Browsing the archives for the Canadian Politics category.

Ottawa Citizen Declares Native Protest Horse Manure!

Canadian Politics, Civil Rights, Political Reality

The National Post chose to run a highly inflammatory opinion piece written by Christie Blatchford on Dec 27.  The next day the Ottawa Citizen’s editors decided to run the same article on the front page of their newspaper in a premier headline slot.  Most reputable newspapers reserve the front page for news and choose instead to publish commentary and opinion on the interior pages, usually near the editorial page or in a Comments section of the paper.

What is disturbing about the Ottawa Citizen’s editorial decision is that this offensive opinion piece denigrates the aboriginal spiritual practices of tobacco offerings and smudging ceremonies as “hideous puffery and horse manure”.   Why would the Citizen’s editors try to present such seemingly racist views as news?  Have they lost all journalistic professionalism?

The spiritual indigenous traditions of offering tobacco to show respect, smudging with sweetgrass & sage to purify and renew the spirit, and prayer at a Sacred Fire are no more “horse manure” than the Euro-Canadian traditions of offering gifts at Christmas, taking communion to renew the spirit, or praying at an altar in a Cathedral.  So how can Blatchford’s ridiculous pronouncement even remotely be considered newsworthy?

Incredibly, Blatchford also suggests that there isn’t enough aboriginal culture left to be worth recognizing First Nation treaty rights.   Presumably by Blatchford’s perverse reasoning, Jewish people should have abandoned their culture after the Holocaust, let alone dream of an Israeli nation.

Having abandoned both common sense and logic, Blatchford concludes her piece by insinuating that the peaceful protest by Chief Spence might somehow be perceived as  an act of “intimidation, if not terrorism”.  It would seem that Blatchford is easily frightened by democratic dissent.

This perspective marks a new low in missing the point of a situation.  First of all, the suffering of Canada’s indigenous communities has finally reached a breaking point where people at a grass-roots level simply are not going to take it any longer.  To suggest that their protests are some kind of a side-show requires an Orwellian perspective in which everything is the opposite of what it actually is.

Secondly, hunger strikes, blockades, marches onto Parliament hill appear to lead to madness (by those who fear democratic dissent) only because they are a symptom of a greater underlying madness that those protesters are trying to change.

It is a sign of governmental failure when people take to the streets in protest.  Something is broken in our social contract and the protesters are visibly calling attention to that problem by exercising their democratic freedom of expression.

When a person starts a hunger strike, willing to die rather than let the status quo continue, they are telling us that something is very seriously broken.  When that person is a leader, she is telling us that only the leaders can fix the underlying madness that is causing the problem.

So who is the terrorist?  Is it the Prime Minister for knowingly perpetuating a shameful system of colonial “governance” that promotes chronic poverty, substance abuse, abnormal youth suicide rates, and other suffering within indigenous communities? Or is it the woman sitting in a wigwam asking that Harper takes responsibility as a leader and engage in meaningful dialog to find ways to end these very serious problems?

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Prorogued or Paid?

Canadian Politics, Legislative Gaps

Dalton McGuinty’s decision to use his minority position to prorogue (i.e. suspend) Ontario’s legislature is the latest in a series of disturbing tactics by Canadian politicians that threaten our democracy.

The act of proroguing a legislature supposed to be used to end one session of a parliament so that another can be started under a new legislative agenda.

  • The new session starts with a Speech to the Throne that outlines the legislation that a government plans to bring forward during that session.
  • The session normally ends when the government has met its stated legislative objectives and needs to table a new agenda.
  • Prorogation is used to provide the time required to prepare the new agenda.

Prorogation is not intended to be used to abrogate democracy.  Both McGuinty and Stephen Harper have used loopholes in the prorogation procedure to escape public enquiry that might lead to a vote of non-confidence in their minority governments.

Just because something is legal doesn’t make it right.

The date of the next session of parliament / legislature should be announced when the previous session is prorogued.  The amount of time between sessions should be reasonable (60 to 90 days) so that a new legislative agenda can be prepared.

Unfortunately the Ontario Legislative Assembly Act does not require the date for the new session to be announced at the time of prorogation, and allows the Assembly to be suspended for up to a year.

The Ontario government doesn’t pay teachers for not teaching during the summer, or doctors who don’t see patients, so why do we pay our elected representatives for not representing us?

It’s time we closed these gaps in our democracy by amending the Legislative Assembly Act:

  • Members of the Assembly should be paid only when the Assembly is in session or is prorogued for less than 90 days.
  • The Lieutenant Governor should be required to proclaim the date of the next session at the time of proroguing the current session of the legislature.
  • In the event that a minority government requests prorogation before completing all of their objectives as declared in their most recent Speech to the Throne, the Lieutenant Governor should be required to ask the other leaders in the Assembly if they can form a government which can carry out its objectives.  Only if no other leader can form a government should premature prorogation be granted to a minority leader.

If every legislature and parliament in Canada made similar amendments, the likes of McGuinty or Harper would think twice about using prorogation to escape the democratic process.

