Green Gazette - November 2006

Sierra Club of Canada's monthly electronic newsletter

What's Inside












Clean Air Act: Delay and Disingenuity

The Harper government introduced its Clean Air act on October 19th, which amounts to little more than a recipe for delay. The government has thrown out Kyoto’s 2010 targets and failed to even mention Canada’s obligations under Kyoto at all during the announcement.

The act itself lacks meaningful targets, sets most timelines in the distant future, and focuses on emissions intensity—all of which guarantee continued rising pollution levels in Canada. The only definite element is more consultation—potentially delaying real action for years

There will be no actual reductions in greenhouse gases or air pollution prior to 2010, and regulation will not be in place until 2010. This assumes that the Clean Air Act will be passed in a timely manner, which is unlikely.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs to hear from you. Call him at 613-992-4211 and tell him that Canada needs to address the climate crisis now, not in another half decade.

Read Sierra Club of Canada’s press release and our coverage in the Toronto Star.

Goodbye Rachel

Rachel Plotkin, director of the national Forests and Biodiversity program, has left after five and a half years at SCC to take a position with the David Suzuki Foundation as Biodiversity Policy Analyst, and campaigning for species at risk.

She has worked on improving forest management, participated in the Mackenzie Gas Project hearings and campaigned for species at risk. Rachel describes some of her favourite experiences as “spending three weeks campaigning in Newfoundland in small communities, doing workshops on the fact that Abitibi’s 99 year licenses were expiring and the public had the right to be involved in deciding whether or not the licenses should be renewed. I’ve also felt truly privileged to be engaged in the Mackenzie gas hearings, and to have been able to spend so much time in the north.”

The Suzuki Foundation’s gain is definitely our loss. Rachel has been a very effective campaigner for us, and we will miss her a great deal.

All the best, Rachel!

Events . . . Special? . . . Are You Kidding?

SCC’s national operations director, Susan Paul, recently presented a one-day workshop in Toronto on this topic. The audience was made up of fundraisers and not-for-profit volunteers from the greater Toronto area

The workshop was presented and sponsored by Canadian Fundraiser™, as part of its “Key to the Sector” program. Workshop content included: what makes a good special event, what contributes to a bad event, how to evaluate the tangible and intangible outcomes of an event, and how to say “No!” to an event that does not meet the mission and strategic goals of your organization.

Mackenzie Wild Update

Paul Falvo and Rachel Plotkin attended the Joint Review Panel hearings for the Mackenzie Gas Project in Yellowknife from October 17-20th. Sierra Club of Canada has enlisted the support of Dr. Jim Schaeffer, a caribou biologist, to make a presentation at the hearings.

Dr. Schaeffer reviewed the Proponents' mitigation plans and environmental impact assessment for caribou and concluded that they did not accurately reflect the grave threat posed to the territory's caribou populations should the Mackenzie Gas Project proceed as planned.

Sierra Club of Canada Annual General Meeting

Our AGM will take place in Ottawa Saturday November 24 at 1 p.m. Location TBA.


Clean-air bill 'smog, mirrors': Critics

Mainly public relations ploy, opposition says Bill contains no standards or reduction targets

By Peter Gorrie, Environment Writer
Toronto Star
October 20, 2006

OTTAWA—The federal government moved yesterday to give itself new powers to combat the pollution that causes climate change, smog and toxic indoor air.

But apart from a pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by about half by 2050, the proposed Clean Air Act contains no efficiency standards or reduction targets.

Instead, the legislation, which amends three existing laws, would set the stage for years of consultations and negotiations with industries and the provinces on what rules should eventually be imposed.

The announcement was the first step in the Conservative government's Green Plan, the alternative to the previous Liberal government's climate-change measures.

"Past governments relied on voluntary measures," Environment Minister Rona Ambrose said. "Those days are over. From now on, industry will face mandatory requirements, and we will enforce them."

It's a realistic plan that tells business the government "has a firm intention to regulate," but "allows business to take the time to make the right decisions," said Nancy Hughes Anthony, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

But critics said the proposed law merely delays action and appears to be a public relations ploy. The government already has all the powers it needs to regulate pollution, they said. And even the far-off target for 2050 is lower than the reduction scientists agree is needed to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, and that Europe and some American states have adopted.

"They're not going to do anything: This is a (law) for inaction," said John Bennett, of the Sierra Club of Canada. Industry and government have been consulting for years and know what to do, Bennett said. "To suggest that you have to consult once more ... is ludicrous."

Years of meetings "are all thrown away," said Matthew Bramley, of the Pembina Institute. "We start from scratch."

"Instead of using existing legislation and acting immediately, the Conservatives have delivered vague promises to regulate polluters sometime in the coming decades," said Hugh Wilkins, a lawyer with Sierra Legal Defence Fund. The Conservatives "are proposing that greenhouse gas emissions should be allowed to continue to rise for the next 20 years."

