Oct 112006

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  • Alta, Sask officials discuss cross-boundary oilsands pollution
  • INTO THE HURRICANE,  Attacking a “NEW POLITICAL FORCE”   by John Boyko


As far as I can determine, our network started the news about the lakes and land in the north dying from the sulfur and nitrogen coming from tar sands development (June).


Others pitched in with public meetings and so on.


The Governments had to do something,  below:   News,  October 10, 2006

EDMONTON (CP) – Alberta and Saskatchewan have begun trying to figure out how to deal with increased pollution drifting over the boundary between them from rapidly expanding oilsands projects.


It seems to have worked!   The emissions appear to have been brought under control.

UPDATE (Good news)   from

2018-08-06   Comment on “Estimates of exceedances of critical loads for acidification”

The exceedances are not huge, and perhaps society will smarten up and scrap the oil sands before any significant damage is done.


In the second email of this series  (2006-09-12)  crazy serendipity placed information in my hands:  the lakes in northern Saskatchewan are dying from acidification caused by downwind drift of emissions from the Tar sands.  The series is:

2006-07-10   Wow. Peter Lougheed speaks out, Tar Sands; plus LA Times & Globe & Mail on pipeline

2006-09-12   Response from Govt to Saskatchewan Lakes dying from tarsands emissions?

2006-09-13   continued re Tar Sands and SO2 emissions, Sask lakes dying

2006-10-11   Where to go?  &  Alta, Sask officials discuss cross-boundary oilsands pollution (Sask lakes dying)

2006-10-11   re Acid rain in Northern Saskatchewan (Alberta tar sands)



Wow!  have we ever done a good job of getting the word circulated.  Thanks so much to everyone.  You never know where, how and when word travels after you hit the “send” button. … From the start we move to



See Bob Weber’s article below.  Nitrogen emissions will have gone from 50 tonnes of nitrogen oxides per day in 1990 to almost 400 tonnes per day by this December. The planned expansion will send the number to 538 tonnes of nitrogen oxides per day.  That’s TONNES, and PER DAY ~~~.

Saskatchewan is recipient of 70%.  Nice, eh?

John Ibbitson writes in the Globe and Mail today about our failure on air pollution.  As you may know, the Globe and Mail invites commentary on some of its articles.  I sent in an abbreviated version of what’s happening, from the Governments’ failures to regulate the developers.

Jeffrey Simpson writes about the air pollution issue, too.  (John and Jeffrey are both regular columnists and authors.) … Now comes the



I actually reached “the end” before “the middle”.   The middle (Bob Weber’s article below) reinforces my decision and my resolve. Here it is:

in four days’ time (this Saturday) I will find out whether I become interim leader of the Green Party of Saskatchewan.  That is an end, of sorts.  “I have had it with the traditional parties”, as Kristine has put it.   The end is also a beginning.

Here’s how it happened. Following Elizabeth May’s election to the leadership of the Green Party of Canada, I phoned the Green Party of Saskatchewan to volunteer some time to help with organizing in Saskatchewan.

Only to discover that the current leader had to step down for family reasons.  I was asked if I would run to be interim leader.

As many of you know, I attended the Campaign School put on by the Canadian Women Voters Congress a few years ago – to test my belief that I can be more effective outside a political party, rather than inside. The School is excellent, but it reinforced my belief that I personally can do more from outside, IF I network with others who are also worried about where we, as a society are headed.

From getting to know Elizabeth May, observing and working with her some, I believe that she is the one political leader who can steer us onto a better course.  But in order to achieve that potential, she simply has to have committed support.  Even then it is going to be a rough go. Too many entrenched interests are threatened.  (See below, INTO THE HURRICANE.)

And so My Belief (remain outside political parties) is true, only until it is proven to be wrong!  Time to go inside.


It’s funny how things work out. You think you are doing one thing. But it leads inevitably to a place where you never dreamed of going.  Yes, the decision is still mine – whether to go.  But on the other hand, how do you NOT go, especially in this case, where I have actively compaigned to get better representation by women, in elected positions?  I sincerely believed that I could do more good helping to organize, and not by being a front-liner.

You need actors for the Play, but if you don’t have behind-the-scenes organizers, the show won’t go on.  Believe me.  A short digression to illustrate.  In the 1980’s, as an at-home Mother, I joined the Dartmouth Players (Nova Scotia).  It was a test to see whether my level of mental functioning would permit me to memorize lines.  I doubted I could.

For our first show we had more people on-stage than in the audience!  After a couple of shows, and going from murderess to seducer, I became the producer in the Dartmouth Players for a few years. That was better than having someone coming to tell you that the lighting person didn’t show up, just as you were about to “enter stage left”.  It made it hard to stay focused on your lines!

I went beind-the-scenes and discovered a rich and rewarding world, working with people.  Still today I am amazed by the talent of so-called “ordinary” people, those who aren’t necessarily “credentialled” or “professional”.  If you just take the time and have the curiosity to get to know the people who cross your path, you are rewarded and delighted.


I join the fray in this new capacity (political party), to help organize people.  Collectively we can help to make things right, in the interests of our health and that of our grandchildren.  It doesn’t matter with which party we are affiliated.

There needs to be some of us in all the political parties if we are to achieve the spirit of working together that is required.


I would like to continue with “our network”, working as we have on issues of common interest.  Hopefully I can keep it separate from “Green Party” work.

My plan was to take on the leadership to help organize, and get that done before an election, at which time a more suitable candidate could be attracted. I am not good “sound-byte” material for the media!

But right now “The Plan” looks naive. The last Provincial Election was in 2003 and the governing NDP are struggling with a tenuous, maybe-one-seat majority after Kevin Yates stepped out of Cabinet.  Federally, who knows?

