Letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking for a Meeting to Discuss Coastal Life & Ocean Protection

Kent County NB Chapter, Council of Canadians
coc.kent.county.nb@gmail.com

February 16, 2017

The Right Honourable, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau 
House of Commons 
Ottawa, Ontario Canada K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau:

Following on your commitment to be accessible to grassroots Canadians, we are writing to ask for a face-to-face meeting with you. The topics of conversation for this meeting are generally summed up in the attached [linked] document, A Call Out to Mobilize for Coastal Life and Ocean Protection.

You can see by the also attached information regarding our petition Honour the Fundy’s Dead Herring that many thousands of Canadians join us in these concerns. As well, many more thousands of people around the world share these concerns, so Canada’s reputation as an environmentally conscious nation is at stake. Under separate cover, I am sending you the signatories to this petition.

The Mobilize document was prepared for our sister Council of Canadians chapters. We asked them to join us in a grassroots campaign to seek dialogue with you, concerning our mutual goal of improved policies and programs for coastal life and ocean protection.

Prime Minister Trudeau, as a first step we are asking you to meet with our representatives. You will note at the conclusion of this letter that 24 other chapters of the Council of Canadians are in support of our request.

Why do we ask to meet with you?

  1. A letter regarding the issues in this petition was sent, on January 3, 2017, to yourself, Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc, and the Premiers of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. We have not received any response to the issues raised in that letter.

  2. For Maritimes’ Council of Canadians chapters, these issues are very urgent. For example, many of us approach the time of the Herring’s Spring Run in the uppermost Bay of Fundy with some dread, fearing a repeat of the events of November/16 to January/17. For more on the herring die-off issues, please see this link from December 2016 and this one from January 2017.

  3. As Prime Minister of Canada, you are the one ultimately responsible for stewardship of our land and waters. It is on your shoulders that the fiduciary duty of care for future generations rests.

The petition closes today. We are notifying all signatories to the petition about our request for a meeting with you. We are certain a report on what is discussed in our meeting will be eagerly anticipated by the more than 70,000 people who signed the petition.

We agree with you that your government must be:

  • transparent and accountable to the electorate;

  • accessible to all people in Canada regardless of geography, culture or socioeconomic class;

  • a responsible world citizen on environmental issues at this crucial time in human history.

We, the undersigned, hope you will agree to meeting with our Council of Canadians’ community representatives at your earliest possible convenience.

Respectfully yours,

Ann Pohl,  Council of Canadians – Kent County NB Chapter

Co-signatories:

  • Ken Kavanagh, Council of Canadians – St. John’s NL Chapter
  • Anne Levesque, Council of CanadiansInverness County NS Chapter
  • Marion Moore, Council of CanadiansSouth Shore NS Chapter
  • Betty Wilcox, Council of CanadiansPEI Chapter
  • Barbara Quigley, Council of CanadiansMoncton NB Chapter
  • Garry Guild, Council of Canadians – Fredericton NB Chapter
  • Abdul Pirani, Council of Canadians – Montreal PQ Chapter 
  • Phil Soublière, Council of Canadians – Ottawa ON Chapter
  • Diane Ballantyne, Council of Canadians – Centre Wellington ON Chapter 
  • Lynne Rochon, Council of Canadians – Quinte ON Chapter 
  • Roy Brady, Council of Canadians – Peterborough and Kawarthas Chapter 
  • Hart Jannson, Council of Canadians – Halton ON Chapter 
  • Fiona McMurran,Council of Canadians South Niagara ON Chapter 
  • Lin Grist, Council of Canadians Guelph ON Chapter 
  • David Lubell, Council of Canadians Kitchener-Waterloo ON Chapter 
  • Doug Hayes, Council of Canadians Windsor-Essex ON Chapter 
  • Faye MacFarlane, Council of Canadians Northumberland ON Chapter
  • Terri MacKinnon, Council of Canadians Sudbury ON Chapter 
  • Mary Robinson, Council of Canadians Winnipeg MB Chapter 
  • Scott Blyth, Council of Canadians Brandon/Westman MB Chapter

  • Elaine Hughes, Council of Canadians Quill Plains SK Chapter
  • Lois Little, Council of Canadians NWT Chapter

  • Suzy Coulter, Council of Canadians – Chilliwack BC Chapter
  • Lynn Armstrong, Council of Canadians – Delta-Richmond BC Chapter
  • Barbara Pollock, Council of Canadians – Victoria/Halton BC Chapter
  • Donna Cameron, Council of Canadians – Cowichan Valley BC Chapter  
  • Alice de Wolff, Council of Canadians – Comox Valley BC Chapter
  • Patricia Cocksedge, Council of Canadians Powell River BC Chapter
  • Rich Hagensen, Council of Canadians Campbell River BC Chapter

( ^^ This list was updated on February 28th.
Five more chapters were added. More are still considering.)

**UPDATE** On February 21st, we received a communication from the Prime Minister’s office saying our request has been passed on to the appropriate section. Today (Feb 28th) a supplementary communication was sent to the PM with the additional endorsing Chapter names, and a PDF that contains the 72,600+ names of people who signed our petition (mentioned above, now closed). We hope he will agree to meet with us soon.** 

Copies of this letter were sent to co-signing chapters, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (Dominic LeBlanc), and to others in the Council of Canadians. Notice of the letter being sent was posted on the petition mentioned above. Now we wait to see what response this will get. Stay tuned. If you want to make sure you stay in touch on this issue, email a request to coc.kent.county.nb@gmail.com to be added to our Salt Waters Protection email list. Wela’liek, Merci and Thank You. Water is Life. 

download-11Water Is Life.

Chi Miigs & credit to Isaac Murdoch for the generous donation
of his artwork to the movement.

A Call Out to Mobilize for Coastal Life and Ocean Protection

Prepared for circulation to all Water Protectors:
Our Allies, in and around the Council of Canadians

Near Saglek Bay in Nunatsiavut, the homeland of the Labrador Inuit. ©Ossie Michelin

All waters—fresh and salt—are connected

For more than 30 years the Council of Canadians has been a leader on fresh water protection in Canada. In 1999, we published a comprehensive National Water Policy advocacy brief regarding how to protect watersheds and implementation of the human right to water.

Fresh water flows into the sea. Contaminants that flow into rivers and streams from industrial pollution, such as fracking and burst tailing pond dams, drain into estuaries, bays, seas, and oceans. These contaminants compound the abuse and neglect already poisoning the salt-watery majority of our planet. Survival of marine life, already stressed by acidification and warming waters, is further compromised.

The Council of Canadians is not loosening our efforts on freshwater issues. This is a “both/and,” because the planet’s waters are all connected. We are calling out across our organization, and to allies, to develop a coordinated, unified, strategic campaign on protecting coastal life and ocean waters. In a separate communication sent today, 24 chapters of the Council of Canadians ask the Prime Minister of Canada to meet with us to discuss the issues raised in this call to action.

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The magic of life in coastal waters, Gaburus, Cape Breton Island, NS. ©George Griffen

Our coasts are being neglected

Canada has a huge global stewardship responsibility. We have more oceanfront than any other nation. Gaining protective legislative and regulatory measures will not be easy. The plethora of issues is compounded by official lethargy and avoidance.

Every day, volunteers in the Council of Canadians‘ community chapters work with people from local networks and environmental NGO’s across Canada to advocate for marine life and salt water protection. We are united in alarm about the contamination that will certainly result from hundreds of oil and gas export tankers, each day, crossing the fragile and stressed waters of the Georgia Strait, Salish Sea, other western coastal waters, Bay of Fundy, Gulf of Maine, Beaufort Sea, and more of our shore waters. Much of the intended export material is bitumen, which truly cannot be cleaned from the water after a spill. Each of these areas provides habitats for designated species at risk and/or for marine life on which Indigenous Peoples and others depend for sustainable livelihoods.

In particular, Atlantic Canadians feel betrayed by government on marine protection: “Frankenfish” in PEI; aquaculture diseases spreading to wild populations (despite government assurances this would never happen); the evaporation of Newfoundland’s cod fishery; the loss of the salmon fishery in New Brunswick; the loss of some unique Striped Bass spawning habitat in Nova Scotia; off-shore drilling throughout the near Atlantic Ocean; etc.

