Elizabeth May is the Leader of the Green Party of Canada, Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands, British Columbia, and the first Green Party member to win a seat in a federal Parliament or Legislature in Canada and North America. She was named Parliamentarian of the Year for 2012.
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Tags: Elizabeth May, first, Green Party, leader
Categories : Elizabeth May
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says a proposed west-east pipeline project will not go forward unless it addresses key environmental concerns.
Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. is in the process of lining up potential producers who would use the proposed pipeline, which would run from Alberta to New Brunswick.
The federal Liberal leader told the CBC’s Information Morning Fredericton on Thursday he has specific questions about potential toxins that may be used in the pipeline.
“I think it is a proposal that is extremely interesting. We are waiting to look at how they are going to deal with both the community, local, aboriginal concerns and the environmental concerns,” Trudeau said.
Premier David Alward said federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau sent a bad message to the rest of Canada with his pipeline comments. (CBC)
“The [substance] that they put to make that thick crude, thick bitumen run through those pipes can be very toxic. I want to see the plan for being environmentally responsible on it because it won’t go ahead if it will cost us on pollution, in degradation and in inefficiencies in the coming years.”
The pipeline project has won widespread support from political leaders in New Brunswick. Trudeau’s comments created a stir in question period in Fredericton on Thursday.
Premier David Alward said Trudeau’s comments “sent a bad message to the rest of Canada.”
He called on provincial Liberal Leader Brian Gallant to ask Trudeau to clarify his remarks about the proposed pipeline project.
‘Disappointing to say the least’
Energy Minister Craig Leonard said any environmental concerns will be addressed during the pipeline’s regulatory approval process. (CBC)
“So where does the leader of the opposition of New Brunswick stand, does he support the people of New Brunswick and jobs in New Brunswick, so our young people can work here, or does he support the Liberal Party of Canada?” Alward said.
Gallant tried to counter Alward’s attack by expressing his party’s support for the project.
“It is something we support whole-heartedly,” Gallant said.
Energy Minister Craig Leonard also called on Gallant to demand Trudeau immediately clarify his remarks.
He said political uncertainty over an infrastructure project this important to the province is not good.
“There are investors who are looking for certainty on the political side. We have provided that from our provincial government. It was a big issue when we were able to say the provincial legislature supported the project unanimously,” Leonard said.
“Any time you have a statement of non-support that is never a positive thing. I won’t speculate on the impact it would have on the overall project. We are trying to build on the positive economic development benefits and the pipeline would have a huge impact on our province and to have the federal leader of the Liberal Party to be non-commital is disappointing to say the least.”
Leonard said any concerns raised by Trudeau about the environment would be addressed during the regulatory phase of the project and any environmental impact assessments.
Politicians lobby for pipeline
Premier David Alward travelled to Calgary in February to lobby Alberta politicians and oil patch executives on the project. Provincial Liberal Leader Brian Gallant has also endorsed the pipeline.
Saint John Mayor Mel Norton followed in the premier’s footsteps and made his own trip to Calgary to express his support for the pipeline project.
Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said in December, months before TransCanada announced its proposal, the west-east pipeline project would be of national interest during a trip to Saint John.
Officials with Irving Oil Ltd. have indicated the company’s Saint John-based refinery, which is the largest in Canada, could handle western crude oil.
The New Brunswick government has estimated the pipeline project has the possibility of creating 2,000 jobs during the construction phase and a few hundred refinery jobs afterward.
TransCanada has said if the next phase is successful, the pipeline company plans to start seeking regulatory approvals later in 2013, and the oil could start flowing to Eastern Canada by late 2017.
The proposal would be to convert 3,000 kilometres of the company’s natural gas pipelines to allow for crude oil to be transported. The company would also be looking at building 1,400 kilometres of new pipeline from Quebec into Saint John.
