Logging for a loss

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Logging a majestic stand of hemlock and balsam in British Columbia’s coastal rainforest costs logging companies $100 a cubic metre. Selling the hemlock gets them an average of $60 a cubic metre, the balsam gets them less. "We lose $40 on every cubic metre of hemlock that we bring to the sawmill," explains Steve Crombie of Interfor, one of B.C.’s large product exporters.

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Free trade for dummies

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How dumb does Prime Minister Jean Chrétien think President George W. Bush can be? Very, very dumb, judging by the arguments over softwood lumber that our Cabinet ministers and trade officials had been floating prior to Mr. Chrétien’s meeting with Mr. Bush yesterday. Only someone as thick as a plank could buy the lulus put out by our government leaders in what — at over $10-billion per year — is by far the most important trade dispute between the two countries.

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Canadians not paying too little for water, says utilities group

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Claims by an international think-tank that Canadians pay too little for the water they consume are untrue, according to, the country’s municipal water utilities.

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Eco-extremists aren’t extremist enough

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The eco-extremists are poised to win their biggest battle yet over British Columbia’s vast forest lands. But the eco-extremists aren’t environmental groups. The extremists are the B.C. government and major forestry companies who are hell-bent on destroying the splendour of the province’s landscape, even if they must do so at a loss.

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They get the gold, we get the shaft

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Canada’s mining industry knows how to strike it rich, but it closely guards its secrets, for fear others will jump its claims. Now, the secret’s out. Here’s how it’s done.

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Property Rights and the Public Good

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An interview, for CBC Radio’s Ideas program, with Patricia Adams, Elizabeth Brubaker, and Lawrence Solomon. A discussion of the environmental, economic, and social harm wrought in the name of the public good, both in Canada and in the Third World, and of the counterbalancing protections offered by traditional property rights regimes.

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Privatizing natural resources

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Can you imagine a greater example of incompetence than the federal government’s stewardship of the east coast fishery, where the cod stocks have been recklessly depleted and entire communities are now on welfare, losing both their economic independence and their dignity? When the welfare runs out in several years, many of the communities will become ghost towns, emptied like the fisheries nearby.

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Reforming environmental assessments

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Environmental assessments and the public hearings that should scrutinize them were intended to empower the public to bring forward its concerns over projects that threatened their communities. Regrettably, environmental assessments—which are generally produced by promoters to justify their projects—often became cosy arrangements in which industry and government negotiated deals behind the public’s back, and circumvented public hearings. The result of those closed door arrangements were fiascos such as the Darlington nuclear power plant, which was never needed and which now threatens Ontario Hydro with bankruptcy, and the subsidized clear-cutting of old growth forests, which simultaneously ravaged our heritage and our economy.

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Free trade’s environmental benefits

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Earlier this year, the Quebec government, conceding that it was subsidizing Norsk Hydro, a multinational magnesium producer, agreed to stop subsidizing the company’s magnesium smelter, which is a major polluter. It did so following official trade protests by a U.S. industry group—the Non-Ferrous Producers Committee—over Norsk’s access to subsidized water and subsidized electricity. This industry lobby, for its part, decided to use trade remedy laws after being contacted by Environment Probe, who alerted it to the Free Trade Agreement and how it could be used to prevent the export of Canada’s resources at the expense of Canada’s environment.

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Economic union’s environmental potential

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As you know all too well, Canadians will soon need to decide the future of our country through the makeup of our new constitution. None of the government’s proposed constitutional changes were designed with the environment in mind but some changes will certainly affect the environment. I am writing you to explain why one proposal in particular—the economic union—would benefit the environment, and so deserves your support.

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Markets and the Environment

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An interview, for CBC Radio’s Ideas program, with Lawrence Solomon about the ways in which competition, privatization, property rights, and other market mechanisms can work to preserve the environment.

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Preserving the Carmanah Valley

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Canada is blessed with one of the natural wonders of the world, the magnificent Carmanah Valley in British Columbia. Home to 30-story-high Sitka Spruce, the tallest in the world; to Red Cedars that are 1,000 years old; to Western Hemlock that are among the largest in the world; and to majestic Cypress that were alive when Christopher Columbus discovered North America, this virtually untouched valley is one of the world’s last remaining temperate rainforests.

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The Best Earth Day Present: Freedom

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Since the first Earth Day in 1970, there has been a lot of good news on the environment.  The deserts of the Sahel may not be spreading after all.  And Lake Erie is no longer dead; its waters now team with tens of millions of walleye.  But the best environmental news of all is the opening of the Berlin Wall and the democratization of Latin America.

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Reforesting Canada

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Let me share with you some comments made by Adam Zimmerman, Chairman of Noranda Inc., after the Australian government denied his firm the right to build a polluting pulp mill in the Tasmanian forest.

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We can’t shift the blame

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Question: In the one year since the free trade agreement took effect, has the deal done anything to harm – or help – the Canadian environment?

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Turning free trade to the environment’s advantage

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Whether you voted for or against the free trade deal, now that free trade is a reality it’s incumbent upon all of us who care about the environment to do everything we can to make the deal work for us. The next 60 months – during which our government will be back at the negotiating table to hammer out the meaning of subsidy – will be decisive in our environment’s future: These negotiations will determine whether or not our forests are spared, whether we can continue to subsidize environmentally destructive coal and nuclear plants, whether free trade means fair trade or whether it means an acceleration of the rape and pillage policies of the past.

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Save the Forests – Sell the Trees

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Wherever trees grow on private land, forest owners seem to draw the ire of their governments. The government of Ontario has a problem with the way many of its small, private woodlot owners tend their forests: They won’t cut down their trees. The government’s surveys conclude that these smallholders – mostly farmers, professionals and retirees, who control more that 10 million acres of timberland – have what government experts call "a rather indifferent attitude" toward their land.

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Free trade to axe profits from the forest firms?

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Robert Rivard of the Canadian Lumbermen’s Association would like to go back to “the old free trade deal.” He feels the previous arrangement reflected a more Canadian brand of free trade that better served his association’s members.

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Free trade and the environment: Critics can’t agree, but harmonization of policy may be a blessing for our environment

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The environment has been one of the hottest election issues going but the Canadian Wildlife Federation – Canada’s largest conservation group – and Pollution Probe – Canada’s largest environmental advocacy organization – haven’t received much press during the campaign. The cameras, instead, have been focused on those prepared to make unequivocal predictions: tub-thumping free traders like federal negotiator Simon Reisman, who have insisted the deal won’t affect the environment in the least, and fervent anti-free traders like the Canadian Environmental Law Association, who have claimed the free trade deal will lead to our environment’s certain destruction.

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Free trade an opportunity for Canada to improve environmental standards

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If we had free trade, says economist Miles Richardson, we might save Lyell Island. Lyell, a wilderness heritage of unparalleled beauty, is no ordinary island, and Rich­ardson is no ordinary economist. He is the president of the Council of the Haida Nation and a leader in the fight against the British Columbia logging giants eyeing the forests on Lyell, South Moresby and other islands in the Queen Charlottes, where the Haida have lived since time immemorial.

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