Sandra Finley

Aug 282019

New owners of Revelstoke water bottling plant shipping water to Vancouver facility while they re-build plant


Marke Antonsen

The new owners of the Revelstoke water bottling plant are selling their product in the United States and in town.

Revelstoke Artesian Spring Water can bought at the Esso gas station and Big Eddy Market, said Marke Antonsen, who purchased the plant along with several other investors earlier this year.

It is also being sold in the United States, and Antonsen said they hope to sell bottles in China in the foreseeable future.

The water bottling plant is located off the Trans-Canada Highway, about 50 kilometres east of Revelstoke. It’s been closed since September 2009 and fell into disrepair when the building collapsed under a heavy snow load in March 2012.

“We cleaned it all up, it took $30,000 to $40,000 worth of dump fees to get rid of all of it,” said Antonsen.

While work goes on to re-build the plant, the owners are pumping the water into tanker trucks and transporting it to Vancouver, where it’s bottled. As of last week, five truckloads of 43,000 litres each made the trip, said Antonsen.

The plant comes with a license to withdraw about 1.2 million litres of water per year from 10 springs near the Illecillewaet River.

Antonsen dropped by the Review office with a case of 500 ml plastic bottles last Monday, Oct. 17. He said the bottles are a short-term measure until they purchase their own packaging equipment for the plant.

“We’re going to do bag-in-a-box, and we’re looking at TetraPak,” he said. “The plan is not to bottle there, it’s strictly environmentally-friendly packaging material. That’s the plan.”

He said he’ll be traveling to Pack Expo International in Chicago next month to make a final determination on what packaging equipment to buy.

Once that’s done, they’ll be going into the site in the spring to rebuild the plant and install the equipment.

The water boasts a pH of 8, which some say is better for you, though there is debate about the merits of what is called high alkaline water.

The water currently wholesales for $0.50 per bottle, Antonsen said.

Aug 252019

Return to INDEX

In regard to the “Strathcona Resolution”  to stop the export of groundwater from B.C.

(NOTE:  Links to More history on Water Export is under HISTORY in the INDEX)

As at August 2019:

  • Ontario exports groundwater but is currently under a moratorium, triggered by drought and citizen opposition.
  • Newfoundland did have a moratorium, maybe still does?  – – in 1999, there was to have been bulk export of water from Gisborne Lake, Nfld.  A pipe would run to a proposed tanker terminal on the Atlantic coast.  Public opposition, negotiations with the Federal Govt and a deal NOT to export the water was signed.

I happened to have attended a seminar for entrepreneurs by the Federal Govt, in the middle 1990’s.  The seminar leaders told attendees that if you want to make money, you should get into water; I was dismayed, needless to say.  Gisborne Lake came after that.  So, Govt officials promoted the export of water, and then had to backtrack because of opposition.  But, before that . . .


The Resolution on export of groundwater is central in the history of the Trade Deals.

Canada signed the FTA  “at the 11th hour” because (as was told to Canadians) the U.S. would not sign a Trade Deal that contained an Exemption on Water. Canadians had insisted there was to be no trade in water.  The exemption was in the drafts leading up to the 11th hour.  Gone   from the final deal.

United States-Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA)

This agreement was signed by President Reagan and Prime Minister Mulroney on January 2, 1988 and, after implementing legislation was enacted in the United States and Canada, the Agreement entered into force on January 1, 1989. Its main purpose is to eliminate all tariffs on trade between the U.S. and Canada by January 1, 1998. The FTA was superseded by NAFTA on Jan. 1, 1994.

Canadians have laboured under the “11th hour” lie.  Today more documentation is accessible.  It was not the U.S. alone that wanted removal of the exemption. The Canadian Government, Chief Negotiator Simon Reisman and business interests were equally part of the force that brought about removal of the exemption on trade in water.


2008-02-17 Water: Highgate Dam in context of water shortages in the U.S.. Includes water under Free Trade Agreement  (Successful battle – stopped the Highgate Dam)

Following the election of Mulroney (1984), Simon Reisman sent the new prime minister a memo advocating free trade negotiations with the United States. Mulroney accepted Reisman’s plan and, in 1985, tapped him to lead Canada’s trade negotiations with the United States.

(Aside:  Mulroney was Prime Minister from Sept, 1984, to June, 1993.   Kim Campbell became leader when Mulroney stepped down, having become “the most unpopular prime minister in Canadian history” according to the Washington Post.  Arguably because of the Trade Agreements.)

– – – – – – – – –

 “To the Last Drop”, published in 1986, author Michael Keating: Simon Reisman was Canada’s chief negotiator for NAFTA under then-Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.  In a speech to influential business interests, Reisman said that the balance of power on the North American continent would shift because Canada has water that the U.S. wants.  All we have to do is to put a meter on a tap at the 49th parallel, and collect the royalties as the water flows south.  (Those would be dividends if you are an investor.)  The infrastructure costs seem insurmountable, but the Americans want the water; they’ll cover infrastructure costs.

(Infrastructure costs, at the time, for the export of water: “The Grand Canal” to divert water from James Bay (southern appendage to Hudson Bay) down through the Great Lakes to the eastern U.S.;  a series of dams to divert water from Lake Athabasca, northern Saskatchewan, south;  the “Rocky Mountain Trench” for diversion to California and other western states.)

OLDER:   The book, “Water and Free Trade”, excerpts on the internet, provides more details:  page 13,  Prior to being appointed Canada’s chief free trade negotiator, Simon Reisman was one of the most vocal advocates of proposals to sell Canadian water to the United States.

The book appears to cover most of the important bases for understanding the export of water?  The book also describes efforts in B.C. by business people who were opposed to the trade in water.   I did not know about the book until now  (Jan. 2019.  It came up in an internet search.  I haven’t read it.)

Whose interests in water were represented by our trade negotiator, Simon Reisman, and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney?  Monied interests, from both sides of the border.  As I say, this Resolution from Strathcona to stop groundwater export has connections to the first trade deals with the U.S. – – the TRADE IN WATER was to have been exempted.  With fox in the hen house?

Trade Deals have been used to try and leverage water out from under democratic control,

so “equity interests” can be created.

A clause on oil and gas in the Trade Deal applies also to water:

The Trade Deal established that if some percentage of our oil and gas is exported to the U.S., that same percentage has to be maintained, even if supplies are running short in the Canadian market. That’s a chilling thought if you live in Saskatchewan where temperatures can go to minus 40 degrees!  and minus 20 is not unusual.  The  logic?  If heating gas becomes limited, Saskatchewanians will just have to freeze;  the BBQ’s in Florida must perform.

It struck me: that’s not different from the British and French in the 1800’s, and the trading relationship with Indians (First Nations).   The homelands were enriched by that which prairie people were dependent upon for keeping themselves warm, fed and healthy (buffalo and beaver).  In the beginning, the First Nations did not understand that the markets they were supplying could never be satisfied.  The market was simply too large.

We know the results for First Nations people on the Prairies.  Impoverishment.  The same story is repeated time and again through history; only the place and the product are different.

Fast forward: the furs are gone. Then under the Trade Deals, we gave up control of a resource (oil and gas) we are dependent upon in a cold climate.  We are all “the Indians”, in terms of being manipulated by outside powers and their quislings, I concluded.   Then it was oil and gas; now it’s water.

Water export in today’s world, supported and promoted by the Federal Government, means

we lose control of a gift upon which we are dependent.


(For more information, do a web search on “trade deal exemption on water”.)


Aug 242019
Richard Belanger and Sara Ward presented their plans for a new water bottling facility to Canal Flats residents on Thursday August 15th. Photo by Lizzie Midyette

Water bottling facility proposed in Canal Flats

Source of the Columbia Beverages Inc. promises jobs and financial investment into community

By Dean Midyette

Special to the Pioneer

At an open house held on Thursday August 15th, it was clear that the proponents of the new water bottling plant in Canal Flats are focused on realizing an aggressive timeline and are driven to success. CEO Richard Belanger and Director of Sales and Marketing Sara Ward met with residents, presented their plans to the community and answered questions about their new business venture.

The Source of The Columbia Beverages Inc. plans to construct a 7,000 square foot, $3 million water bottling facility that will be situated on the south side of Highway 95 in the northwest corner of The Flats RV Campground and will have the capacity to fill 6,000 500 ml bottles per hour*.

Mr. Belanger is a professional engineer whose resume includes international work with Bombardier and General Electric while Ms. Ward comes from a real estate background as well as having owned and operated an 18 hole executive golf course outside of Edmonton. The bottling plant will create 14 full time jobs initially, increasing to 22 full time positions when the facility reaches full capacity. New wells will be drilled near the facility to supply the plant and the village’s existing water supply will not be accessed.

Production is scheduled to begin in January 2020 and securing a water license is the primary focus for the project.

During the presentation, Mr. Belanger and Ms. Ward were very clear that they were committed to developing a business that is respectful to their employees, promising well paying full time employment, respect for environmental considerations and committing to supporting the community through infrastructure investments and programs like the food bank.

