"The Pulse of Canada "



Circles of Belonging

Posted March 23, 2015 by Ian Welsh

I’ve recently been reading about some Hollywood folks who are very concerned with how women are treated.  One of them, the director Lexi Alexander, tweeted the following: A crew guy just said that he follows me on Twitter & wanted to thank me because he has 2 daughters. Will it always take daughters to care? […]

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LNG in Howe Sound – Dr. Eoin Finn

Posted March 21, 2015 by Norm Farrell
Eoin (Owen) Finn B.Sc.,Ph.D., MBA, a 30 year resident of Bowyer Island, Howe Sound, retired KPMG consultant.

From Vancouver Observer

From the Spring 2014 edition of Rising Tide, a newsletter of Living Oceans:

We found it interesting to note how that same government reacted to a U.S. proposal for a tanker route passing through Canadian waters in Passamaquoddy Bay, New Brunswick. Downeast LNG is a proposed export terminal in Maine. Their preferred tanker route bypasses critical habitat for North Atlantic right whales and would see the tankers navigating a narrow channel with a bend. Sound familiar? But in New Brunswick, Conservative MP Greg Thompson leapt to the assistance of project opponents. Soon, the entire Cabinet was explaining Canada’s vehement opposition to the project.

Gary Doer, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., stated, “Canada continues to have serious concerns with the proposal to construct an LNG terminal on the Maine side of Passamaquoddy Bay. These concerns relate to the environmental, navigational and safety risks as well as the adverse economic consequences arising from the passage of LNG tankers through Head Harbour Passage, New Brunswick, which the Government of Canada opposes.”

Maxime Bernier, Canada’s new minister of foreign affairs, assured a citizens’ group that “Canada is strongly opposed to the prospect of LNG supertankers navigating the treacherous waters that lead into Passamaquoddy Bay between Maine and New Brunswick.”

In 2006, Stephen Harper said, “… there are well-founded concerns about the construction and operation of LNG terminals in ecologically-sensitive areas like Passamaquoddy Bay.”

Japan Feb LNG spot price falls a quarter to $7.60/mmBtu, Reuters, March 10, 2015

…demand from other major buyers South Korea and China has disappointed, reflecting weak overall Asian demand.

Spot LNG contracted in February for delivery to Japan averaged $7.60 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), down from $10.20 per mmBtu a month earlier, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) said.

Spot cargoes booked earlier and arriving last month averaged $10.70 per mmBtu, down 23 percent from $13.90 in January.

Asian spot liquefied natural gas prices LNG-AS for April delivery fell below $7 per mmBtu last month, trading at a discount to Europe’s benchmark UK gas hub prices,
as ample stocks, a mild winter and slowing economic growth have dampened demand in parts of Asia.

Goldman Sachs forecast last week that Asian LNG prices would dip to $6.25 per mmBtu in the third quarter of 2015, before rising to $7.00 per mmBtu in 2016…

From a letter in the Bowen Island Undercurrent by Anton van Walraven:

…the people of BC will see very little benefit and most likely will be paying foreign investors to take BC’s LNG. In a nutshell, BC’s royalties on LNG are not paid on units of gas but rather on the net-profits of the LNG producer/exporter. In other words, if there is no profit, BC will get zero royalty income. Norway, on the other hand, claims royalties by the unit of North Sea oil. It now has a trillion dollar heritage fund. Compare this to Alberta. Like BC, it claims a tax on the net-profits and its heritage fund is… empty! On top of that, add the subsidies and tax breaks offered by the Provincial and Federal government and the balance is pushed right into the red.

…the price for LNG has plummeted. For BC, the projection is now that it will take up to 15 years, after the first project starts up, before we see any royalties coming in.

The foreign owners of Woodfibre LNG are in it to make profit… they won’t pay taxes until all their start-up costs have been absorbed. When profits are made, will they ever pay any taxes? Maybe, maybe not. The profits can always be booked to the parent company Woodfibre LNG Pte. Ltd. based in Singapore, which has very low taxes for LNG firms. And Canada has an agreement with Singapore not to double tax when a firm is already taxed in one of the states.

Taking this all in, you might wonder why Councilors [Alison] Morse and [Gary] Ander show support for the Woodfibre LNG project, when the economic benefits for BC and Canada will be non-existent. Their support becomes stranger when we consider the negative impacts on the environment of Howe Sound and the impact daily trips of LNG supertankers through Howe Sound will have on the local tourism economies and real estate values.

