"A federal infrastructure fund aimed at fixing up arenas and community centres was spent disproportionately in ridings represented by Conservative MPs, a Globe and Mail analysis shows, as the governing Tories prepare to roll out a nearly identical fund in the months before the fall election.
Ridings that elected Conservative members of Parliament in 2011 received, on average, 48 per cent more money from the $150-million Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund than ridings that elected opposition MPs, a Globe tally of more than 1,600 projects across Canada shows.
Under the program, on average, Conservative ridings received $561,332 and had six projects funded. Opposition ridings, on average, received $379,337 and had four projects."
A plan to erect a 10-storey statue in a national park on one of Canada’s most scenic shorelines has prompted outrage and sparked a growing political row as the country heads towards a general election this fall.
The statue of Mother Canada – a cloaked female figure with her arms outstretched towards the Atlantic Ocean – is intended to honour the country’s soldiers who died overseas.
But growing anger over the plan has made it a new focus of opposition to the increasingly unpopular government of Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper.
The proposed monument is an awkwardly remodelled, vastly upscaled version of an earlier statue, known as Canada Bereft, which adorns the memorial to the country’s first world war dead near Vimy, France.
The design has been widely lambasted both for its design and its proposed location in Cape Breton Highlands national park. In an editorial this week, the Globe and Mail newspaper described it as “offensively tasteless” and a “hubristically arrogant act of arrogant unoriginality”.
“The bigger-is-better approach to art is best left to Stalinist tyrants, theme park entrepreneurs and insecure municipalities hoping to waylay bored drive-by tourists,” the paper wrote.
The project is the brainchild of Toronto businessman Tony Trigiani, who was inspired after a chance visit to a Canadian war cemetery in Italy and set up the Never Forgotten National Memorial Foundation to realise the plan.
FORT MCKAY FIRST NATION — When Melinda Stewart grew up in Fort McKay she used to fall asleep to the sounds of the frogs croaking outside.
Now, Stewart puts her children to bed to the pre-recorded sounds of frogs and nature so that they don’t have to listen to the continuous booming from the nearby tailings ponds.
“Now, my children, that’s what they’re used to, listening to cannons going off all night,” said Stewart.
She fears that one day her children will become “textbook Aboriginals” because their homelands are disappearing. Tears well up in her eyes as she expresses her lament over the destruction of the environment caused by oil sands activity.
“I think in 50 years, our children are going to learn from a textbook how to be native. When I take my children hunting or fishing, if there’s something nice, I tell them to take a picture because when we come back it might not be there…”
The insecticide lindane causes cancer in humans, says the World Health Organization after conducting a review. A specialist panel found sufficient evidence to link the chemical, already banned in the EU and the US, to a cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Lindane is still used in some developing countries. And it is an ingredient in some head lice and scabies treatments used in some countries, including China, India, the US and Canada.
Control. I could feel it bearing down on me the second I stepped through the gates and presented my accreditation to a guard inside the booth that marked the entrance to Harperstan.
I was now inside the hulking complex of the Toronto Transit Commission and its sprawling web of warehouses and garages on Bathurst Street that, to accommodate a press conference, had been transformed into the type of militarized zone beloved by Harper— complete with police officers and guards from the PM’s own security detail, out in force to prevent anyone from straying off track.
I was tasked with finding out more about Conservative Senator Don Meredith, his illicit relationship with a teenage girl, and what vetting process the PM had used to select him for a senatorial role.
My inquiries were, superficially at least, quite unrelated to Harper’s official reason for being in Toronto on June 18 alongside with Finance Minister Joe Oliver and Mayor John Tory. Harper and Oliver had come to Toronto with a campaign-trail pledge to offer funding for improving public transit in Toronto— up to one third of $7.8 billion in ‘SmartTrack’ funding.
But Senate scandals and infrastructure investments will be only two of many factors that decide the outcome of the Oct. 19 federal election.
“This way please,” a police officer said, directing reporters from the front booth across a paved lot to a desk manned by an attractive blonde staffer, who handed out press tags and vetted our questions.
Next, journalists were directed into a holding area set up in the TTC workers’ canteen, where I caught a whiff of fish and chips from the kitchen area.
OTTAWA - Two years after they first made the commitment, the Conservatives are finally introducing a renewed crackdown on drunk drivers — but the new measures aren't about to become law any time soon.