Mayor Karl Sterzer commented, “We were pleased to hear of the proposal by Mr. Belanger and his partner Sarah Ward regarding the water bottling facility proposed for Canal Flats. As we receive applications from their group we will proceed accordingly. In addition to The Source of The Columbia Beverages Inc,. the Village is currently engaged with several suitors for new businesses in Canal Flats and remain committed to engaging with the investors as they work through the approvals process.”

“We are not trying to be a large conglomerate”, noted Mr Belanger, adding that the type of aquifer upon which Canal Flats sits does not lend itself to large commercial extraction. What it does offer, he emphasized, is some of the purest water in North America.

To find out more about the project, visit their Facebook page at The Source of the Columbia Beverages.

Adolfo Hungrywolf

Smooth talking outsiders have been the curse of countless communities throughout the world!
Water and air—what would we do without them?
Stop this!!
Neil Hudson

Another company trying the same thing in Golden–I realize Canal Flats is suffering right now but I hope you don’t allow this industry to set up shop–plastics are an ecological disaster
Patricia Schwartz

They will have an unlimited supply of cheap water which will be a precious resource in future years. Is this really what we want?
Debbie Kilroe Tross

The people in the Valley needs to stop this asap!
Kim Hutton

I sincerly hope it is not going to be plastic bottles…….
Maye Afonso Hollick

Was it not said at the meeting that they would be taking 6000 bottles worth of water every HOUR 24/7 ??
Albert Bond

that is also what I heard.
Kim Hutton

6000 bottles per day…’initially” that leaves the door pretty wide open for much more….
Lorene Keitch

Hi Maye and Albert, thank you for raising this question. We talked to the proponent today, who confirmed they could produce 6,000 bottles per hour, not per day as our story initiallly stated. The Pioneer apologizes for this error.
Maye Afonso Hollick

Lorene Keitch Thank you for calling me back about this.. and for correcting it, the amount of water, as they mentioned at the meeting, of taking 6000 bottles worth of water per hour, is a very major part of the concern I have for our ecosystem.
Craig Johnson

Maye Afonso Hollick you also realize that most of the farms in the Vally far exceed this amount of consumption…. I’m just saying.
Carl Murphy

Craig Johnson hopefully they will be paying more than $2.25 per million litres
Let’s not forget the exploiting #nestlecanada has done for years
Aug 242019

GoldenKey Investment Group is drilling test wells on Fisher Road.

Investment group plans to build water bottling facility in Golden

GoldenKey Investments Group has purchased a 20-acre parcel of land on Fisher Road, and has begun steps toward building a water bottling facility.

The company focuses on investments, specializing in natural resources like coal, iron, gold, and spring water. The 20 acres of land will be divided up, using five acres for the bottling facility, and the remaining 15 is expected to go toward modern housing.

“We plan to use five acres of land to build a state-of-the-art water bottling facility, and to develop the rest of the 15 acres of land for modern residential buildings,” said GoldenKey Investments Group marketing manager Nik Yao.

On July 31, the company drilled a test well on the property to begin a feasibility study of the water source.

“The test well location was determined by our hydrogeological engineer and was approved by the Interior Health Authority,” Yao said. “We are expecting a comprehensive report regarding the water source and the aquifer from our hydrogeological engineer by the end of September. The report will tell us whether the water source qualifies under the provincial government’s regulations or not.”

The well drilling was authorized by the province, and no formal applications have been made to the Town of Golden for rezoning the property to allow for for the commercial business. The developer has been in discussions with Town of Golden staff, who often discuss potential developments before they happen.

“The developer was encouraged to go into the community with this proposal,” said Town of Golden CAO Jon Wilsgard.

After the hydrogeological engineering report is completed in September, GoldenKey Investments Group plans to host a community meeting to inform citizens of the proposed project.

“We plan to host a public meeting regarding the water plant after we receive the comprehensive report by our hydrogeological engineer by the end of September,” Yao said.

Already, GoldenKey has hired local contractors and service providers for the test well, and plans to use local labour in the future, Yao said. Once the facility is built, GoldenKey will hire between five and 10 employees to run the operation.

“We also want to use local contractors for the 15 acres residential development,” Yao said.

GoldenKey investments Group had been searching for a B.C. water source on a good-quality aquifer. The company already has a bottling facility in Toronto, Ont.

“We found the water we were looking for in Golden. And, by coincidence, GoldenKey shares a similar name with Golden. We fell in love with the beauty of Golden and decided [to] have a try,” Yao said. “Our intention is that the project will provide economic and social benefits to the community.”

The aquifer GoldenKey Investments Group is assessing is the same the Town of Golden pulls its municipal water source from, but further down.

“The aquifer is connected to the same aquifer we draw on, it’s at the end of it,” explained Town of Golden planner and development manager Phil Armstrong.

In order for GoldenKey Investments Group to continue moving forward with the project, the company will require provincial approval for using the water source, and Town of Golden approval for rezoning the property, and an amendment to the Town of Golden official community plan.

“Lastly, we understand that the community may have concerns regarding the water plant,” Yao said. “Our goal is to work with the community together and to be as transparent as possible along the way.”

GoldenKey Investments Group will inform the community once it is ready to host an informational session on the project, likely in September.

Aug 232019
Aquifers are not enclosed by impenetrable, water-tight walls.  Water flows, sometimes fast, sometimes slow.
Here’s a good description:
A “septic” aquifer?
Am I too simplistic?
I  think:
  • Who is responsible for protection of water quality?  PINPOINT the answer.
  • Someone’s job is to Identify the source of the “septic”.
  • And Stop the “septic”.
The number of PEOPLE affected is IRRELEVANT.
If the Provincial system is allowed to deliver INACTION then step-by-step things get worse for everyone.  Speak up for others, you are speaking up for yourself.  Easily understood through the First Nations experience.
What Government Department in B.C. is responsible for protection of water quality?
What I know about the answer is not good enough.
The CSRD is concerned for the health of Nicholson residents after septic influencers have been found in drinking water. Black Press photo

CSRD addresses septic aquifer concerns in Nicholson

Water quality in Nicholson has been a concern of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) since 2005.

The Nicholson aquifer is a source of drinking water for around 350 people, including the Nicholson Elementary School, which has been on a “do not drink” advisory since 2017.

Property owners in the area use private groundwater wells to obtain their water. Between 2005 and 2013, the CSRD carried out water quality monitoring of the aquifer, and in October 2014, the CSRD advised property owners that septic influences were detected in the water.

“The first result was horrendous,” said Area A director Karen Cathcart. “Right away, the CSRD and Interior Health went into the community and said ‘this is the result, and here’s what we need to do.’”

The CSRD advised property owners that they would need to create an informal petition to demonstrate support for continued monitoring of the aquifer, providing mitigation measures, and the next steps for developing a local service area. Property owners did not show interest, and to date, property owners in Nicholson have not initiated a petition to put in place service to monitor water quality or to treat groundwater.

“I sat in the Nicholson School gym and listened to those results,” Cathcart said. “I almost fell off my chair. I was so concerned.”

This year, Interior Health met with the CSRD to request financing for two additional sample tests of the Nicholson aquifer. Test results from sampling in May are complete and indicate that the Nicholson Aquifer continues to be impacted by septic influences in the groundwater.

“It’s not getting better, it’s getting worse there,” Cathcart said.

At the June 20 board meeting, the board endorsed CSRD staff’s recommendation to apply for an Infrastructure Planning Grant for a maximum of $10,000 from the province to conduct a community water system feasibility study. The result of the study will outline treatment options, and cost projections for CSRD staff to bring forward to the community.

The CSRD requires a minimum of 60 per cent support from the community, showing there is interest to apply for senior grants for the development of a community water system. The community must also show a 60 per cent supportive interest in groundwater monitoring services.

“The last thing I want to see is folks becoming ill,” Cathcart added.

Nicholson aquifer monitoring completed between 2005 to 2013 was executed as a special project and was funded from the entire CSRD tax base.

The Public Health Act outlines the province’s responsibility for identifying and addressing hazards to public health.

During a discussion in January between the CSRD and Interior Health, the board was concerned with liability implications as a result of Nicholson residents falling ill from contaminated drinking water associated with the Nicholson aquifer. CSRD staff sought a legal opinion on the CSRD’s role in the Nicholson aquifer, which has resulted in the development of Policy W-13, Nicholson Aquifer Water Quality Monitoring.

According to the policy, the CSRD will undertake steps to mitigate effects of poor water quality in the Nicholson aquifer.

Through W-13, the CSRD has concluded that groundwater monitoring will not be funded through the special project fund after the end of this year, and monitoring will only be carried out as a service, with an establishing bylaw, paid for by the property owners affected in the service area.

The CSRD has advised the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Health of its concerns with the aquifer water quality and requested that the province undertake water quality monitoring in this area. The CSRD also advised the medical health officer, and requested that they consider if the situation is a health hazard or impediment to public health.