It leaves me wondering how long someone can remain loyal to an ideology that is so counterproductive to our economy, health, environment and quality of life.

Washington LNG Blast Spotlights Natural Gas Safety, Reuters, April 2014

An unexplained blast this week at a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in rural Washington state, which injured workers, forced an evacuation and raised alarm about a potentially large second explosion, could focus attention on the risk of storing massive gas supplies near population centers…

Early Monday, a “processing vessel” at the Williams facility near the small town of Plymouth, Washington, exploded, spraying chunks of shrapnel as heavy as 250 pounds as far as 300 yards, according to local emergency responders.

The flying debris pierced the double walls of a 134-foot LNG tank on site, causing leaks. Five workers were injured, and local responders warned that vapors from the leaks could trigger a more devastating, second explosion. A county fire department spokesman said authorities were concerned a second blast could level a 0.75 mile “lethal zone” around the plant.

Everyone within a two-mile radius of the site was evacuated, and a bomb-squad robot was deployed to snap photos of the damaged tank to avoid putting workers at further risk. Some who did approach were reportedly sickened by fumes…

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Weight Gain With Methadone Treatment For Opioid Addiction

Posted March 19, 2015 by Arya M. Sharma, MD

Weight gain is not an uncommon phenomenon with addiction treatment. This has been reported both in smokers and in those with alcohol addiction. Now a study by Jennifer Fenn and colleagues from the University of Vermont report significant weight gain with methadone treatment for opioid addiction in a paper published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. The retrospective chart review include… Read More »

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Elizabeth May says global warming is saving us from a new ice age (and that’s a bad thing?!)

Posted March 17, 2015 by JR

In yesterday’s debate (at about the 28 min mark), Green Party leader Elizabeth May argued that human induced global warming is preventing our entry into a new ice age.  In other words were it not for AGW, Canada would soon be looking at being buri…

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Can Dietary Emulsifiers Promote Obesity?

Posted March 17, 2015 by Arya M. Sharma, MD

Emulsifiers are amongst the most commonly used food additives to improve the texture and palatability of foods ranging from margarine and mayonnaise to ice cream and baked goods. Now a study by Benoit Chassaing and colleagues published in NATURE, suggests that dietary emulsifiers may promote weight gain and the metabolic syndrome by altering the composition of intestinal microbes. The researchers … Read More »

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Climate Change

We know what our problems are and we do nothing or make them worse

Posted March 17, 2015 by Ian Welsh

I’m cranky today.  A friend asked me about California’s water problems, and I said: “We’ve known for years, and we’ve done essentially nothing.”  The problem in California is agriculture.  Every Californian could stop drinking and watering their lawns tomorrow, and California still wouldn’t have enough water.  California is draining its aquifers, and wells are going […]

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The complete inability to manage obvious problems: California Drought Edition

Posted March 14, 2015 by Ian Welsh

So, California has about a year’s worth of water supplies, and groundwater is being depleted so fast wells are going dry. This problem has been coming for years.  There should have been rationing, at the last, last year and probably before, since climate models indicated the strong possibility of the drought continuing.  Moreover farmers should […]

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RCMP should not stand for Secret State Police

Posted March 7, 2015 by Norm Farrell

The CEO of Tides Canada issued a copy of his recent letter to RCMP Commissioner Paulson. If anyone doubted the once iconic police agency had become servant to rich industrialists and governing politicians, uncertainty was removed by its decision that a mostly foreign-owned industry needed protection from legitimate discussion of public policy by Canadians.

There is an irony involved in the RCMP suggestion that a respected organization staffed and supported by people aiming to preserve the livable space of our nation is allied with extremist criminality. In fact, there are no examples of Tides involvement in unlawful conduct. However, the RCMP has been involved in many crimes, including theft, fraud, arson, assault, homicide and more.

When the Harper Government appointed Paulson, many, including serving members, hoped the new Commissioner would be a change from the misguided and incompetent leaders who preceded him. Instead, he has been an even unprincipled disaster, more loyal to government masters that any colleague. The cop who was supposed to be a master of purpose, principle and process understands little of those elements.

It is worth repeating Ross McMillan’s letter to Commissioner Paulson:

The recently leaked January 2014 RCMP report, “Criminal Threats to the Canadian Petroleum Industry,” incorrectly names Tides Canada as a part of an “anti-Canadian petroleum movement” involving violent extremist and criminal activity. The report also minimizes the threat posed by climate change and questions the link between greenhouse gas emissions and the continued use of fossil fuels. The report is based on patently false and biased information. We have registered our concerns with RCMP Commissioner Paulson in the following letter from Tides Canada President & CEO Ross McMillan.

