With the pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to build a greener world.

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Wanna know who’s on our 💩 list? Read on for this week’s update on scandals and attempts to profit from COVID-19.

From Big Oil and beyond, major corporations (and their interests) are using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to lobby the government for everything they’ve ever wanted — even if it means slowing urgent action on the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis. In this scandal report, we’re documenting everything happening in Canada during the pandemic.

Does industry’s greedy audacity make your blood boil? Send a message to the federal Cabinet to listen to the people who elected them, not corporate lobbies. We need a national public consultation on a green and just recovery now.

Got a tip? Tell us about it at [email protected]

New this week:

We’ve been away for a couple weeks –> here’s what we wanted to tell you!

NEW 👉 29 July 2020 – CAPP, Canada’s biggest oil lobby group, fights climate conditions attached to pandemic aid.

Senior Energy Strategist at Greenpeace Canada said, “CAPP is pushing back on the already-minimal climate conditions attached to the federal bailout. This unwillingness to face the future is one of the reasons why global banks are bailing on oil sands.”

ARCHIVE

(Click the dates to reveal the details)

24 July 202024 July 2020 – CAPP, LNG industry lobby B.C. government for long-term discount on hydroelectricity, blaming economic troubled on the pandemic

If the B.C. government agrees to industry’s demands for a discounted rate, the costs would be passed on to regular British Columbians (who already pay more than industrial customers). The Narwhal has the story.

23 July 202023 July 2020 – Ontario passes Bill 197, which will gut the Environmental Assessment Act putting many decisions entirely under the purview of the cabinet.

Billed as an “economy recovery” bill, in reality this is a pure regulatory rollback without public consultation. The National Observer has more info on whether this is legal and the legislative details.

21 July 202021 July 2020 –  Newfoundland continues pushing federal officials for a federal aid package and incentives for exploration.

Outgoing Premier Dwight Ball said, “I believe support for the oil and gas industry is the only option that the federal government would have to create jobs here in our province. If they don’t do that, the other option would be to put our province back on large equalization transfers.” This is the kind of ‘we need fossil fuels’ to survive the oil industry  wants Canadians to believe.

17 July 202017 July 2020 –  Alberta government emails show how the oilpatch used covid-19 to lobby for temporary rule changes, including some based on “purely economic issues”.

The news, unearthed through a Global News investigation, contradicts officials’ previous statement that the suspension of dozens of environmental rules in April and May was based on public health concerns. Instead, we see apparent regulatory capture by industry. Other investigations show that key officials were left in the dark about some regulatory decisions.

16 July 202016 July 2020 – Alberta introduced legislation putting Alberta on a path toward increasingly privatized health care … in the midst of a global pandemic.

Worried about a second wave? Well Albertans are worried about a wave of doctors leaving the province. New legislation by the Kenney government would allow the government to sign contracts directly with doctors and permit private companies to administer doctor’s clinics.

15 July 202015 July 2020 – Ottawa and the provinces have given $16 billion in aid to the fossil fuel industry and little to clean energy. 

Keith Stewart, a senior energy strategist at Greenpeace Canada, said the federal government has been “completely captured by the oil industry.” We unearthed documents prepared for Natural Resources Canada that contains surprisingly little analysis of what a climate-friendly COVID response might look like.

14 July 202014 July 2020 – Ontario’s Ministry of Labour says long-term care homes, which are high-risk workplaces, don’t have to compensate workers for getting covid-19 tests.

“In my view, it’s inappropriate for workers to shoulder the financial responsibility of keeping co-workers, customers and clients safe,” said McMaster University labour studies professor Stephanie Premji. It’s “particularly concerning for low-income, precarious workers who can’t afford to take the time off.”

13 July 202013 July 2020 – The Liberal leadership is downplaying plans for a green stimulus announced early on in the pandemic.

While some key ministers were initially assigned to a green stimulus task force, the message from Justin Trudeau’s office has changed, walking back the importance of the task force (whose members likewise went quieter on the subject). The Globe & Mail has the full story (and just days after this broke, the urgency of the climate crisis was underscored by a report on unaccounted carbon emissions from Canada’s disappearing forests).

10 July 202010 July 2020 –  Greenpeace Canada staff dug into how grocery stores (and some of their billionaire owners) have cut worker pay despite profiting from COVID-19. We found that stores received more than $700 million in adjusted net earnings in the early part of 2020, while billionaire’s personal wealth increased by hundreds more millions.