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Tags: David Alward, eastern pipeline, Justin Trudeau, Liberal, TransCanada
Categories : Canada, New Brunswick
Extreme Energy development is a risk for investment and the planet, Indigenous delegates tell Royal Dutch Shell shareholders in The Hague, Netherlands
Posted at Censored News
Tuesday May 21st, The Hague, Netherlands- Today members of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) and the Native Village of Point Hope, Alaska attended the Royal Dutch Shell AGM to confront the Chairman and Board over Shell’s decision to pursue highly risky ‘extreme energy’ projects without adequate consultation and accommodation of Indigenous communities. Projects such as Arctic off-shore drilling and tar sands will have little long term benefit for the company, and expose it to reputational damage, political and financial risk, including litigation.
“The ACFN leadership has made a commitment to protect our lands, rights and people currently being threatened by tar sands development. Our leadership has repeatedly tried exploring amenable agreements and options with Shell regarding their current tar sands proposals for the Jackpine expansion and the Pierre River mine projects. We want to work directly with the company to adequately identify direct impacts and solutions. However, Shell has repeatedly denied our requests and we have been disappointed by their inability to make concessions to work with us,” stated Eriel Deranger, member and Communications Coordinator of the ACFN. “Today I brought forward our concerns to Shell’s Board about current and proposed tar sands projects and the lack of adequate consultation.[i] I sincerely hope the Board keep sits word to speak with their Canadian president to address our concerns and potentially adjust the environmental impact assessment process. If Shell continues to move forward in project development without working directly with our community it will continue to lead toward more delays in project approvals, litigation and severe financial risk for Shell,[ii]” continued Deranger.
Shell Oil Canada has put forward two new proposals in the Athabasca tar sands. The Jackpine mine expansion application recently completed the public review process and is awaiting approval May 31, 2013. The Pierre River mine will be entering its public review process later this year and the ACFN will continue to intervene to ensure the protection of their lands, rights and vital waterways.
“Shell has been unaccountable and unresponsive for recent spills in our community, which our community members have been monitoring and testing. We live surrounded by 63 petrol-chemical operators in 50 km radius. Our health, culture and rights are severely impacted already and we do not support tar sands refining or pipelines in our community. We have our future generations to protect,” said Vanessa Grey, community member of Aamwjiwnaang First Nation (AFN).
AFN is the proposed start for the highly contested tar sands Line 9pipeline reversal and home to a Shell tar sands refinery. The pipelines such as Keystone XL, Enbridge Northern Gateway and Line 9are facing massive public opposition, and look unlikely to be built soon. The price of tar sands crude has dropped as a result.
Mae Hank, representative of Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), attended the AGM to bring forward concerns regarding Shell’s Arctic offshore activities.[iii]Litigation, along with several other incidents has helped slow the rush to drill in the Arctic but the Tribal communities remained concerned Shell has not heeded these warnings.[iv]
“Shell has stated that despite their current ‘pause’ in their Arctic offshore Alaska activities, the company is committed to drill there again in the future,” she said. “As an Inupiat Mother and Grandmother, I strongly oppose this plan, as do a majority of Inupiat. There is still no viable spill plan in place not only for cleaning up spills but how the company will compensate our community for the loss of food and food security.[v] I asked the Chairman and the Board to explain how they would compensate our community’s food security and needs when the next major oil spill disaster happens.The Chairman and the board simply danced around the question and did nothing to quell my concerns.”
Despite being plagued with substantial problems throughout and after the drilling season, Shell plans to continue its efforts for exploratory drilling in 2014 in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. The company has spent $4.5bn securing permits to drill in Arctic waters, however they have been proven incapable of operating in the area. Shell’s experiences should be a cautionary tale as decisions are made about whether to authorize these activities in the future.