Darren Porter’s Herring Weir, Minas Basin, NS. When other fish are caught,
such as this stupendous Striped Bass, they are released. ©Erica Danae Porter 

Countless millions of dead herring: a case in point

Beginning mid-November 2016, dramatic mortalities of herring were evident in the Bay of Fundy—a powerful, unique ecosystem boasting the highest tides in the world, and is home to rare species such as the Right Whale, provides spawning grounds for the Striped Bass, and has a flourishing ecotourism industry.

Why the big fuss about the humble herring? The herring are a primary food source for larger marine life in the Fundy, as well as people food, bait for shellfish traps, and a significant resource export. Without herring, the Fundy fisheries collapse.

Contrary to frequent public messaging, energy generation by tidal turbines can seriously harm marine life. Depending on design, direct strikes can kill and injure animals caught in the mechanism. Arguably more insidious is the noise, vibration and pressure change disruption of the marine environment. Many at-risk sea mammals, and forage fish like herring, have very sensitive auditory biology. Despite the urgent need to generate energy from non-fossil fuel sources, this calls into question tidal power’s “green” status.

In April 2016, the Science Advisory Committee for the Maritimes of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) reviewed a proposal to install an experimental tidal turbine in the upper Bay of Fundy. The DFO advisory committee clearly said the proponent’s baseline data was inadequate to establish an environmental monitoring plan. The province of Nova Scotia immediately approved the turbine’s deployment in the Minas Passage. Fishers’ associations are currently taking the province to court over this inconsistency.

Left: Busy Digby Harbour, NS. ©Pics by Mitch (FB)  
Right:  Sandy Beach, on the Northumberland Strait, NB. ©George Griffen

Turbine deployment happened in early November 2016. Within days of the onset of testing and commissioning, dead herring began beaching further down the Bay. DFO’s response was sluggish. While die-offs continued, the department spent weeks testing and retesting for “the usual suspects”: viruses, bacteria, algae bloom toxins, and predators. DFO acknowledged a unique “densification” or “aggregation” of herring in the die-off bays and coves (ie. overcrowding), but had no explanation for the phenomenon. (See this “A Sequel” link for more info on herringcide investigations and theories.) 

Many residents, including fisherfolk, are certain the herring were affected by the turbine. People who know these waters believe the herring fled from the Minas area to similar marine environments further down the Bay. Injured or overcrowded, that is where the herring were seen swimming abnormally, losing strength, and ultimately dying. Repeated calls to government and industry – to please stop the turbine to determine if it was the cause of the herring die-off, or to send cameras and divers to the bottom of the Fundy in the Minas area – were ignored.

Throughout the entire “herringcide” event, DFO refused to acknowledge that the synchronous turbine disruption of the Bay’s marine environment demanded serious evaluation. Many observers feel this is due to politics: Nova Scotia wants tidal turbines to succeed. The province has invested a lot of cash and political capital in creating the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) to start-up major tidal energy generation. Powerful corporations see a huge market for “green” Canadian electricity along the US eastern seaboard, involving undersea cable links from the controversial Muskrat Falls in Labrador, biomass generation at Point Tupper NS, and upcoming Fundy tidal generation.

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Seal near Annapolis Royal, off the Bay of Fundy, NS. ©Pix by Mitch (FB)

Deepening the public’s scorn for DFO’s controversial “look over here, not over there” herringcide investigation, a 2013 Memorandum of Understanding surfaced in early January 2017. This gives the National Energy Board responsibility to assess risk to fish and fish habitat near proposed pipelines and power lines. The possible existence of a similar understanding regarding FORCE initiatives in Nova Scotia could explain DFO evading questions about the new turbine’s possible effect on herring.

Like all such development proposals in Canada, Cape Sharp/Emera’s turbine in Minas Passage went through a provincial environmental impact assessment (EIA). This means that the proponent contracted a company that wrote an EIA report. The government then reviewed the paperwork, and approved the application. In some such instances, governments put conditions on approval, but the proponent is responsible for undertaking, monitoring, and reporting on their own compliance. This process is ridiculous. Asking the fox to install security for the henhouse is unacceptable and makes a mockery of the intent and meaning of environmental assessment.

In the past two months, more than 70,000 international and Canadian individuals have signed a petition calling on federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil and New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant to address the issue of herring die-offs. On January 3, 2017, an open letter was sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and all these other political leaders, bringing their attention to the petition and asking for a response on key points. To date, none of the aforementioned have responded.

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Bull Kelp on beach, Tofino, B.C. ©Alexandre Robichaud

The system is failing marine life, and us

This environmental crisis has brought to the forefront a host of broader concerns. DFO simply does not seem to be up to the job of protecting marine life. We understand that DFO’s scientific and species/habitat protection mandate is undermined by its multi-pronged mandate. Most significantly, DFO was hard hit by the extreme politicization of science, including restructuring and defunding, that happened during the Harper regime. At that time, scientists were muzzled, protection legislation was gutted, and key programs and personnel terminated.

As mentioned above, EIA processes across Canada do not protect the environment, and other protective legislation was stripped of its powers by the Harper regime. The Justin Trudeau government came into power promising to renew and revitalize Canada’s environmental regulatory system. Standing Committees and panels recently finished consultations on these ravaged laws. Each committee, dealing with each legislation, picked which major cities to visit (or not). All ignored frontline rural areas that are often most impacted by poor regulations. In the online consultation option, the questions funneled towards the interests of big government, not the affected communities. We will be watching to see what these consultations generate.

Left: Humpback whale & friends enjoy herring snack. Cape Bonavista, NL. ©George Griffen   Right: Loon in winter coat, enjoying aneel, Bay of Fundy shore. ©Pix by Mitch

Environmentalist confidence in the Trudeau government further deteriorated with the November announcement of the Ocean Protection Program. Billed as being about proactive protection of the oceans, it prioritizes putting more resources towards clean up costs after anticipated shipping and pipeline accidents on our coasts. This is useful but not “protective,” which means “preventative” or “precautionary.” The Program also touts creation of more marine protected areas. Meanwhile, the very fragile and important Gulf of St. Lawrence is still open for oil and gas exploration where, intentionally or not, the planning processes are going slower than industry is moving.

“Consultation” seems to be the main public relations strategy of the current government. During the regulatory-related consultation processes in Fall 2016, many directly-affected stakeholders lacked resources and capacity to be at all tables and forums. In this vacuum, the Prime Minister recently held a few “pop-up” community town halls to demonstrate his sincere interest in hearing from ordinary Canadians. He was not seen in directly-affected or -threatened rural communities.

When marine life or habitat decimation occurs, other legal and ethical precepts come into play. In the instance of the herringcide, this happened on unceded Mi’kmaq territory. All of Canada is traditional Indigenous territory. The federal government has trustee responsibility for stewardship and protection of the resources, and is required to ensure that future generations of “Aboriginal” or Indigenous Peoples can enjoy their inherent rights to these resources. When profound environmental degradation occurs, the federal government is abrogating its fiduciary duty. Numerous related court cases are already in motion, eating up funds and personnel time that could go towards genuine protection. (See, for example, this link.)

More crises like the herringcide will be commonplace as our climate increasingly crisps and crumbles. Whenever this happens, those with the most direct knowledge of marine environments must be recognized as experts about what is happening in our own backyards: Indigenous traditional knowledge holders, fisherfolk, citizen scientists, naturalists, local environmental advocacy organizations, and ecotourism operators. These experts must be deliberately sought out, and not evaded or fought, by departments and agencies such as Environment and Climate Change Canada, DFO, and provincial departments. We should not have to go to court to keep corporate actions in line with the public good.

The Council of Canadians represents more than 100,000 people across this nation in a network of more than 60 grassroots volunteer-based chapters who work with a wide cross-section of allies. The Council’s volunteers are backed by a national staff of experts. We deserve an opportunity to have the Prime Minister meet with us about meaningful protection of our marine areas.


Published on February 16, 2017 by the Council of Canadians – Kent County NB Chapter.
Contact us at coc.kent.county.nb@gmail.com.

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Swallowtail Lighthouse, Grand Manan, NB. ©Deborah Carr

Please Note: we will soon post our letter to the Prime Minister asking for a meeting.
It has already been co-signed by 25 Council of Canadians chapters across the country.  

