We have an interesting and timely lineup for you on today’s show, ranging from a discussion of the proposed gravel pit in the Edmonton River Valley and wind power in Ontario to a Terra Informa special editorial on the implications of the recent federal election results on all things environmental.
Last week Barrick Gold held their AGM in Toronto, but it wasn’t just shareholders who were in attendance. Over 100 people gathered outside to protest the mining giant’s environmental and human rights records. Two men made the journey all the way from Papua New Guinea to be there. They say that security forces from the company’s Porgera mine have been responsible for beatings, killings, and rapes. A recent report by Human Rights Watch made similar allegations. In response, the company fired a handful of employees at the mine, but locals say little has changed. The company’s operations in the Philippines, Tanzania and Australia have also been cited for environmental destruction and human rights abuses. This is the fifth year that the two activists have travelled to Canada to plead with the federal government to hold the company accountable. Many of the world’s largest mining companies are based in Canada, and in recent years similar complaints have been common. A private members bill introduced by the Liberals in 2009 would have held mining companies responsible for their actions overseas, but was narrowly defeated after strong opposition from industry.
It appears that BC may soon ban the use of cosmetic pesticides. Last Thursday the opposition NDP put forward a bill that would prohibit the sale, use, or transfer of such products. It’s the party’s third attempt to ban the chemicals, but this time the legislation appears likely to pass. The province’s new premier, Christy Clark, says she has long supported the idea of a ban. More than 35 BC municipalities currently have cosmetic pesticide bans in place, but they’ve met with limited success. Cities lack the authority to prohibit the sale of pesticides, so while they may not be legal to use, hardware stores and garden centres continue to stock them. The proposed provincial legislation would go a step further and remove the products from store shelves. The Canadian Cancer Society applauded the move and urged the province to move quickly on the legislation, saying that polls showed more than 70% of British Columbians in favour of a ban.
The government of Quebec has announced new regulations for the extraction of shale gas. The province will now require companies to report the ingredients used in their fracturing fluids to the ministry of environment. Fracturing fluid has long been a source of concern for opponents of the controversial industry. Companies have claimed that the mixtures are proprietary, but environmentalists say they’re a witch’s brew of toxic chemicals which threaten ground water. The new rules will also compel industry to hold public consultations before drilling and have plans in place to deal with the contaminated water produced during fracking. Despite the new regulations, opponents say the process puts water supplies at risk and that they want hydraulic fracturing banned entirely. According to the Montreal Gazette, of the 31 wells drill to date in Quebec, 19 have leaked.
River Valley Mine Proposal
Environmental concerns are often coupled with other movements, and the case in Edmonton is no different. A controversial mine has been proposed in the City of Edmonton’s west end river valley where current bylaws state that industrialized mining and processing are not permitted. Although strong opposition from local residents defeated this same proposal two years ago, this time around the situation is slightly more complicated. The proposal has been put forward by an indigenous company, Kanata Metis Cultural Enterprise.
Terra Informa spoke with Don Bishop from the North Saskatchewan River Valley Conservation Society and Roger Pogue from the Stop the Gravel Pit Group to find out what this proposal means for Edmontonians.
Ontario Renewable Power Concerns
The Ontario Government has been getting ambitious with green power over the past few years. They want to completely phase out coal fired electricity, and to do that, they’re trying to encourage businesses to invest in renewable energy projects. So far so good – wind turbines, solar panels and biomass plants are being built; But like all infrastructure works, they’re not being built without sometimes conflicting with the needs and wants of the local residents. Wind power in particular often faces strong criticism.
Stewart Fast is a graduate researcher at the University of Ottawa’s department of Geography and he spends his research time visiting rural communities in Ontario to assess their energy preferences and documenting their concerns. David Kaczan spoke to Stewart Fast to find out more.
Stewart Fast Presentation: Diverging Views of Energy From Forest Biomass
Addington Highlands Opinions About Renewable Energy
Two weeks ago, in our Election Special, we profiled the major Parties and focused on their environmental platforms and promises. We interviewed Elizabeth May from the Green Party, Linda Duncan from the NDP, and Laurie Hawn from the Progressive Conservatives.
Terra Informa would like to extend our congratulations to each of them and their successful election to their respective ridings.
Rebecca Rooney provided us with a special editorial about what the election outcome means for the environment and here is some additional information to help you understand this issue better.