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Updated: 10 hours 36 min ago

Time to close chinook fisheries

Thu, 2017/08/17 - 4:18pm

VANCOUVER -- The federal government's most recent data on Fraser River chinook salmon is so dire that that the fisheries should be closed, according to the David Suzuki Foundation.

"The situation for Fraser River chinook couldn't be worse. We're asking the government to immediately close chinook fisheries to protect these fish and the endangered southern resident killer whales that depend on them for food. Our message to chinook fisheries is: Don't wait for closures; volunteer now to stop fishing chinook," says David Suzuki Foundation Western Canada director Jay Ritchlin.

British Columbia has experienced poor Fraser chinook salmon returns in recent years, but we're now at a critical point where returns are so low that emergency actions are warranted, both for chinook and for endangered marine mammals.

A committee responsible for reviewing the status of wildlife in Canada will be assessing Fraser chinook in 2018. Given this year's exceptionally poor returns, it is likely these populations will also be assessed as threatened or endangered, justifying proactive closures of fisheries that target Fraser chinook.

"In light of the poor returns so far, it's alarming that South Coast marine recreational fisheries are still open," Ritchlin says. "Fishers are still catching up to two chinook salmon per person per day, and they shouldn't be."

Fisheries and Oceans Canada's science clearly shows southern resident killer whales depend on Fraser chinook salmon to survive. Canada's Species at Risk Act requires the government to identify conditions necessary for killer whale recovery. The recent Action Plan for the Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) in Canada identifies addressing chinook salmon availability as a top priority. Similarly, the Review of the Effectiveness of Recovery Measures for Southern Resident Killer Whales produced for Fisheries and Oceans also prioritizes more conservative chinook management.

Even Alaska, the Pacific Salmon Commission partner which has been most reluctant in the past to reduce its chinook fishery, has closed all fisheries for chinook salmon. This is an important precedent and critical to the ongoing renegotiation of the U.S.-Canada Pacific Salmon Treaty.

"I'm concerned that Canada's failure to support chinook salmon conservation could severely undermine its credibility and position in these negotiations," Ritchlin says.

Scientists at the Foundation sounded the alarm after reviewing the latest in-season information provided by Fisheries and Oceans Canada last week, which recorded the Albion test fishery's overview of total chinook salmon returns to the Fraser River.

-- END --

Media contact:
Jay Ritchlin, Director General for Western Canada
David Suzuki Foundation
Phone: 604-961-6840


Source: DFO Albion Test Fishery

B.C.'s trophy hunt ban a good step but loophole puts bears at risk

Tue, 2017/08/15 - 11:14am

VANCOUVER -- B.C.'s cancellation of the grizzly bear trophy hunt is a good step but a loophole that allows hunting the bears for meat is cause for concern, according to the David Suzuki Foundation. The provincewide ban goes into effect on November 30, following this year's hunting season. It will not prohibit hunters from killing grizzly bears for meat outside of the Great Bear Rainforest.

"We really hoped provisions to ban the hunt in the Great Bear Rainforest would apply to the whole province," said David Suzuki Foundation Ontario and Northern Canada director Faisal Moola. "The government's decision means hundreds of grizzly bears will be spared, and that is welcome news. Their pelts, paws, heads and other body parts will no longer be displayed by foreign or local hunters as trophies."

Bear experts have long known that keeping grizzly populations healthy means protecting their habitat and ensuring humans do not needlessly kill them.

"Although this decision will help reduce the numbers of grizzly bears killed by humans, the provision allowing them to be killed for meat means bears will still be killed," Moola said. "Grizzly bears are a federally ranked species at risk and it is unclear how a grizzly bear food hunt could be regulated and enforced to ensure hunters do not needlessly shoot bears."

The David Suzuki Foundation has campaigned for an end to killing of grizzly bears for close to 15 years. It has published numerous scientific studies on the controversial practice, mobilized thousands of B.C. residents in opposition to the trophy hunt and last year successfully convinced B.C.'s auditor general to open an investigation into trophy hunt management and other grizzly bear policies.

A century ago, 35,000 grizzly bears lived in British Columbia and flourished from Alaska to Mexico and east across the Prairies. Today, only about 15,000 grizzly bears inhabit B.C. and have been eliminated from the Lower Mainland, the Okanagan and around Fort St. John.

Grizzlies are highly sensitive to human impacts such as loss and fragmentation of their forest and mountain habitats by clearcuts, roads, oil and gas pipelines and other industrial infrastructure. Female bears reproduce later in life and often produce only a small number of cubs that survive into adulthood. Grizzlies travel long distances to find food, putting them at risk of coming into contact with hunters, roads, towns and other human encroachments into their habitat.

Unlike B.C.'s plan, the Alberta government has maintained a moratorium on all grizzly bear hunting since 2006. Grizzly bear hunting is also banned in the continental United States. B.C. grizzly populations remain healthy in many parts of the province, but independent analyses have found widespread overkilling of bears in some areas and at rates that exceed government limits.

- 30 --

Media contacts:

Faisal Moola, Director of Ontario and Northern Canada

Theresa Beer, Communications Specialist

Business and environmental leaders call for strong Canadian oil and gas methane regulations

Wed, 2017/07/26 - 10:41pm

Tackling methane is the easiest, cheapest way to reduce climate pollution
and stimulate local economies

OTTAWA -- Canada's proposed regulations to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry are a positive development -- however, to fully deliver their economic and environmental potential, they must be strengthened, according to a diverse group of Canadian stakeholders representing business, environment and labour. The oil and gas industry is Canada's largest source of human-caused methane pollution.

Reducing methane from the oil and gas sector is a key aspect of the federal government's pan-Canadian climate framework. Methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas, responsible for about a quarter of today's climate warming -- and those emissions come mingled with a host of other smog-forming and carcinogenic pollutants.

"Peer-reviewed research shows Canada's methane emissions are as much as 250 per cent higher than reported by industry and government," said David Suzuki Foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce. "The responsible course is to move urgently and enact strong regulations to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector and accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy."

Leaked methane is also a wasted product. In 2015, nearly C$370 million worth of natural gas escaped from Canadian oil and gas fields, enough to supply every household in Edmonton and Calgary for a year.

"Reductions in methane emissions in the oil and gas sector can be not only cost effective, but also achievable with existing technologies and techniques. Implementation of reasonable methane controls will provide investors with confidence that companies are taking necessary action to protect the long-term value of their business and promoting a sustainable global economy," according to a group of investors, including Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), Ceres Investor Network on Climate Risks and Sustainability (INCR), and Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE), with C$89.75 billion under investment.

Curbing oil and gas methane requires little in the way of new capital or fundamental changes in business practices. Many low-cost solutions are available today. Fixing methane leaks is often as easy as tightening valves and repairing equipment.

"Implementing effective methane regulations is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to reduce greenhouse gas pollution while creating good jobs," said Blue Green Canada program manager Jamie Kirkpatrick. "Innovative Canadian methane management companies are poised for expansion and job growth based on efforts to comply with new methane rules."

In the U.S., existing and proposed state-level policies aimed at reducing oil and gas emissions cover 25 per cent more production than would be covered by Canada's proposed national methane rules. Some states, such as Colorado and California, have gone further than others have and are a model for effective methane regulations.

