Showing posts with label Democracy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Democracy. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The Government of Manitoba robs its rural citizens of their local autonomy to serve its political friends and big business. (Opinion)

        by Larry Powell 
The Premier of Manitoba, Brian Pallister. A Gov't. photo.

The lengths to which the Pallister government is going to enable the unfettered exploitation of Manitoba's resources and massive expansion of its hog industry, should now be clear for all to see. For the past few years, it’s been rolling out, at significant taxpayer expense, the truly draconian measures it’s now taking, to make this happen. 

While the writing has been on the wall, only now are the worst fears being realized. They expose this government’ naked contempt for the democratic rights of rural Manitobans who have the audacity to point out that these goals are misguided - that the emperor has no clothes.

Late last year, the Municipality of Rosser, near Winnipeg, rejected a bid for a gravel mine (euphemistically called a limestone aggregate quarry). The politically well-connected owner of the construction company proposing the mine (who made a substantial contribution to the Conservative Party of Manitoba last year), appealed. Then, along comes a newly-minted creation of the Pallister Conservatives, a "blue-ribbon panel," as it were, called the Municipal Board, and overturns the council’s decision. Anointed with quasi-judicial power and peopled with several of the "party faithful," it can, in the words of one savvy observer, "relieve local councils of their administrative burdens." And, it did. It overturned council's rejection and, surprise, surprise, ruled for the proponent!

So the mine, er, quarry, will now go ahead. There is no appeal. 

So I guess the good people of the little, nearby community of Lillyfield, will just have to grin and bear it.
A gravel mine near the southwestern Manitoba community of Shoal Lake. 
A PinP photo.

Believe me, I know a thing or two about gravel-mines. A big one near my home, in the picturesque Birdtail Valley (above), supplied raw product for a major roadbuilding project to the south of here last year. 
Twenty-two wheelers take a break in Shoal Lake. A PinP photo.

Convoys of big dump-trucks rumbled past my front window in a seniors' complex for months (above), from morning ’til night, carrying their loads - hundreds of round trips a day to the site. 

Never mind that diesel fumes are a major air pollutant which cause lung cancer; Or that the United Nations has long warned the construction industry to curb its greenhouse gas emissions "yesterday" if we are to make any dent in the climate crisis. 

Would the cancellation of that single project have turned this global calamity around? Of course not. 

But will a broader, worse-case climate scenario be in the cards if every community on Earth barges ahead as this government obviously wants us to? Absolutely!

The absence of "eco-wisdom" these events reveal on the part of our lawmakers, is breathtaking.

And Bill 19, the same legislation which tramples local autonomy (or, in the fertile mind of government, reduces red tape), has resulted in another outrage in another part of the province. 
The HyLife killing plant in Neepawa, the largest pork processor in Canada. 
A corporate monolith based in Thailand with tentacles reaching into many
corners of the world's food business, now owns controlling interest.
A PinP photo.

The local, duly-elected Council in the RM of Grassland, near Brandon, has also voted decisively to reject another proposed project - this time a massive complex of hog barns proposed by HyLife Foods (above) near the Village of Elgin. 

And surely, only the naive now believe the Municipal Board will rule any way other than it did in Rosser.

The Grassland Council simply doesn’t believe the tax revenue from the project will cover the cost of servicing it. And residents fear the increased traffic will bring dust and noise, disrupting their quiet, rural lifestyles. 

They also worry about their water supply. That’s because the new complex will suck more than 100 thousand litres of water each and every day from the local aquifer. Twenty-four thousand pigs will be crowded into several large buildings. 

That’s about thirty times the human population of my own little town of Shoal Lake. And each pig produces several times the waste of one person. Yet even here we struggle to keep nutrients from our sewage lagoon - which often exceed recommended levels - from entering the lake. 
These likely help feed the growth of toxic algae which have been clogging up the lake water for years, tangling outboard motors and surely contributing to major fish-kills like the one we had here last year (above). 

It's been common knowledge for some time that, wherever humans or pigs are gathered together, deteriorating water quality soon follows. So, if our small town can feel such an impact, imagine the potential for harm there!

And, as a new report from the World Wildlife Fund reveals: "The overall (pollution) threat in the Assiniboine-Red watershed and each of its four sub-watersheds (where the new barns will be built) is (already) “very high.” It blames much of this on "agricultural runoff!"

Dissenting voices are systematically ignored.

In the spring of 2018 - the citizens' group, Hogwatch Manitoba - 
emblazened this headline across its website.


Here is Hogwatch's prophetic, cautionary tale, word for word, as it appeared, two-&-a-half years ago.