An Open Letter to Political Leaders re: Marine Life Protection in the Bay of Fundy

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~ photos: Jennifer Thibodeau, Bruce Hewey,  various news sources, social media posts ~

January 3, 2017

Addressed to:

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
  • Dominic LeBlanc, Canada’s Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO)
  • Stephen McNeil, Premier of the Province of Nova Scotia
  • Brian Gallant, Premier of the Province of New Brunswick

Dear Sirs:

“Canada’s Ocean playground has become Canada’s ocean graveyard,” commented Robert from New Brunswick on 0ur petition demanding leadership from your governments regarding the huge crisis that has been occurring in the Bay of Fundy for the past six weeks. At the time of writing this Open Letter to you, more than 53,000 signatories make this request:

We petition Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Minister Dominic LeBlanc, Nova Scotia Premier McNeil and New Brunswick Premier Gallant to call a joint public conference with concerned citizens and the media, to provide updates regarding the herring die-offs, and to indicate steps that will be taken immediately to improve transparency, collaboration, reporting, and resourcing between citizens and frontline DFO staff.

Living creatures in and around the Fundy will be coping with this disaster for a long time. In fact, it will get worse, not better, while not necessarily in exactly the same way. The Bay of Fundy, as part of the Gulf of Maine, faces major challenges due to the fossil fuel and methane pollution rapidly changing the chemistry of the world’s oceans.

Our publicly-funded scientists must be unrelenting in search of identification of contributing causes. Instead, after virtually hiding for more than five weeks, regional DFO staff emerged on Friday December 30th. (That link is to national CTV coverage. This link is to local coverage: by listening to one story and letting it run onto the next and next, you can get a good chronology of the past week.) DFO comments appear dismissive: there is nothing to be concerned about, the event appears to be over, it is not “environmental,” etc., while they are unashamed to say it’s “perplexing.”

DFO has made some huge mistakes in the past, as post-mortem analyses of the collapse of the Cod fishery shows. (Please note the comment in there about DFO’s “failure to recognize environmental changes and their impact on the groundfish fishery”). Does DFO now know how to listen for alarm bells? Sadly, it does not seem so. On both coasts, and in every province between (see comments on our petition), people report DFO’s outright dismissiveness of community concerns. It appears that sometimes DFO goes even further and deliberately misinforms. Deliberate action or lack of capacity, you leaders MUST step in to prevent DFO from fumbling the ball any longer.

The November/December 2016 Fundy fish crisis is terrible beyond words, but we are not just concerned about that event. We certainly do not want to see you leaders get yourself off the hook by throwing individual staffers under the bus. You cannot blame the staff. It is the political leadership that sets the tone and determines expectations about priorities, so our sights are set for a larger and more significant goal.

We watched the previous federal government, under Stephen Harper, conduct a war on science and environmental protection regulation. This article, La recherche fédérale sur la pollution décimée par le gouvernement Harper (Federal Pollution Research Decimated by the Harper Government), published in Quebec’s Le Soliel in June 2012, provides some insight on this matter. The remaining staff in the “decimated federal government’s DFO had to learn to shut up to keep their jobs. For scientists and nature advocates, this means shutting down their brains and closing their hearts.

Prime Minister Trudeau, although the only federal politician addressed in our petition is your close colleague Dominic LeBlanc, DFO Minister, we added you to this Open Letter. You are really the one person with full duty of care for protection of the Bay of Fundy. In your recent Ocean Protection Plan announcement you commit to “ensure the health of our oceans for generations to come” because our coastal habitats are “rich” in “biodiversity and precious ecosystems” that “offer unparalleled economic, recreational, and tourism opportunities.” Step up and put muscle behind that promise. The past six weeks show that staff in departments such as DFO do not understand you are serious about this.

Prime Minister, your government has recently held all manner of public consultations about laws that need to be revised, reinstated, and/or upgraded to increase protection of our precious water and land and air in Canada. Now we understand you have funded the World Wildlife Federation to do some “buffer” consultations on related matters, such as “ocean zoning” for competing marine uses. It is obvious that “ocean zoning” is not a panacea. While it may work for industries of various types, the fact is water and marine life move around constantly.

Valid and inclusive terms of reference and resourcing are needed to create a wide-view research analysis such as this one from British Columbia. The fact that the Harper regime decimated this BC process makes it clear this is close to what we really need. It could lead to the logical and positive outcome of the entire Bay of Fundy region being officially recognized as a United Nations Biosphere Reserve, instead of the existing smaller region of the Fundy. We need the big picture validly consolidated, with sustainability as the first objective from here on. While gearing up for that, we also need answers to some of the questions citizens have been asking for weeks now. In a crisis of this proportion, no stone should be unturned:

  1. How soon can DFO provide a map of all sites where water was tested and cameras were sent to the Fundy, in the Bay, in estuaries, and in freshwaters leading to the estuaries, with appended results from those tests, as well as numbers of mortalities seen at each site on each day?
  2. DFO keeps saying they should have more test results in two weeks, etc. What are the outstanding tests, why are they taking so long, and when will be they be available?
  3. Have the dead herring been examined for symptoms of swim bladder damage, specifically: ruptured bladders, emphysema in the heart ventricle, emboli in the rete mirabile, emboli in the head kidney?
  4. Is there a clear correlation between temperature drops and major mortality reports for any or all species?
  5. Have provincial authorities in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick taken a careful and exhaustive look at possible land-based toxins that could have seeped into the water?
  6. What studies have been done to determine that the Cape Sharp turbine noise, vibrations, and pressure changes do not factor into these mortalities in any way? Because the two events began on the same day, what consideration has been given to stopping the turbine to see if that makes a difference?
  7. What research colleagues were contacted or studies were done to determine that whales were not part of this event? We ask this because of the dead whale on the same shoreline, which was not detected in DFO’s “flyovers.”
  8. Fundy Fishermen say “everything is out of whack.” True and will continue to be truer with dramatic climate and weather changes due to anthropogenic/industrial causes. Despite global climate and ocean chemistry issues, we can protect against exacerbating factors that make Marine Life more vulnerable. One related study would be to analyze why there is such an unusually large number of herring in the affected areas. Has DFO looked at this and if so, what have they learned?

These are just a few of the questions that citizen scientists, concerned scholars, marine life advocates, and others, want answered. We want them answered in a public, transparent, and collaborative information-sharing process. Think of the opportunity you have to contribute to world marine ecology science by making sure DFO staff (and whoever else is needed) understand that getting these answers is essential, and providing them with full independent mandate and resources to do the work. From these answers will come some of the terms of reference for the large urgent study.

Messieurs Gallant, LeBlanc, McNeil and Trudeau, do you recall what happened recently in the United States and in England when their populaces became convinced that their governments were not listening?

You all have to set the example for the DFO staff who have been psychologically “decimated” by the previous federal government regime. You need to show them it is not just “ok” but expected that they will function at top-speed, transparently, respectfully to concerned citizens, etc., in a crisis such as this. Canada’s public service scientists need to be convinced that the reign of terror is over. They need to know that the public and environmental good is what you expect them to diligently research and advocate, and that there will be no personal consequences or repercussions.

This is now also an international controversy. Make no mistake, Canadians and especially Maritimers, are devastated by this and angry at the slow government response but your problem is even larger than that. Most of the petitions’ signatories are from all over the world. All water is connected, so every planetary person has a valid reason for concern. As well, there have been similar unexplained die-offs recently in Iceland, England, Chile, and elsewhere. Do Canada’s federal and provincial Liberal governments want a reputation of not caring to mobilize resources to investigate this huge crisis? Suppose awareness slows tourism and seafood contracts? Instead of deepening the disaster, we could have a reputation as world leaders in the fight to protect the humble herring, an unsung true hero in marine and human food chains.

As leaders, you need to be seen to be acting, and you must also act effectively. We need good governance, transparency, accountability, responsiveness, appropriate prioritizing, and evidence that you are listening to concerned people. We invite you to visit our petition site and read the text of our call to action as well as the comments of signatories, who believe we are at an exceedingly fragile moment in human history. You must lead in a way that seeks to restore ecological balance as the highest priority. Are you up to the job?

