Archive for ‘Government’

March 14, 2013

Press Release: Grizzly Bears on the Brink

Press Release from the David Suzuki Foundation:

Grizzly bears deserve immediate legal protection in Canada

Study finds many bear populations are on the brink of extinction

                                                            

For Immediate Release                                                                                                                                             March 14, 2013

VANCOUVER – Grizzly bears could disappear from many parts of Canada unless action is taken to list them under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) and initiate immediate recovery efforts, including protecting their dwindling habitat in some regions.

That’s the conclusion of a David Suzuki Foundation study that analyzed provincial and federal government data on the status of grizzly populations across Western Canada. The report, Securing a National Treasure, revealed that 16 subgroups are on the brink of extinction in regions where they once flourished. This includes nine groups in south-central British Columbia and Alberta’s entire grizzly population, which remains vulnerable despite a recent hunting ban.

“Grizzly bears are at risk of disappearing completely from many parts of Western Canada, including all of southern B.C. and the South Coast Mountains, as well as a few subpopulations in west-central Alberta, unless immediate action is taken to list and protect them under the federal Species at Risk Act,” said Faisal Moola, a scientist with the David Suzuki Foundation. “We must protect this iconic symbol of Canadian wilderness, which plays such a critical role in the maintenance of a healthy ecosystem,” he added.

The Foundation’s report comes on the heels of an assessment by Canada’s expert science panel on species at risk, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), which found that although healthy populations of grizzlies remain in much of Canada’s remote northern wilderness, southern populations in Alberta and B.C. are in trouble as a result of shrinking habitat and excessive human-caused mortality. For this reason, scientists have formally declared the animal a species of “special concern” that should be added to the official List of Wildlife Species at Risk (Schedule 1) under the Species at Risk Act.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent received COSEWIC’s formal recommendation last fall and must now decide whether to legally list grizzly bears under the Species at Risk Act, reject listing, or refer the matter back to COSEWIC for further study.

“For the second time in 10 years, the federal government’s advisory panel on wildlife has strongly recommended legally listing and protecting grizzly bears,” Moola said. “Five different environment ministers, Liberal and Conservative, have failed to act on the scientists’ advice. We hope Canada’s current environment minister will listen to the experts and take action to save this iconic species.”

Canada’s grizzly bears are among the most vulnerable large mammals on the continent for a number of reasons, including low reproductive rates; increasing pressures from resource extraction, such as oil and gas development; climate change and death from sport hunting, control kills and poaching.

“First Nations have shared the land with bears for thousands of years,” said Douglas Neasloss, a renowned bear guide and leader with the Kitasoo/XaixaisBand Council in B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest. “We not only revere the animal in our culture but also depend on it as part of the sustainable tourism industry we are trying to create so that people from around the world can come to see bears in the wild,” he added. “We must implement legislative measures to protect and recover grizzly bears before it’s too late.”

The Species at Risk Act is the key legislative tool for protecting declining species, such as blue whales, caribou and rare plants like butternut trees in Canada. If grizzly bears are successfully added to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk (Schedule 1) under the Species at Risk Act as a species of “special concern”, the government will have to initiate formal measures to protect and recover the species, including creation of a management plan and other conservation measures.

 

January 10, 2013

The Second Amendment in Context

1822_MatthewsMilitia_byDCJohnston_BrownUniversity

Pequot war

Pequot war

Evacuation_of_New_York_by_the_British

American_militia_firing_at_the_British_infantry_from_behind_a_split_rail_fence_during_the_Battle_of_Guilford_Courthouse,_March_15,_1781

American militia firing at the British infantry from behind a split-rail fence during the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, March 15, 1781.

Alfred Jacob Miller  - Snake Indians Testing Bows

Alfred Jacob Miller – Snake Indians Testing Bows

There are several versions of the text of the Second Amendment, each with slight capitalization and punctuation differences, found in the official documents surrounding the adoption of the Bill of Rights.[5] One version was passed by the Congress,[6] while another is found in the copies distributed to the States[7] and then ratified by them.

