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  • The Council of Canadians is a leading citizen based social justice organization with Chapters all over Canada.
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The Council of Canadians

  • Jul 23, 2014 3:04:31 PM

    This morning CBC News Middle East correspondent Derek Stoffel tweeted: "Residents of al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza say an Israeli strike took out a water pipe more than a week ago, meaning no running water." 

    And Reuters now reports, "More than 1.2 million of the 1.8 million people in the enclave have no water or only limited access to water as power networks have been damaged or lack fuel for generators, [Jens Laerke, spokesman of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs] said. 'In addition, we do have reports of sewage flooding which is a threat to public health', Laerke said."

    Last week, United Nations Special Rapporteur for the human rights to water and sanitation Catarina De Albuquerque tweeted, "Right to #water and #sanitation must be secured in Gaza #humanrights" Her tweet included a link to an Oxfam media release that highlighted, "Gaza is home to 1.7 million people, and the blockade has left its economy crippled, people unable to move freely, and people struggling to access basic services such as safe water, healthcare and sanitation." Her tweet also included a link to an Al Jazeera article that reported, "The 10-day Israeli assault on Gaza has had a heavy toll on the strip's already fragile water infrastructure, leaving the territory's 1.8 million residents facing an imminent water crisis."

    Middle East Eye has reported, "Palestinian officials on [July 12] claimed that the Israelis had targeted water wells in different parts of Gaza City, leaving thousands of families without access to clean drinking water. ...The sewerage system is also a target, with Israeli warplanes targeting sewage treatment stations in West Gaza City early on [July 12]. The areas most affected are Shati refugee camp, Tal al-Hawa, Sheikh Ejleen and most Western districts, according to Saed al-Din Atbash, head of water facilities at Gaza Municipality."

    On July 18 an Amnesty International media release confirmed, "Israeli air strikes and shelling have caused devastating damage to water and sanitation infrastructure across the Gaza Strip. Three workers have been killed trying to make critical repairs and continuing hostilities have made such work too dangerous in many areas. On 16 July, the UN reported that at least half of Gaza’s population – some 900,000 people – were not receiving water. Damage to sewage and pumping facilities and the resulting potential for contamination of water supplies has created a public health emergency."

    The Inter Press Service has reported that water and sanitation networks, underground piping, reservoirs, waste water wells and a water storage facility were also targeted during Israeli military attacks in November 2012.

    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has commented, “Preventing people’s access to safe water is a denial of a fundamental human right [and the] deliberate targeting of civilians and depriving them of essential supplies is a clear breach of international humanitarian and human rights law.”

    Recognition of the right to water requires governments to respect, protect, and fulfill the right. Respecting the right requires states to refrain from interfering directly or indirectly with the right. It is also a recognized obligation to ensure personal security is not threatened when having to physically access water.

    Further reading
    Water 'Catastrophe' Looms in Gaza as Israel Steps Up Airstrikes - NBC News
    Gaza: Water in the line of fire - International Committee of the Red Cross media release
    Gaza faces urgent water shortages - Euronews video

  • Jul 23, 2014 12:30:54 AM
    Photo: In October 2013, about 100 people gathered at Bala Falls to express their opposition to the hydro project. Photo by Sandy Currie.
    Photo: In October 2013, about 100 people gathered at Bala Falls to express their opposition to the hydro project. Photo by Sandy Currie.

    An Ontario court's ruling is a setback for the commons.

    The Globe and Mail reports, "An Ontario township in lake-studded Muskoka has lost a court bid to have the government recognize the public’s right to portage a historic canoe route at Bala Falls. In an Ontario Court of Appeal ruling released on Monday, a panel of three judges concluded that the protection of public safety trumps canoeists’ access to portages and shorelines on Crown land."

    An earlier Globe and Mail article noted, "The Township of Muskoka Lakes’ lawyer, Harold Elston, told the Appeal Court that the province has an obligation under its Public Lands Act to safeguard historic portages and to protect portions of Crown land along water for people to use. ...The Ministry of Natural Resources maintains it blocked off the area because of risks posed by the north Bala Falls, rapids and dam." But the town argued that a study commissioned by the province after two drowning deaths in the area had not recommended an outright ban and that warning signs and fences have addressed any safety concerns.