Respectfully yours,
Ann Pohl, Council of Canadians – Kent County NB Chapter
Jean Louis Deveau, Council of Canadians – Fredericton NB Chapter
Ken Kavanagh, Atlantic Representative/COC Board of Directors (St. John’s NL Chapter)
Marion Moore, Council of Canadians – South Shore NS Chapter
Leticia Adair, , Council of Canadians – Saint John NB Chapter
Leo Broderick, Council of Canadians – PEI Chapter
Pamela Ross, Council of Canadians – Moncton NB Chapter

Brent Patterson, Political Director, National Office, The Council of Canadians

cc.
Catherine Blewett, Deputy Minister, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)
Morley B. Knight, Maritimes Regional Director General, DFO

***Endorsing chapters updated as of January 5th.***

 

 

An Open Letter re: the Outstanding NB Medical Officer of Health’s Report on Glyphosate Herbicides

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Council of Canadians – Kent County NB Chapter
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/KentCountyChapterCoC/?fref=ts
email: coc.kent.county.nb@gmail.com
June 28, 2016

Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health
Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
Government of New Brunswick
HSBC Place, Floor: 5
P. O. Box 5100, Fredericton, NB, E3B 5G8
transmitted by email: Jennifer.Russell@gnb.ca

Dear Dr. Russell:

We need to see that report on glyphosate that you promised we would have before the spray season begins. We need to see that report now. It is not clear to us if your report has been scrapped, suppressed, or something else has happened.

Dr. Russell, the spray season is upon us. Both CN Rail and NB Power have already publicly released their approved spray plans. Timber industries have already compiled their lists of acreage they want to spray for their monoculture conifer plantations. Their applications for taxpayer-financed provincial silviculture spraying are being reviewed, and they anticipate approvals within the next few weeks.

We remember all too well how the government of that day tried to bury Dr. Cleary’s report on fracking in 2012. They knew they could not “control” her when it came to matters of public health, and they knew the report did not agree with their stated view that fracking is perfectly safe and would be great for NB. A similar situation potentially exists with this matter because in recent weeks, Minister Denis Landry and Premier Brian Gallant have both said glyphosate is safe.

On May 18th, I and eleven other New Brunswickers hand-delivered a formal complaint to the New Brunswick Ombudsman. It addresses matters pertaining to the “no cause” termination of the former Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH), Dr. Eilish Cleary. Our major concern is the status of Dr. Cleary’s promise to investigate and report re: the risks of glyphosate herbicide compounds on population and environmental health. Our conversation with NB Ombudsman Charles Murray is ongoing.

During her exemplary tenure as CMOH, Dr. Cleary established a very high standard for independent and comprehensive research, both with her peer-acclaimed 2012 report on population impacts of shale gas development, and in the Health Impact Assessments model developed in 2015 for the NB Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing. Since we learned that Dr. Cleary was put on leave and then dismissed, I am only one of thousands of New Brunswickers who are concerned that we will not see a comprehensive and independent report from the Office of the CMOH on glyphosate herbicide spray use in our province.

In her communication to me promising this report (sent August 14, 2015), Dr. Cleary said that her office would develop “a plan” for reporting “in the coming year.” In response to the issues I raised on behalf of our group, the Kent County Chapter of the Council of Canadians, Dr. Cleary also made the following comments:

  • concurrence with the IARC/WHO conclusion that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans”;
  • there is need investigate “the nature, duration and intensity of the exposure to the toxins in this province” and to look into the high incidence of non-Hodgkins lymphoma among men in NB;
  • any further protections needed to protect the population in New Brunswick would be independently developed and not curtailed by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency conclusions.

On September 24, 2015, I wrote the former-CMOH concerning some additional issues raised by members of our group. You responded to this letter, Dr. Russell, on November 9th, as follows:

  • re: “cases of poor compliance with setback distances, inadequate signage and ineffective advance notice of spraying,” your “office will bring these issues forward to the Department of Environment and Local Government which regulates these aspects of pesticide use”;
  • regarding when we could expect the report: “it is our understanding that its use is seasonal so we do not expect any significant spraying between now and the summer of 2016. We anticipate completing our action plan in advance of the next spraying season.” Subsequently, in a communication to Dr. Caroline Lubbedarcy, you promised the report this Spring.

Dr. Cleary’s impending and then actual dismissal broke in the media in early December 2015. At that time, the Deputy Minister of Health, the Minister of Health, and the Premier all affirmed that this report was forthcoming as originally promised. Spring is over, and the spray season has begun. Where is the report?

I am sure you are aware that new research is coming out all the time on these herbicide compounds.

A literature review by 14 diverse scientists called Concerns over use of glyphosate-based herbicides and risks associated with exposures: a consensus statement, was published in the peer-reviewed journal Environment Health on February 17, 2016. You will find the content in the appendices especially alarming. Other research suggests that glyphosate on its own is not nearly as bad as the complex herbicide formulation, glyphosate PLUS additives and adjutants, that make it work and are protected as “trade secrets.” As I understand it, these additional substances are what carry the glyphosate across cell walls and increase the hazards by untold magnitudes in a multitude of ways. Of huge concern to scientists studying glyphosate is that its use is so widespread: people’s exposures to the residue are pandemic, and tests show high concentrations in humans.

I am sure you are also aware that a 2001 Supreme Court of Canada decision affirmed government has a rightful mandate to apply the “precautionary principle” on the directly related matter of pesticides. The Consensus Statement referenced above clearly advocates for caution and care, and is part of the reason we are convinced that the precautionary principle must be applied to use of glyphosate here in New Brunswick. The precautionary principle can be understood as: first, do no harm; and, second, avoid doing things when there is a reasonable likelihood this could cause harm. The principle applies until the safety of the matter in question can be established.

Thousands and thousands of New Brunswickers share the concerns I have penned on behalf of our Kent County NB Chapter of the Council of Canadians. Valid population and environmental health research of the risks associated with these compounds is urgently needed. We sincerely hope that the report you have been working on will meet the tests for being valid, in depth and independent.

Please send me the report that we are promised.

Respectfully yours,

Ann Pohl
Chairperson, Kent County NB Chapter – Council of Canadians

Copies:

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Important Info: Forestry Protection Presentations on Clearcutting and Spraying

These presentations were made at the Peace & Friendship Alliance Meeting
in Rogersville, June 11, 2016. To become acquainted with the Alliance,
please ask to join our closed Facebook page of the same name. 

Caution: these notes are not verbatim. They are based on memory. In places, additional supporting information is included, to assist people getting active on forestry issues. 

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Yesterday, more than 60 residents from communities and groups in all four directions in New Brunswick gathered in Rogersville. Thanks to Le Buck Stop hunting club owner Gerry Vautour for the use his space, and to Gerry Leblanc for the beautiful signs and Leo Goguen for the artist’s materials.

It was the monthly gathering of the Peace and Friendship Alliance (P&FA), which moves around the province. The P&FA brings together Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Acadian, Anglo, and Newcomer New Brunswickers, to protect the natural environment that sustains all life on this planet. 

12662461_459506297576304_2396802875873503967_nThis meeting was jointly hosted by the Kent County Chapter of the Council of Canadians and the Rogersville Lumberjacks, with support from Kopit Lodge at Elsipogtog. All four New Brunswick chapters of the Council of Canadians were present, as were many other groups and individuals, especially concerned woodsmen from the Rogersville area. Both Kopit Lodge and Maliseet (Wolastoq) Grand Council were also represented.

Rogersville is a community where the forest is close to everyone’s heart. Throughout the day, there were six reports on our special theme: protecting the the natural indigenous Acadian forest life from clearcutting and the use of poisonous herbicides.

Kenneth Francis, Speaker for Kopit Lodge/Elsipogtog First Nation (EFN)
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This meeting was held in Mi’kma’ki, so the first presentation was from Elder Kenneth Francis of Kopit Lodge. “Kopit” means beaver, and is the animal that represents the Lodge because of its concern for the water. Kopit Lodge is the grassroots community organization mandated by Chief and Council to represent EFN in strategic and official consultations on natural resource issues.

Kenneth opened his presentation speaking about the Wabanaki People, who are of several different nations. All of Mi’kma’ki is part of this: seven distinct districts that traditionally extend from what is now the centre of New Brunswick to the north in Gaspe (Gespe’ke) to the east in Cape Breton (Unama’kik). All must be united in this Peace & Friendship Alliance, based on the treaty of the same name.