The CSRD plans to publish the historical results of the monitoring on its website,

Aug 232019

British Columbia

Uchucklesaht Tribe launches luxury brand of bottled water drawn from Vancouver Island spring

Thunderbird Spirit Water
The water is drawn from the T’iitsk’in spring located in Uchucklesaht territory. (Thunderbird Spirit Water)

A small First Nation in B.C. is hoping to make a big splash in the bottled water business.

The Uchucklesaht Tribe has launched an artesian brand of bottled water drawn from a spring in its territory on the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island.

Thunderbird Spirit Water, sold in sleek glass bottles, is the first commercial venture for the tribe of about 300 citizens.


Uchucklesaht is one of five nations that are signatories of the Maa-nulth Treaty. The move to self-government in 2011 gave the nation control over its economic development and has been critical to launching the new business venture, said elected Chief Charlie Cootes.

“It allows us to go out and look at opportunities that we never were able to look at before,” he said.

Uchucklesaht territory surrounds the pristine Hucuktlis Lake at the western end of the Alberni Canal. Surrounded by mountain peaks, the area is known as Thunderbird Nest and is a spiritually important place for the nations, Cootes said.

Niche market

Thunderbird Spirit Water is drawn from a spring in the area called or T’iitsk’in Paawats.

“We are looking for hotels and restaurants to serve it like the Pellegrino water that people always are drinking at high-end restaurants. So we are trying to get part of that market,” said Scott Coulson, Uchucklesaht CAO and the COO for the new company.

“It’s a niche market. We’re not selling plastic bottles. They are glass, high-end,” Cootes said.

The nation hopes the venture will provide employment through a bottling facility that is planned for Port Alberni.

A lot of work was also done to ensure Thunderbird Spirit Water is a sustainable product, Cootes said.

Giving back

“We have spent a lot of money to ensure that the flows where we access the water … that we are not taking too much water out of it.”

The Uchucklesaht officially launched the product this week at the Assembly of First Nations convention in Vancouver.

The nation says 10 per cent of sales will be donated to help provide safe drinking water to First Nations communities across the country.

Aug 232019

Ron writes:

This may help the current overfishing situation. 

More help will come when the indigenous people are given

back their right to harvest the seals.

= = = = = = = = =

‘I think that’s quite a critical mission for our department and for Canada,’ says federal official

Illegal fishing takes place all over the world, hurts conservation efforts and is estimated to cost the global economy billions of dollars. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) will soon be able to find boats in waters anywhere in the world with pinpoint accuracy, thanks to a new satellite system in orbit since June.

The technology will help fight the growing worldwide problem of illegal fishing.

“We’re talking about areas that are potentially hundreds of miles away from land,” said Sean Wheeler, a senior program officer for DFO’s international conservation and protection program.

“These are areas that are vulnerable to exploitation because there’s a lack of traditional resources like patrol vessels and airplanes, so that’s where technology needs to come into play, to support our ability to detect and respond to illegal fishing.”

If the satellites spot something suspicious on the water, DFO can use that information and other data to decide if they need to send out patrols.

Sean Wheeler, a senior program officer for DFO’s conservation protection international program, says technology helps ‘support our ability to detect and respond to illegal fishing.’ (Department of Fisheries and Oceans)

It could also save the department money since they wouldn’t have to send out boats or planes to patrol areas where there aren’t any vessels.

The information from the satellites will also be shared with other countries to help them cut down on illegal fishing in their waters, which is especially important in small or developing nations that don’t have a lot of resources to fight illegal fishing, said Wheeler.

“Our oceans are all connected, and illegal fishing and the impacts it can have in one area of the Pacific or the Atlantic could affect our own stocks, so there is a Canadian element here to protect our own stocks,” he said.

Soon after the satellites were launched, the Canadian Space Agency started receiving data from them, says Wheeler. It will be another few weeks before DFO begins to get the information it wants from the satellites. (Canadian Space Agency/SpaceX)

Illegal fishing is a blanket term covering a wide range of illegal activities, including overfishing, disregarding conservation regulations, fishing in restricted areas, underreporting a catch and fishing out of season.

Worldwide, illegal fishing hurts conservation efforts and sucks money from the global economy.

Wheeler said the value is pegged at $10 billion to $26 billion US worldwide, while the estimated quantity is 26 million tonnes of fish.

In May, the three satellites were placed inside the rocket fairing, more commonly known as the nose cone of the rocket. (Canadian Space Agency/MDA a Maxar Company)

Canada has been monitoring oceans from space for years, but the satellites used in the past had a hard time tracking the movement of vessels.

The new government-owned, $1.2-billion RADARSAT Constellation system will change that — it’s made up of three identical satellites that will pass over the Earth more frequently, providing a more accurate picture of what’s happening on the water, said Wheeler.

This SpaceX rocket took Canada’s RADARSAT Constellation Mission satellites into space. It launched from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on June 12. (Canadian Space Agency/SpaceX)

The Canadian Space Agency operates the satellites and helps disseminate the information collected.

The satellites have the capacity to view over 90 per cent of the Earth’s surface every 24 hours, excluding the South Pole, according to the space agency’s website.

The website also says the satellites are equipped with an automated identification system for ships that can be used by itself or along with radar to improve the detection and tracking of vessels.

Two of the RADARSAT Constellation spacecraft are prepared for vibration testing in the MDA facilities in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Que. The RADARSAT Constellation is Canada’s new generation of Earth observation satellites. (Canadian Space Agency)

But detecting boats and ships is just one of the many uses for the new constellation system. It will also be used for ecosystem monitoring, climate change monitoring, agriculture and aid in disaster relief efforts.

The three satellites were launched June 12 and have already started to send back data to the Canadian Space Agency. Wheeler said the agency is still running tests on the system, and expects the DFO will start receiving data from the satellites in the fall.

“This puts Canada in a position of being able to support partners around the world with the challenge of illegal fishing, and I think that’s quite a critical mission for our department and for Canada,” said Wheeler.

Aug 222019

Rising grey seal population eating adult cod at unsustainable levels

In this April 23, 2016, file photo, cod fill a box on a trawler off the coast of Hampton Beach, N.H. (Robert F. Bukaty/The Associated Press)

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has issued a stark warning linking the demise of codfish in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence to a rapidly increasing seal population.

The warning is contained in the most recent stock assessment of Atlantic cod in the southern Gulf that was released earlier this month.

“At the current abundance of grey seals in this ecosystem, recovery of this cod population does not appear to be possible, and its extinction is highly probable,” the report says.

DFO fish biologist Doug Swain said the cod population is now about five per cent of levels in the 1980s, and the downward spiral is accelerating despite a moratorium on a directed cod fishery in the Gulf since 2009.

The problem is an “extremely high” and “unsustainable” death rate for cod five years or older.

How many cod are dying

Normally, about 18 per cent of adult cod each year would be expected to die from natural causes, like being eaten by a predator.

The DFO assessment estimates between 55 and 57 per cent of adults are dying each year.

Swain believes the fast-rising grey seal population is to blame.

“The evidence all points to grey seals as being the cause of their natural mortality. We’ve looked at many hypotheses and haven’t come up with any other ones that appear to be plausible.”

Why cod are vulnerable to seals

In the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, cod spend winter in the same place each year in deep water off northern Cape Breton.

While the population has dropped, they still gather in big enough groups to attract seals.

Satellite tagging and stomach analysis have shown they are being targeted by seals, said Swain.

Doug Swain, a DFO fish biologist, says the cod population is now about five per cent of levels in the 1980s, and the downward spiral is accelerating despite a moratorium on a directed cod fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence since 2009. (CBC)

“We’ve observed that the grey seals continue to forage in the vicinity of these cod aggregations, that cod comprise a very high proportion of their diet in these times and places,” he said.

“The adult cod that are the ones that have the natural mortality are estimated to comprise about 40 per cent of their diet by weight.”

Swain said cod have abandoned shallow summer feeding grounds for less abundant deeper water to avoid grey seals.

Fish not eaten by grey seals have not moved.

A downward spiral worsens

Scientists use “spawning stock biomass” as a measure of the health of species.

It’s an estimate of the total weight of the fish capable of reproduction.

There have been sharp drops in the spawning stock since the last DFO assessment in 2015, which used data up to 2014.

Since then, the spawning stock decreased by more than half — by 3,000 tonnes between 2015 and 2016, and a further 12,000 tonnes between 2017 and 2018.

“That is very striking for a stock that is at very low abundance,” said Swain.

Today, the spawning stock is estimated at 13,900 tonnes — the lowest on record.

The assessment predicts a further 4,700-tonne decline by 2023.

When the stock dips below 1,000 tonnes, DFO considers it extinct, which could happen within a few decades.

Swain said the benchmark is somewhat arbitrary, but for a stock that was once 500,000 tonnes, cod are unlikely to persist when the threshold is reached.

At that level, they are vulnerable to harsh environmental conditions.

“The probability is very high the stock will decline to local extinction,” Swain said in an interview from DFO’s offices in Moncton, N.B.

Other threats loom

DFO allows commercial fishermen in the Gulf to take 300 tonnes of cod a year as unintended, or “by-catch,” from other groundfish fisheries.

