Muskrat Falls

Hydroelectric in Labrador, Solar in BC & the Overseas Conduct of Canadian Mining Firms

On today’s show, we talk to a BC First Nation that’s leading the way in energy self-sufficiency. They tell us why they built one of the largest solar arrays in the country, and how they did it. We also investigate the proposed Lower Churchill hydroelectric project in Labrador. Proponents tout it as a source of carbon-free power for generations to come, but is it really green? Plus, we look into the conduct of Canadian mining companies operating overseas. Some companies’ environmental and human rights records are drawing the ire of NGOs. We investigate efforts to hold them responsible.

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Churchill Falls, fourty years after having its water diverted by the Upper Churchill hydroelectric project. Photo by Infernocow.

Overseas Conduct of Canadian Mining Companies

Globally, Canada is a giant in the mining industry. But our miners don’t just dig up minerals here, they head overseas in the search of bigger finds and bigger profits. However, the environmental, human rights and labour laws in many countries are lacking by Canadian standards. And at the moment, Canadian companies can get away with behaviour that wouldn’t be acceptable back home. Environmental and human rights groups aren’t impressed, and they’re pushing for change. Today we investigate efforts to improve the accountability of mining companies operating overseas.

Solar Powered First Nation in BC

All across Canada, communities are working to improve their sustainability. Some are expanding their public transit systems, others are retrofitting public buildings to increase energy efficiency. But one town has really set the bar high. The T’Sou-ke Nation on the southern tip of Vancouver Island has built such extensive photovoltaic and solar heating systems that they’re now largely self-sufficient. For much of the year, they actually sell power back to the grid. Their success has been drawing attention, and other communities are hoping to follow suit. For more on the story, we talk to Chief Gordon Planes and project manager Andrew Moore.

Lower Churchill Hydro Project in Labrador

One of the few environmental issues that made it onto the table in this spring’s federal election was a proposal for a hydroelectricity project on the Lower Churchill River in Labrador. And although it does promise huge amounts of carbon-free electricity, much of it for export, some people in Labrador are pretty concerned about the environmental impacts of such a megaproject.