OTTAWA – Despite attempts to expedite the passage of Bill S-15 before summer recess, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands, has blocked a motion for unanimous consent that would have bypassed the normal legislative process and allowed for oil and gas development in the newly created Sable Island National Park Reserve.
“During negotiations and in the Environment Committee, I made it clear that I could not support this Bill as it is written; it opens the door to oil exploration on Sable Island and sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of our National Parks,” said May. “I am disappointed that all other parties were apparently willing to speed this Bill through the House without proper scrutiny, but I am unwilling to take that step.”
Bill S-15, an Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act and to make consequential amendments to the Canada Shipping Act 2001, would, among other things, establish Sable Island as a National Park Reserve, a move that the Green Party enthusiastically supports.
Unfortunately, Bill S-15 also enshrines the ability of Exxon-Mobil to conduct oil and gas exploration activities on Sable Island itself, in addition to drilling and fracking beneath the island using directional drilling. Further, power to make regulations regarding these activities rests solely with the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, an organization with an explicit mandate to promote oil and gas development.
“It is disturbing that we would hand off decision making authority over Sable Island to an organization with such an atrocious record as the CNSOPB, and I’ve yet to see any indication that either the government of Canada or Nova-Scotia ever even asked Exxon Mobil to forgo its oil and gas licenses above ground or underground on Sable Island,” said Elizabeth May. “We can and we must do better. If that means we wait a little longer in order to get this legislation right and provide genuine protection for Sable Island, I have no choice but to try. Unless there is a prorogation, the Bill will be here for us to debate in the Fall.”
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OTTAWA – Canadians have a right to know how much clandestine surveillance is being carried out on the Canadian public, said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands.
“We first heard about the prevalence of spying on private citizens last week in the US, but it is obvious that both countries share communication infrastructure and have passed similar security-related laws,” said May. “It’s time citizens were given more information regarding the kind of spying being carried out, how, and why.”
Canadians also learned earlier this week that the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) has a metadata – data about data content – surveillance program approved by Defence Minister Peter McKay in 2011. Although McKay has stated that this was directed exclusively at foreign communications, questions still remain about CSEC’s activities, and other matters.
Who controls/regulates the surveillance of Canadians and what restrictions are they under? What is the role of Canadian telecom companies which are refusing to talk because of a gag order? How much collaboration is there with the US on both foreign and domestic communication surveillance?
“Canada used to be a country where permission had to be given before gaining access to private communications,” said May. “We have strayed dangerously far from this standard and must do everything we can to restore it.
“I understand that the world has changed since 9/11, but treating us all like potential terrorists is not the way to maintain security. From what we are hearing, there are potential threats to our Charter of Rights; the role of the Privacy Commissioner might be compromised, and even our courts. This is a direct threat to democracy.”
OTTAWA – After Question Period on Wednesday, June 12, 2013, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands, rose in the House of Commons and moved the following:
“Mr. Speaker, following on yesterday’s wonderful display of solidarity on behalf of Canadian taxpayers in adopting the motion of the Opposition House Leader, if you seek it, I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion:
That the Board of Internal Economy investigate Members’ possible use of the Travel Points System for the purpose of participating in by-election campaigns during or immediately preceding the writ period.”
While all parties in the House agreed, the Conservatives rejected the motion to investigate possible uses of taxpayer-funded travel for partisan political purposes.
“I don’t know what possible excuse the Harper Conservatives will come up with this time to try and dodge accountability for their misuse of tax-dollars,” said May. “It’s very telling that all the Opposition Parties are willing to come together to push for greater accountability, yet the Conservatives are again offside with both transparency and with the Canadian public.”
OTTAWA – On Tuesday, June 12, 2013, at an announcement to discuss the creation of the Rouge National Urban Park from which the public was banned, Federal Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty caught local people, the province of Ontario, and the aviation industry all by surprise when he announced plans for an airport in Pickering.
“The Conservatives seems to be flailing, and we’ve been left at a total loss to explain this announcement,” said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands. “There is absolutely no economic case for building a new airport in Pickering, full stop. As Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty must know this.”
Plans to build an international airport in Pickering were first floated in 1970, but have remained shelved due to both community opposition and the lack of any credible economic rationale for its construction.
“From energy to crime to environment, the Harper Conservatives have consistently demonstrated an aptitude for short-sighted policy decisions, so I find it very odd that they have now unilaterally decided that Pickering must have a new airport that even Jim Flaherty thinks won’t be needed for 25 years,” said May.
“As if we needed one more bit of evidence that the Harper Conservatives are stuck in the last century, while the other countries of the world are building new networks of high speed rail to move their citizens, the Harper Conservatives have attempted to commit to a new unneeded, unwanted, and uneconomic legacy project.”
Independent MP Bruce Hyer and Green Party Leader and MP Elizabeth May are calling for immediate government action to reverse the decline of passenger rail across Canada in the wake of Hyer’s Independent Members’ Report chronicling the decline of basic service in Canada. The report, A Wedding Band of Confederation: Restoring Rail Passenger Service to Ontario’s North Shore and Across Canada, commissioned by Hyer, also lays out solutions for getting passenger rail back on track.
“VIA Rail’s latest filings reveal that it is in big trouble,” said Hyer (Thunder Bay-Superior North). “VIA Rail announced service cuts a year ago and tooted about how ridership and revenues would be boosted, but VIA’s plan has gone off the rails. Its annual report shows operating expenses up and ridership down. There are fewer trains…and they are emptier and later. Clearly, VIA intends to abandon Canada, except for the Quebec City-Windsor corridor.”
The report noted the main problems for passenger rail in Canada include:
“I raised my concerns with the deteriorating state of VIA rail in January,” said May. “I am grateful that Bruce Hyer has commissioned this in-depth report. Canada’s passenger rail system is in crisis and those of us who care about it need to speak out.”
“One or two MPs alone cannot win the battle to restore passenger rail in Canada,” said Transport Action’s Greg Gormick, co-author of the report. “Hyer’s initiative must be accompanied by a public campaign to reinvigorate VIA rail and passenger train travel in Canada. This report provides a clear analysis of the failures of successive governments to support passenger rail, and lays out a clear plan to reinvigorate train transportation in this country. Equally important, it requires political will and renewed national commitment in the form of a federal strategy for passenger rail.”