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Ontario’s Broken EA Process

Canadian Politics, Legislative Gaps

No Checks and Balances

If the Harper government has their way, the limited responsibility of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) will be downloaded onto the provinces.  In the current budget, the federal government has already done that for all projects funded under the pork barrel commonly known as the Infrastructure Fund.

In Ontario, this means that environmental responsibility will be downloaded onto an environmental assessment (EA) process that the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario  (ECO) has outright declared as “broken”.

Ontario’s environmental protection process is broken in so many ways that a full discussion of these problems is well beyond the scope of this blog.  Instead, we will focus on arguably the most crucial issue – the almost total lack of checks and balances in the EA process.

The Ontario Environmental Assessment Act (EAA) sets out a decision-making process to be used by government ministries, municipalities, and the private sector that is intended to promote sound environmental planning.

The EAA establishes a minimum process for EAs and further defines that Classes of projects that routinely occur (such as municipal roads), can be defined by the Ministry of Environment (MoE) along with a Class EA process that such projects are to follow.

For example, the MoE decided long ago that the Class EA process for municipal projects is defined by the Municipal Class EA (MCEA) process and that the responsibility for the MCEA process was to be downloaded onto the Municipal Engineers Association of Ontario.  This is a professional association of the civil engineers who build municipal roads and infrastructure – having no expertise in ecological or natural environment matters.

Furthermore, since everyone expects that municipalities and provinical government ministries and agencies will act responsibly, the EAA  defines that Class EA projects are to be “proponent-driven”.

This puts class projects into a different league than those done by the private sector.  There are no checks on the Class process followed by a proponent, nor are there counter-balances that can be used to enforce compliance even if process irregularities are reported.  Meanwhile private sector proponents have to implement a process monitored by the MoE, creating a Do As I Say and Not As I Do situation.

This also means that provincial authorities such as the MoE and Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) have actually no authority to tell municipalities how to conduct an EA.  At best, they provide an advisory role to municipalities and, except for their role in granting various permits that may be required for a project, have no authority to tell a municipality to shape up.

For example, the MoE cannot tell the City of Ottawa that the Terry Fox Project is overdue for public consultation and is unable to compell the City to review a decade’s worth of changes to the project with the residents who will be affected by it.

The MCEA process relies entirely on the City determining, on its own, that sufficient changes to project scope or context have occured to warrant the effort of preparing an EA Addendum (which effectively restarts the EA process).

No Public Comment

Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) doesn’t help matters because, under Section 32, ministreies do not have to provide an opportunity for public comment for permits issued to implement a project that has been approved by the EAA.

This means that once an MCEA project is approved by the filing of a Notice of Completion for the EA that was done, there is only a narrow 30-day window in which it can be challenged.

Even though the project may not be implemented for years afterward, or may even be changed in scope subsequently, there is no opporuntity for further public intervention in the process.

Meanwhile a municipality can make significant changes, apply for permits, and obtain approvals for those changes all without public review and comment.  Depending on the permit application involved, there may be a limited window for comments on the application, but this is spotty and relies on public monitoring of little-known registries where these permit applications are posted.

Take the example of permits to take water.  Private-sector proposals to take water from wells, streams or lakes are posted on the Ontario Environmental Registry for public comment in case there may be concerns about significant environmental impact.  If the public continues to have concerns once a permit to take water is issued, the EBR provides the right to request an appeal.  An independent tribunal applies strict criteria to decide whether or not to grant the appeal, hears the case if an appeal is granted, or facilitates a settlement.

But if a municipality wants to take water, it is only required to go through an EAA process and no EBR notice is required.  Hence a change to a project involving the routing of a storm or sanitary sewer can be done silently after the 30-day Notice of Completion window has expired.

The public misses important opportunities to provide input on municipal water-taking approvals even though water quality and quantity issues have been of concern for many Ontarians since the Walkerton incident.

Enter The Clowns

The net result is that:

  • municipalities can and do assert that they are compliant with the EA process when often they are not.  In fact, they can make a total mockery of the process and get away with it.
  • the municipal EA process is effectively regulated by a non-governmental body having no public accountability.
  • there is no ecological natural “environment” expertise mandated in the EA process at all.
  • there are no checks on the process and even if there were, there are no balancing forces to assure the outcome intended by the EAA.
  • there is no tribunal that the public can appeal to when a municipality violates their trust.  Their only recourse is an expensive application to the court system where they will face an opponent funded by their own tax-dollars!

Is this how we want to protect our environment?

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Harper Owes Us Minimum EA Standards

Canadian Politics, Legislative Gaps

The changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA)  proposed by Harper will withdraw or limit the Federal government Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency from mandating or participating in a wide range of Environmental Assessments (EA).

Since the federal government will not require EAs on a broader range of projects, this creates a vacume of responsibility that effectively hands over more responsibility to the provinces for assuring that EAs are actually done.