"It's all smog and mirrors," said Liberal environment critic John Godfrey. "It's simply confusing people. The signal to industry is, relax ... we're on your side."

It's not clear the House of Commons will vote on the legislation before an election is called. And critics suggested that's what it's all about.

"The intent of this action is to get the ... Conservatives through a federal election by being able to claim that they've done something for the environment, and instead what they've produced is consultations leading to potential regulations leading to no action on climate," said Green party leader Elizabeth May.

All the opposition parties said they would vote against the legislation.

The plan would attack the air pollution that creates smog, which kills an estimated 5,800 people in Ontario each year, and greenhouse gases, which are causing climate change.

Smog pollutants would face fixed caps from the start. Greenhouse gas targets, on the other hand, would be "intensity-based" — allowed to rise as production increases — in the 2010-2015 and 2020-2025 periods. Only in the long term, 2050, would fixed caps be imposed.

Consultations are to begin this fall, with national short-term targets to be set by spring, followed by negotiations on limits for individual industries and products. Final regulations are to be in place by the end of 2010. Some would come into effect then; others, "as soon as possible" after that date. Medium- and long-term standards and targets would be set later.

However, as a small, quick first step, regulations are to be imposed during the next 12 months on minor sources of greenhouse gas emissions, including snowmobiles, jet skis, motorcycles, and off-road diesel engines. Rules will also be established for a few products, such as paint and car finishes, that produce smog or impair indoor air quality. Ambrose defended the lengthy consultations and long wait for targets. Industries need time to develop the technology required to meet targets, she said. "This doesn't happen at the flip of a switch."

Fuel consumption standards for cars will match those in the United States — although not the stringent regulations imposed by California. Any new rules won't come into effect until the 2011 model year, after the current five-year voluntary agreement with the auto industry expires.


Sierra Club Members now on Yellowknife City Council

During Earth Week Sierra Club of Canada member Kevin Kennedy and Director Paul Falvo held the North's first Sierra Club membership drive. Six months later, the pair found themselves the first Sierra Club members elected to Yellowknife City Council! Voters elected Kennedy and Falvo to the territorial capital's eight-member council in municipal elections October 16. Responsible planning and development, combating climate change and overall sustainability were key to the campaigns of both candidates. Adds Falvo, "The election signs were hand-painted on reused wood and the brochures were 100% post-consumer!"


CONFERENCE - WHAT IS PLAN B? Engaging the power of community to prepare for the effects of climate change, rising energy costs, and economic instability.

We invite you to join a gathering in Halifax at the North Street Church (corner North St. & Fuller Terrace) on Saturday November 11, from 3-7pm, and Sunday November 12, 10am-5pm. We intend this conference to be a seed which may grow into a diversity of wise actions.

In addition to a panel discussion/ open forum, we will be using modalities such as “world cafe,” talking circles, and “open space technology.” With a diversity of people, and highly relevant issues (we think so!), we look forward to some very meaningful conversations. More information:

Conference cost is $25 per day or $40 for both, including food. Pay as you can is negotiable. Space is limited. Please RSVP to Feel free to forward this invitation to whomever you think would both appreciate our gathering and enrich it as well.


The Nova Scotia government's going to be developing a new Natural Resources strategy over the next year, made up of Forests, Mining, Parks, and Biodiversity sections.

We need you to contact the NS Premier and demand to open up public consultations around the Natural Resources strategy; we want the government to listen to all Nova Scotians with interests in the health of our forests.We've emphasized that the very best route would be to use Voluntary Planning, the citizens' policy forum that carried out the ATV consultations in 2004.

Please, call or email the Premier and the Minister ASAP, and tell them you want Voluntary Planning tasked right away with the Natural Resources Strategy consultations. For more information visit:

Premier Rodney Macdonald
Telephone: 902-424-6600
Toll-free Message Line: 1-800-267-1993

The Hon. David Morse
Minister of Natural Resources
Telephone: 902-424-4037

Open your home to one of Katimavik’s Youth Volunteers

Katimavik is a national youth leadership program. Participants are from across Canada and are currently volunteering in Halifax—one in the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter office.

Katimavik is looking for Billet homes to host a participant in the Halifax area from November 3rd to November 17th 2006. Billets are highly valued and an essential component of the Katimavik program. Living with community members provides Canadian youth with the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of Canada’s rich cultural diversity.

Katimavik provides billet homes with a stipend of $10 per day to help cover costs. If you are interested in being a billet home (Halifax and surrounding area), please contact Emily at 204-444-3113.


Jacques Dubé (SCQ), Johanne Dion (Comité richelois pour une meilleure qualité de vie, CRMQV), Holly Dressel (SCC), Claude Martel (SCQ) et Christian Dubé (CRMQV) se sont rencontrés le 17 octobre pour préparer la campagne du SCQ contre les mega-porcheries.
Jacques Dubé (Sierra Club Quebec), Johanne Dion (CRMQV), Holly Dressel (SCC), Claude Martel (SCQ) and Christian Dubé (CRMQV) met on October 17 to prepare the SCQ campaign on mega hog farms.

