Inquiries into expropriation create a phony sense of participation and empowerment, and do nothing to protect Canadians’ property rights. Elizabeth Brubaker calls on public agencies to provide for due process and take property only when expropriation has been demonstrated to be truly fair, sound, and necessary. Continue reading
Environment Probe takes on provincial mining associations that caution against local decision making. Probe recommends empowering affected individuals and communities to determine whether and how proposed projects will go ahead. To further ensure that mining and quarrying are sustainable, Probe recommends making mining companies bear all their environmental risks and costs. Continue reading
Expropriation – the taking of land without the consent of the owner – is one of the most extreme uses of government power. It is not only a severe interference with private property rights but is also bad for the environment, the economy, and public morale. Expropriation is particularly repugnant when done for the benefit of private interests. Continue reading
In the last year, we have witnessed an unprecedented roll-back of environmental regulation across Canada. Federal and provincial governments alike have reduced their oversight of polluting industries and weakened citizens’ rights to protect themselves and their environment. The systematic weakening of environmental regulation has created a vacuum that needs to be filled. But we don’t simply need new regulations. We need a better process – one that returns environmental protection to affected citizens. Continue reading
In her annual letter to supporters, Elizabeth Brubaker writes that Canada’s water is under threat. It’s threatened by the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Council of Canadians, who have teamed up to oppose private financing and operations of water systems. Their approach is wrong-headed and dangerous. Continue reading
Our sewage systems – carrying and treating the waste we flush down our drains – are Canada’s largest polluters. And yet, the federal government is giving them as much as 30 years to clean up their acts. In our year-end letter to supporters, we call for quicker action to end sewage pollution in Canada.
Environment Probe turned 20 this year. To our surprise and delight, we also learned this year that our foundation maintains Canada’s most popular environmental web site. The reason, we suspect, is that the public doesn’t like top-down environmentalism, and we have the field of community-based, market-oriented environmentalism pretty well to ourselves.
“Whiskey,” Mark Twain famously said, “is for drinking, and water is for fighting over.” And increasingly, fighting over it we are.
"Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems." That warning, issued by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, couldn’t be clearer. Farmers around the globe are polluting the air, degrading the land, and fouling the water on a "massive scale," the FOA charged. "Urgent action is required to remedy the situation."
Victoria is, at long last, preparing a plan to treat its sewage. After decades of denying that it is causing harm and resisting pressures to clean up, BC’s capital regional district (the CRD, as the greater Victoria region is known) is being forced to assume its environmental responsibilities.
Our water and our air are under siege, and our governments are doing precious little to protect them. Warnings have been sounded by two of Canada’s most prominent environmental watchdogs. Together, they demonstrate the pressing need for a new approach to environmental protection.
The political and regulatory changes that we fight for can be discouragingly slow – so slow, sometimes, as to be almost imperceptible. And yet, looking back over the course of a decade or two, there is great reason to take heart. That is one of the lessons brought home to me by a study we have just completed.
Will we never learn? Once again, we watch with horror as a community struggles with contaminated water. And once again, we are appalled by our governments responding with political fixes rather than lasting solutions.
Canada’s powerful farm lobbies would have you believe that farmers operate under too many rules. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture complains of a "multitude" of unjustified laws and regulations, while the BC Agriculture Council lobbies for a "real reduction of regulation."
In her annual letter to supporters, Elizabeth Brubaker argues that provinces are stripping citizens of their property rights and disempowering local governments in order to promote industrial farming. Continue reading
Should hog farmers be allowed to create odours so foul that they make neighbours physically ill? Should cattle farmers who follow manure-management rules be exempt from local bylaws limiting their size and density? Should vegetable farmers be allowed to send clouds of black dust across neighbouring lands, or awaken neighbours throughout the night with cannon explosions designed to scare away wildlife? How much pollution is "necessary" or "acceptable," and who should decide?
Four-hundred-and-seven. That’s the number of municipally owned water treatment plants that failed Ontario inspections in the year ending March 31, 2003. More than two years after contaminated water killed seven people and sickened 2,300 in the town of Walkerton, 61 percent of the province’s water plants got failing grades in training, sampling, disinfection, or water quality. Yet still – as has always been the case, whatever the party in power, and however desperate the need – the province hesitates to enforce its water laws.
Earlier this year, several days after a lengthy interview with a writer for a weekly news magazine, I received a puzzled e-mail. "How would you describe yourself politically?" the writer asked. "Do you lean towards the left or the right?"
How much longer will we tolerate unsafe drinking water and polluted waterways? When will we crack down on industrial polluters – the chief culprits in many jurisdictions? And when will we clean up the sewage pollution that has become a national disgrace and an international black eye? It is "perhaps Canada’s ugliest environmental secret," with "pollution on a scale unseen outside the Third World," reported the Boston Globe. And yet our governments remain unconscionably complacent and indifferent to the need for immediate action.
"Treat farming like any other industry and clean it up, inquiry urged." So read the headline of a Toronto Star article about one of our presentations to the Walkerton Inquiry. Our approach was considered newsworthy, but it shouldn’t have been. After all, isn’t it just common sense that we need to start cracking down on pollution from farms?