    "The ruling is a setback for opponents of a proposed water power plant at Bala Falls, a picturesque spurt on the Canadian Shield about a two-hour drive north of Toronto. If the township had won, the Ontario government would not have been allowed to disturb the portage and the 4.5-megawatt hydroelectric project would likely have been halted."

    "The Bala Falls hydroelectric project, awarded to Swift River Energy in 2005, has encountered strong resistance in the community of Bala. ...Swift River still requires a land lease from the province and other municipal and federal approvals. The company estimates it has spent about $2-million on the proposal so far."

    "Bala resident Sandy Currie thinks the country’s top court should weigh in – that the issue of public access to shorelines and historic portages on Crown land is of national importance. ...Mr. Currie, president of the Moon River Property Owners’ Association, vowed to keep battling the water power project. Bala is peppered with signs that say 'Stop the hydro plant'.”

    "The township could request an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada."

    CBC Radio's As It Happens notes, "An appeals court in Ontario has ruled that canoeists don't have an automatic right to carry their gear from one body of water to another if that route crosses private property." To hear their interview with Mr. Currie, please click here.

  • Jul 21, 2014 8:06:19 PM

    McLaughlin Ridge

    The Port Alberni chapter of the Council of Canadians along with the Ancient Forest Alliance, Greenpeace Canada, Sierra Club of BC, Canadian Parks And Wilderness Society, Wilderness Committee, the Pulp, Paper, and Woodworkers of Canada union and others have called on Island Timberlands and the BC government to immediately cease and desist from logging the endangered old-growth forests of McLaughlin Ridge, one Canada’s most ecologically significant old-growth forests near Port Alberni on Vancouver Island.

    The statement says in part: "Island Timberland is the second largest private landowner in British Columbia, with over 258,000 hectares of private forest lands in BC. The controversial logging corporation’s rapid cutting of extremely scarce old-growth Douglas-fir forests, high quality ungulate (deer) winter range, and endangered Queen Charlotte goshawk habitat at McLaughlin Ridge risks escalating a wider conflict in the War in the Woods. ... Protecting these areas would protect vital habitat for endangered species and Roosevelt elk, deer, and other wildlife; ensure clean and abundant water for fish and drinking watersheds; protect hiking, hunting, fishing, and recreational areas; and would provide huge potential for eco-tourism ventures in the area."

    24 Hours Vancouver reports, "Local MLA Scott Fraser of the BC NDP said the government has ignored its own scientists, who recommended the ungulate habitat not be logged. ...The Ministry of Forests said as far as it's concerned, the land is private and said it was told by Island Timberlands the sensitive area is not being logged."

    A Vancouver Observer news report on this can be read here.

    Photos by Ancient Forest Alliance.

  • Jul 21, 2014 5:01:22 PM

    This past weekend Council of Canadians Winnipeg Chapter member Linda Goosen joined other allies at Shoal Lake 40 First Nation.  This Ojibwa or Ontario Saulteaux First Nation community is located in the Eastman Region of Manitoba and the Kenora District of Ontario (Treaty 3). Marking 100 years since their land was flooded, the people of Shoal Lake 40 invited friends and allies to come and listen to their stories.  Linda was kind enough to type up her experience to help educate more people about this unacceptable situation. 


    The story, on the surface at least, is about water. In 1914 Winnipeg was the third-largest city in Canada, out-growing its rivers and wells for potable water. City fathers cast their eyes eastward, to Shoal Lake, for a solution. It was simple: build an aqueduct from Shoal Lake to Winnipeg, and let the water flow. The rest is history, right?


    Winnipeg's decision had serious repercussions for the Shoal Lake #40 First Nations community. They were dispossessed of land that included ancestral burial grounds as well as their village at the mouth of the Falcon River. Forced to move to the adjacent peninsula, that peninsula was subsequently severed from the mainland by a canal diverting coloured Falcon River water away from Winnipeg's intake. The community has struggled with its man-made isolation ever since.