Méga-porcheries / Mega Hog Farms

Le 10 octobre, quand Holly Dressel a prononcé son allocution à Montréal sur la qualité de l’eau, elle a lancé la campagne environnementale du SCQ contre les méga-porcheries. Pour commencer, nous sommes en période de recrutement afin de créer un Groupe de 35 personnes pour mener cette campagne. Ce groupe ne sera pas régional, mais sectoriel. Nous travaillons avec deux associations locales de citoyens dont une comptant 600 membres. Elles se battent contre les méga-porcheries et l’une d’elle a contribué à l’imposition d’un moratoire sur les méga-porcheries il y a quelques années. Le moratoire a été levé en décembre dernier. Holly Dressel sera notre championne et Daniel Green sera notre chef de campagne.

On October 10, when Holly Dressel spoke in public in Montréal about water quality, she kicked off SCQ campaign against Industrial Hog Farms in Quebec. We are recruiting 35 people for this group under the Quebec Chapter. It will be an issue-based group (sectorial) as opposed to a regional group. We are working with two local grassroots associations, including one with 600-members, who are fighting against industrial farming. One of them was responsible for the moratorium on industrial hog farm a few years ago. The moratorium was lifted last December. Holly will be our champion and Daniel Green, our campaigner.

SCQ fait partie de l’organisation d’une conférence internationale Organisée par l’Université de Sherbrooke, cette conférence aura lieu en 2007 et mettra en vedette Mme. Gro Harlem Brundtland (ancienne présidente de la Commission des Nations Unies su l’Environnement et le Développement) sera la première conférencière.

SCQ is on the programming committee of an International Conference on Sustainable Development Organized by the University of Sherbrooke for 2007, the conference will feature Ms. Gro Harlem Brundtland (former Chair of the World Commission on Environment and Development) as the keynote speaker.

Bénévoles / Volunteering

Venez nous donner un coup de main, il suffit de quelques heures par mois et vous en tirerez une expérience très enrichissante. Communiquez avec ou au (514) 651-5847 (laissez un message).

If you wish to help us out, please contact Claude Martel, at or by phone at (514) 651-5847 (leave a message). A few hours of your time can make a difference!


Volunteers needed in Toronto!

The Ontario Chapter is gearing up for several environmental campaign actions in and around the city of Toronto. We need your help as volunteers to ensure their success.


This past month, Chapter Director Lindsay Telfer experienced the immense impact the Alberta Tar Sands are having on the landscape with a helicopter tour over the region. Explore the images she captured.


Healthy Choices, Healthy Oceans

Can't decide between Chilean sea bass or farmed rainbow trout for dinner?

Canada's Seafood Guide can help you make sustainable seafood choices.

The guide was released September 27 by SeaChoice, an initiative of the Sierra Club’s BC Chapter and four other conservation groups. Small enough to tuck into your wallet, the guide lists 62 types of seafood under three different alert codes: Green (Best Choice), Yellow (Some Concerns) and Red (Avoid). The guide can be downloaded at

SeaChoice is a national program providing Canadians with resources to help support sustainable seafood and healthy oceans. We focus on research on domestic fisheries and work with stakeholders in the seafood supply line to bring about measurable shifts in seafood markets.

The oceans and fish of Canada are faced with threats from habitat destruction, pollution, climate change, over-fishing and invasive species. SeaChoice provides a simple and constructive way for everyone to help – by choosing sustainable seafood.

Back to School with BC Chapter

Interested in having your class learn about stewardship in local ecosystems? Hoping to create a more sustainable environment in your high school? The Sierra Club of Canada, BC Chapter Environmental Education Programs can help!

Our programs include elementary Temperate Rainforest, Interior Ecosystems and Stewardship programs; NEW for this year is the Sustainable High Schools Program. All programs are curriculum linked, action-oriented and FREE.

This year our Education Team saw over 10,000 students in hundreds of classrooms - no small feat! They left each class they visited with an Action Challenge, a chance to take what they learned during the program and apply it in special projects in their classrooms, homes and communities. You can read about the projects we left in their classrooms and many of the special Action Challenges from participating classes.


Meet the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition

A three day summit held Sept.8-10 at the University of Toronto brought together over 50 young leaders from organizations across the country, resulting in the launch of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition. Among these were out very own Sierra Youth!!
This national, non-partisan group aims to stress the urgency of the climate crisis as a key issue for young Canadians. In the face of government inaction, youth are demanding leadership and immediate action.

Organizations represented at the summit came from student societies, private sector companies, aboriginal and Métis groups, human-rights groups, and environmental groups.

Through passionate debate, negotiation, commitment and vision, the group worked to define its purpose, goals, structure and campaigns. Member groups will be starting campaigns as early as September 18, to raise the profile of climate change as the issue of our generation.

Support Us!
Sign Our Declaration!!
Français / English


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