While we should question the wisdom of a federal retreat on EAs, we must absolutely insist that if the government wants to retreat, then they must ensure that a higher minimum standard is in place to be enforced by other levels or branches of government.

There are many holes in the current set of provincial standards as is well evidenced by the current Terry Fox Road fiasco in Ottawa.

For example, current code of conduct for EAs:

  1. Do not require species impact assessment to be performed when species-at-risk are threatened by a proponent of a project.
  2. Do not identify hard minimium criteria for when mitigation alternatives must be considered by a proponent.
  3. Do not require that effectiveness assessment be performed for proposed mitigation measures when the are intended to protect endangered species.
  4. Do not require a proponent to specifically address the issues raised by public consultation – they only require that public consultation occurs.
  5. Do not provide a minimum standard of practice to be used when evaluating alternatives. For example, there is no requirement to prioritize criteria nor is there a required code of practice for evaluating alternatives.
  6. Do not identify hard criteria to guide the selection of scope for an EA. Existing guidance varies by province and uses woolly terms such as “project complexity” which is to be interpreted solely by the proponent.
  7. Do not require minimum criteria to ensure provincial oversight of the EA process. The Class EA process in Ontario, for example, is a proponent-driven process with little involvement from provincial authorities to ensure that it is properly completed.
  8. Do not identify hard criteria for determining when an EA Addendum is required due to changing project circumstances. As an example, the City of Ottawa took the position that it did not need to file an EA Addendum even though it’s project planned to divert the only tributary that drains a sub-watershed.
  9. Do not require proponents to publish and entertain feedback on planned environmental measures.
  10. Do not provide a basis for appeal after completion of the EA process when new information arises that contradicts the assumptions made during an EA. For example, a poorly executed study may fail to identify species-at-risk during the EA process. Subsequent discovery should be basis for appeal.

There are many, many other improvents that can be made to the EA process. If Harper wants to retreat, then he should strike a royal commission to assemble minimum standards to be left in his wake.

Please post your own suggestions for minimum EA standards.

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Why Engineering Standards For Evironmental Studies Are Needed

Canadian Politics, Legislative Gaps

Ecology Ottawa conducted an analysis of political contributions made by housing developers to Ottawa City Councillors during the last municipal election.

In total, over $121,300 was contributed to winning candidates (the study did not examine contributions to losing candidates).  Top of the list was Gord Hunter who received over 49% of funding for his political campaign from developers.

Not surprising considering that Mr. Hunter is a member of the City’s Planning & Environment Committee.  Other members of the PEC that received substantial contributions are Bob Monet (32%) and Michel Bellemare (25%).

Fortunately the Chair and Vice-Chair of the committee had the integrity to decline such donations.  However, there is nothing other than personal integrity preventing them from doing so.

The municipal planning & environment committee is the only oversight that municipal environmental studies have.  The City of Ottawa has an indepedant Environmetal Advisory Committee, however, their mandate does not include quality assurance of environmental studies.

As far as the provincial Ministry of Environment is concerned, Class Environmental Assessments are conducted on a self-assessment basis.  These are the vast majority of environmental studies and the  province only requires that they be done and that they address prescribed content  – not that they be done properly!

For example the province only requires that proponents of Class Environmental Assessments consider alternatives and document their decision making process – not that they follow any specific decision making process, or even test that they have a sound process for evaluating decisions!  This is the loophole that allowed the City of Ottawa to ignore it’s own planning criteria in evaluating alternatives for the Terry Fox Road Expansion.

Another example is that the province does not provide clear-cut criteria for measuring the impact of a proposed project.  For example, the Terry Fox Road Expansion which threatens 3 endangered species (because it cuts across a Provincially Significant wetland)  is subject to the same process as the Hazeldean Road Expansion which poses no threat to endangered species (because it occurs in a semi-urban area).

So without minimum standards governing engineering practice to be followed when conducting Class EAs, there are no checks and balances in the process – other than the checks written by developers!

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Green Party passes NDP?

Canadian Politics

Nationwide

A new EKOS poll shows that Canadian support for the Green Party is significantly higher in all regions except for Alberta, where it is holding steady.

The EKOS poll asked Canadians “If a Federal election were held tomorrow, who would you vote for?”.

Nationally, 13.4% of Canadians would vote Green, up 2.2 points. In British Columbia, Green support has jumped 6.2 points to a high of 18.5 and a similar jump of 5.1 points appears in Atlantic Canada.

Ekos January 2010 Poll

Canada (MoE 2.4)

Conservatives: 33.1 (-2.8)
Liberals: 27.8 (+1.1)
NDP: 16.0 (-1.0)
Green: 13.4 (+2.2)
Bloc Quebecois*: 9.8 (+0.6)
Undecided: 14.7


The EKOS poll would have you believe that the Green Party has now surpassed the NDP in both Ontario and Quebec.  A review of the statistics shows (sadly) that this conclusion is premature.