As one of his final acts as justice minister, Peter MacKay on Tuesday introduced the Dangerous and Impaired Driving Act, a bill that reforms transportation-related offences including those relating to impaired driving.
"We are sending a strong signal to those who choose to drive impaired that this behaviour is not only unacceptable, but is also creating a serious risk to public safety and putting everyone on the road at risk," MacKay said.
Since taking control of the Prime Minister’s office in 2006, Stephen Harper’s government has waged a legislative war on scientists whose research stands in opposition to his government’s political and economic objectives.
The provincial government has asked the federal Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to stay out of the environmental review process of a controversial jetty that could bring in more than 120 liquefied natural gas tankers up the Fraser River.
In a letter, provincial environmental assessment associate minister Kevin Jardine asks CEAA president Ron Hallman to allow B.C.'s environmental assessment of the project substitute the federal one, in case the CEAA determines a federal evaluation is needed.
CEAA has until July 6 to make a decision on whether it will be involved.
If the substitution is approved, the B.C. environmental assessment office would conduct a single process that meets both federal and provincial requirements. The B.C. and federal governments would then make separate decisions on whether to approve the project. Federal presence needed to look out for Fraser River's wild salmon
For MP and fisheries and oceans critic Fin Donnelly, the letter raises alarm bells. He says the risks associated with the project call for federal involvement in the evaluation process.
Move over Duffy diaries. There’s a new black book in town.
That’s the detailed work journal of B.C. Ministry of Environment senior official Frazer McKenzie, which recounts conversations between ministry officials and Rio Tinto Alcan while the company was applying for a permit to increase aluminum production at its Kitimat smelter.
“Frazer McKenzie was a diligent and thorough employee. He documented ongoings with Rio Tinto Alcan within government that we’d otherwise never know about,” lawyer Chris Tollefson told DeSmog Canada.
During the application process, Rio Tinto Alcan financed McKenzie’s position at the Ministry of Environment through a secondment agreement and government officials repeatedly refer to the company as a “client.”
DeSmog Canada has learned this parlance has become commonplace between ministry officials and industry. Indeed, much of what occurred in the Rio Tinto Alcan case appears to be standard operating procedure.
McKenzie's journal — made public due to an appeal — offers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of B.C.'s Ministry of Environment.
The ministry has argued that it agreed to allow the company to fund McKenzie’s position because of concerns there would be “inadequate staffing to deal with the application” otherwise. Such arrangements with industry are not entirely unusual due to chronic underfunding.*
Rio Tinto Alcan’s application, which was approved by B.C. in 2013, granted the company the right to increase sulphur dioxide emissions in the Kitimat airshed by 56 per cent.
"In major addresses to the Montreal Board of Trade and Toronto’s Economic Club of Canada, Thomas Mulcair will pledge an NDP government to reviving Canada’s flagging manufacturing sector.
Voters might be expected to shrug off such claims from a party of social democrats. But with the NDP surging in the polls, Mr. Mulcair has a clear shot at becoming prime minister, if he can reassure voters who worry about letting New Democrats manage the national economy.
The two speeches – in Montreal Thursday and Toronto next Tuesday – aim to allay those fears.
According to a senior party official speaking on background, Mr. Mulcair will rebut Conservative claims that they are reliable stewards of the economy by pointing to weak economic growth, pessimistic forecasts and higher-than-comfortable unemployment levels."
A document recently released under Canada's access-to-information law reveals that Canadian government officials have been aware of the proliferation of contaminants associated with tar sands mining even as they continues to promote industry expansion with minimal regulation. The January 2015 briefing note, prepared forNatural Resources Minister Greg Rickford, discusses findings from a tar sands monitoring report published in December 2014 describing dangerous concentrations of iron and cadmium in Alberta's wetlands and of phosophorous and nitrogen in the Athabasca River. In addition, increased concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in the toxic tailings ponds near tar sands strip mines are raising PAH levels in the atmosphere, which can lead to human health concerns like DNA damage and impaired development. The briefing note also highlights serious declines in species that rely on old forest habitat, which has been decimated by mining operations. Yet even with the knowledge furnished by this briefing note, the Canadian government has continued to promote the expansion of the tar sands industry, particularly through its support for tar sands pipelines like Keystone XL and Energy East.