As passed by the Congress:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.[8]

(Pasted from <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution#Text>)

Don’t you think it’s time the US of A enter the 21st century?

All images courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

February 9, 2012

Canadian National Parks Selling Out…

This will no doubt become a trend, as Parks Canada, under a Conservative government, resorts to allowing private enterprise to mar one of the natural wonders of this great national park. The Disney-fication of our National Parks has begun. Here is the full release from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society which has steadfastly opposed this project:

Ottawa — The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is disappointed that Parks Canada has approved a proposal by Brewster Canada Ltd. for the controversial Glacier Discovery Walk in Jasper National Park.

The development will result in a 300-metre walkway and massive glass-floored “skywalk” along the Icefields Parkway in Jasper National Park, replacing a highway pullout where park visitors can currently park their vehicles and enjoy the free view.

Since the project was first made public, CPAWS has opposed this development proposal, as have many other organizations and individuals from across Canada.  “We’re opposed to this massive development because the long-term impact it may have on wildlife in the area, including mountain goats and other sensitive species, is simply not known,” says Éric Hébert-Daly, CPAWS National Executive Director, based in Ottawa.

This type of development also contradicts the National Parks Policy which states that: “Only outdoor activities which promote the appreciation of a park’s purpose and objectives, which respect the integrity of the ecosystem, and which call for a minimum of built facilities will be permitted.”
CPAWS has kept its supporters informed on this issue, generating thousands of letters of opposition from Canadians to the government and the Parks Canada Agency.

“We’re extremely disappointed with this decision.  The Canada National Parks Act states that ecological integrity shall be the first priority when managing the parks and we don’t believe that this decision reflects this priority,” adds Calgary-based Anne-Marie Syslak, Executive Director of CPAWS Southern Alberta Chapter.

CPAWS supports appropriate opportunities within our national parks for people to grow their appreciation of nature and the special ecosystems they protect. However, projects like this are not suitable within our national park boundaries. A similar US project went ahead in the Grand Canyon, but outside the park boundaries.

“We don’t feel that thrill-seeking experiences such as a glass-bottomed viewing platform offer the type of activity within national parks that builds people’s appreciation of nature,” says CPAWS Northern Alberta chapter Executive Director Kelly Sloan.

“We’re also concerned about the direction Parks Canada is taking by approving this type of development, which appears to be driven by commercial rather than ecological considerations. The agency should have more stringent filters on their management plans and decision-making processes to protect the ecological values and natural landscapes of our national parks,” adds Hébert-Daly.

-Contacts:  Eric Hebert-Daly, (613)899-7226 (Ottawa), Anne-Marie Syslak, amsyslak@cpaws.org ,  403-232-6601 (Calgary), Kelly Sloan,  ksloan@cpaws.org , 780-686-8165 (Edmonton)

Make yourself heard on this: visit: Jasper is our national park not a theme park!

April 7, 2011

A New Royal Alberta Museum

I often complain about the Alberta Government, but there is one thing they do well, and that is museums. Soon, in addition to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology and the stunning Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre, there will be added another world class exhibition of science – a new and updated Royal Alberta Museum.

Great news for Edmonton and I will post more information as it becomes available.

More info at Government Alberta Infrastructure.

Read news release – April 7, 2011

Project Overview – New Royal Alberta Museum

 

December 8, 2009

Schindler’s List

A new scientific study contributed to PNAS by Dr. David Schindler of the University of Alberta confirms that the Tar Sands operations in Northern Alberta are more than just a source of dirty oil and untreatable tailing’s ponds:

December 7, 2009 – (Edmonton) After an exhaustive study of air and water pollution along the Athabasca River from Fort McMurray to Lake Athabasca, researchers say pollution levels have increased as a direct result of nearby oilsands operations.
University of Alberta biological sciences professor David Schindler was part of the team that conducted a long-term air and water study and found high levels of polycyclic aromatic compounds, a group of organic contaminants containing several known carcinogens, cancer-causing agents, mutagens, which can change the genetic composition of a material, and teratogens, chemicals that can disrupt the development of an embryo or fetus.
“We found PACs in parts per trillion, which are toxic at [those levels],” said Schindler.
“We found concentrations that can cause death, mutations and deformities in fish embryos.”

