Canada

Idle No More by Greg Gallinger

U of W Aboriginal Students United for Aboriginal Rights

University of Winnipeg students marched from the University's downtown campus to the legislature grounds where they held a rally in solidarity with Aboriginal groups around Canada opposed to bill C-45.

Michael Champagne, @northendmc activist and organizer of Meet Me At The Bell Tower, speaks at a rally of organized by University of Winnipeg students.

Speakers at the rally included Wab Kinew and Michael Champagne AKA @northendmc. Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs was also in attendance, Nepinak has been a vocal opponent of bill C-45, calling it illegal, colonial, and paternal.

Derek Nepinak, Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs at the Idle No More rally at the Manitoba Legislature.

Although the rally was spurred by bill C-45 it is part of a bigger reengagement of politically conscious people. Similar to the Occupy and Québec student movements, the aboriginal rights movement is regaining energy and taking advantage of social media to get people engaged.

You can see more photos from the rally here.

Murder for business by Greg Gallinger

Alex Paterson, writing at The Uniter:

A Canadian Senate committee recently recommended the termination of 70,000 grey seals in order to benefit the country’s cod fishery, raising the ire of scientists and environmentalists from coast to coast.

Despite the evidence indicating that overfishing is actually the main cause of the declining cod population the Canadian Government has sided with business and the Newfoundland/Labrador Minister of Fisheries.

In essence the government has decided that in order to continue killing more cod they need to kill more seals, their logic fails to compute. Given the people involved, like Minister of Fisheries for Newfoundland and Labrador Daren King, it's not surprising. In response to the Russian ban on Canadian harp seal products King has been quoted as saying

"Our government has expressed its concerns to the government of Canada and urged action to be taken against any proposed restrictions on the trade of harp seal products."

He also claims that the those opposed to the hunt have been misinformed, that it is a sustainable and humane practice.

Anyone who has seen photos of video of the hunt knows that this simply is not true, there's nothing humane about killing a young seal with a large hook. For anyone paying attention this decision is just one of many that have blatantly ignored scientific data and professional recommendations in favour of politically and economically motivated decisions on the part of the Harper Government.

Food production in remote locations by Greg Gallinger

Anna Mehler Paperny, writing for the Globe and Mail

Researchers have figured out how to build high-tech, winter-resistant vegetative incubators. The hard part is making northern greenhouses capable of supporting themselves financially. That means operating year-round, employing locals and selling enough produce to break even.

I'm currently reading 2312, a novel by Kim Stanley Robinson, in which humans have created self-sustainable colonies all over the solar system, from Mercury to carved out asteroids. I realize the year 2312 is quite a ways away, however even now as I type this NASA is working on ways of producing food in controlled environments in preparation for future manned missions to Mars.

Ramit Plushnick-Masti, writing for the Associated Press:

One option Cooper and her staff in the Johnson Space Center in Houston are considering is having the astronauts care for a "Martian greenhouse." They would have a variety of fruits and vegetables — from carrots to bell peppers — in a hydroponic solution, meaning they would be planted in mineral-laced water instead of soil. The astronauts would care for their garden and then use those ingredients, combined with others, such as nuts and spices brought from Earth, to prepare their meals.1

If we can develop the technology and sustain the resources necessary for colonizing planetary bodies other than Terra Prime, than I have complete confidence that providing high quality reasonably priced produce for communities in the far north is well within the realm of possibility.

Anna Mehler Paperny, again from the Globe and Mail

One of the biggest hurdles is making this more than just a government handout that’s airlifted in and withers when federal funding runs out. Planners hope greenhouses will help communities to feed and employ themselves, creating a local food initiative far outside the natural terrain of the produce they grow. “I don’t see government subsidizing this in the long haul,” said agri-environment technical director Larry Lenton, who is spearheading the project. “This has to stand on its own.”

I get the need to have these greenhouses be sustainable without years of government subsidies. Yet, I find the emphasis on the fact that the government is not willing to devote much money to keeping the project alive suspicious given the fact that the same government has been subsidizing the asbestos export industry and are well known for their support of the oil industry. Compared to those massive and environmentally destructive industries, greenhouses seem like a much more worthy source of government money.


1Fun fact: menu options for astronauts headed to Mars will be strictly vegan because meat and dairy have proven to be too difficult to preserve on long voyages.

Canada's PM Stephen Harper faces revolt by scientists by Greg Gallinger

From The Guardian:

"The Harper government is the most environmentally hostile one we have ever had in Canada. Harper pulled Canada out of the Kyoto protocol, gutted the Fisheries Act (our strongest freshwater protection law), and hollowed out our environmental assessment legislation, making it easier for extractive industries to get licences to exploit," said Maude Barlow, a former UN advisor on water and chair of the Council of Canadians. "It is heartlessly shutting down a programme that costs very little to run given the incredible benefits it brings, in order to silence the voices who speak for water."

Canada is becoming increasingly polarized around environmental issues. There are those who believe that Canadians have a responsibility to protect and nurture the many natural wonders within our borders (and around the world), and then there are those who see only resources ready to be exploited for short term economic gain.

Canada's top soldier says troops ready and eager for new overseas missions - Winnipeg Free Press by Greg Gallinger

Bill Graveland, writing for The Canadian Press:

When it comes to future missions for the Canadian Forces, Canada's top soldier has to battle to keep his eager troops satisfied with staying out of major combat zones for now.

Translation: we've so completely indoctrinated these people that they are no longer able to function in society and therefore must wage wars on foreign soil to keep them appeased.

When it comes to oil, we need to stop being so shortsighted by Greg Gallinger

David Suzuki, via Uptown:

The goal of our government and industry leaders appears to be to dig up as much oil as possible, as quickly as possible, and sell it overseas, and damn the economic and environmental consequences. If that means selling entire tar-sands operations and the bitumen to companies owned by a government known for human-rights abuses and environmental destruction; if it means polluting water and putting people’s health at risk; if it means killing birds, caribou and wolves; if it means putting our manufacturing industry at risk and not joining the green-energy economy, all for the sake of a few short-term and even fewer long-term jobs, who cares? There’s a quick buck to be made. And the economy will appear to chug along until the next election and maybe the one after that. And that’s surely enough time to dismantle many of the laws, policies and institutions that have made Canada the great country it is!

David Suzuki is quite possibly the brightest and most beloved scientific mind in this country, yet his voice is perpetually ignored by those in power, particularly the current government.