Thursday, 31 March 2011

High Food Prices Prevented Nearly 20 Million People Emerge From Poverty in Asia and the Pacific

31 March 2011 Bangkok (UN ESCAP Information Services)  
 
High food prices prevented 19.4 million people in the Asia-Pacific 
region from climbing out of poverty last year and persisting food and oil inflation can keep up to an extra 42 million people poor in the region. Details here.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Garden As If Your Life Depended On It, Because It Does

Alternet - Ellen LaConte Mar 30'11

There are at least five reasons why more of us should take up the spade, make some compost, and start gardening with a vengeance. Details here.



Canadian organic garden

Farmers and Seed Distributors Sue Monsanto

CBAN - Parkside, SK- March 30, 2011 
Over 60 family farmers, 
seed businesses and organic agricultural 
organizations in Canada and the US, have 
filed a lawsuit against Monsanto Company 
over genetically modified (GM) seed. Details here.
A field of alfalfa in Idaho

BP Spill's Impact Could be Much Worse Than Expected

Margaret Munro,  Ottawa Citizen Mar 30


VANCOUVER — The death toll from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill goes far beyond the animal corpses washing ashore, says a report that warns that whale and dolphin deaths may be 50 times higher than believed. Read more: 


This explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil platform sparked the nightmare.
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Some time back, I posted this article with some trepidation. Was it over the top? You decide! l.p.

Russian Boreal Forest Being Driven North, Diminishing

Joshua S Hill - PlanetSave Mar 29-11

Russia’s boreal forest, the largest continuous expanse in the world, is undergoing a large-scale shift in vegetation types as a direct result of the warming climate. Details here.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Time for Plan B: Our Civilization Is on the Edge of a Systemic Breakdown

AlterNet/by Scott Thill - Mar 29'11

Lester Brown (l.) talks about whether our civilization can survive the mounting global stresses of rising pollution, starvation,  food prices, water shortages and failed states. Details here.

Canada's Main Climate Skeptic Continues to Mislead

Dear Editor,
I am disappointed that a largely discredited individual like
Tim Ball (r.) was afforded close to a full page in the March 15th Roblin Review ("People need to understand plants need C02"),  in which to air his negative views about climate change.

The book, "Climate Cover Up - the crusade to deny global warming," describes Ball this way. "There are few 'skeptical scientists' with as little experience and as much ambition as the Canadian geography professor, Dr. Timothy Ball. Never a climate scientist, per se, Dr. Ball quit his position at the University of Winnipeg in 1995, ending an academic career that featured a lifetime output of just four peer-reviewed journal articles, none of which addressed atmospheric science."

Dr. Ball is actually being sued by a Canadian climate scientist, Andrew Weaver, for libel. Dr. Weaver is a leading author with the Nobel-prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A conservative website Ball wrote for, has already apologized and retracted certain statements Ball made about Weaver, attacking his credibility. Indeed, the site now seems to have removed many of the articles Ball had contributed.

(And this isn't the only lawsuit Ball is facing. Please also read this article.)

 
Yet Ball continues to make a career out of manipulating media with his folksy style. He seems to have convinced way too many of them that he knows more about the subject than thousands of real climate scientists who now agree that global warming is real and caused by a buildup of greenhouse gases in the air which we humans continue to create through the burning of fossil fuels.

Ball's outright assertion that the globe is not warming, but actually cooling, is outrageous. It runs counter to all authoritative evidence available.

A "go-to" agency for credible information on this subject is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a division of the US government. It keeps up-to-date, sophisticated and long-range weather data using computer models, thousands of monitoring stations and satellite readings from around the globe. (Where does Dr. Ball get his information?)

Here is what NOAA has to say. "For 2010, the combined global and ocean surface temperature tied with 2005 as the warmest such period on record. 1998 is the third warmest year on record."

 
Meanwhile, ice cover in the Canadian arctic is receding, at an alarming rate. 


So, just what are we to make of all those images we are seeing in the news of polar bears swimming for their lives, gargantuan ice shelves breaking away into the ocean and vast expanses of open water where thick ice-packs once were? Perhaps the media are "photo-shopping" each one, to present a false impression?

Does he really believe there is some kind of conspiracy in the world to "cook the books" on this? What possible motive could they have?

Give me a break! Just how stupid does he think we are?

Or might he have an ulterior motive himself? Ball has always been mysterious about where he gets his funding.