And we have a provincial by-election in February (MLA Ben Heppner, Martensville, passed away.)

From my viewpoint, although there are some good people in the provincial NDP and opposition (conservative) SaskParty, I cannot bring myself to vote for either party.  The Parties, their direction and leadership, are indistinguishable one from the other.

Cripes! the words sound so strange – “the Party”.   Hanging a sign around my neck that says “politician”?!  Outrageious.

But yes, I think it will be a party!  Life is certainly one big adventure.

Hold on!




Alta, Sask officials discuss cross-boundary oilsands pollution

Bob Weber

Canadian Press

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


EDMONTON (CP) – Alberta and Saskatchewan have begun trying to figure out how to deal with increased pollution drifting over the boundary between them from rapidly expanding oilsands projects.


“We already know that the oilsands do have quite a bit of emissions associated with the projects,” said Paul James of Saskatchewan’s environment department.

“We are receiving some acidic deposition.”

Consequently, bureaucrats from both provinces have blown the dust off a 2002 agreement on managing transboundary environmental effects, meeting several times this year after a long period of quiet.


“I think Alberta’s announcements with respect to the oilsands kind of re-energized things,” said James. “With the proposed expansions, we agreed it needed a more serious look.”


Figures released last month showed that acid rain, once considered a problem only in the eastern provinces, has begun damaging soils and lakes in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.


Already, two per cent of the land tested in Saskatchewan has absorbed acid precipitation exceeding its critical load, the maximum amount of acid a given area of land can tolerate before plant and animal life begins to suffer. Most of that land was in the northern forested section of the province, directly east and in the path of prevailing winds blowing from the oilsands region.

With $94 billion of oilsands expansion projects on the books, officials in both provinces are concerned about increasing emissions of acid rain-causing chemicals.


“The environment doesn’t end at the border,” said Randall Barrett of Alberta Environment.

Acid rain is formed primarily by emissions of suphur dioxide and various nitrogen oxides. Sulphur dioxide is increasingly being controlled through smokestack scrubbers.


But nitrogen oxides, which come from many smaller emitters such as trucks, are harder to clean up. They are also expected to increase faster because new projects use giant trucks in their mining process.


Oilsands mines emitted 50 tonnes of nitrogen oxides per day in 1990. That level had grown to 150 tonnes per day by 2003 and was expected to reach 398 tonnes per day by the end of this year.

If all planned projects are built, the oilsands could be spewing 538 tonnes of nitrogen oxides per day in the future.


About 70 per cent of such emissions eventually blow into Saskatchewan, says James.

“It has the potential to be quite serious in terms of acidifying lakes and ecosystems associated with lakes.”


It could also affect the productivity of forests in Saskatchewan’s logging industry, he said.

Companies are now being asked to consider Saskatchewan in their environmental assessments. As well, monitoring of acid deposition is expected to increase in Saskatchewan, with Alberta officials providing expertise.


Each province, however, will remain responsible for industrial activities in its own jurisdiction.


© The Canadian Press 2006



The following is with thanks to Peter Garden (Turning the Tide Bookstore).



by John Boyko


Into the Hurricane invites Canadians to consider how their political opinions and options are manipulated today by considering how they were manipulated yesterday. As Canadians fight for the future of health care, public education, and social programs that have become woven into the fabric of our political culture, when “NEW POLITICAL FORCE” leader Tommy Douglas is lauded as the Greatest Canadian, Into the Hurricane asks Canadians to consider the hurricane that destroyed the party that was attempting to bring forward the ideas that so many now consider our birthright.

Born in the Prairies, from the ravages of the depression and the horrors of the Second World War, the “NEW POLITICAL FORCE” offered a “NEW” vision and idealistic belief that Canada could rebuild itself to become better and fairer than ever before.

“THE NEW POLITICAL FORCE” grew to the point that by 1943 a national poll found that it was Canada’s most popular party.

The party had its greatest success on the provincial level. In 1943 the Ontario “NEW POLITICAL FORCE” became the official opposition and the Saskatchewan “NEW POLITICAL FORCE” actually formed the first “NEW POLITICAL FORCE” government in North America with Tommy Douglas as premier. Douglas introduced universal healthcare to Saskatchewan, a policy that was adopted by other provinces and implanted nationally by the Liberals under Lester B. Pearson.

But the success of the “NEW POLITICAL FORCE” bred fear among those on the political right including Big Business, the Progressive Conservative Party, and religious leaders who created an anti-“NEW POLITICAL FORCE” campaign that ruthlessly sought to destroy the idea and the party. In fact, at one point the Roman Catholic Church read a letter from every Catholic pulpit in Quebec that basically said that one could not be a good Catholic and a “NEW POLITICAL FORCE” at the same time.

The Communist and Liberal Parties also attacked the “NEW POLITICAL FORCE” from the left. Faced with a left-wing challenge to its power, the Liberals sought to integrate popular “NEW POLITICAL FORCE” proposals into their own political platforms.

This political flexibility allowed the Liberal Party to appear as the “safe” alternative to the perceived radicalism of the “NEW POLITICAL FORCE”, while capitalizing on the popularity of the latter party’s proposed programs by copying them.

The “NEW POLITICAL FORCE” was besieged on all sides. The attacks created a hurricane, which by 1949 had damaged the “NEW POLITICAL FORCE” to the point where prospects for electoral success seemed impossible.

 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Currently, John Boyko is working on a new non-fiction work that will explore Canadian political leadership. John is the History and Social Sciences Curriculum leader at Lakefield College School (best known as the private school attended by Prince Andrew). He has earned a Masters of Arts degree in history, was elected to municipal council, has served on a number of community boards, and lives in the small village of Lakefield, Ontario.


Contact: Patti McCabe, Publicist

Phone: 416-763-2133


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