Ground fishing for other species in the Gulf is now so low, it has negligible impact on the population trajectory.

Preliminary by-catch landings for 2017 and 2018 were 60 tonnes.

But that could change.

Fishing is expected to increase for booming populations of halibut and redfish in the deeper gulf waters where cod still persist, making it more likely cod will be taken as by-catch.

Climate change is expected to have negative effects, causing cod to lose energy faster in warmer water, especially in winter when they are not feeding.

Is it too late? Probably

The assessment says it would take a large reduction in grey seals to stop the decline, but even then there could be unintended results like a rebound of cod predators also eaten by grey seals.

“You know things can change,” said Swain.

“But right now in terms of the ecosystem, it’s most likely that things will change for the worse because you know even if grey seals were reduced … we’re entering a period of dramatic climate change.”

Aug 132019

Last month, as part of the research for a book I am writing on mobilizing Canada for the climate emergency, I commissioned an extensive national public opinion poll from Abacus Data. The full results of the poll can be found on the Abacus website here.

I share highlights and my analysis below. But big picture, the results are hopeful and indicate a high level of support for bold and ambitious climate action. Canadians support systemic solutions that go well beyond what our governments have so far been willing to undertake.

First, a little background on why I commissioned this poll. For years, far too much of the political oxygen and polling on climate change has been consumed by the carbon tax/pricing debate. While carbon pricing is an important tool, it alone is not going to get us where we need to go, and the topic has distracted us from the scale of action needed.

Additionally, too often polling questions individualize the challenge and solutions, rather than focusing on collective and governmental actions. Past polling has tended to over-test people’s willingness to change their personal behavior or to pay a carbon tax.

But people increasingly understand that these “solutions” are not sufficient. People rightly feel cynical when presented with voluntary solutions that don’t match the scale of the challenge, and that others around them are not undertaking. When climate polls do tackle policy changes, most have tended to test incremental options, rather than bold, system-change solutions. The questions we ask, and the solutions we propose, matter.

My forthcoming book will explore the gap between what the science says we must do to confront the climate emergency and what our politics currently seems prepared to entertain. The current challenge, as I see it, is that the climate solutions we need persistently encounter a political wall; the prevailing assumption within the leadership of our political parties appears to be that if our political leaders were to articulate (let alone undertake) what the climate science tells us is necessary, it would be political suicide. And so they don’t.

“My overall conclusion is this: our politicians have been underestimating the public. They have failed to take adequate action in the face of the #climate emergency, insisting the public is ‘not there yet,'” writes Seth Klein. #opinion

But is that prevailing assumption correct? That’s what this poll sought to test.

In framing the challenge, communications specialists often recommend against using an emergency or wartime frame. They contend that the public does not respond well to an alarmist or fear-based approach. Similarly, most official government climate plans, the product of careful focus-group testing, barely mention the climate crisis, but rather, focus on positive messaging.

The reality is that we do face an emergency, and we do need a wartime-scale response. And we in Canada have lessons to draw on. It has long been my view that recalling the speed and scale of our historic wartime mobilization can be a source of inspiration (not fear) in the face of the climate emergency.

In undertaking this poll, I sought to determine whether this framing would resonate among the Canadian public and whether there is an appetite for systems-level solutions.

Poll results and analysis

My main takeaway from this national opinion survey of 2,000 people is that the public is ahead of our politics. A large share of Canadians is already deeply worried about the climate crisis, and they are increasingly ready for bold and ambitious actions.

In the wake of the latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released last October, combined with recent weather events, we may well be witnessing a shift in public opinion.

Here are some of the highlights from the poll:

  • The Canadian public is increasingly worried about climate change. Three-quarters of respondents said they were worried, with 25 per cent saying they “think about climate change often and are getting really anxious about it,” and a further 49 per cent saying they “think about it sometimes and are getting increasingly worried.” In contrast, only 19 per cent say they don’t think about climate change often, and only seven per cent either don’t believe climate change is real or something for us to worry about.
  • Stunningly, 42 per cent believe climate change is now “an emergency,” while a further 20 per cent believe it will likely be an emergency within the next few years, for a combined total of 62 per cent. Even in Alberta, which registered the lowest level of support for this view, a combined total of 47% of people believe climate change is either an emergency or will likely be one in the next few years.
  • People are deeply anxious about what climate change means for the fate of our children and grandchildren. When asked if climate change represents a “major threat to the future of our children and grandchildren,” 81 per cent responded that it does (49 per cent strongly agree and a further 32 per cent agree). Even 67 per cent of Albertans agree with this statement.
  • For a majority of Canadians, climate change is no longer an abstract threat impacting people somewhere else or at some time in the future. They see it happening here and now. When asked: “To what extent have you or someone close to you experienced the effects of climate change (such as living with the consequences of changing weather patterns or severe weather events such as flooding, wild fires, droughts or intense heat waves)?” three-quarters of respondents said they or someone close to them had experienced the effects of climate change (13 per cent of respondents said “in a major way,” while 37 per cent said “to some extent,” and a further 23 per cent said “in a minor way.”) Only 21 per cent said they had not experienced climate change at all, while six per cent reported being unsure.
  • People are ready for a major transition. 44 per cent of respondents said “In the future, we should produce energy and electricity using 100 per cent clean and renewable sources, such as hydro, solar, wind, tidal, and geothermal,” while a further 37 per cent support shifting in that direction but don’t believe getting to 100 per cent is possible. Even in Alberta these numbers clock in at 28 per cent and 47 per cent.
  • The wartime frame resonates with many. My book is exploring mobilization lessons from World War II, the last time we faced an existential threat and responded at the scale necessary. So, I wanted to test the resonance of that frame. The poll reveals that a large share of the Canadian public connects with this approach. When asked about the statement: “The climate emergency requires that our governments adopt a wartime-scale response, making major investments to retool our economy, and mobilizing everyone in society to transition off fossil fuels to renewable energy,” 58 per cent of respondents responded positively (21 per cent strongly agreed while a further 37 per cent agreed). Younger respondents (those between 18 and 44) were even more inclined to agree (with agreement levels closer to 65 per cent). This wartime frame found particularly high resonance in Quebec, with 68 per cent supporting this proposition.
  • People are ready for bold policies to move us off fossil fuels. The poll listed a series of six major policy moves, and asked people if they agreed or disagreed with these actions. The six policies, along with the results, are shown below:

These results are quite stunning. As of yet, no federal or provincial government in Canada has been prepared to move this ambitiously. Yet the results show that when one combines “strongly support,” “support” and “can accept,” we find the public’s willingness to get behind bold actions to reduce greenhouse gasses range from a low of 67 per cent to a high of 84 per cent.

Zeroing in on the policy of banning all new buildings and homes from using fossil fuels for heating by 2022 (just a few short years away), a full 78 per cent of Canadians are comfortable with this idea (55 per cent either support or strongly support, with a further 23 per cent willing to accept this policy). 74 per cent support or are willing to accept phasing-out the extraction and export of fossil fuels over the next 2-3 decades (50 per cent support, with a further 24 per cent willing to accept such a move). Indeed, even in Alberta, 27 per cent support or strongly support phasing-out the extraction and export of fossil fuels, with a further 21 per cent willing to accept this move.

The “can accept” folks are notable. My take is that these are people who are still unsure of how ambitious we can be, but with the right kind of leadership – the kind of bold leadership Canada saw in WWII – they could be brought along.

Also of note, 57 per cent of those polled believe the federal government is currently doing too little to combat climate change. And 75 per cent of people either support or strongly support the idea of “our governments making massive investments in new green infrastructure, such as renewable energy (solar panel fields, wind farms, geothermal energy, tidal energy), building retrofits, high-speed rail, mass public transit, and electric vehicle charging stations, as well as reforestation.”

  • The more a bold and transformative climate plan is seen as linked to an ambitious plan to tackle inequality, economic insecurity, poverty and job creation, the more likely people are to support it.

In addition to people’s concerns about climate change, they are also very worried about inequality and affordability. So, when these social equity issues are tackled as part of a climate action plan, support for bold action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions rises dramatically.

The poll listed five policy actions that could help with the transition, including extending income and employment supports to those more vulnerable during the transition, and increasing taxes on the wealthy and corporations to help pay for the transition, and asked people if such policies would make them more or less supportive of bold and ambitious climate actions. Those five policy options and the responses are shown below.

As shown, if the government provided financial support to low and modest-income households to help them pay for the transition away from fossil fuels, 79 per cent of people became more supportive of bold climate action (41 per cent said “much more supportive”, while a further 38 per cent say they would be “somewhat more supportive”).

Similarly, if the government increased taxes on the wealthy and corporations to help pay for the transition, 78 per cent of respondents became more supportive of a bold climate plan (46 per cent much more supportive, and a further 32 per cent somewhat more supportive).

And if the government were to commit to a “good jobs guarantee” for current fossil fuel workers – a signal that the government was ready to actively help with a just transition plan for workers – 73 per cent became more supportive of ambitious climate action (34 per cent much more supportive, and 39 per cent somewhat more supportive).

