Archive for April 2014

B.C. government approves shipping more coal   Leave a comment

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!   Leave a comment

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…

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Posted April 28, 2014 by allanbaker in Uncategorized

Making a positive step forward   Leave a comment

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   Leave a comment

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?   1 comment

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   Leave a comment

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   Leave a comment

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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