November 6, 2014

English Edition, No. 2

Opposition in Quebec to TransCanada Pipeline Project

Demonstrations Take Militant Stands Which Seek to Humanize the Natural and Social Environments


Cacouna, October 11, 2014

Opposition in Quebec to TransCanada Energy East Pipeline Project
Demonstration in Cacouna Demands Repeal of Drilling Licenses and
Says No to TransCanada Pipeline and Port!

Interview with Spokesperson of No to Oil Spills in the St. Lawrence
People of Sorel-Tracy Mobilize to Protect Mother Earth - Normand Chouinard
Harper Says Ottawa and Quebec Ready to Table Bills to Allow
Oil and Gas Production in Gulf of St. Lawrence

Statement by Coalition Saint-Laurent
Statement by Save Our Seas and Shores 
Canada's Dismal Record on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction


Opposition in Quebec to TransCanada Energy East Pipeline Project

Demonstration in Cacouna Demands
Repeal of Drilling Licenses and Says
No to TransCanada Pipeline and Port!

On Saturday, October 11, nearly 1,500 people demonstrated in the streets of Cacouna on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River (north of Rivière-du-Loup) against the resumption of drilling by Alberta energy monopoly TransCanada near Cacouna and its Energy East Pipeline project. Protesters came from across Quebec and marched through the streets of the municipality to the port of Gros-Cacouna. They carried a large banner calling for the protection of the St. Lawrence River including the beluga population that breeds in the region, and another calling for an end to the pipeline project.

The purpose of TransCanada's Energy East Pipeline project is to carry oil from Alberta and Saskatchewan to maritime terminals in Quebec City and Saint John, New Brunswick. It has a planned capacity of 1.1 million barrels per day. The project also includes the construction of an pipeline port in Cacouna to export crude oil via supertankers.

In late September, the Quebec Superior Court granted an temporary injunction suspending TransCanada's license for exploratory drilling issued by the Quebec government, because of possible harm to the belugas, an endangered species.

For participants in the demonstration on October 11, these measures are not sufficient. One of the organizers of the event, Martin Poirier, spokesperson of the group "No Oil Spills in the St. Lawrence," took issue with the minister responsible for the region, Jean d'Amour (who is also the Minister responsible for government's Maritime Strategy). "D'Amour said after the event on April 27 that there would be no project with TransCanada if the people demonstrated that they did not want it. For us, today's event is that signal: the people have not given the green light. We never gave that mandate to our government," he said.

He accused the Couillard government of behaving like lobbyists for TransCanada, "We have a duty to protect the common good. When I see the Minister of Environment acting like a TransCanada lobbyist and developer [...] The following day, Mr. Couillard dared to add that drilling will continue to move forward [...] He also became a TransCanada lobbyist," he added.

Sylvain Tremblay, Mayor of Saint-Siméon, a small municipality in Charlevoix opposite Cacouna on the north shore of the St. Lawrence, added, "In the regions and across Quebec they are imposing things on us, while normally we know exactly what are our needs."

"You are the guardians of our future. We will not be trampled. Nature gives us life, not the financiers wanting to come with their black swords to stab us. Stand united and we will make a difference," he said to the applause of the protesters. Other speakers also spoke about the importance of the people's struggle.

The protesters have pledged to step up their actions in the coming period. One such action is a petition issued by Nature Québec demanding the drilling stop and calling for a public debate on the Energy East Pipeline project.





It reads in part:

"I THE UNDERSIGNED,

"Demand an open and transparent debate. Drilling in the nursery of our whales is only the first phase of a much larger project with major environmental issues for Quebec. Substantive issues have never been discussed publicly: Do we want to build a new pipeline across more than 700 kilometres in Quebec to ensure the delivery and export of crude bitumen from Western Canada? What impact will this project have on climate change? On our natural environment? On the St. Lawrence? What will happen in the event of a spill?

"For its part, Nature Québec estimates that Quebec has nothing to gain and everything to lose so the benefits are minimal and the environmental risks high. Quebecers should decide the fate of this major project, which involves the future of our children, meanwhile the debate on its usefulness has never taken place. The government will permit this fundamental debate and will provide Québec with a right of refusal only if we oppose the work in Cacouna and unite our voices to demand it." The petition can be signed here: www.sauvonsnosbelugas.com.

