Water Act Must Protect Our Public and Environmental Rights

The provincial government is “modernizing” our Water Act, calling the new act the Water Sustainability Act (WSA). A round of public consultation was held last spring when the government received over 900 submissions. Based on those submissions they have developed a brief policy document which you can download here.

The second round of public consultation has just been extended to March 14. There are many insightful comments on the blog site that will assist you in understanding public concerns regarding the purposed policy. You can read others’ comments and post your own on the living water smart blog, http://blog.gov.bc.ca/livingwatersmart/

Comments are also accepted by fax to 250 356-1202, by phone at 250 387-4734 and by mail addressed to:

Water Act Modernization, Ministry of Environment, Water Protection and Sustainability Branch, PO Box 9362, Stn Prov Govt, Victoria, BC V8W 9M2

Don’t hesitate to comment on the blog with your concerns. One or two lines is fine. It is imperative that the government is aware of how many citizens and groups are interested in the true protection of our water in BC. Commenting will also put your name on the government’s email list for further developments in this process.

Read more: Water Sustainability

Military Spending Leaves Environment Defenseless

ACTION ALERT: Send Harper a message about proposed budget cuts to Environment Canada. News agencies are reporting that the Harper government is planning a $222-million or 20% reduction in spending at Environment Canada.

This includes a $141 million cut to climate change and clean air initiatives, as well as a $19.5-million cut to a federal action plan dealing with contaminated federal sites, and about $3-million in reductions for compliance promotion and enforcement for wildlife and pollution.

Meanwhile, in 2010 to 2011, Environment Canada’s program activities amount to just over one billion dollars while National Defence spending is over twenty billion. This is further evidence that the Harper government is out of step with the views of Canadians.

According to recent Environics poll, seventy-one percent of Canadians strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement, “money spent on wars and the military would all be better spent on efforts that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of climate change.”

Price tag for F-35 Fighter Jets will approach $30-billion, budget watchdog warns.

Liberal defence critic Dominic LeBlanc said. “To put this in perspective, $30-billion is equivalent to $1,000 for every man, woman and child in Canada, and equals the entire federal government’s annual spending on health care.”

Send an email to: Prime Minister Harper, Environment Minister Peter Kent and the leaders of the opposition.


Welcome to the British Columbia Environmental Network

The time has arrived when we must begin to examine the underlying realities of our relationship to all life around us, the life that we are just beginning to appreciate as the true medium of our innermost identity. We need to move neither further to the Left nor further to the Right – rather, we must seriously begin to inquire into the rights of rabbits and turnips, the rights of soil and swamp, the rights of the atmosphere, and ultimately the rights of the planet. For those in the end are the containers of our entire future evolution, and everything else rests upon whether or not we come to terms with the politics of Earth and sky, evolution and transformation, God and nature. Otherwise, in our lifetimes, we shall suffer the enactment of the saga of Genesis, our expulsion from paradise and the fall of nature itself.

-Robert Hunter

Warriors of the Rainbow – ecobc.org


Lobbyists need 2-year ‘cooling off’

Rule would avoid potential conflicts if they switch to politics: ethics watchdog

Glen McGregor

The Ottawa Citizen

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Lobbyists such as prominent Ottawa Liberal candidate Richard Mahoney should be required to serve “cooling off” periods when they enter politics to avoid conflicts of interest, says a public interest group that argues for ethics reform in government.

Ottawa-based Democracy Watch wants federal ethics rules tightened to require anyone who gets paid to influence public policy as a lobbyist to wait two years before moving into a job that could affect former clients.

Mr. Mahoney “shouldn’t be able to take on any position on any committee, or vote on anything in the House or take part in any discussion affecting any issue about which he was lobbying,” says the group’s co-ordinator, Duff Conacher.

“You should know that, if you’re a lobbyist and going to run for office, you’re getting in there, but you’re not going to have any power for two years.”

Mr. Conacher was responding to a report that Mr. Mahoney last week registered to lobby the federal government on behalf of Toronto-based Canadian Satellite Radio (CSR), one of three companies that won CRTC approval for the new broadcast format.

Mr. Mahoney is the nominated Liberal candidate in Ottawa Centre. A friend of Prime Minister Paul Martin’s, he is expected to be offered a cabinet post should he win the seat and his party form a government in the next federal election.

The code of conduct requires public office holders to wait one year after leaving their jobs before working with anyone in government with whom they had “direct and significant official” dealings. The cooling-off period is two years for cabinet ministers.

But there is no such prohibition on former lobbyists moving into cabinet or committee posts that craft policy affecting the companies that once paid them.

“It has to go both ways,” Mr. Conacher said. “Otherwise, the principles of the code are not upheld.” He said the change should also be adopted in the ethics code for MPs.

Mr. Conacher pointed to the example of Industry Minister David Emerson, who, before running for the Liberals, was the top executive at Canfor, a major B.C. forestry company. In cabinet, Mr. Emerson now has responsibilities that directly affect his former company, including contentious issues involving the softwood lumber trade dispute, Mr. Conacher said.

Mr. Mahoney’s registration with CSR was effective Oct. 4, but according to one published report, he was lending “support” to the company well before then.

The Globe and Mail reported on Sept. 12 that CSR chairman John Bitove had the support of “well-placed Ottawa lobbyists,” including Mr. Mahoney and David Herle, another Martin adviser.

The company was working to win cabinet approval for the CRTC licence and Canadian content requirements that were set lower than those for traditional radio broadcasters.

Mr. Herle, a communications consultant, said yesterday that the Globe story mischaracterized his role, because he has never worked as a lobbyist for CSR or anyone else.

Lobbyists are required to register with Industry Canada within 10 days of taking on a client, but it is possible Mr. Mahoney was simply performing duties for CSR that did not require him to register under the lobbyist act. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The Martin government is under political pressure to crack down on unregistered lobbying in the wake of the David Dingwall affair. Before he became head of the Royal Canadian Mint, Mr. Dingwall had received a $350,000 contingency fee after lobbying for an Ontario biotechnology company that landed a grant from Industry Canada’s Technology Partnerships Canada program.

Mr. Emerson this week said he wants to see the government official responsible for the lobbyist registry given greater independence and enforcement resources to stop unregistered lobbying.

John Duffy, another Martin adviser who was also registered to lobby on behalf of CSR, said yesterday he did not know Mr. Mahoney was also working on the file until he read it in the newspaper.

But Mr. Duffy said he was aware that another member of Mr. Mahoney’s firm, Fraser Milner Casgrain, was lobbying for CSR. Cyrus Reporter, a former aide to cabinet minister Allan Rock and one-time member of the Martin transition team, registered with CSR in July.

One of Mr. Mahoney’s future opponents yesterday called on him to sever his ties with the company.

“Either Richard Mahoney knows something that the rest of us don’t about the timing of the next election, or he’s showing bad political judgment,” the nominated Conservative candidate in Ottawa Centre, Keith Fountain, said in a statement.

“If he wants this election to be about ideas and not lobbying scandals, he needs to cancel that lobbying contract.”

British Columbia Environmental Network