Archive for August 2014

Gaza and simple pleasures

Theology in the Vineyard


Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own or so the master says in Matthew’s gospel. Particularly in his’ time when life was short and often brutal—there was more enough daily trouble to go around. Life has always tossed us curve balls—mental and physical ailments, disappointments of all kinds, thwarted dreams. All too true but as Teilhard told us, “By virtue of Creation, and still more the Incarnation, nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see.” A rich faith life helps to direct our gaze and point us in the right direction.

Daily we live under a waterfall of grace. the seemingly small pleasures nourish us. The happiest people are those who are engaged in our common struggle for humanization. While it is true that wherever we are it is Egypt and…

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Posted August 31, 2014 by allanbaker in Uncategorized

Lac Megantic: More Tory Common Sense

47 Canadians dead.
Federal government responsibility?

Theology in the Vineyard


In the final report on the rail explosion that killed 47 people and obliterated a Quebec community’s downtown core, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada pointed directly to what it called a “weak safety culture” at Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway. The TSB also cited the “limited number and scope of safety management system audits” conducted by Transport Canada.

And the Tories send out Transport minister Lisa Raitt to deflect any criticism of the government responsibility for serious oversight.

Transport Canada official report

For several years, Transport Canada’s regional office in Quebec had identified MMA as a company with an elevated level of risk that required more frequent inspections. Although MMA normally took corrective action once problems were identified, it was not uncommon for the same problems to reappear during subsequent inspections. These problems included issues with train securement, training, and track conditions. Transport Canada’s regional office in Quebec, however, did not always follow up…

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Posted August 25, 2014 by allanbaker in Uncategorized

Lac Megantic (7)

Did “deregulation” or “self regulation” lead to the death of 47 innocent people in Lac Megantic in 2013?

Is the Harper government in any way accepting responsibility?

Check out this link to Press Progress and watch the video of how representatives of the Harper government (Conservatives) respond to the report made public by the Transportation Safety Board.égantic-report

The God-life

For those who are interested in what it is like to live in the West Bank today, this is a first-person, reflective account from a faithful Christian.
Check out her previous postings too.

Sharing Common Sacred Ground

Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, ‘Go jump in the lake’—no shuffling or shilly-shallying—and it’s as good as done. That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything. And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.”  Mark 11:22-25, The Message.

As part of the process towards ordination in the United Church of Canada (UCC), I am participating in the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program for Palestine-Israel (EAPPI). While the program has operated for a dozen years, with more than 20 individuals participating through the UCC, this is the first time that…

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Posted August 21, 2014 by allanbaker in Uncategorized

Lac-Mégantic (7)

IMG_1065The unit-trains carrying oil from America’s Bakken oil fields, or the tar sands in Alberta, keep rolling. When will the Lac-Mégantic occur?

Train wrecks are only one dimension of this issue.

“No excuse – from jobs to security to cheap gas – can override this central fact: Access to more oil will result in the use of more oil. Use of more oil will increase carbon emissions and exacerbate climate change. And, as always, the poor will disproportionately shoulder the burden.”  Katherine M. Preston writing in Sojourners, September-October, 2014 p. 24


Lac-Mégantic (6)

Asleep at the safety switch

Lac-Mégantic was the site of a disastrous train wreck that resulted in the death of 47 people in July 2013.

Who is responsible for those deaths, and the lack of enforcement of the regulations for safety on Canada’s railroads?

The report released by the Transportation Safety Board on August 19, 2014 shows that Canada can have good regulations on the books, but runaway train wrecks can happen when those regulations are not enforced. MMA seems to be one of those corporations which put private profit ahead of public safety, according to what we have learned in the past year.

Enforcement of “the rules” is the responsibility of the Minister of Transport, Lisa Raitt. Has she accepted this responsibility? Yesterday Lisa Raitt said that, “The companies are expected to follow the rules.

As the Toronto Star says in its editorial, “Somehow Transport Canada let MMA operate trains carrying dangerous cargo with a single crew member, in older tankers, over a shoddy track. The question is, why?

The full editorial, called, “Asleep at the safety switch” is at:

Let’s hope that some investigative journalists delve into the question of whether Transport Canada has sufficient resources, and support from the Minister of Transport, to enforce the regulations for safety on the railways of Canada.


Lac-Mégantic (5)

Willful Blindness?


Regulatory Failures Behind the Lac-Mégantic Disaster

This report, by CCPA Executive Director Bruce Campbell details eight key ways in which regulatory failure contributed to the Lac-Mégantic disaster. It chronicles how Canada’s federal regulatory regime failed – directly and indirectly – to prevent corporate negligence, for which the citizens of Lac-Mégantic paid a terrible price.

The report calls for an independent inquiry into the disaster. Part of the challenge in preventing another Lac-Mégantic is to keep the spotlight on its root causes – corporate negligence and regulatory failure – and hold to account those responsible, including those at the highest level of the responsibility pyramid.

To read a blog post based on the report, go to:égantic

– See more at:

Water for people in Detroit

Emma Lui tells her story of bringing water to people in Detroit

NaEmma Lui and Maude Barlowtional Water Campaigner Emma Lui joined Maude Barlow and members of the Windsor chapter of the Council of Canadians to bring 1,000 litres of water – in an act of solidarity – across the Canada-U.S. border into Detroit where thousands of people have had their water shut off. The Council’s Blue Planet Project has been working with several U.S.-based groups to draw international attention to the ongoing violations to the human right to water that are happening in the city.

Read Emma’s story about the water convoy. It is a story that will warm your heart.

Refugees from Climate Change



We have begun to see the future with respect to refugee claims based on climate change.

A court in New Zealand has decided that a family from Tuvalu may be granted temporary residency. Stephen Scharper writes that, “While the ruling rested on humanitarian grounds, the Tuvalu family allegedly constitutes the first successful application for residency based in part on climate change.”

In prophetic words, Scharper also writes that, ” If climate change continues to be an acceptable reason for refugee claims under international law, those nations denying or irresponsibly contributing to climate change might find themselves outside the law.

Scharper’s column on refugees and climate change is found on the Toronto Star website at:

Northern Gateway decision and First Nations

The Hill Times
Northern Gateway decision a turning point in indigenous relations
By John Dillon

In announcing its approval for the Northern Gateway pipeline, the federal government said that Enbridge “has more work to do to engage with aboriginal groups.” This passing off of responsibility to the pipeline’s sponsor does not release the government from its responsibility to properly consult the First Nations affected.

If we are ever to achieve reconciliation and a respectful relationship with indigenous peoples, Ottawa must respect indigenous peoples’ rights to free, prior, and informed consent when resource extraction or transportation projects are first conceived, as affirmed by the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

More at:–turning-point-in-indigenous-relations/39003


John Dillon is Ecological Economy Program Coordinator at KAIROS Canada in Toronto.
Copyright: The Hill Times