Sandra Finley

Dec 122017

This posting is one in a set:

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Digest the Lab Report  as far as possible:

Hair samples contain

  • Essential / non-Toxic Elements   and
  • Toxic / Potentially Toxic Elements

If the Essential Element distribution pattern is statistically normal, then both toxic and essential element results can usually be taken at face value.”  (p. 1, Lab Report)

My hair exhibited a statistically improbable distribution pattern for the Essential Elements.   (So, don’t take results at face value.)

The statistically unlikely pattern  “suggests heavy metal toxicity or some other interfering process”.

DISCLAIMER:  The College of Physicians and Surgeons (Alberta) – – –  aren’t sold on hair analysis . (p. 3 t0p)

REFERENCE BOOK:  Hair Test Interpretation:  Finding Hidden Toxicities, by Dr. Andrew Hall Cutler.  Dec 2004. (p. 3 middle of Lab Report)   Phone order to (425) 557-8299 (from

HAIR SAMPLE, TAKEN AT AGE:    almost 4-years old


  • there are at least four red and purple bars . . .probability that this is by chance is less than 5% . . .  may be a manifestation of the accumulation of toxic elements.  
  • “Scattered Distribution” (fewer than 12 green bars) . . . probability less than 5%.   May also be manifestation of toxic elements accumulation.  (p. 3)
  • Right-Shifted:  18 or more green, red, yellow or purple bars go right (results lie above the mean).  “One interpretation of this is that the body may be “dumping” elements into the hair over and above (normal).  It is more commonly seen in children.  Some (experienced) practitioners (associate) this with a toxic influence such as a heavy metal interfering with the element transport mechanisms into hair.  It may also be a genetic tendency.  The right-shift should not be interpreted as an excess of the essential elements.  Rather, as symptom of perturbation (disturbed movement) in the element transport.
  • Lithium markedly elevated.  (In the 99th percentile)   note,  but doesn’t appear to be a factor in my case.
  • Sulfur below normal    – – Some authorities think that low sulphur can be associated with a high body burden of mercury.


  • Interpretations for some elements may be equivocal.  The distribution pattern of essential elements is statistically unlikely in my case … in which case the readings for the toxins aluminum, antimony, nickel, tin, & titanium are then often elevated well above levels which are actually present in other body tissues.
  • the right-shifting:  levels in hair may be “overstating” what might be present in the blood and other tissues. 
  • The highest readings (purple bars – – all above the 99th percentile) are for Lead, Cadmium and Antimony.
  • Next highest (red bars – – all above the 93rd percentile) are for Gadolinium, Arsenic, Cesium and Tin)
  • Yellow (above the 69th percentile) are Mercury, Gallium, Uranium, Silver, Aluminum and Nickel.
  • Aluminum (p. 6)  (yellow reading)   is believed to reflect body burden, even if the transport of elements is abnormal. . . . Children absorb aluminum more readily than adults and are more sensitive to toxicity. Aluminum can be neurotoxic and has been implicated in dementia.
  • Hair Arsenic (reading is red)  is thought to accurately reflect body burden.  . . . was widely used in the past as a pesticide .  ..Rice is notorious for being contaminated with arsenic;  rice pablum is an easily overlooked source . . . Maternal-fetal transfer takes place . . . Arsenic toxicity can result in peripheral neuropathy.  . . . may result in impaired cognitive development in children.
  • Cadmium (purple reading)  . . .  accumulates in the kidneys and it can cause learning disabilities and cognitive problems in children.   . . . and other bad things.
  • Maternal mercury level in pregnancy.  a 2010 meta-analysis  . . . concluded . . . the risk of adverse neurological impact on the fetus was significant when hair mercury level in the mother exceeded 0.3 mcg/g  (mcg = microgram. mg = milligram)(1 microgram = 1 µg = 0.001 milligrams.) My hair sample was 0.4 ug/g which is the same as 0.4 mcg/g (I think!).   As noted in Diagnosed with childhood polio, but was it polio or heavy metal poisoning?  (includes chronology),  my mother would have had a high level of mercury, most likely (a mouthful of mercury fillings).
  • Mercury –  is elevated (in my hair sample) in the face of a statistically unlikely essential element distribution pattern.  Retention of Mercury in the body may actually be the cause of the abnormal pattern,  Hence mercury may be disrupting the transport of many elements (including itself) into hair.  The mercury level reported here should not be interpreted as being reflective of body burden,.  Sources of mercury exposure include (“fish” would not have been a factor; “allergy shots” would not have been a factor; childhood vaccinations would have been) and silvery coloured dental amalgams as well as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  . . .  Note that children are more sensitive to the effects of mercury than adults.
  • Lead high  (a purple reading, 17 ug/g which would be 17 mcg/g,  I believe)  . . .  Children are more sensitive to lead than adults;  levels above 1 mcg/g may cause problems with attention and activity level in children . .
  • Lead greater than 5 ppm.   Use of lead-based hair colouring agents is widespread.  Hair lead levels above 3-5 mcg/g are probably due to use of hair colouring agents (No!  at 4 years of age I was not colouring my hair!)   . . .  If this patient is not using a lead-containing hair colourant, please contact the Medical Director at 403 241 4513 or 866 370 5227
  • Antimony markedly elevated  (purple reading) . . . Antimony is also found in gun powder;  individuals who frequent firing ranges and load their ammunition often have elevated hair antimony.  . . .   the elevated level measured here should be taken to be reflective of body burden. Levels in normal individuals in the literature range up to 1 mcg/g.  (The reading here is 0.5 ug/g. – –  which is less??) . . .  significance best left to the practitioner involved.
  • Tin – – may have been from uncoated tin food cans common in the ’50s.  . . . treatment to reduce body burden of mercury is often effective in reducing the hair tin level, as mercury causes the retention of tin in the body.  Chronic tin exposure can be neurotoxic, affecting balance, co-ordination, memory, vision; chronic tin exposure also results in malaise, fatigue and depression.
  • uranium – – go to the  Lab Report  to read about it.

ELEMENT RATIOS (p. 9)     again, please go to the  Lab Report.


Dec 112017

The Minerva Initiative  (American Dept of Defence (DoD)).

My original source of information,  an American DoD URL, no longer valid  But keep reading.  Minerva was re-branded, has a new website.

The Minerva Initiative is a Department of Defense (DoD)-sponsored, university-based social science research initiative launched by the Secretary of Defense in 2008 focusing on areas of strategic importance to U.S. national security policy.

The goal of the Minerva Initiative is to improve DoD’s basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the U.S.  The research program will:

  • Leverage and focus the resources of the Nation’s top universities. …


(Canada: the group of “research” universities, which includes the University of Saskatchewan (U of S), is referred to as the “U15“,  see:

When I see Lockheed Martin at the U of S, Canada’s  “Defence Strategy” (“compatibility” with the U.S.) developed in the same time period, and other “integrations”, I think it possible that the Minerva Initiative applies to the U15, as well as to American universities.

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I was very alarmed by the Minerva Initiative.

In March 2015 there wasn’t much information or awareness of it, adding to the alarm.

