Good Sunday Morning – June 4

Good Sunday Morning!

Please forgive me as I realize this letter is way longer than usual.

No June 4th can go by ever again that I do not think of Chantel Moore. A young Tla-o-qui-aht woman from Vancouver Island, she was killed by a policeman in Edmundston, New Brunswick on June 4, 2020.

She had recently moved there to be near her mom who was raising her daughter. The man who shot her repeatedly at close range was a local police officer. He was unaccompanied when he went to her home in a so-called “wellness check.”  A friend of hers living out of province had contacted local police because he was alarmed by her text messages that she was scared of someone.  In the middle of the night, the cop banged on the door of her new apartment where she lived by herself, waking her up in the wee hours. He claimed she had a knife in her hand when she opened the door.  No knife was ever found near her body.

The case was initially disregarded by police with statements of deflection. Her mother, Martha Martin, her aunties, and other friends (some were friends of mine) insisted on getting to the truth.  The police investigation was a whitewash, but the jury at the inquest ruled her death a homicide. Despite that, we still have no truth, no justice.  Her killer is still on the job. Her mother still grieves.

This week was super packed. I worked in Parliament until after 11 pm on Monday, questioning Chrystia Freeland on Finance matters at a late hour (transcript in PS), questioned executives from Paper Excellence at committee (YouTube links in PS), worked until midnight Tuesday and Wednesday, campaigned in Montreal Thursday evening, held press conferences condemning Poilievre’s dangerous rhetoric on drug policy with Moms Stop the Harm on Tuesday and called for the release of Vladimir Kara Murza on Thursday.

I got to Montreal by Thursday late afternoon where Jonathan Pedneault’s campaign is picking up steam. After a too brief time at home for local community events, today finds me in Winnipeg campaigning for Doug Hemmerling in that by-election, back to Toronto late tonight and early train to Ottawa tomorrow.

Most of what I want to share this Sunday morning is about the fires.  Canada is on fire.

My one question in Question Period for the week was Monday and with wildfires raging across Canada, I made that my question.

As is my custom, I let Ministers know what I plan to ask before I ask it. As QP was about to start, I sat for a moment with Minister for Emergency Preparedness, the Hon Bill Blair, and asked if he would have stats on how many provinces have wildfires, how widespread, and how early it is in the season for such widespread fires.  I swear he was almost trembling as he rattled off to me all that information. It was on the tip of his tongue and he wanted to share it.  No other opposition party asked any questions about fires. Tellingly, the Liberals had an MP with a planted question so Bill Blair could speak to it. No other party wanted to get a report on the fires.

On Wednesday afternoon, Blair held a special briefing for opposition party leaders about the fire situation.

Minister Blair started with this riveting opener. “For the last ten years, the average area burnt in fires in the month of May, for all of Canada, was 150,000 hectares.  This year, in the month of May, in excess of two million hectares has been burnt.  Or 14 times as much.”

People use the term “order of magnitude” a lot without knowing what it means.  One order of magnitude is a factor of ten.  The wildfire activity of May expanded by an order of magnitude. This is not just “unprecedented.” This is off the charts.

Although born in the US, I consider myself a Cape Bretoner and now a Vancouver Islander.  I know the month of May in Nova Scotia. It is not hot and dry. It is that in-between time of mud, rain, some snow and some hot days.  But it is not fire season. In Nova Scotia, we do not have fire season.   Correction: We did not used to have fire season.

Part-way through our briefing, N.S. Conservative MP Rick Perkins joined the call from a fire truck in NS. He and Blair are clearly relying on each other in a refreshingly non-partisan way. Poilievre said little, but he was there. Rick shared that while the official estimate is of 200 homes destroyed, he added, that whole villages are gone. People are too busy fighting the fire to tally the losses. So far no one has died.

Blair’s briefing continued in saying that there was no sign of the fire conditions improving for the rest of the summer. The risk level will remain very high.

Meanwhile, in Alberta, my friend and stalwart oil sands opponent, Chief Allan Adam of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, was emotional as he stayed behind to help protect his community. Most community members have been forced to leave their homes.

Coverage of Canada’s fires is global:

The Guardian: Nova Scotia: fears extreme heat and strong winds could worsen wildfires

The Globe and Mail: No relief in sight as wildfires burn across the country

Last update before I finished this letter:

“The Canada Interagency Forest Fire Centre reported that, as of Friday afternoon, there were 324 fires burning across the country, with 167 considered out of control. That’s a big jump from Thursday, when the agency reported 209 fires, with 87 out of control.”

The latest area for evacuation orders was Sept-Îles, Quebec where the mayor declared a state of emergency as fire burned out of control.

One huge bit of good news this week was that Norwegian Eqinor has postponed its Bay du Nord off-shore drilling for three years!

But, as clear from the transcript below of my debate with Finance Minister Freeland, our government remains committed to building the TMX pipeline. And following my questions to her, it was confirmed the government is putting more money into the project – backing $3 billion in new loans.

The situation is quite overwhelming.  I believe this is a genuine moment for a major shift. How can the mindless partisanship of our parliamentary gong show persist in the face of this? This is like war time. The picayune nonsense that passes for political debate must yield to awareness. Equally, it has to be increasingly hard around the Cabinet table. Most of Canada is at high risk of wildfires. Fire fighting budgets are exhausted and it is only the first days of June.  May was not supposed to break all records.

