Friday, May 27, 2005

Copy, edit, and email this letter to Premier Klein and Minister Coutts

To: Premier Ralph Klein, Premier,
Government of Alberta

To: Honourable David Coutts,
Minister of Sustainable Resource Development,
Government of Alberta

Dear Premier Klein and Minister Coutts,

It has now been three years since the Endangered Species Conservation Committee (ESCC) and its Scientific Subcommittee recommended Alberta’s grizzlies be listed as a threatened species under the provincial Wildlife Act.

Since that recommendation was first made, evidence has continued to mount in support of listing the grizzly bear as threatened:

• Updated population estimates, based on the best available science, now put the grizzly bear population at only 700 bears versus the estimate of 1,000 used by the ESCC in making their recommendation three years ago.

• The recently released results of the Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project demonstrate that grizzlies throughout Kananaskis Country are very vulnerable to population declines.

• Nineteen well-qualified and well-respected grizzly bear biologists and scientists have recently sent you a letter stating that they support the threatened listing designation.

• Your own Grizzly Bear Recovery Team has recommended you suspend the hunt because the grizzly faces an uncertain future in Alberta.

Your arguments discounting the need to list the grizzly as threatened and to suspend the hunt are extremely weak. They are arguments not founded on science, but rather on anecdotal evidence, hearsay and false assumptions – information that should not guide wildlife management decisions in 2005. The science is clear – grizzlies are in serious danger of extirpation in Alberta.

It is time to end your legacy of poor governance on this issue and put an end to the deliberate mismanagement of this magnificent symbol of Alberta wilderness. I urge you to respect the weight of scientific evidence and the recommendations of your own advisory committees and list the grizzly bear as a threatened species.

I look forward to your response to my concerns.


Friday, May 20, 2005

Put an end to deep integration

Earlier this week, the Independent Task Force on the Future of North America, with the full backing of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, issued a report calling for a virtual surrender of Canadian sovereignty to U.S. interests on a variety of public policy fronts.

This final report, which echoes their interim report released in March, calls on the Canadian, American and Mexican governments to:

- "Establish a common security perimeter by 2010" that would "require specific policy, statutory, and procedural changes" and thereby align Canada even more with American homeland security priorities.

- "Develop a unified North American border action plan" that would "harmonize visa and asylum regulations" and thereby further erode Canadian sovereignty in the areas of immigration and refugee policies.

- "Increase information and intelligence-sharing at the local and national levels in both law enforcement and military organizations" and thereby increase the likelihood of more cases (as with Maher Arar) of detention and torture.

- "Develop a North American energy strategy" that would address "regulatory barriers," and U.S. energy needs and thereby put at risk Canadian energy security.

- "Adopt a common external tariff" and thereby have Canada, Mexico and the U.S. speak as a single bloc at international trade negotiations with the resulting loss of an independent Canadian trade policy.

- Adopt a "tested once" policy for pharmaceuticals that would address the "regulatory burden" and thereby require Canada to accept drugs approved in the U.S. despite our potential health and safety concerns.

- "Review those sectors of NAFTA that were excluded" and making "the coverage of NAFTA more comprehensive" and thereby further threaten Canada's water and culture.

There is every reason to take these threats seriously:

- the co-chair of the task force is former deputy prime minister and Liberal Party leader heir apparent John Manley.

- the Canadian Council of Chief Executives was, in their own words "the Canadian private sector leader in the development and promotion of... the North American Free Trade Agreement," a deal that has already severely eroded Canadian sovereignty.

- the report builds on the agenda already agreed to by Prime Minister Paul Martin, President George W. Bush and President Vicente Fox at their meetingin Waco, Texas on March 23.

Take action on this by:

- contacting Prime Minister Paul Martin at and telling him that he must clearly and firmly reject this pro-deep integration report.

- contacting the Canadian Council of Chief Executives at and telling them that you will be raising your voice again when CEOs meet in Washington this September to further their agenda.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Emergency task force to stop Devils Lake outlet

Friends of the Earth Canada and Friends of the Earth-U.S. called on the Canadian government to take the United States to the International Court of Justice in The Hague in order to stop the completion of the Devils Lake Emergency Outlet in North Dakota. The completion of the outlet threatens to move polluted waters and invasive species from the United States into a Canadian river that flows into Hudson’s Bay.

(The Sheyenne is a tributary of the Red River, which makes a sinuous path north across Manitoba, where it almost encircles the University of Manitoba's Fort Garry campus.)

“One year ago today, Canada called on the United States to halt construction of the Devils Lake Emergency Outlet in North Dakota, and to conduct an independent inquiry into the impact of the polluted water that will be discharged from Devils Lake into Canada’s Red River,” said Beatrice Olivastri, CEO of the Friends of the Earth Canada. “The United States has ignored this request, and the completion of the Outlet is scheduled to happen in less than 90 days. When the tap is turned on, the effects will be irreversible.”

The proposed diversion will move water from one water basin in the U.S. to another in Canada: Devil’s Lake in North Dakota into the Red River in Manitoba, which flows north into Lake Winnipeg and out to Hudson’s Bay. Little or no research exists on the aquatic impacts such as invasive species and the movement of pollutants such as sulphates, phosphates, mercury, boron and arsenic when the State of North Dakota diverts this water to where it has not flowed before.

“The actions of the United States fly in the face of our 96-year-old Boundary Water Treaty which says thou shalt not pollute,” said Olivastri. “The United States is once again being a bad neighbour.”

