Praise Queen Victoria for our right to fish

This past weekend, millions of Canadians cast a fishing line from the banks of rivers, rowed skiffs on lakes and powered vessels a few miles offshore. It was outdoor Canada in all of its magnificence, but few Canadians know that the queen is why we can fish. Even fewer know that our right to fish will be terminated in the Conservative budget bill.

With rare exception, all Canadians can fish in all tidal or navigable waters almost anywhere in Canada. Try that in Scotland and you’ll be prosecuted for trespassing. The minister of fisheries can, of course, close a fishery for conservation reasons, favour aboriginal food fisheries over public fisheries or commercial fisheries over sport fisheries or vice versa. What the minister cannot do is carve a piece off the public fishery for his friends. No minister can refuse a Canadian entrance to a public fishery because they are too old, the wrong race or too poor to have good political connections. The budget bill will change all this…

To read more please see the rest of the article here.

Kinder Morgan pares pipeline plan

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners has reduced the size of a planned expansion of its pipeline to the Pacific Coast after fewer shippers than expected signed 20-year con-tracts that would allow surging oil supplies to be shipped to Asia, the company said on Wednesday.

Kinder Morgan now plans a $4.1-billion expansion of its Trans Mountain pipeline to the Vancouver area from Alberta, increasing capacity to 750,000 barrels a day from 300,000. That is down from last month’s estimate of 850,000.

It had expected enough con-tracts to support a $5-billion project with crude production from the Alberta oilsands forecast to more than double over the next decade. But a few potential shippers it thought would sign onto the lengthy obligations had failed to obtain their boards’ approvals by the deadline, prompting the reduction, Kinder Morgan said…

To read more please see the rest of the article here.

Ontario First Nations group searches for answers in teen deaths

An Ontario First Nations group has asked the province’s chief coroner for a joint inquest into the deaths of seven aboriginal teens who left their reserves to get an education.

The Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) says all seven youths died under similar circumstances since 2000 while attending school in Thunder Bay, Ont., and a broad inquest could help bring closure to their families. NAN lawyer Julian Falconer says a lack of answers has made the community deeply suspicious of the causes of the deaths and many families are now afraid to send their children away to school.

Mr. Falconer says all First Nations should be entitled to educate their youth in high schools based in their own communities.An inquest is already underway into the 2007 death of 15-year-old Reggie Bushie, whose body was recovered from the McIntyre River in Thunder Bay. The inquest is also meant to consider the deaths of four other NAN youth and make recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths…

To read more please see the rest of the article here.

Health Minister acknowledges Northern food issues, but maintains UN criticism

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq says that when she tore a strip off a UN right-to-food envoy last week, she never meant to imply there were no hunger problems in the North. In an interview with The Canadian Press, Ms. Aglukkaq said there are indeed serious poverty challenges in her home region.

But she said she resents being told how to fix things by an outsider who has no first-hand knowledge of the North and who comes from a country that opposes the seal hunt.“

I never said that there is no hunger issue for aboriginal people,” Ms. Aglukkaq said in a phone interview from Geneva where she was attending global health discussions. “I come from there, I see it first-hand.“But I also see first-hand the impact from out of Canada, from out of the North, putting forward broad recommendations that are not helpful, that don’t recognize that we as aboriginal people continue to depend on the land for our food…”

To read more please see the rest of the article here.

15 ways to use a 450-page federal budget bill

The Conservatives’ spring budget made headlines two months ago with plans to save billions by cutting public sector jobs, speed up major industrial projects by streamlining environmental reviews and kill the penny.

But details of those and many other changes are still trickling out as Parliament picks apart the legislation meant to implement the budget’s promises.

Bill C-38 goes beyond tax and monetary measures to make major changes in dozens of policy areas, including the environment, natural resources and human resources. It seeks to amend or create dozens of laws, while repealling others entirely, and has been called an omnibus bill as a result…

To read more please see the rest of the article here.

Risk and rhetoric: No free pass for the oil industry

Listen to the rhetoric generated by questions about the risk from supertankers carrying an additional million barrels a day of heavy oil through B.C. waters and one might be persuaded that a conspiracy of Luddite dunces advocates a return to mud huts and riding donkeys to work.

Huh? How does asking for an unbiased evaluation of risk mutate into an assumed automatic veto of the use of oil?

The point is not whether we should or should not use oil – it’s whether the risks of using a particular oil resource in a particular way under particular circumstances may or may not out-weigh the claimed benefits.

Proponents of these pipelines naturally minimize the risks. And why wouldn’t they present the best possible case for their projects since they want them to proceed? But that doesn’t mean that B.C.’s public – which ultimately will pay the costs for cleaning up any major spill while the foreign-owned proponents pocket the bulk of profits and pay them out of the country – should swallow such assertions at face value…

To read more please see the rest of the article here.

UN food envoy decries ‘shocking’ conditions in Canada

Canada needs to drop its “self-righteous” attitude about how great a country it is and start dealing with its widespread problem of food insecurity, the United Nations right-to-food envoy says.

In a hard-hitting interview this week with Postmedia News, Olivier De Schutter also blasted Canada for its “appallingly poor” record of taking recommendations from UN human-rights bodies seriously.

De Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, has been on an 11-day mission to Canada, his first to a developed country.

It’s taken him to poor inner-city neighbourhoods in Central Canada, where he said he’s heard from families on social assistance who can’t afford to feed their children healthy foods…

To read more please see the rest of the article here.

Gitxsan remain divided

Opponents of the Gitxsan Treaty Society spent Monday preparing themselves for arrest. For much of the day, Gitxsan community members crowded at one end of Omineca Street before the Gitxsan Treaty Society offices while police assembled a block away.

The day had a strange character. A hot, sunny day in the north, people set up lawn chairs, visited friends and family, and wandered down the block to buy ice cream. Children played on the sidewalk, while elders sat and talked. However, beneath the conviviality of community life lay deep-seated tensions.

Although revenues from resource extraction on Gitxsan territories has long enriched government coffers, the Gitxsan remain among the poorest people in the province. For decades the Gitxsan people have struggled for recognition of their rights to their land. But within the community, there are increasing concerns that the people tasked with protecting Gitxsan territories at the negotiating tables have become disconnected from their communities…

To read more please see the rest of the article here.

Shell, Asian giants partner to build LNG plant in B.C.

Four global energy firms led by Shell Canada say they are going to develop a liquefied natural gas plant at Kitimat in a project described Tuesday by Energy Minister Rich Coleman as probably the largest single investment in B.C. history.

Shell Canada president Lorraine Mitchelmore made the announcement in Vancouver Tuesday, saying that the four partners intend to build a plant capable of exporting 12 million tonnes of LNG a year.

The Shell-led project, still in its preliminary stages, is the largest yet in a rush to develop LNG terminals in B.C. that Coleman said are expected to add $1 billion a year to government coffers and create 9,000 jobs during construction…

To read more please see the rest of the article here.

RCMP allows Gitxsan to continue illegal blockade

A blockade by members of the Gitxsan First Nation in Old Hazelton, B.C., has entered its sixth month and band members have no intention of backing down — and the RCMP says it won’t force them.

Members of the Gitxsan First Nation have camped outside the Gitxsan Treaty Society office since December because of an internal conflict over the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project.

Protesters boarded up the doors and windows and continue to refuse to allow employees to re-enter the building, despite a B.C. Supreme Court order to do so by Justice Mark McEwan…

To read more please see the rest of the article here.