Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

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

Respect Existence OR Expect Resistance

Enbridge Gateway Pipeline

Posted by the Council of Canadians – June 18, 2014

'No Means No' rally in Vancouver tonight against the Northern Gateway pipeline. Photo by Leila Darwish.
‘No Means No’ rally in Vancouver on June 17, 2014 against the Northern Gateway pipeline. Photo by Leila Darwish.

Blog: Harper approves Northern Gateway pipeline, June 17, 2014

Pipeline basics: The Enbridge Northern Gateway project involves two pipelines. One pipeline would ship 525,000 barrels of oil daily from Alberta to the coastal community of Kitimat. The other pipeline would move 193,000 barrels a day of condensate, which is used to dilute tar sands bitumen so it can flow through the pipelines, to Alberta.

The route: The pipelines would cross a 1,177 km path through northern B.C. including more than 50 Indigenous territories. It would cross ecologically sensitive areas including hundreds of salmon-bearing rivers and streams, the Great Bear Rainforest and mountainous and landslide-prone lands. Tankers would bring the crude through ecologically sensitive coastal waters known for being perilous, including high winds and waves.

OppositionMore than 130 Indigenous communities and First Nations have endorsed the landmark “Save the Fraser Declaration” which opposes the project based on the upholding ancestral laws, title, rights and responsibilities. Opposition to the pipeline proposal has also been expressed by the Union of BC Municipalities and Terrace, Prince Rupert and Smithers City Councils. The Council of Canadians, alongside many other social justice and environmental organizations, actively oppose the project through campaigns, events and grassroots mobilization. Public polling in B.C. demonstrates the majority of residents do not support the project.  Many suggest that opposition will include future legal battles, particularly over Indigenous rights, as well as acts of non-violent civil disobedience. There are multiple reasons why opposition to the project is strong and growing. This notably includes the pipeline’s role in helping to drive unsustainable expansion in the tar sands and the risks to the environment, subsistence livelihoods and the tourism and fishing industries from a pipeline and tanker spill. The transport of tar sands crude – bitumen – poses heightened spill risks. Bitumen is more viscous and corrosive then conventional crude oil and needs to be mixed with diluents (solvents such as naphtha and natural gas condensate) and transported at higher pressures and temperature.

Where does government stand? There is an ongoing Joint Review Panel mandated by the Minister of the Environment and the National Energy Board that is reviewing the environmental impacts of the proposed project and whether it is in the national interest. A decision is expected in late 2013. Prime Minister Harper and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver are actively promoting the project and have already stated that the project is in the national interest. Former interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae and former interim NDP leader Nicole Turmel have both raised concerns about the project, and have suggested that the NEB decision may not fully address these concerns. The Alberta government promotes the project. The B.C. government is withholding their opinion on the project until the results of the NEB review are available.

Renewable Energy Provides 6.5 Million Jobs Globally

This is a “good news story” about what is being done to assist humanity live with respect IN creation:

Press Release – 11 May 2014 

In 2013, approximately 6.5 million people were already employed in the renewable energy industry worldwide, a new study by the International Renewable Energy Agency reveals. Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2014’ underlines the important role that renewables continue to play in employment creation and growth in the global economy.

The comprehensive annual review shows steady growth in the number of renewable energy jobs worldwide, which expanded from 5.7 million in 2012, according to IRENA.

For more complete information, check out the IRENA website at:

Fracking Growth Outpacing Scientific Knowledge in Canada: Report

One of Canada’s premier scientific bodies has issued a critical report on the state of hydraulic fracturing in the nation, saying the industry has outpaced credible baseline data, scientific knowledge and necessary monitoring.

A commentary by Andrew Nikiforuk is available at:


Photo of frack fields in northern B.C. by Hayley Dunning.

Measuring progress with GDP is a gross mistake

Has the Gross Domestic Product become a god to be worshipped? David Suzuki raises questions about the validity of equating this measure with economic or social well-being.

David Suzuki Foundation

Measuring progress with GDP is a gross mistake


Governments, media and much of the public are preoccupied with the economy. That means demands such as those for recognition of First Nations treaty rights and environmental protection are often seen as impediments to the goal of maintaining economic growth. The gross domestic product has become a sacred indicator of well-being. Ask corporate CEOs and politicians how they did last year and they’ll refer to the rise or fall of the GDP.

It’s a strange way to measure either economic or social well-being. The GDP was developed as a way to estimate economic activity by measuring the value of all transactions for goods and services. But even Simon Kuznets, an American economist and pioneer of national income measurement, warned in 1934 that such measurements say little about “the welfare of a nation.” He understood there’s more to life than the benefits that come from spending money.

My wife’s parents have shared our home for 35 years. If we had put them in a care home, the GDP would have grown. In caring for them ourselves we didn’t contribute as much. When my wife left her teaching job at Harvard University to be a full-time volunteer for the David Suzuki Foundation, her GDP contribution fell. Each time we repair and reuse something considered disposable we fail to contribute to the GDP.

