Photo Credit: Irwin Barrett

What is Canada doing to protect the environment? Read RCI’s reports

Is Canada doing enough to protect the environment? Read RCI’s recent reports on environmental protection, climate change and decisions of the Canadian political and justice systems on these issues.

Fish in the Rideau being tested for contaminants

By Marc Montgomery, Monday 6 November, 2017

 View of Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal and the Château Laurier Hotel. Parts of the canal in the city show sediment at the bottom is contaminated with heavymetals and othertoxins. Fish are now being tested.
© Danny Globerman/CBC

Shortly after portions of the World Heritage Site Rideau Canal were added to the federal contaminated sites list, comes word that fish are now being tested. Portions of the canal recently tested showed a variety of toxic materials in the sediment of sections of the Canal, notably in downtown Ottawa… more

Caribou decline, habitat still shrinking

By Lynn Desjardins, Tuesday 31 October, 2017

© CBC

Caribou populations continue to decline and disturbances in their habitat are still increasing in spite of a recovery strategy put in place by the Canadian government in 2012. The government has released a progress report on implementation of the strategy and it shows that none of the provinces have met the goals it set... more

The plastic wrapping that can kill

By Marc Montgomery, Wednesday 1 November, 2017

The northern Pike caught by Adam Turnbull showing severe injury from a plastic drink wrapper. The fish surely was suffering,. Once freed from the wrapper it was able to swim away.
The northern Pike caught by Adam Turnbull showing severe injury from a plastic drink wrapper. The fish surely was suffering,. Once freed from the wrapper it was able to swim away. © Adam Turnbull- Twitter

Once again, the issue and harm of plastic garbage in waterways has been highlighted. A fisherman in the western province of Alberta caught a northern pike, and got a shock when he pulled the fish out of the South Saskatchewan River... more

Climate change, habitat loss, hard on migratory birds

By Lynn Desjardins, Monday 30 October, 2017

© Garry Donaldson

Changes to the climate and habitat are occurring so rapidly that it is difficult for some bird species to adapt and, if they cannot adapt or conditions do not improve, they could face extinction. Migratory birds in eastern Canada face many challenges and, this year, they included several hurricanesmore

How warming climate will change a unique forest type

By Marc Montgomery, Monday 30 October, 2017

The climate in the Maritimes has resulted in a unique mix of tree and plant species known as the Acadian forest combined 32 species of hardwoods and softwoods. Studies show the boreal softwoods which prefere cooler climates will suffer as the climate warms.
© Nature Conservancy of Canada

Canada’s eastern maritime provinces, notably New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince-Edward Island, and into Quebec’s Gaspe peninsula, are home to a unique forest type. It’s called the “Acadian forest”, and it is one of eight forest types in Canada. Throughout this region the climate enables a mix of Northern Hardwood and Boreal forest. This means a tree mix of 32 native species of hardwoods and softwoods unique in the world... more

Pollution causing one in six of all deaths: report

By Lynn Desjardins, Saturday 21 October, 2017

Pollution is linked to an estimated nine million premature deaths each year, according to a report from the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health. Health and environmental authors used data from the Global Burden of Disease study to produce the report... more

Grizzly bears in B.C.: the threat is not from hunters

By Marc Montgomery, Wednesday 25 October, 2017

About 250 grizzly bears are killed in B.C. each year by hunters, according to the provincial government. Hunting the bears for meat will still be allowed outside the Great Bear Rainforest.
© Mathieu Belanger/Reuters

Recently the government in the west coast province of British Columbia banned trophy hunting of the majestic grizzly bear. It said at the time that the bear population was stable and that although trophy hunting was not really a threat, trophy hunting of the bears had simply become socially unacceptable… more

Canada’s fisheries are in trouble, says non-profit

By Lynn Desjardins, Thursday 26 October, 2017

© R. Larocque/Department of Fisheries and Oceans

It’s estimated that since 1970, Canada has lost more than half its amount of fish, according to a reviewcompleted by the conservation group Oceana Canada. It says that only one third of the fish stocks are healthy, 13 per cent are in critical condition and there is not enough information to assess the health of the remaining 36 per centmore