    It is now 100 years since Shoal Lake #40 became a captive island community within their own territory. The community acknowledged the occasion by inviting their friends and supporters to be with them for a day when they might have a chance to explain their story to the world...

    It was a remarkable day, in the true sense of the word. It’s a whole different world there, only 30 km south of the Trans-Canada highway. Turning off there’s a fine paved road at first. Then not. A few kms in, black top gives way to gravel, and then to full suspension-wrecker for the next 25 clicks, winding through bush, past rez homes, open grassy areas, trees, lake. It’s lush and green this time of year.

    The road comes to an abrupt end at the edge of the lake. There’s a railed barge, a tiny ferry with a required crew of 2, taking 4 cars at a time on a 5-minute ride across the bay from Shoal Lake 39 FN – they have a road -- to Shoal Lake 40 FN – who don’t have a road, except in winter, when deep cold allows community members to get to the Trans-Canada over packed snow through what looks like a quad trail in the bush. There is a bridge on the winter road. It spans Winnipeg's 1914 diversion canal  that cuts them off from the mainland. The bridge connects two portions of winter road, but the rest of the year it goes to nowhere, and community members have to take the barge or boat across the bay to come and go between home and everywhere else.

    So, a road through the bush in winter, boat across the bay in summer. That leaves spring and fall. One woman told of how she once manoeuvred her canoe across the bay during breakup, one foot in the canoe, one pushing forward on the rotting ice to pick up family members stranded on the other side with their groceries, trying to come home. She got them home. That time. Her story was one of a dozen or more told by Shoal Lake members during a sharing circle at the event. Many detailed the harrowing experience of falling through lake ice into black water below. Multiple times. It boggles the mind. With few exceptions, the speakers were tearful, expressing a deep and abiding frustration at seeing appeal after appeal for relief from their isolation fall on deaf ears.

     There is endless irony of course. A 1914 letter (on display in the media room at the event) from the government in Ottawa to the Kenora Indian Agent reads in part: “...the Greater Winnipeg Water District has made application for two portions of Indian reserve No.40 ... and have also applied for Indian Bay including the islands therein ...” The letter concludes, “The Corporation of the city of Winnipeg has the power to expropriate the lands required, but you may assure the Indians that their rights will be safeguarded by the Department.” So Winnipeg got their water. According to band chief Erwin Redsky, Shoal Lake got almost nothing for the loss of their “best land,” nothing for the water, and certainly nothing to correct their artificial isolation.*  Infrastructure costs are so high because of Winnipeg's water diversion canal that the people of Shoal Lake #40 are now in their 18th year of a boil water advisory, and still awaiting funding for a basic water treatment plant.

    As irony goes, it gets even better. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, situated in Winnipeg, apparently has a feature display involving pools of “healing” water as a way to encourage visitors to ‘reflect on human rights.’ Whose water are they using? Yup. The richness of the farce – can we use the word shallow in here somewhere? -- is not lost on the Shoal Lake FN community, who used the occasion of 100 years of enforced isolation to remind CMHR staff present at the event of their mandate to educate the public about human rights issues, including those so very close to home. 

    “Has the power.” Many of us on the Winnipeg end of the aqueduct still miss seeing the foundations of colonialism in this story. Those words in that letter of 1914, vested by colonial laws made by arrogant colonial governments, enacted to this day in colonial courts, presume to speak for peoples that Canada has starved, dispossessed, hounded, lied to, and stolen from. Harsh charges, true. Can we face our culpability?

    One last story from the sharing circle. An elder related how in 2007 he walked with his 10-year-old grandson and other members of his family and community from Shoal Lake to Winnipeg to meet with CMHR organizers to talk about their plight. He told his grandson, “If we walk, they will listen.” He said the boy’s eyes were wide with hope, certain that if people only understood the truth, some of the injustices would be amended. Well, we know how that went. The Federal government, having promised a water treatment plant, has reneged, saying that lack of access to the community would make it too costly. Last word on an all season road from the community to Highway 1? Asked for 1/3 funding, Federal Minister Bernard Valcourt wrote in January 2014: “A formal funding commitment is not achievable at this time.”