Provincial Details

British Columbia (MoE 7.32)
Conservatives: 34.2 (-0.8)
NDP: 25.9 (-2.9)
Liberals:  21.4 (-2.2)
Green: 18.5 (+6.2)

Note that with a margin of error of 7.32, the Green Party could place as high as 2nd in BC standings, but more than likely in 3rd place as only 1/2 of the MoE is needed to overtake the Liberals.

Alberta (MoE 8.95)
Conservatives: 61.7 (+1.0)
Liberals: 15.0 (+1.1)
Green: 13.2 (-1.9)
NDP: 10.0 (-0.4)

With a MoE of nearly 9, the Green Party could also place 2nd in Alberta on the high side and drop to a 2% last place on the low side.  Again only 1/2 MoE is necessary to take 2nd place.

Saskatchewan/Manitoba (MoE 11.55)
Conservatives: 48.6 (-4.5)
NDP: 27.3 (+6.8)
Liberals: 12.4 (-5.2)
Green: 11.7 (+2.9)

The MoE is almost the same as the entire Green score.  Both the Greens and Liberals are barely statistically significant in the mid-west.  Is this the Oil Sand’s effect skewing the Saskatchewan results?

Ontario (MoE 3.91)
Liberals: 36.0 (+2.5)
Conservatives: 35.4 (-3.6)
Green: 14.3 (+1.6)
NDP: 14.2 (-0.6)

The MoE of close to 4 indicates that the Greens & NDP are tied for 3rd in Ontario as are the Liberals and Conservatives for 1st.

Quebec (MoE 4.85)
Bloc Quebecois: 38.2 (+1.4)
Liberals: 27.5 (+2.9)
Conservatives: 14.6 (-2.7)
Green: 10.2 (+1.5)
NDP: 9.6 (-3.2)

Statistically, the Greens, Conservatives, and NDP are tied for 3rd in Quebec.

Atlantic Canada (10.82)
Conservatives: 32.6 (-2.6)
Liberals: 28.4 (-2.8)
NDP: 27.2 (+0.3)
Green: 11.8 (+5.1)

With a MoE of close to 11 the Green Party is not statistically relevant in Atlantic Canada and there is a 3-way horse race for 1st.

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Ontario Just Killed Contracting

Canadian Politics, Economic Reality

The surprise changes made to the Ontario Employment Standards Act has effectively killed the contracting option for unemployed professional or white collar staff.

Under the new changes to this law, there is no such thing as a “contractor” unless an individual works for his or her own independent consulting company.  Anyone reselling the services of another is deemed to be an employment agency and the contractor is deemed to be an employee of that agency.

This means that the “agency” must provide the “employee” with severance even if they have not been on assignment when the “employment” ends and holiday pay even if the contractor does not work on a statutory holiday!! The “agency” cannot protect themselves by charging a finders fee in the event that the client ultimately hires the contractor.  So who in their right mind would ever contract out work to an Ontario resident?

In the past, The Lanigan Group and a great many other small consulting businesses would subcontract out overflow work that they could not handle with their staff.  Often this work would go to subcontractors who more often than not were temporarily unemployed professionals.  These assignments would often help bridge that professional until they could find a full time job.  In fact, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, fully 22% of all “self-employed” persons in Ontario pursued contract work because they were in-between full time jobs.

However, the Ontario government, in their zeal to “protect” temporary employees, has now made it prohibitive for small consulting businesses to continue that practice.  Now overflow work will either be directed outside of Ontario to contractors, or to another incorporated consulting company.

Over 60% of small businesses in Ontario are sole proprietors who are unincorporated.  In fact there are 21% more unincorporated sole proprietors than paid employees in Ontario.  As a result of this new law, NONE of them have any hope of obtaining contract assignments unless they are fortunate enough to find their own contracts.

It’s difficult to see how these changes to the law help reduce the high unemployment rate in the tech sector in Ontario.  Perhaps if the Ontario government had actually taken the time to consult with industry before killing the practice of technology contracting, the economy might actually have recovered next year for those in the tech sector.

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The day the music on hold died

Canadian Politics, Economic Reality, Virtual Reality

Helping Nortel

Today Nortel became another casualty of the deepening financial crisis by filing for creditor protection.  Amazingly the Canadian federal government, fresh from extending billions of dollars of credit to the auto industry of the past, managed to scrounge up all of $30 M in credit financing for the digital industry.

What a joke.  $250 Million for GM vs $30 M for Nortel.  GM with all of 19,000 employees in Canada is smaller than today’s Nortel that weighs in with 26,000 employees (mostly in Canada) – let alone the Nortel of yesteryear that once employed 95,000 with over 20,000 in Ottawa alone. 

Perhaps the fact that our federal finance minister is the member of parliament representing the GM employees in Oshawa has something to do with the smell of conflict of interest in this.

Meanwhile, McGuinty’s Ontario government is actually bragging about how they turned down Nortel’s application for financing under the NGOF pork barrel.  But McGuinty can find easily find $8 M to create 133 jobs at some outfit called Cyclone Manufacturing – is this a way to ensure that Ontario is a global leader in anything?