While few people want to pay more income taxes themselves to pay for the transition – an understandable response given the affordability challenges many are feeling – they are open to helping to pay for the plan in other ways. The poll asked if people would consider purchasing “Green Victory Bonds” (modeled on the Victory Bonds of WWII), and 30 per cent said they would be either certain or likely to buy such bonds, with a further 35 per cent saying they would consider it.

  • Few Canadians have heard of the Green New Deal. But once they learn about it, they like it. Unsurprisingly, only 14 per cent of respondents were certain that they had heard of the Green New Deal (GND), and another 19 per cent thought they might have, while 67 per cent said they hadn’t heard of it.

And of those who said they were aware of it, only 17 per cent said they were very familiar with the GND. However, after being given a short description of the GND (see the definition below), 72 per cent responded that they support the key principles of a Green New Deal (34 per cent said they strongly support it, and a further 38 per cent said they somewhat support it).

  • Nearly half the public understands that Canada needs to be more open to climate refugees and migrants. When asked to respond to the statement: “As climate change progresses and more people are displaced by major weather events around the world, Canada has a responsibility to accept higher numbers of climate migrants and refugees?” 45 per cent agreed that Canada should accept more climate refugees and migrants (14 per cent strongly agreed and another 31 per cent agreed).

It’s worth noting that the remainder were not all opposed; only 36 per cent of respondents were opposed to this statement, while 19 per cent indicated they either don’t know or have no opinion. While only 45 per cent in support might be discouraging, I expected worse.

We are seeing a rise in anti-immigrant views, yet nearly half of us understand that climate change will likely make climate migration a major issue in years to come, and that Canada, in the grand scheme of things, will be geographically lucky, and should not respond by pulling up the draw bridge.

Also noteworthy: the strongest level of support for this proposition, at 56 per cent, was among the youngest respondents (those between 18 and 29).

  • Most people don’t see a future for their children in the fossil fuel sector. Survey respondents between the ages of 18 and 65 were asked, “If you have or plan to have children, would you want your child to be employed in the oil and gas industry?” Only 11 per cent said ‘yes’.

We also asked people if they currently work in the oil, gas, or coal industry, or in a job closely related to those sectors. Five per cent of respondents said they did, and of those, only 57 per cent said they would want their kids to work in that sector. It would seem that even many who work in the fossil fuel sector see the writing on the wall when it comes to their children’s futures.

  • There are notable regional differences, but support is solid across Canada. Overall, we see the highest level of support for bold action is in Quebec, while the lowest levels of support are in Alberta. Most of the country falls somewhere in between the two provinces. But as noted above, even in Alberta, support for strong policies and action is solid. Regional-level results are available in more detail on the Abacus site.
  • There are modest but notable differences based on age. The age cohorts between 18 and 44-years-old were generally more supportive of bold action, followed by people over 60. Those age 44-59 tended to have slightly lower levels of support. The fact that millennials (the largest age cohort in Canada) are most supportive of bold climate action bodes well for us all; they are just beginning to exercise their political muscle, and what they want and are prepared to hear from our politicians represents a harbinger of what will become increasingly possible in our politics.

My overall conclusion is this: our politicians have been underestimating the public. They have failed to take adequate action in the face of the climate emergency, insisting the public is “not there yet.” But increasingly, the public is ahead of our elected leaders.

A solid majority of Canadians are ready to move beyond incremental policies and to entertain truly transformative climate action. Even many of those “in the middle” still wrestling with these ideas are open to bold leadership. And that is precisely what we need. After all, faced with the existential threat of fascist domination, the political leaders we remember from WWII didn’t “meet the public where they are at.” Rather, they took them where they needed to go.

Abacus Data conducted this national survey of 2,000 people between July 16 and 19. A random sample of panelists were invited to complete the survey online from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.19 per cent, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. This piece also appears on the blog of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives–BC Office, where Seth Klein formerly served as director.

Aug 042019

The cover letter was submitted, a SUMMARY.   It is followed by a document with the details .


COVER LETTER   (a Summary, actually submitted)

April 6, 2017

TO:   Marie Bordeleau Executive Director Uniform Law Conference of Canada

(613) 986-2945

Submitted via


Dear Marie,


In follow-up to phone conversation:   I made a submission to the Law Reform Commission (LRC) of Saskatchewan, considered at their September 2016 meeting.  They referred: cyberviolence is on the ULCC agenda.  Hence my communication with you.

I understand from our first conversation that your intention is to:

  • Communicate with the BC Delegation to the ULCC Annual Meeting (Regina, mid-August).  I am hopeful that the BC delegation will want to represent the Documentation I will provide, at the Meeting.  I live on Vancouver Island and will answer questions or otherwise assist, if it would be helpful.
  • Further, the intention is to communicate the documentation to the Cyberviolence Working Group in the ULCC.

The Documentation begins with the Justice System as a tool of coercion and intimidation (SLAPP/anti SLAPP legislation).  From there into cyberbullying.  What you see is the threat of a Lawsuit (SLAPP) as an effective tool of the bully/tyrant.  It is used to silence, to take away the Charter Right to Free Speech, through the creation of fear.  It is used the same, whether in the real, or cyber world.

The three examples provided make that point.

The magic recipe that delivers for the plaintiff (cyberbully) in SLAPP is:

  • deficient defamation law +
  • the confidentiality (silencing) imposed in the mandatory “Dispute Resolution” part of the process +
  • the high costs of legal representation +
  • the conventional wisdom of lawyers to always recommend that defendants “settle” in defamation cases (pay the price demanded by the plaintiff – – “shut up and pay me money to stop my bullying and extreme harassment of you”).
  • the ability of the plaintiff to drop the claim if defendants won’t capitulate
  • the ability of the plaintiff to draw out the time spent in the “Dispute Resolution Process” (confidential – – never to become public knowledge)
  • the fact that Court awards to defendants in defamation cases are “a few thousand dollars”, far short of the costs of defending against a SLAPP suit.

I hope that the ULCC will help to establish:

  1. Effective legislation to thwart the use of the threat of the legal system to coerce, intimidate and silence criticism.

Note 1:  SLAPP is the original, commonly-used term.  But SLAPP is not the name under which Law Reform should be done.

The reason becomes apparent after reading the 3 examples of SLAPP.  The nomenclature needs to be broad enough to encompass SLAPP used by individuals, not only by corporate entities.

  1. Effective legislation to thwart Cyber violence.
  2. Effective legislation to address the deficiencies of defamation law.

As things stand today, I do not know where citizen-centred law reform in Canada will come from.  Law Reform capacity has been gutted, as far as I can see.  I suspect it would be helpful to you, to have input from citizens to help make the case.

Best wishes,

Sandra Finley

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


RE:  Cyberviolence, Anti-SLAPP legislation and Defamation Law, Tragedy of the Commons (all related)

RE:  A re-statement of the role of the state, the role of policing and Justice in Canada.

The latter point is not addressed in the Appended.   Elaboration:

I understand that a person who murders is prosecuted by the state.   Why?  Because physical violence isn’t a personal thing like a contract.  It is a problem of the society; it is a state problem, a state responsibility.

If the use of lawsuits has an element of extortion, another form of violence, it is similarly a state problem and state responsibility to prosecute.

The role of the state is to protect citizens against violence.   As I understand things, citizens agree to abandon violence; we pay taxes for policing and the justice system in exchange for the ability to live in relative security, without fear.   Read the three examples in the Appended – – see what you think.

The Justice System is funded – – owned – – by citizens.   It is the responsibility of citizens.

If we are fortunate, in the face of ineffective systems, communities will find their own ways to meet local needs.  If we are ineffective, violence will increase for the simple reason that it’s affordable to hire someone to break the knee-caps of an aggressor; it is not affordable to use the justice system.

Perhaps not from your perspective, but from mine:  there appears to be a bias in the Justice system to favor the funding of corporate services at the expense of evolution to meet citizen needs.

Example 1:  a criterion for ranking law schools in Canada is the number of graduates hired by the top law firms.   The clients of the top law firms are corporations and businesses.   So if a Canadian law school wants to “rank”, it has to focus on corporate law.  As everyone knows, lawyers charge at rates affordable by the wealthy, making “justice” inaccessible to the “99%”.    But it’s the “99%” who own the whole system, funding universities and all the accessory entities.  We pay the bills, plus the community costs associated with ineffective systems.

Example 2:  the Law Reform Commission (SK) is well-intentioned.   It has ONE dedicated PART-TIME employee.   Part of LRC’s law reform will be for corporate law purposes.  Remove time for administrative matters,  there’s not much leftover.

If the Justice and Policing Systems, the Governments in Canada, will not dedicate resources to create access to a Justice System designed to serve every day citizens, violence will increase because people are not stupid.  Nor are they impotent.  They will take (must take?) matters into their own hands if the Justice System and Rule of Law is not available to them.  Violence begets violence in that system, simply because it is the available means of defence.