Despite the evidence of this study, Alberta’s Environment has stressed that the pollutant’s are “…consistent with natural sources, erosion of natural outcroppings…” Even though the study reveals what causes the erosion:

“It was quite a big cloud — we could track it chemically out to around 50 kilometres from the sources,” he said. “We think, just based on the signature, that it’s in part dust blowing off the surfaces of these big, expanses of mines.”

What we have in Alberta is an Environment department whose objective seems to be to white wash the oil industry rather than to stand up for the environment. The government web page is a hub for oil industry apologetics. For example, to hide the dirty oil aspect of the tar sands, the provincial government uses a twisted logic and insists on calling them the “oil sands”

“Oil sands or tar sands?

The hydrocarbon mixtures found in northern Alberta have historically been referred to as tar, pitch or asphalt. However, ‘oil sands’ is now used most often to describe the naturally occurring bitumen deposits. This helps distinguish it from the other terms, which are associated with distilled or man-made products, such as the mixtures used to pave roads.

Oil sands is an accurate term because bitumen, a heavy petroleum product is mixed with the sand. It makes sense to describe the resource as oil sands because oil is what is finally derived from the bitumen.”

 Now everyone knows that Alberta’s sands contain bitumen, defined as: Any of various flammable mixtures of hydrocarbons and other substances, occurring naturally or obtained by distillation from coal or petroleum, that are a component of asphalt and tar and are used for surfacing roads and for waterproofing. So in attempting to redefine them as “oil sands”, the government is being misleading- the state of the oil is the sand is bituminous. Or in the vernacular, tar!

I wish the media, at the very least, would stop swallowing the government propaganda and call a spade a spade – they are Tar Sands. Dirty oil indeed, and extracted with methods that pollute the air and water and leave massive untreatable lakes of dirty toxic residues.

Sources:
The University of Alberta
CBC News 
Tar Sands Watch

The open access study:
Oil sands development contributes polycyclic aromatic compounds to the Athabasca River and its tributaries
Erin N. Kelly, Jeffrey W. Short, David W. Schindler, Peter V. Hodson, Mingsheng Ma, Alvin K. Kwan and Barbra L. Fortin
Abstract:

For over a decade, the contribution of oil sands mining and processing to the pollution of the Athabasca River has been controversial. We show that the oil sands development is a greater source of contamination than previously realized. In 2008, within 50 km of oil sands upgrading facilities, the loading to the snowpack of airborne particulates was 11,400 T over 4 months and included 391 kg of polycyclic aromatic compounds (PAC), equivalent to 600 T of bitumen, while 168 kg of dissolved PAC was also deposited. Dissolved PAC concentrations in tributaries to the Athabasca increased from 0.009 μg/L upstream of oil sands development to 0.023 μg/L in winter and to 0.202 μg/L in summer downstream. In the Athabasca, dissolved PAC concentrations were mostly <0.025 μg/L in winter and 0.030 μg/L in summer, except near oil sands upgrading facilities and tailings ponds in winter (0.031–0.083 μg/L) and downstream of new development in summer (0.063–0.135 μg/L). In the Athabasca and its tributaries, development within the past 2 years was related to elevated dissolved PAC concentrations that were likely toxic to fish embryos. In melted snow, dissolved PAC concentrations were up to 4.8 μg/L, thus, spring snowmelt and washout during rain events are important unknowns. These results indicate that major changes are needed to the way that environmental impacts of oil sands development are monitored and managed.