For More Information:
Chief Allan Adam, ACFN (780)713-1220
Faith Gemmill, Executive Director REDOIL (907) 750-0188
Vanessa Grey, Aamjiwnaag Community Member (226) 349-6073
Suzanne Dhaliwal, UK Tar Sands Network
Eriel Deranger, Communications Coordinator, ACFN
Mae Hank, Inupiat community member from Point Hope, Alaska
The Athabasca Chipewyan released a video entitled ACFN challenges new Shell tar sands mines, which depicts the struggle of the community and the importance of protecting the lands and rights of their First Nation. The video is available at http://youtu.be/zE92JEg4JEU
More information on ACFN’s court challenge is available athttp://acfnchallenge.org
[i]Shell has been operating in Alberta’s tar sands since 1956 and now accounts for approximately 20% of overall operations in the region. www.shell.ca/oilsands
[ii]In November 2011 the First Nation filed suit against the company citing breaches of past agreements and over $1.5 mil in losses forthe First Nation and severe adverse impacts on treaty rights. In October 2012, the ACFN file a legal challenge of Shell’s application of the Jackpine Mine Expansion and intervened in the public hearing process leading to major delays in the projects approval. www.acfnchallenge.wordpress.com
[iii]Since 2007, Royal Dutch Shell has been trying to rush through risky exploration drilling proposals for the Beaufort, and Chukchi seas of the Arctic Ocean in Alaska.
[iv]This year on Feb. 27, 2013 Royal Dutch Shell announced that it has suspended plans for oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean for 2013 due to a year of mishaps. Last summer a massive sheet of ice halted their drilling program, this year the Kulluk drill rig ran aground on New Year’s Eve, and the Noble Discoverer drill ship is the subject of a criminal investigation over safety and pollution-related violations among other events.
[v]The Beaufort Sea, and Chukchi Seas of the Arctic Ocean are critical to the Indigenous people of Alaska’s Arctic Slope, the Inupiat,subsistence lifestyle. The Beaufort and Chukchi Seas provide critical habitat for the endangered bowhead whale, beluga whales, gray whales,walruses, seals and polar bears as well as staging and molting areas for migratory birds among them threatened spectacled and Steller’s eiders.
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Tags: AFCN, law suit, Shell, The Hague
Categories : Canada, North America
Rady Ananda, Activist Post
At the G8 Summit held two weeks ago at Camp David, President Obama met with private industry and African heads of state to launch the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, a euphemism for monocultured, genetically modified crops and toxic agrochemicals aimed at making poor farmers debt slaves to corporations, while destroying the ecosphere for profit.
And Bono, of the rock group U2, is out shilling for Monsanto on this one.
It’s phase 2 of the Green Revolution. Tanzania, Ghana, and Ethiopia are the first to fall for the deception, with Mozambique, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and other African nations lining up for the “Grow Africa Partnership,” under Obama’s “Global Agricultural Development” plan.
In Obama Pitches India Model of GM Genocide to Africa, Scott Creighton writes:
But African civil society wants no part of this latest Monsanto aligned ‘public private partnership.’ Whatever will the progressives do now that their flawless hero has teamed up with their most hated nemesis to exploit an entire continent like they did to India not that long ago?
With a commitment of $3 billion, Obama plans to ‘partner up’ with mega-multinationals like Monsanto, Diageo, Dupont, Cargill, Vodafone, Walmart, Pepsico, Prudential, Syngenta International, and Swiss Re because, as one USAID representative says ‘There are things that only companies can do, like building silos for storage and developing seeds and fertilizers.’
Of course, that’s an outrageous lie. Private citizens have been building their own silos for centuries. But it’s true that only the biowreck engineers will foist patented seeds and toxic chemicals on Africa.
