An open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

I remember following your election victory in the early hours of October 20th, 2015 while on vacation halfway around the world. I was hopeful your leadership would be an improvement compared to another term of Stephen Harper. You said, “We are committed to ensuring that the 2015 election will be the last federal election using first-past-the-post” and I was optimistic. I heard your speech about supporting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, promising necessary reconciliation with our First Nations. You’ve supported the global scientific community’s overwhelming position that climate change is real and impacted by human behaviours, voicing your commitment to The Paris Climate Accord to lower Canada’s carbon emissions and prevent a catastrophic future.

You were saying all the right things. You even looked the part: a young, active West Coast guy with a Haida tattoo who boxes, snowboards and does yoga. You come off as very relatable. When I heard you talking about our beautiful West Coast – “This has been home for me for many, many years, throughout my life, and I get this place; I get how important it is to support it” – I was almost won over to becoming a supporter of yours, almost. There is just one problem: what you’re saying isn’t adding up to what you’re actually doing.

You’re supposed to be our country’s trusted leader. In your promotion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, you claim your position is supported by science, economics, law and even First Nations. None of these assertions are true, however. The reality about the proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion is that it is connected to the antithesis of what you claim to support. Like you, I’m also a leader. With that title comes the responsibility to hold the trust of those you lead. As a father of two young girls, I’m constantly trying to instil an understanding of good values in them. We should tell the truth and be consistently honest and keep our word. If we don’t do those things, people will not want to associate with us and may become hostile towards us.

On March 21, 1951, the Trans Mountain Pipeline Company was created by a special Act of Parliament. On that same day, the company made a pipeline proposal to the Board of Transport Commissioners. Ownership of the company was split between Canadian Bechtel Ltd. and Standard Oil. This was the same year that saw Parliament “reform” the racist Indian Act. In 1952, the pipeline was constructed and oil was flowing through it by 1953. For perspective, First Nations people weren’t even allowed to legally vote until 1960. The very foundations of this project are premised by a lack of consent and disenfranchisement of the original stakeholders. Without first acknowledging and remedying this initial injustice how can current and future considerations of this project be deemed just or fair?

You campaigned with promises of overhauling the National Energy Board’s flawed approval process and fully consulting with First Nations, only to pull an about-face and use that same faulty mechanism to drive forward Trans Mountain’s approval. The human rights tragedy of this project isn’t only about self-determination and court battles. It is far simpler. On the other end of this pipeline, at its source, is an ongoing attack on the ability of First Nations inhabitants to live a fair and healthy existence. Tar Sands extraction is rapidly destroying the Boreal forests and river ways, that are home to many First Nations that rely on them to eat, drink and practise their traditional ways. No sane economic rationalization can put profits above human lives; your rhetoric about jobs is shameful. As our leader, your job is to safeguard the lives of all Canadians. The oil patch worker’s job is not more important than the lives of all the people being poisoned by Tar Sands extraction and the carbon impacts to our planet. The Alberta Tar Sands account for 38% of Canada’s carbon footprint.

Like you, I have travelled to Fort McMurray. I think we could both agree the experience of being there was very impactful. The bleakness, the lack of animal life and the stench of death were startling to me. I’m confused that you would want to expand this wound. For me, the impact of my time there was that I needed to do everything in my power to prevent the continued degradation of our planet and the poisoning of the local inhabitants. To this end, I have opposed the Tar Sands and their expansion both with words and deeds. Most recently, I’ve joined with local First Nations to protest at Kinder Morgan’s terminus and holding tanks on Burnaby Mountain.

I was arrested on March 24 for peacefully expressing my opposition to this terrible project. The discretion used in choosing to arrest certain protestors on some days for doing the same thing in the same place while others are left unmolested by authorities is concerning. By my count, there should be several hundred more arrestees at the time of this writing. Your tweet on April 8, 2018, “Canada is a country of the rule of law, and the federal government will act in the national interest. Access to world markets for Canadian resources is a core national interest. The Trans Mountain expansion will be built” did not sit well with me. If you’re so interested in the rule of law, why have most of the arrestees not been given their due process? Most of us have not been served notice for hearings consistent with a timely or appropriate manner. The charges have been changed from civil to criminal contempt and have been processed at a pace that hasn’t allowed many to retain counsel or mount a healthy defence. The rule of law also says that First Nations must be engaged in meaningful consultation, something you continue to avoid by engaging in meetings without their leadership represented.

Please reconsider your position on this pipeline because it will never be built. A recent poll by Insights West shows 44% of British Columbians are opposed to Kinder Morgan’s pipeline. It further explains that 23% of that number are willing to engage in civil disobedience, roughly 10% of adults in our province. This is a fight you won’t win. Choose to be on the right side of history with greater consideration of our future generations. Invest in sustainable alternative energy sources that will benefit all Canadians.

Ishi Dinim

Is BC Hydro’s Site C Dam “In Bad Faith”

… and does it uphold our concept of “Social Contract”?

An open letter to all parties:

Acciona Canada
Samsung C&T
Voith Hydro
BC Hydro
BC Hydro Board of Directors
Government of BC

Contractors: You have knowingly entered into contracts with BC Hydro, the BC Provincial Government, and possibly others, to provide goods and services for the Site C power project.