"Twenty-one countries across the world have recognized reducing oil and gas methane as a huge opportunity, while energy-producing states in the U.S. are pushing forward on methane regulations," said Environmental Defense Fund international affairs director Drew Nelson. "Canada's methane rules -- if strengthened -- will help the country catch up to other jurisdictions."

The group of stakeholders submitted comments independently on the federal draft methane regulations introduced by Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna in May. The final federal regulations are expected later this year or early in 2018, with Alberta's provincial methane rules to be proposed in the coming months.



Jamie Kirkpatrick, Blue Green Canada, 416-323-9521 ext. 289,
Stuart Ross, Clean Air Task Force, 914-649-5037,
Cat Abreu, Climate Action Network, 902-412-8953,
Emily Fister, David Suzuki Foundation, 604-440-5470,
Dale Marshall, Environmental Defence Canada, 613-868-9917,
Lauren Whittenberg, Environmental Defense Fund, 512-691-3437,
Dale Robertson, Equiterre, 514-605-2000,
Kelly O'Connor, Pembina Institute, 416-220-8804,
Audrey Mascarenhas, Questor Technology Inc., 403-608-8606,

BLUE GREEN CANADA is an alliance between Canadian labour unions and environmental and civil society organizations to advocate for working people and the environment by promoting solutions to environmental issues that have positive employment and economic impacts.

Clean Air Task Force is a non-profit environmental organization with offices across the U.S.. CATF works to help safeguard against the worst impacts of climate change by catalyzing the rapid global development and deployment of low-carbon energy and other climate-protecting technologies through research and analysis, public advocacy leadership and partnership with the private sector. For more information, please visit

Climate Action Network-Reseau action climat Canada is a coalition of more than 100 organizations that care about how a changing climate affects people, plants and wildlife. It works to advance solutions to managing carbon pollution through sustainable and equitable development.

The David Suzuki Foundation is a leading Canadian environmental non-profit organization that collaborates with Canadians from all walks of life, including government and business, to conserve the environment and find solutions to create a sustainable Canada through science-based research, education and policy work.

Environmental Defence ( Environmental Defence is Canada's most effective environmental action organization. It challenges and inspires change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.

Environmental Defense Fund ( is a leading international non-profit organization that creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and our Energy Exchange, and Voices blogs.

Equiterre With more than 130,000 followers, 20,000 paying members and 1,953 media mentions (in 2014), Equiterre is Quebec's most prominent environmental group and one of the most influential ENGOs federally. For over 20 years, Equiterre (legal name ASEED) has worked with citizens, farmers, organizations, think tanks, businesses, municipalities and governments of all stripes to influence environment and climate change policies and related practices in Quebec and Canada. Equiterre's national policy work is led out of its Ottawa office.

The Pembina Institute is a non-profit think tank that advocates for strong, effective policies to support Canada's clean energy transition. It has offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, and Ottawa. Learn more:

Questor Technology Inc. is a public, international environmental cleantech company founded in late 1994 and headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, with field offices in Grande Prairie, Alberta; Brighton, Colorado; and Brooksville, Florida. The company is active in Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia and focuses on clean-air technologies that safely and cost-effectively improve air quality and support energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emission reductions. Questor provides high-efficiency waste gas combustion systems, as well as power-generation systems and water-treatment solutions utilizing waste heat. Its proprietary combustor technology is utilized worldwide in the effective management of methane, hydrogen sulphide gas (H2S), volatile organic hydrocarbons (VOC's), hazardous air pollutants (HAP's) and BTEX gases, ensuring sustainable development, community acceptance and regulatory compliance. Questor and its subsidiary, ClearPower Systems, are providing solutions for landfill biogas, syngas, waste engine exhaust, geothermal and solar, cement plant waste heat, in addition to a wide variety of oil and gas projects in Canada and throughout the United States, Caribbean, Western Europe, Russia, Thailand, and Indonesia. With a focus on solid engineering design, its products enable clients to operate cost-effectively in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner. Questor trades on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol 'QST'.

SeaChoice transitions to hold seafood supply chain more accountable

Wed, 2017/07/19 - 10:51am

VANCOUVER/HALIFAX -- For more than 10 years, SeaChoice has helped retailers and consumers make seafood choices that support sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. Now it's embarking on a new direction: To reform unsustainable seafood production and become Canada's leading sustainable seafood watchdog.

SeaChoice is transitioning from ranking seafood products and operating its in-store retail market presence. New goals include improving seafood-labelling regulations, eco-certification standards, fisheries and aquaculture management, and making information more transparent throughout the supply chain.

"We're proud that our retail partners have made great strides in their commitment to sustainable seafood," Kurtis Hayne of SeaChoice said. "Now we'll be working towards solutions for persistent challenges that keep sustainable fisheries and aquaculture from further improvement in Canada. Our transition will benefit seafood retailers as well."

Ensuring accountability in the seafood supply chain is a critical aspect of SeaChoice's new direction. The program is calling for new Canadian regulations to improve seafood labelling to better align with international best practices and major export markets. It will also work to improve management at individual fishery and farm levels. Based on the success of its retail partners, SeaChoice will provide tools and resources to all retailers on how to better embed and improve sustainable seafood policies and procurement practices within their companies and transparently report their progress.

"We've seen more awareness of sustainable seafood in Canada over the last decade, but we realized that continuing along the path of encouraging point-of-sale promotion only is not going to achieve the improvements to fishing and aquaculture practices still badly needed," Bill Wareham of the David Suzuki Foundation said. "We're excited to dig deeper to realise further improvements and transparency of sustainable seafood in Canada over the next decade."

"It's clear Canada needs an organization focused on ensuring greater transparency of seafood sourcing and holding the seafood supply chain accountable," Susanna Fuller of the Ecology Action Centre said.

SeaChoice will continue to engage the Canadian public through programs like citizen scientist seafood DNA testing, updates on fisheries and aquaculture improvements that help reduce the volume of unsustainable seafood in the marketplace, and communicating annual retailer seafood procurement audit results.

- end -

Media contact:

Sarah Foster
National Coordinator -- SeaChoice
c/o David Suzuki Foundation
219-2211 West 4th Ave.
Vancouver, BC, V6K 4S2

Phone: (604) 916 9398


SeaChoice was started in 2006 and is currently a partnership of the David Suzuki Foundation, the Ecology Action Centre and the Living Oceans Society. SeaChoice continues to work as a member organization of the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions and work with consumers, retailers, suppliers, government and producers to accomplish its objectives.

Further information

SeaChoice website:

Taking Stock: Sustainable seafood in Canadian markets:
Download report:
Download key findings:

Canadians eating in the dark: A report card of international seafood labelling requirements:
Download report:
Download summary (English):
Download summary (French):

Putting Canada's seafood labels to the test:
SeaChoice is working with LifeScanner to empower consumers to genetically test the validity of the label and report labelling practices, at major seafood retailers across Canada so that we can better understand the magnitude of poor or incorrect labelling.

Citizen-led "Butterflyway" established in Richmond

Tue, 2017/07/18 - 1:19pm

David Suzuki Foundation volunteers celebrate new corridors for bees and butterflies

RICHMOND, B.C. -- Over the past two months, David Suzuki Foundation volunteers have planted a network of close to two dozen new butterfly-friendly gardens in Richmond, B.C., in schoolyards and city and neighbourhood parks. The plantings were established as part of the Butterflyway Project, a national effort to reimagine neighbourhoods as highways of habitat for pollinators, from bumblebees to monarch butterflies.