The Rule of Law is fundamental to Democracy.  It is being undermined through our failures to reform and evolve.   There are too many financial beneficiaries of the status quo.

It is a serious matter, as the appended documentation attests.   I will be thoroughly appreciative of radical efforts by the ULCC to address long-standing, talked-about dysfunctionality.   The Chief Justice of Canada has admonished the profession, for years now, calling for much-needed action.   The profession has not, and is not going to?  deliver the goods.



A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is

intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.

Note 1:  SLAPP is the original, commonly-used term.  However, the use of SLAPP has evolved beyond the “Public Participation” aspect.  SLAPP is not the name under which Law Reform should be done.

Note 2:  Under-lined text is a clickable link.


The following documentation follows a path:

  1. EXAMPLES OF SLAPP SUITS Large corporations use the threat of a lawsuit to silence critics.

Which leads to

  1. ANTI-SLAPP LEGISLATION (Ontario, Quebec, USA)

Which transitions into today’s world of social media (cyber-bullying and SLAPP):

costly lawsuits are being used to silence people who are posting negative reviews. We need to make it cheaper, easier and quicker to get rid of these lawsuits so that people are talking about matters of interest to the public and are expressing their opinion or are saying something that’s true, which is what the anti-SLAPP legislation does.


I use real-life, practical examples from Saskatchewan.  I have no doubt that citizens in other provinces and territories will be able to tune in, because my experiences are not unique.

The Attitude:   “But this is Saskatchewan.  It’s not an issue here.”  . . . ?


SYSTEM WON’T OR CAN’T DO ANYTHING, AS THINGS STAND.  There are currently no avenues for redress.

  3. REMEDY: LEGISLATION   (later)

Now, the details.

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


  1. EXAMPLES OF SLAPP SUITS Large corporations use the threat of a lawsuit to silence critics.

Libel Suits are Meant to Slapp Free Speech   is an early documentation (1998) of the problem.

 . . .   Canada’s two huge logging companies, MacMillan Bloedel and Fletcher Challenge have sued hundreds of citizens, communities and environmental groups for saying bad things about clearcutting.  Monsanto, maker of genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (BGH), sued several small Midwest dairies for advertising that their milk is BGH-free.  . . .     (BGH = bovine growth hormone)

Saskatchewanians may remember Monsanto’s lawsuit against Percy Schmeiser, or the dispatch of RCMP officers to the homes of organic farmers at the behest of Monsanto for the same purpose of intimidation.   Percy could not have defended himself without incurring gargantuan debt. Community-based benefits and fund-raising helped pay.

Monsanto’s use of the legal system to send a warning (“chill”) to farmers was thwarted, but only because Monsanto chose the wrong person to bring a lawsuit against, and because people rallied to pay the costs.

Corporations have millions to pay lawyers.  But Who pays?  For the corporation, legal bills are an operating expense.  They reduce taxable income.  Which means a smaller contribution to the costs of “public services” such as the justice system they are using for SLAPP purposes.  Meanwhile, huge amounts of citizen’s donated time and money go into fund-raising to defend the public interest against the SLAPP.   Citizens pay on both accounts.   Sheeple?  Discontent?


  1. ANTI-SLAPP LEGISLATION (Ontario, Quebec, USA) Ontario

In Ontario, the decision in Daishowa v. Friends of the Lubicon (see [1996] O.J. No. 3855 Ont. Ct. Gen. Div.) (QL) was also instructive on SLAPPs.  A motion brought by the corporate plaintiff Daishowa to impose conditions on the defendant Friends of the Lubicon Indian Band that they would not represent Daishowa’s action as a SLAPP was dismissed.

By 2010, the Ontario Attorney-General issued a major report which identified SLAPP as a major problem[11] but initially little or nothing was done.[12]

. . . In October 2015, Ontario passed the Protection of Public Participation Act, 2015.[15]

. . . The Ontario Civil Liberties Association has called upon the Attorney General to go further, as Bill 83 does not correct fundamental flaws with Ontario’s defamation law which impose a one-sided burden of proof to force defendants to disprove falsity, malice, and damage within a very limited framework where “truth”, “privilege”, “fair comment”, and “responsible reporting” are their only recognised defences.[22]


Québec’s then Justice Minister, Jacques Dupuis, proposed an anti-SLAPP bill on June 13, 2008. [23] The bill was adopted by the National Assembly of Quebec on June 3, 2009.

. . . .   The Quebec law is substantially different in structure than that of California[26] or other jurisdictions, however as Quebec’s Constitution generally subordinates itself to international law, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights applies.

(Aside: the Wikipedia information on SLAPP does not mention Monsanto, a Godfather of

SLAPP suits. An edit should be sent to Wikipedia.)


From   Public Participation Project, Fighting for Free Speech

It Might Get Harder for Someone to Silence You with a Lawsuit

By Michael Arria / AlterNet,  May 18, 2016

Currently 28 states have some kind of anti-SLAPP statutory protection. SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, which refers to litigation intended to silence critics by sticking them with the need for an exorbitant legal defense. Think of the Church of Scientology’s attempts to intimidate whistleblowers with threats of legal action. It’s also used by corporations, like McDonald’s suing environmental activists for distributing pamphlets that were critical of the company’s policies.

Lawmakers have been pushing for federal SLAPP legislation for years, but it finally looks as if a substantial bipartisan effort is underway. The ideal model for federal rules is California, the state with the most expansive anti-SLAPP protections. A recent Los Angeles Times editorial explains the existing system:

When someone is hit with a lawsuit that feels like a SLAPP, he or she can quickly file a motion to strike. The court then puts the original lawsuit on hold while determining whether the person was, in fact, being sued for exercising free-speech rights, petitioning the government or speaking in a public forum on ‘an issue of public interest.’ If so, the court will toss out the lawsuit unless the plaintiff can show that the claims are legitimate and likely to succeed at trial. To guard against abusive anti-SLAPP motions, the side that loses such a case has to pay the other side’s legal fees.

The federal proposal, H.R. 2304, is sponsored by Rep. Blake Farenthold, a Texas Republican. Farenthold’s political affiliation may confuse those who only associate anti-SLAPP efforts with corporate critics, but there’s potentially a libertarian, even conservative, appeal to such legislation. When asked about the importance of the bill, Farenthold explained:

If someone posts something negative, whether it’s true or their opinion, both of which are protected speech under the First Amendment, costly lawsuits are being used to silence people who are posting negative reviews. We need to make it cheaper, easier and quicker to get rid of these lawsuits so that people are talking about matters of interest to the public and are expressing their opinion or are saying something that’s true, which is what the anti-SLAPP legislation does.



2004-04-10    Tom Wolf, Health Canada scientist threatens to sue me.   Response the mafia uses threat of broken bones.

(Note: CropLife Canada is the lobby machine for the chemical industry.   And it’s actually Dr. Wolf, not Mr. Wolf as I refer to him.)


MY RESPONSE TO LAWYER   (Woloshyn & Company, LLP)

Dear Stephen Nicholson:

I am in receipt of your registered letter, October 4th and email copy of same.

The email I sent to City Council contains information provided verbally by Mr. Wolf himself at the September 23rd meeting of the Saskatoon Environmental Advisory Committee (SEAC), in response to the written question handed to him (approximate wording), “Is this the same Tom Wolf as whose work appears in the communications of CropLife? If so, he is in a serious conflict-of-interest”.

In his response, Mr. Wolf said that he was seconded from Agriculture Canada to work at the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA).  Mr. Wolf specifically stated that he has been paid by CropLife and that he seeks funding from them. He specifically stated that he has written a manual for CropLife.  I gather that he provided the amount of one payment ($10,000.00) to the reporter from the Star Phoenix, as I interpret the newspaper article regarding the conflict-of-interest.

INSERT:   Copies of all the related documents are at   Tom Wolf, Health Canada scientist threatens to sue me. Response the mafia uses threat of broken bones.    The newspaper article (Wolf told the reporter that he had been doing work for the industry for 8 years and that for one project, as an example, he received $10,000. He declined to say how much in total he had been paid by the industry over the 8 years.  I only came to know of his involvement with the industry (that the PMRA is supposed to regulate) because he jumped on me at an open meeting, said what I was saying was wrong when I knew I was right and supplied the info to prove it.   I didn’t know him; it seemed a funny reaction by him – – until a friend nosed around and found him in the industry publication. There’s also a copy of the letter from the lawyer threatening to sue me, notes re my trip to Ottawa, meeting with the head-haunchos of the PMRA to find out what in hell they’re doing, the written reply from them, and so on.)

Continuing with my letter to the lawyer:

If “Mr. Wolf does not personally receive payments from the chemical industry”, as stated in your letter, (INSERT: the letter that threatens to sue me) then he should not state that such is the case. Whether one calls the payor CropLife or the chemical industry, is a matter of semantics.

I question the intent of your statement “We further understand that you may be speaking to City Council this evening (etc.)”. Presumably you, in your experience as a lawyer would know better than I, that sensitive matters involving individuals will be dealt with in camera. That would be routine.