At the time of your signature to these contracts, you were well aware of opposition to the project:

  • multiple legal challenges,
  • over 100,000 signatories , over 300 scientists and scholars, the Royal Society, numerous organizations,
  • the Union of BC Municipalities, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs,
  • no increase in domestic use of electricity for the past ten (10) years; no need for the project,
  • myriad alternatives: Columbia River, Burrard Thermal, upgrades to other BC dams and power houses, and electricity conservation – 2x the power at 1/6th the cost,
  • other renewable sources of electricity solar and wind and geothermal.

You were also aware that 1) The former Chair of the Joint Review Panel, Dr. Harry Swain, 2) a former CEO of BC Hydro, and 3) former Premier Harcourt all publicly opposed.

You were aware that First Nations Treaty rights were not being honoured, and that First Nations were strongly opposed to the project.

You were aware that the Government of BC 1) excluded review of the project by the BC Utilities Commission, 2) excluded land areas to be affected from review by the Agricultural Land Commission, and 3) excluded both the Columbia River Treaty and Burrard Thermal power from consideration.

BC Hydro, BC Hydro Board of Directors, and BC Government: You have intentionally created a situation which circumvents essential aspects of major project approvals. That approval process forms the basis of “social contracts,” being those developments that improve the standard of living while being “socially acceptable and desirable.” The aspects of project review and approval denied:

  • Review by government established agencies, such as BCUC.
  • Using legislation to exclude specific areas of review to enable projects to proceed.
  • Using legislation to facilitate approval of projects.
  • Ignoring legal challenges to projects.

Acting in Bad Faith?

Contractors, BC Hydro, BC Hydro Board of Directors and BC Government

Despite this knowledge, all parties wilfully agreed to proceed with signing contracts for goods and services to build the Site C project.

A serious legal question, is raised: “Did the various parties Act in Bad Faith?”

In a 2014 Supreme Court decision, there is a requirement that all contracts, to be valid, can only be agreed upon if all parties are acting in Good Faith. Justice Thomas Cromwell wrote, “…good faith contractual performance is a general organizing principle of the common law of contract… recognizes obligations of good faith contractual performance… a common law duty… applies to all contracts to act honestly in the performance of contractual obligations.”

This would apply to entering into contracts as well as contract performance.


Evidence of “Bad Faith”

Lack of project need, lower cost of alternatives and public opposition

It has been clearly shown that there is no clear need for the project. It has also been clearly shown that there are at least 10 lower-cost alternatives and very strong public opposition.

Given these compelling facts, it is probable that all parties “Acted in Bad Faith” and did not honour basic tenets of the”social contract,” that of BC Hydro providing electricity under socially acceptable conditions.

As a consequence and as a result of a recent election and impending change of government and management of BC Hydro, it is probable that the Site C project will soon be paused and or terminated. The consequences are: all work must stop and equipment orders delayed, renegotiated or cancelled.

To continue with further work may be greatly to your detriment. You are being asked to withdraw your services and goods at the earliest possible time, to prevent failure of payment, as such services and goods will not be necessary.

FURTHER – any contracts entered into beyond this date by yourselves, jointly or severally, will not be honoured by the residents of British Columbia.


Roger Bryenton, P. Eng,(former). MBA
BC Resident, 778-232-1326, Vancouver.

Alarming actions of the RCMP

An open letter

Justin Trudeau, The Right Honourable,
Prime Minister,
Hill Office, House of Commons,
Ottawa. K1A 0A6

The Honourable Christy Clark,
Premier of British Columbia,
Box 9041, Station Prov. Govt.,
Victoria, BC, V8W 9E1

Jody Wilson-Raybould,
The Honourable, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada,
284 Wellington Street,
Ottawa, K1A 0H8

Suzanne Anton,
Attorney General of British Columbia,
Ministry of Justice,
PO Box 9280, Station Prov. Govt.,
Victoria, BC, V8W 9J7

Dear Mr. Trudeau, Ms. Clark, Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Ms. Anton:

This letter is an open letter and will be distributed widely in Canada.

I wrote to you, Prime Minister, and to responsible others on January 30, 2017, in relation to the assault upon law and justice undertaken in BC (and Ottawa) in what appears to be an active criminal conspiracy on the part of a large, organized body of members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They acted, one may believe, to violate the law and, specifically, to entrap converts to Islam: “Impoverished recovering heroin addicts with mental health challenges” (1), John Stuart Nuttall and Amanda Marie Korody in the elaborate production of a false and fraudulent Islamic Terrorist Event in Victoria, BC, July 1, 2013.

The assault upon law and justice is meticulously recorded by the Honourable Madam Justice Catherine Bruce in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Justice Bruce writes in her judgement: 2016/07/29, Docket 26392, Registry Vancouver, “Regina v. John Stuart Nuttall and Amanda Marie Korody” paragraph 769: “Based on the evidence before me, I am satisfied that the RCMP knowingly exploited the demonstrated vulnerabilities of the defendants in order to induce them to commit the offences.” Justice Bruce writes, paragraph 770, “Not only did the police take over the leadership, but they committed illegal acts to enable the defendants to play their small part in the plan.” And she writes, paragraph 775, “This is truly a case where the RCMP manufactured the crime; this is not a situation where the police simply ‘instigated, originated or brought about’ the offence.”