As documented in the same book, "Climate Cover-Up," he used to be a front man for "Friends of Science," a shadowy group with a clever, but clear misnomer. Just who were the individuals behind its formation? They included geologists from the Calgary oil patch and some oil industry PR types.

So who would you rather believe? Credible scientists who spend their working lives at the world's leading universities studying these matters, or individuals who get their pay-cheques from an industry with a vested interest in selling as much of its product as possible?

Ball has been a hit as a speaker at livestock conventions in western Canada. But, he is surely revealing himself as anything but a friend to farmers. By actually telling them they "better hope for global warming," he is doing them a deep disservice. Rather than warning them that this phenomenon is likely spawning the very torrential rains and other extreme weather events which are ruining their crops and pastures (something now widely believed in the climate science community), he is tacitly giving them the green light to continue the fossil-fuel-rich methods inherent in modern agriculture. 


Surely this only helps ensure that the problem will not only continue, but worsen.

Larry Powell
Roblin, Manitoba, CA

Sunday, 27 March 2011

"Paths Less Travelled" Challenges Conservative Think-Tank on Food Regulation



by Larry Powell
I'd like to correct several statements in a recent article by Cam Dahl of the Frontier Centre for Public Policy that are either misleading, inaccurate, or both. In it, he insisted that Canada's current system of food regulation is "efficient, science-based and safe."

Sadly, history shows something quite different.


Almost five years ago, a bright, dedicated young graduate student at the University of Manitoba, Jennifer Magoon, (r.)  found statistically significant links between the amount of farm pesticides used in certain regions of this province and the incidence of several health problems in infants. These included severe birth disorders including spina bifida, Down syndrome, cleft palate, lower birth weights, respiratory distress and jaundice. There were eye disorders, too, including retinal degeneration and cataracts. Magoon's findings were based on health records of tens of thousands of people living in rural Manitoba. Her research took 18-months to complete and was reviewed and approved by both her peers and superiors. 

Based on her findings, Ms. Magoon called for a reduction in pesticide use, at least until more studies could be done.                      
 

Has this happened? Not really.

An instructor in Plant Science at the University of Manitoba, Gary Martens,  says the use of herbicides (weed-killers - which concerned Ms. Magoon the most) and pesticides (insect-killers), stayed the same from '06 to '09. But the use of fungicides (to treat plant diseases) is on the increase, from 2.1 million acres sprayed in '05, to 4.4 million acres in '09.

So, despite Mr. Dahls' assurances that Canada only approves new crop pesticides based on "extensive research data" Ms. Magoon's recommendations, based on her own "extensive data," don't seem to have attracted that much attention!
 
Ontario also keeps some figures in this regard. The ones I was able to retrieve are not encouraging, however. While pesticide use in that province has dropped significantly over the past quarter-century, the trend is definitely upward, once again - 15% between '03 and '08 (the last year for which figures are available).
  
Instead of taking "efficient, science-based" action (Mr. Dahl's words) to protect public health and the environment, our politicians and food regulators have been rolling out the red carpet for genetically-modified crops such as corn, soy beans, sugar beets and even alfalfa (which few people, including farmers, seem to want).

(The current federal Agriculture Minister, Gerry Ritz has promised not to proceed with GM alfalfa. But, if the Conservatives are re-elected, I suspect all bets are off. The Tories have shown a remarkable loyalty to all things GM, not to mention a willingness to bend to the relentless will of corporate bio-tech lobbyists.)

There are conflicting studies on whether these GM crops lead to more, or less pesticide use. There seems to be a glaring lack of monitoring data in this regard, in Canada.

But a credible study in the US finds herbicide use there underwent a net increase of more than 174 
million kilograms in the 13 years after GM crops were first grown commercially, in 1996. 

The author of that study, Charles Benbrook, (r.) is Chief Scientist with the Organic Centre. He served for many years as an expert on pesticide policy with two US Presidents and the National Academy of Sciences.  

Dr.Benbrook says these GM crops and the herbicides to which they have been genetically manipulated to resist (mostly glyphosate), have led to the evolution of "super weeds," which have also become resistant. 


Artist Paul Hoppe       These, in turn, take ever-more-potent crop poisons to kill. As he puts it, "Vastly expanded use of 2,4-D and other older, relatively more toxic herbicides on fields infested with glyphosate-resistant weeds will increase human and environmental risks. The overall chemical footprint of GM crops has been decidedly negative."