Bono says that there has to be a ‘public private partnership’ in order to get this done and that they are going to be using the ideas of the African people and farmers. Really? This is what the African farmers say to that…‘We request that: – governments, FAO, the G8, the World Bank and the GAFSP reconsider their promotion of Public/Private Partnerships which, as they are now conceived, are not suitable instruments to support the family farms which are the very basis of African food security and sovereignty.’ African Civil Society Organizations
I wonder if that could be any clearer. They don’t WANT the public private partnerships involved in this process…. It’s not enough that huge mega-corporations are bleeding the nations of Africa dry by sucking the valuable mineral resources out of their hills. No. As Bono says about the development in Africa:‘They’re future consumers for the United States. The president is talkingbusiness. This is good. It’s a whole new development paradigm today. The old donor/recipient relationship… it’s over.’[Editor: It's pretty clear what Obama's Post-Presidency occupation will be: the Corporate Takeover of Africa. He will become a multi-billionaire for his efforts, for sure.]
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Tags: Africa, Bono, Monsanto
Categories : Global
A Texas appeals court has ruled that a Beaumont judge did not err when he granted a foreign company’s petition to condemn land for the construction of a crude oil pipeline.
TransCanada is constructing the Keystone Pipeline to carry crude from Alberta, Canada, to the Texas Gulf Coast, court papers say.
A group of Southeast Texas rice farmers balked at the land sale, so in June 2011 TransCanada filed a petition for condemnation against Texas Rice Land Partners, James and David Holland and Mike and Walter Latta.
On Sept. 24, 2012, Judge Tom Rugg, who was presiding over the Jefferson County Court at Law No. 1 at the time, ruled that TransCanada is a common carrier and therefore had the right to seize land in Jefferson County for the pipeline through the power of eminent domain.
A month later, Texas Rice Land Partners filed the petition for a writ of mandamus, court records show.
On May 23 the Texas Ninth District Court of Appeals denied TRLP’s petition for writ of mandamus to reverse a lower court’s ruling that TransCanada is a common carrier with eminent domain powers.
Justices in Beaumont heard oral arguments on March 7.
In its opinion, authored by Justice Charles Kreger, the Ninth Court found TransCanada produced “undisputed evidence” substantiating its common carrier status.
“We conclude the trial court did not abuse its discretion in granting TransCanada’s motion for writ of possession,” the opinion states. “We deny (TRLP’s) petition for writ of mandamus.”
In its appeal, Texas Rice Land Partners argued that the “trial court abused its discretion by refusing to require TransCanada to establish its authority as a common carrier before granting TransCanada possession of Texas rice property.”
“TransCanada does not have the power of eminent domain because it is not a common carrier and the pipeline is not a common carrier pipeline.”
Conversely, TransCanada argued in court papers that the pipeline is a common carrier pipeline available for public use and that the foreign company is a common carrier.
During a Sept. 12 hearing, Terry Wood, the attorney for the rice farmers, attempted to link the TransCanda case to a ruling made by the Texas Supreme Court in August 2011 denying Denbury Green common carrier status in a pipeline project of its own.
However, the Denbury pipeline would have carried CO2, not crude oil.
TransCanada is represented in part by Thomas Zabel, attorney for the Houston law firm Zabel Freeman.
Jefferson County case No. 118867
Appeals case No. 09-12-00484
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Tags: Keystone XL, pipeline, TransCanada
Categories : North America
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Tags: Craig Leonard, frack, wastewater
Categories : New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Shale Gas Fracking
21 MAY 2013 06:10PM
The British Columbia election results were a surprise, with most polls over the last four years consistently showing the NDP leading the governing Liberals, with more recent polls having shown a 20-point lead for the NDP. For the B.C. Liberals to win a convincing majority government was a major upset. This election was clear evidence of the unpredictability of politics, of the axiom that the only poll which matters is the one on election day.
How much the victory of the B.C. Liberals is a victory for liberalism – for the Liberal Party in a broader national context – is questionable. The B.C. Liberals are not affiliated to the federal party, and are essentially a centre-right party consisting of many supporters from the old rightwing Social Credit Party which was once British Columbia’s dominant governing party.