Madam Justice Bruce writes earlier, paragraph 63, “From the outset of the planning for Project Souvenir [the name given to the Nuttall/Korody entrapment], it was apparent that the RCMP at the National Headquarters level considered the investigation to be urgent and a national priority.” She goes on: “Senior officers at RCMP Headquarters E-INSET Division were regularly briefed on the progress of the investigation.”

The seriously considered evidence and judgement by Justice Bruce, which I placed before you Mr. Trudeau, and Ms. Wilson-Raybould, required (A) a response to me, and (B) publicly announced action to investigate in order to confirm the facts Justice Bruce placed on the court record, and to pursue prosecution of RCMP officers involved in the alleged criminal activities … as part of an overall and full review of RCMP operations.

The replies I received, written anonymously, and purporting to be from (a) a BC Ministry of Justice office and (b) from the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP were confused and, as I read them, intended to mislead. Since no one signed the letters, I could only believe they were fraudulent and so I chose to regard them as frivolous. They read as if they are frivolously intended.

Your refusals to reply to me, Mr. Trudeau and Ms. Wilson-Raybould, I take to be demonstrations of cowardice. I believe that you can only be considered (by reasonable and prudent Canadians) to be accessories to whatever crimes have been committed because of your failure to fulfill the responsibilities that your oaths of office and your positions held in trust for all Canadians require of you.

Your cowardice strengthens the alleged criminal position of the RCMP, individually, and as an institution, presenting an increased danger to the Peace, Order, and Good Government of Canada.

Your cowardice recalls the actions of Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau in all the matters relating to the October Crisis of 1970. Careful investigators allege that, with a small group of insider others, he released the RCMP from the requirement to act within the law and bore serious responsibility for the murders of Pierre Laporte and Mario Bachand, as well as for countless criminal acts engaged in by the RCMP.

So alarming was RCMP criminal activity over several years in Quebec that on June 16, 1977, the Quebec government established the Keable Commission to investigate. In rapid response, Pierre Trudeau, on July 6, 1977, established, by Order in Council, (thereby being able to avoid parliamentary scrutiny) The McDonald Royal Commission of Inquiry Into Certain Activities of the RCMP to counteract and smother the work of Keable. The McDonald Commission became the most expensive Royal Commission in Canadian history, its three Commissioners all closely connected to the Liberal Party. Francis Fox, then federal Minister of Justice, challenged the work of the Keable Commission to limit it and reduce its effectiveness.

The McDonald Commission created a smokescreen over criminal RCMP activities, examining them only in secrecy and without public report. Pierre Trudeau, some speculate, hastened to create the McDonald Commission in order to protect RCMP officers he released into criminal activity, and to protect himself from scrutiny in the matter.

Your cowardice, Mr. Trudeau and Ms. Wilson-Raybould, in the Nuttall/Korody matter threatens justice and the rule of law in Canada. It cannot but appear to be tacit approval of the violence done to law and justice by the RCMP. If the RCMP is not to become a fully licensed criminal organization, you must act to follow upon the findings of Justice Catherine Bruce.

Already many reasonable Canadians believe the country is moving towards the condition of a police state, a belief confirmed again and again when police officers undertaking criminal acts are excused as not subject to laws which non-police citizens are held rigidly subject.

Which of you will say the country is not moving to the condition of a Police State when you, by simple observation, are doing nothing about a large body of RCMP officers, spending millions of dollars over many months, operating from Headquarters in Ottawa and E Division in British Columbia in order to commit crimes under the Terrorism Section of the Criminal Code which carry sentences of life imprisonment? Their months-long inhumane victimization of “impoverished recovering heroin addicts with mental health challenges” only reveals the conscienceless brutality of the RCMP members involved.

To the voting population of Canada, your refusal to act, Mr. Trudeau and Ms. Wilson-Raybould, says all that needs to be said about the government to which you belong and its real intentions for the future of Canadians.

Yours truly

R. D. Mathews

(1) Barry Zwicker, “Brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.”Common Ground, Nov. 2016, pp. 5 and 22. j

Strategic voting is essential

• The Conservatives may be a disaster at governing a nation, but they are experts at manipulating electoral wins. In the last two elections, they improved their position by six percent in the weeks just before the elections.

The Conservatives are noted for their propaganda and negative advertising. The corporate media will explain the wisdom of “staying the course.” And now the Conservatives have recruited the highly successful spin-doctor from Australia, Lynton Crosby, also known as the Wizard of Oz or the Lizard of Oz. In Australia, he is sometimes called the “attack dingo” and in Britain, a “political Rottweiler.” His favourite phrase is “below the radar,” meaning sneaky.