The temporary injunction against TransCanada was in effect until October 16. However, on October 15, the Quebec Ministry of the Environment blocked the resumption of drilling, saying it was not convinced TransCanada will respect limits on noise levels necessary to protect the belugas, citing evidence that TransCanada had disobeyed provincial rules for the project. This appears to be only a temporary setback for TransCanada as the Couillard government and Harper governments are putting in place legislation for the project to go ahead. On October 30, TransCanada officially applied to the National Energy Board to issue a license for the project. On November 5, Mayor of Cacouna Ghislaine Daris said the town will likely hold a referendum on whether to permit the project. In the meantime, the people's opposition to the trampling of their rights and the disrespect for Mother Earth is building.

(Photos: L.E. Cardinal, C. Dupuis, M. Poirier)

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Interview with Spokesperson of
No to Oil Spills in the St. Lawrence

Martin Poirier is the spokesperson of No to Oil Spills in the St. Lawrence, a citizen's initiative in the Lower St. Lawrence. In an interview with Forum ouvrier, he explains that people are extremely worried about the hydrocarbon projects being pushed in Quebec. They realize that something must be done, that no one can be indifferent.

"When we founded No to Oil Spills in July 2010, it was to address the issue of drilling in a marine environment in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the famous Old Harry project, with its aim of drilling close to the Magdalen Islands," Poirier explains. That project "has never evolved simply because the citizens' mobilization has always been there to block it. We then realized that the hydrocarbon project had taken hold of Quebec, whether on land or at sea -- Anticosti, the Gaspé, shale gas in the St. Lawrence Valley. The problem is compounded by the project adopted by Canada to become a petro-power, which more or less targets Quebec as a highway, a passageway for non-conventional oil such as that from the oil sands, shale, etc."

Asked to elaborate the concerns of the people, Poirier explained:

"Of course, the plight of the beluga whales touched a chord with a number of people in Quebec who care for this threatened species which is constantly on the decline.

"Beyond that, 40 per cent of Quebec's drinking water comes from the St. Lawrence, between Quebec and Montreal. The Council of Canadians published a report on the complete route of the pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta to Quebec, enumerating all the waterways which will be affected along the way. In Quebec itself, the pipeline will pass by no less than 600 rivers and streams, and in one case through a tunnel near Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures near Quebec, where the coastline itself is an ecological reserve. So the issue of water quality is important. When dealing with the environment, there is a principle at hand which is to be cautious in the sense that if there are too many risks involved in a project, one should simply not go ahead with it.

"Then of course there is the matter of a sustainable and renewable economy. For example, in Tadoussac, there is a protected marine park. Within this park, the marine mammal-tourism industry itself involves 3,200 full-time jobs and $200 million in annual revenue. We are talking here about an economy which is sustainable as well as renewable. Actually, it is one of the most sought-after spots in the world in terms of marine mammal observation. It is a very sensitive issue for all concerned and that is why even the Mayor of Saint-Siméon, who is also the prefect of Eastern Charlevoix, was present at the demonstration on October 11. Also, many participants on October 11 who had never set foot in a demonstration before began to appreciate that what was at stake is their livelihood, their way of life, as well as the integrity of the St. Lawrence itself.

"There are also the landowners. They are being dispossessed of their land, and there is a growing feeling of being dispossessed of their entitlement [to have their say about the land and resources]. This is the case with shale gas, for which Quebec has sold claims on Quebec territory, renting whole parts of the land to potential shale gas developers. We are also well aware that the so-called shale gas potential is on mostly inhabited land. When we speak of the St. Lawrence Valley, we are talking about an inhabited territory of the St. Lawrence. Not to mention the fact that it is also fertile in agricultural land, which is why since August 2010 people have not been at all happy with the shale gas projects. There was a campaign called 'We refuse access to our homes,' in response to the Mining Law which stipulates that the only way to stop a company from having access to the land is for the landowner to write a letter to the company to say 'Access denied.' In the case of the pipeline, we adjusted our campaign somewhat to call it 'Don't flow by here.' It is an interesting campaign since we can go door-to-door and tell people, the affected landowners who feel helpless, that this is the least that can be done to affirm that things will not go according to plan for these companies."

Poirier explains the challenges the people face:

"One of the problems we have come up against is the Harper government's mammoth 2012 omnibus bill, which scrapped more than 300 laws of which most are environmental. For example, a new law stipulates that when a project is submitted by a company to the National Energy Board, the latter has no more than 15 months to render a decision. In this case we are dealing with a 4,600 kilometre pipeline. Fifteen months is definitely not enough. The people have to be mobilized and informed. If we want to reach a critical mass, we must inform and, above all, educate, because information is coming from all directions and it is important to sort out what is true and what is false. We have to give people arguments with which to oppose these plans. These are some of the challenges we are facing.