Kenneth spoke of two important things he has learned from his teachers. If you can speak your truth in a group, and people hear what you have to say, and you leave the room with the same number of allies you had when you entered, you did well. If you increased your alliances, you did very well.

As well, he remembered an historical tale about settlers discussing what the Mi’kmaq were like. One remarked to the other that, in the woods, they were part of nature, they were not separable from nature, it was all one sphere of life together. Kenneth said that is why they are preparing themselves for taking their issues into court.

Of greatest concern to Kopit and EFN is the poor way that the province is caretaking the environment, especially the devastation of clearcutting and spraying in the forest. For more than a year, Kenneth said, “We have been trying to get the provincial government to come to the table and consult with us on these issues. They keep ignoring us so we have to go the next step.” Recently Kopit/EFN served notice to the provincial government that they intend to file a claim for Aboriginal Title, to protect the environment for future generations.

Ken stressed that Kopit expects a dramatic increase in anti-Indigenous backlash, aimed at alienating non-Native allies from this strategic move. He provided some examples of what he has already started to see and what he thinks is coming. With a thank you to those present who have already expressed their support, Kenneth said Kopit has prepared some notes on what could be included in letters that non-Native environmentalists might choose to write to support the Kopit/EFN IMW (Protecting the Earth for Future Generations) legal strategy. (These guidelines are attached below.)

Leo Goguen, a lifelong outdoorsman and lumberjack from Rogersville NB

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Leo is also the Board Member representing Rogersville and Acadieville at the South East New Brunswick (SENB) Wood Marketing Board. He spoke about what he has seen in the forest since he was a boy. Leo brought in samples of branches from a local chopping that has been sprayed three times in recent years to suppress the natural forest. It is clear that patch of forest is determined to survive! Despite reports that have been widely circulated about how the animals will not eat the poisoned plants, Leo saw nine moose eating from this chopping last winter. Many local people hunt moose. One local hunter took a moose from this chopping, because the government says it is safe, and fed his five kids on it last winter.

Leo emphasized the extent to which private woodlot owners have been so marginalized in the industry, because they are unable to sell their wood at even break-even prices, thanks to provincial-corporate lumber agreements and also the lack of regulatory enforcement.

With equal amounts of irony and frustration, Leo said that privately-held woodlots have become by default the only protected forest areas in the province, because of how the 2014 Forest Management Agreement has cut protected areas to almost nothing and the fact that woodlot owners cannot afford to cut their woods for the corporate-owned mills.

Finally, he mentioned that NB Power, a provincial agency, uses herbicide sprays on their lines, and sometimes on older lines they may have neglected to get any consent from landowners. If anyone has a power line running through their property, you can call Rick Doucet at NB Power and ask to have your portion of the line put on their “No Spray” list: 506-470-8748. You need to provide NB Power with your Service New Brunswick PID number to get on this list.

Spasaqsit Possesom (Ron Tremblay), Grand Chief of the Wolastoq (Maliseet) Grand Council, agreed with Leo that putting pressure on NB Power is important. The Grand Council is seeking a meeting with NB Power to talk about their use of herbicide sprays.

Marcel Maillet, General Manager of the SENB Marketing Board

Before introducing Marcel, Leo told of an SENB meeting where the 120+- members present were asked by someone to stand if they opposed herbicide spraying on the forest. As far as Leo could see, everyone stood up. Marcel Maillet’s presentation confirmed that the South-East NB Marketing Board members are against the spraying.

Marcel introduced himself as coming from four generations of woodlot owenership, in Kent and Westmoreland counties, and he has 35 years of experience working in forestry. He said, “My father taught me to always respect the land and only take what you need… I don’t believe in using pesticides on forests. A forest is more than a tree farm.”

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Marcel tore apart the government and industry messaging that it is more financially economical to use spray “silviculture” than the old-style manual silviculture thinning.

After a chopping is cut, it is sprayed: this is called “seed spray.” A year or two later, when the soil has settled from the upheaval of clear-cut harvesting, the infant spruce trees are planted in the chopping. The area will be sprayed again late that summer or in early fall. After that it will be sprayed at least once more, sometimes 2 or 3 additional times. This is done to reduce the competition from the indigenous mixed Acadian forest fauna, many of whom grow much more quickly than the planted softwood trees. (The original forest plants and trees often come up from roots left in the soil.) 

Each time a clear-cut acre is sprayed it costs between $300 and $400 (let’s say an average of $350/acre). Therefore – at a bare minimum – it costs at least $1050 to do spray silvaculture on a one-acre chopping if only three sprays are needed: a seed spray, a spray right after planting, and one more. But remember, often more are required.  Our maple trees are the hardest to kill.

By contrast, manual silviculture by thinning costs about $300 per acre. It is most likely only needed twice, maybe 3 times, on a softwood plantation. It is less expensive and it makes jobs. A question was asked if there would be people to work these jobs, because industry/government suggest there are not. Both Leo and Marcel believe there would be silvaculturalists ready and happy to work. Not using the sprays eliminates the health impacts for humans and other life in the forest, means that nearby woodlots or fields will not be harmed by air-borne spray, and reduces the carbon-based environmental impact footprint on that area. If done in a mixed forest, to strengthen it, manual silvaculture thinning keeps the original forest intact making it more resilient to climatic and pest challenges. In the current market, hardwoods can be more profitable to harvest. 

The system we have now of using sprays for plantation silviculture only works because it is subsidized by the taxpayer through agreements between the lumbering corporations and the provincial government.

Comments from participants included: the true cost of the silviculture program should include health costs and flood costs as a result of clearcuts; and, Spruce Budworm spraying was stopped in NB because of the Migratory Bird Protection Act – NB  does not have strong legislation to protect the public, but strong legislation still exists under the Migratory Bird Act.

ECOvie from Restigouche Ouest

Next up were Francine Levesque and Jean MacDonald from ECOvie, a group from the Restigouche Ouest region of our province. Over 3,000 of the signatures on the petition against spraying that was filed with the NB Legislature came from their rural, sparsely settled area. Many people in that area have personal experiences with the wreckage and misery caused by clear-cutting and spraying.

Maple syrup production is currently a growing and employment-generating non-corporate natural industry in the area, and the maple products producers are set against the spraying. The hardwood mill in their region is a very well-respected local employer and more jobs like that would be a benefit to the area. 2016-05-19.jpg

ECOvie invited allies from around the province to support their plans to make more people aware exactly how clear-cutting and softwood plantation practices rely on the sprays, and of the need to stop the spraying. More will be announced about their plans as the spraying season approaches.

On August 27, the Peace and Friendship Alliance will meet in the Kedgwick area. Trailers and tents are welcome, if people want to come up the night before so they do not have such a long drive on the morning of the meeting.

Frank Johnston, Southeast Chapter of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick 

Frank is also a member of the provincial CCNB Board of Director’s Executive Committee. He presented a powerpoint show on loss of forest cover in the province since 2001, entitled, Forest Cover Loss in NB : A Process of Liquidation. It is a strong piece of scientifically assembled video research. Even better, it is available for groups and communities across the province to borrow, with or without Frank, because it has speaker notes embedded in it.

Between 2001 and 2012, New Brunswickers lost 1.7 times more of our public forest than has been replanted into the problematic industrial softwood tree plantations. It has not gotten better. Anyone living in or near the forest knows that the losses have gotten worse under the 2014 Forest Management Agreement signed by the Government of New Brunswick with JDI of the Irving group of companies, and now ratified by other major lumber corporations in the province. 

It is clear that we are losing good, indigenous mixed forest at a much greater rate than it is being replaced. The replanting is of only one species, which will not be climate change adaptable. Both the type of tree and the fact that it is monoculture makes our woods more susceptible to pest infestations which kill the trees and add to wildfire risks. 

Screenshot from 2016-06-13 10:40:00 Flooding is also a clear-cut side-effect, as we saw in Sussex area recently.

