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. Whatever we come up with, it has to be better than GDP with its absurd emphasis on endless growth on a finite planet.
I can't imagine how it would feel after I've seen my cattle die, my daughter almost fall down the stairs because of chronic headaches and dizziness, and my family get sick to the point we had to leave our farm and move into our parents basement. And then to be told that it's not the constant tar sands emissions that are the problem, but my attitude to the oil and gas industry.
To say that rock legend Neil Young has been making waves on his ACFN 'Honour the Treaties' tour would be an understatement. His comments about the horrors of the tar sands have made front-page headlines, set social media ablaze, and have brought out more than a few attacks mostly from stalwarts of the oil industry.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs to figure out that not everyone is going to agree with him and his government's policies -- and that's okay. Rock legend Neil Young is making his way across Canada this week on a high-profile concert series in support of First Nations who oppose further expansion of oil sands extraction into their lands. Harper, through his spokesperson, responded to Young's concerns with empty talking points, reiterating that the natural resource sector remains a "fundamental part of our country's economy."Okay. Thanks Captain Obvious. Why is it so hard for the Prime Minister to speak with people who disagree with him?
For those of us who are interested in the field of conservation biology, this time of year prompts us to be more thoughtful about lists of a different kind: the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada ceremoniously completes a review of (in overly simplified terms) Canada's endangered species list at the end of each year.
When cabinet minister James Moore recently laughed about how it was not his or the government's job to feed his neighbour's children, the country rightly responded with outrage. I have always believed that if we took the well-being of children as our highest value we would begin to make decisions that improve our communities and our planet. We would stop wars (with their devastating effects on children), stop wasting finite resources and start considering long-term effects of our actions including our treatment of the environment.
The holiday season is upon us. While you're getting into the festive spirit by hanging up decorations or buying gifts for loved ones, there is chance that something not-so-festive could sneak into your home: toxic chemicals. Some of these chemicals have links to cancer, obesity, asthma, and a slew of other health problems.
Like Mr. Mulcair, Dr. Jaccard has gone down to Washington to try to shame Canada into walking away from a prospective source of prosperity and employment for the people of Canada. He does his country no service tossing around overheated rhetoric which only arms Canada's competitors and critics against her best interests.
What became apparent over the duration of the House of Commons Environment Committee meeting was that Minister Leona Aglukkaq's grasp of her file is very limited. Her responses were vague and evasive, and left my NDP colleagues and I as much in the dark on her priorities when she left as we'd been before she came. Here are a few highlights -- or lowlights, as the case may be.
Canada is blessed with some of the last vestiges of pristine nature on Earth -- unbroken forests, coastlines and prairies, thousands of rivers, streams and lakes, open skies, abundant fresh air. We are also defined by our Constitution. Our Constitution's Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives us freedom of expression, equal protection from discrimination and the right to life, liberty and security of the person. But it doesn't mention the environment. How can we fully enjoy our freedoms without the right to live in a healthy environment?
Last week, I found out that my government is spying on me, Canada ranked worst in the developed world for response to climate change, Canadians rose up against pipeline proposals all across the country, and the media reported precious little of any of it. What happened to the Canada we know and love? Where is the country that holds its head high in the world, a respected leader on human rights and environmental issues?
In my first week in 2007 as the newly-minted President and CEO of the former National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, I sat for breakfast in Toronto with a leading environmental advocate. I asked why he and his ilk were so stridently opposed to the then-new Conservative government's environmental policies. He allowed that despite good work being done on chemicals and toxics and waste issues, the government was simply not doing enough about climate change. Action here was required to get credit there. This was my first introduction to the powerful political elixir of social licence.