Humble Dogs

That they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts. Matthew 13:15b

Archive for the tag “Canada”

Obama Can Force Oil Sands to Clean Up Their Act

Keystone XL pipeline now awaits the decision from President Obama for the go ahead.

The pipeline, when completed would carry oil sands heavy crude oil from Alberta to refineries on the Gulf Coast. It is well documented that the extraction and consumption of the oil would significantly worsen global warming and contribute to increasing overall environmental and ecological damage to a vast part of northern Canada.

Governor of Nebraska Backs Route for Pipeline
By JOHN M. BRODER
Published: January 22, 2013

WASHINGTON — The governor of Nebraska on Tuesday approved a revised route through the state for the Keystone XL pipeline, setting up a decision for President Obama that pipeline opponents say will be a crucial test of his intentions on climate change. Read more…

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Rants of a Christian Enviromentalist

I am an environmentalist. I believe all people have a role to play in protecting the environment and the eco-systems we live in. Even more so for us who claim a dedication to Christian principles. We were created by God to be stewards of all He created.

Earth

View from Space

Genesis 1: 28; And God blessed them, and God said unto them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth”.

It is that word, “DOMINION”, which means REGENCY. God granted us regency in His creation. We, mankind, are to, use the land, the seas and all God has abundantly supplied but, we are to watch over it, take care of it, and return it to Him unsullied. God has asked us to be conservationists, environmentalists, ecologists and take care of this earth. Perhaps, at least in part, it is our failure to look after this earth that the final act of the creation story is to create a new earth, one fit for His Holy Kingdom.

I will admit, I get very judgmental over environment issues, especially towards those whose authority is to look after the affairs of our Country, Province/State, or community. Yes, I am referring to politicians  I live in Alberta, Canada and I realize that even though I am retired, much of the benefits I enjoy come from the resource revenues created by the Oil Sands industry. Some call it the Tar Sands, probably a more fit name but, that is another debate.

The last thing I want in this matter is to have the Oil Sands shut down. That would serve no one. What I would like to see is proper management applied to this resource. Both the Federal and Provincial Governments know the problems with pollution, they have conducted numerous studies, they know the solutions and yet due to heavy lobbying pressure by the oil companies involved, they choose to do nothing environmentally constructive. They boast about the monies the project brings in, they spread economic fear that unnecessary meddling will create economic disaster.

What I don’t understand is why the laws to protect the environment and ecology which are already in place are not enforced over the industries involved with the oil sands.

Several months ago a government authorized study conducted by the Univ. of Alberta confirmed that pollution, directly attributed to oil sands operations, is having a detrimental effect on the environment and the ecology in a wide path, mainly east,(prevailing winds) surrounding the Fort McMurray, Wood Buffalo region. These reports were not released to the public and scientists who worked on the report were put under gag order. The report was eventually leaked by a subordinate several weeks later.

I wrote to my Member of Parliament, Blaine Calkins, on this matter and received this reply:

Dear Mr. Tilley,

Thank you for your letter concerning the recent study done by Environment Canada that confirmed the studies done by Dr. Schindler.

As Environment Canada noted in their report, the levels of containments found in the samples were consistent with contaminants that have been found in areas with no development. Consequently, Environment Canada has decided to do further tests in an effort to better understand the levels of contaminants in the Oil Sands area.

“…the levels of contaminants found in the samples were consistent with contaminants that have been found in areas with no development.” Of course they are consistent – they are the same contaminants blown there by winds coming off the oil sands.
In other words; “We will continue to do nothing.”

I also asked him about the ‘Gag Order’ muzzling the UofA scientists, he replied:

With regards to your comments about monitoring reports being kept secret, and scientists being ‘gagged’, it simply isn’t happening. The process of making reports public is not new, and has not been changed by our Government.

OK, Let’s hear from the scientists themselves after the report was leaked. Watch the following news video.

Government Hides Proof of Oil Sands Contamination
http://www.albertaprimetime.com/Stories.aspx?pd=4450

Original Air Date: Monday, November 05, 2012
The public is learning Environment Canada knew of oil sands contamination and muzzled its scientists. What fallout will those revelations cause?