There’s more info available now (2017).   AND  I see (below, “Controversy“) that some people in the U.S. rose in challenge to it.  Good on them!


In 2008, the project was provided $50 million by the United States Department of Defense to fund research on five separate themes. . . .

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates commissioned the Minerva Initiative under the vision of “…a consortia of universities that will promote research in specific areas.”[4]. . .

Ongoing Research

As of 2015 the Minerva Initiative’s priority research areas fall within four categories:

I. Identity, Influence, and Mobilization

II. Contributors to Societal Resilience and Change

III. Power and Deterrence

IV. Innovations in National Security, Conflict, and Cooperation

A list of all research awards made since the start of the Minerva Initiative are listed at the program’s site: In 2015, the Minerva Steering Committee received over 300 applications (297 white papers and 46 full proposals).

(INSERT:  note that this information was taken from the same website as I used in 2015 – – the one,  and the URL is similarly invalid.)


The program’s funding of social science research for national security purposes has proven controversial.[8] Although many scholars support Minerva, at the program’s start a number of academic researchers sounded public alarm about the prospect of Defense Department funding for research. In 2008 the American Anthropological Association sent a public letter suggesting that the funding be transferred to a different body, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF). Hugh Gusterson, a prominent anthropologist at George Mason University, wrote a series of articles in a variety of venues that have attracted significant attention,[9]

“any attempt to centralize thinking about culture and terrorism under the Pentagon’s roof will inevitably produce an intellectually shrunken outcome….The Pentagon will have the false comfort of believing that it has harnessed the best and the brightest minds, when in fact it will have only received a very limited slice of what the ivory tower has to offer—academics who have no problem taking Pentagon funds. Social scientists call this “selection bias,” and it can lead to dangerous analytical errors.”[10]

The journalist Nafeez Ahmed has expressed concern that Minerva research, in its effort to understand mass mobilization, may be targeting peaceful activists, NGOs and protest movements.[11] Others believe social science should continue to emphasize security issues but worry that DoD funding will bias findings. One article notes:

“In an incentive structure that rewards an emphasis on countering global threats and securing the homeland, the devil lies in the definitions. In this framework, the Boston Marathon bombing becomes a national security problem, whereas the Sandy Hook massacre remains a matter for the police and psychologists—a distinction that is both absurd as social science and troubling as public policy.”[12]

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Minerva – –  the Roman goddess of wisdom and strategic warfare

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MINERVA  RE-BRANDED, with a new website.  2017

The Minerva Research Initiative

Supporting social science for a safer world

It appears that the new website was launched in January 2017.

There is actual content on 2 tabs,  “Home” and “Contact”.   The content on another tab appears to be a repeat of the “Home” tab; another has zero information, another has pasted-in paragraphs (duplication).

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2014-06-12   Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown, The Guardian

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OR, COVERAGE LIKE:   This video, June 2016, makes text from the original Minerva website visible,  a listing of the research projects funded by Minerva.  The list is revealing.  I’ll see if I can find it  somewhere else.   I didn’t find it on the  re-branded Minerva website.

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As an elected member of the U of S Senate, I had asked the Board of Governors to disassociate with Lockheed Martin, before knowing about Minerva.

Although many scholars support Minerva . . .   that would include people at the U of S!    Utilitarian arguments (money!) win the day, alas.

My letters to the Board reflect the usual:  the attempt to make a water-tight case means I sent too much information to them:

1.   2014-08-19 Request to Board of Governors, University of Saskatchewan: END the relationship with Lockheed Martin Corporation

2.   2014-12-11 U.S. Torture: ADDENDUM, Letter to University, end relationship with Lockheed Martin, ‘contract interrogators’

3.   2015-01-02 Reply from Board of Governors, request to disassociate from Lockheed Martin,

4.   The Minerva Initiative.  from Bill C-51, Elephant in the Room, the U.S.A.

Dec 112017

RELATED:   The Minerva Initiative

Social science is being militarised to develop ‘operational tools’ to target peaceful activists and protest movements

Pentagon Building in Washington
The Pentagon is funding social science research to model risks of “social contagions” that could damage US strategic interests. Photograph: Jason Reed/REUTERS

A US Department of Defense (DoD) research programme is funding universities to model the dynamics, risks and tipping points for large-scale civil unrest across the world, under the supervision of various US military agencies. The multi-million dollar programme is designed to develop immediate and long-term “warfighter-relevant insights” for senior officials and decision makers in “the defense policy community,” and to inform policy implemented by “combatant commands.”

Launched in 2008 – the year of the global banking crisis – the DoD ‘Minerva Research Initiative’ partners with universities “to improve DoD’s basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the US.”

Among the projects awarded for the period 2014-2017 is a Cornell University-led study managed by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research which aims to develop an empirical model “of the dynamics of social movement mobilisation and contagions.” The project will determine “the critical mass (tipping point)” of social contagians by studying their “digital traces” in the cases of “the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the 2011 Russian Duma elections, the 2012 Nigerian fuel subsidy crisis and the 2013 Gazi park protests in Turkey.”

Twitter posts and conversations will be examined “to identify individuals mobilised in a social contagion and when they become mobilised.”

Another project awarded this year to the University of Washington “seeks to uncover the conditions under which political movements aimed at large-scale political and economic change originate,” along with their “characteristics and consequences.” The project, managed by the US Army Research Office, focuses on “large-scale movements involving more than 1,000 participants in enduring activity,” and will cover 58 countries in total.

Last year, the DoD’s Minerva Initiative funded a project to determine ‘Who Does Not Become a Terrorist, and Why?’ which, however, conflates peaceful activists with “supporters of political violence” who are different from terrorists only in that they do not embark on “armed militancy” themselves. The project explicitly sets out to study non-violent activists:

“In every context we find many individuals who share the demographic, family, cultural, and/or socioeconomic background of those who decided to engage in terrorism, and yet refrained themselves from taking up armed militancy, even though they were sympathetic to the end goals of armed groups. The field of terrorism studies has not, until recently, attempted to look at this control group. This project is not about terrorists, but about supporters of political violence.”

The project’s 14 case studies each “involve extensive interviews with ten or more activists and militants in parties and NGOs who, though sympathetic to radical causes, have chosen a path of non-violence.”

I contacted the project’s principal investigator, Prof Maria Rasmussen of the US Naval Postgraduate School, asking why non-violent activists working for NGOs should be equated to supporters of political violence – and which “parties and NGOs” were being investigated – but received no response.

Similarly, Minerva programme staff refused to answer a series of similar questions I put to them, including asking how “radical causes” promoted by peaceful NGOs constituted a potential national security threat of interest to the DoD.

Among my questions, I asked:

“Does the US Department of Defense see protest movements and social activism in different parts of the world as a threat to US national security? If so, why? Does the US Department of Defense consider political movements aiming for large scale political and economic change as a national security matter? If so, why? Activism, protest, ‘political movements’ and of course NGOs are a vital element of a healthy civil society and democracy – why is it that the DoD is funding research to investigate such issues?”

