Northern Gateway and Aboriginal rights

Poor process and environmental risk

Northern Gateway pipeline route. Sierra Club of Canada image

No one was surprised when the Harper government approved the 1,200-kilometre Northern Gateway pipeline, which would move diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to Kitimat, B.C., along the west coast. There, the product would be loaded onto supertankers that will ply the pristine Douglas Channel and the coast before making its way to export markets in Asia.  This government, like those in other petro states, is close to the oil industry and has acted as its partner and advocate rather than as a guardian of the public interest.

There are many reasons why the pipeline should not be built, and they overlap. One is the danger of a major oil spill from a supertanker. Another is that Enbridge, the major corporate player involved, has a history of pipeline fractures, which spew oil into the lands and waters through which pipelines pass.

Other potent arguments are that the pipeline would run through lands claimed by First Nations and that the oil tankers traveling along the coast would do so adjacent to lands that belong to or are claimed by various First Nations. They have not been consulted in any significant way, even at this late stage when the National Energy Board says — and the government agrees — that the pipeline should go ahead.

Enbridge has been tone deaf in its dealings with First Nations. In one case, workers acting on behalf of the company razed a stand of ancient cedars which had been marked by the Haisla First Nation near Kitimat long before B.C. had even become a British colony. The Haisla have since made it clear that Enbridge employees are not welcome on their land.

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Canadians must respond to Syrian crisis

Accept 10,000 refugees in next two years

Refugee Aurelia Achor has sponsored 29 others. Dennis Gruending photo

Canadians are being urged to respond to Syria’s humanitarian crisis by accepting at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next two years. In one event calling attention to the issue, a group called The Coalition in Ottawa for Refugees recently held a noon-hour rally at the human rights monument adjacent to city hall. Organizers handed out buttons supporting refugee sponsorship and tags saying “I’ve sponsored, ask me.”

The group heard from Aurelia Achor, who came to Canada as a refugee from South Sudan in 1990. She has sponsored 29 refugees on her own since then and she says they are not just Sudanese but have come from many countries. “I have eight children of my own,” she said, “so if I can sponsor refugees, then all of you can do it. Go home and think about it when you are eating your next meal. You can’t sponsor all refugees but you help who you can.”

Rev. Feras Chamas is a Syrian who arrived in Canada eight months ago. He is now serving as a Presbyterian minister in Morrisburg, a town in Eastern Ontario. Rev. Chamas said there are now nearly three million Syrian refugees in the neighbouring countries of Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon.

“These people have done nothing wrong to deserve this. People in the camps are waiting for our help. We can try to distance ourselves but the minute we get close to them and hear their story it appeals to us on moral and ethical grounds. We cannot wash our hands of this.”

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Doctors battle Ottawa on refugee health cuts

Changes cause "mass confusion"

Dr. Doug Gruner, Canadian Doctors for Refugee Health Care, Dennis Gruending photo

Doug Gruner is a doctor at the Bruyère Family Medicine Centre in Ottawa and a member of Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care. He says that the Harper …

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Ottawa’s bogus claims about refugees

Government attacks the most vulnerable

Shopkeeper in Aleppo, Syria in 2010, prior to a cruel civil war. Dennis Gruending photo
In 2010, I visited Syria with my family and we found the people there to be friendly and gracious. But a cruel civil war has now forced an estimated two million Syrians to seek refuge in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt and even Iraq, neighbouring countries ill-equipped for such a surge. The UN has pleaded with countries, such as Canada, to provide a home for at least some of those displaced people. Sweden agreed to accept 15,000, Germany 5,000, the U.S. 2000, and in July 2013 Canada agreed to accept 1,300. In March 2014, however, the Toronto Star reported that only about 10 government-sponsored refugees had managed to enter Canada the previous year.

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Revamping the carbon economy

Greening, alone, will not stop climate change

Greening is not enough, Creative Commons image
I have participated in numerous discussions about climate change and usually they veer off into talking about recycling, composting or church greening. But those efforts, while personally commendable, are completely inadequate.
“The key …

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Continuing to discuss climate change

It’s real. We caused it. But what do we do now?

IPCC scientists say climate change is real, Polaris Institute image
Early in April, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its fourth – and most urgent – report on …

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George Tomita’s marriage ministry at age 92

He calls couples on their anniversary



George and Amy Tomita. He calls each of 170 couples that he married on the day before their anniversary

Our telephone rang early one morning a couple of years ago. “Hello, this is George Tomita calling. You have a …

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Nonviolence, spirituality and social transformation

A conversation at Saint Paul University

Heather Eaton, conflict studies professor at Saint Paul University. Photo courtesy of SPU

Heather Eaton says that Canadians have much to learn about nonviolence and its effect on social change. Eaton, a …

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