“North Dakota is embarked on a risky polluting activity that damages the reputation of the United States and reinforces the perception that U.S. citizens don't care about what people in other countries think,” says Dr. Brent Blackwelder, President, Friends of the Earth-U.S.
Olivastri noted that in 1977, the International Joint Commission (IJC) concluded an independent inquiry into another large water project, the Garrison Diversion, recommending that the project should not proceed unless the two countries agreed that any risk to Canadian waters was eliminated or no longer a concern. “If anything, since that 1977 report, we know the risks from diversions have increased due to invasive species, disease and contaminants,” Ms. Olivastri observed.

The Friends of the Earth organizations in Canada and the United States are insisting that if no independent IJC inquiry is mandated within 60 days, the government of Canada must bring the United States before the International Court of Justice in The Hague in order to stop the Devil’s Lake project.

Friends of the Earth recommends the diplomatic efforts of Canadian politicians in Washington to resolve this conflict.

(To take action on this issue, check out

Sunday, May 08, 2005

BIODEMOCRACY 2005: reclaim the commons

International protest against the biotech industry

Call to action: Converge in Philadelphia, June 18th to 21st, 2005

Calling on all people who resent the demise of democracy and hold to the promise of authentic popular empowerment! All who dare to paint poems of resistance on walls of oppression, dance in city streets in defiance of police states, and plant seeds of sedition in the shadows of empire: come to Philadelphia! As the world’s leading agents of eco-devastation and medical malpractice meet here in June, we cannot stand quiet. Join us to challenge the corporate crime, poisons for profit, and flagrant lies of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (, at the time of their annual international convention, with a creative uprising for truth, life and justice!

Reclaim the commons!

We call on a custom much older than two-party republics, in which croplands, grazing land and forests were a public domain that benefited the whole community and belonged exclusively to no one. In today’s global society, our commons encompass the biological strata that sustain life on earth – air, water, food, medicine, energy, biodiversity – plus the means of communication, education and transit that connect us culturally. Today, to a degree unprecedented in human history, corporations have seized this public wealth and privatized it to reap growing profits for a small and ever-shrinking elite. As public access to and control over the commons has eroded, so has true democracy. For democracy to thrive, for racial, economic, social and environmental justice to take deep root, and for sustainability to flourish ... we must reclaim our commons!

Resist biotechnology!

With their industrial exploitation of biotech research, agricultural, pharmaceutical and weapons-manufacturing corporations are now busily locking their greed into the most primal area of the commons, the genetic structures of life itself. At the expense of public health and ecological harmony, their profit-driven success hinges upon the global proliferation of dangerous genetically modified organisms (GMOs), disregarding the health of the poor while sinking money into science-fiction treatments of questionable safety, and governmental funding for deadly biological weapons deceptively classified as “biodefense.”

The corporations gathering in Philadelphia this June are contaminating the world with genetically engineered crops at the expense of our health, popular food sovereignty and biodiversity. They are profiting from unsafe and costly designer drugs, whose side effects can be worse than the conditions they’re aimed to treat, while raising the false hope that biotechnology carries the solution to all human ills. In the name of “biodefense,” they are profiting from the costliest expansion of research into high-tech weaponry since the Manhattan Project, developing new bioweapons and resurrecting old ones, and exposing our communities to the hazard of uncontrollable biological agents. To reclaim our nutrition, health and security... we must resist their biotech!

Plant real democracy!

Sustainable, community-based alternatives to corporate biotech are possible and viable, and we are making them real! At our counter-convention in June, we will not only shine an educational spotlight on the dangers of GE food, medicine and weapons, but will also exhibit the grassroots eco-solutions taking shape in our own communities. The Philadelphia area is home to a fabulous array of community gardens and organic farms, food co-ops and urban nutrition initiatives, radical health collectives and advocates for universal public health care, groups of student environmentalists and war resisters, interfaith leaders for human rights and renewable energy, and diverse neighborhood coalitions against police brutality, the gutting of public services, and environmental injustice... We welcome this opportunity for local residents to come together and learn from each other, and for visiting activists to share energy and ideas from your home communities! With a shared commitment to putting our values and vision into action, we can and will counter their corporate bio-devastation with our peaceful uprising for biodemocracy!

To be involved with the BIODEMOCRACY 2005 mobilization, please contact Philadelphia Resistance Against Genetic Engineering (RAGE) at, (215) 222 4711 (ask for Nathaniel), or leave a message toll-free at 877-806-2871. For updates about the mobilization send a blank email to and check out,,, and

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The business of agriculture

(I copied the following from a Council of Canadians update email.)

Since the Doha Ministerial of 2001, rich countries have continued to subsidize the production and export of their agricultural products, which they then "dump" on world markets. The main culprits, the European Union and the United States, promised to "reduce with a view to phasing-out" their subsidies, however, four years after Doha, they have actually increased them. This is destroying the livelihoods of small farmers by flooding the world markets with cheap products that don’t allow local producers to compete. Even in a rich country like Canada, net farm income is down 24%, farm debt has doubled, and small farmers are being forced into bankruptcy. Last July, World Trade Organization (WTO) countries signed a framework deal to structure further negotiations. The U. S. used the document to mount an attack on state trading enterprises like the Canadian Wheat Board. Canadian Trade Minister Peterson meekly said that there was little he could do to protect this institution, which has served Canadian farmers well in the past. The framework deal also reiterated the empty promise to reduce agricultural subsidies.