Many reasons can be given for this unexpected victory by the B.C. Liberals. Premier Christy Clark is naturally charismatic, especially in comparison to the more low-key NDP leader Adrian Dix. Nancy Maclean of Macleans magazine has attributed the NDP loss to Mr. Dix’s employment of the Layton brain trust which did not understand the nuances of British Columbia politics, which tried to apply the positive Layton campaign style to Mr. Dix, who had a very different disposition. That the B.C. Liberals went on the attack while the B.C. NDP did not could be another potential reason.
An interesting analysis comes from Mike Smyth of the Province newspaper in British Columbia. He tweeted that Mr. Dix’s refusal to take firm positions was a problem, “Adrian Dix had a 20-point lead, but refused to say what he would do on labour code, private schools, fracking, carbon tax… message to voters: elect us first, we’ll explain later. Didn’t work very well. Raised suspicions: why won’t he say?”
Furthermore, Mr. Smyth noted on twitter that “Mr. Dix refused to answer questions on key issues right up to election day. He was in the Province editorial board meeting Sunday, stonewalled.”
Even on the controversial oilsands pipeline that would go through British Columbia, while Mr. Dix had come out against it during the election, he had previously been for it, raising accusations that he was “for it before he was against it.”
This is a clear caution to politicians who avoid taking clear positions and try to be everything to everyone. Many voters will appreciate a candidate who has clear convictions and says what they stand for, even if they may not agree with everything they say – consider the successes, for example, of Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi who gained momentum as a mayoral candidate putting forward comprehensive ideas.
Consider, on the right, Mike Harris who laid out a clear manifesto with his “Common Sense Revolution” which was appealing after the policy inconsistencies of the previous NDP government in Ontario. On the centre-left, Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals came back from what seemed certain defeat in 2011 through clear and comprehensive policies on environmental conservation and green energy – which garnered an endorsement from David Suzuki – in addition to promoting employment opportunities for immigrants. More recently, Ontario’s current Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne has accepted and added to NDP budget demands in areas such as increasing social assistance for the poor, outflanking the NDP in that province and making them look unreasonable as Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath has – at the time of the writing of this column – refused to firmly say if she will support or oppose the budget of the minority Liberal government.
In a recent Innovative Research Group poll, Ontario Liberal support was at 37 per cent to 30 per cent for the Tories with the NDP at 25 per cent. An Abacus research poll, while showing the Liberals and Tories tied, has shown NDP support dropping from 31 per cent to 25 per cent.
These positive numbers for the Liberals in Ontario can be seen as vindication of a substantive policy approach, with comprehensive policies in areas such as environmental conservation and poverty-reduction, in contrast to the more populist approach of the Ontario NDP’s Andrea Horwath.
Back to British Columbia: the recent election was also notable for the first elected Green Party candidate at the provincial level in Canada, University of Victoria climate science professor Andrew Weaver who ran – and won – in a Vancouver Island riding. More voices in political debate are important, and the Green Party is a valuable voice at the table advocating for the transition to an environmentally sustainable economy and to seriously address the global climate change crisis. The productive role played by Green Party MP Elizabeth May on Parliament Hill is testament to the important voice the Green Party brings to the table.
Mr. Weaver’s campaign blog included a letter praising – though not outright endorsing – him from former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion, stating “I am also impressed by your determination to not only involve your skills and talents for scientific advancement, but also for the improvement of the public domain.” Emphasizing the importance of working across partisan lines, Mr. Weaver praised initiatives from both Mr. Dion and Mr. Mulcair on his campaign blog.
Are there wider national implications to the British Columbia election? For the federal NDP this election was a setback not only because Mr. Layton’s 2011 team were key players, but because – as columnist Chantal Hebert has noted – an NDP government in Canada’s third most populous province would have strengthened the case for the federal NDP as a party ready for government.
Though whether there are long-term implications for the next federal election – which is two years away – is harder to say. Where two years ago the federal NDP unexpectedly vaulted to official opposition through a surge in Quebec (where they had little support before) so the B.C. NDP unexpectedly lost what seemed a certain win.