We speak with David Schindler, international acclaimed and outspoken environmental biologist from the University of Alberta.

Tar Pit #3

Tar Pit #3

This week a new report was released by Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario This time the report was published directly to major news sources. This report confirms the findings of the previous UofA reports of last November.

Oil sands development polluting Alberta lakes: study 
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/oil-sands-development-polluting-alberta-lakes-study/article7014184/

Oil Sands Polluting Area Lakes 
http://thechronicleherald.ca/canada/393673-report-oilsands-polluting-area-lakes

Oil sands pollution ‘clearly evident’, government-funded study says 
http://business.financialpost.com/2013/01/07/government-funded-study-concludes-toxic-hydrocarbons-from-oil-sands-pollute-lakes/

Margaret Munro, Postmedia News | Jan 7, 2013

Leading federal and academic scientists have uncovered “compelling” evidence that Alberta’s oil sands operations have been sending toxins into the atmosphere for decades.

Industry’s role as a decades-long contributor of PAHs to oil sands lake ecosystems is now clearly evident
The team has found “striking” increases in contaminants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) at the bottom of six lakes up to 90 kilometres from the massive oil sands operations in northeastern Alberta.

PAHs began to climb in the lake sediments in the 1970s and are now up to 23 times higher than 1960 levels. It says the increased PAHs coincided with oil sands development and the compounds have a distinct “petrogenic” fingerprint different from PAHs generated by natural phenomenon like fire.

Levels of the toxins have almost tripled since the 1960s in Namur Lake, the most remote lake tested. It is about 90 kilometres northwest of oil sands operations in a provincial park known for its fishing. The PAHs are up to 23 times higher in the other lakes, which are within 35 kilometres of the oil sands operations.

“Given the planned expansion of the oil sands, the trend will likely accelerate in future,” says co-author John Smol, a Canada research chair in Environmental Change at Queen’s University.

Government and industry response is; “that many pollutants found in the lakes and rivers of northeastern Alberta are naturally occurring and leached from the bitumen deposits themselves.”

In other words; “We choose to do nothing.”

An Environmental Disgrace

The Oil Sands and Canada’s Environment

I came across this series of photos while reading an article in the Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/ They are part of the Garth Lenz’ touring exhibition, “The True Cost of Oil”, which has played a major part in the fight against Alberta Tar Sands Mining.

As a Christian, I believe that environmental protection is an extremely important part in serving God. God made us stewards of this land and all the creatures that live on it. Without a clean and livable environment life, as we know it, can’t exist.

This presentation is directed at Alberta Canada’s oil sands. The single largest source of pollution in the world. Alberta contains only 3% of Canada’s fresh water, Yet, due to oil sands mismanagement, the oil sands pollute 22% of Canada’s fresh water, almost the entire Athabaska basin.

What does environmental devastation actually look like? At TEDxVictoria, photographer Garth Lenz shares shocking photos of the Alberta Tar Sands mining project — and the beautiful (and vital) ecosystems under threat.

Here are several photos from the video presentation:

Click on photo for larger view.

Syncrude Upgrader and Oil Sands

Syncrude Upgrader and Oil Sands

The refining or upgrading of the tarry bitumen which lies under the oil sands consumes far more oil and energy than conventional oil and produces almost twice as much carbon. Each barrel of oil requires 3-5 barrels of fresh water from the neighboring Athabasca River. About 90% of this is returned as toxic tailings into the vast unlined tailings ponds that dot the landscape. Syncrude alone dumps 500,000 tons of toxic tailings into just one of their tailings ponds everyday.

Boreal Forest and Coast Mountains

Boreal Forest and Coast Mountains

Boreal Forest and Coast Mountains / Atlin Lake, British Columbia | 2001
This area, located in the extreme northwest of British Columbia, marks the western boundary of the Boreal region. On the border of the Yukon and Southeast Alaska, the western flank of these mountains descends into Alaska’s Tongass Rainforest and British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest. Far from the oil sands, the greatest remaining coastal temperate and marine ecosystem is imminently threatened by the proposal to build a 750-mile pipeline to pump 550,000 barrels per day of oil sands crude to the coast. Once there, it would be shipped through some of the most treacherous waters, virtually assuring an ecological disaster at some point in the future.