"Our team of Butterflyway Rangers has created one of Canada's first Butterflyways, in Richmond's Thompson, Steveston, Broadmoor, Shellmont, City Centre, Cambie West, Cambie East and East Richmond neighbourhoods," Butterflyway Project Richmond lead Winnie Hwo said. "With help from teachers, students, city staff, local businesses, farms, garden clubs and citizens, the Richmond Rangers have made remarkable progress creating an official Butterflyway through their community."

In March, the David Suzuki Foundation began recruiting residents in Victoria, Richmond, Toronto, Markham and Montreal to be part of the program. More than 150 keen volunteers were trained as "Butterflyway Rangers" and supported in their collective mission to create patches of butterfly- and bee-friendly habitat in their neighbourhoods. Neighbourhoods where Ranger troops plant a dozen or more pollinator patches get official David Suzuki Foundation Butterflyway designation, including signs and inclusion in the national Butterflyway Project map.

Victoria Rangers created butterfly-themed costumes and a bike-trailer garden that won second prize in a local parade. Markham and Toronto Rangers filled a dozen retired canoes with pollinator-friendly wildflowers.

The Richmond Garden Club created Butterflyway gardens in Richmond's Cultural Centre Rooftop Garden and the Paulik Park. Richmond Rangers also adopted neighbourhood parks through the city's Adopt-a-Park program. In the next two months, Richmond Butterflyway Rangers will showcase their work in two major events -- The Sharing Farm's Ninth Annual Garlic Festival August 20 and the Richmond HarvestFest September 30.

To date, the Richmond Butterflyway includes the following locations:

Agassiz Neighbourhood Park and nearby cul-de-sac
Bridgeport Industrial Park pollinator pastures
Cambridge Park townhouse and apartment complex
Choice School for Gifted Children
City of Richmond Public Works Yard -- Environmental Programs
J. N. Burnett Secondary School
McNair Secondary School
Myron Court roundabout
Paulik Neighbourhood Park
Phoenix Perennials nursery
Richmond City Hall
Richmond Cultural Centre Rooftop Garden
Richmond Jewish Day School
Richmond Nature Park
Richmond Secondary School
With Our Own Two Hands Preschool and Learning Centre, Steveston
The Sharing Farm
Shell Road Recreational Trail
Terra Nova Nature School
Tomekichi Homma Elementary
Plus, three homes in Steveston and one in Delta

The Butterflyway Project is based on the David Suzuki Foundation's award-winning Homegrown National Park Project and is generously supported by Nature's Way and Cascades.

- 30 -

For further information, please contact:

Brendan Glauser, David Suzuki Foundation, 604-356-8829,

Judge orders a hearing of environmental groups' pesticide case

Mon, 2017/07/17 - 10:39am

TORONTO (July 17, 2018) -- A Federal Court judge has ruled that a case to protect pollinators from neonicotinoid pesticides must be heard before the courts.

Ecojustice lawyers on behalf of their clients at Ontario Nature, Wilderness Committee, David Suzuki Foundation and Friends of the Earth Canada successfully fended off four motions to dismiss their case about the Pest Management Regulatory Agency's (PMRA) continued registrations of neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides without the scientific information necessary to determine the pesticides' risks to pollinators.

In her decision, Federal Court Case Management Judge Mandy Aylen said that the case raises issues that must be heard. In rejecting arguments from the federal government and three pesticide companies, she noted that ongoing PMRA science reviews "will not address the lawfulness of the PMRA's conduct" and that "there may be a public interest in the Court's consideration of whether the PMRA has acted in an unlawful manner," regardless of how those reviews play out.

"We're happy that CMJ Aylen so quickly concluded that our clients' challenge to the PMRA's lax practice warrants a full hearing, and that she completely disagreed that there is a fatal flaw in the case," said Julia Croome, Ecojustice lawyer. "We'll be working as quickly as possible to have our arguments heard in full because these are important issues that need to be determined by the court."

"Neonicotinoid pesticides have been repeatedly approved for use in Canada without properly considering the science, and the effects neonics have on pollinators, for too long," said Eric Reder, Manitoba Campaign Director with the Wilderness Committee.

Ecojustice lawyers Julia Croome and Charles Hatt presented their arguments against nine lawyers representing the Attorney General of Canada and Federal Health Minister, as well as pesticide companies Bayer CropScience, Sumitomo Chemical Company / Valent Canada and Syngenta Canada. They argued that the case could set an important precedent about the regulation of pesticides in Canada and deserves to be heard.

"We've had to fight this move by the federal government and pesticide industry to kill our case, but now we've won our day in court. We must ensure that lax regulation of pesticides -- as we've seen with neonics over the last decade -- never happens again," said Beatrice Olivastri, CEO of Friends of the Earth Canada.

"Neonicotinoids impair bees' resistance to disease as well as their ability to forage and reproduce. With the emerging science, it is concerning that neonics are still approved for widespread use in Canada," said Dr. Anne Bell of Ontario Nature.

Prior to the hearing, two significant scientific studies were released, detailing the effects of neonics on pollinators. The world's largest study on neonics, published in _Science _ journal showed widespread evidence of population decline and shortened lifespans in domesticated and wild bee populations exposed to neonics. A separate study conducted in Canada discovered that prolonged exposure to neonicotinoids affects honey-bee health in corn-growing regions. In the same week, the science continued to mount -- a new study cropped up showing that neonicotinoids might be responsible for a severe decline in B.C. hummingbirds.

"It's our intention to make sure that the PMRA upholds its legal responsibilities as a regulator. There cannot be a sound decision without sound science," Croome said.

- 30 -

About neonicotinoid pesticides and the PMRA:

Neonics are synthetic chemical insecticides that are intended to control crop-destroying pests. They pose threats to non-target organisms like native bees, which are responsible for pollinating one third of the world's crops and 90 per cent of all wild plants.

The federal Pest Control Products Act requires the PMRA to be certain that a pesticide will cause no harm to the environment before permitting its use. More than a decade ago, the PMRA granted "conditional" registrations for two neonicotinoid pesticides, delaying its review of important scientific information on the pesticides' risks to pollinators.

The PMRA is still waiting on studies that are sufficient to justify "full" registration of the pesticides.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Brendan Glauser, David Suzuki Foundation, 604-356-8829,

Julia Croome, Ecojustice, 1-800-926-7744 ext. 530,

Leyla Top, Ontario Nature, 416-444-8419 ext. 236,

Beatrice Olivastri, Friends of the Earth Canada, 613-724-8690,

Environmental groups back in court over pollinator-killing pesticides

Tue, 2017/07/04 - 3:40pm

Groups ready to fight off federal government's attempt to dismiss lawsuit

TORONTO (July 5, 2017) -- Ecojustice lawyers are in court this week to tell the federal government to buzz off.

"Our clients -- and the bees and other wild pollinators -- deserve their day in court," said Julia Croome, Ecojustice lawyer. "The federal government has for years allowed widespread and growing use of neonicotinoid pesticides without doing its homework on the environmental risks. Our case aims to change that."

