Emancipation Day (August 2, 2020)

And August already!

Let us celebrate August 1st – Emancipation Day! Marking the passing of the 1833 Slavery Abolition Act in the British Parliament. In our Green Party release supporting the official designation of August 1st in Canada as Emancipation Day (as in many countries around the world), we made note of the fact that millions of people are still living as slaves. Products we think of as “treats” come from industries dependent on slave labour – such as those popular rings of farmed shrimp and any chocolate bar not marked “Fair Trade.”  Marking our colonial legacy and the existence of historic slavery is important; so too is confronting modern slavery.

We are also coming up this week to the very somber 75th Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Thanks to work from a grassroots peace movement effort, “Bells for Peace,” connecting to me through local peace activist William Geimer, I asked the Speaker of the House to approve the engagement of the bells of the House of Commons Peace Tower.  Dominion Carillonneur  Dr. Andrea McCrady will rings the bells on August 6th and 9th, with the largest bell, the Bourdon, striking each day 75 times.

In a powerful opinion piece in yesterday’s Globe and Mail, Hiroshima survivor, Setsuko Thurlow, framing her plea around the ringing of the Peace Tower bells, urges our government to acknowledge Canada’s role in the nuclear attack. It was our uranium in the bomb and our National Research Council that played an active role in the Manhattan Project. She calls for something we Greens have been demanding for years- that Canada sign and ratify the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It’s time.

Meanwhile, much news this week poked holes in oft-repeated pro-oil propaganda. This one article refutes (without meaning to) a whack of oil lobby lies. The story in a nutshell is that with the drop in demand for oil, space opened up in existing pipelines and long-term rail contracts created empty rail cars and huge monthly costs:

“Cenovus said last week it was spending as much as C$20 million per month for its suspended rail program, one-quarter of the costs when it is fully active, but now generating no revenue to offset expenses.”

But don’t worry say our friends in the oil patch. When things recover there will be demand to keep all planned pipelines full and keep moving oil by rail. So if anyone ever says to you, “if you block pipelines, oil will move to rail,” this article proves that even with more pipelines, the industry plans to continue moving oil by rail.

Two other stories this week confirm that if oil is not dead, it is on life support.

The first was the news that global oil giant, Total S.A. of France, is writing off over $9 billion in assets in Canada’s oil sands.  Total has projected that global oil demand will peak by 2030, with the price of Brent crude staying at roughly $50/barrel for the long term. That price is well below break-even for bitumen.

The second bit of oil future news came from the sector that does the drilling for oil across Canada.

“The Petroleum Services Association of Canada is cutting its 2020 Canadian drilling forecast for a third time as the industry remains mired in a slump expected to extend well into the second half of the year.

“The association says it now expects just 2,800 wells will be drilled in Canada this year, down from a nearly 50-year low of 3,100 in its revised forecast in April.”

Projections for demand continue to be revised downward.

And to cap off some good news for a change – two more developments.

Good news that Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson has reversed his earlier decision on environmental review of the Vista coal mine.

The owner, Coalspur Mine operations of Hinton Alberta, plans to massively expand operations, mining thermal coal for export. Searching on-line to determine who owns Coalspur Mine Operations, I find it listed as a sole proprietorship with ten employees.  That’s not a typo. Dun and Bradstreet lists the company as having ten employees.

Much of the coal mined in Canada is metallurgical coal for steel making. Mining coal intended for burning for electricity overseas is an outrage in a climate emergency.

Wilkinson’s decision is good news, but the project could well still be approved. Those who have followed anything I have said about Bill C-69, the Liberal version of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, will know I think it is close to useless. This review will be a first big test. The fact the decision to review was at the discretion of the minister confirms that C-69 is just too discretionary!

And last bit of good news and a big thank you to BC Green MLAs Adam Olsen and Sonia Furstenau:

BC Greens have established clear lines before they will support the NDP efforts to change BC Hydro rules. Bill 17 would eliminate the potential economic benefits for First Nations in the development of renewable energy.  It would pull the rug right out from under them – with zero consultation. Bill 17 was denounced by First Nations leaders, notably President of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council, Judith Sayers, but not by many environmental groups.  I am grateful that Dogwood sounded the alarm.

So on this Sunday morning when for every year for the last dozen or so I would normally be decked out in feather boas and beads for Vancouver Pride, this year I am blowing kisses to all virtually. Mark Pride events in your heart as COVID keeps us from crowding the streets with our usual exuberant celebration of LGBTQ2s+ rights.

Have a great rest of your three day weekend!!!

Love and Happy Pride!


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