So we better brace ourselves for a struggle. He was behind four successive conservative wins in Australia and also behind the majority win of David Cameron in the recent British election. The polls, at the time of writing [mid-September], show Canadians to be in a vulnerable position: the NDP are at 32%, Conservatives 30%, Liberals 30%, Greens 5% and Bloc Quebecois 3%. If the Conservatives make their usual 6% increase (with Lynton Crosby’s help), they will end up with 36% – knocking the NDP down to 29% and the Liberals down to 28%.

This situation is a threat, but only if we lose sight of the real battle. The critical struggle is between the vast majority of progressive Canadians (70%) and the corporate controlled Conservatives (30%). It is the struggle of the combined forces of Liberals, NDP and Greens to regain a caring society. But we must work together for the common cause, through strategic voting.

There is terrific power through strategic voting. The Conservative may gain 6% through a propaganda campaign, but that is nothing to what Canadians can do through strategic voting. In the last election, the Conservatives had won 21 seats in BC, but are currently polling to win only seven seats. In four of these ridings, the Conservatives are leading by only 2%, 4%, 6% and 7% – and could easily be defeated by a relative handful of voters swinging their votes to the party most likely to defeat the Conservatives. There is real power by working together. Divided we fall.

Strategic voting can defeat almost any Conservative candidate in Canada. In this election, we must abandon our old habits of voting for the party we think is best. Instead, we should vote for what is best for Canada – removing the Conservatives. Does it really matter whether the Liberals win a few more seats than the NDP or vice versa? They are both essentially progressive parties and so are the Greens. They all promise to bring in “proportional voting.” They all are concerned about climate change; they all are concerned about the unfair distribution of wealth; and they all believe that peacekeeping is more important than war making. They all want the restoration of democracy. These are exceedingly important issues, but not shared by the Harper Conservatives.

Great things can happen with the removal of the Conservatives. This will happen as long as we do not split the progressive vote.

For those who feel that voting is frustrating and insignificant, be assured that every vote done strategically will actually count. Every vote goes directly to defeat the Conservatives. Just vote for the candidate most likely to defeat the Conservatives and that will make the difference.

– Doug Carrick, Hornby Island

Understanding Harper’s actions takes some mental acrobatics

Understanding the Harper government’s foreign policies requires great mental flexibility. While Mr. Harper misses no opportunity to denounce Russia’s land grab of the Crimean peninsula, he fully supports Israel’s land grab in the Occupied Territories. Harper also proclaims it is absolutely illegal for Ukraine’s eastern provinces to strive for separation from Ukraine and that Russia needs to be punished with stiff sanctions, conveniently forgetting that, in the 1990s, when the Serbian province of Kosovo was striving for separation from Serbia, NATO went on a bombing campaign to assist Kosovo in gaining independence.

Along with other western leaders, Harper believes it is essential to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, yet when Mr. Obama threatened, “All options are on the table,” including attacking Iran, there was no word of dissent from Mr. Harper. So it’s OK for countries that have nuclear weapons to attack other countries for wanting to develop them. What is more, the nuclear countries signed a nonproliferation treaty, obliging them to dismantle their nuclear weapons. They did not follow through on this agreement. Instead, they modernized their nuclear weapons, making them even more lethal. The double standard is breath-taking.

Harper wants to protect us from Isis terrorists who are decapitating their enemies. In his view, they are a great threat to us so he has sent the Canadian Air Force to bomb Isis targets in Iraq and Syria. The fact is that of the few so-called terrorist acts planned in Canada, none have been linked to Isis. They were all planned by home-grown, disillusioned psycho cases on the margin of society. Nonetheless, Harper sent in the air force to bomb away!

Harper is shocked, and rightly so, by the brutality of Isis in its campaign to capture territory in Iraq and Syria. Our corporate media does a good job keeping this brutality front and centre in the public eye. Yet Harper seems undisturbed by the brutality of drone attacks, air force bombardments and the high civilian casualty rates – brutalities that our corporate media does an excellent job at keeping out of the public eye. Further, our staunch ally, Saudi Arabia, publicly decapitates and/or stones to death some 90 people each year. Of course, our corporate media does not bring us that news.

Harper publicly states he is baffled why young Canadians want to join Isis forces. Could it be these young people want to boot out foreign military bases? (How would we like it if Iraq had military bases in our backyard?) Could it be they are fed up with drone attacks and resent that Iraq’s oil, which Iraq nationalized during the 1970s, is once again controlled by the big multinationals? Could it be they resent the sweetheart deals Iraq’s oil industry was forced to sign while under foreign military occupation? Might they be fed up with puppet governments kept in power by foreign money and foreign intervention?

If there is one common theme in Harper’s foreign policy, it is that right or wrong, fair or unfair, peaceful or violent, if it is lucrative and/or gains votes, it becomes Harper policy.

– Reimar Kroecher, North Vancouver

Vote together. Defeat Harper.

taking signatures

Move Canada forward

by Jolan Bailey, Leadnow Vancouver organizer

Leadnow ( is an independent advocacy organization that runs campaigns on the major issues of our time, engages people in participatory decision-making and organizes in communities across Canada. The organization envisions a country where people work together to build an open democracy, create a fair economy and ensure a safe climate for all generations. It’s been just over three years since 3,000 people from all across Canada came together before the 2011 election and began building the campaigning community. People become part of this community by taking part in campaigns to defend our democracy and hold governments accountable to the values of a majority of people across Canada.