Ecojustice -- acting on behalf of David Suzuki Foundation, Friends of the Earth Canada, Ontario Nature and Wilderness Committee -- filed a lawsuit last year to protect pollinators from two widely-used neonicotinoid pesticides: Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam. The government and several multinational pesticide companies are now attempting to persuade the court to dismiss the case before it is heard.

This comes on the heels of the world's largest study, published in Science journal. The study showed widespread evidence of population decline and shortened lifespans in domesticated and wild bees populations exposed to neonics. A separate study conducted in Canada discovered that prolonged exposure to neonicotinoids affects honey-bee health in corn-growing regions.

"We are deeply concerned to see the government being so laissez-faire about neonicotinoids' risks to pollinators," said Caroline Schulz, executive director at Ontario Nature. "In approving these deadly pesticides, the government is not properly determining the risks in the first place."

Neonics are synthetic chemical insecticides that are intended to control crop-destroying pests. However, they pose threats to non-target organisms like native bees, which are responsible for pollinating one third of the world's crops and 90 per cent of all wild plants.

"The broad reaching effects of neonicotinoids are deeply concerning. They're decimating bee populations and while other jurisdictions like the EU and France are sounding the alarm, we're still waiting for our government to assess all the science," said Beatrice Olivastri, chief executive officer of Friends of the Earth Canada.

"Evidence-based decision-making is a core tenet of our democracy. It demands that we use the best available information when making decisions that affect human health and the environment," said Faisal Moola, director-general of the David Suzuki foundation. "Disappointingly, the federal government has taken a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil approach when it comes to regulating these pesticides, which is why we are taking it to court."

The groups' lawsuit argues that the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) failed to live up to its legal responsibilities as a regulator, and continues to unlawfully register a number of pesticides containing Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam for use and sale in Canada.

The federal Pest Control Products Act requires the PMRA to have "reasonable certainty" that a pesticide will cause no harm to the environment before registering it for use and sale in Canada. More than a decade ago, the PMRA granted "conditional" registrations for two neonicotinoid pesticides, putting off for a later day its review of scientific information on the pesticides' risks to pollinators. Years later the PMRA is still waiting for studies sufficient to justify "full" registration of the pesticides.

"Other jurisdictions have already moved to ban these pesticides over concerns about their impact on pollinators, the environment and human health," said Beth Clarke, Wilderness Committee development and program director. "It's time for the federal government to do its part to protect pollinators."

- 30 --

For more information or to arrange an interview:

Julia Croome, Ecojustice, 1-800-926-7744 ext. 530,

John Hassell, Ontario Nature, 416-444-8419 ext. 269,

Brendan Glauser, David Suzuki Foundation, 604-356-8829,

Beatrice Olivastri, Friends of the Earth Canada, 613-724-8690,

Grassy Narrows mercury cleanup plan is long overdue; David Suzuki visits community

Wed, 2017/06/28 - 7:54pm

TORONTO (June 28) -- The Ontario government's plan to clean the mercury-contaminated Wabigoon River system is welcome news, says the David Suzuki Foundation. The Ontario government announced it will spend $85 million to clean the mercury that has poisoned the people of Grassy Narrows First Nation and nearby Whitedog First Nation for generations. The English-Wabigoon watershed cleanup is expected to begin next year.

Renowned scientist and broadcaster David Suzuki is visiting Grassy Narrows First Nation today on the heels of the government's announcement. The community invited him to hear how mercury contamination has devastated the community and the local environment. Grassy Narrows and neighbouring Wabaseemoong (Whitedog) First Nations are downstream from one of the worst toxic sites in Canada, the former Reed Paper mill in Dryden, Ontario.

In the 1960s, the company dumped more than 9,000 kilograms of untreated mercury waste into the Wabigoon River. Though the mill (under new ownership) has long since stopped using mercury, evidence indicates the toxic chemical is still leaching into the river from the former industrial site, poisoning fish, which the communities depend upon. Ninety per cent of people tested in Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong show evidence of acute mercury poisoning, including numbness in fingertips and lips, loss of coordination, trembling and other neuromuscular conditions.

The David Suzuki Foundation has been working with Grassy Narrows in support of the cleanup.

"The hopeful resolution to Grassy Narrows' nightmare is thanks to the people of Grassy Narrows. Elders, hunters and trappers, fishers, mothers and youth have campaigned tirelessly for decades to get environmental toxins cleaned from the river, so they can once again eat its fish and practise their culture without fear of getting sick," said David Suzuki Foundation Ontario and Northern Canada director general Faisal Moola.

"I met with Premier Kathleen Wynne earlier this year and was encouraged by her personal commitment to right a historic wrong at Grassy Narrows," David Suzuki said. "The people of Grassy Narrows have fought for more than 40 years to hear an Ontario premier commit to clean their river. The government needs to promptly implement a remediation plan with strict timelines, developed by Grassy Narrows and its science advisers."

The river cleanup, led by Grassy Narrows First Nation, is the first step. Grassy Narrows continues to call for a home for survivors in the community, a fair mercury compensation system, top quality health care and a permanent environmental health monitoring station.

- 30 -

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Brendan Glauser, David Suzuki Foundation, 604 356-8829,

Citizen-led "Butterflyway" blooms in Toronto's east end

Wed, 2017/06/28 - 8:06am

David Suzuki Foundation volunteers celebrate new corridor for bees and butterflies

TORONTO, June 28, 2017 -- Over the past two months, David Suzuki Foundation volunteers have planted a network of seventeen new butterfly-friendly gardens in Toronto's east end, including schoolyard butterfly gardens and wildflower-filled canoes in parks. The plantings were established as part of the Butterflyway Project, a national effort to reimagine neighbourhoods as highways of habitat for local pollinating critters, from bumblebees to monarch butterflies.

"We're excited to announce that our team of Butterflyway Rangers has created Canada's first Butterflyway in the Beaches and Leslieville neighbourhoods," said Butterflyway Project manager Jode Roberts. "With help from city parks staff, local councillors, businesses, parks groups, teachers, Girl Guides and gardening groups, the east end Rangers have made remarkable progress, creating a Butterflyway through their neighbourhood!"

The David Suzuki Foundation began recruiting residents in Victoria, Richmond, Toronto, Markham and Montreal in March to be part of the program. More than 150 keen volunteers were selected and trained as "Butterflyway Rangers" who are being supported in their collective mission to create patches of butterfly- and bee-friendly habitat in their neighbourhoods. Neighbourhoods where Ranger troops plant a dozen or more pollinator patches will get official David Suzuki Foundation Butterflyway designation, including signs and inclusion in the national Butterflyway Project map.

Ranger-led activities have ranged from creating butterfly-themed costumes and a bike-trailer garden that won second prize in a local parade in Victoria to the planting of a dozen old, retired canoes filled with wildflowers in Markham and Toronto. In Toronto's west end, a pair of Rangers led the Butterflyway Lane art project, painting butterfly-themed murals on two dozen garage doors, walls and fences in a laneway facing Garrison Creek Park.