    That 10-year-old boy is 17 now. A tall, quiet, handsome young man, he recently told his grandfather, “Grandpa, we walked for nothing.”    

    So what’s so remarkable about all this? When I finally arrived at the Shoal Lake 40 community centre for the gathering marking 100 years of living on a man-made island, 100 years of ‘living on the wrong end of the pipe’ as someone said, it was a perfect summer day. Laughter rippled through the open air under the big round tent as guests arrived. We were welcomed with warmth and graciousness. The host community kids played nearby, crawling into and out of a lap as they needed to. Youth worked as ambassadors, taxied guests to and fro in fishing boats, provided information and directions, served food, loaded and unloaded tables and chairs. The women cooked two meals (Oh the fry bread and walleye!) for 100 people. There was a pervasive air of kindness and respect between community members, a kind of unspoken understanding about the essential nature of relationship, extended on this occasion to those of us who live, at their expense, in comfort and prosperity.

    The Council of Canadians is committed to an ongoing relationship with Shoal Lake 40. We support them in their reasonable demand for an end to the century-long isolation imposed by the City of Winnipeg’s water infrastructure. Many lives have been lost and damaged by this man-made isolation, while Winnipeg has benefited and profited from the water.

    The community has a right to safe access and we would encourage those of us on the receiving end of Shoal Lake's water, including all levels of governments, to work with Shoal Lake 40 to implement a just solution to this problem.

    * An agreement in 1989 promised Shoal Lake #40 an annual income of the interest from a $6 million trust fund and “every effort” on the part of both Winnipeg and Manitoba to provide alternate jobs and economic opportunities to replace the normal cottage and tourism economy available to a community on a beautiful lake 2 hours from Winnipeg. In 25 years, not one full-time job or any viable economic opportunities have resulted from this obligation – largely because of the lack of secure access to the community. Both Winnipeg and Manitoba are in full support of secure access, however Canada has so far refused to correct the problem they created when they expropriated land and gave it to Winnipeg 100 years ago.

    Contributor: Linda Goossen - Council of Canadians Winnipeg Chapter Member

    For more information:


  • Jul 21, 2014 3:30:02 PM
    Media Release
    July 21, 2014

    Water is a Right

    Unable to cook, bathe, or brush their teeth, thousands of Detroiters are now entering their third month without running water. To support their neighbours across the border, the Windsor chapter of the Council of Canadians will send a convoy of 1000 litres of water to Detroit with a message for President Obama.

    “The human suffering is that of a major disaster, one that grows every day,” says Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “I ask Obama, with his sense of justice, to intervene and to declare a state of emergency. It is appalling that this has been allowed to happen, even more so to go on this long.”

    At the initiation of Barlow’s global water advocacy organization, the Blue Planet Project, and Detroit groups three UN experts including Catarina de Albuquerque, Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, warned that the mass water shut-offs were a violation of human rights.

    Barlow adds, “Water is a human right, and it is unacceptable in a country of plenty, surrounded by the Great Lakes, the largest source of fresh water in the world, that people should go without.”

    The convoy and rally are being organized by the Windsor chapter of the Council of Canadians and the Detroit People’s Water Board. It will cross the U.S.-Canada border with 50 jugs of water on Thursday, July 24.  At a rally at the Spirit of Detroit statue, Barlow will speak along with Maureen Taylor from the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and Paul Moist from the Canadian Union of Public Employees. 

    “I am doing this because as good neighbours, we need to show our solidarity,” says Doug Hayes from the Windsor chapter of the Council of Canadians. “But while these jugs of water will help, it is not the solution. We need Obama to get involved and ensure human rights are restored.”

    The Council’s water campaigner, Emma Lui, says that the planned privatization of Detroit’s water system is the problem. “They are cutting off 150,000 households so that the company will look more lucrative to private investors. But this is just a recipe for more human suffering.”

    The Council of Canadians is urging the city to implement the original water affordability program written by Michigan Welfare Rights Organization.

    When: Thursday, July 24th, 2014 at 4:00 p.m.
    Where:  Spirit of Detroit statue (Woodward and Jefferson) The convoy will deliver the jugs of water to St. Peter’s Church after the rally.