Read the full story in our just-posted investigation here. Later today, CEOS of major chains like Loblaws, Metro and Empire (the parent company of Sobeys) will appear before a parliamentary committee to account for worker pay cuts, all announced on the same day. Given stores’ history of colluding on bread prices, MPs want to take a closer look at the decision.

8 July 20208 July 2020 –  Doug Ford’s Ontario government releases 188-page omnibus bill that claims to be about responding to the COVID crisis but undermines environmental protection.

If passed, the changes would mean that the provincial government can decide when a project needs an environmental assessment, whereas the current law applies to most projects automatically. This comes after the Ford government suspended environmental oversight during COVID-19 and weakened environmental protections law year. As a whole, the proposed legislation would alter 20 pieces of legislation.

7 July 20207 July 2020 – Shareholders of Ontario’s biggest private nursing homes, Chartwell, Sienna and Extendicare, are set to receive $59 million this quarter, despite hundreds of COVID-19 deaths at their facilities.

Covid-19 laid bare the consequences of monetizing elder care. Both residents and workers have been hard-hit, including by inadequate conditions impacting their lives and health.

7 July 20207 July 2020 –  Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore oil and gas industry, alongside Canada’s biggest oil lobby group, launches a new campaign to fund and expand fossil fuel extraction.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association (NOIA) and Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) launched “We Are NL Offshore” on Tuesday, calling on the federal government to provide “incentives to attract more exploration in the region and tax credits to kickstart delayed projects,” iPolitics reports.

7 July 20207 July 2020 – Alberta tries to sidestep justice and keep sand projects out of environmental oversight by redefining “minerals”.

Alberta’s blaze of legislative changes during COVID-19 continues. Now, after a court ruling found that the government should be conducting environmental assessments, the Alberta government is trying to change the law to fast-track 500 sand extraction projects. Jason Unger, the executive director of the non-profit Alberta Environmental Law Centre, told the National Observer “(These pits) can be contentious,” he said. “They have a variety of impacts, whether on water, roads, noise, dust, other things like that.”

30 June 202030 June 2020 – Ontario extended the logging industry exemption from endangered species law.

After using covid-19 as cover for suspending environmental oversight (now restored) Ontario’s provincial government is rubbing salt in the wound by appearing to give into the forestry sector’s whims — this time, that “logging operations already must meet rigorous sustainability standards” and that the extension of their exemption from endangered species law supports the economy. Read more from Greenpeace campaigner Reykia Fick and others in the National Observer about why this isn’t anywhere near enough to protect crucial species — and about the hundreds of comments from the public we’re worried weren’t properly considered in this decision to weaken the law. This seems to be a common theme with the Ford government, since just 5 days before this announcement it also proposed to strip endangered species protection.

29 June 202029 June 2020 – Alberta cuts more slack to Big Business and digs deeper into Albertans’ pockets to finance its infrastructure-heavy recovery.

While governments around the world consider green stimulus packages, Jason Kenney’s Alberta government is focused on big infrastructure spending and supporting the big corporations. In its initial plans to restart the economy, Alberta is planning expedited corporate tax cuts and creating jobs in the pipeline sector, among other investments and jobs in health, education and social services. “Climate change” appears just once in the plan. Hours following the Kenney government’s new economic strategy, the New York based agency downgraded Alberta’s credit rating to a double-A-minus from double-A (and it’s not the first agency to do so; spending big dollars on a non-renewable resource in economic decline is no recipe for a healthy society).

Senior Energy Strategist Keith Stewart breaks it down in his thread below.

29 June 202029 June 2020 – The airlines strike again, deciding to relax in-flight physical distancing during COVID-19.

Yes. This came out over the weekend. As if asking for bailouts (check out our blog on the topic here) wasn’t scandalous enough, airlines like Air Canada and WestJet are allowing passengers to buy tickets for adjacent seats. We’re not surprised to see these companies appearing to put profits ahead of Transport Canada recommendations to optimize social distancing. Sadly, it’s now been reported that  3 domestic flights to Vancouver were potentially exposed to Covid-19, underscoring the urgency of a cautious, safety-first approach. People and health, not profits, should be at the heart of the decisions companies are making.

Canadians have been quick to take to Twitter to voice their concerns, including acclaimed musician Jann Arden.

20 June 202020 June 2020 – Juan Lopez Chaparro, 55 year-old-father of four and migrant worker from Mexico, died Saturday in London, Ontario after falling ill with COVID-19. He has been working at a farm that is reported to have allegedly ignored warnings about COVID-19 risks for migrant workers.