Politics can be volatile, an up and down affair, and the poll that matters most, is the one on election day
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Tags: BC election, Clark, Dix, Green, Liberal, NDP, policy
Categories : Canada
Just recently, a Nova Scotia NDP video made the rounds on social media, in anticipation of a provincial election which will likely come sometime this year. Those within the NDP ranks shared it widely, and were adamant that Premier Darrell Dexter deserves our support for re-election.
The video, when considering Dexter’s record, is unfortunately completely misleading. It contains half-truths and distortions about cutting the provincial debt while protecting public services and creating well paying jobs, while referring to Dexter as a “genuine leader”. It is very short on substance, and heavy on spin and misleading PR, which in a sense is the best way to summarize the Dexter government’s progressive credentials and commitment to social democracy and justice.
Dexter government has been an austerity government.
Throughout his first mandate, Premier Dexter has embraced the Tony Blair inspired ‘Third Way’, by serving the interests of the corporate elite and the 1%, with an agenda which greatly resembles the neo-liberalism of the Liberals and Conservatives, while governing as the NDP in name only.
Dexter has mandated austerity, corporate welfare and tax breaks, outsourcing and privatization of public services and union jobs, turned his back on organized labour and made life much more difficult for students, workers and the impoverished. In the process, Dexter has ruined the Nova Scotia’s NDP reputation while damaging the party brand across the country. A Darrell Dexter defeat in the next Nova Scotia provincial election will ultimately be a progressive victory, as Dexter will therefore not be hailed as a party stalwart, such as Roy Romanow, who ushered in brutal austerity measures in Saskatchewan and remains a renowned figure with both the party brass and media.
Upon election to a majority government in 2009, Darrell Dexter faced a looming deficit and had a clear choice: balance the budget via more revenue and taxation, or neglect traditional social justice principles by embracing austerity. By the second year of his mandate, Dexter chose to cut substantial funding to education, health care and post-secondary education over a four-year period estimated at $772 million. According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (Nova Scotia), the overall impact of these cuts is a loss of 10,000 jobs, while public service cuts by the federal government are making things worse. The alternative budget presented by the CCPA-NS allows for the budget to be balanced by 2015-2016 through raising revenues and saving smartly, as opposed to the austerity approach of balancing the budget by 2013-2014 to coincide with an election cycle.
Harsh cuts to education
Dexter’s cuts to education have been particularly harsh. The Dexter government will be cutting post-secondary education up to ten per cent, while tuition for full-time undergraduate students rose by 5 per cent in 2012 according to Statistics Canada.
Nova Scotia’s university students are charged with the second highest graduate and third highest undergraduate tuition fees in Canada, despite a three year cap on tuition. Nova Scotia students graduate with an average debt of $31,000. At the secondary and elementary school levels, more than 150 teachers and 40 educational workers and support staff will lose their jobs, with larger class sizes and fewer courses.
The Dexter government not only saw all of this coming, but endorsed it in their Report on the University System in Nova Scotia. In addition, Dexter commissioned ex-Bank of Montreal Vice-President Tim O’Neill to recommend scrapping a tuition freeze while allowing tuition fees to rise. You would think that the Quebec student movement and accompanying solidarity rallies held across the country this past summer would possibly resonate, or find some sympathy within an NDP provincial government. Or perhaps Dexter would begin to pay attention when Halifax MP and federal NDP Deputy Leader Megan Leslie calls you out. Regardless, it seems that Dexter is more inclined to listen to bankers than the concerns of students.
Labour: Dexter does little for NDP’s natural constituency
The NDP has traditionally been an ally and defender of organized labour: going to bat for unions and improving the overall conditions for workers. Yet the Dexter government has done very little for this natural constituency and solid foundation of support. While the Dexter government made some minor changes to the Trade Union Act, in which Nova Scotia’s labour board or an arbitrator can resolve a first collective agreement if a union and firm could not conclude one on their own, this is essentially all they have done for workers.
