Jim Manly at Northern Gateway pipeline hearings

Jim Manly, Rabble photo

Public hearings are occurring for the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline that would transport crude oil from Alberta’s oil sands to the northern British Columbia port of Kitimat. There the crude would be loaded onto oil tankers plying the B.C. coastal waterway and sent to China.

There are billions of dollars at stake and the Prime Minister, it appears, will not tolerate anything but a swift and affirmative decision for the project. Various government ministers have, in effect, labelled those who raise concerns as “radical environmentalists” and enemies of the state who are financed from abroad. The government signalled in its recent budget that it will have the Canada Revenue Agency crack down on charitable organizations considered to be too political. It is no secret that they are taking aim at environmental groups.

David Suzuki has chosen to step down from the board of the foundation that he created so that he can continue speak his mind – and he hopes that the Suzuki Foundation will not become a target of the government. The government has also promised that it will shorten the time that it takes to hold an environmental hearing. This kind of activity by governments is common in most petro states. The amount of money at stake is astronomical and that usually trumps democratic process or environmental concern. Continue reading Jim Manly at Northern Gateway pipeline hearings

Remembering Father Bob Ogle

Father Bob Ogle, NDP photo

I was thinking over the Easter weekend of Father Bob Ogle, my late friend and political mentor. It was in April 1998 that he died at age 69 after more than a decade of serious illness.  I wrote a brief piece about him for the Lives Lived section of the Globe and Mail and the article appeared in the newspaper on May 25, 1998. I am reproducing it here.

Lives Lived

Father Bob Ogle. Priest, missionary, author, Member of Parliament. Born on Dec. 24, 1928 in Rosetown, Sask. Died of cancer in Saskatoon, April 1, 1998, aged 69.

Father Bob, as he was commonly called, was a renaissance man, if one may so describe a Catholic priest. He was raised on a poor farm during the Great Depression in a devout Irish Catholic family. He studied for the priesthood in London, Ontario, then returned to Saskatoon where he became an energetic parish priest and seminary rector. Continue reading Remembering Father Bob Ogle

Pulpit and Politics, a review by Ron Dart

My recent book book Pulpit and Politics has been reviewed in the Clarion Journal of Spirituality and Justice, an on line publication.  The reviewer is Ron Dart,  a professor in the Department of Philosophy & Politics at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, B.C. You will see that he recommends the book and is pleased that it deals with religion as an authentic force in public life, rather than dismissing it out of hand as is commonly done in secular academic analysis. He criticizes me, though, for being soft on religious progressives while being hard on religious conservatives. Also, he disapproves of my describing the current reality in Canada as one of competing religious ideologies, one progressive and the other conservative.  Continue reading Pulpit and Politics, a review by Ron Dart

Viterra kills Sask Wheat Pool legacy

Saskatchewan Wheat Pool elevator (GrainElevators.ca)

Farmers fought long and hard to create the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool in 1924, but 88 years later the company, now known as Viterra, is being sold to a Swiss-based multinational called Glencore for $6.1 billion. This is a sad story, a kind of morality tale about the gradual destruction of self-help, local initiative, community control and co-operation. With a few exceptions, there has been virtually no critical media analysis of this event that looks at it from the bottom up. So, as someone who grew up in a small prairie village where the Wheat Pool elevator and the local Pool committee were fixtures, let me offer some observations. I’ll begin with an anecdote. Continue reading Viterra kills Sask Wheat Pool legacy

Catholics protest CCODP cuts by CIDA

Development and Peace

It’s taken awhile but Catholics and their leaders are beginning to protest against draconian cuts made by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace. The organization, created in the 1960s by Canada’s Catholic bishops, has been a long-time partner in development in development with CIDA – but much less so now. As I reported on March 19, CIDA, which had provided Development and Peace with $44.6 million in the years 2006-11, has slashed that amount by two-thirds, to a total of $14.5 million over the next five years. The organization had been waiting anxiously for 18 months while CIDA Minister Bev Oda came to her conclusions. The bad news finally arrived in February 2012. Continue reading Catholics protest CCODP cuts by CIDA

Mike Flynn pans CIDA cuts to CCODP

Mike Flynn, former CCODP Director

Mike Flynn is a frustrated man. He is a former English sector director of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP). He has more than 25 years of experience with voluntary organizations in the field of international development, social justice and public education. He lives in Montreal. He has responded to my recent blog posting about a decision by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to cut CCODP off at the knees.  The organization waited anxiously for months, only to learn recently that its funding from CIDA will be chopped by two-thirds in the coming five years. CIDA had provided $44.6 million in the years 2006-11 for CCODP projects with partners in 30 of the world’s poorest countries. CIDA has decided to shave that amount to a much-reduced $14.5 million over the next five years, a catastrophic loss of $30 million. Continue reading Mike Flynn pans CIDA cuts to CCODP

CIDA hammers Development and Peace

Development and Peace Share Lent Theme

The hammer that had earlier landed on faith-based organizations such as KAIROS and the Mennonite Central Committee has now fallen on the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P). Michael Casey, D&P’s executive director, has just written an emergency letter to the organization’s local volunteer leaders in Catholic dioceses throughout the country.  He informs them that D&P has just heard from CIDA on a funding proposal made back in July 2010. “We have finally received the government’s response,” Casey writes. “It is not exactly what we were hoping for.” That is a considerable understatement. Casey writes that CIDA, which had provided D&P with $44.6 million in the years 2006-11, has chopped that amount by two-thirds, to a total of $14.5 million over the next five years.

Continue reading CIDA hammers Development and Peace

Netanyahu, Harper threaten Iran

Douglas Roche and Ernie Regehr

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Ottawa recently promoting a pre-emptive military attack upon Iran. He visited with his friend and close ally Stephen Harper prior to going to Washington in an attempt to pressure President Obama into supporting his doomsday scenario. Contenders for the Republican nomination were only too happy to beat the same war drum. In Canada, Mr. Harper earlier had obligingly gone out of his way to tell journalists that Iran was the largest single threat to the world’s future and security. Mr. Harper said he had “watched and listened to what the leadership in the Iran regime says, and it frightens me.” Our bold warrior would do well to heed the words and actions of Douglas Roche, Murray Thomson and Ernie Regehr. I’ll get back to their plan in a minute. They are wiser by far than our intemperate leaders. Continue reading Netanyahu, Harper threaten Iran