According to the CBC, “most recently he worked for Scotlynn Group … which currently has 217 positive COVID-19 cases involving migrant workers and farm employees.” Support migrant workers’ fight for fair working conditions through the #StatusForAll campaign.

19 June 202019 June 2020 – A Greenpeace investigation found that the oil, plastic and petrochemical lobby has logged more than 400 communications with federal officials. That’s 5 communications per day. 

That’s way more access than the average Canadian has, which is why Greenpeace is calling for a Cabinet to hold a national public consultation on a green and just recovery this summer. Most of these communications focused on taxation, finance and the environment. We know that the oil lobby is lobbying for a $27-30 billion bailout from the government along with a host of regulatory rollbacks. Take action here.

19 June 202019 June 2020 – Ottawa relaxes clean fuel targets, letting fossil fuel companies off the hook for the time being. 

The government is opting to start the clean fuels standard lower and raise it faster so that the 2030 goal is still reached.  The problem here lies in the fact that this only works if the next government doesn’t cave to industry pressure as well. It passes the buck, deferring the bulk of emission reductions to the future. This relaxed standard isn’t exactly what the oil and gas lobby asked for in its March 27 letter to the federal government, but it’s a step in that direction. Canadian Press has the story. 

18 June 202018 June 2020 – Alberta ends state of emergency as its economy reopens but continues suspension of environmental monitoring regulations.

This is nothing but a favour to the oil industry. The audacity and blatant attempt to leverage the pandemic for industry gain is summed up by Dale Marshall of Environmental Defence’s comment: “There are a whole bunch of things opening up … But we can’t get two people going onto a site to do environmental monitoring? This continues to be a pretty flimsy excuse to make an ideological, anti-environmental decision.”

17 June 202017 June 2020 – After second death of migrant worker from COVID-19, the government issued an apology but is failing to act urgently to protect vulnerable, essential workers, fight racism and ensure #StatusForAll.

Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program is under intense scrutiny following several coronavirus outbreaks and the deaths of two workers in southern Ontario: Bonifacio Eugenio Romero and Rogelio Muñoz Santos. Learn more about how to support migrant workers, including the people caring for our elders and putting food on our tables during the pandemic. Greenpeace Canada support their fight for full immigration status, including health services, protection from discrimination, paid emergency leave and adequate employment conditions. 

17 June 202017 June 2020 –  The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) launches new lobbying offensive in Quebec

Canada’s largest oil and gas lobby has registered to lobby Premier Legault’s Quebec government to take measures to support the fossil fuel industry. Issues on CAPP’s agenda? Regulatory rollbacks, the clean fuel standard and (you guessed it) financial support. Le Devoir’s Alexandre Shields has the story.

17 June 202017 June 2020 – Gas company Enbridge cuts non-union pay and offers buyouts to hundreds of workers, despite announcing recent dividend payouts to investors.

In May, Enbridge announced a quarterly dividend to investors payable on June 1st, this payout comes despite the impacts of the pandemic and oil price tumble on the industry. This news also came at the same time that Ovintiv (formerly Encana) announced worker layoffs in Canada and the US. Ovintiv is registered to lobby the federal government for COVID-19 funding, as is the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, which is seeking a series of tax cuts, regulatory rollbacks and bailout from the government (see below). Learn more about the conditions Greenpeace Canada recommends be attached to any funding to make sure workers and climate are protected.

15 June 202015 June 2020 –  Colliers Project Leaders, a subsidiary of a $4 billion real estate and investment company, asked employees to fudge time sheets and “surrender” vacation time if they want to keep their jobs. 

That’s what an email sent by Franklin Holtforster, company president and CEO, told his employees, CBC’s GO Public reports. Thanks to the investigation, the company offered to return the days. Still, this is a symptom of a larger problem: several big grocery store chains owned by wealthy people recently cut vacation pay (see below), and a new federal report shows that Canada’s 1% own just over 25% of the country’s wealth. It’s time for the wealthy to stop amassing their fortunes on the backs of workers. Canada needs a wealth tax now. Take action.

11 JUNE 202011 JUNE 2020 – Alberta introduces bill 22, which proposes 14 legislative changes across six different ministries, including making it easier for oil patch projects to be approved.

The ever-growing list of environmental and energy regulatory rollbacks in Alberta makes it clear that pro-industry politicians are doing everything they can to make the most out of COVID-19. But people in Alberta are fighting back: First Nations are appealing the Kenney government’s decision, including for the lack of consultation on these unilateral clawbacks.