Do you remember how you felt after the last federal election when you heard the news the Harper Conservatives had won a majority government?

I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. How could a seemingly progressive country like Canada elect a government that slashes budgets and is dead-set on becoming a dirty oil superpower?

It happened because of vote-splitting in our broken first-past-the-post voting system. Even though a majority voted for a new government against the Conservatives, their votes were split between the Liberals, the NDP and Greens. And because of our electoral system, this handed the Conservatives 100% of the power, with less than 39% of the vote.

The call for cooperation

Like me, a lot of people across the country were outraged. More than 55,000 people signed a Leadnow petition urging opposition parties to cooperate in ridings where Conservatives won because of vote-splitting and to then pass electoral reform.

The idea of formal cross-party cooperation to defeat the Conservatives has been a contested topic among opposition parties. Despite various levels of commitment to cooperation and electoral reform from opposition leaders, both NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau have committed to going alone in the next election. It’s now up to voters to take matters into our own hands.

It’s up to us to make sure we get the progressive government that we want – a government that’s committed to fighting climate change, investing in a fair economy and improving our democratic institutions.

What will happen in 2015?

Now, the 2015 election is just around the corner and despite their record, the Conservatives could win again.

The fate of the Harper Government will come down to a few dozen swing ridings where the outcome could be decided by a few hundred votes. If the vote splits in these key ridings, we could face four more years of Harper.

Vote together. Defeat Harper. Move Canada forward

Leadnow just launched a three-step campaign to unite progressive voters across party lines to defeat the Conservatives in 2015.

Step one: Build a bloc of voters

Leadnow is building a bloc of voters who commit to working across party lines to defeat the Conservatives by collecting signatures on a pledge. More than 10,000 voters have already signed the online pledge to Vote Together and volunteer teams are forming across the country to collect pledges with a door-to-door campaign.

Step two: Focus support behind the best candidates who can defeat Conservatives

As more people in a riding sign the pledge, Leadnow will focus more resources into helping voters in the riding unite behind one candidate.

If 1,500 people sign the pledge in a riding, Leadnow will commission a poll to find out which candidates have the best shot at defeating the Conservative. The results of the poll will be reported to supporters in the riding, along with research and background on the candidates running in their areas so people can vote with the best information available.

If thousands more sign the pledge, Leadnow will ask voters in the riding if they want to formally endorse a candidate.

In order to win the endorsement of the Leadnow community, candidates would need to be electable – meaning they have enough support in the riding that they have a legitimate shot at defeating their Conservative opponent – and acceptable – meaning that Leadnow supporters accept their positions on the issues.

If an endorsement is made, Leadnow will work to unite supporters behind the endorsed candidate.

Step three: Get out the vote

Whether or not a candidate is formally endorsed, Leadnow will work to get out the vote to make sure hundreds of thousands of progressive voters show up and vote on election day.

It’s bigger than the election

Leadnow has heard loud and clear from our supporters that while defeating the Conservatives is an important priority, our campaign has to be about more than ousting Harper.

Leadnow formed to work for an open democracy, climate justice and a fair economy in Canada and while Harper is standing in the way of progress on these issues, we know our goals can’t be accomplished just by changing the government.

To make long-term progress, we need power and we need politicians to take us seriously. Having a visible impact on the 2015 election helps build the power we need – if politicians know that our community has the power to make a real difference at the ballot box, they will do better at truly reflecting our interests.

Call to action

You can get involved by going to to sign the pledge to Vote Together or by calling toll-free 1-855-LEADN0W (1-855-532-3609).

Leadnow Spark event:

Flickr page:

Herbicide pollution and GMO labelling

a open letter to the Minister of Health

by Thierry Vrain

In October, Dr. Thierry Vrain requested a meeting in Ottawa with the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Canada’s Minister of Health, to discuss GMO labelling. The meeting was cancelled, then granted, then cancelled again. At press time, Dr. Vrain had still not met with the Minister, but he did provide her with the letter below, which outlines recent studies.


To the Honourable Rona Ambrose

Minister of Health:

The confusion about the safety of GMOs is quite simple. The only GMOs in our agriculture are Glyphosate Modified Organisms also known as RoundUp Ready crops and the only GMOs in our food supply are from those crops. RoundUp Ready crops are engineered to be sprayed with the herbicide RoundUp and this technology has become so successful that RoundUp has become a major pollutant. This chemical pollution is antibiotic; it impacts the microbiome, impairs CYP enzymes and depletes food of essential mineral micronutrients. As a background paper for the impact of this pollution, I offer my speaking notes to the American College of Nutrition last week in San Antonio, Texas. Most of the studies I cite were published in the last five years.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient of the herbicide RoundUp, a new molecule created in 1960 by Stauffer Chemicals, a US company with a business of cleaning industrial pipes and boilers of mineral scales. The mineral deposits (same as in electric kettles) are called scales and the pipe cleaning chemicals are called descaling agents. Glyphosate was patented in 1964 in the US as a powerful and very broad spectrum descaling agent. Meaning it binds to metals indiscriminately and does a great job at “dissolving and preventing minerals from being reactive or bioavailable in solution.” When the descaling solution was disposed of in nature, it was obvious it killed plants. The chemical company Monsanto promptly bought the molecule, patented it as a herbicide in 1969 and got it commercialized in 1974. This molecule is making history because glyphosate has become the most successful agricultural chemical in North and South America wherever RR seeds are used. The farmers using this technology get simpler and cheaper weed management and despite higher input bills and sometimes disappointing yields, and with weed resistance spreading fast, they adopted it in droves.