Fully aware of scientific studies proving a certain family of pesticides (neonicotinoids), banned in certain Europeon countries, were deadly to honey bees, Canadian"regulators" have repeatedly licensed and re-licensed those products for use, notably in the treatment of GM canola seed, a major crop in Manitoba and elsewhere on the prairies.  
 Tim Wendell keeps bees in MB & SK 
 About three years ago, after all of this had been going on, Canadian regulators then approved a new product (Movento) banned in the States. Beekeepers fear is is even more harmful than its forerunners. 

Most honey produced in this province comes from bees which forage on the canola flower. Meanwhile, pollinator populations everywhere, including the honey bee, continue on an alarming, downward spiral. Humans and wildlife alike will lose up to one-third of our food crops if these wondrous creatures vanish from the earth.

Just when we thought we had heard the worst, these same regulators rubber-stamped Smarstax corn. Smartstax is a genetically modified wonder, the seed "shot-full" of the chemical most harmful to bees. No health study. No environmental study. Nothing. Never mind that its approval also ran counter to "Codex Alimentarius," an international food safety protocol which Canada helped negotiate.
 

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) points to several animal studies indicating "serious health risks associated with GM food consumption." These include (but aren't limited to) "infertility, immune disruption, accelerated aging, insulin regulation and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal systems." The AAEM is an international association of physicians and others which strives to expand knowledge of human health exposures which are often overlooked.
 

Despite all this, Mr. Dahl insists that "No food innovation has had greater scientific review than the genetic modification of plants."
 

If this is so, why did The Royal Society of Canada Panel on the Future of Food Biotechnology, commissioned by the Canadian government, pose this question? "How can we identify the health hazards of GM foods when we might not know what to look for? We do not know if any of the GM foods currently on the market pose health risks. There are only a few preliminary, independent scientific studies that examine possible human health effects and the lack of scientific literature itself raises critical questions about the science and regulation of genetic engineering."
 

How many more kids will have to develop Down syndrome or spina biffida before we seriously look into the implications of our food safety system and get some real answers, once and for all? 

Perhaps what Canada needs now are more reality checks into what the shortcomings of our system really are, and fewer cheerleaders who keep telling us "all is well."

If Mr. Dahl so fervently believes that we must cling to "science" in formulating public policy, why does his own organization hold such contempt, (abundantly evident on the Frontier Centre's website) for the mounds of evidence which now support the well-proven science called climate change?

Larry Powell is a journalist and blogger near Roblin, Manitoba. 

=====
COMMENT: Great piece on pesticide regulation. Thanks for sending. Joel T.





Friday, 25 March 2011

Oil Spill In Atlantic Ocean Puts Endangered Penguins And Islanders At High Risk

Shellee Tyler Mar 24'11 - Planetsave
Thousands of endangered penguins have been coated with oil after a cargo ship ran aground and broke up on a remote British South Atlantic territory, officials and conservationists said Tuesday. Details here.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Climate "Crock of the Week - Plants Need the Extra Carbon" (Video)

World Food Prices on the Rise — Expect That to Stay the Same

Planet Save - Mar 24 '11
Worldwide, high crude oil prices, increasing extreme weather events, population growth and economic development of poorer countries, crop-based biofuels, political conflict and unrest in the Middle East, and slowing crop yield growth are all factors contributing to rising food prices. Details here.

Public Distrusts Climate Science due to Lack of Understanding

Joshua S Hill - PlanetSave Mar '11

Despite a large majority of scientists with intimate knowledge of the planet’s climate agreeing that climate change is real and human-induced, the public still persists in distrusting the majority at the hands of a few wayward sceptics. Details here.

Healthy Food At School – The Laotian Way

23 Mar'11 - United Nations
VIENTIANE – For the first time in Lao PDR, close to 1,000 primary school children will receive a healthy and balanced school lunch prepared from foods bought at their local market. Details here.
A Canadian farmers' 
market. l.p. photo

Canada's Second Human "Mad Cow" Case Likely Not Caught In This Country

Mar 24'11 Manitoba Co-Operator
The person believed to be Canada's second-ever case of the type of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease transmitted by BSE-infected beef is seen as unlikely to have picked it up in this country. Details here.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Late Start Seen for Seeding on Prairies

Mar 22'11 By: Dwayne Klassen - Commodity News Service Canada
 Producers in Western Canada who hope to get an early start to seeding will be disappointed, given that the weather is not expected to be very co-operative over the next couple of months. Details here.
A soggy, unharvested canola field in 
western Manitoba. Fall 2010. l.p. photo

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The UN Secretary-General's Message on World Water Day

United Nations - New York, 22 March 2011 
The reservoir behind the Shellmouth Dam, western Manitoba, CA
As the world charts a more sustainable future, the crucial interplay among water, food and energy is one of the most formidable challenges we face. Details here.