Tailings Pond in Winter

Tailings Pond in Winter

Tailings Pond in Winter, Abstract #2 / Alberta Tar Sands | 2010
Even in the extreme cold of the winter, the toxic tailings ponds do not freeze. On one particularly cold morning, the partially frozen tailings, sand, liquid tailings and oil residue, combined to produce abstractions that reminded me of a Jackson Pollock canvas.

Aspen and Spruce | Northern Alberta | 2001

Aspen and Spruce | Northern Alberta | 2001

Aspen and Spruce | Northern Alberta | 2001
Photographed in late autumn in softly falling snow, a solitary spruce is set against a sea of aspen. The Boreal Forest of northern Canada is perhaps the best and largest example of a largely intact forest ecosystem. Canada’s Boreal Forest alone stores an amount of carbon equal to ten times the total annual global emissions from all fossil fuel consumption.

Tar Sands at Night

Tar Sands at Night

Tar Sands at Night#1 | Alberta Oil Sands | 2010
Twenty four hours a day the oil sands eats into the most carbon rich forest ecosystem on the planet. Storing almost twice as much carbon per hectare as tropical rainforests, the boreal forest is the planet’s greatest terrestrial carbon storehouse. To the industry, these diverse and ecologically significant forests and wetlands are referred to as overburden, the forest to be stripped and the wetlands dredged and replaced by mines and tailings ponds so vast they can be seen from outer space.

Dry Tailings

Dry Tailings

Dry Tailings #2 | Alberta Tar Sands | 2010
In an effort to deal with the problem of tailings ponds, Suncor is experimenting with dry tailings technology. This has the potential to limit, or eliminate, the need for vast tailings ponds in the future and lessen this aspect of the oil sands’ impact.

Tailings Pond Abstract

Tailings Pond Abstract

Tailings Pond Abstract #2 | Alberta Tar Sands / 2010
So large are the Alberta Tar Sands tailings ponds that they can be seen from space. It has been estimated by Natural Resources Canada that the industry to date has produced enough toxic waste to fill a canal 32 feet deep by 65 feet wide from Fort McMurray to Edmonton, and on to Ottawa, a distance of over 2,000 miles.
In this image, the sky is reflected in the toxic and oily waste of a tailings pond.

Confluence of Carcajou River and Mackenzie River

Confluence of Carcajou River and Mackenzie River

Confluence of Carcajou River and Mackenzie River | Mackenzie Valley, NWT | 2005
The Caracajou River winds back and forth creating this oxbow of wetlands as it joins the Mackenzie flowing north to the Beaufort Sea. This region, almost entirely pristine, and the third largest watershed basin in the world, will be directly impacted by the proposed Mackenzie Valley National Gas Pipeline to fuel the energy needs of the Alberta Oil Sands mega-project.

Black Cliff

Black Cliff

Black Cliff | Alberta Oil Sands | 2005
Oil sands pit mining is done in benches or steps. These benches are each approximately 12-15 meters high. Giant shovels dig the oil sand and place it into heavy hauler trucks that range in size from 240 tons to the largest trucks, which have a 400-ton capacity.

Oil Sands Upgrader in Winter

Oil Sands Upgrader in Winter

Oil Sands Upgrader in Winter| Alberta Oil Sands | 2010
The Alberta oil sands are Canada’s single largest source of carbon. They produce about as much annually as the nation of Denmark. The refining of the tar-like bitumen requires more water and uses almost twice as much energy as the production of conventional oil. Particularly visible in winter, vast plumes of toxic pollution fill the skies. The oil sands are so large they create their own weather systems.

Boreal Forest and Wetland

Boreal Forest and Wetland

Boreal Forest and Wetland | Athabasca Delta Northern Alberta | 2010
Located just 70 miles downstream from the Alberta oil sands, the Athabasca Delta is the world’s largest freshwater delta. It lies at the convergence of North America’s four major flyways and is a critical stopover for migrating waterfowl and considered one of the most globally significant wetlands. It is threatened both by the massive water consumption of the tar sands and its toxic tailings ponds.