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) just released its Executive Summary Report on their inquiry into Indian Residential Schools finding that in Canada’s dealings with Indigenous Nations, it had engaged in a form of genocide and made 94 recommendations for action.
How to encourage Canadians to boost their savings is shaping up as a key issue for the fall election, as the left-leaning Broadbent Institute takes aim at the Conservatives’ expansion of tax-free savings accounts.
The institute is releasing an in-depth report Monday by Simon Fraser University professor Rhys Kesselman that argues new data prove the increase will benefit high-income Canadians more than previously understood.
Study bolsters arguments against more tar sands exploitation
FRISCO —A new study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory will add fuel to controversy over development of tar sands oil.
The analyis shows that gasoline and diesel refined from Canadian oil sands release about 20 percent more carbon into the atmosphere over its lifetime than fuel from conventional domestic crude sources.
The research, which was conducted in collaboration with Stanford University and the University of California at Davis, shows some variability in the increase of greenhouse gas, depending on the type of extraction and refining methods.
OTTAWA - Three elections. Three cheats. One party leader.
We’re talking about the Conservative Party of Canada and its leader, the incumbent prime minister now actively seeking re-election, Stephen Harper.
For three elections in a row, a judge determined that a Conservative or the party itself cheated. And there could be more.
In 2006, top party officials along with the party itself were accused of cheating in a complicated scheme to skirt spending limits on the national campaign. This was the so-called in-and-out scandal.
The charges against party officials were dropped but the party itself pleaded guilty to exceeding election spending limits and submitting fraudulent election records. A fine of more than $230,000 was paid.
In 2008, it was a Conservative MP, Dean Del Mastro, who would play the role of Conservative cheater. Del Mastro was convicted last November on three counts of violating Canada’s election laws, also having to do with spending limits. This week, a judge sentenced him to a month behind bars, another four months of house arrest, and a $10,000 fine.
Del Mastro is appealing and on Friday was released from jail on $5,000 bail until that appeal is heard.
In 2011, it was a Conservative campaign worker, Michael Sona, who was convicted of cheating in the Ontario riding of Guelph. His crime involved robocalls in an effort to prevent people from voting.
Also alleged to have cheated in 2011: The campaign of former Conservative MP Peter Penashue, where there are yet more charges of campaign overspending and attempts to hide those infractions after the fact. The trial of Penashue’s campaign manager continues in August.
On June 25, in Manitoba’s remote community of Norway House Cree Nation, 500 kilometres north of Winnipeg, the 33 Grade 12 students at the Helen Betty Osborne Ininiw Education Resource Centre graduated with their high school diplomas.
Helen Betty Osborne, a Cree from Norway House, would have been 63 if she were alive, perhaps principal of the school – her ambition was to be a teacher and she had moved west to The Pas to complete her secondary school education (there was then no high school in Norway House) and prepare to enter a teacher-training program.
Instead, on Nov. 13, 1971, at age 19, she was abducted by four young, white men on a street in The Pas, raped and murdered with a screwdriver.
It took 16 years before the RCMP, under intense pressure from the province’s native people, implicated her killers. Only one was ever convicted. A provincial aboriginal justice inquiry concluded that racism, sexism and indifference stained the police investigation from its outset. The RCMP finally closed the case on Feb. 12, 1999. The Helen Betty Osborne Ininiw (the Cree word for “people”) Education Resource Centre opened in 2004.
A majority of Canadian business leaders believe the economy is too dependent on the oilsands and other natural resources, according to a new survey.
Nearly two-thirds of Canadian executives polled —including about 60 per cent of Albertans surveyed — said they believe the country should be less reliant on resources. They think Canada should invest more in technology and innovation in sectors such as aerospace and clean energy, according to the latest quarterly C-Suite Survey.
About half of all respondents said the country relies too heavily on Alberta’s economy and its natural resources.
There's little more than a weeded-over parking lot and shuttered doors now at the old Freightliner truck factory in St. Thomas, a small town about a 30-minute drive south of London, Ont. It wasn't that long ago that the site was a hive of activity and a centre for manufacturing in Canada.
But in 2008, German automaker Daimler closed the shop and moved production to greener pastures elsewhere, part of a $600-million cost-cutting plan that saw 1,400 people thrown out of work.
It was a cliffhanger of an outcome – in a critical election between two candidates from opposite ends of the medical spectrum.
