This is the start of another break week in Parliament. I am grabbing it for a chance to visit Maritime Greens. Continuing last week’s series of lucky coincidences, I made a commitment to work in Nova Scotia more than a year ago. Perfect timing to help out in the Prince Edward Island election. It was called on Monday — E-Day April 3.
I spent Friday night and yesterday in Alberta to boost Alberta Greens as they gear up for a spring election. Saturday morning, I totally loved the gorgeous bus ride from Calgary to Edmonton. Bright sun on the crisp white snow of the Prairie landscape. Despite juggling a zoom meeting on my laptop, I raised my eyes from the screen to soak up a stunning winter panorama. I took an overnight flight from Edmonton to Halifax. The commitment that brings me to the east coast is to be a “lecturer in residence” at St. Francis Xavier University March 13-16. By Thursday morning, I will head out of Antigonish for PEI. St. Patrick’s Day, everyone’s favourite day to be Green, will find me in New Brunswick for the Fredericton EDA AGM.
My high point this week was taping a skit for This Hour has 22 Minutes with the amazing Mary Walsh- in her alter ego Marg Delahunty, Princess Warrior persona. Watch for it this week!
The low point of the week is easy – the dispiriting conclusion of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (S-5) amendments. We ended with a whimper – all Green amendments defeated after working through them since December. This great column from Canadian Environmental Law Association experts sums up some of our struggle.
030823_HT_2.pdf (hilltimes.com) Vulnerable populations will be more at risk due to Bill S-5’s CEPA changes
I think my personal parliamentary high point was my question in Friday’s Question Period, in that I got my words in the right order and packed a punch:
“Madam Speaker, this we know: For nine months the Kearl mine leaked toxic effluent on the lands and waters of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. This we know: In that time, Imperial continued to lobby for more subsidies from Canada while failing to inform the Athabasca Chipewyan people. Our prisons are overrepresented with Indigenous people, which means they are under-represented with corporate criminals, like the CEO of Imperial Oil.
When will the government stop subsidizing Big Oil and get tough on corporate crime?”
The appalling environmental racism of Imperial Oil’s contempt for the health of Indigenous peoples and the environment received a lot of media coverage this week. I had intervened in the hearings back when I was with Sierra Club, trying to stop the Kearl Mine. I can still hear the smug claims of the Imperial Oil witnesses testifying in Fort MacMurray hearings. The Kearl Mine would be “state of the art”- “world class” – sustainable! The tailings ponds would be lined and monitored, waterfowl would be repelled with devises to warn them off. As ever, the PR pitch never measures up to the reality. But even by most disappointing standards, Imperial’s conduct is scandalous.
Speaking of environmental racism, my bill, C-226, is set to clear another hurdle on March 23rd as it is scheduled to complete Report Stage that day. That leaves Third reading before it gets sent to the Senate, I am thrilled to share the news that remarkable senator, Mary Jane McCallum has agreed to take it forward in the “other place” as we refer to it! Senator McCallum is Cree, a survivor of residential schools and no stranger to environmental racism. I am truly honoured to be working with her.
In a surprising development, a consortium of journalists from around the world have been zeroing in on the mass acquisition of Canadian pulp and paper mills by Paper Excellence. This shadowy Indonesian firm has bought up all the Resolute Paper operations as well as Catalyst. I have written “GSM” before about Paper Excellence. You may remember the bizarre story of corporate rule reflected in Paper Excellence trying to get the Pictou Nova Scotia mill re-opened through a court-ordered arbitration. This new report includes what was news to me, that its growth spurt was financed by the China Development Bank.
Given the current obsession with political interference from the Peoples Republic of China, maybe this story will have legs. I do think the issue of foreign interference in our elections needs a thorough and independent review, but of any interference- whether from foreign-owned oil and gas companies, pulp and paper giants or any foreign government.
I should not close without reflecting on the inspirational speech to us in Parliament from EU President Ursula von der Leyen. I met her briefly- and ceremonially- but she set out how much we have in common in fighting the climate crisis, in protecting democracy, in taking care of the most vulnerable.She brought us all together.
We need more of that!
Sending much love from the road!