In another few weeks, Frank will be able to harness and start crunching the annual satellite-based data release from the University of Maryland on tree cover loss. Then he will be able to report on what the loss and replacement of tree cover looked like in 2015. It will be worse than previous years, based on anecdotal and photo evidence from around the province. But, it seems that in 2013, “a single clear cut above Thompson Road, South Branch” in Kings County, “369 contiguous hectares were cut even though 60 – 70 hectare cuts were the then current DNR guideline standard.” The majority of this cutting was on Crown Land License #6, held by JDI of the Irving group of companies (the minor part was adjacent freehold of unknown ownership). Likely, it was all cut for JDI by JDI’s subcontractors.

Frank concluded his talk saying that the management of Crown Land should return to the province, and that a vigorous program of “afforestation must replace the current policy of liquidation.”

There was discussion around his proposal for a “return to” management by the “province”. First, this offers no substantial protection for the environment based on how governments of different political parties all seem equally captured by the lumbering corporations whims. Secondly, the province does not have title to these lands: they have never been surrendered and have continuously been used for traditional uses by the original Indigenous Peoples. From an Indigenous rights perspective, especially now that Canada has fully agreed to uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Mi’kmaq and the Wolastoq must be centrally involved in the management of the public forests. However, everyone agreed a new management regime is required and that an aggressive program of reforestration with mixed Acadian forest fauna is required, especially those plants that will be adaptable to climate changes.

Everyone was extremely appreciative of Frank’s work and presentation. Contact Frank c/o Tracy Glynn, Forestry staffer at CCNB, at <forest@conservationcouncil.ca>.

Stop Spraying New Brunswick (SSNB) Facebook Page 

Caroline Lubbe-Darcy presented this report. With the NB hunters and outdoors enthusiasts coming on board, support to end spraying in the forests has grown a lot. Doctors are also getting involved.

11140029_10153323672566365_9114381791770508962_nAt the rally on May 18, 2016 at the New Brunswick Legislature, a petition to stop spraying signed by almost 13,000 New Brunswickers was given to two MLA’s – David Coon and Gilles Lepage – who filed the petitions on behalf of  SSNB. David Coon raised this matter in the Legislature and Coon has circulated the response of then Minister of Natural Resources Denis Landry to this petition. As Landry is no longer Minister for this department, SSNB is going to follow up with the new Minister of Natural Resources. Everyone is asked to push for many more signed petitions for the next filing date: the deadline for getting these to SSNB is September 10th.

Caroline also reminded people to let NB Power know if you do not want them to spray herbicides on hydro line that is on your property. The info on this is on the SSNB FB page, where one can also find reports about glyphosate and other herbicides, and see photos of clear cuts and the damage being done to our forests. People are reminded to film or photograph clear cut areas, using gps tracking information if possible, and upload these visuals to the SSNB page.

SSNB volunteers are working on information sheets on the impacts of herbicide sprays. There was some discussion on this, with general agreement that public information is essential but many people feeling short videos are more effective. Caroline emphasized that the info sheets they envisage will be brief as most people do not have a lot of time for in-depth reading. There was also discussion of using consumer pressure on the companies that use the sprays.

An exciting development that will be very helpful is the beginning of a Spray Caucus through the New Brunswick Environment Network (NBEN). NBEN has helped many other grassroots environmental movements to network through regularly-scheduled caucus teleconferences. Both the Fredericton and the Kent County chapters of the Council of Canadians are members of NBEN and took part in the first discussion to set up this teleconference network.

Only organizations (not individuals) can take part in these “phone meetings’ – either groups that belong to the NBEN, or those who are nominated by a member group to join the caucus, who then become associate members. So, now is the time to form your own little group with concerned friends and neighbours – it is easier to get things done with a group, and you could consider joining this new caucus! 

Brainstorming Where to Next, To Stop Spraying?

After these presentations concluded, there was an open “brainstorming” discussion. Details from that are not being shared in this document. Many of the ideas were in preliminary stages and need more planning and networking to be fully developed. In general, some points made included: showing how much we value our forests by being in them in a good way; increasing public education including finding places for Frank to present his presentation, and also use of short videos; developing consumer pressure strategies; developing more diverse tactical strategies for getting changes in provincial policies; focusing on climate action issues.

Mark D’Arcy remarked, “I hope there is such a multitude of events on this issue in the next few months that none of us can keep track of them.”

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All four New Brunswick Council of Canadians chapters Present and Accounted For!


Main Points for letters of support re Kopit/EFN aboriginal title claim,
which are to make clear that allies support this legal action:

  1. acknowledge the ongoing injustices endured by Mi’kmaq People, all of which have been done to steal the land and resources from the People, so the title and rights of the People must be affirmed by the courts
  2. recognize that Canadian laws and governments cannot adequately protect the regional natural environment, presently the only hope for protection of the natural environment is through assertion of Aboriginal title, which will result in the Mi’kmaq people being in a caretaking position for the region’s resources, lands, waters, and air
  3. undo the corporate capture of New Brunswick and help promote genuine democracy in this region, where all people have a say in matters that pertain to and govern their everyday lives

Address to:
Kenneth Francis, Speaker for Kopit Lodge at Elsipogtog First Nation

Mail to Kopit/EFN lawyer:
Bruce McIvor, First Peoples Law, 111 Water Street,
Suite 300, Vancouver, BC   V6B 1A7

Email:
To:
kgunn@firstpeopleslaw.com,
CC. to: imw.legalfund@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Remarks to the Hon. Brian Kenny, the Most Important Cabinet Minister in New Brunswick Government

On March 2, 2016, 17 member groups in the New Brunswick Environment Network (NBEN) attended a 1.5 hours meeting with Brian Kenny, Minister of the Environment for New Brunswick, and three of his senior staff. Thank you to NBEN’s Mary Ann Coleman and Raissa Marks for organizing this opportunity for an exchange of information and issues.

Major items discussed included: how “regional planning” might help with environmental protection (eg. through increased mandates to the regional service district committees); water protection legislation – including wetlands, and enforcement of riparian buffer regulations; the Environmental Trust Fund; and, the urgency of climate action and moving on to renewables.

During this session, the Ministerial staff set out their current major priorities and here is what I recorded from their remarks in approximate order of urgency:

  • modernizing municipal legislation (now 50 years old apparently)
  • updating the regulations associated with this legislation
  • working with other departments to define priorities and capture these in “statements of interest”
  • a comprehensive water strategy
  • improvements to wetlands policies

Concurrent with all that is making the department’s work more transparent, and various digital information enhancements that are already underway.

While looking at this list, it is important to remember that Brian Kenny is Minister for the Environment AND Local Government (one department). On reflection, it appears that they are putting their eggs in the basket of local government as their approach to improving protection of the environment. An interesting idea – not adequate certainly, but might well help if done properly. A lot can be accomplished through land use planning tools if used properly. So folks, if you want to make a point on municipal or regional planning systems, policies, issues, concerns, etc. — now’s the time!

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I took this photo so am not in it. That’s the Minister at the head table, on the left in front of the screen. I attended on behalf of the Kent County Chapter of the Council of Canadians. As always, when I have the chance to speak truth to power, I think about which of my closest allies are not “At this Table,” and what they might like me to communicate that seems appropriate to the situation.

Here is a picture of me and my confrere Mark D’Arcy who attended on behalf of the Fredericton Chapter of the Council of Canadians. image
Mark used his allotted time to speak about climate change issues and the need for the Government of New Brunswick to do its own EIA on the Pipeline proposal. Mark strongly emphasized the Minister’s Duty of Care in regards to the possibly serious, even lethal, risks related to both these issues. This photo was taken by Caroline Lubbedarcy, who represented Stop Spraying in New Brunswick, and used her alloted time to press for a full review of health and environmental hazards of herbicide spraying by forestry companies and NB Power, as well as an end to the spraying.

It is also important to mention Jim Emberger was present, speaking on behalf of the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance. He addressed many of the points included in NBASGA’s Statement on the New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing Report, including the lack of social license, the science case against fracking, and the urgency of NB government undertaking nation-to-nation relationship-building with First Nations . Later in the meeting, Jim spoke about the importance of government recognizing that each region of the province is very different, something he has learned through NBASGA.

Unfortunately, none of our Indigenous environmental protection allies were present. For me, a smudge and a reading of the Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth would have been a welcome addition. Next time?