"We base our work on scientific facts put forward by scientists for whom these matters are their realm of expertise, but also on the basis of documents put forward by the companies. We also study these carefully. We have various presentations that are available, and in the case of the No to Oil Spills we have given more than 130 conferences in various regions of Quebec. It is also a campaign of citizen education.

"We do not accept this agenda of transforming Quebec into a provincial petro-power as part of a larger [Canadian] petro-power project. In Quebec, almost 50 per cent of our annual energy consumption comes from renewable energy sources, close to 40 per cent being hydropower, while other sources are also renewable -- biomass, wind power, etc. Furthermore, given that there is a surplus of hydropower -- according to Quebec-Hydro these surpluses could last well into 2020-2030 -- the thing to do is to implement an electrical conversion of our means of transportation as well as to develop the various renewable energy sources that we have. The more capital is invested in oil development, the more it will be difficult to make a clean break with oil, considering we really have the potential to do it."

(Translated from original French by Chantier politique.)

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People of Sorel-Tracy Mobilize to
Protect Mother Earth

More than 2,500 people converged in Sorel-Tracy on Sunday, October 26 to express their opposition to the provincial and federal governments' decision to facilitate the export of Alberta tar sands oil via the St. Lawrence Seaway. Organizers of the demonstration, the Ligue richeloise contre la tyrannie pétrolière, are calling for a moratorium on the transport of this oil on the river, which after arriving in Quebec is exported by ship from the Suncor refinery in Montreal and newly modernized Kildair facilities in Sorel-Tracy. For several weeks super tankers have been carrying oil for export via the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The question "Who owns the St. Lawrence River?" was the focus of discussions amongst the participants, including youth from the Édouard-Montpetit CÉGEP in Longueuil and the Sorel-Tracy CÉGEP. Chanting, "Who's river? Our river!" the president of the Sorel-Tracy CÉGEP's student association highlighted the importance of being able to decide on the economic role of the river while taking up the responsibility to protect this invaluable natural habitat.

The environment was a major concern at the demonstration. Some of the questions were posed were, "Are we prepared to deal with a major oil spill on the river? Who will pay for the damage? What would be the long-term consequences for those living along its shores and the ecosystem overall?" The vast majority of Quebeckers live near the shores of the St. Lawrence. A major environmental disaster would have serious consequences for marine species and millions of people, affecting navigation and drinking water.

Recently, the Couillard government authorized an increase in the number of vessels carrying oil from the oil sands, claiming that Quebec has a duty not to hinder interprovincial trade and the St. Lawrence Seaway is under federal jurisdiction. This point was highlighted by the various political and environmental activists, particularly Dominic Champagne, director and well-known activist in the fight against Anticosti Island shale oil, who emceed the action.

The oil in question is transported from Alberta to the Ultramar refinery in Lévis near Quebec City and Suncor in Montreal East. The closure of the Shell refinery in Montreal a few years ago resulted in an increase in the number of ships carrying refined oil that is ready for distribution. Ships carrying Alberta oil on the river add to the tankers already circulating on the seaway. Their number will increase from 100 to 125 ships, according to Kildair management. As well, the new oil tankers are larger and heavier than current ships. According to the environmentalists at the October 26 action, including well-known biologist and navigator Jean Lemire, there will only be a few metres between the vessel's cargo hold and the river bottom. This greatly increases the risk of accidents on one of the world's most difficult to navigate rivers.

Participants at the march pointed out that Quebec does not have to submit to demands of big oil, and rejected the idea that Quebec should give in because British Columbia and the U.S. have denied access to oil from Alberta's oil sands. They demanded that the Couillard government reverse its decision and that the government not bow down to the dictate of the big oil companies and the federal government.

Representatives of the Abenaki and Mohawk nations were also present and the speech by the Kahnawake Band Council representative was one of the most warmly applauded. Amongst other things, he said that the destruction of the environment is not because people are bad, but that they are the victims of the present system of governance over which they have no control. He invited everyone, Native and non-Native, to reject the racist division that has been imposed on them for centuries by federal authorities and to unite for the protection of Mother Earth that sustains us and gives us life. He said that our decisions must take into consideration the future of the following seven generations. He called on people to break with those who have no respect for Mother Earth and warned that the fight will be a long one. Speaking of the power of big oil, their giant ships and the complicity of political authorities, he said, "It is now you who are the Indians, and the cowboys are all over and are there to wipe you out ... You must continue the struggle, as we have done for centuries."