When, Nortel, the largest and one of the oldest companies in Canada is in trouble, our politicians don’t give a shite.  As recently as 2001, Nortel alone was 1/3 of the entire value of the TSX.  If job creation was actually important to our provincial government, a reasonable person might expect them to consider helping companies that actually have proven that they can employ Canadians in high tax-paying jobs.

Nortel’s Legacy

The impact of Nortel on the global economy across the 115 year history of the company is impossible to count. 

Every time you pick up a touch tone phone, use digital communications of any kind, experience broadband Internet access enabled by optical technology, or DSL, or high speed wireless – you are using technology invented by Nortel.

Every time you access your bank or brokerage account online, or use your mobile phone, you are riding on one or more protocols designed by Nortel. 

The first corporate email system in the world was built by Bell Northern Research.  So was the first use of digital packet communications, high-speed fibre optic rings, etc.  These are the very foundations of the Internet.

Nortel’s impact on the tech sector extends far beyond communications.  Engineers at Bell Northern Research contributed enabling technology to the electronic design community, distributed computing, advanced man-machine interfaces such as speech recognition, visualization graphics, dignital signal processing, etc. 

Nortel’s patent portfolio extends across Wireline, Wireless, Datacom, Enterprise and Optical technologies and services.  As of December 31, 2007, Nortel had approximately 3,650 US patents and approximately 1,650 patents in other countries. In fact Nortel has consistently ranked in the top 70 in terms of number of granted U.S. patents since 1998. 

Nortel has received patents covering standards-essential, standards-related and other fundamental and core solutions, including patents directed to CDMA, UMTS, 3GPP, 3GPP2, GSM, OFDM/MIMO, LTE, ATM, MPLS, GMPLS, Ethernet, IEEE 802.3, NAT, VoIP, SONET, RPR, GFP, DOCSIS, IMS, Call-Waiting Caller ID and many other areas.  The term “standards-essential” means that the technology would not be viable without the contribution of Nortel’s engineers.

My own career at Nortel was relatively brief, but in the less than 10 years that I was there I personally witnessed meetings where Nortel’s engineers educated IBM, HP, Intel, Cadence, Mentor Graphics, Microsoft, and a hundred other companies on advanced technology.  The spin off impact of those meetings alone on the tech industry was incalcuable.  Intel actually modified silicon designs, HP introduced new products, and Cadence & Mentor acquired new technology to rev up their revenues.  These were non-patent related discussions.

Nortel was the largest spender on R&D in Canada through both direct investment in its own labs and through leveraged investment in university interaction.  Literally thousands of doctoral degrees in Canada were made possible though collaborative research with Nortel over the years.  Even the scaled back Nortel of today spends more than 1/3 of its salaries on R&D jobs for Canadians.

Yet McGuinty is proud of denying Nortel’s call of distress?  Shame on him.

Broken Backs

We get what we vote for.  Our politicians both federally and provincially have demonstrated that they would rather prop up the resource sucking industries of the past than enable a modern Canadian economy of the future.

The fact that the digital economy can create more numerous, more interesting, and higher paying jobs for Canadians compared to the back-breaking and mind-numbing jobs of the resource and manufacturing sectors is completely lost on our politicians. 

Perhaps it is because we elect lawyers and not engineers to parliament?

Is the real problem with Canadian voters who sleepwalk their way to the polls if they bother to vote at all? Do Canadian parents not care about the quality of jobs that will be available for their children? 

Why do we tolerate this ineptitude from our politicians?

Yes Nortel’s management laid the seeds for its destruction.  John Roth in particular is to blame, as is his successor Frank Dunn who is now facing charges for misleading shareholders and gross stupidity. 

Nonetheless, allowing Nortel to die is the wrong policy decision for both the Canadian economy and the high technology sector of Canadian industry.  Write your MPP and MP and give them a shake!

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Forget GM, Save Dokie

Canadian Politics, Climate Change

Credit Threat

The global financial crisis has forced Canada’s largest wind energy project in northeast B.C. to seek court protection, in order to hold off creditors who are looking to recover $131 million in debt.   Despite the fact that the Dokie wind energy project has a high credit rating (S&P: AA+, Moody’s: Aaa, DBRS: AA(high)), the project ran into trouble when its developer, EarthFirst Canada Inc. announced recently that it needed creditor protection.

The company’s press release stated that “EarthFirst’s efforts to pursue strategic alternatives has been severely hindered by the unprecedented crisis in the global financial markets which has impacted on EarthFirst’s ability to raise financing or to complete a sale of the company”.

EarthFirst Canada is important because its alternative energy projects represent 25% of Canada’s pipeline of new wind energy projects through 2015.  If EarthFirst is allowed to fail, Canada’s ability to generate new jobs by meeting Kyoto targets will be seriously at risk.

In fact, the collateral damage caused by the global financial crisis has put all major capital projects at risk. Since every single new alternative energy project is a major capital project that requires significant lending, many of these important projects, like Dokie, are now at risk.