Saskatchewan Launches Spring Flooding Website

Mar 21'11 - By: Staff - MB Co-Operator  
The Saskatchewan government has launched a website tying together flood and weather forecasts, runoff data and other information to get the public prepared for this spring. Details here.
 The bridge over Lake of the Prairies, 
on the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border. 
l.p. photo

Greenpeace Shuts Down Darlington Nuclear Hearing

Feature story - March 21, 2011
Courtice, Ontario — Greenpeace activists today shut down environmental assessment hearings on a proposal to build new reactors at Darlington in response to the Joint Review Panel’s refusal to suspend the hearings until lessons are learned from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. (NOTE; Photos at very bottom are best.)

Monday, 21 March 2011

Canada Kills Genetically Modified Alfalfa - at Least for Now

By Barry Wilson, TheWesternProducer - Mar 14, 2011
As MPs began debating a proposal for a moratorium on genetically modified alfalfa, agriculture minister Gerry Ritz said there is no prospect GM alfalfa will be approved. Full story here.

New Lawsuit Filed Against the USDA for GM Alfalfa Deregulation

March 18th, 2011 - By Heather Whitehead - CivilEats
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Sam Beebe
The Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture, arguing that the agency’s recent unrestricted approval of genetically engineered, “Roundup Ready” Alfalfa was unlawful. Full story here.


Saturday, 19 March 2011

"Neglible"Leak of Radioactive Water at Canadian Nuclear Plant

CBC - Mar 16-11 - Ontario Power Generation has notified Canada's federal nuclear regulator about the release of 73,000 litres of demineralized water into Lake Ontario at the Pickering A nuclear generating station. Full story here.

Feedlot Meat Has Spurred a Soy Boom That Has a Devastating Environmental and Human Cost

AlterNet by Jill Richardson - Mar'11
South America is being taken over by a handful of companies in the soy business that are destroying ecologically sensitive areas and pushing people from their ancestral land.  

 

Water Matters: Why We Need to Act Now to Save Our Most Critical Resource


David Suzuki - The Story of the Future Has Yet to be Told

REVIEWED BY NICOLA ROSS - From Thursday's Globe and Mail

With about 25 pages left to read in David Suzuki’s The Legacy, I begin to panic. Read more here.

The Canadian Government Has One Last Chance to do the Right Thing - Clamp a Moratorium on GM Alfalfa! (Video)



Sign the petition to "Protect Manitoba from Genetically Engineered Crops," sponsored by the Green Party of Manitoba, here. 

Manitoba's Minister of Agriculture, Stan Struthers, agrees GE alfalfa ought to be kept out of this province. Help convince him to actually take action along these lines! Get in touch with Mr. Struthers here and follow the links.

Ask the Conservatives to stop delaying and allow a vote on the motion this Tuesday.  Contact the federal Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz here: http://www.agr.gc.ca/cb/min/index_e.php?s1=help-aide&s2=contact

Friday, 18 March 2011

UNESCO Director-General Welcomes Suspension of Oil Prospecting at Virunga National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo)

The UN official considers this an important step toward protecting endangered species, like the mountain gorilla. Full story here.

Born of the Stump - a Cautionary Tale About the Basis of Life - Water!

 
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I've known John Fefchak (r.) for quite awhile. I might be presumptuous to call him my "friend," (since we know each other mostly through emails and the occasional telephone call). But we do have a good deal in common. We both know what it's like to try to draw certain important issues (often the same) to public attention - issues which never seem to garner the kind of attention they so richly deserve. Such is the case with our precious water resources. John is passionate about keeping our water supply clean and is clearly dismayed when his many letters-to-the-editor seem to go unheeded. I share his frustration. If his unique and timely article below (Tuesday is World Water Day) catches the eye of even a few more readers by posting it in this space, we will, together, have perhaps achieved something worth while. (Click story once to isolate - once more to enlarge.) Larry Powell

Lake Winnipeg - Greenpeace photo 







































































John Fefchak lives on a farm near Virden, in southwestern Manitoba. He served in the Canadian Forces for more than 30 years. He is passionate about protecting our environment for future generations. He believes the best way to do this is by himself setting an example for others as a good steward of the land. "For we are but strands in the web of life, and anything we do to the web, affects us all."