10 JUNE 202010 JUNE 2020 – Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) and the province’s Legault government launch new website to promote bill 61 (Projet de loi 61)

It’s been one week since the CAQ released their controversial economic recovery bill, which has drawn fire from opposition, environmentalists, human right activists, anti-corruption watchdogs and more due to the large number of rules it would allow the government to bypass. So, to try to defend the bill, the government launched an even more controversial website, supposed to help people “separate the true from the false” denouncing the conspiracy against them.

But guess what? Following outcry, a few days later the website redirected to a very different page … and as of June 12, the link simply now directs back to the CAQ’s party home page (say “bye bye” to conspiracy theory, and hello to demagogy).

Check out the before and after:

Before:

After (since removed):

8 JUNE 20208 JUNE 2020 – Billionaire owner of Save-on-Foods Jim Pattison says he’s powerless to stop a $2 hazard pay cut for frontline grocery store workers … a few days later, Loblaws (owned by another other Canadian billionaire family, The Westons) and Metro followed suit.

The injustice and apparently blatant disregard for economic inequality in such decisions is staggering and must be corrected. Everyone deserves a living wage. And the hazards that low-waged essential workers face to keep society going (especially since states of emergency haven’t ended in all provinces) add urgency to this need. Read more in Press Progress and the Canadian Press. Take action through the link below.

4 JUNE 20204 JUNE 2020  – After weeks of oil industry lobbying to Canada’s Natural Resources Minister and others for regulatory rollbacks, the Trudeau government has exempted some offshore drilling in Newfoundland and Labrador from federal environmental impact assessments.

We’re written previously about Newfoundland’s oil lobbying (find the entries below). Now is not the time for the government to bend over backwards to meet oil lobby demands. The lack of a serious environmental evaluation process for such projects threatens not only our climate objectives but also increases the risks linked to oil spills and seismic drilling which further impacts already threatened whales. 

Check out the National Observer’s comprehensive list on environmental regulation rollback during COVID-19.

3 JUNE 20203 JUNE 2020  – A new Quebec government bill aims to soften and lighten environmental regulations on regulatory projects.

If passed, the law could put the environment at risk and speed up 202 infrastructure projects. Greenpeace spokesperson Patrick Bonin has been following this economic recovery bill closely. He said “If this is the Legault government’s economic recovery project, it’s clearly a missed opportunity and a missed turn towards what could have been a springboard” to a green recovery. 

1 JUNE 20201 JUNE 2020 – TD Bank charges $30,000 mortgage penalty to woman forced to sell home due to pandemic

Banks should not be profiting from the pandemic-induced hardship its borrowers are experiencing. Even if this doesn’t break any rules, it’s a moral failure. “TD is profiting by collecting this ridiculous amount of penalty, which is only based on the fact that the interest rate posted by Bank of Canada is so low — which was done to help people,” said Kristina Barybina, who was impacted by TD’s decision. CBC’s GO Public has the story.

1 JUNE 20201 JUNE 2020  – Bonifacio Eugenio-Romero, a migrant worker from Mexico, has died of COVID-19, despite previous complaints by workers to union representatives about the lack of proper protective equipment at the Kingston farm where he worked.

COVID-19 has exposed how the most economically disadvantaged and precarious workers are most at risk. This needs to change. Please support organizations leading the fight for migrant justice, like the Migrant Justice Workers Alliance.

31 MAY 202031 MAY 2020  – Greenpeace did some digging and we found that Ontario’s government is proposing to extend an exemption for the forestry industry from respected the Endangered Species Act.

This could be another step towards decimating species at risk, like caribou. Greenpeace nature and food campaigner  Reykia Fick said, “We’re concerned they’re taking the COVID moment to undermine environmental legislation that has nothing to do with the pandemic itself.”

31 MAY 202031 MAY 2020 – Amazon helps put the Keystone XL pipeline (and Canadian builder TC Energy) online with its web services, AI and automation tools.

Our colleagues at Greenpeace USA exposed how Big Data companies like Amazon, Google and Microsoft are enabling oil companies to profit from the climate crisis with their Oil in the Cloud report last month. Amazon has also faced criticism of its labour practices during the pandemic (see also previous entires). The news of the TC Energy partnership was released on May 13, but flew under the radar. OneZero has the full story on Keystone XL here.