Tar Pit #3

Tar Pit #3

Tar Pit #3
This network of roads reminded me of a claw or tentacles. It represents for me the way in which the tentacles of the tar sands reach out and wreak havoc and destruction. Proposed pipelines to American Midwest, Mackenzie Valley, and through the Great Bear Rainforest will bring new threats to these regions while the pipelines fuel new markets and ensure the proposed five fold expansion of the oil sands.

As Chief Spence Starves

An excerpt from:
As Chief Spence Starves, Canadians Awaken from Idleness and Remember Their Roots

This message is a potent gift. So is the Idle No More movement – its name at once a firm commitment to the future, while at the same time a gentle self-criticism of the past. We did sit idly by, but no more.

The greatest blessing of all, however, is indigenous sovereignty itself. It is the huge stretches of this country that have never been ceded by war or treaty. It is the treaties signed and still recognized by our courts. If Canadians have a chance of stopping Mr. Harper’s planet-trashing plans, it will be because these legally binding rights – backed up by mass movements, court challenges, and direct action will stand in his way. All Canadians should offer our deepest thanks that our indigenous brothers and sisters have protected their land rights for all these generations, refusing to turn them into one-off payments, no matter how badly they were needed. These are the rights Mr. Harper is trying to extinguish now.

Of Lies and Democracy

Two very telling articles on http://www.ipolitics.ca

 Lying lies and the politicians who tell them 

By Paul Adams | Dec 16, 2012

In between the diplomatic deception and the outrageous, pointless lie, there is a vast array of intermediate-level cases that are more ambiguous, morally and politically.

Politicians may have a theoretical duty to be truthful to the public, but they also are engaged in a bitter contest with ruthless political opponents, vying for the attention of an often disengaged public.

In this atmosphere, politicians may present a partial or misleading version of the facts, which they regard as truthful (perhaps only technically) but others see as lies: “an economy of truth”, as Edmund Burke famously called it.

I really like the following line:

“… a storyline designed to give an intellectual pedigree to a policy adopted for tactical reasons…”

 

How Harper exploits Canadians’ ignorance of parliamentary democracy
By Frances Russell | Dec 7, 2012

Canada has the most dysfunctional and undemocratic parliament in the British Commonwealth. Canadians have been reduced to electoral democracy, not parliamentary democracy.

Democratizing the Constitution — Reforming Responsible Government, a new book by political scientists Peter Aucoin, Mark D. Jarvis and Lori Turnbull, defines electoral democracy as “a system in which the electorate decides who forms the government and the prime minister then governs as a virtual autocrat until the next election … The concentration of powers … cannot be permitted to remain in the hands of a single individual who is able to undermine democratic governance at his or her will.”

Canada should follow the lead of its sister Commonwealth countries Britain, Australia and New Zealand and codify the principles of parliamentary democracy to ensure the players — voters and politicians — understand the playbook and stay within the rules.

 

Chinese Control Oilsands

In a December 10 column, “Nexen sale decision-making seen through different prisms” Andrew Coyne asks:
“Would someone please explain just what it is they think the Chinese are plotting to do to us? Starting with: How does China acquire this death grip on the oilsands in the first place?”

Here is a possible scenario of how China does just that:

The US is in dire financial trouble and much of that is the trillions in debt they owe to and borrowed from China.

Phoenix Energy Holdings Ltd., the Canadian subsidiary of PetroChina Co. Ltd. is already in partnership with TransCanada Corp. to build a new $3-billion, 900,000 barrel-a-day Grand Rapids Pipeline System south to service the US market. Couple that with the existing pipelines, supplies the US all the oil they need. This pipeline is a guaranteed “GO” by Harper and co.