The Toronto Butterflyway Rangers were recruited from the Beaches and Leslieville neighbourhoods in the east end and from Cedarvale-Humewood neighbourhood in the west end. The east end locations where pollinator patches have been created to date include:

  • Adam Beck Junior Public School
  • Beach Hill Street Tree Pollinator Patches
  • Beaches Library Pollinator Patch
  • Beaches Recreation Centre Pollinator Patch
  • Bruce PS / Woodgreen ELC Pollinator Patch
  • Enderby Child Care / Woodgreen ELC Patch
  • Girl Guide Pollinator Patch at 1939 Queen
  • Ivan Forrest Gardens Canoe Garden
  • Kew Park Montessori School Pollinator Patch
  • Leslieville Jr PS Pollinator Patch
  • Leuty Beach Boathouse Pollinator Patch
  • Main Street Library Pollinator Patch
  • Morse Street Jr PS Pollinator Patch
  • Norway Jr PS Pollinator Patch
  • Phin Ave Parkette Canoe Garden
  • The Balmy Beach Club Pollinator Patch
  • Williamson Road Jr PS Pollinator Patch

The Butterflyway Project is based on the David Suzuki Foundation's award-winning Homegrown National Park Project ( and is generously supported by Nature's Way and Cascades.

For further information, please contact:
Jode Roberts, David Suzuki Foundation, 647-456-9752, @joderoberts

Environmental Protection Act report could signal breakthrough for Canadian environmental law

Tue, 2017/06/20 - 12:29pm

OTTAWA -- A new federal government committee report recommends that the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) be amended to recognize, respect and fulfil every person's right to a healthy environment. If passed by Parliament, this will be the first time in history that environmental rights have been recognized in Canadian federal law.

"This a breakthrough moment for Canada's growing environmental rights movement," said Ecojustice lawyer Kaitlyn Mitchell. "Environmental rights are human rights, and we applaud the committee for taking a clear, principled stance on the issue. This is a concept that transcends political lines and is fundamental to the advancement of a more just and equitable society."

The report echoes the message thousands of Canadians have recently sent to their elected officials in Ottawa: The law must meaningfully protect every person's right to a healthy environment, including clean air and safe water. The Standing Committee's report reflects this growing groundswell of support and is a crucial step toward enshrining those rights in federal law. The committee report includes more than 80 other wide-ranging recommendations aimed at improving CEPA.

"These recommendations, if implemented, could have major tangible benefits for the health and well-being of all Canadians, and ultimately save lives," said Peter Wood of the David Suzuki Foundation. "At least 15,000 Canadians die prematurely each year because of exposure to environmental hazards, and Canada ranks nearly last for environmental performance among the world's wealthiest countries. We urge Parliament to bring this into law as soon as possible so we can start to reverse these trends."

A recent study by the International Institute of Sustainable Development shows pollution costs Canada more than $39 billion annually. The report's recommendations could provide a pathway to reducing this economic impact.

In addition to calling for recognition of a substantive right to a healthy environment in CEPA, the report recommends major improvements to procedural rights provisions in the law, including the right to know about, participate in and challenge environmental decision-making.

It has been nearly 20 years since the Canadian Environmental Protection Act -- the outdated federal law that regulates pollution and toxic chemicals -- was last revised. It is currently under statutory review, creating a once-in-a-generation opportunity to significantly strengthen and modernize it to better protect human health and the environment.

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna, and eventually Cabinet, will now consider the report. A bill is expected to be tabled in fall, with debate and voting to follow.

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For media inquiries, please contact:

Kaitlyn Mitchell, Lawyer, Ecojustice | 647-746-8702

Peter Wood, National Campaign Manager, David Suzuki Foundation | 604-761-3075


Ecojustice and the David Suzuki Foundation are partners in the Blue Dot Movement, a national campaign to advance the legal recognition of every Canadian's right to a healthy environment. Since 2014, thousands of Canadians have mobilized to urge their governments to take action in support of environmental rights. To date, 153 municipalities across Canada -- representing more than 40 per cent of Canada's population -- have passed declarations in support of the right to a healthy environment. There are 110 countries that recognize their citizens' right to a healthy environment, but not yet Canada.

Ecojustice, Canada's largest environmental law charity, uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change and fight for a healthy environment for all.

The David Suzuki Foundation collaborates with Canadians from all walks of life, including government and business, to conserve our environment and find solutions that will create a sustainable Canada through science-based research, education and policy work.

Highlights of the report's recommendations

- Consumers should have the right to know if toxic substances are present in the goods they buy.
- Legal minimums should be established for air and water quality standards (currently there are only non-binding objectives).
- Require annual reporting on the state of Canada's environment, including environmental justice issues.
- Include special protections for vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly, First Nations and poor communities, in recognition that they are more likely to suffer from the effects of poor environmental health.
- Empower citizens to bring environmental civil actions, where government is found negligent in its duties, or when the Act is being violated.
- Provide greater resources to implement the Act.

Links and references

- The Report of the Standing Committee
- International Institute of Sustainable Development report on environmental health impacts of pollution
- Conference Board of Canada: How Canada Performs: Environment Report Card

David Suzuki Foundation awards three $50,000 climate change fellowships

Tue, 2017/06/20 - 8:53am

David Suzuki will mentor fellows to help lead the next generation of science communicators

VANCOUVER (June 20, 2017) -- The David Suzuki Foundation has awarded $50,000 one-year David Suzuki Fellowships to three leading Canadian scholars, who will spend 2017-18 studying climate change solutions.

The winners are:

- Melina Laboucan-Massimo, MA in Indigenous governance -- Indigenous Knowledge and Climate Change Fellow
- Brett Dolter, PhD in ecological economics -- Climate Change Economics Fellow
- Jérôme Laviolette, MA in applied science -- Transportation and Climate Change Fellow

"Climate change is the most serious and urgent issue we face," David Suzuki said. "To help chart our path and tackle the impending climate crisis, we must develop the next generation of scientists who not only excel at science in laboratories and in the field, but who can also tell stories and communicate effectively to engage masses of people in the global shift toward a clean energy economy. With the U.S. recently withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, it's more important than ever to build knowledge and understanding of solutions."

Laboucan-Massimo has campaigned internationally with Greenpeace Canada, and has produced films about Indigenous peoples and environmental issues. She will research renewable energy models that can be replicated in communities in Canada, helping to create green jobs and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

"My life path has taken me far from my community, to fight for my people and the sacredness of Mother Earth on an international stage," Laboucan-Massimo said. "The lessons and skills these travels have brought me are ultimately gifts that I have always intended to bring back to communities affected by climate change and fossil fuel extraction. Indigenous communities are on the front lines of resource extraction and climate change, but we are also on the front lines of solutions."

Dolter recently co-created a programming model to explore the costs of decarbonizing Canada's energy systems, and is co-writing a book with York University economist Peter Victor.

"The environmental movement can do a better job of reaching out to people with conflicting beliefs," Dolter said. "Well-facilitated deliberative dialogues can help citizens build shared understanding, and this can help transform environmental politics and our democracy."

Laviolette's MA research uses GPS data to better understand the demand-supply profile of the taxi industry. For the fellowship, he will focus on better understanding individual car dependency and the barriers and opportunities to change this behaviour.

"I became an engineer because I want to use science to find sustainable solutions to today's major issues," Laviolette said. "I intend to find creative ways of promoting sustainable transportation options, initiating positive and long-term change in people's mobility behaviour."

The David Suzuki Fellowships program will help the next generation of environmental leaders tackle complex problems and inspire change. Fellows will be mentored to perpetuate David Suzuki's model of communicating science in ways that are easy to understand and act on.