    Photo: Overpass Light Brigade, Creative Commons

  • Jul 18, 2014 4:33:42 PM

    Earlier this week Angela and I were able to attend a media conference and voice our support for the Innu-Malecite-Mi’gmaq Alliance for the Protection of the Gulf of St. Lawrence's call for a 12-year moratorium. The Alliance has asked for an integrated environmental assessment to take place before drilling is allowed. Leaders of these nations brought forward the point that little is known about the possible effects of oil and gas projects within the Gulf's unique and fragile ecosystem. "The Gulf is a highly productive body of water and the diversity is very rich. No one can tell what effect a blowout like that of the Deepwater Horizon accident can have on the food chain," said Chief Claude Jeanotte of the Mi'kmaq community of Gespeg in Quebec.

    The Alliance has stated that there must be meaningful consultation, to respect their constitutionally protected treaty rights to the land and resources. Jeannotte said the group is preparing legal action if the federal and provincial governments don't heed their requests.

    The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) is conducting an environmental assessment of an exploration well proposed at Old Harry, located only 80km away from Quebec's Magdalen Islands. During the media conference on July 16th, three Aboriginal fishing vessels from Quebec's Gaspe Peninsula arrived at the site of Old Harry to leave a buoy, to signify the rights they have to the land, resources and consolation.

    More information available in the recent St. Lawrence Coalition report Gulf 101 - Oil in the Gulf of St. Lawrence: Facts, Myths and Future Outlook.

    Take action! You can voice your concerns to the federal and provincial governments using the letter template created by Sierra Club Canada.

  • Jul 17, 2014 4:29:06 PM

    For the second time this week, work has been shut down on Enbridge’s Line 9.  Today individuals from Six Nations, the Council of Canadians and other allies interrupted an ‘integrity dig’.

    Individuals involved asked workers to leave, asserting that the land is Haudenosaunee territory guaranteed under the Haldimand deed, and that Enbridge’s workers were present without consent or consultation. 

    “Meaningful consultation isn’t just providing information and going ahead without discussion – it’s giving the opportunity to say no and having a willingness to accommodate… We’ve tried pursuing avenues with the NEB, the township and the Grand River Conservation Authority. Our concerns were dismissed. What other choice do we have if we want to protect our land, water and children?”” says Missy Elliot.

    “Enbridge left a voice message on a machine with one person. That’s not meaningful – it’s not even consultation.” Emilie Corbeau, there in support of Six Nations points out. 

    An action camp has been established on site with teach-ins about Six Nations history, indigenous solidarity and skill shares centering on direct action.

    Under bill C-45 the section of the Grand River adjacent to the Enbridge work site and pipeline is no longer protected. Approximately half a million people rely on drinking water provided by the Grand River.

    “This isn’t just about line 9 – or Northern Gateway, Energy East or Keystone XL. This is about pipelines – all of them.” Daniell Boissineau, of Turtle Clan, asserts. “This is about the tarsands and how destructive they are to expand, extract and transport…This is a continental concern. It’s not just a Six Nations issue or an indigenous issue. We share the responsibility to protect our land and water as human beings.” Elliot states.

    As mentioned in the blog post earlier this week, many of the blockaders point to the disastrous spill from Enbridge’s line 6b into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010, where millions of litres of oil spilled and have so far proven impossible to clean up. They also point out testimony at the NEB that Line 9 has a 90% chance of catastrophic failure in the initial years after its operation is changed.

    "Line 9 has at least 12961 structural weaknesses along its length. And yet, Enbridge is only doing a few hundred integrity digs. Enbridge has been denying the problems with the pipe for years, and they still refuse to do the hydrostatic testing requested by the province. Are we really supposed to simply trust Enbridge when they tell us that this time they’ll do it right?”

    For those interested in visiting and joining in at the action camp in solidarity, “there will be a few shuttles between Hamilton [Dundurn Plaza near Dundurn Street], Cambridge [Across from Ainslie Terminal] & Six Nations to the site throughout the day.

    Follow #shutitdown & #noline9 for updates!