Minerva’s programme director Dr Erin Fitzgerald said “I appreciate your concerns and am glad that you reached out to give us the opportunity to clarify” before promising a more detailed response. Instead, I received the following bland statement from the DoD’s press office:

“The Department of Defense takes seriously its role in the security of the United States, its citizens, and US allies and partners. While every security challenge does not cause conflict, and every conflict does not involve the US military, Minerva helps fund basic social science research that helps increase the Department of Defense’s understanding of what causes instability and insecurity around the world. By better understanding these conflicts and their causes beforehand, the Department of Defense can better prepare for the dynamic future security environment.”

In 2013, Minerva funded a University of Maryland project in collaboration with the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to gauge the risk of civil unrest due to climate change. The three-year $1.9 million project is developing models to anticipate what could happen to societies under a range of potential climate change scenarios.

From the outset, the Minerva programme was slated to provide over $75 million over five years for social and behavioural science research. This year alone it has been allocated a total budget of $17.8 million by US Congress.

An internal Minerva staff email communication referenced in a 2012 Masters dissertation reveals that the programme is geared toward producing quick results that are directly applicable to field operations. The dissertation was part of a Minerva-funded project on “counter-radical Muslim discourse” at Arizona State University.

The internal email from Prof Steve Corman, a principal investigator for the project, describes a meeting hosted by the DoD’s Human Social Cultural and Behavioural Modeling (HSCB) programme in which senior Pentagon officials said their priority was “to develop capabilities that are deliverable quickly” in the form of “models and tools that can be integrated with operations.”

Although Office of Naval Research supervisor Dr Harold Hawkins had assured the university researchers at the outset that the project was merely “a basic research effort, so we shouldn’t be concerned about doing applied stuff”, the meeting in fact showed that DoD is looking to “feed results” into “applications,” Corman said in the email. He advised his researchers to “think about shaping results, reports, etc., so they [DoD] can clearly see their application for tools that can be taken to the field.”

Many independent scholars are critical of what they see as the US government’s efforts to militarise social science in the service of war. In May 2008, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) wrote to the US government noting that the Pentagon lacks “the kind of infrastructure for evaluating anthropological [and other social science] research” in a way that involves “rigorous, balanced and objective peer review”, calling for such research to be managed instead by civilian agencies like the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The following month, the DoD signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the NSF to cooperate on the management of Minerva. In response, the AAA cautioned that although research proposals would now be evaluated by NSF’s merit-review panels. “Pentagon officials will have decision-making power in deciding who sits on the panels”:

“… there remain concerns within the discipline that research will only be funded when it supports the Pentagon’s agenda. Other critics of the programme, including the Network of Concerned Anthropologists, have raised concerns that the programme would discourage research in other important areas and undermine the role of the university as a place for independent discussion and critique of the military.”

According to Prof David Price, a cultural anthropologist at St Martin’s University in Washington DC and author of Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in Service of the Militarized State, “when you looked at the individual bits of many of these projects they sort of looked like normal social science, textual analysis, historical research, and so on, but when you added these bits up they all shared themes of legibility with all the distortions of over-simplification. Minerva is farming out the piece-work of empire in ways that can allow individuals to disassociate their individual contributions from the larger project.”

Prof Price has previously exposed how the Pentagon’s Human Terrain Systems (HTS) programme – designed to embed social scientists in military field operations – routinely conducted training scenarios set in regions “within the United States.”

Citing a summary critique of the programme sent to HTS directors by a former employee, Price reported that the HTS training scenarios “adapted COIN [counterinsurgency] for Afghanistan/Iraq” to domestic situations “in the USA where the local population was seen from the military perspective as threatening the established balance of power and influence, and challenging law and order.”

One war-game, said Price, involved environmental activists protesting pollution from a coal-fired plant near Missouri, some of whom were members of the well-known environmental NGO Sierra Club. Participants were tasked to “identify those who were ‘problem-solvers’ and those who were ‘problem-causers,’ and the rest of the population whom would be the target of the information operations to move their Center of Gravity toward that set of viewpoints and values which was the ‘desired end-state’ of the military’s strategy.”

Such war-games are consistent with a raft of Pentagon planning documents which suggest that National Security Agency (NSA) mass surveillance is partially motivated to prepare for the destabilising impact of coming environmental, energy and economic shocks.

James Petras, Bartle Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University in New York, concurs with Price’s concerns. Minerva-funded social scientists tied to Pentagon counterinsurgency operations are involved in the “study of emotions in stoking or quelling ideologically driven movements,” he said, including how “to counteract grassroots movements.”

Minerva is a prime example of the deeply narrow-minded and self-defeating nature of military ideology. Worse still, the unwillingness of DoD officials to answer the most basic questions is symptomatic of a simple fact – in their unswerving mission to defend an increasingly unpopular global system serving the interests of a tiny minority, security agencies have no qualms about painting the rest of us as potential terrorists.

Dr. Nafeez Ahmed is an international security journalist and academic. He is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It, and the forthcoming science fiction thriller, ZERO POINT. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @nafeezahmed.

Dec 072017

I phoned to voice support directly to the Indigenous Climate Action group.

What a difficult decision they had!  Turning down $150,000 isn’t something an organization can do every day.

These are great young people, smart, well-organized, fun, relentless, hard-working, and effective.  Well-networked.  They’ve been activists for years, are already seasoned through experience.

I am definitely making a donation.   I hope their reward for taking the high ground will be a rash of support and donations that will be more than $150,000!

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Thanks to Elaine:

Why our developing organization decided to turn down a $150,000 cash prize  –  Dec. 6, 2017  ]

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For Immediate Release

December 6, 2017

Indigenous Climate Action rejects $150,000 award from Aviva Canada due to moral conflict with Aviva investments


Amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton, Alberta), Treaty No. 6 – Early last week Indigenous Climate Action (ICA), an Indigenous-led climate justice project, received news they had won the Aviva Canada Community Legacy Award – a $150,000 award through the Aviva Community Fund competition. However, in a major turn of events, ICA made an unconventional decision to reject the award and cash prize because of a ‘direct contradiction’ between Aviva’s financial relationship with oil and gas projects and ICA’s vision, mission, and values.

Shortly after receiving news they were winners in the competition, ICA received information that Aviva plc, Aviva Canada’s parent company, held major passive investments (over half a billion  USD) in corporations operating in Alberta’s tar sands, including: Teck Resource Ltd (Frontier Open pit mine), Encana, Exxon, Imperial, Suncor, Chevron, Cenovus, Kinder Morgan (TransMountain pipeline), TransCanada (Keystone XL pipeline); and Enbridge (Line 3 pipeline). These investments, according to ICA, are in direct contradiction with their organizational mandate.

“We cannot in good conscience accept an award from a corporation that is financially associated with fossil fuel energy projects that violate the rights of Indigenous peoples and contribute to global climate change. Our organization is working to support Indigenous rights and address the climate crisis while Aviva is investing in corporations proposing or operating tar sands projects that threaten water, land, the climate and Indigenous rights,” stated Eriel Deranger, Executive Director of Indigenous Climate Action.

