of a devastating spill from the Enbridge pipeline is real. If a spill enters our waters, there is no effective way to clean it up. We will not allow our children to pay that cost for Enbridge,” said Chief Anita Williams of Takla Lake First Nation.

Click here for images from the gathering.

For more information on the Dene Alliance:


Tsodih (Pete Erickson)
Hereditary Chief, Nak’azdli

Anita Williams
Chief, Takla Lake First Nation

Global Power Shift

A note on the positive energy that is flowing internationally.

I will keep this short, as the image below speaks for itself.

If you are having trouble viewing the image, click here.

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Canada needs to get serious about climate change: Editorial

Canada needs to get serious about climate change: Editorial – Toronto Star

Latest UN report on climate change challenges the Canadian government to adopt policies, including a carbon tax, that reflect the gravity of the threat we face.

The latest UN report says Canada needs to get serious about global warming.</p><br /><br /><br />


The latest UN report says Canada needs to get serious about global warming.

How much would it cost to prevent catastrophic climate change from threatening the planet with melting Arctic ice, rising oceans, extreme weather, pestilence and drought, wildfires, crippled food production, hotter, more polluted cities and the untold suffering all this would wreak? Not as much as some might fear.

The latest United Nations climate change report offers hope that keeping the atmospheric temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels can be an affordable as well as a necessary business. We can clean up our act without utterly sacrificing our living standards, the report concludes.

“Climate policy is not a free lunch,” acknowledges German economist Ottmar Edenhofer, who headed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change team that drafted the report. But “it doesn’t cost the world to save the planet,” he says.

By the end of this century the world’s $85-trillion economy will be three to nine times larger than today. Reducing our dependency on fossil fuels will trim something like 5 per cent from that growth, the report concludes. Estimates vary from 3 per cent to 11 per cent. But as a previous UN report also pointed out, global warming itself could knock global output back by 2 per cent. So we can’t avoid facing some costs either way.

This report is the third in a series that have shown that climate change is “unequivocally” caused by people burning fossil fuels and that it poses a dire threat to peace and stability. As the Star’s Raveena Aulakh reports, scientists warn that we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent or more by mid-century to avoid calamity.

Granted, forecasting is an inexact science. It’s hard to say how politics, global economics and new technologies may interact to affect climate change decades from now. And granted, big energy producers and consumers such as Canada face extra hurdles cutting back.

But this latest UN analysis bluntly challenges Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government to go where it hasn’t dared go before and adopt policies, including a carbon tax, that reflect the gravity of the threat we face. Canada and other big polluters need to get serious about mitigation, to adopt a single global carbon price and to throw all the technology we’ve got at the problem, the UN says. While no fix will be cheap the pain should be manageable, spread over decades. And the longer we wait, the higher the cost will be.

Recognizing all that, the UN, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have just urged the world’s finance ministers to adopt carbon taxes and to phase out fossil fuel subsidies to wean people off coal, gas and oil and to fund greener alternatives. These are ideas whose time has come.

Major oil firms including Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Statoil have signed the Carbon Price Communiqué calling for a “clear, transparent and unambiguous price” on carbon as a “central part of national policy responses.” Here in Canada, forward-looking firms are already prudently factoring a $30- or $40-per-tonne carbon price into their long-term investment strategies. Provincially, British Columbia and Alberta have implemented prices of $30 and $15 respectively. B.C.’s revenue-neutral tax adds less than 6 cents to a cubic metre of natural gas and less than 7 cents to a litre of gasoline.

Yet the Harper government has failed dismally to articulate a credible national policy to meet its own professed targets. Harper’s focus on pipeline building, energy exports and oilsands expansion are hard to reconcile with emissions cuts. Plus, Ottawa continues to temporize, looking to the United States for cues on carbon policy.

While the Conservatives say they are on track to trim greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent by 2020 from their 2005 level, Environment Canada is less optimistic. Last fall the agency reported that at the current rate we will achieve a mere 0.4-per-cent cut, a fraction of our goal. That’s not good enough, even by the government’s own unambitious standard.

The UN report challenges policy-makers in Canada to come up with a more robust, Earth-friendly approach that includes carbon pricing, better-managed energy development and incentives for greener technologies. So far, the Tories have just come up short.

Kitimat Says ‘No’ to Northern Gateway

Kitimat Says ‘No’ to Northern Gateway

Community with ‘everything to gain’ from project rejects it in plebiscite vote.

By Emma Gilchrist, 13 Apr 2014,


After a public relations battle preceding the vote, Kitimat citizens “piped up against Enbridge.” Photo by Kathy Ouwehand.