The herbicide RoundUp had a completely novel chemistry for a herbicide in 1969. It was deemed to kill plants by bonding to only one protein enzyme in the chloroplasts – the same enzyme that is also in bacteria and fungi. Enzymes are metalloproteins with a metal atom as a cofactor at the active site of the molecule. Bacteria and plants and fungi have a metalloprotein called EPSPS for short and 5-Enol Pyruvyl Shikimate-3 Phosphate Synthase if you want to know what it does. It works with other metalloproteins to “build” several of the building blocks of proteins, the aromatic amino acids. These molecules are also building blocks for a large number of aromatic molecules we call secondary compounds. Glyphosate binds tightly to the manganese atom at the centre of the EPSPS metalloprotein, so tightly that the protein cannot move and do its work making aromatic amino acids. No protein synthesis means there is no metabolic work possible, a quick death for the plant, or the fungi or the bacteria.

Animals do not make their own aromatic amino acids since they lack the shikimate pathway with the EPSPS metalloprotein. Because of its presumed mode of killing plants, glyphosate was pronounced innocuous to humans and registered as such in 1974 in the USA. Glyphosate has no acute toxicity and at the time of registration in the US, and all those studies since, nobody has bothered to check for chronic effects beyond three months. Considering the chemical properties of this pollution, one would expect long-term chronic effects, something on the scale of scurvy or beri beri, for lack of micronutrients. The industry-sponsored feeding studies proving the safety of GMOs do not include testing for the safety of glyphosate. None of them bother to mention the residue levels of glyphosate in the feed. Meanwhile a fast growing series of independent studies in various countries published in the last five years have ascertained the impact of glyphosate on various enzymes of human cells and organs of animals.

The first RoundUp Ready crops to be commercialized were soy and corn, released in 1996. Since then, RR crops have been adopted enthusiastically by farmers, particularly in North and South America. Today, close to 500 million acres of soya, corn, cotton, canola and sugar beet are engineered to be sprayed with RoundUp. About 40% of all engineered crops are grown in the US; most of the rest are grown in Brazil, Argentina, Canada and a handful of other countries. RR crops are now sprayed with close to two billion lbs. of glyphosate every year and so much of that finds its way into processed food and feed that the EPA had to raise the legal residue limits last year to accommodate a new reality.

Glyphosate is antibiotic, a powerful and broad spectrum antibiotic. The mode of kill is again alleged to be very selective. The glyphosate molecules impair the functioning of the shikimate pathway in bacteria the same way it does in plants. Only one enzyme is affected in a pathway that animals do not possess. The antibiotic patent describes its effectiveness to kill bacteria at 1 ppm and this was confirmed last year in Germany. At this point, I usually spend a minute or two explaining why a low level antibiotic diet for the rest of your life is not a good idea. I describe the recent interest of the medical field in a large joint research project involving many universities to decipher the huge community of thousands of species of bacteria that call us home.

The Human Microbiome project is the equivalent of the Human Genome project in its scope. We are vastly outnumbered, roughly 10 to one – one hundred trillion bacterial cells call our lower intestine home. They are forever sending signalling molecules to each other and to all human organs, particularly the brain. All animals depend on their symbiosis with those bacteria and humans are no exception. They are the teachers of our immune system; they make many neurotransmitters for our brain and have a strong connection to the heart and the whole digestive tract. They literally feed us all kinds of molecules that we require. We call them essential, like vitamins and such. They digest and recycle most of our food. Most human organs rely on molecular signals from the microbiome for normal functioning. As goes the microbiome, so does its human shell.

A recent review of the medical literature on celiac and other diseases shows the link to imbalances of the microbiome that are fully explained by the antibiotic properties of glyphosate. And the same authors published another review of the impact of glyphosate on the CYP enzymes and the microbiome. Samsel and Seneff have suggested that glyphosate’s suppression of CYP enzymes and its antibiotic effect on the human microbiome are involved in the etiology of many chronic degenerative and inflammatory diseases that have grown to epidemic proportions since 1996, since the advent of the RoundUp Ready technology.

We lack any official data on residues in food or in water in Canada – no epidemiological studies of any kind have ever been done. All we have are the legal maximum residue limits now allowed by the EPA in RoundUp Ready foods: human cereal 30 ppm, animal grain 100 ppm, soybean 120 ppm, and everything else in between. Here, an inquisitive mind will ask why there is such a high residue limit for cereal when none of the grains are engineered to be sprayed with RoundUp. This is when you learn that RoundUp is sprayed on non-engineered crops with the intent to kill them right before harvest. This is done to mature the crops quickly – kill and dry, to make them easier and cheaper to harvest. The RoundUp herbicide has now become a dessicant.