    The sig site is just north of Beverly Court/East of Highway 24 in North Dumfries [between Cambridge & Brantford]. You can access the site from the north side of Bethany Court.

    *note: we don’t know what parking or police presence will be like in Bethany court. We’ll try to put out updates but take a peek at the maps to know your stuff & decide where you want to park etc!

    The site is accessible by bike and very close to the Hamilton-Brantford-Cambridge rail trail! It’ll be about a 20-30 minute bike ride from South Cambridge.

    From Hamilton
    Take the 403 West towards London. Get off at highway 24 & follow it north towards Cambridge. Turn Right on Lockie Road, left on Bethany.

    From Cambridge
    Take Highway 24 south out of Cambridge. Turn left on Lockie Road & left on Bethany.


    For more information on Line 9 see:

    Line 9 Blockade in Toronto Highlights Imminent Danger

    Not Worth The Risk Report

    Bronte Creek blockade questions the 'integrity' of Enbridge's Line 9 pipeline

    NEB Approves Line 9, Chapters Fight Back

    Toronto Star article on unreported Line 9 spills

    Thunder Bay Chapter intervenes on Line 9 lawsuit

  • Jul 17, 2014 2:12:20 PM
    Photo: Broderick speaks at the rally this afternoon. Photo by The Island Peace Committee.
    Photo: Broderick speaks at the rally this afternoon. Photo by The Island Peace Committee.

    The Guardian newspaper reports, "A rally will be held in Charlottetown Thursday calling for peace in the Middle East and for the violence against the Palestinian people in Gaza to end. Leo Broderick, with the Island Peace Committee and the Canadian Peace Alliance, says he believes more attention must be paid to the tragic killing and wounding of civilians in Gaza."

    The article notes, "'Canadian politicians in all parties have turned a blind eye to the killing', Broderick said. 'We need to show them that the people of P.E.I. and Canada are opposed to the collective punishment of civilians in Gaza and that we support peace and justice in the area — not violence.' To date, many Palestinians have been killed and hundreds wounded. Most of the casualties are civilians, many of whom are women and children. As well, water and sewer systems in Gaza are being destroyed, said Broderick."

    Today is the tenth day of the Israeli military bombing of the densely populated Gaza Strip. Agence France Presse reports that 230 Palestinians have been killed and 1,690 have been wounded in Gaza. The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights says more than 80 per cent of the victims were civilians. To date 1 Israeli civilian has been killed while delivering food to soldiers on the Gaza border and 4 medics have been wounded by the 1,021 rockets fired from Gaza.

    Broderick highlights the issue of collective punishment. In September 2011, five United Nations experts said, "As a result of more than four years of Israeli blockade, 1.6 million Palestinian women, men and children are deprived of their fundamental human rights and subjected to collective punishment, in flagrant contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law." In October 2011, the Council of Canadians passed a resolution calling for an end to the blockade of Gaza.

    Broderick also notes that water and sewer systems have been targeted. Middle East Eye reports, "Palestinian officials on Saturday claimed that the Israelis had targeted water wells in different parts of Gaza City, leaving thousands of families without access to clean drinking water. ...The sewerage system is also a target, with Israeli warplanes targeting sewage treatment stations in West Gaza City... Saed al-Din Atbash, head of water facilities at Gaza Municipality, appealed to the international community to urge Israel to stop targeting water and sewerage facilities, saying that all occupied civilians have a legal and human right to clean water, sanitation and hygiene."

    The Council of Canadians has also supported the Canadian Boat to Gaza. That initiative - with the aim of bringing aid to Gaza - was superseded by the Gaza's Ark initiative whose purpose was to export goods from Gaza. Ehab Lotayef writes, "Early morning on Friday, July 11, Gaza's Ark received a direct hit by a shell fired from an Israeli navel vessel which badly damaged the boat and started a fire on board. The civil defense and fire brigades could not get to the boat to extinguish the fire quickly enough due to the continuous shelling of the port that night and the boat was completely destroyed."