In an appearance before the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, Dexter told the audience that “we don’t see it as necessary to go any further” in regards to championing the interests of workers. He gave a flat-out “no” to making it easier for workers to organize and consolidate unions in their workplace. Dexter refused to change the laws. He could have made it much easier: that only a specific number of workers have to sign cards for union certification.
Right now in Nova Scotia, forty per cent of workers have to sign a union card in order to initiate a vote for certification. But back in 2005, when the NDP were in opposition, current Deputy Premier Frank Corbett introduced nearly the exact same legislation, but with a sixty per cent requirement of workers’ signatures to complete certification. In fact, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives called the Dexter government out again last spring, for its inability to improve wages, parental leave, overtime and vacation stipulations, and pay equity.
However the worst is not merely the Dexter government’s refusal to champion the interests of Nova Scotia workers, but rather its embrace of privatization of public service union jobs. The Dexter government just recently concluded a deal with IBM Canada in which the province’s SAP computer system, a public service maintained by union workers, will be outsourced to the multi-national in an un-tendered agreement.
Currently, Nova Scotia’s SAP system administers human resources, budgetary, payroll, procurement and other related data from various municipal organizations, school boards, housing and district health administrators, and government branches. In addition, 120 workers, 73 of which are unionized, currently administer the SAP system, yet IBM will only hire 75 of them on two year contracts, without the same benefits or job security. So far, many of the unionized workers have declined the move to IBM. Joan Jessome, the president of the Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union, voiced the concerns shared by those committed to public services and quality jobs. “They have opened the door to the privatization of the public service. It really makes us nervous, and we will be fighting it.”
It is unfathomable that an NDP provincial government would be privatizing a public service and union jobs to boot; that an NDP government would completely turn its back on organized labour, a traditional pillar of bedrock party support. To add insult to injury, this move by the Dexter government has the complete backing of Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie. “Whenever the government is outsourcing jobs in order to create other private sector jobs in the province, I’m prepared to support that as long as they are not offering payroll rebates just to move existing jobs around.”
Discarding seniors and the working poor
In the Dexter government’s rush to embrace neoliberalism and neglect natural grassroots supporters like students and organized labour, another constituency Dexter is discarding are urban residents, particularly seniors and the working poor. The Dexter government has abandoned rent control, resulting in skyrocketing rent which is unaffordable for seniors and students.
Halifax councillors reported receiving an increase in complaints; that the rent increases are simply unaffordable for workers, students and seniors. But by neglecting natural NDP supporters, it seems Dexter has found himself new supporters: landlords. The Investment Property Owners of Nova Scotia were reportedly “thrilled” that the Dexter government had no intention of resurrecting rent control, which will only increase landlords’ bottom line, with rent increase complaints continuing to increase.
However, the new base of support that the Dexter government has been very keen on attracting is the business elite. Dexter has gone on a corporate welfare spending spree, lavishing hundreds of millions of tax payer dollars on lucrative, private corporations.
The Dexter government maintains that this kind of spending is necessary in order to create jobs, yet if they were truly serious about job creation and remained true to core NDP values, they would be pursuing traditional, successful and admirable initiatives such as: full employment, public works projects and the growth, promotion and support for worker cooperatives, credit unions, and championing democratic workers’ control of the means of production through nationalization.
Regardless, the Dexter government has the corporate welfare fever: $304 million to Irving Shipyard ($260 million of the loan is forgivable while only $44 million is repayable) while refusing to release the conditions and details of the agreement, to build combat vessels worth $25 billion over the following thirty years, which has the full support of both opposition parties; $25 million for Cooke Aquaculture ($16 million repayable, $9 million forgivable), an open-pen salmon farming corporation, which just recently had to destroy 700,000 fish due to an epidemic of infectious salmon anemia near Shelburne Harbour; a nice tax break to Imperial Oil, which the Dexter government argued was necessary in order to avoid Imperial Oil closing its Dartmouth refinery, but will close this year anyways. While the Dexter government has engaged in a corporate welfare blitz of hundreds of millions of dollars, it can’t find $25,000 to fund the Yarmouth homeless youth centre.