Another major question of the day was what are the direct benefits for Quebec. How does this transport of Alberta oil help the Quebec economy? The demonstrators stated they see no benefit from transporting this oil on the St. Lawrence, only the risk of environmental disasters and the costs that the population in general will have to pay. The memory of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy was omnipresent. The participants reiterated their strong conviction that they will persevere and that this project will not pass.


(Translated from original French by Chantier politique. Photos: Chantier politique, Les2Rives)

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Harper Says Ottawa and Quebec Ready to
Table Bills to Allow Oil and Gas Production in
Gulf of St. Lawrence

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in Sept-Îles on Quebec's North Shore on October 14 to announce that the Canadian and Quebec governments are going to table bills before the end of the year allowing for oil and gas production in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Harper said that according to the Canadian government, the Gulf of St. Lawrence and surrounding areas has the potential for 39 trillion cubic feet of gas and 1.5 billion barrels of oil. He said that the cooperation between Ottawa and Quebec "will enable the safe and environmentally responsible development of petroleum resources in the region, help create hundreds of jobs and generate revenues and economic growth for Quebec and Canada." He also said that Quebec will benefit from all revenue derived from the development of oil and gas resources in the Gulf, whether through royalties, licensing fees or otherwise. The Government of Canada will collect the royalties and transfer an equivalent amount to the Government of Quebec.

The exploration and extraction are going to be done under joint management between the two levels of government, according to the Canada-Quebec Accord. This is a 2011 agreement signed between the Harper and Charest governments concerning the exploitation of the Quebec portion of the "Old Harry" oil and gas fields, on the border with Newfoundland and Labrador. According to the Accord, both governments will work together to ensure the responsible and sustainable development of these resources in a manner that protects fisheries and the environment. The Accord states that before an exploration permit is issued, strategic environmental assessments must be completed by both governments. The Accord established two phases of joint management. During the first pre-discovery transitional phase, both governments will work to establish a joint regulatory function using their existing regulatory capacities. When the first commercial discovery of petroleum resources occurs, both governments will jointly establish an new offshore resources board, through additional legislation.

The Prime Minister made all efforts to present the offshore oil and gas production in the Gulf of St. Lawrence as a fait accompli and something that meets the people's expectations safety and protection of the environment. However, he conveniently omitted any mention of the broad and growing opposition from the people.

On the day of Harper's announcement, at least two organizations issued a communique in which they expressed their long-standing opposition to the project.

Save Our Seas and Shores (SOSS), a coalition of fishing organizations, environmental and tourism groups, coastal landowners, First Nations' organizations and individuals, and citizens who are defending the Gulf of St. Lawrence from offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling, used the opportunity to remind Harper that the First Nations leaders from Atlantic Canada are calling for a 12-year moratorium on all oil exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. "It is high time that governments started supporting First Nations and coastal communities over corporate oil interests," said SOSS spokesperson Mary Gorman in an October 14 news release.

The Coalition Saint-Laurent, which comprises over 80 organizations, First Nations organizations, environmental groups, trade unions, student associations and others, issued a release reiterating its demands for a moratorium on offshore production in the Gulf while the issue goes to a full public review.

Its statement reads in part: "The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a unique ecosystem, very fragile, shared by five coastal provinces. Instead of paving the way for oil exploration, Quebec should take a leadership role in the Gulf and work with other coastal provinces in the establishment of a general moratorium on oil activities for the entire Gulf, as well as holding an extensive public review on the matter."

The Coalition decries that the Quebec government is planning to go ahead with the legislation while its own environmental strategic assessment that it has launched on the whole hydrocarbons file will not be completed before the end of 2015.

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Statement by Coalition Saint-Laurent


Magdalen Islands, October 11, 2014

Prime Minister Harper announced today in Sept-Îles that negotiations with the Quebec government on the joint management of hydrocarbons in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence was near completion. After more than three years of negotiations on the content of the mirror legislation that will provide the framework for the exploration and exploitation of oil in the Gulf, both governments are planning to table their bills in the coming months, in Ottawa and in Quebec. These bills will open the door to oil exploration in the Quebec part of the Gulf which is still under a moratorium.