The 2017-18 winners will be celebrated at a reception in Vancouver in September, when the 2018-19 David Suzuki Fellowships program details will also be announced.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Brendan Glauser
David Suzuki Foundation

Note to editors:

Photos of the three 2017-18 fellows and a fellowships fact sheet are available by contacting the David Suzuki Foundation.

Aquaculture Stewardship Council certified salmon isn't a "Good Alternative"

Mon, 2017/06/05 - 1:02pm

VANCOUVER/HALIFAX -- Today's decision by a renowned seafood recommendation program to label some eco-certified farmed salmon as a "Good Alternative" for consumers is faulty, according to SeaChoice, a collaboration among Canadian environmental groups. Seafood Watch published its recommendations today following a review of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council's (ASC) salmon certification standard.

"We're concerned that the salmon standard -- as evaluated by Seafood Watch -- is not being applied," says Kelly Roebuck, SeaChoice representative from the Living Oceans Society. "Every farm certified in Canada departs from the standard and requires variances to the ASC's environmental health requirements."

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council is a certification and labelling body for farmed seafood that manages global standards for responsible aquaculture.

Allowing variances to meet the sustainability criteria undermines the salmon standard. SeaChoice does not recognize ASC certified farmed salmon as a "Good Alternative" equivalent for consumers because Seafood Watch did not review these variances in its benchmarking process.

Canadian salmon farms are allowed variances in relation to the standard's sea lice indicator, which requires fish farm operators to control sea lice while wild juvenile salmon migrate nearby. The ASC now allows British Columbia farms to be certified with more than 60 times the number of lice permitted by the standard.

"We have always maintained that the regulation of sea lice in Canada is inadequate to protect wild fish, especially small juveniles as they begin their migration," said John Werring, senior policy analyst for the David Suzuki Foundation. "By allowing variances, ASC has diluted the value of its own standard to protect wild fish."

Elsewhere in the world, ASC has also approved variance requests that substantially alter the salmon standard in practice. For example, in Chile and Norway, chemical and drug use far exceeds prescribed limits. In Australia, benthic monitoring procedures have been changed in favour of local regulations.

"The ASC salmon standard was set up to be a global gold standard certification through a multi-stakeholder Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue. Now, four years into operations, the ASC is setting new rules that override the dialogue agreements without an appropriate scientific, transparent and inclusive process," Roebuck said.

SeaChoice is asking the ASC to repeal its variance request processes so that it can legitimately benchmark to a Seafood Watch "Good Alternative" recommendation.

- end -

Media contact:
Karen Wristen
Steering Committee Member, SeaChoice; Executive Director, Living Oceans Society
P.: +1 (604) 788 5634 (Vancouver, Canada)

SeaChoice is a collaboration between the Ecology Action Centre, David Suzuki Foundation and Living Oceans Society and has been working for over a decade to improve sustainable seafood purchasing policies among retailers across Canada, as well as to provide information to help consumers make sustainable seafood choices. SeaChoice is a member of the international Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions. SeaChoice member groups have been active stakeholders in the ASC and the Salmon Aquaculture Dialogues for more than a decade. This has included Steering Committee representation during the dialogue, membership in the Technical Advisory Group, the sea lice working group, as well as active stakeholder engagement on ASC audits and projects.

Further information on SeaChoice website: and and


The ASC Salmon Standard
The ASC salmon standard was created in 2012 following a multi-stakeholder process known as the Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue. The standard is assessed by criteria to eliminate or minimize the environmental and social impacts of aquaculture. Version 1.1 of the standard was published in May 2017. Further information:

ASC Variances and Process
Variance requests allow third-party auditors to seek an ASC interpretation of, or variance from, either a salmon standard criterion or auditor requirements. The variance request process can be used for any of the eight ASC standards. Of the 232 variance requests currently listed on the ASC website, as of May 17, 2017, 121 apply to the salmon standard alone.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Benchmarking Exercise
Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program provides seafood recommendations based on the following rankings: "Best Choices", "Good Alternatives" and "Avoid". To determine which eco-certifications are consistent with at least a Seafood Watch "Good Alternative", the benchmarking exercise compares certification standards to the Seafood Watch methodology. The ASC Salmon Standard Version 1.1 was subject to this exercise and was deemed equivalent to at least a Seafood Watch "Good Alternative". No varied criteria of the ASC Salmon Standard were reviewed. Further information:

Renewable energy shift will continue despite U.S. withdrawal from Paris Agreement

Thu, 2017/06/01 - 12:50pm

VANCOUVER -- The U.S. government's decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement is short-sighted given the global acceleration of renewable energy.

"This top-down decision has left the U.S. administration stranded, spinning its wheels," David Suzuki Foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce said. "By withdrawing from the agreement, the president has taken a weak position that will stall economic and environmental progress."

The withdrawal will result in the U.S. administration surrendering its economic interest on the international stage with respect to climate issues and clean energy. As part of the Paris Agreement, the U.S. took on a leadership role in driving clean energy innovation, as well as monitoring other countries' progress and ensuring transparency. Now, Bruce said, the U.S. administration has weakened its position as a key player on the international stage.

"Global renewable energy investment and opportunities are accelerating by the day," Bruce said. "If the U.S. administration doesn't want to move forward, individual states will. California is already a world leader on climate policy. Texas is rapidly expanding its wind energy. Just because the U.S. has pulled out of the agreement doesn't mean Americans and U.S. investors will sit still. There is substantial economic opportunity in renewables. The U.S. solar industry alone creates one in 50 new jobs."

Polling results from Yale University's Climate Change in the American Mind survey conducted after the U.S. election show that 73 per cent of Trump voters would like to see the U.S. use more renewable energy. As recently as May 7, a small but increasingly vocal group of Republicans is embracing the reality of global warming and taking small steps to press the issue in Congress.

"The president is turning his back on states that voted for him," Bruce said. "Most Americans want renewable energy because it allows people the freedom to generate and supply their own energy and creates economic opportunities."

Bruce stressed that the U.S. can't afford to fall behind its international partners.

"After China, the U.S. is the world's second-largest greenhouse gas polluter -- and China is leading the renewable energy revolution. It has just become the world's biggest producer of solar energy. So even though the U.S. administration is out, the world continues to move ahead. The Paris Agreement is still strong, and countries and states will continue to propel renewables despite this decision."

Although the U.S. is out of the accord, Canada remains signed on.

"This is an incredible opportunity for Canada to seize a global leadership position in clean energy growth," Bruce said. "With World Environment Day on June 5, the U.S.'s decision means that climate action is important now more than ever. This is our chance to show the world that Canadians are innovative and forward-thinking by prioritizing renewable energy and upholding our international commitments to act on climate change for the sake of people now and into the future."