    Further reading
    Israel must respect the right to water and stop bombing Gaza's water infrastructure
    120 dead, 920 wounded after 5 days of bombing Gaza

  • Jul 17, 2014 1:47:39 PM
    Joint Media Release
    July 17, 2014

    Dirty deals

    The Canadian and U.S. governments have used ongoing trade talks to push the European Union to allow devastating tar sands oil unfettered access to the European market, according to a new report released today. The report is available at https://www.foeeurope.org/dirty_deals_170714.

    Urged on by the oil industry, Canada and the US have successfully delayed and potentially weakened the Fuel Quality Directive, a key piece of EU legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport fuels.

    In addition to years of lobbying by the governments of Alberta and Canada and the oil industry, Canada has used threats of World Trade Organization action as well as its ongoing bilateral trade negotiations towards the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) to put pressure on the EU to remove all disincentives to imports of tar sands oil.

    “The delay and weakening of the European Fuel Quality Directive once again reveals that agreements like CETA are less about trade and more about limiting the ability of governments to effectively regulate in the public interest,” said Scott Harris, trade campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “Even before it is signed, CETA is being used to water down much-needed public policy. Imagine what will happen to regulations on both sides of the Atlantic if the deal is actually implemented.”

    “While other governments are trying to make communities safer, the Canadian government is using its political muscle to push things in the opposite direction so it can export high carbon tar sands oil as quickly as possible,” said Mike Hudema, climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada. “It’s astonishing that as we watch the fires spread in the Northwest Territories and the flood waters rise in the Prairies our government still isn’t getting the message – climate change is real and we need action immediately. Rather than bullying other countries into weakening their climate efforts the Canadian government should be getting its own climate house in order and dealing with the country’s number one emitter – the tar sands.”

    The U.S. government has also used Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations to weaken the European policy to clean up transport fuels that would effectively curtail the import of tar sands and other dirty fuels into Europe.

    “The sustained attacks by the U.S. and Canada on the European Union’s key legislation on transport fuel emissions seem to be paying off,” said Fabian Flues of Friends of the Earth Europe, the author of the report. “Europe is again failing to stand up effectively for its own climate policy. The trade agreement with the U.S. is being used as a Trojan horse to bring dirty tar sands imports to Europe’s shores. Clean fuel rules might just be the first EU policy dismantled by this trade deal, even before it is agreed.”

    The EU is negotiating separate trade agreements with Canada and the U.S. – the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the U.S.

    The proposed trade agreements will impact many aspects of the life of citizens on both sides of Atlantic, including food, energy, consumer goods, and financial services as well as paying compensation for the investment failures of foreign companies.

    The report, Dirty Deals: How trade talks threaten to undermine EU climate policies and bring tar sands to Europe was released jointly by Friends of the Earth, Transport & Environment, the Council of Canadians, Greenpeace, and Sierra Club U.S.


    Media contacts:

    Scott Harris, trade campaigner for the Council of Canadians, Tel: 780-233-2528, email: sharris@canadians.org

    Mike Hudema, climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada, Tel: 780-504-5601, email: mike.hudema@greenpeace.org

    Fabian Flues, corporate campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, Tel: +32 (0)2 893 1024, email: fabian.flues@foeeurope.org

    canadians.org/ceta @CouncilofCDNS


  • Jul 17, 2014 1:12:48 PM

    The Council of Canadians stands in solidarity with the Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmag First Nations of Eastern Canada, who are calling for a 12-year moratorium on oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and an integrated environmental assessment by an independent panel.

    We share the concerns raised at the Innu-Malecite-Mi’gmaq Alliance for the Protection of the Gulf of St. Lawrence media conference held on July 16, 2014 in K’jipuktuk (Halifax). The issues raised include the lack of consultation with First Nations, rights to the natural resources contained within the Gulf’s water and shores, and the inability to respond in an emergency spill situation. The possibility of a legal action exists if First Nations rights are not acknowledged, and we will support this in whatever way we can.

    The concerns with oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence are not new, nor is our opposition, and we were thrilled to hear of this action taken by our Indigenous allies. The Alliance delivered a clear message yesterday with three boats travelling to the Old Harry site to declare it Indigenous territory. We were honoured to attend the media conference yesterday and echo the call for a moratorium in the Gulf.