To illustrate the GDP’s limitations as an indicator of well-being, suppose a fire breaks out at the Darlington nuclear facility near Toronto and issues a cloud of radioactivity that blows over the city, causing hundreds of cases of radiation sickness. All the ambulances, doctors, medicines and hospital beds will jack up the GDP. And if people die, funeral services, hearses, flowers, gravediggers and lawyers will stimulate GDP growth. In the end, cleaning up the Darlington mess would cost billions and produce a spike in the GDP.

Extreme weather-related events, such as flooding and storms, can also contribute to increases in GDP, as resources are brought in to deal with the mess. Damage done by Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico added tens of billions to the GDP. If GDP growth is our highest aspiration, we should be praying for more weather catastrophes and oil spills.

The GDP replaced gross national product, which was similar but included international expenditures. In a 1968 speech at the University of Kansas, Robert Kennedy said, “Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things …Gross national product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities … and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

“Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

We deserve better indicators of societal well-being that extend beyond mere economic growth. Many economists and social scientists are proposing such indicators. Some argue we need a “genuine progress indicator”, which would include environmental and social factors as well as economic wealth. A number of groups, including Friends of the Earth, have suggested an Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare, which would take into account “income inequality, environmental damage, and depletion of environmental assets.” The Kingdom of Bhutan has suggested measuring gross national happiness.

Whatever we come up with, it has to be better than GDP with its absurd emphasis on endless growth on a finite planet.

By David Suzuki 

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Proroguing democracy in favour of pipelines

By: Clayton Ruby: Published in the Toronto Star on Sunday,  August 18, 2013

Perhaps you’ve never heard of Line 9B. A lot of very rich, mostly foreign or internationally owned interests prefer it that way.

It’s a pipeline. Enbridge’s Line 9B currently transports crude oil originating from the North Sea and elsewhere in an east-to-west direction. Enbridge has applied to reverse the pipeline’s flow west-to-east to ship heavy crude oil and bitumen from the tarsands in Alberta to eastern Canadian markets and beyond. Enbridge is also asking to increase the capacity of Line 9 to 300,000 barrels per day from 240,000 because current infrastructure is operating near capacity.

The rupture of an Enbridge pipeline near the Kalamazoo River in Michigan spilled more than 800,000 gallons of crude oil in July 2010. Canadians are worried they have no say in the decision to reverse Enbridge's Line 9B through southern Ontario.


The rupture of an Enbridge pipeline near the Kalamazoo River in Michigan spilled more than 800,000 gallons of crude oil in July 2010. Canadians are worried they have no say in the decision to reverse Enbridge’s Line 9B through southern Ontario.

Large-capacity pipelines are the primary enablers of tarsands growth. The oilsands produce about 1.8 million barrels of oil per day, but the federal and Alberta governments have approved a production increase up to 5.2 million barrels per day. Shouldn’t all Canadians have a voice in whether or under what conditions some of those barrels will be flowing through Toronto and southern Ontario?

To read Clayton Ruby’s articulate column on how democratic input from citizens is being denied, go to:

Clayton Ruby is a prominent civil rights lawyer and chair of ForestEthics Advocacy Association.

The Great Revenue Robbery

Product Details

Just after the announcement of the Harper government’s budget in 2013, Canadians for Tax Fairness published a new book on tax policy called The Great Revenue Robbery: How to stop the tax cut scam and save Canada.

There are ten contributors to this book, which is edited by Richard Swift. Their topics include:

  1. rebuilding our social programs;

  2. reducing the income gap between rich and poor;

  3. a restoration of environmental responsibility by industry and governments,

  4. and revitalizing the Canadian economy.

Thomas Walkom, who writes for the Toronto Star, is quoted as saying; “This is a welcome critique of conventional economic wisdom. If you thought tax cuts would solve all your problems, read The Great Revenue Robbery and think again.”

This book is an essential read for anyone who wishes to engage in the conversation about tax fairness in Canada.

Powerless minister in Ontario cabinet

By: Melissa Addison-Webster

Published by the Toronto Star on Wed Jul 17 2013

Anti-poverty protesters unfurl a banner and chant "Raise the rates!" from the public gallery at Queen's Park last year. (April 24, 2012)


Anti-poverty protesters unfurl a banner and chant “Raise the rates!” from the public gallery at Queen’s Park last year. (April 24, 2012)

Ted McMeekin, Ontario’s minister for community and social services, is responsible for improving social assistance. At a community consultation in Peterborough on July 3, he made two notable statements:

  • “If it were up to me, I would raise social assistance rates by a lot more than $100 a month. But it’s not up to me.”

  • “I have to tell the story in a way that will marshal the resources. And you and I have to tell our story in a better way.”

This minister seems to deny that he has the power to improve living conditions for the people of Ontario who live on the margins. If he cannot, who can?