In the order of our NBEN agenda, I was given the opportunity to make the final presentation, before the wrap-up. Following are my remarks…


 

“The Final Report of the New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing, released last week, speaks of the distrust, mistrust, and alienation of New Brunswickers regarding our provincial government. The Commission heard this loud and clear in Kent County.  In fact, Commission members seemed to stop in their tracks and feel overwhelmed by our perspectives here, about how government has betrayed us.  (∗ : in the footnote on this post are links to submissions that prove this sentiment.)

“Another example of that betrayal connects to something that was discussed at the outset of this meeting today. Our Kent Regional District Service Commission passed resolutions unanimously opposing the new Forestry Management Act, and opposing Shale Gas Fracking Exploration in Kent County (actual vote 15-1 abstention, I believe). But, Mr. Minister, as you know, there is no systemic pathway for resolutions from the Service Districts into the government here in Fredericton. The fact that the Government of New Brunswick totally ignored the only local body that represents our municipalities and local service districts contributed mightily to our sense that government deserted us to our fate of being a “Sacrifice Zone” for resource extraction industries.

“I am going to assume that you, Mr. Minister, and your three staff at the head table, have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, perhaps godchildren… When thinking about the future they will face, it is clear and evident that your Ministry is the most important department in the Government of New Brunswick.

“At the core of your mandate is ensuring environmental sustainability in this province we all love. You have the tools and responsibilities for all manner of impact assessment, regulatory powers, inspection and enforcement services, in order to protect our environment. There is a huge urgency to bring all these into active service due to the ecoapocolypse that is lurking over our shoulders due to our rapidly deteriorating, changing climate.

“For us in Kent County, your department certainly has the most urgent and important mandate in this government:

  • We love our Acadian Forest, and all its inhabitants.  We want our Forest Relations to survive and thrive. This means stopping the rapacious clear-cutting, the softwood plantations, and the spraying of poisonous herbicides.
  • We want water protection legislation for our fresh drinking water, our inland fisheries, and our precious wetlands.
  • We want shale gas mothballed for the long term by legislation. Your department’s mandate re: “impact” and “sustainability” strengthen your hand at arguing this in cabinet.
  • We are passionate about biodiversity. The diversity of wildlife in our region — the forests, the waters, and the soils — contributes directly to the livelihoods of virtually everyone in Kent County, all the way down in scale to the bees we rely on to pollinate our fruits and vegetables in our gardens — so take a look at the neonicotinoids as well, please.
  • We fully support implementation of the Health Impact Assessment (HIA) process, proposed by the former Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eilish Cleary to the NB Fracking Commission. The Commission endorsed this approach but in an inappropriate and ineffectual manner. An HIA trumps an EIA, and as Dr. Cleary pointed out, the current EIA processes will and can be addressed and included within the broader scope of the HIA process she outlined. This is what we want to see. It will begin to restore our confidence that government is capable of looking after us over here in Kent County.

“On behalf of our group, the Kent County Chapter of the Council of Canadians, and all our united Mi’kmaq, Acadian and Anglo environmentalist allies in Kent County, I beg that you hear what I am saying. There is no time to lose on these matters. Please instruct your staff to walk into all interdepartmental meetings — and you, please,Minister Kenny, walk into all Cabinet meetings — with your heads held high, insisting on full implementation of the environmental protections your broad mandate offers.

“Yours is the most important Ministry in the New Brunswick government. Our future generations are depending on you.”

Ann Pohl, Chairperson, Council of Canadians – Kent County Chapter, March 2, 2016

 

 

DontPanicalltreatypeople

∗ See for example: “Powerless Citizen” and “Illusion of Certainty”,  Some of the Human Rights Issues Related to Fracking , Lise Johnson’s Story, No Shale…, Kent County Chapter Council of CanadiansNotre environnement, notre choix / Our Environment, Our ChoiceYvon Daigle’s Submission to the Commission, The Requirement to be InformedIt’s about Trust, To Make Critical Decisions, We Must Employ Critical Thinking, Personal Submission to the Shale Gas CommissionGroupe de développement durable du Pays de Cocagne Sustainable Development Groupe.

Question: is there a Conflict of Interest in the NB Commission on Hydro-Fracking?

Some Questions about the Legitimacy of the NB Fracking Commission

KENT NOT FOR SHALE

1   About the McLaughlins 

A man named Andrew McLaughlin was recently hired by Major Drilling. According to their website, Major Drilling “is one of the world’s largest drilling services companies primarily serving the mining industry,” and “provides all types of drilling services including surface and underground coring, directional, reverse circulation, sonic, geotechnical, environmental, water-well, coal-bed methane and shallow gas.” Sounds like this Andrew McLaughlin is closely associated with deep shale fracking operations.

Here’s the question: is Andrew the son (or other close relation) of John McLaughlin, the man who is the Chair of the NB Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing? Someone told me Andy is John’s boy. Mind you, I did not want to believe that Premier Brian Gallant’s Fracking Commission could be skewed in favour of the fracking industry, who are known for their “drill, baby, drill” practices because that is the only way to make deep shale extraction possible. So, what’s the scoop on this?

2   About Major Drilling

The CEO and President of Major Drilling is Francis McGuire, the former Deputy Minister of Business NB and former head of NB Power during the failed attempt to sell NB’s electric system to Quebec. Here is some background info about Francis and his commitment to Major Drilling. This man seems to be motivated by money and the gambling challenge of private industry, at the cost of anything else perhaps…

For starters, Francis’ debacle on the NB Power sell-off issue makes it clear the man has no idea about the significance of “social license.” Now, he is not in government any longer, so a person might say he does not need to be concerned with social license issues, UNLESS he is flouting the integrity of the NB Fracking Commission by hiring someone who can use family connections to make sure the Commission comes up with the recommendation to proceed with fracking.

Here are the questions: Assuming for a moment that Andrew IS John’s son, and I have no way of knowing this for sure but someone told me he is, then which came first: the chicken or the egg? Did Andrew get hired by Major Drilling to sway the Fracking Commission, or did Andrew know the Fracking Commission will recommend lifting the Moratorium so he took this job to be in the right place at the right time? Or both perhaps?

3   About Frank McKenna

Frank McKenna, former Premier of our province, is a huge booster of fracking in New Brunswick. Frank is also buddy-buddy close with Francis McGuire.

Frank’s 2014 speech in Saint John is probably the best synopsis of his real views on the topic. He not only thinks shale gas fracking is the salvation of the province, he also derides the idea of listening to shale gas opponents, calling us an “extremely vocal, anti-fracking minority” and “blowhards” who “seize control of the agenda” using “mob rule.”

Here are the facts on the matter of whether those of us who oppose fracking are a minority. In all surveys done to date and released to the public, our province’s population is split just about 50-50 on the simple topic of shale gas extraction industrial development. However, as soon as the question is complicated with balancing this development against the priority of protecting our environment, the environment has won in all public opinion surveys. In one memorable one during the Alward government, more than 80% of the population said they would not support shale gas development if it could negatively affect the natural environment. We all know it is absolutely impossible to “do” shale gas without damaging the environment.

On November 5 2015, Frank spoke at a business conference in Saint John. Not normally a patient man, he is quoted as saying that the fracking moratorium (the same one he abhorred in 2014) is now fine with him. “When it comes to the provincial fracking moratorium,” he “is satisfied” with “the process,” and says we (industry) just “need to be patient.”

Here are the questions: Is Frank patient now because he knows his crony Old Boys network already has the fix in? Does this seem like a logical conclusion for Frank to reach, because of the direct line between Frank and Francis at Major Drilling, especially as it seems that Andrew may be the son of NB Fracking Commission Chair John? Or is there some other reason Frank all of a sudden feels the Fracking Commission is doing a fine job?

4   About the NB Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing’s Work

The thing is, the Government of New Brunswick (GNB) just took a gigantic step backwards on gaining social license for any industrial activities that could have or will have negative impacts on health and environment. In December, GNB fired for “no cause” the one person in the entire civil  service that the medical community and grassroots communities knew we could trust to speak the truth about whether provincial policies were good for people and the environment that sustains us. I am speaking of our former exemplary Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eilish Cleary. So, like many others, I am in a state of hyper-vigilance about what GNB has up their sleeves next.