There is direct toxicity to animal cells because glyphosate binds to metals indiscriminately and not just in plant cells. It binds to metals in solution and to metal co-factors at the centre of metalloproteins anywhere. For example, glyphosate binds to the iron atom at the centre of a large family of protein enzymes called CYP. There are 57 different CYP enzymes in the human body, and approximately 20,000 in animals, plants, bacteria and fungi. The CYP enzymes are oxydizers, the first line of digestion and detoxification of most substrates. David Nelson wrote in a review of the CYP enzymes, “The CYP enzymes of humans are essential for our normal physiology and failure of some of these enzymes results in serious illnesses.

Nancy Swanson has made public her statistical analyses of the US Centre for Disease Control’s statistics about the health status of America when placed next to the statistics of the US Department of Agriculture about the spread of RoundUp Ready soy and corn. Her correlation analyses show very high coefficient values suggesting strong links between glyphosate residues in RoundUP Ready food and chronic illnesses.

Medical and chemical reviews and peer reviewed studies have explained the mode of action of glyphosate and its impact on many metalloproteins. Human cell studies have shown acute toxicity (12-15) and animal studies have shown chronic toxicity (16-21). Glyphosate bioaccumulates in the plants and in any animal that eat the plants. In humans “Glyphosate accumulates in the lungs, the heart, kidneys, intestine, liver, spleen, muscles, and bones … and chronically ill people have higher residues in their urine than healthy people.”

To conclude this presentation of the nutritional status of Glyphosate Modified Organisms, I would say that foods made from RoundUp Ready soy and corn and sugar and canola, etc.,… are depleted of the minerals that are bound to the glyphosate molecules. Crops sprayed with RoundUp, whether they are RoundUp Ready or not, contain residues of glyphosate. Foods made from crops containing residues of glyphosate are, by definition, depleted of minerals and toxic.

Minister, your reassuring words have been quoted widely. “Currently, there is no… scientific evidence that says genetically modified foods are unhealthy. It is impossible for us to mandate a label because our labels have to be based on evidence that it is an unhealthy product for Canadians.” I hope you have found here the scientific evidence you require to act and that you join over 60 governments in the world who have found this evidence compelling enough in the past few years to legislate some form of labelling or ban RoundUp Ready crops and the herbicide RoundUp. j


Dr. Thierry Vrain,


Farewell Farley

Farley Mowat died on May 7, 2014, at the age of 92. He was one of a kind and his writing and life were infused with humour and a genuine love and respect for all living things – except for the humans who are ruining the planet for everybody else.

His views on nuclear power and nuclear weapons were entirely consistent with his views on everything else.

The infinite stupidity of building arsenals of “weapons” whose use would reverse the accomplishments of four billion years of evolution of life on Earth and of mass producing indestructible, highly toxic radioactive waste byproducts that will probably outlast the human race – especially if we keep on going the way we are going – staggers the imagination.

Rest in peace Farley.

– Gordon Edwards, president, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility,

We are transforming the Palm Oil industry

In March, we released our report, Donuts, Deodorant, Deforestation: Scoring America’s Top Brands on Their Palm Oil Commitments. Our scorecard showed that a new standard for responsible palm oil – one that protects tropical forests and our climate – has emerged. There’s no excuse for corporate America to continue buying palm oil that causes climate change, loss of endangered species habitat and tropical deforestation.

More than 63,000 people sent emails to six of America’s biggest companies – including Colgate-Palmolive, General Mills, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, McDonald’s, and Dunkin’ Brands – asking them to go deforestation-free.

It’s working! Three companies – Colgate-Palmolive, General Mills and Procter & Gamble – have announced new palm oil commitments that protect all forests and all carbon-rich peatlands. This is a tremendous step forward for the climate, tropical forests and endangered species and we couldn’t do it without you.

Together, we are transforming the palm oil industry. Join the more than 63,000 people who have asked America’s biggest companies to go deforestation-free. Tell Dunkin’ Brands, McDonald’s and PepsiCo that now is the time to adopt strong deforestation-free and peat-free palm oil policies. Visit Click on Take Action at the top and then click on “Tell America’s biggest brands to use deforestation-free palm oil.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet’s most pressing problems. We combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe and sustainable future.

– Sharon Smith, Campaign Manager, Tropical Forest & Climate Initiative, Union of Concerned Scientists,

Vancouver should deal with its own waste

The corporations that want to build an incinerator in Nanaimo to burn Vancouver¹s garbage have filled whole pages of our newspapers without printing anything that could help us make an informed decision.

How much ash is left from the burn? Which chemicals does it consist of? Which watershed will it be dumped in or are they planning on dumping it in the ocean?

Of that dumped in the airshed, which chemicals are they? How large are the particles, especially the metals, and which polymers and benzine chains can we expect? And how much will there be?