Forests are Key to High Quality Water Supply

17-03-2011 Food & Agriculture Organization - UN


Waterhen River, Manitoba, CA. l.p. photo
Better forest management needed to maximize water-related benefits from forests. Full story here.



Thursday, 17 March 2011

Wholesale Prices Rise 1.6% Due to Biggest Jump in Food Costs in More Than 36 Years

By: The Associated Press - 16/03/2011
WASHINGTON - Higher energy costs and the steepest rise in food prices in nearly four decades drove U.S. wholesale prices up last month by the most in nearly two years. Full story here.
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Weird weather & climate change are surely culprits here! l.p.

Mark Your Calendar - World Water Day is This Tuesday!

The Council of Canadians


Council chapters making waves on World Water Day

On March 22 – World Water Day – 
Council of Canadians chapters will be 
taking action to protect and promote 
clean, safe, public water in communities 
across Canada.
March 22 was designated World Water 
Day in 1992 at the United Nations 
Conference on Environment and Development 
in Rio de Janeiro to raise awareness about the 
importance of preserving global water resources. 
Since then, communities, organizations and 
activists around the world have come together 
every year on the day to highlight water struggles 
and the need for clean, accessible, public water for 
everyone.
Council chapters are actively involved in World Water 
Day activities organizing at the local level to fight for 
water justice. Chapters are fighting against lakes being 
turned into dumpsites for mining waste and industrial 
abuses of water resources such as the tar sands, the 
privatization and corporatization of water services in 
Canada and around the world, and the commodification 
of water through water markets and bottled water.
We are getting the message out that Canada needs a 
National Water Policy that recognizes water as a human 
right and a public trust.
“World Water Day is a great day to raise awareness about 
water issues in your community,” says Emma Lui, 
National Water Campaigner for the Council of Canadians. 
“Whether it’s speaking out against bottled water, lobbying 
your local politicians to recognize water as a human right 
and public trust, or educating your friends and neighbours 
about what we can all do to protect water in our communities,
there are lots of ways to take action.”
For a full list of World Water Day activities happening in 
communities across Canada, go here.

Take action on World Water Day: Help protect the 

Great Lakes from radioactive waste shipments!

On February 4, 2011, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) approved Bruce Power’s plan to ship 16 radioactive steam generators from Owen Sound to Sweden. Bruce Power applied for a special licence from the CNSC because the massive size of the steam generators and their high level of radioactivity violate national and international rules for transporting radioactive materials on fresh water. There has been widespread opposition to these shipments from First Nations communities, city mayors, U.S. senators, environmental groups, and social justice organizations because of the risk these shipments pose to the Great Lakes, which is a source of drinking water for more than 40 million people in Canada and the United States. Go here to say “no” to radioactive shipments on the Great Lakes.

Here’s more about what’s new at the Council of Canadians:




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Jef Keighley
"I am grateful to the Council for the education they provide me regarding each campaign and issue they bring to light. As sobering as this new information is, it is always presented thoughtfully and intelligently and I am thankful. Knowledge surely is power and knowledge shared is a gift."
– Beth Arseneault, Bath, ON




Thousands join Council’s first-ever telephone townhall

Maude Barlow and Jamian LogueOn Sunday, February 27 the Council of Canadians welcomed more than 20,000 members and supporters from communities across Canada to our first “Telephone Town Hall” with National Chairperson Maude Barlow.
Town Hall participants joined in an interactive live conversation with Maude to share in stories about our “wins” over the last year, hear about exciting new Council campaigns, and talk about the way forward for social justice, fair trade, clean water and democracy in Canada. Our members were able to ask Maude questions about the current political moment, participate in live polling questions, and share their thoughts and comments with Council of Canadians’ staff.
“It is very important to us, as an organization, to keep our members informed how their generous support is making a difference, and to hear what they have to say,” said Jamian Logue, the Council’s Director of Development. “Members are the heart and soul of the Council of Canadians. To bring so many people together across the country who share a common passion and purpose was inspiring.”
Go here to hear an audio recording of our telephone town hall.
Don’t miss our next tele-town hall!  Join or renew your membership today and make sure to provide your home phone number so you can be part of exciting upcoming town hall conversations with Maude.