Inuit traditional knowledge to guide marine management plan off Labrador coast

By Levon Sevunts, Friday 29 September, 2017

An aerial view of the North Coast of Labrador between Nain and Natuashish, N.L. on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2007.
© PC/Andrew Vaughan

The Inuit in northern Labrador and the federal government signed a deal Thursday evening that will see the Inuit use their traditional knowledge to develop Canada’s first Indigenous protected marine area off the coast of Labrador at the eastern approaches to the Northwest Passagemore

Climate change: good news and bad news

By Carmel Kilkenny, Saturday 30 September, 2017

© NASA

Climate change, or the seeming effects of climate change, appeared to many of us on TV and digital screens around the world in September. Following one of the worst wildfire seasons in British Columbia’s history, on the Pacific Coast of Canada, we were anticipating and then observing the harrowing images of the damage wrought by hurricanes of unprecedented size and frequency… more

Aboriginal rights vs conservation: Lake Nipissing

By Marc Montgomery, Tuesday 3 October, 2017

Nipissing First Nation fisherman Lorne Stevens holds up the fin of a pickerel.
© Erik White/CBC

It seems it’s an ongoing but increasingly contentious issue in Canada, native rights versus laws on conservation of species and resources. This is especially so in relation to fishing... more

Inuit say ‘nyet’ to toxic splash from Russian rockets

By Levon Sevunts, Friday 6 October, 2017

A Rockot launch vehicle lifts of the Sentinel-3A satellite from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia on Feb. 16, 2016. (Stephane Corvaja/European Space Agency)
© Stephane Corvaja/European Space Agency

Inuit in Canada and Greenland are calling on Ottawa and Copenhagen to demand the postponement of a Russian rocket launch scheduled to deliver a European Space Agency satellite to orbit next week and look for alternative launch vehicles that use non-toxic propellants for any future launchesmore

Energy East pipeline ends in victory and sorrow

By Carmel Kilkenny, Saturday 7 October, 2017

© Reuters / Todd Korol

Energy East was the proposed 4400 kilometre pipeline that was the bringer of prosperity to some parts of Canada, and a potential disaster to other regions. When Trans Canada, the company behind the project, announced on Thursday October 5th, that it was cancelling the pipeline plan, the reactions across Canada were strong and contrasted… more

Efforts to ban heavy fuel oil in the Arctic gather steam

By Levon Sevunts, Tuesday 10 October, 2017

© Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press

The international campaign to end the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) by ships plying the waters of the increasingly accessible Arctic is gathering steam ahead of an important meeting of the world maritime body next year more

Scientists urge international agreement on fisheries in Central Arctic Ocean

By Levon Sevunts, Wednesday 11 October, 2017

 Since 1970, the biomass of Canadian marine stocks has declined by 55 per cent.
© Pascal Rossignol / Reuters

A group of high-profile scientists specializing in Arctic research is urging the five Arctic coastal states and the five major distant-fishing players to finalize discussions on signing an international agreement on regulating any future fishery in the Central Arctic Oceanmore

New Canadian study suggests that trees can play a part in a longer life

By Terry Haig, Friday 13 October, 2017

.There are a million reasons to love trees, those perennial plants that rise from the ground, come in all shapes and sizes, whose branches grasp at the sky. Researchers at the University of New Brunswick have unearthed compelling evidence that trees help us live longer and they have some sturdy data to support that premise... more

Senate votes to move ahead with bill dear to animal activists

By Terry Haig, Friday 27 October, 2017

© Darryl Dyck

Canadian animal rights activists scored what they are calling a “huge victory” in the Senate on Thursday. The upper chamber’s fisheries committee voted to move forward with Bill S-203, legislation that would ban keeping whales and dolphins in Canadian aquariums… more

Climate Week NYC

By Marc Montgomery,Tuesday 19 September, 2017-

A gathering involving a substantial and varied group of interested parties, including some Canadian politicians and stakeholders, is meeting all this week in New York City. The week long series of events coincides with the major political gathering at the U.N.’s General Assembly… more

Concerns over changes to Canada’s offshore drilling policy

By Marc Montgomery, Monday 11 September, 2017

The Hibernia oil platform was anchored to the seabed in Newfoundland’s offshore 19 years ago this week, and is scheduled to produce its one billionth barrel of oil in 2017