Aviva Canada and Aviva plc responded to ICA’s rejection of the award with openness and a willingness to begin discussion on divestment and how to move away from corporate investments in the tar sands. Aviva has already created the AVIVA: An Insurance Company’s Response To Climate Change (2016) and is a part of a move by the global insurance sector toward divesting from fossil fuels.

There are other insurance companies who are taking the climate risk seriously, such as Swiss Re who recently have limited their underwriting of shale gas, tar sands and Arctic drilling projects. We want to see a major commitment from Aviva to climate action alongside their community fund and scientific research and a broader commitment to finding the mechanisms to divest from tar sands pipelines and projects. We need Aviva to look seriously into their investment in projects that are violating the rights of Indigenous Peoples, furthering the expansion of the Alberta tar sands infrastructure and pipelines which pose a major threat to the stability of the global climate,” stated Suzanne Dhaliwal, Director of the UK Tar Sands Network.

ICA and many Indigenous communities do not feel there has been true progress to ensure the inclusion and protection of the rights of Indigenous peoples in the climate and divestment discourse, resulting in continued violations of Indigenous rights.

“Aviva invests in projects that are in violation of international human rights and Indigenous rights standards. Right now my people’s traditional food source, the wild sockeye salmon and our very survival is being threatened by the Trans Mountain project, while communities at the source have already faced decades of contamination and devastation.  Aviva needs to ensure they are on the right side of history and to do that, they must divest from projects that violate our rights and threaten our survival,” states Kanahus Manuel, a Secwepemc and Ktunaxa women at the helm of the Tiny House Warrior project – building tiny homes in the path of the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline.

As a member of a community actively challenging tar sands expansion, I was shocked to learn Aviva invests in Teck Resources. Teck owns Frontier Mine — one of the largest proposed open pit tar sands mine just 16km from the boundary of a settlement near my community. I hope Aviva will take this opportunity to understand why these corporations should not be included in their investment portfolio,” added Deranger.

ICA hopes their rejection of the prize will move Aviva to step up and show real leadership to adopt policies that result in substantive change. This moment could move Aviva, and the divestment conversation, forward to recognize Indigenous rights and cease all underwriting of tar sands corporations and full divestment from fossil fuels.




For more information, please contact:

Maryel Sparks-Cardinal, ICA Communications Coordinator



Quotes from Indigenous communities and allies:

“Kinder Morgan’s projects pose unacceptable risks to Tselil-Waututh’s culture, spirituality, economy and identity and denied us of our Free Prior and Informed Consent. We are working hard to restore Burrard Inlet and tar sands threatens this important work. We applaud and support ICA’s principled decision to reject this award. No amount of money can buy our consent or is worth damaging our waters, lands and people, because our spiritual reciprocal relationship with our lands and waters is unbreakable. We call on Aviva and any other investor of Kinder Morgan to divest from these projects and invest in our future.” — Rueben George, of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative.

Our organization is actively fighting TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline from crossing indigenous territories. We do this not only to protect the lands along the route but in solidarity with those struggling to protect their lands in the Tar Sands region. This fight includes divesting from TransCanada and all other fossil fuel development. We must continue to hold the line, physically and economically, against these corporations who wish to assault our Mother Earth for the benefit of the extreme energy regime. Divestment is key. Divestment is needed. We must hold the line.” — Dallas Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network

“My community has been challenging the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline, working to protect our water and rights while corporations like Aviva continue to profit off projects that wreak havoc on Indigenous peoples. Corporate greenwashing in an era of extreme destruction and greed is shameful. Canada’s petro dollar plan is a shaky one, in the least, and it is time to move on. The Indigenous leaders of our time call for a higher standard. If Aviva wants to support ways to combat climate change and support Indigenous communities, they need to divest from all dirty fossil fuels now.” — Winona LaDuke, Honour the Earth

“Aviva PLC should not be invested in profiting off the climate crisis nor off of indigenous rights violations, many insurance companies are institutional shareholders of many of the world’s oil majors. Whats disturbing about Aviva and the circumstances with Indigenous Climate Action being selected for their award, is that their parent company Aviva PLC is invested in most of the major oil extraction and energy transport companies involved in Canada’s controversial tar sands development. This questionable list include Houston based pipeline company, Kinder Morgan and Canadian based mining company, Teck Frontier. Both of these companies and their proposed projects are strongly opposed by Canadian based First Nations in the courts, on the streets and out on the land.” — Clayton Thomas-Muller,

Aviva is guilty of fueling the climate crisis and Indigenous rights abuses by investing in some of the most climate-deadly corporations of our time. To profit from investment in tar sands extraction and pipelines, then turn around and donate funds to Indigenous Climate Action is a gross example of greenwashing, and it won’t be tolerated. We applaud Indigenous Climate Action for taking this bold step to challenge Aviva’s integrity, and challenge Aviva and other insurance companies and investors to divest the tar sands sector.” — Ruth Breech, Climate and Energy Senior Campaigner, Rainforest Action Network

Eriel Deranger


Indigenous Climate Action

ph: 780-215-3915
skype: eriel.deranger




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Dec 072017

You will handle the following in your own good way!

In “The Golden Notebook“, author Doris Lessing writes:


“The other thing taught from the start is to distrust one’s own judgement.  Children are taught submission to authority, how to search for other people’s opinions and decisions, and how to quote and comply.

As in the political sphere, the child is taught that he is free, a democrat, with a free will and a free mind, lives in a free country, makes his own decisions.  At the same time he is a prisoner of the assumptions and dogmas of his time, which he does not question, because he has never been told they exist.  By the time a young person has reached the age when he has to choose (we still take it for granted that a choice is inevitable) between the arts, sciences and trades, he often chooses the arts because he feels that here is humanity, freedom, choice.  He does not know that he is already moulded by a system:  he does not know that the choice itself is the result of a false dichotomy rooted in the heart of our culture.  Those who do sense this, and who don’t wish to subject themselves to further moulding, tend to leave, in a half unconscious, instinctive attempt to find work where they won’t be divided against themselves.  With all our institutions, from the police force to academia, from medicine to politics, we give little attention to the people who leave – that process of elimination that goes on all the time and which excludes, very early, those likely to be original and reforming, leaving those attracted to a thing because that is what they are already like.  A young policeman leaves the Force saying he doesn’t like what he has to do.  A young teacher leaves teaching, her idealism snubbed.  This social mechanism goes almost unnoticed – yet it is as powerful as any in keeping our institutions rigid and oppressive.

… .  these are people whose whole education  has been just that – to look outside themselves for their opinions, to adapt themselves to authority figures, to ‘received opinion’ – a marvelously revealing phrase.

It may be that there is no other way of educating people.  Possibly, but I don’t believe it.  In the meantime it would be a help at least  to describe things properly, to call things by their right names.  Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this:

‘You are in the process of being indoctrinated.  We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination.  We are sorry, but it is the best we can do.  What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture.  The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be.  You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors.  It is a self-perpetuating system.  Those of you who are more robust and individual than others, will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself – educating your own judgement.  Those that stay must remember, always and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.’