29 May 202029 May 2020 – Lobbyists and industry interests of all stripes continue their full-court press. 

Not only did the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) log 41 meetings in April (including 1 with Environment Minister Wilkinson and 3 with Natural Resources Minister O’Regan), but we’ve also seen politically-connected developers reported to reap rewards in Ontario, while for-profit nursing home and health services lobbyists with ties to Doug Ford’s government and Canada Proud have also entered the lobbying fray. Meanwhile, Newfoundland oil interests have also renewed pressure on Ottawa to incentivize drilling and exploration.

29 May 202029 May 2020 – Conservative leadership candidates announce their ideas for economic recovery, including winding down emergency income support, repealing environmental laws, building pipelines and eliminating the carbon tax, the CBC reports

With the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis not going anywhere, now is the time to scale up climate action that will kickstart our economy, not recklessly rollback important protections and incentives for a green and just economic transition.

26 May 202026 May 2020 – Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage says “now is a great time to be building a pipeline because you can’t have protests of more than 15 people.”

And despite much trash-talk about the rest of the world’s oil by Canada’s pro-oil movement, Savage also came out supporting OPEC. Amnesty International’s Alex Neve aptly captured some feelings about Savage’s pipeline comments …

25 May 202025 May 2020 – Canada’s five richest billionaires got richer during COVID-19 … but they donated less than 1% of their wealth, Ricochet media reports.

David Thomson, Joseph Tsai, Galen Weston, David Cheriton and Mark Scheinberg saw their wealth increase by 9% since mid-March ($5.5 billion), found Quebec-based TaxCOOP. It’s no wonder 75% of Canadian want a wealth tax. 

21 May 202021 May 2020 – The Alberta government suspends environmental monitoring requirements almost all companies operating in the province’s oil and gas industry.

Now, a longer list of companies than before no longer have to do things like monitor fumes, test surface wasters in their operations, or monitor groundwater and soil until September. They also don’t need to do any wildlife monitoring. As the Canadian Press reports, “A University of Calgary professor of resource law said the list of exemptions is similar to the longtime wish list of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. Shaun Fluker suggested the pandemic is being used as an excuse to grant concessions.”


20 May 202020 May 2020 –  The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers is back with (you guessed it) more bailout demands, this time asking the federal government for $27-30 billion, including more money just in case more orphan wells are abandoned, as a host of tax breaks and fee waivers.

After their first memo was leaked last month, CAPP posted some of their other correspondence on their website. Their April 15 memo laid out more detailed demands around a federal loan program and tax breaks. In a shot across the bow against Alberta strengthening regulations to ensure polluters deal with their messes, the oil lobby was asking for the feds to set aside even more money for future orphan wells (letting investors walk away with profits while taxpayers are left holding the mop). Sources say that any new money for abandoned well clean up will only flow once the feds and Alberta agree on the new polluter pay regime. They also asked for some shiny new tax breaks and fee waivers:

20 May 202020 May 2020 – Major Quebec credit union Caisse de Depot banks on Big Oil and seeks gains in pharmaceutical stocks.

Not only is the bank investing in pharmaceutical companies poised to do business during the pandemic, but it increased its exposure to Suncor, the largest Canadian producer, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips. Journal de Montreal has the story. Caisse de Depot has a history of supporting fossil fuels and has long been the target of civil society efforts to have the bank divest or de-finance its fossil fuel liabilities.


19 May 202019 May 2020 – Gazoduq, a major pipeline company in Quebec, is asking the provincial government for a bailout to help build a new fracked gas pipeline.

The company has a host of lobbyists registered, and so far, the government has not closed the door to the possibility. Le Devoir has the story. Alongside other environmental groups, we’re calling for the Quebec government to officially decline to fund this project, which is at odds with Canada’s climate commitments. 

Want to stop GNL Quebec? Take action here.


15 May 202015 May 2020 – Amazon cancels $2 “hero pay” wage increase and double-overtime pay for frontline warehouse workers … even though the public health emergency is still going and Amazon owner Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world.

Workers have tested positive at Amazon facilities in Canada, including an outbreak in the Balzac, Alberta warehouse.The company has also told workers it will limit the amount of unpaid time workers can take off. PressProgress has the story. Earlier this month, Canadian software developer Tim Bray resigned due to Amazon’s firing of workers fighting for Covid-19 protection.


13 May 202013 May 2020 – Quebec’s government raises eyebrows by awarding a $1.7 million contract to the Canadian wing of global financial consulting giant McKinsey to advise the province on loosening the COVID-19 lockdown.