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For more information, please contact:

Emily Fister
Climate Change & Clean Energy Communications Specialist
David Suzuki Foundation

Beau's and David Suzuki Foundation collaborate on bee-friendly farmhouse ale

Thu, 2017/06/01 - 8:29am

Portion of sales of Cross Pollination to benefit foundation's Butterflyway Project


VANKLEEK HILL -- Certified organic Canadian craft brewery Beau's Brewing Company has collaborated with environmental advocacy group the David Suzuki Foundation to create Cross Pollination, a farmhouse ale brewed with organic honey and bee balm. Given Beau's longstanding commitment to sustainability, this latest partnership in its Ottawa 2017 collaboration series is a natural fit.
"To be able to work with the David Suzuki Foundation to further the work they're doing is a real point of pride -- not just for me, but for the whole brewery," says Beau's co-founder Steve Beauchesne.
Among the David Suzuki Foundation's ongoing initiatives is The Butterflyway Project, which aids Canada's declining pollinator populations -- bees and butterflies -- by establishing networks of wildflower patches in neighbourhoods throughout Canada. A portion of Cross Pollination sales proceeds will be delivered to The Butterflyway Project.
As bee balm is one of the most immediately recognizable pollinating plants, Beau's sourced organic essential bee balm oil from Quebec to use in Cross Pollination. Along with organic honey, the bee balm lends sweet, floral notes to the beer's aroma, characteristics that are complemented by the chosen style, a fruity and slightly peppery Belgian-style farmhouse ale. Cross Pollination pours hazy gold with a white foam and finishes clean, with wildflower reverberations. The use of traditional Belgian Saison yeast imparts a mild spice character to the beer.
This marks the sixth in a monthly series of beers Beau's will brew with friends from across Canada to honour Ottawa 2017, the capital city's official celebration of the nation's 150th. Beau's is the official brewery of Ottawa 2017, and its flagship lagered ale, Lug Tread, the official beer.
Cross Pollination will be available Thursday, June 1, in Beau's signature 600-ml bottles at the brewery's taproom in Vankleek Hill, Ontario; online at; and in draught at select bars and restaurants in Ontario.

Beau's All Natural is an employee-owned independent Canadian craft brewery. Founded in 2006 by father and son Tim and Steve Beauchesne, Beau's brews interesting, tasty beers using best-quality certified organic ingredients & local spring water. In addition to flagship Lug Tread Lagered Ale, Beau's portfolio of award-winning beers include the "Wild Oats", "Farm Table" and "Gruit" Series. Beau's has been a recipient of more than 100 awards for brewing, packaging design and business practices, including two gold medals at Mondial de la Bière (Strasbourg, France, and Montréal, Québec); six Gold medals at the Canadian Brewing Awards, seven-times "Best Craft Brewery in Ontario" and seven-times "Best Regularly Produced Beer in Ontario" at the Golden Tap Awards. As a Certified B-Corporation, Beau's meets higher standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. Beau's beer is available across Canada and in New York State. Beau's is the Official Brewery of Ottawa 2017. Oh yeah!

Twitter & Instagram: @beausallnatural

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"Making of" Cross Pollination video

Cross Pollination bottle photo

For more information about Beau's Brewing Co. or to request an interview, please contact:

Jen Beauchesne, Communications and Media Relationships
Beau's All Natural Brewing Co. • (613) 678-2301; (613) 307-0066for deadlines/ beer-mergencies

Steve Beauchesne, co-founder and CEO
Beau's All Natural Brewing Co.
(613) 678-2799; (613) 676-2337for deadlines/ beer-mergencies

Municipal leaders call on federal government to legally recognize the right to a healthy environment

Wed, 2017/05/31 - 10:10pm

OTTAWA -- Dozens of municipal leaders from across Canada gathered in Ottawa today to call on the federal government to follow their lead and legally recognize Canadians' right to a healthy environment.

Since November 2014, more than 150 municipal governments have passed environmental rights declarations, legally recognizing their residents' right to clean air and water, safe food and an enhanced voice in decisions that affect citizens' health and well-being.

"All citizens have the right to live, work and play in a safe and healthy environment," Ottawa Coun. Riley Brockington said. "This is not negotiable and is a basic right for all people."

The David Suzuki Foundation and Ecojustice hosted the event on May 31, bringing municipal leaders and members of Parliament together to celebrate the positive impacts of legally recognizing the right to a healthy environment.

"Local governments are leading the charge, but a federal bill would contribute immensely to our municipal efforts," Peter Robinson, CEO of the David Suzuki Foundation said. "There are critical environmental issues that can only be addressed at the federal level."

Over the past 50 years, the right to a healthy environment has gained legal recognition around the world faster than any other human right. More than 110 nations recognize this right in their constitutions, but Canada does not. Canada ranks 24th out of 25 OECD nations in environmental performance.

"Environmental rights are key to the genuine well-being of citizens and the ability for our citizens to live healthy, prosperous lives," Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said. "In Victoria, we recognize that our natural environment is directly tied to our economic prosperity. Protecting it is vital to our long-term future."

Evidence from other countries shows that legally recognizing the right to a healthy environment leads to stronger environmental laws, better enforcement of those laws and improved environmental performance.

"Eighty-five per cent of Canadians want to see our right to a healthy environment recognized in the Charter," Kaitlyn Mitchell of Ecojustice said. "In the short term, a federal environmental bill of rights would go a long way to protect our families and ecosystems from harmful pollution, and empower Canadians by ensuring they have a say in environmental decisions that will affect their daily lives."

Ecojustice and the David Suzuki Foundation are partners in the Blue Dot movement, a national campaign to advance the legal recognition of every Canadian's right to a healthy environment.

- 30 -

For more information, please contact:

Alan Worsley
David Suzuki Foundation
Office: 604-732-4228 ext 1211
Cell: 604-600-5341

Peter Wood
National Campaign Manager, Environmental Rights
David Suzuki Foundation
Cell: 604-761-3075

Kaitlyn Mitchell
lawyer | Ecojustice
416-368-7533 ext. 538

Ontario's Commuter Cycling Program focuses on making province more active, cyclists safer

Tue, 2017/05/30 - 10:39am

TORONTO -- Ontario's new Municipal Commuter Cycling Program will help more residents leave the car at home and safely cycle to work or school.

The four-year program will support infrastructure such as cycling networks between transit stations, separated bike lanes and cycling signals.

Money for the program will come from the province's cap-and-trade carbon pricing system.

"Last fall, we urged Ontario to build physically separated bicycle lanes," said Foundation policy analyst Gideon Forman. "We're grateful that the province listened to us and other experts and is now fully committed. Protected bike lanes provide incentives for cycling because they offer riders -- especially young ones -- far more protection than painted lines on a road."

Research by scientists at McGill University shows a correlation between safe cycling infrastructure and increased ridership. "We've seen this on the Bloor bike lane in Toronto," Forman said. "A couple of months after it opened, the number of cyclists using Bloor rose 36 per cent."

The Foundation is campaigning to make the pilot Bloor bike lane permanent and is advocating for lanes on Toronto's Danforth Avenue and Yonge Street.

One shortcoming in the new provincial program is its failure to mandate lower speed limits. The City of Toronto is reducing speeds on many streets, and the Foundation urged the province to implement this practice in all municipalities.

"Lower speeds save lives -- something cyclists know all too well," Forman said.

Despite this shortfall, the Foundation believes the new cycling program shows the value of cap-and-trade.

"There's something beautiful about a system that legislates industrial emissions reductions while helping to expand bike lanes," Forman said.

"It puts a price on things we don't want so we're able to build things we do want."