Rather than suspending Parliament, our country would be better served by immediate government action to provide federal loan guarantees for these alternative energy projects!

About Dokie

Dokie Ridge is located on the Rocky Mountain foothills of the Peace River region  near the mountain spine that runs the length of North America. It’s location is one of the top-ranked wind resources in Canada.  The Dokie Project is located approximately 150 kilometres southwest of Fort St. John and is adjacent to the existing 500 kV and 230 kV transmission lines which originate at the Bennett Dam.

Where is Dokie Ridge?

The Dokie Wind Energy project is already under construction on Dokie Ridge after winning a 20-year power purchase agreement with BC Hydro in 2006. The project has obtained an Environmental Assessment Certificate, completed its engineering design, as well as First Nations and community review. The Dokie Project is structured in 2 phases: Dokie I will produce 144 MW followed by Dokie Expansion which will generate a further 156 MW for a total of 300 MW of green power.

By comparison, the next largest project in Canada is the 100 MW Anse-a-Valleau project in Quebec.  All the wind energy projects in Alberta currently total only 524 MW, Ontario’s total only 491 MW. 

The Dokie Project significantly adds to Canada’s wind energy output as it would be 30% of the total of Alberta and Ontario combined!

Global Comparisons

Europe was the first to embrace wind energy and now dominates the wind energy industry globally, with over 48,545 MWs or 65% of total global installed windpower capacity in 2006 according to Global Wind Energy Council.  Within Europe, Germany and Spain have been the largest producers.

Germany had 20,622 MW of installed windpower capacity at the end of 2006, which accounted for approximately 6% of that country’s total power consumption.

Spain had 11,615MW installed windpower capacity at the end of 2006, which accounted for approximately 9% of its total power consumption.

North America accounted for 13,062 MWs in 2006 which represents less than 1% of total power consumption.  The USA expanded its wind energy production by 45% in 2007 and currently produces 16,818 MW of power from wind.

GWEC reports that Canada has 1,846 MW of wind energy production in 2007.  As shown below Canadian provincial electrical utilities are currently seeking to commission 10,000 MW installed windpower capacity by 2015. 

Planned Wind Energy In Canada

EarthFirst Canada represents 2,500 MW or 25% of this total and Dokie is it’s leading project.  Dokie alone would add 16% to Canada’s current wind energy generation capacity.

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NonTraditional Governments In Canada

Canadian Politics

Coalitions

Coalition History In Canada:

1867 – John A MacDonald (National) Conservative-Liberal

1867 – John S MacDonald (Ontario) Conservative-Liberal

1878 – John A MacDonald (National) Conservative-Liberal

1891 – John Abbott (National) Conservative-Liberal

1917 – Robert Borden (National) Conservative-Liberal

1920 – Arthur Meighen (National) Conservative-Liberal

1926 – Arthur Meighen (National) Conservative

1931 – John Bracken (Manitoba) Progressive Conservative

1940 – John Bracken (Manitoba) Conservative Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF)

1941 – John Hart (BC) Liberal & Conservative Coalition

1949 – Ingemar Johnson (BC) Liberal & Conservative Coalition

1985 – David Peterson (Ontario) Liberal NDP Coalition

1989 – Roy Romanow (Saskatchewan) Liberal – NDP

Note that 10 out of 13 involved leaders from the Conservative party.

Non-Elected Federal

There have been 12 designated Prime Ministers in Canada, half of which were Conservative:

      1873 – Alexander Mackenzie – Liberal

      1891 – John Abbott – Conservative-Liberal

      1892 – John Thompson – Conservative

      1894 – Mackenzie Bowell – Conservative

      1896 – Charles Tupper – Conservative

      1920 – Arthur Meighen – National Liberal & Conservative Party

      1926 – Arthur Meighen – Conservative

      1948 – Louis St. Laurent – Liberal

      1968 – Pierre Trudeau – Liberal

      1984 – John Turner – Liberal

      1993 – Kim Campbell – Conservative

      2003 – Paul Martin – Liberal

John Abbott and MacKenzie Bowell were non-elected Senators while Charles Tupper and John Turner were never elected as an MP.

Non-Elected Ontario

There have been 15 designated Premiers of Ontario:

1867 John S MacDonald – Liberal-Conservative

1872 Oliver Mowatt – Liberal

1896 Arthur Hardy – Liberal

1899 George W Ross – Liberal

1914 William Hearst – Conservative

1930 George Henry  – Conservative

1942 Gordon Conant  –  Liberal

1943 Harry Nixon  – Liberal

1948 Thomas Kennedy  – Conservative

1949 Leslie Frost  –  Conservative

1961 John Robarts  – Conservative

1971 Bill Davis  – Conservative

1985 Frank Miller  –  Conservative

1985 David Petersen  – Liberal

2002 Ernie Eves  – Conservative

Non-Elected Quebec

There have been 22 designated premiers of Quebec:

1873 Gédéon Ouimet – Conservative

1874 Charles Boucher de Boucherville – Conservative

1878 Henri-Gustave Joly de Lotbinière – Liberal

1879 Sir Joseph-Adolphe Chapleau – Conservative

1882 Joseph-Alfred Mousseau – Conservative

1884 John Jones Ross – Conservative

1887 Louis-Olivier Taillon – Conservative

1887 Honoré Mercier – Parti National

1891 Charles Boucher de Boucherville – Conservative

1892 Louis-Olivier Taillon – Conservative

1896 Edmund James Flynn – Conservative

1900 Simon-Napoléon Parent – Liberal

1905 Lomer Gouin – Liberal

1920 Louis-Alexandre Taschereau – Liberal

1936 Adélard Godbout – Liberal

1959 Paul Sauvé – Union Nationale

1960 Antonio Barrette – Union Nationale

1968 Jean-Jacques Bertrand – Union Nationale

1985 Pierre-Marc Johnson – Parti Québécois

1994 Daniel Johnson – Liberal

1996 Lucien Bouchard – Parti Québécois

2003 Bernard Landry- Parti Québécois

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Are Coalition Governments Undemocratic?

Canadian Politics

Harper’s Record
On Sept 9, 2004 while he was Leader of the Opposition, Harper wrote to the Governor General and requested that, should the minority Liberal government fall, before calling an election that the GG grant him and the Bloq the opportunity to form a Coalition Government!

September 9, 2004
 
Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson,
C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.
Governor General
Rideau Hall
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A1
 
Excellency,
 
As leaders of the opposition parties, we are well aware that, given the 
Liberal minority government, you could be asked by the Prime Minister 
to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons 
fail to support some part of the government’s program.
 
We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together 
constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We 
believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give 
you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the 
opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising 
your constitutional authority.
 
Your attention to this matter is appreciated.
 
Sincerely,
 
Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
Leader of the Opposition
Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada
 
Gilles Duceppe, M.P.
Leader of the Bloc Quebecois
 
Jack Layton, M.P.
Leader of the New Democratic Party

So why was a coalition government good enough for Harper then but suddently is an undemocratic thing to do now? … could it be that it is because he is a self-serving liar who would divide this country and cause a political crisis just so he can cling to power??

Harper’s Mandate
Nearly 2/3 of Canadians actually voted against Harper’s government in the last election.

In fact, 170,000 FEWER Conservatives voted for him.

Yet due to the lack of proportional representation in the House of Commons he managed to obtain 20 more seats – yet still has a minority of the seats.

So why should he be allowed to prorogue Parliament and govern like a King without opposition?

Harper’s Lies

Stephen Harper’s lies about the Coalition are getting more and more divisive.

He lied when he said “Here we have these three parties signing a document, and they wouldn’t even have a the Canadian flag behind them! They had to be photographed without it, because a member of the coalition doesn’t even believe in the country.”

 Canadian Flag Clearly Evident

He lied when he said that it includes the Separatists in the Coalition.  In fact, the Coalition is between the NDP and the Liberals with the support of the BQ and the Green Party.

He lied when he said that it is something that he would never work with the BQ.  In fact, he relied on the BQ to bail him out in 40 non-confidence votes during the last 2 years.

He lied when he used a different speech in English than in French on Dec 4 referring to “separatists” in the highly provocative English speech while cowardly using the term “souverainiste” in the French speech 5 minutes later.  Harper knows full well the difference in the two terms when used in French in Quebec. 

Separatist has a distinctly negative connotation that focuses on the division of Canada, while sovereigntist has a postitive connotation that focuses on promoting independence without necessarily damaging Canada.  As in Sovereignty-Association.

He lied when he claimed that his economic statement contained new initiatives to support the economy.  In fact all he did was summarize intiatives already announced in prior budgets.  There was nothing new other than an attack on pay equity for women.

Finally he lied when he said that our oldest democratic traditions dating back 141 years were based on electing a government.  In fact our parliamentary tradition was started by a coalition government in the 1860s and is based on electing members to the House of Commons who are responsible for forming a government based on a majority of members.  Our country has subsequently had several coalition governments both federally and provincially.

The real question is how can Harper claim that proroguing Parliament is a democratic act?

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Consumer Vs Conserver Society

Canadian Politics, Climate Change

Consumer or Conserver
In September 1977 the Science Council of Canada wrote a landmark document, “Canada As A Conserver Society” [Report No. 27], that brought into focus for the first time our choice to be either a Consumer or Conserver Society. This report outlined how we should recognize the total cost of our wanton consumption of energy, the imperative of respecting the capacity of our biosphere, and laid the policy foundations for what we should do about it.