Opposition members and health professionals are wondering why health and epidemiology experts, such as from local universities, weren’t invited to advise on the planning, according to Quebec French-language newspaper Le Devoir. Ethics experts caution against the lack of public tender in the deal and the lack of transparency that goes with it.

11 May 202011 May 2020 – The Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA) calls on the federal government for “a suspension of all federal excise and carbon taxes on jet fuel and av gas”.

The call came in a letter to the Prime Minister and several Cabinet members. Despite seeming to shrug off the sector’s duty to pull its weight on climate action (Canadian and global aviation emissions are on the rise), the association somehow insists we’re #InItTogether. Airline workers deserve protection and support, but companies should still hold up their end of responsibilities to stop climate change. Even if economies are starting to re-open, the climate crisis hasn’t gone anywhere.

6 May 20206 May 2020 – Alberta takes its rollback of environmental monitoring under COVID-19 to a whole other level, suspending monitoring requirements for oil companies. Now polluters like Imperial Oil, Suncor, Syncrude don’t have to do much testing or monitoring. 

The Alberta Energy regulator posted the new rules yesterday. What’s new? Well, as of mid-March, companies still had to monitor environmental data but didn’t need to report it to the public (citing difficulties of reporting due to the public health crisis); now companies are even off the hook in monitoring. The Canadian Press reports that methane leak testing and almost all wildlife and bird monitoring has been suspended, while air quality programs (including those affecting Indigenous Peoples) have been reduced. This is deeply concerning for human and environmental health. We don’t know of any other place in the world that has taken environmental rollbacks as far as Alberta. Not. Good.

1 May 20201 May 2020 – Ontario allows “secret” lobbying to happen, allowing companies to ask for legal changes during COVID-19, reports the National Observer.

Premier Doug Ford’s government created an online portal for business to ask for regulatory changes to help them cope with the pandemic. On the surface, it may sound like a compassionate move, but (yup, you guessed it) there’s a catch: the portal creates a loophole in lobbying laws that help ensure transparency, which we all know is important to a healthy democracy. How? Under provincial lobbying rules, you don’t need to register or publicly disclose lobbying activity if you’ve been invited (in writing) to do so. Learn why a respected democracy watchdog organization is concerned in this National Observer story.

29 April 202029 April 2020 – CEO Alex Pourbaix of oil sands company Cenovus calls for a bailout for big oil companies

“We have had significant discussions with both the Alberta government and the federal government about the need for incremental liquidity support,” he said on an investor call, as reported in the Financial Post. We looked at the federal lobby registry and found that between March 12 and 31st, Cenovus alone logged 10 different meetings with 12 different government officials, including Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan.

Greenpeace is warning against a large-scale oil bailout and cash funnelled toward investors, which will make Canada’s economy less resilient to the coming transition off fossil fuels. Instead, any financial support should focus on cleaning up the sector’s environmental messes, financial support directly to workers and transitioning them into quality jobs outside the fossil fuel sector.

27 April 202027 April 2020 –  Regional economic interests ask authorities to expedite approvals for GNL Quebec, a massive fracked gas project (includes a new pipeline, Gazoduq).

GNL Quebec is a fossil fuel megaproject that would involve the construction of a fracked gas pipeline from Alberta to Quebec’s Saguenay Fjord (by the company Gazoduq), a gas liquefaction plant (by Énergie Saguenay) and an export terminal for tankers. The proposed pipeline route crosses Indigenous land and would generate 7.8 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

Now, regional economic actors in the Saguenay region are reportedly asking for an accelerated review process, telling local media that they believe the authorities should ‘prioritize the rapid relaunch of major projects under development in Saguenay, including GNL Quebec and other industrial and mining projects. Of course, these projects must obtain the approval of the appropriate environmental authorities, but through an accelerated approach.’

Want to stop GNL Quebec? Take action here.

26 April 202026 April 2020 – In the midst of a climate emergency, Newfoundland’s government asks the federal government for a bailout for coastal oil exploration.

The Globe and Mail reported that last month, provincial Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady wrote to her federal counterpart Seamus O’Regan (who has also been meeting with Canada’s biggest oil and gas lobby group) for support to the oil sector, especially to accelerate oil exploration off Newfoundland’s coast. An estimated 5.1 billion barrels of crude oil lay beneath the ocean floor in this region — oil we can’t afford to burn since Canada is failing to meet existing greenhouse gas reduction targets.