Gideon Forman
Transportation Policy Analyst
David Suzuki Foundation

Announcement for B.C. minority government shows promise for a new direction on environment

Mon, 2017/05/29 - 5:14pm

The David Suzuki Foundation congratulates the BC NDP and BC Green party for reaching an agreement today to form a minority government, which if accepted by the lieutenant-governor, could bring new perspectives on the environment and jobs to the province.

"We're looking forward to working with B.C.'s next government to move our province's environmental agenda forward," Jay Ritchlin, the Foundation's director for Western Canada, says.

"This agreement could be an opportunity for progress on long-standing environmental issues. We're particularly keen to see whether B.C. can regain its status as a Canadian climate leader. That would mean a reassessment of projects such as the Site C dam and Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion and addition of policies to significantly reduce B.C.'s carbon emissions.

"The Foundation would also like to see movement to protect more of B.C.'s incredible nature, especially its ocean areas and coastlines. Support for marine planning partnerships underway will be essential. As well, the next government has an opportunity to end the grizzly trophy hunt once and for all, something British Columbians overwhelmingly support," Ritchlin says.

Details of the agreement between the parties are expected to be released tomorrow.

-- END --

Media contacts:

Jay Ritchlin, Director for Western Canada, David Suzuki Foundation
Cell: 604-961-6840

Theresa Beer, Communications Specialist
Cell: 778-874-3396

New science must guide Canada's regulations to shrink oil and gas industry methane pollution

Thu, 2017/05/25 - 11:02am

VANCOUVER -- The federal government's proposed regulations to reduce fugitive methane emissions from Canada's oil and gas industry mark the beginning of an overdue effort to address this out-of-control problem.

For the first time, oil and gas companies across the country will be responsible for reducing their methane pollution, including detecting and repairing leaks. Methane is the main ingredient in natural gas/fracked gas and is 84 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.

"The David Suzuki Foundation welcomes these much-needed protections," said Foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce. "We need to implement these regulations as quickly as possible given that this problem is so much bigger than we once thought. The industry's carbon footprint is larger than reported, and the regulations released today do not take the latest science into account."

Recent David Suzuki Foundation research revealed that methane emissions in B.C. are at least 2.5 times greater than the industry and federal and B.C. governments acknowledge. Similar current research by the group Environmental Defence suggests that methane emissions in Alberta have also been massively underreported. Accurately measuring the true magnitude of these emissions today will be critical to achieving the federal government's goal of a 45 per cent reduction by 2025.

"Cutting methane emissions is one of easiest and most affordable actions oil and gas companies can take to shrink their own climate change pollution," Bruce said. "Industry has long known about this problem and has the technology to fix it, yet new peer-reviewed science shows it has underreported the magnitude of the problem by more than 250 per cent in the British Columbia. We can't afford to delay action any longer. Industry needs to take responsibility now."

Capturing this gas instead of intentionally venting it or allowing it to leak not only makes sense for the industry that hopes to sell it, but also for strengthening climate action. Since methane only remains in that atmosphere for 12 years -- compared to centuries for carbon dioxide -- cutting these emissions will have a rapid impact on addressing climate change. It has been estimated that methane alone is responsible for 25 per cent of the observed, human-caused changes to Earth's climate.

"We should ultimately aim for a complete end to these emissions by 2030," Bruce said. "They are needless, inexpensive to fix and have been going on for far too long on a scale we now know is much larger than reported. Until we see the full details of the regulations, we won't be certain how close Canada will be to reaching its 2025 target. This is a pivotal point for the government to not only lead on climate action, but to ensure cleaner, healthier air for all people in Canada."


For more information:

Emily Fister
Climate Change & Climate Energy Communications Specialist
David Suzuki Foundation

Federal carbon price a milestone in Canada's efforts to fight climate change

Thu, 2017/05/18 - 11:35am

VANCOUVER -- The federal government's decision to implement a national carbon price is a landmark incentive for producing cleaner energy in Canada.

"This decision was a long time coming," said David Suzuki Foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce. "We've seen effective carbon pricing in B.C., Quebec and California. Now, with the entire country on board, the federal government has laid the foundation for a forward-thinking climate-action strategy."

The national carbon price supports the economy and public health, Bruce said. "Putting a price on carbon pollution gives an incentive for all Canadians -- individuals, families, communities and businesses -- to be part of the solution."

Since B.C.'s carbon tax was introduced in 2008, the province has seen more than 8,400 British Columbians employed in the clean technology sector. Research suggests that since B.C.'s tax was introduced, British Columbians have paid less on gasoline, on average -- thanks to decreased consumption and more efficient use, incentivized by the price on carbon. As the province's gasoline prices increased by approximately 1 per cent (or $0.01 / L), fuel consumption decreased by 1.6 per cent.

"Going green will be much easier now," Bruce said. "Our research shows that renewable energy will become more affordable, spurring innovation, growing Canada's clean technology economy and making the air we all breathe cleaner."

Although the decision marks a milestone in Canada's climate action strategy, Bruce said further details are still forthcoming and the price on carbon will not be effective on its own.

"This is a big, foundational piece in Canada's climate action strategy, but we need to ensure that the federal government enacts other solutions that are also key to our country's climate plan, such as prioritizing cleaner transportation and phasing out subsidies to fossil fuel companies, which act as a negative carbon price and negate this hard-fought progress."

The carbon price will start at $10 per tonne in 2018, increasing by $10 each year until 2022.

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Media contacts:

Brendan Glauser
David Suzuki Foundation

Emily Fister
David Suzuki Foundation

Thousands of Canadians call for action to protect monarch butterflies

Tue, 2017/05/16 - 7:09am

David Suzuki Foundation campaign asks feds to fund research, conservation

OTTAWA, May 8, 2017 -- The David Suzuki Foundation launched a campaign this week calling on the federal government to take action to help monarch butterflies. Over the past 20 years, approximately 90 per cent of the monarch butterflies that migrate from Mexico to Canada have disappeared. After a couple of years of modest improvement, the monarch population dropped by 27 per cent last year.

Supported by more than 8,500 Canadians who sent letters to their members of Parliament and the federal environment minister, the David Suzuki Foundation is calling for immediate funding for research and conservation efforts in Canada. In 2015, government agencies in the United States allocated more than $20 million and set a national target to restore 200,000 hectares of monarch habitat.

"The U.S. responded to the monarch butterfly crisis by investing millions and setting ambitious targets," said Jode Roberts, senior strategist at the David Suzuki Foundation. "In Canada, almost all of the meaningful action has come from citizens and groups that have been planting milkweed and native wildflowers in support of monarchs. It's time for the federal government to do its part."

In December 2016, scientists from Canada's Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) recommended that monarchs be listed as an endangered species under the federal Species at Risk Act. Despite this recommendation, the federal government has yet to legally protect monarchs.

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna became a passionate advocate for monarch recovery recently. Following a visit with her children to the alpine Mexican forests where monarchs overwinter, she wrote a heartfelt article calling on Canadians to act before monarchs go the way of passenger pigeons and buffalo.

"Programs can be quickly created in Canada to fund new research and conservation efforts, based on the U.S.'s remarkable progress," said Rachel Plotkin, science projects manager at the David Suzuki Foundation. "Targets can be set for planting milkweed and other butterfly-friendly species in thousands of yards, parks, roadsides, infrastructure corridors and natural spaces."

For more information, please visit contact:
Jode Roberts, David Suzuki Foundation, 647.456.9752 @joderoberts