Kitimat residents have voted against the Northern Gateway pipeline, with 58 per cent of ballots in the city’s plebiscite being cast against the project as of 9 p.m. Saturday. In total, 1,793 voted against the proposed project, while 1,278 or 41.6 per cent were in favour.

Over three thousand ballots were cast, marking a high turnout (71 per cent) in the community of roughly 4,300 eligible voters at the terminus of Enbridge’s proposed oil pipeline. Fifty-six per cent of eligible voters cast ballots in the last municipal election.

“We’re celebrating with the Haisla outside in the park… and they’re surrounding the Douglas Channel Watch with thank you signs. They’re performing a drum song right now,” said Patricia Lange from Douglas Channel Watch. “It’s a really powerful moment.”

The vote, although non-binding, is significant as part of the public relations battle being waged over Enbridge’s project. Enbridge brought in teams of paid corporate canvassers from out of town, placed full-page ads in northern newspapers and launched a “Vote Yes for Kitimat” website.

“This vote is confirmation we are going to stand firm and say no to the influence of big oil,” Lange said. “And coming from our community, a community that has everything to gain from this project, we still say no. We are sending that message throughout B.C. and to Ottawa.”

Enbridge has ‘more work to do’: spokesperson

Donny van Dyk, Northern Gateway’s manager of coastal aboriginal and community relations, said in a statement: “Today’s result shows that while there is support for Northern Gateway in Kitimat, we have more work to do. And over the coming weeks and months we will continue to reach out and listen to our neighbours and friends so that Northern Gateway can build a lasting legacy for the people of our community.”

The cities of Smithers, Prince Rupert and Terrace already officially oppose the project, as do the Kitimat-Stikine Regional District and dozens of First Nations. The province of British Columbia also said no to the project in its final argument to the joint review panel. However, that panel overrode the province and recommended the project be approved. The federal cabinet has until June 19 to announce whether it will grant the project certificate.

Before the plebiscite began, Douglas Channel Watch had $200 in the bank (Enbridge earnings for 2013 were $446 million). When the group committed to its first full-page newspaper ad, members decided they would pay for the remainder themselves if donations wouldn’t cover it — then the money started rolling in.

“People began handing money to us while we were putting up lawn signs, or downtown, and somebody even left an anonymous $2,000 money order in one of our mailboxes,” said Murray Minchin, a member of the group.

Kitimat is located at the beginning of the Douglas Channel, where 225 tankers would be loaded with oil and set sail for Asia each year if Enbridge’s project goes ahead. The city is arguably the B.C. community that would benefit most from the project — with Enbridge promising up to 165 permanent jobs in the city.    [Tyee]

Challenging the one per cent

The Downside of Upsizing Bank Executive Salaries

31 March 2014

Toronto: Bill Davis is one Bank of Montreal shareholder who’s not happy to see his dividends being used to pay exorbitant salaries to top bank executives. In fact, he’s hoping other shareholders will agree with him when he addresses the bank’s annual general meeting in Toronto on April 1.

“Our global business model is broken. It has gradually fostered excessive levels of compensation for senior executives, placing them in a small elite who are drawing resources from our shareholders’ return and from other stakeholders,” says Davis.

Davis is a familiar face at these gatherings of shareholders. He regularly attends annual general meetings of all five major Canadian banks. In this instance he will be exercising his own proxy as well as representing The United Church of Canada. The United Church has asked Davis to add its voice to the effort to apply shareholder influence toward a more responsible program for executive compensation because it shares Davis’s concern about income inequality.

Davis’s pitch every time he speaks at one of these annual meetings is for banks to consider incorporating vertical benchmarking—comparing executives’ salaries to the society where their friends and neighbours live and work, to their staff, and to executives in other occupations—when they calculate executive compensation.

He says the banks’ overreliance on horizontal benchmarking—comparing salaries only to other bank executives who are also already excessively remunerated—has been a major factor in the past 20 years in spiralling senior levels of remuneration upwards.

“How do compensation packages of bank executives compare with the senior people at major universities or large medical facilities over the past 20 years? What role does cost of living or the consumer price index have? And, should there be a base level where all staff is protected but above which the percentage increase is entirely merit based?” asks Davis.

He also wonders why, as shareholders, “we passively accept the premise that senior executives are only motivated by excessive remuneration far beyond the range that senior leaders received 20 or 30 years ago.”

He notes, as well, that 21 pages of this year’s BMO proxy circular are devoted to justifying the enormous remuneration lavished on the bank’s senior people. “Where is there any reference to the real world where the 99 percent live and work?” asks Davis.

For further information:

Mary-Frances Denis
Program Coordinator, Media and Public Relations
The United Church of Canada
Tel: 416-231-7680 ext. 2016
Toll-free: 1-800-268-3781 ext. 2016
E-mail: Mary-Frances Denis