What to do instead? Well, workers in the industry are facing mass layoffs in the face of the oil price crash and COVID-19 — a trend that will likely continue as the world transitions off fossil fuels. This is the time to transition workers into quality clean tech jobs.  For a start, the Sierra Club Canada Foundation suggests that instead of funding Newfoundland’s oil expansion, politicians can support energy efficiency measures for individuals, industry, and municipalities that will create jobs and help save on electricity bills. 

22 April 202022 April 2020 – The auto industry asks Canadians to keep buying gasoline-powered cars.

Automakers deserve a shout out for pivoting quickly to produce life-saving ventilators in the face of COVID-19. This is proof that they can change their operations if the need is great enough.

Yet recently, the President of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association (APMA) told a local Windsor, Ontario, radio station that people should keep buying gasoline-powered cars right now, even though renewables are “the future”. APMA President Flavio Volpe says that a return to “a new normal” is coming, which will look a lot like the old normal. 

We say that automakers’ recent switch toward ventilators is evidence of the opposite of what Mr. Volpe says. Let’s call out companies’ attempt to “gaslight” us into thinking we’re stuck with “normal”, instead of being capable of leaping into a better tomorrow. The federal government is already eyeing a green stimulus plan, and more than 60% of Canadians think that the economic recovery from COVID-19 should prioritize climate action, according to a recent Ipsos poll. Plus, the auto industry has been under pressure for decades to transition to electric vehicles due to climate change and air pollution.

17 April 202017 April 2020 – The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) asks Trudeau’s inner circle for secret meetings and to hit the pause button on climate action.

Our friends at Environmental Defence uncovered a 13-page secret memo CAPP sent to federal Cabinet Ministers asking for a wishlist of items they probably would never have dared asking for if we weren’t in a public health crisis. In the memo, dated March 27th, CAPP asks for:

  • Vital protections against reckless oil and gas expansion to be removed (cynically asking the government to apply the “do no harm principle” — meant to protect people and nature — to industry’s financial bottom line).
  • Legislation on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to be delayed.
  • Their meetings (and with them, topics of conversation) to be kept off the books by suspending the legal requirement to report all lobby meetings with the government. 
  • Suspensions of environmental monitoring, like air pollution emissions (which in the midst of a pandemic from a virus that attacks the respiratory system, seems particularly egregious). 
  • Stop progress on all climate initiatives (we’d say it was unbelievable if we weren’t talking about an industry with a rich history of trying to derail climate action).

… and that’s not even all of it. Get the full story with Environmental Defence.

13 April 202013 April 2020 – Migrant workers reportedly forced into risky situations on Canadians farms.

The Toronto Star and other outlets have reported on the injustices migrant workers across Canada have faced during COVID-19. Some migrant farm workers have reportedly been expected to work without the mandatory two-week isolation period, the Star reported. By not enforcing the isolation period, farm owners would put the health of the workers in jeopardy. Workers have also reported a lack of access to food, employment protections and health care.

All of this is unacceptable for a vulnerable group of people who have been essential to Canada’s food security and economy. Farm companies must respect their human rights obligations now and after COVID-19. Healthy food shouldn’t come at the expense of anyone’s rights. To take action, check out Migrant Workers Alliance for Change and the Migrant Rights Network.

7 April 20207 April 2020 – Doug Ford’s Ontario government effectively suspends public consultation under Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights.

Following the lead of Jason Kenney’s government in Alberta, Ontario Premier Doug Ford suspended important environmental regulations in Ontario, particularly the requirements to consider environmental values or consult the public. As reported by CBC, the move allows it “to approve some projects without public consultation”. The rule will be in place until 30 days after the end of Ontario’s COVID-19 state of emergency.

The move was slammed by environmental groups, who worry that projects unrelated to COVID-19 could be green-lighted without adequate oversight. Our friends at Ecojustice called it “the latest in a series of moves the Ford government has made to dismantle environmental protection in Ontario”. The exemption is broad and doesn’t specify what projects really would be affected, which is why Ecojustice termed it an “opportunistic” kind of overreach.

2 April 20202 April 2020 – Conservative MPs Pierre Poilievre and Shannon Stubbs call on the Trudeau government to “speed up” the review process for the GNL Quebec fracked gas project (Énergie Saguenay natural gas liquefaction complex and Gazoduq pipeline).  