As Canadians who understand the climate emergency, we must be louder. Letters to the editor are needed demanding that the Trudeau Liberals stop pretending that one can sustain an on-going fossil fuel industry and preserve a livable world.  The voices of those claiming Canadian fossil fuels are somehow less disastrous than fossil fuels from elsewhere, or that once we ship bitumen, coal, oil and gas to other countries, the emissions from burning are none of our concern, must not drown out clear scientific warnings.

The 2023 summer fires are not an anomaly. We have created the conditions to stoke those flames. We can create the conditions to arrest the ever-worsening emergency. First step is to tell the truth about it.

Hope you are safe where you are.

Love and thanks,



1) Questions to Indonesian multinational, Paper Excellence, now owning all the mils of Domtar, Resolute, and Catalyst as well as Northern Pulp (former Scott Mill) in Nova Scotia:

Here are the links:

Elizabeth May: Question to Paper Excellence on Indigenous Inclusion

Elizabeth May: Question to Paper Excellence on the People’s Republic of China

2) Elizabeth May Questioning the Minister of Finance on TMX Pipeline spending during the Estimates Debate on Monday, May 29th, 2023

Ms. Elizabeth May:

Madam Chair, I want to switch to the climate crisis. Given the comments and a lot of good questions that were asked by the hon. member for Repentigny, which I might have asked, I just want to put into context that, while this federal government spends more money than others, I would not say that it has the best plan, compared with even the previous Liberal government of Paul Martin.

The current context is that we are up against the very edge of too late. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned us that if we do not ensure that global emissions peak and begin to fall no later than before 2025, we will go past 1.5° and past 2°, meaning no new fossil fuel infrastructure is possible and no new fossil fuel exploitation expanding is possible.

Given that, and looking at the Trans Mountain pipeline, the minister said, in February 2022, that there would be no more public monies going to that project. However, as economists like Robyn Allan have pointed out, the debt load amounts to $700 million a year, as in last year’s debt. The Government of Canada is responsible for the interest payments on that debt.

Does the hon. minister have any comments on how we square these two realities: the promise of no public money being spent and the constant pressure that the government is responsible for $10 billion, minimum, in debt on the project?

Hon. Chrystia Freeland:

Madam Chair, there were lots of points put in there. Let me just start where the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands started, with the urgency of climate action. I totally agree, and that is why I found some of the discussion tonight very frustrating. The reality is that this is the existential challenge of our time, and I think it is worth paying tribute to the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for the very many years she has spent working on this.

I do accept that better is always possible, and we have not said the final word on climate action. We need to continue to do better. I also accept, although it makes me very sad, that I will never fully satisfy the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands with our climate action, but I hope she recognizes that the plan we put forward in our budget is meaningful, a meaningful advance, and that these investments that our set of tax credits will enable will make a real difference in Canada.

Finally, as I hope the debate this evening has helped underscore for the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, there is still a live debate in Canada about having a price on pollution. I actually also want to pay tribute to my Prime Minister, who knew early on when we formed government that this was important, and he has held his—


Ms. Elizabeth May:

Madam Chair, it is not about whether the hon. minister can satisfy me, but whether my grandchildren will have a survivable future, or whether the hon. minister’s or the hon. parliamentary secretary’s children will. There is science behind what I am saying, which is that building the Trans Mountain pipeline means the Paris commitments cannot be held to.

The hon. minister said, earlier tonight, that she believes in economic independence. Does she not know that the Trans Mountain pipeline will ship mostly dilbit to refineries in the United States?

Hon. Chrystia Freeland:

Madam Chair, I always enjoy my conversations with the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, and we agree on a lot of things. I think the Trans Mountain pipeline is something we disagree on. I believe very strongly in the importance of Canada having sovereign control over our natural resources, and this is an important measure to give us that.

Ms. Elizabeth May:

Madam Chair, with respect to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which has been completely condemned by every international science organization, not in its specificity, but because any new fossil fuel infrastructure is condemned as it goes against the interests of future generations and blows through the Paris agreement, will the hon. minister consider this? Since the budget does not mention this current project to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline, perhaps we could take the Crown corporation that exists, and convert it to use all the multi-million dollars’ worth of equipment and manpower to build fire breaks, expand culverts, and otherwise protect communities from climate emergency events.

Hon. Chrystia Freeland:

Madam Chair, our government’s position on the Trans Mountain expansion is clear. The project is close to completion. It will bring economic benefit to Canada, not the least of which will be to indigenous peoples. Indigenous participation in the project is an important element for us, and I very much support the decision our government made previously to undertake this project.

Ms. Elizabeth May:

Madam Chair, the hon. minister may be unaware that the Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, Squamish and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples, the people along the coastline of the Salish Sea, know that their entire future will be wiped out with a single tanker accident, which is inevitable with dilbit, which cannot be cleaned up in a marine environment—

Hon. Chrystia Freeland:

Madam Chair, let me just say that I respect very much the advocacy of, and concerns raised by, the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands. I think we are going to have to agree to differ on this issue.

Indigenous participation in all major projects in Canada is important for our government.