… picking up books that attract you, reading only those, dropping them when they bore you, skipping the parts that drag – and never, never reading anything because you feel you ought, or because it is part of a trend or a movement.  Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty – and vice versa.  Don’t read a book out of its right time for you.   Remember that for all the books we have in print, are as many that have never reached print, have never been written down – even now, in this age of compulsive reverence for the written work, history, even social ethic, are taught by means of stories, and the people who have been conditioned into thinking only in terms of what is written – and unfortunately nearly all the products of our educational system can do no more than this – are missing what is before their eyes.  For storytellers and wise men, black historians, medicine men:  it is a verbal history, still kept safe from the white man and his predations.  Everywhere, if you keep your mind open, you will find the truth in words not written down.  So never let the printed page be your master.  Above all, you should know that the fact that you have to spend one year, or two years, on one book, or one author means that you are badly taught – you should have been taught to read your way from one sympathy to another, you should be learning to follow your own intuitive feeling about what you need:  that is what you should have been developing, not the way to quote from other people.’


= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

I thought the above might be helpful in understanding yourself.  From my observations of the world, people are born a certain way – you don’t get to choose which way.  Understand and accept and be grateful for who you are.  As you probably know by now,  you were not made to fit nicely into “the system”.  You could say, “Why me?!  Why couldn’t I have been one of those who is content with sitting in their place, doing what they are told, doing what they are expected to do?”  The answer is that you are strong – physically, mentally and psychologically – for a reason.  You HAVE to be those things in order to stick-handle your way through the game, one foot in the system, the other outside.



Dec 072017

Mysticism, and reactions of readers, to the mysticism


QUOTE:   P. 63 – 65  “I had experiences there that changed my life.  In time these strange things that began to happen to me when I was out on the prairie, not only in that particular field, but in others as well, began to come together for me to gradually form a shadowy but increasingly powerful whole.  I was discovering something about living in Nature that I had never heard anyone speak of, or read in any books, though it might have been in some of them if I’d had the eyes to read it there.

Many of my writer friends who love to spend time in Nature have their own numinous experiences  . . .  (of or characteristic of a numen; supernatural; divine. having a deeply spiritual or mystical effect.)  .. . .  communicating with wild animals, seeing things which aren’t there in the everyday sense, learning things from people who are not present, being flooded with new understanding.  I begin, despite official silence on the subject by much of religion and most scientists, to think that experiences are so widespread and frequent as to be the norm rather than the unusual.  It seems inarguable to me that, as Erich Neumann wrote in “Mystical Man”,  “Man is by nature a homo mysticus”.  

I have said,”This is the place where words stop,” referring to that moment when, out in Nature, not shooting, collecting, studying, naming or farming, we realize that an entity is present, or that Nature is alive, even that Nature has a memory.  I meant by this that suddenly there seem to be no words to describe, adequately our experiences, no familiar phrases or colloquialisms to fall back on, no single nouns or verbs which have been given over to the sole purpose of describing such awareness.

I think we have so allowed the scientific approach to the world to take over our perceptions that we are afraid to mention such experiences for fear of being laughed at or vilified.  When we do, we find ourselves stammering, struggling for words, never being able to convey in language to our own satisfaction exactly what it felt like or looked like or what sensations it evoked in us.  We struggle against skepticism, our own as much as anyone else’s, and in time we lapse into silence about them and a whole, valuable dimension of human experience remains unsung and unvalidated.

(RE Butala’s point:  we have so allowed the scientific approach to the world to take over our perceptions  – –    John Ralston Saul’s tome, Voltaire’s Bastards, the Dictatorship of Reason in the West, 1992, addresses the issue.   Or, his much shorter and more easily digested, “On Equlibrium“,  2001.   Excerpts from it are in  Understanding why we flounder, help from John Ralston Saul “On Equilibrium”.

It is hard not to be very angry with scientists for this loss.  Their unshakable belief in a materialistic, purely objective world has so permeated our culture that only in religious life are we allowed the slightest latitude in the dimensions of what we might call the “real”.  Scientists have specialized in narrowing experience, told us that the only truths possible are the ones they know;  they have developed specialized language the rest of us don’t understand and have elevated themselves and been elevated by us, to the status of those who know, while poets visionaries and mystics have been relegated to the realm of the crazy.

We use words like “awareness”, “perception”, “sense”, or “intuition” or a “sixth sense”. They are as close as our language, as far as I know, allows us to come to describe the way in which we apprehend experience that is out of the realm of the ordinary.  None of these words seem quite sufficient.   And as for describing the quality of the experience, its texture, color and the accompanying emotion, the way it permeates our being and floods us with new knowledge/awareness/perception, it seems to be impossible to find the right words and a way to structure them that will make our listeners believe us. 

Until one has had an experience of this sort, one cannot hear what one who has these experiences is saying.  Those of us who allow these experiences room in our psyches, who do not refuse or deny them, know we are walking a narrow ledge with psychosis on one side and scientism on the other.  It is a dangerous journey we gladly make, putting one foot carefully before the other, our arms out to maintain our balance, our concentration on the path absolute.  The world is more wonderful than any of us have dared to guess, as all great poets have been telling us since the invention of poetry.  To discover these truths we don’t need to scale Mount Everest or white-water raft the Colorado or take up skydiving.   We need only go for walks.

QUOTE:  Page 79  (contains references to some of the books that informed Butala’s quest to understand.

QUOTE:    “I began to see, in the place of emptiness, presence. I began to see not only the visible landscape but the invisible one, a landscape in which history, unrecorded and unremembered as it is, had transmuted itself into an always present spiritual dimension.”

QUOTE:   “If wilderness has anything to teach us, it is about our own weakness, our failure to control much less understand this earth onto which we are all born. And with this growing humility in the face of the unknown, slowly a sense of being in the presence of some great consciousness, other than one’s own, begins to grow too

QUOTE:  (I may add some more)

COMMENTS ON THE BOOK, with thanks to

Amna:  I appreciate her years’-dawning realization that we are completely different when shaped by urban environments than we are when we’re surrounded by nature. And I loved that she started having mystical dreams and experiences when she moved to the prairie. It was a reminder that this connection is always there, and just covered up by the busyness and noise of daily life.

Nelda:   I do like some of the telling of the spiritual experiences and in no way question their validity. The attempt to, analyze, and place these experiences makes them “less than” to me.

Valerie:   The cover says, “An appreticeship in Nature.” It truly was. She studied nature and awakened so much of her soul in her search. There were a number of things that were “flaky” to me, but I appreciated her thoughtful, deep study and presentation.”

Lee:   Her dreams annoyed me intensely, and her constant assumption of their profound meaning left me nauseated.  I cannot understand why any publisher would accept such a piece of writing and foist it on the reading public as worthy of its cost. Truly, one of the worst books I have read a part of.

Kristine:  Butala had courage to write her story especially as she says we don’t really have the words to articulate this “otherness”. Especially because she went through this metamorphosis in the 1980’s and wrote the book in 1994 – was anyone else admiting to such thoughts and questions?