"Bill 19 will silence the public. It will allow municipal leaders to get rid of conditional use hearings and Provincial Technical Reviews for factory hog barns. If local politicians take this route, the Province will have the only and final say on where hog factories can be built. The Government of Manitoba is and has been both a promoter and regulator of the hog industry.  Bill 19 is the latest move to promote and de-regulate hog industry expansion. Why is Provincial control a problem? If conditional use disappears, local councils and rural people will not have any say in how factory hog operations perform. Municipalities will have no means of monitoring, enforcing conditions, and protecting local people and the environment from hog operations." 

John Fefchak of Virden is another example of a voice that needs to be listened to, but is not. John is a veteran of the Canadian military and long-time critic of his province's factory-farming style of pork production. He sees the government’s almost messianic drive to be both a regulator of, and cheerleader for the industry, as an attack on the democratic freedoms he did his part to win in the deadly conflicts of the past. Yet, his frequent comments to the news media, including the farm press, are often censored. 

And my local Shoal Lake newspaper, the Crossroads, is refusing to print this story which I put in the form of a letter-to-the-editor. The publisher, Ryan Nesbitt, claims it is "not local enough." He has also refused other letters I have submitted, about climate change, for the same reason.

It's encouraging that the Opposition is now taking up this issue. But I do hope it won't roll out as just another bit of political theatre. We need a profound public discourse on the very ways we develop our resources, produce our food, and exercise and protect our precious democratic rights, too. Is it all working? Or does it need to change? We all need to think about these things when the next election comes around.

Monday, August 6, 2018

University of Saskatchewan (USK) is taken to Court


USK refuses to disclose Right to Know symposium proceedings. More here.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Degeneration nation, 2018. Our darkest hour.

Common Dreams

A fertilizer plant in Manitoba, Canada. A PinP video.
Which is more frightening? The destruction of the environment and the climate that sustain human civilization as we have known it? Or the collapse of democracy and the rise of endless war and fascism? More here.

Friday, June 10, 2016

I Get My First Response to My Proposal to Take Climate Action in Fort McMurray

Alberta's Premier, Rachel Notley, has responded to my proposal to replace all buildings destroyed in the Fort McMurray wildfire with the most energy-efficient ones possible (see letter, below). While her answer to my specific suggestion seems to be a polite "no," she outlines other steps her province is taking to achieve a carbon-free future.


For the background to this story, click here.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Saturday, April 6, 2013

This Is What Democracy Could Look Like

Murray Dobbin's Blog
One of the many things that Hugo Chavez, the charismatic and revolutionary president of Venezuela contributed to the world was his demonstration for people everywhere the difference between democracy and liberal democracy. Details here.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Update: Election Fraud Legal Cases

Council of Canadians.

Tories attack Council of Canadians’ involvement in election fraud court cases
In the latest twist of the election fraud scandal, lawyers representing the Conservative MPs from the seven ridings involved in the citizen-led legal challenges to overturn election results have filed motions to throw out the cases. The initial legal skirmishes are now underway, and important developments are expected before the end of June.
The Council of Canadians is supporting court challenges to overturn election results by nine electors who allege that they received a fraudulent call advising them of a change in their polling location, that these calls were made to other electors, and that this lowered the voter turnout to a degree that affected the outcome of the election. Several affidavits have been filed in support of these applications, including one from Frank Graves of EKOS Research, whose firm surveyed voters and concluded that there were a large number of fraudulent calls in each of the seven ridings and that they were targeted at supporters of the NDP, Liberals and Greens. EKOS estimates that between 0.8% and 2.2% of the total eligible voters in the seven ridings were successfully dissuaded from voting as a direct result of these misleading calls.
The response of the Conservative Party of Canada has been to file numerous procedural motions, including to allege that the challenges are untimely and “without merit.” The most recent motion citesthe little-used legal doctrine of “champerty and maintenance,” meant to prevent frivolous litigation from outside parties with no interest in a case. With the motion, Conservative Party lawyers filed a scurrilous attack on the Council of Canadians that is more than 750 pages in length. On June 25, the Court will consider the Conservative Party motions and the applicants’ responses.
“The strategy of the Conservative Party lawyers is clearly to try to divert attention away from the fraudulent voter suppression activity, delay the process and drive up the legal costs,” said Garry Neil, Executive Director of the Council of Canadians.

Election fraud cannot go unchallenged

Defending our democracy is difficult and expensive, but it’s something we must do. Even with the generous contribution of the law firm, the bills for the legal work and expenses to support the court challenges are expected to reach $240,000 by the end of June.
Canadians have been extremely generous with their support for the Council’s Democracy 24/7 fundraising campaign. We thank everyone who has contributed. With only a few weeks to go, we are almost half-way to our fundraising target, and your support is needed now, more than ever.
Please consider making a donation today and add your support to the fight for democracy in Canada. Visit our website to donate to the Democracy 24/7 Legal Fund and to see all the latest updates on our fight for democratic rights in Canada. You can also contact us by e-mail at, or call us toll free at 1-800-387-7177.

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