August 14, 2009

The Alberta Bear Massacre

In a revolting display of irresponsibility, the town of Conklin and the Alberta Progressive Conservative Government allowed bears to become habituated to garbage. Due to this habituation, Alberta Fish and Wildlife was forced to kill 12 of the bears. According to a report from Canada.com, Sustainable Resources Development spokesman Dave Ealey said,

“Once bears are habituated to a site, they will break down fences,we don’t put up bear fences. That’s something that municipalities can do if they feel it’s becoming a problem.”

…if they feel it’s becoming a problem.”???

Killing 12 bears at an open pit garbage dump that is not fenced does not constitute a problem? Perhaps in the eyes of the Alberta Government, who have killed between 75 and 280 bears each year since 2001, 12 bears in a single day is not unusual. The Canada.com goes on to show the Alberta Conservative Governments disdain for wildlife,

“Wildlife officers did not conduct an investigation or long-term assessment and did not contact landfill managers or local leaders before going to the dump on Aug. 11 and shooting the 12 black bears.”

and,

“The ministry has no other plans to prevent similar situations from developing in the future. There are no plans to change the laws to require bear-proof fencing around dumps”.

The Alberta Wilderness Association has issued the following news release concerning the problem:

Sadly, twelve fine black bears were sacrificed by Fish and Wildlife officials at Conklin earlier this week because of the carelessness of humans. AWA is calling for an independent investigation of the incident and for charges to be laid if negligence is found related to the improper fencing and the feeding of bears by local residents. AWA is also asking for information as to whether this is a unique or more commonplace occurrence in the bear country of rural Alberta.

Conklin is a small town south of Fort McMurray, in the heart of the boreal forest where black bears are an integral part of the ecology. The bears were shot at the garbage dump near the town after PTI Conklin Lodge called in a complaint. This lodge provides housing for several hundred forestry and oil and gas workers. The attractiveness of this dump to bears must have been long known to the lodge, Conklin residents, Alberta Environment officials and Alberta Sustainable Resource Development personnel.

AWA is outraged that no one in government, industry or the local community took the responsibility to ensure the dump was properly fenced. Why, when forestry and oil and gas field camps are obliged by law to handle their garbage so that wildlife is not attracted, is this dump at Conklin not held to the same standard? Why wasn’t it immediately shut down when government officials became aware of the problem? “This is just one in a series of incidents that is representative of Alberta’s ongoing war on wildlife,” said Cliff Wallis, AWA Vice-President.

“The scene at Conklin seems taken from the 1950s instead of 2009,” said Vivian Pharis, AWA Board member. “Sixty years ago every small Canadian town had a garbage pit, coulee or riverbank where, out of sight and out of mind, everything was eventually thrown. These dumps often provided townsfolk with entertainment as they were often picturesque and attracted wildlife, particularly bears, for viewing. Even Banff’s dump used to be a must-see for tourists wanting to observe bears. We now know that this was wildlife and people management at its worst. Thankfully, open garbage pits are largely a thing of the past. Steps must be taken to ensure that this scene is never repeated again.”

Ironically, just as the chance photo of a cute ground squirrel has drawn global attention to Alberta’s beauty and wildlife, the story of the senseless slaughter of twelve black bears has the potential to bring Alberta global condemnation.

We need a government with the back bone to make wilderness and wildlife issues seriously. We need legislation that requires proper garbage disposal by all municipalities, no matter what the size. And we need Ted Morton, the minister responsible, to resign for his inadequate response to this important issue.

See this report at the Calgary Herald for more information.

June 16, 2009

Alberta Kills Wolves to Protect Woodland Caribou…

…but refuses to protect land and still allows disruptive resource extraction to continue:

A caribou conservation committee appointed by the government discovered this week the province has no plans to formally protect land to save two rapidly dwindling woodland caribou herds in the northern foothills.

It’s estimated between 60 to 80 animals remain in the Little Smoky herd in the northern foothills just east of Grande Cache. The neighbouring A La Peche herd has about 80 animals. About 400 wolves have been killed by the provincial government to stave off the final disappearance of these herds.

Read the complete article in the Edmonton Journal.

For more on wolves and the Woodland Caribou see:

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