Dr. Alan Ruddiman garnered 945 votes, but Dr. Brian Day got one more, at 946.
And then, miraculously, in a recount, a single overlooked vote was found. And that single vote went to Dr. Ruddiman, which led to an exact numerical tie.
As a result, the organization that Drs. Ruddiman and Day aspire to lead — Doctors of BC — has decided to run the election again (a third candidate who attracted fewer than 300 votes has been eliminated).
Most doctors in British Columbia didn’t actually vote the first time around. Out of 10,000 eligible physicians, only about 2,100 actually cast their ballots. The initial winner thus received a mandate from fewer than 10 per cent of eligible voters.
That is indeed surprising, because this tight election outcome was between two candidates who are different in every fundamental way.
A group of more than 100 leading scientists from both Canada and the United States called for a moratorium on new oil sands development at a June 10 telephone press conference.
The scientists laid out 10 reasons why continued expansion of the oil sands is incompatible with keeping climate change at a level that does not cause widespread harm. These include: a lack of adequate protections and baseline data; contamination of the Canadian boreal zone; a lack of land reclamation; oil sands development and transport undermining First Nations land rights; developments in North America setting a precedent for combating climate change elsewhere; controlling carbon pollution not being an economic threat; cumulative impacts of oil sands development being ignored by current policies; and a majority of both Canadians and Americans wanting their leaders to address climate change.
“We believe the time has come for scientists to speak out about the magnitude and importance of the oil sands issue and to step forward as participants in an informed and international public dialogue. Working together, we can solve the energy problems before us. It is not too late, but the time to act is now,” state the signatories of the 10 Reasons document.
Professor Wendy Palen, from Simon Fraser University’s department of biological sciences, said at the conference that decisions made around the oil sands formed part of a “legacy that would last generations,” and said that the 10 Reasons were grounded in science.
Lis Stannus remembers how serious the problem of acid rain was in Ontario when she lived on a farm near Lake Huron as a child. So when Rio Tinto Alcan informed Kitimat residents of its plans to increase sulphur dioxide pollution — a key contributor to acid rain —she couldn’t understand why no one fought back.
“Nobody was speaking out,” Stannus said, “and I found it amazing that those people who should have been speaking out weren’t.”
Rio Tinto Alcan received a permit from the B.C. government in 2013 that allowed the company to increase production of aluminum at its smelter in Kitimat, leading to a 56 per cent increase in sulphur dioxide emissions. Currently, both the government and Rio Tinto Alcan are defending that permit in front of a tribunal acting for the B.C. Environmental Appeals Board in Kitimat.
Rio Tinto Alcan says its ‘modernization’ of the smelter is now 94 per cent complete although the tribunal has the power to rescind the province’s permit, putting the immediate future of the plant in question. The Muzzle Effect: Small Town, Big Company
Stannus said when she first heard about the emissions increase she contacted the city, the Kitimat health authority and local environmental groups to push back against the company’s plans, to no avail.
Setting a deadline 85 years from now to stop burning fossil fuels may be politically safe, but it completely ignores the science that tells us we need to leave the majority of global fossil fuel reserves underground, including upwards of 85 per cent of Canadian tar sands reserves. Time is of the essence, and every day is crucial as we work to wean our society off carbon-intensive fuels on to renewable energy.
When it comes to the controversial practice of curtailing parliamentary debate, opposition parties say Conservatives have hit the century mark.
On Wednesday, 141 Tory MPs voted to pass a time allocation motion on Bill C-59, a 167-page, omnibus budget implementation bill that also contains unprecedented amendments to retroactively rewrite access to information laws.
“Brian Mulroney was an appalling prime minister, appalling. But if I had to pick one prime minister over the other [between Harper and Mulroney], I would pick Mulroney.” – Stevie Cameron, author of On the Take, the 1994 bestseller about corruption during the Mulroney years.
In the summer of 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and other world leaders arrived at a swanky resort located two hours north of Toronto to take part in the annual G8 Summit. As it turned out, the resort lies in the riding of then federal Industry Minister Tony Clement.
At that time, no one knew that Clement had lifted $50-million from the public purse – money originally allotted by parliament for alleviating congestion at Canada’s borders – and spent it beautifying his Parry Sound-Muskoka riding on things like parks, walkways, toilets and gazebos. He would later claim the money was dispersed for the G8 Summit.
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