Coalition Saint-Laurent is deeply concerned over the impact of such a bill which obviously seeks to eliminate the last hurdles to drilling in the Gulf. Furthermore, this announcement is being made at a time when oil projects are increasing in Quebec, whether in Anticosti or the Gaspésie, with pipeline and oil terminal projects, as well as fracking projects in the St. Lawrence Valley.

Coalition Saint-Laurent decries that the Quebec government is planning to table its mirror legislation while the strategic environmental assessment that it launched on the whole hydrocarbon file in Quebec will not be completed before the end of 2015.

"In announcing that they are going to table mirror bills very shortly, Quebec and Ottawa are presuming what the recommendation will be from the strategic environmental assessment that the Quebec government has launched," said Jean-Patrick Toussaint, the Science Project Manager at David Suzuki Foundation. "Both governments are putting the cart before the horse, which is discrediting the environmental assessment process in which Quebeckers have been urged to participate," he added.

The legislation to be tabled by the Quebec government will be an exact copy of the federal bill which Prime Minister Harper indicated today would be introduced very shortly. All along, the Coalition Saint-Laurent has been calling on the Quebec government to base its legislation on the "highest standards" without submitting to federal standards which are being constantly eroded. Quebec must not abdicate its responsibilities towards the environment to satisfy Ottawa.

"The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a very fragile and unique ecosystem shared by five coastal provinces. Instead of paving the way for oil exploration, Quebec should take a leadership role in the Gulf and work with other coastal provinces for the establishment of a general moratorium on oil exploration for the entire Gulf, as well as to hold an extensive public review on the matter," said Coalition spokesperson Sylvain Archambault.

Coalition Saint-Laurent comprises First Nations and non-First Nations people belonging to 85 organizations and groups and over 5,000 people from all walks of life and from the five coastal provinces in the Gulf. The members of the Coalition are demanding that a moratorium be put on the exploration and exploitation of oil and gas in all of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

(Translated from original French by Chantier politique. Photo: M. Poirier)

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Statement by Save Our Seas and Shores

K'JIPUKTUK (Halifax NS) — Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition [SOSS] is calling on the Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) to stop issuing license extensions (free or otherwise) to Corridor Resources for EL-1105 at [the] Old Harry [oils and gas field] in the Gulf of St Lawrence.

Following up on the announcement made by the Innu, Maliseet and Mi'gmaq Alliance in Halifax last July, wherein First Nations called for a 12-year moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St Lawrence, representatives from SOSS-NS, NB, PEI, QC and NL are meeting in Halifax this week to announce their support for the Alliance's demand.

"There is a duty to consult First Nations that has not been upheld thus far in this process," said Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi'gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat. "In the enclosed attachment C-NLOPB acknowledges: 'The Board has not yet explicitly requested input from the public or aboriginal communities.' It makes no sense for the C-NLOPB to issue another license extension to Corridor Resources, when First Nations have called for a 12-year moratorium -- unless they plan to give Corridor a 12 year extension," Jerome said.

The Coalition is responding to a statement made by Corridor Resources that they would be seeking additional time on their Old Harry license. While the company has not yet applied for this extension, the Coalition wants to send a clear message to federal and provincial politicians and to the C-NLOPB.

"Corridor has already received two free extensions from the C-NLOPB, one in November 2011 and the second in July 2013. These free extensions amount to special treatment given to this oil company by its regulator," said Bob Diamond from SOSS-NL. "It also begs a bigger question. If Corridor can't afford to pay for license extensions, how will they ever afford to clean up an oil spill?" he said. "BP has set aside at least 43 billion dollars on the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Compare this to the measly billion dollar no fault liability limit that has yet to be implemented into legislation here in Canada," said Diamond.

Coalition members including coastal landowners and fishery and tourism reps speak in a united voice, calling on federal and provincial governments to honor and implement First Nations call for a 12 year moratorium.

"Four years after the BP Gulf of Mexico spill which saw approx two hundred million gallons of oil and nearly 2 million gallons of toxic oil dispersants sprayed into Gulf waters, only 25 percent of the spilled oil has been recovered," said Ian Forgeron, a fisherman from SOSS-PEI. "Oysters are down 93%, shrimp 40-60% and scientists believe the spill harmed more than 80,000 birds, 25,000 marine mammals and 6,000 sea turtles along with coral lobsters, crabs, clams, zooplankton and starfish," he said. Forgeron, who is also a social worker said, "Gulf of Mexico residents' rates of anxiety, depression, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse have all increased in those communities impacted by the BP spill."