Stacey:  I don’t typically write a book off and not finish it, but I couldn’t even get past the first chapter of this one. I just wasn’t interested in it at all.

Irene:   Give yourself a gift of the amazing openness of the prairie.

Dec 042017

I was looking for Dr. Vimy’s website.  He has been retired for some number of years.  Maybe his website is no longer maintained.  

I found this, and have sent a request for permission to use:    


Mercury detoxification should be seriously considered by anyone who has amalgam (silver) dental fillings. Amalgams fillings which have been used for about 150 years in North America are composed of an alloy of approximately 50% mercury, 35% silver, then tin, zinc, and copper. Mercury is more poisonous than lead, cadmium or arsenic. It is the most toxic non-radioactive metal known to man. Although amalgam use has declined in recent years, for many people it is the single largest source of mercury exposure.

Since 1988, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has required dentists to treat amalgam fillings that are removed as hazardous waste material. However, the various regulatory agencies as well as American Dental Association insist that putting “hazardous waste” in the mouth is safe. There is a great controversy over the dangers of mercury in your mouth. This page will give you some information about it and some ideas of what you can do for mercury detoxification and to reduce the effects of your exposure.

Quotes about Mercury and its Effects

Germany, Sweden, Austria and Denmark are moving to ban or phase out the use of amalgam. The Vancouver Sun, August 22, 1996

No government or professional agency has ever shown that mercury in dental amalgam is safe. Conversely, over 100 published scientific papers point to mercury released from amalgam fillings as a factor in chronic illnesses. Dr Zoltan Rona, MD, Health Naturally, Oct./Nov., 1995.

Mercury can damage DNA; the electricity produced from alloys can disrupt communication between cells. Mercury can induce free radical tissue damage, inhibit the activity of white blood cells, impair kidney function, and induce autoimmune diseases (MS, lupus, chronic fatigue) Dr. Zoltan Rona, MD, Health Naturally, Oct./Nov., 1995.

Symptoms of mercury vapour exposure can include: abdominal cramps, chronic constipation or diarrhea, gastrointestinal problems, irregular heart beat, pain or pressure in chest, chronic headaches, dizziness, tremors in hands, feet, lips, eyelids or tongue, ringing in ears, persistent cough, allergies, asthma, sinusitis, subnormal body temperature, anemia, joint pain and muscle weakness. Toxic Teeth, A Guide to Mercury Exposure From “Silver” Fillings by Dr Murray J. Vimy

Dentists are the third largest users of mercury on the planet and have three times the suicide rate of all professional groups. Twenty percent of dentists are on long-term disability due to mental or nervous reasons. Dental assistants and wives of dentists have offspring with higher birth defects and higher spontaneous abortion rates than any other group in the population. Murray Vimy, DMD, from a speech at the Nutritional Medicine Today Conference, May 6th, Vancouver, BC.

The World Health Organization says that from air, water and food, the average person will absorb about 2.6 micrograms of mercury a day. The average person with amalgams absorbs 3 to 17 micrograms. Murray Vimy, DMD, from a speech at the Nutritional Medicine Today Conference, May 6th, Vancouver, BC.

Dr. Murray Vimy’s and Dr Fritz Lorscheider’s three landmark studies in Calgary showed that after amalgam fillings were placed into the teeth of sheep and monkeys, mercury was absorbed into the tissue of the mouth, the jaw bone, the lung and the intestine. The main sites of accumulation of this heavy metal were the kidney and the liver. Dental Silver Amalgam Research and its Medical Implications, University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine, Dec. 1990

See a video of the emission of mercury vapor from amalgam-filled teeth:

Yikes! What Can I Do?

If you have amalgam fillings and are at all concerned about your health you should consider having them removed. Find a dentist that knows the proper protocol or you will be exposed to high levels of mercury vapor during the removal procedure. Dental work, of course, can be very expensive so if you can’t get it done or can’t in a reasonable time or even if you can there are things you can do for mercury detoxification.

Natural Agents to Remove Mercury and Counter its Effects

Cilantro, also known as Chinese parsley is a herb that can help to remove mercury, cadmium, lead and aluminum from body cells and the central nervous system. It is effective for mercury detoxification from within the cells of the body. The seed is well-known as the spice coriander but it is the leaves you want to use.

“Remarkably, without the help of any chelation agents, cilantro was able to remove the mercury in two to three weeks.” (Acupunct Electrother Res 96;21 (2): 133-60.)

I have put together a page of info on how to use cilantro including some recipes

Charcoal is a wonderful natural substance that can remove many toxins from the body.

“Charcoal is the most valuable single agent currently available for treating poisonings.” (Clinical Toxicology 3(1):1-4 March 1970)

Here is more information on charcoal. Charcoal would be an effective and inexpensive agent to use for mercury detoxification.

Clay has toxin-absorbing qualities somewhat like charcoal with the benefit that it can also supply the body with necessary minerals.

Liquid zeolite is a very effective detoxifying agent including for the detoxification of mercury and other heavy metals.

N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) is a strong chelator of mercury. It is an antioxidant often found in good antioxidant formulas.

So there is some info about amalgam fillings and the dangers of mercury. Personally, I am concerned about the problem, have some fillings left to deal with myself and more mercury detoxification to do. I have even learned to like the flavor of cilantro and grow it myself.

Dec 042017

Information and Action Request follows:



TO:   Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC)

FROM:  Sandra Finley


RE:   re-licensing of Chalk River Laboratories


AECL, a crown corporation, owns the nuclear operations at Chalk River.

CNL (Canadian Nuclear Laboratories) is a corporate, private sector, international conglomerate, set up to run the affairs of AECL.

CNL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of AECL.


  • ultimate responsibility for Chalk River belongs to me and my other buddy-citizens in Canada.
  • according to the CNL website,  AECL retains ownership of AECL’s liabilities. (Ref:
  • so, I and my tax-paying buddies will pay, in all ways, for the liability of  the accumulated radioactive waste AND any contamination that may result from it.   There are many more than 20,000 truckloads of radioactive waste sitting in central and eastern Canada waiting to be trucked somewhere for disposal.   With no place to go.  A HUGE financial liability, more than thirty billions of dollars’ worth.
  • my financial responsibility cannot be lessened:  insurance companies will not sell insurance for nuclear reactors, whether they are “Big”, or “Small”, or whether they have nice acronyms like “SMRs”.

The industry has some money set aside (because of citizen pressure) to start doing something about the accumulated waste, but not nearly enough.  It’s still “tax-payers to the rescue”.




CNL has sent out invitations worldwide, to the manufacturers of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) to use Chalk River, Ontario as the hub for the development and international marketing of SMR’s.

  • “Small” nuclear reactors produce radioactive waste.
  • MANY “small” reactors produce MANY “small” mounds of radioactive waste – –  widely dispersed around the world.

“Small” is mere propaganda;  many smalls make “BIG”.


And widely dispersed is worse than centralized.   Especially in a country the size of Canada, and beyond that, internationally-marketed.