Also in 1977, the Canadian dept of Energy, Mines, and Resources published “An Energy Strategy for Canada” that mapped out the detailed policies necessary for energy self-reliance and environmental sustainability. For example the report identified the prime importance of appropriate energy pricing to cause shifts in consumption patterns. (Today this same concept has resurfaced as “carbon taxation”. )

Other innovative policy imperatives identified in this report included:

  • energy conservation,
  • interfuel substitution,
  • increased R&D stimulus for sustainable energy, and
  • greater Canadian content and participation in natural resource development.  This last policy led to the creation of Petro Canada as a policy implementation vehicle.

These concepts vaulted Canada into a leadership position internationally on this topic.  These ideas were widely reported and many young people, including myself, went “Green” and initiated Conserver Society practices such as recycling, re-use, repair, re-purposing, etc. 

For example, the first community paper recycling project in Canada was launched by a volunteer group of Queen’s students in Kingston in the winter of 1978 (for which I have the honour of knowing and the privilege being one of those volunteers).  This project was ultimately transferred to the City of Kingson and is now commonplace in virtually every municipality in Canada.  The Recycling Council of Ontario was also born in 1978 as were similar recycling initiatives in Toronto and other cities.

But these initiatives were not enough to change our society into a Conserver Society.  Although Canadians started re-cycling (e.g. 1/2 of the paper in Canada is currently recycled), and we did a better job of insulating our homes, we only reduced the trajectory of our energy consumption.  We did not fundamentally change it.

Today

30 years later, according to ”Key World Energy Statistics'” from the International Energy Agency 2006, North America with 5% of the world’s population consumes 33% of the world’s resources.

IEC 2006 Energy Consumption Per Capita Emissions

Notice Canada’s embarassing position at the far right of the graph. Nobody else consumes as much energy as we do per capita!

If every other person on the planet consumed on a per person basis as much as we do, we’d need another 3 planets to provide for that consumption!

National Comparisons

This consumption translates directly into greenhouse gas emissions. The chart below shows the outrageous per capita CO2 emissions of Canada and the USA relative to the rest of the world.  Thanks to our resource-intensive industries, we rank along with Australia and Saudi Arabia among the world’s worst polluters.  Notice that most European countries are significantly less egregious emitters of CO2.

World Bank 2002 Per Capita Emissions

Canada’s Track Record
As Canadians we have nothing but shame. Our track record relative to the promises we made to the international community when we signed the Kyoto Accord is not very pretty as illustrated below.

United Nations Environment Protection Agency

Our recent election proved that politicians to not lead change, they respond to popular opinion. We must change popular opinion first and become embarassed enough to get out of our comfy chairs.

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A Carbon Tax Is Inevitable

Canadian Politics, Climate Change

Canadians emit an average of 19 tons of CO2 per person per year compared to 8 in the UK and even less in Scandinavia. A cap and trade system will limit the growth of CO2 emissions but it will not really help diminish them very quickly.

Cap & Trade

This is because all cap & trade systems are based on limiting growth in emissions above their current level – forcing companies to become more emission efficient if they are to grow. If a company cannot reduce emissions faster than they intend on growing, then it must trade to get credits that another company is able to generate via “excess” reductions in their reduction program.  The idea is to progressively lower the cap over time, and this clearly takes a while to bring emissions down.  For example the European Union has had a cap & trade system in place for nearly 30 years but only 2 of 25 countries actually have cap limits below historical levels!

Since a cap & trade system is based on limiting the quantity of emissions, the value of the credits is largely determined by how fast the cap is reduced.  If the rate of quantity reduction is too high, not enough credits can be generated to be traded and the cost of compliance soars.  On the other hand if the rate of cap reduction is too slow, then the value of the credits are too low to be worth obtaining.

It is well known and widely accepted that current levels are too high. In fact Kyoto is all about reducing emissions by 6% below the 1990 level. Without effective government leadership, Canada is now running 22% above our 1990 level – a full 28% off target.

Carbon Tax

The main alternative to a cap & trade system is a carbon tax.  This essentially fixes the price of compliance at a known level and corporate environmental impact planning is significantly clearer.  The downside is that companies could choose to absorb the tax as a cost of doing business if it is not high enough – thereby resulting in insufficient reduction in emissions.

It is inevitable that Canada and the USA will impose a carbon tax since it is the only proven way to make any real progress on diminishing CO2 emissions. It has worked in other countries (without killing their economies) and it can work here.  For example, the European Energy Agency estimates that the EU-15 has spent approx 1-2% of its GDP annually on environmental protection measures since 2001 and all those countries realized GDP growth rates equal to or higher than Canada and the USA during this decade.

Inevitability

The fallacy of so-called “intensity-based” targets is evident in any chart that shows whether progress is being made or not relative to Kyoto commitments. Since the USA did not sign Kyoto, only Canadian data is available from official sources as illustrated below:

United Nations Data

So if intensity-based targets are meaningless, and if we have to do something about this intolerable situation sooner rather than later, we need a real mechanism for reduction.  Carbon taxes can work and can also be used in combination with a cap & trade system.  In fact in Europe, more and more countries are adding some form of carbon tax into their national policy for emission reductions as a means of accelerating compliance under the EU-wide cap & trade system.

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