Several environmental agencies have expressed concerns over relatively quiet changes being proposed for offshore drilling. They say notice for public consultation has been barely advertised, that affected first nations tribes have not been consulted at all, and that most input into regulation for the petroleum industry over the past year has come from the industry itself… more

Canada to co-host meeting on climate change action with China and EU

By Levon Sevunts, Monday 11 September, 2017

Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna addresses the opening session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change via video Wednesday, September 6, 2017 in Montreal.
© PC

Environmental ministers representing Canada, China and the European Union, as well as representatives from some 30 countries will gather in Montreal later this week to move forward with the implementation of the Paris climate change agreement, according to Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna... more

LNG projects would make climate targets virtually unattainable: report

By Lynn Desjardins, Saturday 2 September, 2017

The province of British Columbia has approved two liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects but the Pembina Institute found that if they go ahead, they would emit enough carbon pollution to make it virtually impossible to meet 2050 climate change targets. The province has committed to reducing carbon emissions to below 2007 levels by 2050. The energy think-tank has issued a report on the implications of the development of LNG projects.more

Scouts plant trees after Fort McMurray wildfires

By Lynn Desjardins, Thursday 24 August, 2017

The Scouts Canada youth organization is going to plant 750 trees in the western city of Fort McMurray to replace some of those devastated in last year’s wildfires. The raging fire tore through about 590,000 hectares and upwards of 88,000 people were forced to evacuate the area… more

Supreme Court landmark decisions on development-indigenous rights

By Marc MontgomeryWednesday 26 July, 2017

The Supreme Court of Canada has made to landmark rulings today over the government’s constitutional *duty to consult* with aboriginal gropus on energy development projects.
© Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press

It’s been a three-year battle for the mostly Inuit communities of Baffin Island, but today they’ve won their battle at the highest court in the land The Supreme Court of Canada has cancelled plans for seismic oil and gas exploration off the coast of Baffin Island, which residents say could potentially harm marine life and their reliance on the fish and animals for sustenance and traditional way of life… more

Canada lags in protecting nature: report

By Lynn DesjardinsMonday 24 July, 2017

© Joshua Pearlman

Canada ranks last among G7 countries when it comes to protecting land and fresh water, according to a report from the non-profit Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS). Only 10.6 per cent of its massive landscape is protected and that is well behind the global average of 15 per cent. It also trails other large countries like China, Brazil and Australia… more

Giant liquid natural gas pipeline and terminal stalled by legal challenge

By Marc MontgomeryFriday 21 July, 2017

Lelu Island where Petronas wants to create a huge LNG port. Environmentalists say a cricial salmon area, while First Nations say it’s their territory and they haven’t been consulted.
©  Brian Huntington

A huge project set to develop a 900 kilometre gas transmission line and export port on the British Columbia coast has hit a legal roadblock. The provincial government had approved the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission  Line which would move fracked gas from north-eastern BC to the proposed giant LNG export terminal on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert… more

Putting a dollar value on wetlands

By Marc MontgomeryWednesday 19 July, 2017

An American bittern eats a barred tiger salamander in a duckweed and algae-covered marsh in southwestern Manitoba. Wetlands are also a critical habitat for a wide variety of wildlife.
© Bryce Hoye/CBC

Scientists and environmentalists have long known that wetlands (marshes, bogs) mitigate climate extremes. They absorb water  when there’s excess rain, and retain and release water when there’s drought.  Wetlands are something like a weather “shock absorber”. Knowing that however hasn’t helped in their preservation from development. A new study seeks to change attitudes towards wetlands, and help in their preservation… more

Science minister goes North to observe climate change

By Lynn DesjardinsFriday 14 July, 2017

© Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC

Science Minister Kirsty Duncan is going to the North to talk to scientists observing climate change there. A news release says she will witness the impacts of climate change during her visit from July 17 to 21 and “advance her support for northern research programs…that provide the evidence necessary to inform policy decisions about fragile northern environments and ecosystems.”more