Worse:  in a situation where the corporate interest is married to the Government, meaning that we’ve lost our regulatory capacity.   (Not many, if any, lovers are effective at policing their bed-mates.   Officialsare not supposed to sleep with people who may compromise them.)

Who are the brains behind this scheme?    It is in someone’s interest;  it is not in the interests of citizens.   I revolt.  I am tired of being fleeced.


The nuclear industry must STOP producing radioactive waste – – the Liability that it will not own.

“SMR’s” are irrational.  The promoters would be highly subsidized by tax-payers.   If it wasn’t so,  they would not be hiding behind the skirts of a crown corporation.   They would be out there,  able to survive in the economy on their own, able to cover the cost of the waste they generate, sustainable.   As a self-respecting commercial enterprise should be.


/Sandra Finley


= = = = = = = = =  = = = = = = = =




Please send a letter or written submission to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) at , commenting on the 2018 relicensing of Chalk River Laboratories (CRL) for 10 years (until 2028).  It is important to have many citizens’ voices on the record. Please send a blind copy of your letter or submission to .

The deadline for written submissions is very soon – Monday, December 11, at midnight. 

Please indicate your desire to make an oral presentation during the public hearings, to be held in Pembroke Ontario on January 24 and 25. A week or two before the hearings you can decide to come to Pembroke and make an oral intervention in person, or you can ask to make a telephone intervention, or you can withdraw your request to make an oral intervention altogether.  But by indicating NOW your desire to intervene orally, you will keep all options open.  We can probably arrange billeting if you decide to come to Pembroke.


Gordon Edwards




The proposed Chalk River licence does not go to Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL, the crown corporation that was in charge of Chalk River from 1952 until 2014), but to a private consortium of profit-making multinational corporations — two US companies, two UK companies, and the scandal-ridden SNC-Lavalin. [SNC-Lavalin faces fraud and corruption charges that will be heard in 2018.]  This consortium operates the Chalk River labs (that still belong to AECL), and manages the radioactive and other toxic wastes (that still belong to AECL also).


In recent years AECL itself has had its staff slashed from 3400 to 40 (!!) employees. AECL had been unable to recruit a permanent president & CEO, despite years of effort, and they have not had a full roster of seven on their Board of Directors until very recently (measured in weeks).  AECL is a hollowed-out shell of the corporation it used to be.




The main value of AECL is to funnel taxpayer’s money to the consortium, just under a billion dollars in EACH of the last two fiscal years.

The consortium is not only motivated, but instructed by the time-constrained contract under which it operates, to do things quickly and at minimum cost. Legally, AECL is in charge and CNL (owned by the consortium) works for them, but in reality it seems like a very slender tail trying to wag a very hefty dog. CNL = Canadian Nuclear Laboratories started out as a wholly-owned subsidiary of AECL but ownership was transferred to the consortium on November 3, 2014.


The current Chalk River licence was issued to AECL for a five year period in 2011.  That licence was extended in 2016 for another two years.  Next licence, to CNL, will be in 2018.  Chalk River has never been issued a 10-year licence before.


See  re. the 2011 licence and re. the 2016 licence extension.


Ole Hendrickson has done a careful comparison between the existing licence and the proposed licence, and he feels that there are many alarming changes that indicate less regulatory oversight, fewer requirements for reporting or for asking permission to do specified things, language that omits many of the words that imply enforcement — in short, Ole feels that the new proposed licence indicates a major step towards deregulation of the Chalk River labs, leaving the consortium free to do many of the things it wants to do without undue regulatory interference.  (Ask me for a copy of his analysis and I will provide it to you.)


What the consortium wants to do is quite alarming — but their detailed plans do not enter into the licence itself. CNSC will no doubt rule that any DIRECT discussion of these plans is “out of order” in considering the Chalk River licence. However, if the terms of the licence are quite permissive and non-intrusive from a regulatory perspective, then the protection of the public and the environment may be seriously compromised as these future plans are carried out. So, indirectly, some discussion of those plans can be “inserted” into your intervention.


(1) CNL wants to build a huge 5 to 7 story mound of radioactive and other toxic wastes (including things like asbestos, heavy metals, DDT and many toxic chemicals associated with reprocessing and isotope production) less than a kilometre from the Ottawa River. Originally it was going to include everything except irradiated nuclear fuel (the high-level radioactive waste).  CNL planned to include all low-level and intermediate-level waste in the mound, including materials that would require shielding to protect the workers and including very long-lived materials that would remain dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years. Because of the outcry from the public — mostly from the Quebec side of the border — including a number of town council resolutions against the project and a good critique from the Government of Quebec — CNL has said that it will NOT put intermediate level waste in the mound, but will leave it where it is on site. However the site is still unacceptable as a permanent facility, ultimately to be abandoned.


(2) CNL also plans to demolish about a hundred buildings at Chalk River, many of them contaminated. It also plans to bring radioactive and toxic waste to Chalk River from the Whiteshell Nuclear Research Establishment in Pinawa, Manitoba, and from four federally-owned nuclear reactors: the NPD (Nuclear Power Demonstration plant) on the Ottawa River, the WR-1 reactor at Whiteshell on the Winnipeg River, the Douglas Point reactor at Kincardine on Lake Huron, and the Gentilly-1 reactor on the St-Lawrence River.  High level waste and intermediate level waste will also be brought to Chalk River from these locations, but will not be put in the mound.  Meanwhile, however, the NPD reactor and the WR-1 reactor will be decommissioned by simply being “entombed” on-site, right beside their respective rivers, by dumping all the intensely radioactive debris into the sub-basement of the reactor building and filling the entire below-surface radioactive structure with special (as yet to be developed) grout.


(3) CNL plans to revitalize the Chalk River site, as instructed in the contract, by building new state-of-the-art nuclear facilities. In particular, CNL is inviting designers and manufacturers of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) to consider building their prototypes at Chalk River so that they can subsequently market them worldwide. CNL reports it has already received expressions of interest from many of the 90 or so potential vendors of SMRs, who see themselves as the vanguard of a “nuclear renaissance” that was never able to materialize with the bulkier reactors of today.  In fact the original talk of a massive nuclear renaissance has fizzled badly in North America and Western Europe.


Paragraph from the CNL web site.


“Canadian Nuclear Laboratories stands ready to assist vendors every step of the way; from supporting research and development activities to prototype deployment at one of our sites. A prototype SMR at CNL would be co-located with the world-class research facilities and scientists needed to solve key technology challenges with capabilities for fuel manufacturing, and examination, and novel waste solutions to efficiently move a project to deployment. CNL has an existing and broad site licence; we have operated several nuclear reactors on our sites safely over the last 60 years, with key supporting infrastructure and services – security, radiation protection, environmental protection, and many others – already in place.” 


THINGS WORTH SAYING IN YOUR INTERVENTION?? (Just some off-the-cuff ideas — feel free to improvise.)


1) A 10-year licence is unwise as there are very big changes being planned at the Chalk River site.  The consortium has been operating at Chalk River for only three years and should be kept on a short lease to ensure that the public and the regulator have ample opportunity to nip problems in the bud as CNL embarks on an entirely novel set of activities. A 2 or 3 year licence at most should be granted.