If intended for me, the statement “Any dissemination, distribution or copying of this message is strictly prohibited.”, I respond that you sent the communication to me. I am free to do with it as I wish, except to alter it.

In light of the preceding points and other statements in your letter, I view your letter to me as an intimidation tactic. Gangsters bully people through threat of broken bones. The chemical industry has an established history (I will be happy to provide specific examples should you desire them) of attempting to intimidate through the threat of harm to the person’s finances and well-being, utilizing the legal system as the weapon.

For the record:

I did not send my complaint to “various media outlets”. I did send it to the other affected parties you named – the City, SEAC and the Auditor General (who issued an extremely critical report on the PMRA in October 2003 and who therefore has an interest). I also sent it to my personal email network.

The matter reached the Star Phoenix because a City reporter saw the vaporooter item on the Sept 23rd meeting agenda for SEAC. He knew of my interest in the subject from an earlier meeting of SEAC which he had attended. It was quite natural for him to phone me.

Yours truly,

Sandra Finley



2011-10-15   My response to Letter from Lawyer, University threatens legal action.

This threat of legal action was also sent to Jordan Miller.


RE:  Your file reference 30000.455    USSWORD Infringing Use of Registered Marks   (USSWORD = University of Saskatchewan Senators WOrking to Revive Democracy)

A copy of your letter is posted at  20111006   Letter from University’s Lawyer threatens legal action

“  . . .  cease and desist  . . . If you do not comply, we have instructions to pursue all available legal remedies.”

. . . .  Let me say, regarding your letter and prior to addressing the legal issue you raise:

the justice system is a well-known tool of intimidation and coercion used by large corporate interests and the Government with seemingly unlimited financial resources, compared to the ordinary, well-intentioned private citizen.

I am acquainted with the practice.   It is a disturbing trend, along with the use of the police (RCMP) to protect unregulated corporate interests (Encana pipeline incidents bring out the RCMP anti-terrorist squad when unregulated, very poisonous sour gas is causing still-births and miscarriages in women and in livestock.  People are trying to defend the health and lives of their family and environment.  They exhaust legal remedies, are left to their wits and then characterized as terrorists.)

It is my job as an elected Senator of the University of Saskatchewan to represent the voice of the owners of the University, the citizens of Saskatchewan.   The role of “the loyal opposition” in democratic institutions is to ask the hard questions, to hold officials accountable to citizens.

The University of Saskatchewan has been, and continues, using the legal system to silence and intimidate:

  1. The research project spreadsheet of approximately FIFTY cases of harassment at the University, shows
  • twenty cases going to the Court of Queen’s Bench
  • at least seven going to the Court of Appeal, and
  • others going to quasi-judiciary bodies.
  • at least three of the cases are “exit with a confidentiality agreement”, commonly known as a gag order bought with a pay-out. The pay-outs are known to be large, some VERY large.

As a Senator representing the community interest, I see reflected in the spreadsheet literally millions of dollars in lawyers’ fees, financial settlements to aggrieved victims, and salaries paid to administrators who are dealing with the disputes.  There are serious questions to be answered concerning conflict resolution at the U of S.

  1. An issue raised by USSWORD is the unacceptable conflicts-of-interest at the University. Nancy Hopkins is the Chair of the Board of Governors.  She has been on the

Cameco Board since 1992 and as at the end of December 2009 had $1.8 million in

Cameco shares.    She chairs the Search Committee for the next President of the

University;  persons with connections to the industry are in contention for the position.

The President, Peter MacKinnon responds in Senate by proclaiming that there IS no conflict-of-interest.   We all know what a wonderful person Ms Hopkins is.

A reading of the minutes of the Board of Governors indicates that Ms Hopkins does not recuse herself from deliberations related to the nuclear industry on campus.

When the Government of Saskatchewan channels $30 million (or is it $45M) to the

University ear-marked for research and development to benefit the nuclear industry, is Ms. Hopkins going to uphold University autonomy in its ability to allocate funds without political interference?  And is she concerned about the long-term sustainability of that program should that government funding be cut in future because they (and the nuclear industry) believe they are not getting the anticipated return on their “investment”?    No.

Does she benefit from the advancement of the nuclear research at U of S?   After Fukishima the world is exiting nuclear and Ms. Hopkins’ Cameco shares have taken a nose-dive.   Government (public) funding, through the University, of Cameco’s interests will be extremely beneficial to the investments of Nancy Hopkins – – but (repeat) the Administration of the University contends there is no conflict-of-interest.

USSWORD raises the issues;  the University seems unable to deal with them through respectful exchange.   They deny and then threaten “the full force of the law”.

The question is “WHY”? 

Link back to the spreadsheet of harassment cases.   You may or may not know:   Academic Women for Justice (INSERT: not based in Sask.) has lodged a complaint with the Minister responsible for Post-Secondary Education, Rob Norris.   They recommend that the University of Saskatchewan no longer be eligible for Canada Research Chair Funding because of the cases.   This is a matter of serious concern for the owners of the University and me as a representative.

But still the “WHY?”.  . . . Connect the dots.

(name)  became a renowned researcher in water.   She was awarded a Canada Research Chair at the University of Saskatchewan, bringing $16 million with her.  I came to know of (name) because she was the ONE scientist at the University who engaged with the community around Outlook over the question of adding high-volume water users and polluters of the South Sask River, in the form of intensive cattle operations.   (The South Sask River supplies 40% of the people in the province with the water that comes out of their taps. There are enormous demands on the River already.   The size of the promoted livestock operations is like adding the demands of another entire city.)

Then  big surprise:  (name) recently and abruptly left, a great loss to the University.   . .  WHY did she leave?  I know that in early summer she was extremely worried that the University was going to fire her which was incomprehensible given her publication and work record.  The University has celebrated and profiled her virtues.

Hmmm . . .  I recall a social conversation with (name).   I had been up to Wollaston Lake at a Keepers of the Water Conference.  Keepers of the Water (attendees of the Conference) are First Nations people from northern  Alaska, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.  The elders are very concerned by the levels of cancer in their communities, unknown in the past.   Because of the disease levels (poisons going into the environment) they have joined hands across the North to protect their children.

(Name) told me her experience by which she was obviously disturbed:  she had been taking water samples in the North.  They had a Geiger counter with them as they went along the shore.  The counter was going crazy.   What bothered her most was that children were innocently playing on the shore when even adults should not have been in the area without protection, given the readings on the Geiger counter.

Wollaston Lake = Cameco.   The University of Saskatchewan = Cameco University.   The connections are well documented.  Please ask if you would like them.

I received a brown envelope.   The Administration of the University can confirm the content. . . . (name) asserted the need for laboratories at the University to be brought up to Canadian standards.  As I understand she is a professional and has worked under the world’s best.   In order for her work to be scientifically reliable she must be working in laboratories that meet standards.

Whose interests are served by sub-standard laboratories?   Whose interests are served if the scientist with the Geiger counter is forced out of the University?



The letter received by Jordan Miller and myself was a SLAPP suit, the University attempting to silence the legitimate exercise of calling to account.

“  . . .  cease and desist  . . . If you do not comply, we have instructions to pursue all available legal remedies.” 

(We were cited for TradeMark infringement.  We, University Senators, worked with a group of Senators.  We called ourselves  “University of Saskatchewan Senators WOrking to Revive Democracy”, or USSWORD for short.   “University of Saskatchewan” is trade-marked.  The set of related documents are at the posting,  2011-10-15   My response to Letter from Lawyer, University threatens legal action.)



Anti-SLAPP legislation in some jurisdictions has been effective in reducing the use of SLAPP as a tool of coercion, insofar as it applies to Corporate entities versus the Public Interest.

But the world evolves and unfortunately, the SLAPP practice developed by large corporate interests has now been learned by individuals.   The last paragraph under 2. ANTI-SLAPP LEGISLATION alludes to it:   costly lawsuits are being used to silence people who are posting negative reviews.

The specific example I provide (Saskatchewan) is currently in the Justice system.  Because the ULCC meeting is in August (the outcome of litigation may still be unknown), because I cannot illustrate what is happening in the real world without it, I am using it (judiciously, I hope!).  You are not called upon to endorse anything.  You do not need to make a judgment – there is no need for it.   No names are offered, just the illustration of HOW it works (does not work).

For a year, a 26 year-old woman had been mercilessly harassed by a 42 year-old man through social media, after she stood up at a public meeting and offered a viewpoint different from his.  I received a complaint from the distressed young woman through a facebook group for which I bear some responsibility, in a volunteer capacity.  The complaint was of inappropriate use of Green Party social media.  I arranged for the complaint to be forwarded to the office of the Green Party in Ottawa for independent, 3rd party resolution.  (Only later did I learn about the previous year-long cyberbullying of the young woman.)

Because I forwarded the complaint, the man then set his sights on me and has not stopped in the three years since.   He has attacked others. He threatened me with, and then brought a lawsuit.   I think he expects that the costs and inadequacies of the Justice system will force me to abandon a defence against his charges against me.

