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Thanks to Harper, I Recently Apologized For Being Canadian | Emma Pullman

Thanks to Harper, I Recently Apologized For Being Canadian | Emma Pullman.

This Saturday, Canadians and Americans will gather outside the Canadian Consulate in Minneapolis to build a united wall of opposition to pipelines, reckless tar sands expansion and runaway climate change.

The event is the first of over 90 confirmed Defend Our Climate, Defend Our Communitiesrallies to take place outside of Canada. According to Carolyn Pennisi, the host of Saturday’s event, these aren’t just Canadian issues. “These are not even just North American issues,” she says, “They’re global issues.”

Pennisi is a self-identified “Canadian American” who grew up in Canada and moved to the U.S. as a teenager. Though she’s lived south of the forty-ninth parallel for most of her life, she says she still feels very Canadian in her heart.

Both the Alberta and federal governments have been pushing hard to sell Alberta’s oilsandsin the country her family now call home. In fact, Alberta Premier Alison Redford is in Washington, D.C., this week pushing Alberta’s “responsible energy development and… strong environmental policies” according to a media release from Redford.

Redford and representatives from the Harper government have been lobbying President Barack Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project. Obama has said he will not approve the project if it increases greenhouse-gas emissions, so Canadian representatives have been arguing KXL won’t increase GHG emissions by driving up bitumen production.Documents obtained from Alberta under Access to Information legislation and released last week by The Globe and Mail dispute this argument.

According to Pennisi, “Our countries are historically friends. But on this issue, Canada’s getting some bad press.”

“I recently apologized for being Canadian, for the first time ever,” admits Pennisi.

“What we keep hearing is Canada is putting in the pipelines and Canada wants to send all this oil down here and Canada this and Canada that… we don’t all want to push our oil on the U.S. Some of us object. But it’s not Canada. It’s just some people in Canada.”

A recent poll from Canada 2020 and the University of Montreal found that a majority of Canadians understand that humans are contributing to global warming and they overwhelmingly believe that the federal government should take the lead on combatting climate change.

In addition to the Keystone XL which would increase total capacity of the pipeline to 1.1 million barrels of diluted bitumen per day, Enbridge filed plans to Monday to build the $2.6B Sandpiper pipeline project across northern Minnesota. If approved, the project will move 225,000 barrels per day of unconventional oil to Minnesota, and 375,000 barrels to Wisconsin. Pennisi notes there are local groups fighting both projects.

Pennisi is concerned that our government’s massive lobbying efforts to push the oilsands are having a detrimental impact. “I’m concerned that our reputation has started to tarnish. For Canada to start being seen as this big greedy polluter is not good for either country.”

Pennisi has participated in activism before: She once took an overnight bus trip to Nebraska to testify for the Keystone XL hearings. But she’s never hosted an event like this before.

At first Pennisi was anxious about drawing folks out to Saturday’s action, but she’s feeling really encouraged at the response from her community.

“I actually have people rallying around me,” Pennisi said, adding that one man from her daughter’s school said he would try to make it despite it being the Sabbath, and others promised to help spread the word on Facebook.

“It’s happening, and it feels so good to have people in my corner rather than to feel like I’m fighting climate change alone.”


Omnibus Budget Bill C-4: Details Coming After It’s Passed, Clement Says

Omnibus Budget Bill C-4: Details Coming After It’s Passed, Clement Says. (source)

Treasury Board President Tony Clement says details on how the Harper government’s omnibus budget bill will affect public servants won’t come until some time after the legislation becomes law.

Clement, responsible for negotiating contracts with the public service, refused Thursday to spell out which public servants would be deemed as essential, and therefore banned from going on strike.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada, one of the country’s largest unions, warns that Bill C-4 will irreparably damage relations between the government and its employees.

The government moved Thursday to limit second-reading debate on the omnibus Budget Implementation Act, which was only introduced Tuesday, to four days before it’s sent to committee for hearings.

Once passed, the legislation would give the government exclusive right to determine essential services, and would limit the use of arbitration for resolving disputes.

Arbitration would only be allowed when bargaining units include at least 80 per cent of positions that are designated as essential, or if both sides in a dispute agree to binding arbitration.

A frustrated-sounding Clement told a local CBC Ottawa radio host Thursday he would not provide details on how he would use the new powers proposed in C-4 until after it passes.

“I am waiting for this legislation to pass and then details will come forward,” he said.

Clement argued the government needs powers to deem positions as essential for public-safety reasons.

But public service unions say the move is merely an attempt to weaken their bargaining power by cutting the number of government employees who can go on strike.

They also warn the legislation will reduce health and safety and human rights protections for government workers.

As with previous budget implementation legislation, the Harper government has included several measures in C-4 that have little to do with the budget or the country’s finances.

Among the proposed changes, the bill would extend solicitor-client privilege protections under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, and appears to give the immigration minister new powers over approving economic class applicants.

As well, it would rewrite the Supreme Court Act to declare that individuals with at least 10 years on the Quebec bar at any point in their career are eligible to sit on the high court’s benches.

That move comes as the current eight judges sitting on Canada’s top court decide whether Marc Nadon, a Federal Court of Appeal judge from Quebec whose appointment faces a legal challenge, is eligible under the rules to join their ranks.


Inside Canada’s top-secret billion-dollar spy palace – Politics – CBC News

Inside Canada’s top-secret billion-dollar spy palace – Politics – CBC News. (FULL ARTICLE)

While the Harper government is preaching government austerity, it is spending almost $1.2 billion on a new Ottawa headquarters for a little-known military spy agency.

It’s the most expensive Canadian government building ever constructed.

Under tight security, CBC obtained an exclusive tour of the top secret complex that most Canadians will otherwise never get to see, a development even National Defence apparently thinks is so grandiose that the department dubbed the project “Camelot” in official documents.

When completed next year, the facility in suburban Ottawa will house the roughly 2,000 employees of the Communications Security Establishment Canada, a federal agency that spies mainly on foreigners by hacking into their computers, reading their email and intercepting their phone calls.

CSEC officially estimates the complex will cost $880 million. But sources close to the project say it will be closer to $1.2 billion by the time all the associated costs are tallied.The new CSEC headquarters will have more floor space than the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, and its cost would build several big city hospitals.

The developer has also been contracted to maintain the building and provide other services for another roughly $3 billion over the next 30 years….


Harper arrives for APEC summit with Malaysian promise to invest $36B – Politics – CBC News

Harper arrives for APEC summit with Malaysian promise to invest $36B – Politics – CBC News. (FULL ARTICLE)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrived in Bali today for an Asia-Pacific leaders’ summit after securing what could he called a $36-billion vote of confidence in his pocket from Malaysia’s state-owned oil and gas company.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak formally welcomed Harper to his country Sunday and used the occasion to tout what Najib called a major direct foreign investment in Canada’s energy sector.

Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas oil and gas company bought Alberta’s Progress Energy last year for more than $5 billion, one of two major acquisitions by Asian state-owned companies that caused the Harper government to tighten up federal policy….


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