In five years, the US, under a Republican administration, will broker a deal with China which will ease the burden of debt China holds over the USA. Why not forgive a large portion of the debt? China will never collect on it anyway. Besides, they need their biggest trade customer to remain fiscally solvent.
Part of that deal is to supply the US with cheap bitumen crude from Canada which will force the barrel price of oil sands crude to below $50.
At this price, Chinese companies will be the only producers who can afford to continue oil sands operations.
In exchange for cheap Canadian oil, China will import crude oil from Alaska, also at a discounted price; better oil, shorter distance.
The Northern Gateway Pipeline through BC is started but never completed. Many investors abandon the oil sands for lack of profitability.
Golden opportunity for China to take over under Harper’s “exceptional circumstances.”
Safety will decrease, pay will decrease, exodus of Canadian workers, Chinese workers brought in as “temporary”.
New energy technology will replace majority of fossil fuels within 20 years, possibly nuclear and thermal.
Over $400 Billion projected costs to clean up after the oil sands bitumen demand runs out in 20 years.
The only promise that the Conservatives will be able to say they kept is the 20 year promise to reduce fossil fuel greenhouse gases.

Accountable Democratic Government

The Canadian electorate has become increasingly disillusioned with respective governments across Canada, both Federal and Provincial, and are becoming more and more complacent towards their elected representatives. For democracy to function as it should, something needs be done. That ‘done’ is Accountable Representation. Before defining Accountable Representation there needs to be a job description for MPs and MLAs.

There are many references to and definitions of what an MP or MLA is and does but, there is no official description defining his/her job or responsibility and accountability or to what he/she is responsible for nor to whom he/she is accountable.

Parliament passed the Federal Accountability Act on December 12, 2006. This act though, introduced by the Harper government and passed by near unanimous accent in the House has really nothing to do with accountability. It was described as, “to help strengthen accountability and increase transparency and oversight in government operations”. This act turned out to be anything but; it had no effect in making Parliament and Government accountable and in truth produced the exact opposite results. One overlying factor is that there is no penalty for not being accountable and no recourse for swift and effective action either by the electorate nor any legal authority that would hold the Government or MPs to account.

What then is accountability? Here is the definition given by the Center for Public Accountability.

“Accountability is the obligation of authorities to explain publicly, fully and fairly, before and after the fact, how they are carrying out responsibilities that affect the public in important ways. It is the obligation to report — to publicly explain intentions and the reasons, intended performance standards and whether they were met, and the learning gained and how it was applied.”

“To hold to account we need to distinguish responsibility from accountability. Responsibility means the obligation to act. Accountability means the obligation to answer for one’s actions. The accountability obligation implies overall disclosure standards that include stating the fairness rationale for proposed action, the intended achievement and how it is to be brought about, the results, and the learning gained and applied. Holding to account means getting the answers from those accountable; it does not mean by-passing the answering process and going direct to an investigation of people’s performance.”

The old adage, ‘He who pays the piper calls the tune’ must surely apply to all MPs / MLAs even to Prime Ministers and Members of Cabinet. They are all payed by the public purse and are therefore Civil Servants. The opporative word is servant, in the employ of another who holds the authority. In the case of an MP / MLA, his/her constituents.

Each and every Member of Parliament / Legislature needs then to:

  1. Meet with his/her constituency several times each year and
  2. Publicly report to his/her on a weekly basis:
  • His/her attendance in the House.
  • His/her attendance and contributions to committees,
  • Outcomes of Parliamentary committees,
  • His/her intentions on any given legislation explaining;
  • What the legislation is,
  • Why the legislation is required,
  • Who and/or what is effected by the legislation,
  • How will this legislation be effective,
  • Who will profit mostly by this legislation,
  • Who will pay the costs related to this legislation,
  • What are the main objections to this legislation,
  • When will this legislation become effective,
  • When the vote on this legislation will take place.

It is then the public’s responsibility to avail themselves of  their MP/MLA reports.

30 Ways to Ruin

I came across this article this morning while researching Parliamentary Reform. For anyone concerned about the direction their nation is headed, this is required reading. Written by Kathleen O’Hara, Journalist http://www.kathleenohara.ca/index.html for Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

30 WAYS TO DISMANTLE A COUNTRY

“Over the past decade or more, federal governments, working in co-operation with business, academic and media interests, have been transforming our relatively collectivist, sharing and democratic society into one that is individualistic, profit-driven and corporate-dominated — an unprecedented revolution.