To read the whole commentary on how helpless this cabinet minister claims to be, go to:

World Social Forum

World Council of Churches addresses mining issues 

at the World Social Forum 2013

Source: Sahat Doloksaribu

The WCC participated in the World Social Forum held at the El Manar University in Tunis from 26 to 30 March 2013, focusing on mining and other extractive industries which generate a tremendous social and ecological debt.

Together with civil society partners, the WCC organized a workshop entitled “From Eco-debt to Eco-justice: Mining, Reparations and Defending the Global Commons.”

During the workshop, Nicolas Sersiron from the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt or CADTM in France discussed the links between financial debt and extractivism: debt is forcing countries in the South, and more recently and increasingly in the North, to pursue an ecologically destructive development path based on the extraction and exploitation of natural resources.

Father Dario Bossi (Brazil), from Justiça nos Trilhos and the International Network of People Affected by Vale Mining, pointed out that in many communities, mining is being made out as the only way to survive despite its terrible ecological costs, namely, deforestation, contamination of water sources, air pollution and climate change – all of which threaten the well-being, health and lives of human and other living beings, present and future. He stressed that, increasingly, the state has failed to protect human rights as well as the rights of nature.

Rev. Suzanne Matale, representing the Christian Council of Zambia and the Economic Justice Network of the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa, called on churches to deepen community organization, research and advocacy on mining activities in their countries and regions.

Carmencita Karagdag (Philippines), coordinator of Peace for Life, highlighted the criminalization of people’s movements protecting ecology: in the last two years alone, nine ecological defenders, including indigenous leaders and church workers, have been killed for their resistance against large-scale mining in the Philippines.

Antonio Tricarico (Italy) from Re-common pointed out that reparations for ecological debt such as those accrued from mining cannot be reduced to monetary compensation, especially given the massive human rights violations involved.

Finally, Delphine Ortega (Spain) from the Observatory of Debt from Globalization proposed the use of mapping as an important tool to document as well as build critical awareness on mining and extractivism.


WSF Extractives Assembly calls for “Global Frackdown Day”

on 19 October 2013

An assembly of civil society organisations and movements working on issues around mining and extractivism was convened on the last day of the WSF. It addressed the collusion between state and extractive industries within weak regulatory frameworks leading to significant tax losses, capital flight, massive displacement, and large-scale land-grabbing for mining, oil extraction, plantations and mega-dams.

As one of the opening speakers, Athena Peralta of the WCC-Poverty, Wealth and Ecology Project, emphasized widening socio-economic inequalities in and the intensifying militarization of mining zones. She also stressed how mining and extractive activities, accompanied by heightened militarism and myriad ecological consequences, have a disproportionately heavy cost on women in the communities.

The political declaration observes, among other things, that:  “International financial institutions are encouraging extractivism as the major engine to fuel economic growth.  On the back of the financial crisis, financiers and investment bodies are looking for new areas for profitable investment, mainly financialized forms of profit making, with natural resource extraction representing a site for rapid and substantial accumulation.”

As a joint action, the assembly agreed to hold a “Global Frackdown Day” on 19 October 2013 against mining and extractivism as a destructive model of development. Organizations and movements present also agreed to conduct a mapping exercise of sites of major mining and extractive operations and people’s resistance against such activities.

Justice and Faith

Oikotree Global Forum affirms that “justice is at the heart of faith”

Source: Council for World Mission

Churches are partnering with people’s organizations and movements in order to promote justice and life under the Oikotree movement. Sponsored by the WCC, World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Council for World Mission, the Oikotree Global Forum held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 03 to 08 March 2013, brought together around 70 representatives from churches, ecumenical organizations and people’s movements to discuss critical and common concerns for joint action.

The gathering emphasized the need to step up ecumenical support for Indian people’s struggles against POSCO. POSCO is a US-South Korean company that is planning to build a multi-billion dollar steel and port project in the state of Orissa. Despite the lack of an environmental clearance, the local government is proceeding with the forceful acquisition of land for the project.  The steel mill and port will displace at least 22,000 farmers, adversely affect the livelihoods of 20,000 fisher folk, generate a water crisis in the area, harm already threatened animal species, and deplete forests where adivasis or tribal people dwell and from which they derive sustenance.  Participants from India pointed out that communities opposing the steel mill are being criminalized. Leaders are being thrown into jail, protestors attacked by armed goons, and, on 2 March 2013, three resisters were killed in a bomb attack.

Building solidarity with the struggles of peoples in Palestine against occupation, Colombia and the Philippines against militarization, and Southern Africa against poverty and inequality  also were identified by the gathering as important areas for deepening common action.

As a “movement of movements,” Oikotree will focus theological reflection, education and awareness-building, networking, research and advocacy on land issues as an over-arching theme in the next two years.  Land brings together peoples’ struggles for socio-economic, ecological justice and their links with increased militarization.

The Oikotree movement will be participating and presenting the “Global Kairos Faith Stance,” a document in progress, at the upcoming WCC Assembly in Busan, which has the theme of “God of Life, lead us to Justice and Peace.”