Council board member tells Parliamentary committee NAFTA payout has privatized Canada’s water

Trade lawyer and Council of Canadians Board Member Steven Shrybman appeared before Parliament's international trade committee on March 8 to explain the Council's concerns with a recent $130-million NAFTA settlement with AbitibiBowater. He told committee members the settlement has effectively privatized Canada's water by allowing foreign investors to assert a proprietary claim to water permits, and even to water itself in its natural state.
In 2008, AbitibiBowater, a Canadian firm registered in the United States, closed its pulp and paper mill in Grand Falls-Windsor in Newfoundland and Labrador, leaving hundreds of people without jobs and without severance pay owed to them. The Newfoundland government passed legislation to re-appropriate timber and water use permits loaned to the firm on condition they be used for production in-province.
The company cried foul, but rather than come to an agreement with the province on severance pay and environmental remediation, AbibitiBowater used its U.S. registration status to file a NAFTA investment dispute against the province claiming it was owed $300 million for the assets, as well as the timber and water rights that were expropriated. It later increased that amount to $500 million.
The federal government could have fought and won the NAFTA challenge. Instead, the Harper government settled with the firm for $130 million – the most ever paid out by Canada to an investor under NAFTA's Chapter 11 investor-to-state dispute process. The settlement included an undisclosed amount for water and timber rights the firm cannot legally own under the Canadian Constitution, effectively creating a precedent for recognizing water as private property.
"It would be difficult to overstate the consequences of such a profound transformation of the right Canadian governments have always had to own and control public natural resources," said Mr. Shrybman in his presentation to committee, which is studying the AbitibiBowater NAFTA settlement.
"Moreover, by recognizing water as private property, the government has gone much further than any international arbitral tribunal has dared to go in recognizing a commercial claim to natural water resources."
To read our media release go here.
To read Shrybman's full presentation to the trade committee go here

Neil speaks out about TMX takeover

Garry NeilGarry Neil, Executive Director of the Council of Canadians, called on the Ontario government to oppose the London Stock Exchange’s bid to take over the TMX Group at public hearings on the issue at Queen's
Park last week.
“This is really a takeover of the Toronto Stock Exchange by the LSE, since the London group will control the Board and the Chairman’s position,” said Neil. “This transaction is of no benefit to Ontario, it will bring risks for Canada’s financial stability and it will erode our ability to regulate financial markets in the public interest.”
He added that LSE's majority ownership and board representation on the merged company could ultimately lead to the adoption of U.K. securities regulations here.
To read our blog report, which includes Garry Neil’s statement at the hearing, go here.
Photo: Garry Neil

Pushing for safe, clean water for First Nations communities

The Council of Canadians is calling on federal Indian and Northern Affairs Minister John Duncan to scrap Bill S-11, the Safe Drinking Water For First Nations Act, and work with First Nations communities to find ways to address deplorable drinking water conditions on their lands.
In a submission to the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, the Council of Canadians stated that Bill S-11 does not stipulate funding commitments and funding roles for the three government departments responsible for water on First Nation reserves. It also gives the federal government the power to force the privatization of water delivery systems on the communities. And the Bill does not require consultations with First Nations.
The Assembly of First Nations, the Chiefs of Ontario and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs have all expressed grave concerns and opposition to the Bill.
Water is a human right, public trust and global commons. While legislation addressing safe drinking water is sorely needed, any bill on the matter should be developed alongside First Nations, include explicit funding commitments, and recognize the right of First Nations communities to build, own and operate their own water systems.
TAKE ACTION!
Write to Minister Duncan today and tell him Bill S-11 must be scrapped. Go here to send a letter now.

Council welcomes new Health Care Campaigner

Adrienne SilnickiThe Council of Canadians is infusing new energy into our campaign to protect public health care.
Leading the charge will be Adrienne Silnicki, the Council’s new Health Care Campaigner.
“Protecting and strengthening public health care is such a core Canadian value,” said Adrienne. “Our campaign will reinforce the work of our members, supporters and chapter activists who, like most Canadians, want our governments to strengthen and enhance our public health care system, not dismantle it.”
Adrienne is currently the chairperson and treasurer of the Council of Canadians' Halifax chapter and has worked as an Organizing Assistant in our Atlantic office since 2008. She has a Bachelor in Public Affairs and Policy Management from Carleton University, and is currently also a graduate student at Saint
Mary’s University. She has volunteer experience in health care and homelessness, and has interned in community health clinics in Misufini, Kenya and Cap Haitian, Haiti.