"Since the Gulf of St Lawrence is six times smaller than the Gulf of Mexico, can you imagine what a similar spill would do to our billion dollar Gulf fishery?" said Ron Heighton, president of the Gulf NS Fleet Planning Board. "The Gulf of St Lawrence has the largest concentration of krill in the North Atlantic and among the largest lobster production in the world. The fishing industry is not willing to take this risk and we don't want our politicians to either," he said.

"Gros Morne, Port au Port, Bay St George in NL, Cape Breton National Park, the Cabot Trail, Magdalen Islands and Cavendish, PEI are some of the national treasures at risk." said Margo Sheppard from SOSS-NB. "Over the years, communities, businesses and governments have invested in making this 660 million dollar tourism industry in Atlantic Canada. 17,000 jobs in communities around the gulf depend on sustainable tourism. There is too much at risk here." adds Sheppard. «Our tourism industries for all five provinces deserve greater protection and respect from elected officials than we are currently receiving," she said.

"Since the oil industry already has unfettered access to 88% of east coast waters, enough is enough," said Mary Gorman of SOSS-NS. "It is high time that governments started supporting First Nations and coastal communities over corporate oil interests. We want Corridor, unelected petroleum boards and federal and provincial governments to know that oil drilling CANNOT co-exist in sensitive spawning, nursery and migratory waters in one of the most fragile ecosystems on earth. We stand with Innu, Maliseet and Mi'gmaq First Nations in calling for a 12 year moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St Lawrence."

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Canada's Dismal Record on
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction

On October 7, Julie Gelfand, Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, issued a report on Canada's fulfilment of its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Speaking at a press conference she stated, "My biggest concern is it does not look like Canada will meet its international commitment. [...] it's very difficult for us, for Canada, to expect other countries to meet their commitments when Canada can't meet its own."

Gelfand elaborated that "the evidence is really not strong that the sector-by-sector approach is going to help Canada achieve its target. Canada is not working with the provinces. There's no overall plan, national plan, for how we're going to achieve our target."

As part of the 2009 Copenhagen Accord, the Harper government pledged to reduce Canada's emissions by 17 per cent, based on 2005 levels, by 2020. The Commissioner's report corroborates many other reports that show Canada will fall well short of that target. The Commissioner's report adds that Canada has no detailed plan to meet the targets, and that two-thirds of the reductions made are due to action at the provincial not federal level.

Gelfand also pointed out that oil sands monitoring is delayed. The federal and Alberta government's announced a Joint Oil Sands Monitoring program in 2012, to be in place by 2015. The Commissioner audited nine of the 38 monitoring initiatives being conducted by the federal government and found that while the program was largely on schedule, four initiatives were delayed, due to factors such as lack of staff and delays in laboratory contracts and permits to set up monitoring sites. The report notes that Environment Canada says "it is working to address some of these factors."

Furthermore, the federal government has no firm plan to monitor the oil sands beyond next year. The Commissioner's report found that the federal government's role in environmental monitoring in the oil sands is not yet determined. In a written response that was included in the report, the Environment Canada said it will work with its provincial counterpart in Alberta "to develop options" on what monitoring will look like after 2015, "including the extent and nature of Environment Canada's future involvement."

Additionally, the federal government finished a draft of oil and gas regulations a year ago, but these have not been made public or implemented.

The Conservative government first promised emissions regulations for the oil and gas sector in 2006 but these have not been forthcoming. The regulations are important to reduce emissions because the bulk of emissions growth is in oil and gas. The Commissioner's report says a framework for regulations is already done and that "detailed regulatory proposals have been available internally for over a year." However, the government has only consulted on these privately, primarily through a small working group of one province and selected industry representatives. Gelfand said she believes that province was Alberta and points out that the internal consultation does not meet the standard of a world-class system. "We made a recommendation to the government that they need to develop an overall plan for developing [oil and gas emissions] regulations. Canadians want to know when the regulations are going to come in, what level of regulation it's going to be, what level of greenhouse gas reduction we're going to achieve, reporting back to Parliament on a regular basis," she said. On a related note, the report also points out that many public groups and stakeholders, including Aboriginal Peoples, are unable to participate fully and meaningfully in environmental assessment processes.

To read the complete report, click here.

(Globe and Mail, Canadian Press)

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