Canadians have heard a lot about Canada being “the best country in the world.” We have been promised that the worst of the anti-deficit “healing” process is over and we will soon begin to benefit from painful deficit-reduction and restructuring. But, in reality, this country is being privatized, decentralized, deregulated and continentalized to such an extent that the tools once used to ensure fairness and equity are being destroyed.

Our country is being redesigned to serve a small, powerful elite and to fit into a financially-fluid global society, a virtually borderless world dominated by transnational corporations (about 200 giant companies already control 80 % of the world economy!) where nations are nothing more than “economies,” government leaders behave like “chief executive officers” and citizens are reduced to “clients” or “consumers.”

How have the Liberals, the Tories and the large corporations which fund them and firmly control their agendas managed to get away with this wholesale dismantling? For one thing, although Canada is an extreme case in terms of the speed of its transformation, we are not out of sync with the world. Other nations, too, are being restructured. The International Monetary Fund has a “structural adjustment” program that consists of paring down government, privatizing national assets, weakening social programs, opening up investment, and liberalizing trade. Sound familiar?

But Canada is unique. We border the most powerful nation in the world. We are vulnerable. Tearing down what makes us different politically, socially and culturally will prove fatal. The list below has been prepared to help Canadians more clearly understand what is being done in the name of cost-cutting, competition and globalization. It is not easy reading. But remember: “Knowledge is power!”
Read full article

What I find most alarming is that this paper was written in May, 1998, and political conditions are only worsening since.

Hard to Stay Conservative

In principle, most Tory voters agree with bill C-38, but, it just may be to all encompassing to be comfortable with. What is creating some suspicion is that there are virtually no columnists writing in favor or defending the budget as written. Would it not be in the Tories best interest to break the budget up into appropriate segments? As it stands, few Canadians have any inkling of what the budget contains. 600+ pages is far too much to digest.
Is this the Harper thinking? A Tory voter is a Tory voter, just get it through in one big shot, we have three years to let any criticism fade and they will vote Tory again regardless. There is very good chance many can be persuaded not to vote Tory again.
Or are the Tories making one big offensive knowing that they are most likely to lose their majority come 2015? Their debate in the House is not helping them.
To make things worse, the out-right lies and innuendo coming from the likes of Levant and Adler, just add to the suspicion that maybe the critics on the left have a point. The budget is to large. Maybe there is some curious parts to this legislation that need more time and debate.

Dominion of Canada

When Canada became an independent nation, the founding fathers adopted the title “Dominion of Canada”. The term was taken from Genesis when God said to Adam, “You shall have dominion over all of creation” God was saying to Adam, “I have appointed you to be the caretaker over the land which I have given you”. It was a vice-regency title given to Adam from God and the connotation for Canada as being part of the Realm of the British Empire.

The term “Dominion” can be traced to a suggestion by Samuel Leonard Tilley at the London Conference of 1866 discussing the confederation of five of the British North American possessions, the Provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island into “One Dominion under the Name of Canada”, the first internal federation in the British Empire. Tilley’s suggestion was actually taken from the 72nd Psalm, verse eight, “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth,” This verse is echoed in our national motto, “A Mari Usque Ad Mare. latin for “from sea to sea”

By adopting the term Dominion, the founding fathers took on to themselves and passed on to us and all generations that follow the responsibility to be caretakers of the lands, the resources and ecology, the flora and fauna, the waterways, the land and the environment. To be a member of government is to shoulder that responsibility. It was written into the name of Canada – Caretaker. We are the caretakers of this land first before all other responsibilities, the onus is on us to make sure that Canada is passed on intact and viable for all generations that follow. Not only our children, but our children’s’ children forward to all generations.

The shame for Canada is that we have slowly but deliberately dissolved our responsibilities as vice-regents, as caretakers, and now only give lip service to care taking of our lands that make up this nation of Canada. So determined to not be labeled as “Caretakers”, our governments dropped the name Dominion Day and called July 1st Canada Day instead.

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