February 26, 2015

Mr. Robert Paulson
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
RCMP National Headquarters
73 Leikin Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R2

Dear Commissioner:

I am writing to you regarding the recently leaked RCMP report, “Criminal Threats to the Canadian Petroleum Industry,” that named Tides Canada as part of an organized movement that opposes the petroleum industry. I wish to express our grave concern that the RCMP would produce a document asserting that Tides Canada, a respected Canadian charity, is associated with a movement involving violent extremist and criminal activity.

For the record, Tides Canada has not taken a stand against the petroleum industry. Our organization’s overarching position relating to climate and energy issues is that the country needs to transition to a low-carbon future while meeting our commitments to address climate change. We also believe that all voices should be involved in related public policy dialogue.

Tides Canada, in its 15-year history, has earned a reputation for building bridges between and among sectors to address complex environmental and social problems. Our ability to bring together diverse voices to develop durable solutions that support the environmental, social, and economic well-being of Canadians is at the heart of our success as a charity. We have a proven track record of working collaboratively with all stakeholders – including all levels of government – and building consensus on environmental and social issues of importance to Canadians.

The RCMP report leads the reader to a very different, and wholly erroneous, perception of Tides Canada. It uses biased and patently wrong information to make its case. The report’s broad brush and false depiction of Tides Canada as a key player in a nefarious movement is demeaning to your organization and a disservice to Canadians and the truth.

Could you please provide me with an explanation of how the RCMP produced a document with assertions about Tides Canada so biased and false?

I would welcome the opportunity at any time to discuss with the RCMP Tides Canada’s work.


Ross McMillan
President and CEO


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#GxE Autism Paradigm Still #MSSNG From Autism Disorders Research, Understanding

Posted February 18, 2015 by H L Doherty

Several years ago it appeared that a new paradigm for understanding autism disorders was emerging, one which would allow greater understanding of the cause, or causes, of autism.  Historically, as was noted by Teresa Binstock, researchers, and those who fund autism research, took the view that autism has  “gotta be genetic”.  By 2010 there was hope that finally the autism researchers’ obsessive belief that autism is entirely genetic was giving way to the GxE (Gene Environment Interaction) model.  With the CATS study it appeared that  GxE was actually being reflected in autism studies. Since the CATS study though it appears that autism researchers and those that fund such research, including Autism Speaks, have fallen back into their old, unproven belief that autism is entirely genetic.
Autism Speaks reported on  its MSSNG web site page the results of the recent autism genome research project:  
Surprising finding makes cover of Nature Medicine; study data becomes part of historic first upload to Autism Speaks MSSNG portal for open-access research

January 26, 2015
The largest-ever autism genome study reveals that the disorder’s genetic underpinnings are even more complex than previously thought: Most siblings who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have different autism-linked genes.”
The MSSNG project and page reflect Autism Speak’s deep embrace of the unsubstantiated belief that autism is entirely genetic.  There is no mention of the possibility that autism arises from gene environment interaction. Although there are now more and more genetic components speculated to give rise to autism disorders there is no mention of the word or concept of environmental factors or gene environment interaction as possible components of autism causation. Instead the gene researchers having failed to identify a specific cause of autism turn to an explanation that many parents, including me,  have suspected for some time … that autism is in fact a complex group of varied disorders or symptoms;  that autism is extremely heterogenous in nature and that autism should more properly be referred to as autism(s) or autism disorders.  What the gene researchers and their funding backers at autism speaks do not seem to acknowledge is that with the varied autisms, autism disorders or symptoms being recognized and with no specific causal bases for these mulitude of genetic factors it might also be time to re-xamine or at least consider the possibility that autism might result from GxE, gene environment interaction. 
Maybe someday the “it’s gotta be genetic” obsession will receive more critical analysis from autism “experts”. For now though GxE is still MSSNG in the mind sets and articles of faith of autism’s most prominent researchers and funding authorities for autism research.
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Posted July 23, 2014 by Mulder

Oh, the irony. the pine tree planted in 2004 near Griffith Observatory in memory of George Harrison will be replanted shortly because the original tree died as the result of an insect infestation. Yes, the George Harrison Tree was killed by beetles

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Salmon spawn in East Vancouver?

Posted November 12, 2013 by Darren

The other day–I can’t recall where–I read a story about salmon spawning in East Vancouver. It turns out that they spawn in Still Creek, near the…

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