Council chapters take action against nuclear waste dumping and bottled water-taking permit

Council of Canadians chapters are hard at work in communities across Canada organizing and acting for social justice. Recently, Council of Canadians chapters in Saskatchewan have been organizing against the plan for nuclear waste to be transported from southern Ontario and dumped in their province. Chapters are part of the Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan, which is pushing for a nuclear waste ban in the province. As part of efforts to keep nuclear waste out of Saskatchewan, chapters and the coalition have organized speaking events with nuclear expert Dr. Jim Harding, author of Canada’s Deadly Secret, in Wynard, Prince Albert, Saskatoon and La Ronge.
In early March, Guelph, Ontario chapter members joined with Wellington Water Watchers and concerned community residents, marching to Nestle Waters’ Aberfoyle plant to show opposition to the bottler’s request for a 10-year, water-taking permit. The concerned water activists say Nestlé's extensive water-taking has been a drain on the local aquifer and is bad for the environment.
Chapters around the country continue to provide a strong voice on local, regional and national issues. Chapter members speak out against injustices and flawed policies and help to effect positive change in their communities. Whether it’s getting bottled water bans, fighting health care privatization, challenging politicians, or rallying in support of clean, safe, accessible drinking water, climate and trade justice and a strengthened public health care system – our chapters give true meaning to the words “citizens in action.”
Go here to join a chapter near you.
Photo: Council of Canadians chapter activists join a march against Nestlé.

Join the Council of Canadians

Founded in 1985 by a handful of citizens including Farley Mowat, Pierre Berton and Margaret Atwood, the Council of Canadians is Canada’s pre-eminent public watchdog organization. By becoming a member of the Council of Canadians your generous support helps give our organization a voice on social, economic and political issues and build a strong, independent and diverse Canada. Join the Council today, and help us prove that a better Canada is possible. Already a member? Share this newsletter with a friend and encourage them to join or donate and become a part of Canada’s largest citizens’ advocacy organization.
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Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Wikileaks: Marine Protection Zones are Being Tailored to Help Corporate Interests, Screw Native Peoples

Throughout the world, opposition is building to fake marine “protected” areas designed to fulfill the agenda of corporate globalization and the privatization of public trust resources. Full story here.

Photo by PlanetSave

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Agroecology Could Double Food Production in 10 Years, Says New UN report

 [8 March 2011] GENEVA
Organic garden. l.p. photo
Today, the Special Rapporteur presented his new report “Agro-ecology and the right to food” before the UN Human Rights Council. Based on an extensive review of recent scientific literature, the report demonstrates that agroecology, if sufficiently supported, can double food production in entire regions within 10 years while mitigating climate change and alleviating rural poverty. Full story here.

Leaning Into Veganism: Kathy Freston on Why Eating More Plant-Based Foods Can Save Your Life and the Planet

AlterNet/By Tara Lohan Mar 15'11

Freston's new book makes 10 bold promises about ditching dairy and meat products. Full story here.

Salad photo by l.p.

The Harper Government Chooses Big Oil Over Our Students (Video)

Monday, 14 March 2011

New UN Project Uses Financial Incentives to try to Save the Dugong

14 Mar '11 – UN News Centre
Photo courtesy of PRLog Free Press Release. One of the rarest mammals on earth.
 The dugong, the reputed mermaid of seafarers’ lore, was today thrown a lifeline by a United Nations pilot project. Full story here.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Humans Must Change Behaviour to Save Bees, Vital for Food Production – UN Report

 
Honey bee hive. l.p. photo
10 March 2011 – The potentially disastrous decline in bees, a vital pollinating element in food production for the growing global population, is likely to continue unless humans profoundly change their ways, from the use of insecticides to air pollution, according to a United Nations report released today.


Saturday, 12 March 2011

Manitoba's Bi Pole III Debate: Where The Rubber Hits The Road



Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives  Mar 11-'11
Sustainable development and the precautionary principle must not be forgotten in this debate.

More Insights Into Tar Sands Attitudes

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Please read an updated vesion of my earlier article, "How Ethical Are Ethical Funds,"  here, on the online magazine, The Dominion.

OBSERVATION: If anything, this latest version affords an insight into how some can rationalize that how they invest is "really OK," because they can somehow make change from within - sort of like defending the indefensible. l.p.