As Cheryl Robertson, the member of the Fracking Commission who does their folksy communicating, has posted on their website, “one of the core findings of our work” is that “distrust of public institutions runs deep” among New Brunswickers. Good one, Sherlock! She continues, “There is anger, frustration and a strong sense of weariness on all sides…”

Here are the questions: given the obvious pro-fracking standpoint of Major Drilling can the Government of New Brunswick set to rest the questions that are floating around right now, about whether Andrew McLaughlin may or may not be directed related to the Commission’s Chair John McLaughlin? If this suggested malfeasance is indeed true, can the Fracking Commission Chair explain how this is compatible with the Commission’s online Code of Conduct? Is this perhaps a true conflict of interest? Was it declared? If it was declared, where and when? And even if it was declared, does that make it right?

 

It is an unfortunate thing when a citizen of this province is forced to address
a major issue like this one in an online blog, simply asking questions…
From my standpoint, if this is confirmed, it totally justifies the public’s
deep distrust of GNB, and would be one more nail in the coffin of social license.

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— Ann Pohl wrote this on February 1, 2016 —

Fundy Borehole Test Drills — a Violation of Peace & Friendship Treaties

redheadblogphoto
August 31, 2015
respond to: coc.kent.county.nb@gmail.com

TransCanada is set to begin borehole drill testing in the world-renowned, fragile Bay of Fundy ecosystem, off-shore at Red Head NB. No approvals have been granted for this work, which is related to the proposed Energy East Pipeline, for which no project plan has even been finalized. This is a violation of Peace & Friendship Treaty obligations.

Statement to:
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Government of Canada; pm@pm.gc.ca
  • Premier Brian Gallant, Government of New Brunswick; premier@gnb.ca
  • Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, Government of Canada;Bernard.Valcourt@parl.gc.ca
  • Ed Doherty, Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs, Government of New Brunswick; Ed.Doherty@gnb.ca
  • Leona Aglukkaq, Environment Canada, also Minister responsible for Species at Risk Act (SARA), North American Waterfowl Management Plan, and Migratory Birds Convention Act; minister@ec.gc.ca
  • Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Government of Canada; Min@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
  • Denis Landry, Minister of Natural Resources, Government of New Brunswick, also Minister responsible for Species at Risk Act (SARA); denis.landry2@gnb.ca
  • Rick Doucet, Minister of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries, Government of New Brunswick; rick.doucet@gnb.ca
  • Russ Girling, CEO, TransCanada Corporation; energyeast@transcanada.com
  • Peter Watson, Chair and CEO, National Energy Board; c/o Louise.Niro@neb-one.gc.ca
Message:

We, the undersigned New Brunswick provincial chapters of the Council of Canadians, are aware of the imminent intention of TransCanada to undertake borehole testing in the Bay of Fundy, near Red Head. As loyal citizen groups committed to human rights and democracy, we are placing on record our united opposition to this plan. There are many reasons a person might oppose TransCanada’s development plans, but here we wish to deal with a matter we think takes precedence over all others, in relation to the laws of this land.

In regards to the proposed borehole drilling, based on the Peace & Friendship Treaties, indigenous law precedents, Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (to which Canada is signatory), as well as other legal precepts, the governments of Canada and New Brunswick have neglected to “uphold the honour of the Crown” and also neglected to carry out their fiduciary duties to the Indigenous Peoples of this region.

No valid consultation has taken place regarding this planned incursion into the shared territory of the Wabanaki Peoples, in specific the three original indigenous cultures of what is now known as the Province of New Brunswick, to wit: the Mi’kmaq, the Wolastoqiyik, and the Passamaquoddy Peoples. A valid consultation involves:

  • notice to the Wabanaki Peoples and other Indigeneous intervenors and interested parties about what is proposed in their region, before any related work commences;
  • provision of full information about exactly what is planned including all relevant documents;
  • reasonable time to deal with concerns and matters before any such work is considered for approval;
  • indigenous access to adequate resources to engage in a valid process;
  • full respect for traditional indigenous knowledge and knowledge holders;
  • the opportunity to be listened to, not just heard.

As non-Indigenous people, it is our view that the treaties, which were signed in our name and for our benefit, must be honoured and upheld for all time and in all ways. When all our ancestors entering into these sacred agreements, an enduring mutual structure and responsibility was established that was intended to govern how we all relate to one another, for all time, on this land. This protocol clearly has not been respected in regards to this initiative, which could have devastating outcomes.

The ink is barely dry on the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Already we can see that Canada and New Brunswick are still operating with the old colonial mindset, which says that it is fine for Canadian and international corporations to do as they wish within the unceded territory of the Wabanaki Peoples.

We are all Treaty People. We call on the governments of Canada and New Brunswick to put a stop to the planned bore head drilling. Sit down and speak in a constructive manner with the Indigenous peoples of this region, with the goal of meeting Canada’s fiduciary and human rights obligations in a direct and sincere manner.

Respectfully yours,

Ann Pohl,
Chairperson, Kent County Chapter, Council of Canadians

Jean Louis Deveau,
Chairperson, Fredericton Chapter, Council of Canadians

Leticia Adair,
Chairperson, Saint John Chapter, Council of Canadians

membership image
Copied to:
  • Hugh Akagi, Chief of the Passamaquoddy at Oonaskamkuk
  • Kenneth Francis, Speaker, IMW/Kopit Lodge at Elsipogtog First Nation
  • Ron Tremblay, Speaker, Wolastoq Grand Council, also Spokesperson for the Peace & Friendship Alliance
  • Alex Neve, General Secretary, Amnesty International Canadian Section
  • Angela Giles, Atlantic Organizer, Council of Canadians
  • Benjamin Craig, Campaigner for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Amnesty International, Canada Section
  • Brent Patterson; Political Director, Council of Canadians
  • Charles Murray, Ombudsman for New Brunswick
  • Ed Bianchi, Program Manager, KAIROS
  • Rev. David Hewitt, United Church of Canada Maritime Conference
  • The Right Rev. Jordan Cantwell, Moderator, United Church of Canada
  • Nora Sanders, General Secretary, United Church of Canada

BREAKING NEWS… Dr. Cleary, NB’s Medical Officer of Health, to comment soon re: Kent County Glyphosate concerns

Water Protection Pledge BrownsYard 009.1

For Immediate Release

August 10, 2015

Glyphosate herbicides cause cancer and other harms.
Government of New Brunswick’s head is in the sand. 


In collaboration with JDI and other major lumber companies, the Government of New Brunswick (GNB) kicks off its taxpayer-financed 2015 glyphosate spray program in our forests today. Commercial products based on glyphosate are used widely in New Brunswick for forestry management, and also for clearing roadsides and hydro-lines, and agricultural purposes. Relevant trade names include Forza, Vantage Forestry, Vision, Vision Max, and Roundup.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a scientific panel commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO), reported in March 2015 that glyphosate herbicides cause cancer in human beings. Yet, the GNB website still says that WHO believes these sprays “do not pose a risk to humans, wildlife or the environment.”

“The smoking gun is a clear connection between workplace exposure and the incidence of “one rare cancer”: non-Hodgkins lymphoma,” says Ann Pohl, Spokesperson for the Kent County NB Chapter of the Council of Canadians. “New Brunswickers understand that anything that kills plants, like this stuff does, is not good for any of us. We live close to the land and water, relying on the natural environment for parts of our livelihoods. We know there is a link between poisons in the environment and cancer. Some days it seems like every second person in upcountry here has cancer. “

“The Government of New Brunswick seems to have its head stuck in the sand, denying the mounting evidence that these defoliants are not only carcinogenic but also dangerous in a multitude of other ways. Perhaps this is due to industry pressure,“ says Ms. Pohl. “I am scared by what I have recently learned about glyphosate, but I am truly alarmed about the health risks faced by my neighbours: the workers, mostly men, who are directly exposed to these chemicals. The Public Health Agency of Canada reports an exceptionally high incidence of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma among men in New Brunswick, the same exact “rare” cancer correlated by IARC/WHO with glyphosate herbicides.”

“I have written Dr. Eilish Cleary, GNB’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, to ask her “opinion on the risks of the continued use of glyphosate herbicidal products,” says Ms. Pohl. “I am delighted to say that Dr, Cleary has already responded to my request to “acknowledge receipt” of my letter, and has said she “will reply in more detail in the not so distant future.”

A copy of the letter sent to Dr. Cleary is found here

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