In an op-ed for the Financial Post, the two politicians called for the government to “remove obstacles” that prompted one billionaire investor to pull out of financing the fracked gas export project, reportedly due to “instability” and the “Canadian context”. By this, sources appear to have meant the nationwide rail blockades in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Nation in B.C. earlier this year. The Nation remains opposed to a different fracked gas pipeline, Coastal GasLink, proposed in B.C.

We say, the best way to make things stable is by making it clear that companies must fully respect Indigenous law, rights and title. No ifs, ands, or buts. Pretty clear, right? Instead, Poilievre and Stubbs (the latter, a Conservative MP from Alberta who has been meeting with Canada’s biggest oil and gas lobby) are asking to “put extra resources into the Impact Assessment Agency, demand it speed up the process and impose legal time limits on decision-making” for GNL Quebec.Take action to stop GNL Quebec here.

31 March 202031 March 2020 – As the price of oil free falls, oil and gas lobbyists logged 29 meetings with federal government representatives.

When Greenpeace Canada’s Senior Energy Strategist Keith Stewart logged onto the federal government’s lobby registry, he did a double take. Between March 12 and March 31, Canada’s chief oil and gas lobby group, CAPP (the same guys from the secret memo described above), logged 29 meetings on the topics of “Energy, Taxation, Finance and Health.”

CAPP’s lobbyists twice met with (Liberal) Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Natural Resources, and with Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs. CAPP also met with Alberta (independent) Senator Paula Simons, chiefs of staff, policy advisors and more. The Canadian Press called it an “all-hands-on-deck lobbying effort”. If CAPP got their way in convincing the government to suspend lobbying reports, we wouldn’t even know these meetings happened.

31 March 202031 March 2020 – The Keystone XL pipeline gets a major funding injection from Jason Kenney in Alberta. Construction on the Coastal GasLink &Trans Mountain Expansion pipelines pushes on, despite concerns from Indigenous and local communities.

For the most part, oil and gas pipeline companies aren’t letting a pandemic get in the way of construction. The Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Nebraska is going ahead with construction after the Alberta government boosted it with a billion-plus dollars of funding on March 31st. Construction is also underway on the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline and the Trans Mountain Expansion tar sands pipeline. Hundreds of workers in remote areas are currently living in “man camps” supporting energy projects, including new infrastructure — despite concerns of COVID-19 transmission risks raised by the Indigenous leaders.

Sneaky construction getting under your skin? Share our op-ed in the National Observer or find more ways to get the word out on our website here.

31 March 202031 March 2020 – Jason Kenney’s Alberta government rolls back environmental monitoring regulations.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s government issued an order exempting all facilities (other than water treatment plants) from reporting requirements under the province’s three main environmental laws. This made the Alberta government the first Canadian government to use the public health emergency as cover for rolling back environmental protections (in the U.S., there are nearly two dozen such initiatives).

One University of Calgary law professor, Shaun Fluker, pointed out that Kenney’s rules go further than a comparable move by the Trump administration, where companies were required to show a causal connection between the inability to report and COVID-19. Reporting in the U.S. is simply deferred whereas in Alberta it is suspended (companies are expected to keep collecting data but will only have to submit it to the government upon request).

Meanwhile, the province is refusing to allow Canadians more time to file statements of concern, even though it’s rolling back oversight. This could put nature and local communities at risk, and is purely in the interests of corporate executives. Read more in our blog here.

19 March 202019 March 2020 – Kenney and the oil industry ask for a bailout styled on corporate payouts during the 2008 financial crisis.

As oil prices crashed in Canada and around the world due to geopolitical conflict and the economic slow-down caused by COVID-19, oil companies asked for a 2008-style corporate bailout.  The Globe and Mail reported that Ottawa was mere days away from a $15-billion bailout for the oil sector. And among the sought-after policies were tax suspensions (income and carbon taxes) as well as a credit facility similar to what in the US is called a Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). 

TARPs would mean that the federal government purchases shares of companies in trouble like it did for the auto industry in 2008. These types of schemes put money right in the hands of wealthy shareholders and executives, which is why Greenpeace opposes TARP-style measures for the COVID-19 pandemic. Money should go to workers most impacted by the pandemic.

Update: With the help of tens of thousands of Canadians speaking out, the oil industry’s desired bailout was denied and federal support was limited to supporting employees, reducing emissions and cleaning up abandoned oil wells! Read more here.

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Want to know what industry is up to south of the 49th or around the world? Check out what our friends at Drilled have dug up in the U.S. and what fossil fuel project Global Energy Monitor is tracking during the pandemic.