The Mandatory Mediation took place in November 2016;  Document Disclosure has not been done.   As of March 2017, lawyer bills for me and a co-defendant are more than $25,000.   I expect the cost will be $30,000 before we reach the court room door.  Will the plaintiff withdraw his claim to prevent his actions from becoming public knowledge?  (everything is “confidential” as long as the case is confined to “dispute resolution” and does not proceed into a court room.)



It is almost inconceivable that I, one person in a population the size of Saskatchewan’s, can serve up from personal experience the preceding 3 examples of egregious uses of the threat of a lawsuit (SLAPP) for intimidation and silencing purposes:

  • The full-time Government scientist being paid as much as $10,000 per contract by the industry his Department is supposed to regulate, on-going for 8 years, when I said “This is a serious conflict-of-interest” – – the scientist paid a lawyer to threaten me with a lawsuit (silence me).
  • The University of Saskatchewan paid a lawyer to threaten me with a lawsuit when I participated, as an elected member of University Senate, in bringing to attention the conflict-of-interest and actions that contravened Laws set out in The University Act.
  • A cyberbully brings a lawsuit for defamation against myself, later another lawsuit for defamation against a man. Independent of, and unknown to each other, we both have serious concerns about the on-line activities of the cyberbully.


The motivation for bringing the lawsuits is no different from that of the Government scientist or the University.  Chill.  Silence.  There are no Charter Rights.

I grew up in rural Saskatchewan which is conservative, but community-minded in spirit.    What is my fault?

Now to  The Larger Issues . . .



Civil litigation is for the wealthy and a few people like myself who believe that Charter Rights have to be defended at all costs.  We must stand in solidarity with others who have defended the right to free speech at huge personal cost. Sometimes it is with their lives and the lives of their family members on the line.

Reference publication of the “Satanic Verses” in 1989 by Salman Rushdie.  The Ayatollah

Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie.   “Joseph Anton: A Memoir”, written by Rushdie, documents the refusal of himself, a handful of publishers and a few others to bow.

Their sole motivation: they understood that free speech must be an inviolable right.   With responsibilities, yes, but not to be abandoned out of fear.

It takes a deeper understanding, the ability to see that if we individually bow to violence, we collectively condemn our children to a more violent future.   You don’t save them by avoiding or failing to deal with the issue.  Quite the opposite.

My resolve to stay the course against a cyberbully was cemented by the realization that it is an issue of free speech.  The Justice System is poorly equipped to defend the Charter Right.



As explained in letter to lawyer:

. . .   However,  in my opinion an agreement to settle with the plaintiff (even if it was possible) would be a short-term fix, and it would be a larger betrayal.

The betrayal can be understood in the framework of “The Tragedy of the Commons”.   (The internet – – the air waves – – are part of “The Commons”.)   No one of us individually is responsible, and therefore no one is responsible.

A short read may be helpful:    Battles to protect the Commons.

When there are incursions onto the Commons, people have to come together to defend it.  If not, the Commons is lost and the whole community suffers  – – a lot.

OTHER people work hard, all the time, in defence of the Commons.  Without them, for example, the quality of water coming out of your tap would be less.   Many more people would side-step the issue through the purchase of bottled water, if they can afford it.

Another:  there have been monumental efforts by people in Canada and the U.S. to stop tiered (preferential) access to the Internet that large corporate interests seek.

In the context of a court case:

Some of you have daughters, sisters, nieces, or are young women yourselves.   The case against me exists because I forwarded a complaint – – this older man was using the internet against a young woman, in ways you would not tolerate.

Click on:    20160729   ‘What law am I breaking?’  How a Facebook troll came undone

This 2016 story is of young women who had the courage to fight against such cyber-bullies, and win.  It’s a win for everyone who has a presence on the internet.   AND for everyone who has a daughter, sister or niece.

One woman, Brierley Newton, stood in defence of the Commons.  She is not asking us for our gratitude.  But she should expect that we will at least stand in solidarity when the ball lands in our court.

Standing down from this man would be a betrayal by me.   We need to ADD to the success of these young women, not subtract from it.

You might think of the case of Amanda Todd (a Canadian teen who committed suicide as a consequence of on-line predation).  This is not as extreme, but it is related.  (Today comes the news:  Court to extradite Amanda Todd cyberbullying suspect;  Aydin Coban will finish criminal trial in Netherlands being tried in Canada.)

To what extremes will/would the man go?   So far, he knows that the Police and the Justice system will not touch him.

If I capitulate, not only would his belief be reinforced, but he will potentially make money (a “global settlement” as it is called) doing what he does.   He would flaunt a win, which would further empower him AND others.   The above article, How a Troll came

Undone, describes the extent of the problem, as does the UN Report on CyberViolence.

We leave a more violent world behind us, if we do not accept our responsibility.

The tragedy and comedy of human existence:   we are often unwitting participants in our own demise  (a settlement with the cyberbully, pay him to stop, abandon the Charter Right to free speech, accept tyranny.)




UN report on cyberviolence highlights rampant issue online.

The UN Report was discussed on CBC Radio, The Current, which is addressed in Cyberbullying, an issue of free speech. Salman Rushdie, a guiding light.  

There is Amanda Todd.

A recent case from Alberta: white racists’ (supremacists’) vicious online attacks on a First Nations female professor.

Canadian lawyer, journalist and author Paula Todd (not related to Amanda Todd) published “Extreme Mean, Trolls, Bullies and Predators Online” in 2014. Described as a “meticulous and dramatic investigation …… serves as a demand for action”.

In the search for help to deal with a cyberbully I found the last chapter of Paula Todd’s book Extreme Mean to be a good statement of the challenge that society has to address, with the rapidly-developed internet technology and its empowerment of destructive forces.



There are currently no avenues for redress.

There is plentiful documentation of the problem.

Why not just go to the Police and the Court system?

Experience in Saskatoon:

A number of people have taken serious complaints against the same person to the Police, as early as January 2014.

As of March 2017 – Police could not or have not taken effective action.

Some examples, but not an exhaustive list of the complainants:

January 7, 2014   (names withheld)

I learned the hard way that harassment through social media is not taken seriously by local police . . ..  I went to the police with all of the harassment that ( – – ) has thrown at me, and they said there’s no way to prove it was really (him) who said and did these things. . . . 

– – – – –

Lastly, I’m not looking to endanger (him), despite how hard he has come after me–that would just lower me to his level.  I won’t spread his last name around–I’ve known it for months now, and the only action I’ve taken with it was to implore (his) father to talk some sense into (him), and get him to remove the websites harassing me.  I haven’t put it on my website, nor do I plan to.  It didn’t work to reach out to his father, so as I see it, I’m out of ammo. 

7 Jan 2014 To (name withheld) from Sandra Finley

Re the conversation with (local radio talk-show host’s) producer.   

We discussed the matter of the Police.  ( – – -)  felt the same as what you articulated.  In the end, the Police will not deal with the complaint. 

(radio talk show host) had attempted to shut down the cyber-bullying, prior to my involvement.)

17 July 2014 From (a different woman) to Sandra Finley

Subject: Bullying/cyberbullying by ( – – )

Here is the email I sent to Sgt. (name) yesterday.  You can see that (- – ) has not stopped and now is beginning to harass me through work.   . . .

January 10, 2014 from the young woman, after more than a year of cyberbullying and fear:

(This particular young woman, not the only target of the perpetrator, was forced off social media.   In February 2014, after battling the cyberbully since December 2012, for her safety and sanity she was essentially forced to leave Saskatoon.  She moved to another province.  March 2017 – – the perpetrator continues to deliver his destructive wares with impunity.   The cyberbully has added actual lawsuits (versus the Threat of), two of them now, claiming defamation.)

I guess I’m just a bit war-weary, Sandra.  . . . this experience with him has cost me a lot.  I miss seeing and hearing about my friends on Facebook.  I tire of thinking so often about this madman that has turned my life upside-down, but at times I’m almost consumed with it, because that means I get my life back.  I wonder how calm and collected people like  . . .  would be if it were they that had their photos spread all over the internet simply for opposing a wannabe tyrant.  Memories of the most vulnerable and fragile times (my struggles with depression) brought vividly up, in an attempt to get people not to hire me.  Day after day, these sites remain up, and it’s really affecting me.   I have reported the sites, and received e-mails explaining until there is legal precedent proving the blog’s inaccuracies (!) wordpress will not remove them.  All of which makes me wonder why I am even bothering playing by the rules (ie, not posting the TRUE info we have on – – –  ), when – – –  plays only down and dirty? 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

February 4, 2014

I am 28.  . . . 

I appreciate your kindness and for defending me.  I think I’m going to have to take a more decided step back from this whole affair.  While I am no longer as afraid for my person (though there are more websites bearing my face, all threatening my financial ruin), I have been left quite adrift from much of this.  I suppose you could call it disillusionment (or maybe it’s just old fashioned depression)  

I’m sorry this message is such a downer.  I’m just not in a terribly bright place right now.  Maybe tomorrow will be better.



It is documentation or evidence.   . . .   (not included.  Please ask if you’d like the observations of how it works.)