Please notice us Erin Brockovich
The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) survived for thousands of years hunting, fishing, and trapping along Northern Alberta’s Athabasca River. But the tar sands development has hand-delivered soaring cancer rates, contamination of vital waterways, and damage to their homeland, livelihood, and culture — as the ACFN has discovered, from studies they were forced to pay the bill for themselves. It would take an army of Julia Roberts clones in push-up bras to save this situation.
Tell the public you’re just “driving through a tunnel”
The lovable nerds at the Canadian Ice Service wanted to hold a technical briefing, informing the Canadian public that our Arctic ice levels are freakishly low—lower, in fact, than ever before in history. It took nine levels of approval to hold it. It was eventually cancelled.
An embarrassing gas problem
Harper’s election promise was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17% by 2020 or so. Since then, we’ve only made it to about 3%…even though oil sands CO2 emissions are expected to shoot up by almost 40% by 2030.
During a press conference on the issue, former Environment Minister Kent claimed Canada is halfway to the original target — but some of the “progress” was due to changes in the government’s carbon accounting practices, not, like, actual change. In the meanwhile, we’ll keep waiting for a divine entity to just dump a bunch of Pepto Bismol on this mess.
They’re not lakes, they’re boat-roads
In 2012, there were 2.5 million navigable bodies of water protected in Canada; today there remain only 162. Why? Well, it maybe it’s oil, or maybe it’s Maybelline. “Shipments of hazardous materials through our watershed have increased by 280 times in the last five years,” says Mark Mattson, President of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper.
The war on fish
We can only assume a salmon looked at Harper the wrong way, because except for the fetching yellow jumpsuit, he’s basically gone Kill Bill on anything with fins.
Harper gutted (no pun intended) the Fisheries Act, removing sentences about protecting all fish and their environments — a move that would, by pure coincidence, allow for speedier approval of megaprojects like the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
He also contributed to cuts of half the staff at the BC Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and closed all but five of the BC fisheries field offices…right before the department was about to do risk assessments for the proposed Enbridge pipeline.
And when Scientists at the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) recommended that bluefin tuna be declared endangered, the Harper regime increased fishing quotas for the species — a tactic previous Canadian governments chose with our cod, to accommodate the short-term interests of the fishing lobby…and we all know how that ended. (Spoiler: we killed wayyyyy too many cod.)
The Climate Change Clown Show
“When we think something is necessary and noble, we do not sit back and say only other people should do it. The Canadian way is we do our part.” – Stephen Harper
Unfortunately Harper wasn’t talking about climate change. Because on that end we’re doing some The-Dude-level slacking.
195 countries, including Canada, have formally agreed that we need to limit the Earth’s temperature rise over pre-industrial levels to two degrees. To do that, the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report said 80% of fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground.
So has the Harper government responded to this with anything like sanity? Nope. It’s responded by labeling people who care about climate change “violent anti-petroleum extremists.” Yeah, just look at all of these fricken hippies who urge serious action on climate:
- Former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney
- The International Monetary Fund
- The World Bank
- The International Energy Agency
- Price Waterhouse Coopers
- Institutional investors managing $24 trillion
- Standard & Poor’s
- Goldman Sachs
- Lloyd’s of London
- Over 80 huge corporations cut ties with ALEC over its anti-climate efforts. Google’s CEO said climate deniers were “just literally lying” and those working against climate action were “making the world a much worse place.”
Stephen Harper has been named the “earth’s worst climate villain” while his government proclaims that they’re “a world leader” on climate change (though technically they’re leading the world in villainy) and he takes advice directly from the construction industry (rather than, say, citizens) when deciding what laws to change.
Harper’s environment minister said evidence on Arctic warming is “debatable” while his natural resource minister called environmental groups “radicals.” But… isn’t conservation literally conservative?
And Here’s Where it Gets Creepy
CSIS and the RCMP (who Harper is taking off the leash with Bill C-51) spied on peaceful environmental protests. The National Energy Board directly coordinated with CSIS, the RCMP and oil companies against environmentalist groups and indigenous-rights activists. Idle No More, Leadnow, ForestEthics and Dogwood Initiative were all “monitored” over several months.
So what did the intelligence agency watchdog have to say about all that? Not much, since it’s filled with Harper appointees who have ties to the oil industry.