They haven’t even provided a cost-benefit study as to how much power is generated after the amount used in the burning process is deducted along with the wages, infrastructure costs, transport and bonding for cleanup if a barge flips in our estuary. Wheelabrator, Ur-baser and Seaspin should quit whining and Vancouver should deal with its own waste.

– Jim Erkiletian, Nanaimo

BC Hydro grasping at straws

BC Hydro’s latest “electricity sale” announcement has become the last straw. Hydro has come full circle. It has arrived at the place it began, and apparently doesn’t quite recognize it : California.

On January 23, 2014, Hydro officials told the Joint Panel Review for Site C here in Fort St John that it needs to sell its electricity to their brothers in California. It seems that Hydro has no memory, virtual or otherwise, of its recent past experiences with its California brethren. California is presently going through a severe drought, which will possibly remove 2500 MW of power from its grid system this year. BC Hydro sees a window of opportunity.

Recall how BC Hydro (and ENRON Corp) sold huge volumes of electricity to Californians at super inflated prices? BC Hydro is more than willing to jump in to assist Californians again. (Never mind that Site C won’t even be operable for another 10 years!)

Hydro’s short-term memory must also be replete considering that just four short months ago, Energy Minister Bill Bennett relinquished the BC position in a long-standing court battle with California. This stems from our sale of electricity to California from 1999-2000. BC has now agreed to pay California a penalty of three quarters of a billion “taxpayer” dollars. So we now have completed the circle of life; in the words of the Lion King, the “need” for Site C evolved over time through the eyes of government and Hydro:

1990’s Site C – electricity for California!

2006 Site C – Horn River Shale gas play

2007 Site C – bitumen production/Alberta

2009 Site C – self sufficiency/425,000 homes

May 2011 Site C – LNG compression/transmission

2011 Site C – self-sufficiency/452,000 homes

Dec/2013 – MLA Pimm states Site C is for “industry”

Dec/2013 – Premier Clark states Site C for LNG

January 23/14 Site C – electricity for California!

Full circle. Of course, back in the early 2000s when the dollar signs were flashing in front of the corporation, it began selling electricity to Californians (our brothers) for as much as $1500/MWh. All good Ponzi schemes must come to an end. The bottom fell out of the electricity market and BC Hydro was accused of collusion. BC Hydro accepted the blame (under Minister Bill Bennett’s watch) and the rest is history. We now pay the piper (California) $750,000,000!

So here we are once again, with BC Hydro scheming on how it will make a fast buck on the backs of the ever-forgiving BC ratepayers. Will things be any different this time around? Will history again repeat itself or will April 1, 2014 be the first of many, many electricity rate increases that finally trigger a public reaction? Time will soon tell.

Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us.

– Mike Kroecher

– Rick Koechl

– Charlie Lake

An open letter

The talks on the possible Port Hardy/Bella Coola ferry closure are disturbing to us, to say the least. We are heavily invested in tourism here in the Chilcotin and we are continuing to invest in BC’s largest industry. You are probably well aware of the migration of people towards the north. What is not so obvious is the total by-pass of the Chilcotin by this economic thrust.

Eagle Lake in the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Region of BC
Eagle Lake in the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Region of BC

A shortage of continuing industry has been depopulating the Chilcotin – a fact that is weighing on the locals and a fact we are trying to counteract vehemently. Tourism here feeds on breathtaking – as well as subtle – scenery and in combination with the ‘western image’ of ranching sells well.

In contrast to tourism and ranching, and its annually renewable resource of grass, the other resource-based booms created by large-scale logging and mining can be impressive but always only in the short-run; neither are appealing to the modern world traveller and never do they leave behind continuum.

The comprehensive round trip from the Island to the west coast or from metropolitan Vancouver on through an enticing countryside to Bella Coola, with an anticipated visit to charming Victoria, is a most inviting way to leave behind domestic, foreign and mostly private wealth and includes a lot of people living on reservations. Fact is the population on the reservations is the only one growing in the Chilcotin. These people’s need to integrate into economic development, social wellbeing and stability is no less than all other Chilcotin residents’ needs and the single biggest boost towards this development was the introduction of the ferry service in question now.

Service-oriented infrastructure like lodges, restaurants, processing and packing facilities, fuelling stations and stores, have sprung up over recent years, bringing work and financial security to many Chilcotin families and thus establishing a sense of worth and direction. All this happened as a result of the ferry service.

What do you imagine the Chilcotin will be like in another generation with this evolution being shocked to a stop? And you, as the elected leaders of our beloved Province, consider closing a service so very promising and proving to be essential to the betterment of your people?

Finally, we are seeing substantial investments in this area, with not only the “to be exported” dollar as the bottom line but also with a good measure of sustainability and a bit of sorely needed culture, moving away from subsidized welfare towards livelihoods that are worked for and ultimately earned.

I remember well Victoria’s promise to earmark surplus logging revenues from the Chilcotin for the Chilcotin. Alas, these dollars were spent on the magnificent Port Mann Bridge. I am not complaining but reminding and by doing so I hope to touch on human decency and the strong belief in democracy so ingrained in the people of this Province.

– Felix Schellenberg, Redstone, BC,

photo of Eagle Lake © Stefan Pircher