In addition to Dexter’s love of the private sector and corporate interests, including the aforementioned tax break for fossil fuel industry giant Imperial Oil, the Dexter government also seems to have its sights set on hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.
While Dexter recently delayed a decision to review this controversial method of natural gas extraction in Nova Scotia for two years (conveniently put off until after a provincial election), PetroWorth Resources Inc. had already been granted permission by the province to drill an exploratory well at West Lake Ainslie. Also, seven million litres of potentially radioactive fracking waste water was recently processed through Windsor’s water processing plant, and then released into the Minas Basin. To date, water used for fracking in Nova Scotia was placed in holding ponds in Noel, Kennetcook and Debert. Standard water treatment plants are not designed to remove the kinds of chemicals and natural radioactive materials in water from fracking.
What also can’t be neglected is the recent report from Nova Scotia Auditor General Jacques Lapointe, regarding the market projections of the newly planned $150 million Halifax convention centre. Lapointe blasted the projections made by Trade Centre Ltd., that $754 million would be generated in spending as a result over the next decade, stating that he was expecting a much more comprehensive analysis and some realities of the industry were ignored.
“The financial management of this organization is very poor. So the fact that the financial projections they put together would also be poor would at least be consistent.” The report found that expenditures could fall by $75 million if market projections are off by 10 per cent or fewer, and the financial rewards would fall by $377 million if the market projections are off by 50 per cent or less. The report also indicated that Dexter refused Lapointe’s recommendation that a third-party conclude whether a new convention centre was needed. Given Dexter’s penchant for handing out tax payer dollars to, and doing favours for corporate interests, this seems like the case once again.
No democratic reform on the agenda
Furthermore, the Dexter government hasn’t acted on legislating proportional representation, which Jack Layton (and now Tom Mulcair) made a high priority for the NDP. While the federal and provincial parties don’t necessarily share the same platform, the Nova Scotia NDP’s lack of movement on this crucial issue, reforming Canada’s antiquated democratic institutions, is hurting the federal party’s credibility. Instead of making Nova Scotia’s electoral system much more proportional, the Dexter government has been accused of engaging in gerrymandering: Dexter, along with four cabinet ministers, appeared before a Nova Scotia Electoral Boundaries Commission meeting, with the four ministers urging the commission to relocate strong NDP polls into currently held NDP ridings.
Simply put, the Darrell Dexter NDP government needs to lose in the upcoming provincial election. It has abandoned the progressive and social justice values of the NDP. The Dexter government has placed the interests of the corporate elite and the 1% ahead of the people it claims to represent, making life much more difficult for them.
The NDP provincial wings and the federal party cannot be seen as another subservient instrument of the neoliberal agenda of the 1%, and must provide clear distinctions between itself and the Liberals and Conservatives and oppose austerity. Otherwise, we can continue to expect growing cynicism and political apathy, lower voter turnout, a tarnished brand and more electoral defeats, as Adrian Dix and the BC NDP running on a right-leaning platform were roundly defeated.
While a loss of government certainly is a major set back for any political party, it will ultimately be a progressive victory, as the election and success of pro-austerity, neoliberal NDP governments ultimately emboldens the 1%. It is up to the grassroots and activists within the Nova Scotia NDP to take back their party: to reject the disastrous Third Way, and make social justice and democratic socialism priorities once again.
Chris Brisbane is a freelance interviewer and writer. A former Associate Producer at the CBC, he is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Centennial College.
Photo: BC Gov Photos/Flickr
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Tags: austerity, Darrel Dexter, defeat, NDP, progress, Rabble.ca
Categories : Nova Scotia