More visitors, more pressure on national parks

By Lynn DesjardinsFriday 14 July, 2017

© Alison Ronson/CPAWS

The government has increased staff at national parks to cope with an expected increase in the number of visitors this summer. This year is the 150th anniversary of the confederation of Canada and to celebrate the government has offered free admission to the parks to those who request it.more

Group urges action to cut plastic bottle pollution

By Lynn DesjardinsThursday 13 July, 2017

© Hassan Ammar/AP Photo

Coca-Cola plans to increase the amount of recycled plastic in its bottles sold in the U.K. Absent news of plans to do that in Canada, the group Environmental Defence is calling for better bottle return policies across the countrymore

International maritime body adopts Canadian proposal on heavy fuel oil in Arctic waters

By Levon SevuntsFriday 7 July, 2017

© Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press

The United Nations’ specialized agency that regulates maritime shipping has adopted a Canadian proposal to begin the process of developing rules on mitigating the risks of use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) to power ships operating in Arctic watersmore

Environmental groups slam government plans to allow oil and gas drilling in proposed marine protected area

By Levon SevuntsMonday 26 June, 2017

A humpback whale’s tail comes out of the water during a ride on the Les Ecumeurs boat on the St. Lawrence river at Les Escoumins, Quebec, August 13, 2009.
A humpback whale’s tail comes out of the water during a ride on the Les Ecumeurs boat on the St. Lawrence river at Les Escoumins, Quebec, August 13, 2009. © Mathieu Belanger

Environmental groups are blasting the Liberal government’s plan to allow oil and gas exploration in a proposed marine protected area off the southwest coast of Newfoundland and Labrador in the Atlantic Oceanmore

Environmental rights as a human right: new proposals for Canada’s environmental laws

By Marc MontgomeryWednesday 21 June, 2017

Conservation and environmental groups have given a good grade to a government committee’s new recommendations for changes to the Environmental Protection Act of 1999
©  Matt Medler/Associated Press

In a comprehensive evaluation, a government committee has made many recommendations to update Canada’s Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). Environmental groups are generally pleased with the recommendations and urge government to move quickly to adopt them.

… more

Canada’s Marine Protected Areas: more scientific input and protection needed

By Marc MontgomeryTuesday 20 June, 2017

The GSF Grand Banks drilling rig shown here off the coast of Newfoundland in 2011. Canadian scientists want the government to ensure that commercial activities are not allowed in marine protected areas.
© courtesy Shipspotting via CBC

Recently 15 respected Canadian scientists sent a letter to Canadian politicians expressing concern about Canada’s current and future marine protected areas. All of the scientists are involved in various ways with marine research… more

Environmental Protection Act: new recommendations for GMO’s

By Marc MontgomeryMonday 19 June, 2017

AquaBounty GM salmon grows faster than natural salmon. It was approved for human consumption by the federal government in a process that was challenged by environmental advocacy groups
© Aqua Bounty

In a wide ranging review of Canada’s Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) released last week, many recommendations were made for changes to the Act which has remained basically unchanged since 1999.

Among them were recommendations regarding the introduction of genetically modified organisms, excluding plants… more

Report flags freight emissions as threat to Paris climate goals

By Lynn DesjardinsFriday 16 June, 2017

©  Roberta Franchuk/Pembina Institute

Increasing freight means increasing greenhouse gas emissions and that could be “a major roadblock” toCanada’s pledge in the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change, according to the Pembina Institute. The energy think-tank prepared a report focusing on emissions from the movement of goods by road, rail, air and sea ... more

Canadian scientists discover how forests reduce ozone pollution

By Levon SevuntsWednesday 14 June, 2017

© PC/Eduardo Lima/Canadian Press

Canadian scientists have discovered how forests reduce the amount of surface ozone pollution by up to half, creating a new way for much more accurate air quality forecasts worldwidemore

Environmental group applauds ban on microbeads

By Lynn DesjardinsWednesday 14 June, 2017

© Environmental Defence/NDP

The group Environmental Defence is lauding the Canadian government for banning microbeads in personal care products. These tiny plastic pieces pollute water and choke wildlife. They are used as abrasives in products like body washes and toothpaste, replacing substances like oatmeal and ground nutshells that were used in the pastmore

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