2) CNSC is the sole agency charged with protecting the health and safety of Canadians and the environment; as such it should not be relaxing licensing requirements but making them more stringent. All existing reporting requirements should be maintained and strictly enforced, and explicit permission should be required for each and every new facility on site, with regulatory approval and public notification required at every stage of development.


3) To enable future generations to deal with radioactive and toxic materials at the Chalk River site, as well as those being brought it from elsewhere, new licence requirements should be added to require that all waste materials be properly segregated, labelled, and packaged with a complete inventory of the contents of each package. Mixing diverse toxic materials together will make it extremely difficult for future generations to properly characterize the waste; and, in the case of failure of containment, to take appropriate corrective action.


4) The crown corporation AECL, as the owner of the site and the waste, and as the agency that has contracted CNL to operate the site and manage the waste, has had some serious ongoing problems with its management structure; the regulator and the public need to be able to monitor AECL’s ability to maintain control over the consortium. A shorter licence period is in order to allow for timely review of such.


5) The licence should reflect growing public concern over the long-term management of radioactive and other toxic waste products, including a set of requirements designed to keep dangerous waste materials as far away as possible from the Ottawa River, and to ensure that such wastes are packaged and routinely monitored so that leaks are readily detected and repairs can be expeditiously made for centuries to come.


Gordon Edwards



Nov 302017


stories from this episode
  • Harry Leslie Smith

    94-year-old podcaster Harry Leslie Smith says he’ll ‘drop dead’ before he stops fighting for equality

    Harry Leslie Smith says he’s seen humanity at its best — and worst. The 94-year-old has lived through poverty, war and the Great Depression and warns a younger generation to heed his message: Don’t let my past be your future.

    Listen 24:53


    TRANSCRIPTAs Harry Leslie Smith sees it, his life “is at eventide.”

    But the 94-year-old author and activist isn’t letting that stop him from speaking out and trying to make a difference.

    ‘Life is not good anymore for ordinary people.’ – Harry Leslie Smith

    The British-born Smith, who now makes his home in Canada, is spending his old age writing books, speaking at political gatherings, and podcasting to tens of thousands of listeners about the lessons he’s learned through his life story — and what a story it is.

    Harry Leslie Smith

    Harry Leslie Smith in Hamburg, Germany, May 1945. Smith has survived extreme poverty in his childhood; the Great Depression; the Second World War; and later in life, the loss of his wife and one of his three sons. (Harry Leslie Smith)

    Smith survived a childhood of extreme poverty in Yorkshire, England, the Great Depression, the Second World War, and later, while living in Canada, the loss of his wife and one of his three sons. As he puts it, he has seen humanity at its best — and worst.

    ‘I’m worried because I like people, I love people, and I know what it’s like when people suffer.’ – Harry Leslie Smith

    But now he fears the world risks repeating past mistakes, and he’s warning a younger generation to protect the values and gains he helped fight for — especially the welfare state.

    Harry Leslie Smith

    Harry Leslie Smith, 1941. This photo was taken at age 18 after basic training in the Royal Air Force. (Harry Leslie Smith)

    “I can see already that we are retreating back to my past,” he tells The Current’s host Anna Maria Tremonti.

    “Life is not good anymore for ordinary people.”

    Smith blames government cuts to social programs, made in the name of austerity, and income inequality for turning back the clock on the progress made during his lifetime. It’s a lifetime in which he went from living in hunger, with no access to health care, to witnessing the creation of Britain’s National Health Service.

    “I’m worried because I like people, I love people, and I know what it’s like when people suffer … when you go to bed at night with an empty stomach and you wake up in the morning with an empty stomach. And all you can feel as a kid is that rumble in the centre of your stomach when you’re trudging to school, and you don’t know what to do to fill that void.”


    Smith explains he was spurred to action after the 2007-08 financial crisis.

    In his podcast series Harry’s Last Stand, and his latest book Don’t Let My Past Be Your Future, Smith urges young people to protect the values of equality and inclusion.

    ‘Hopefully I can change the world’s thinking about refugees … We are all human beings.’ – Harry Leslie Smith

    He also takes to social media to get his message out.

    Smith has 135,000 followers on Twitter, and he recently started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for his next project — a book about the global refugee crisis. Smith wants to tour refugee hot spots to learn about their plight.

    “I want to see how they are reacting to what is happening to their world,” he tells Tremonti.

    “Hopefully I can change the world’s thinking about refugees … We are all human beings.”

    Harry Leslie Smith Calais Jungle

    Harry Leslie Smith in the Calais Jungle, a refugee and migrant encampment in use from January 2015 to October 2016 in Calais, France. (Harry Leslie Smith )

    Smith says he won’t stop working to advance the causes he believes in until his last breath.

    “I’ll be doing this ’til I drop dead,” he says.

    “I don’t think there’s any greater challenge than to get people to wake up to a society that is taking advantage of their good nature,” Smith says.

    “It’s time … that there will be a mini-revolution or something.”

    Listen to the full conversation above.

    This segment was produced by The Current’s Idella Sturino. 

Nov 302017


The Government of Canada is undertaking a broad review of Canada’s Criminal Justice System to ensure that it is just, compassionate and fair, and promotes a safe, peaceful and prosperous Canadian society. Find out more about why we are doing this.

Your input in this consultation will help the department understand what Canadians expect from the Criminal Justice System. The consultation is taking place until January 15, 2018. You can participate in the following ways:

How to Participate

Complete the Online Choicebook

Learn more about the issues facing Canada’s Criminal Justice System by reading the Choicebook, an interactive educational tool, and providing your feedback on how the Criminal Justice System can be improved. In thinking through these issues, imagine what an effective Criminal Justice System would look like to you in the future. The Choicebook will be open until January 15, 2018.

Join the Online Discussions

Hear stories first hand from people in the Criminal Justice System, and join other Canadians in a dialogue on five key issues. The online discussions will be open until January 15, 2018.

Twitter Townhalls

Join online conversations on the Criminal Justice System. Details on dates and times will be available shortly.

Email submissions

If you have views on the approach and actions that Canada needs to take to transform the Criminal Justice System, we welcome your input by email:

Why are we doing this?

Canada’s Criminal Justice System has a strong foundation, yet it is facing many challenges.

Whether it’s supporting victims of crime more effectively, reducing the number of vulnerable and marginalized people in the system, or completing cases faster, it’s clear that change is needed. It’s important for Canadians to think about these issues and what can be done to improve the system.

As part of this process, we are providing Canadians with an opportunity to have their say through an online discussion on a range of topics and issues related to the Criminal Justice System. For more information on these subjects, read the Criminal Justice System Primer.

These consultations are part of the Criminal Justice System review, which has involved working with stakeholders and provincial and territorial counterparts on determining what works well and where there is room for improvement in the current system. Criminal Justice System reform will take time and will continue on well into future years. The government’s vision of this broad reform is to ensure long-term safety and justice for all Canadians. A report on what we heard during this consultation will be published in winter 2018.

Read more about the transformation of the Criminal Justice System here.

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