Ottawa - The Canadian government was among a group of developed countries at a UN conference last week opposing language intended to protect human health and the environment from mercury pollution. At the United Nations treaty negotiation session (INC4) held in Punta Del Este, Uruguay last week, Canada and its partners refused to include stronger language, even though it was supported by two-thirds of delegates engaged in the international negotiations.
"Developed countries should not stand in the way of the rest of the world on the issue of including health in international environmental agreements," said Eric Uram of the Sierra Club. "Everything in nature is connected, and people and the environment cannot operate on separate planes. Protecting the health of the planet is an international responsibility that needs to be supported by all countries."
One day soon, people in Ontario may spot an armed convoy passing through their town. Heavily armed guards will be protecting trucks carrying thousands of litres of radioactive waste containing highly enriched (weapons-grade) uranium in a toxic mixture of acid and countless other radioactive isotopes. It will be the most dangerous transport of nuclear waste ever attempted in Canada.
Sierra Club Canada and the Ontario Chapter submitted a detailed report on the Pickering Nuclear Station request for permit extension. Our research has turned up a good argument for immediate closure of the plant - certainly not operating it beyond its own planned obsolescence.
Ahead of their meeting in Halifax, the country's Premiers are being urged to come up with an energy plan for Canadians and not just an energy strategy for Canada.
John Bennett with the environmental group The Sierra Club of Canada says before we worry about expanding our energy export business, we need to address our domestic energy use.
"Doesn't charity start at home?" muses Bennett. "Shouldn't it be everyone's first priority to make sure that we meet our own needs and we do it in a way which is sustainable and acceptable? And then we talk about, well if we have excess then let's ship the excess somewhere else. They're not talking about how Canadians can meet their energy needs, and how we can do it sustainably and environmentally favourably."
Bennett adds a national energy strategy should also include the element of energy usage and efficiency.
OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper heads to the Far North next week, with his annual trek focusing on the Western Arctic and developing the region's natural resources.
The five-day north of 60 trip gears up in Whitehorse Monday, with stops at copper and gold mine Minto Mine and Norman Wells, an oil drilling and exploration hub, in the Northwest Territories.
The prime minister then heads to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, where two years ago he announced a new $81 million high Arctic research station would be built in the hamlet perched on the Victoria Island coast in the Arctic archipelago.
The tour wraps in Churchill, Man., where Harper is to take part in Operation Nanook, alongside 1,250 navy, army and air force personnel for an annual northern sovereignty exercise.
Harper has spent a week every summer in the Arctic since he became prime minister, an annual trip meant to assert Canada's presence in the region.