Tag Archives: Canada

Jane Goodall – Why hasn’t Canada banned the elephant ivory trade?

Thanks to the amazing Jane Goodall for her op-ed in today’s Globe and Mail in honour of World Elephant Day. Please sign our petition or write your MP to end the legal trade of ivory in Canada today.

OPINION

Why hasn’t Canada banned the elephant ivory trade?

by Jane Goodall – The Globe and Mail

My fascination with and love for elephants began when I first encountered a herd. I was on foot in the forests on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater, and I was able to spend time with these magnificent beings in Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park. I was there with my late husband, Derek Bryceson, who was the director of Tanzania National Parks at the time. We had arranged training workshops for park rangers who would follow individuals and record their activities using techniques similar to those we developed in Gombe to monitor chimpanzee behaviour.

Although I could not be there often, I got to know a number of elephants individually. There was Fred, a juvenile male. He was a real show-off and would chase almost anything – antelopes, warthogs, cattle egrets – trumpeting fiercely, ears spread. I even saw him charge a butterfly.

One individual I especially loved was a very old male, Ahmed. His ears drooped and his skin was loose, hanging in folds around his ankles. He moved slowly and deliberately and often stood in the shade by himself, his trunk draped over one of his tusks.

Elephants are highly intelligent. During dry periods, the older members of the herd remember the locations of water holes they visited years before. They form strong social bonds and have emotions similar to our own. If danger threatens, the adults will circle the mothers and calves protectively and are ready to charge. They care for adults of the herd as well: One researcher observed three male elephants attempt to revive a dying matriarch, lifting her body with their tusks as they tried in vain to get her back on her feet.

On World Elephant Day, we pay tribute to these wise, gentle giants who so perfectly represent the natural wonders of the world.

But today is not a time for celebration. This magnificent species, which once roamed across Africa in great herds, has been pushed toward extinction. In 1930, as many as 10 million elephants inhabited the continent. Today, there are only some 400,000 left. This decrease is almost entirely the ugly result of poaching, which is backed by criminal cartels to satisfy the demand for ivory. How shameful that human greed threatens these majestic, intelligent beings, slaughtering them for their tusks.

If we are to save this species, the demand for ivory – and other elephant parts – must end. In 2016, at the most recent conference hosted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the African Elephant Coalition (which comprises 29 countries representing the overwhelming majority of range states in which African elephants are found) called on countries around the world to close their markets for commercial trade in raw and worked ivory. The proposal was supported through a unanimous resolution.

Canada – along with Japan, Namibia and South Africa – has refused to do so. Unlike China, once the largest single market for the buying and selling of legal and illegal ivory, Canada continues to sanction a domestic marketplace for elephant ivory.

As a policy, Ottawa has banned sales of ivory from elephants killed post-1990. But because ivory is extremely difficult to date, illegally harvested supplies enter the Canadian market with little or no difficulty. (Canada has also expressed concern that banning elephant ivory could affect the well-regulated Inuit trade in worked narwhal and walrus ivory, although no evidence has been cited to support this claim.)

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Canada also permits the importation of elephant trophies. Between 2007 and 2016, Canada allowed the legal importation of more than 400 elephant skulls and 260 elephant feet, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which tracks the movement of animals and animal parts.

Hunting causes terrible suffering to thousands of individual elephants. Moreover, profits from poaching fund criminal cartels, destabilize communities and feed corruption. Park rangers, on the front lines of protecting all wildlife, also pay a high price: In 2018, at least 63 African game rangers died in the line of duty, often leaving their families without support. And a number of people working to bring the ivory barons to justice have been brutally murdered.

On World Elephant Day, the Ivory-Free Canada coalition, of which the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada is a member, is calling on Canada to ban the trade in elephant ivory. With its partners, – Elephanatics, Humane Society International-Canada, World Elephant Day and Global March for Elephants and Rhinos-Toronto – the coalition is asking Canada to join other responsible countries in the fight to save these iconic animals from extinction.

When I see elephant tusks or elephant ivory trinkets, I see the suffering and brutal death of the individual to whom they once belonged and the terror and heartache of the others in the herd.

But together we can change this. I choose elephants, not ivory. I choose an Ivory-Free Canada.

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Canada Refuses an Ivory Ban Motion to Protect Endangered Elephants

Vancouver – Global March for Elephants and Rhinos Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Canada Refuses an Ivory Ban Motion to Protect Endangered Elephants

Prior to the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos

Vancouver Joins the Global March with a Mardi Gras for Elephants and Rhino

Vancouver, BC, September 15, 2016 – Canada was one of only four countries that objected to motion by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) last weekend. The motion called for every country to ban their internal trade of ivory and would help protect elephants facing extinction due to rampant poaching. The ban is enthusiastically supported by 145 cities participating in the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos on September 24. Well over 50,000 people are expected to march in 38 countries, to coincide with the first day of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) conference

The feud between Canada, South Africa, Namibia and Japan, versus the other 213 government agencies at the World Conservation Congress, caused walkouts and threats of cancelled membership. Canada argued that the ivory ban would affect the hunting of walrus and narwhal by the Inuit in Canada’s Arctic. The two government agencies that abstained were the Canada Parks Agency and Canadian Museum of Nature.

An African elephant is killed every 15 minutes and a rhino is poached every 8 hours, sometimes enduring days of pain before death. There are fewer than 400,000 elephants and 18,000 rhinos left in the wild in Africa. At this rate, it is estimated that both species face extinction in the wild in as soon as 10 years.

While the IUCN motion is not legally binding, it is hoped that it will encourage a commitment to both an international and domestic ban of ivory trade at the upcoming conference in Johannesburg. John Scanlon, secretary-general of CITES has said the conference “is without doubt one of the most critical meetings of CITES in its 43-year history.”

Canada is a signatory to CITES but is yet to publicly state the level of protection it intends to afford elephants, when it votes at the conference. Given the significance of this year’s conference, the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos is poised to be the world’s largest demonstration to save animals. Vancouver, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Sudbury, London, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax will all take part.

Elephanatics, an elephant conservation non-profit group in Vancouver, is hosting the city’s third year of participation in the Global March with a Mardi Gras for Elephants and Rhinos. The family-friendly celebration of these iconic animals facing a tenuous future, is free to attend at Creekside Park beside Science World on Saturday, September 24 from 12pm – 2pm.

Activities will be free or by-donation and will cater to all ages. Attendees can also learn how easy it is to help save the few elephants and rhinos that remain. Live music, Mardi Gras necklaces, elephant mask-making, wildlife face painting, henna tattoos, a pro-animal graffiti wall, and an elephant costume competition (for humans and dogs!) will be available. A professional photographer will give guests a photo of themselves beside a 2-metre high elephant or rhino image. Elephanatics also promise the biggest “trunk sale” of pachyderm-themed jewelry, homewares and clothing. All donations benefit the Elephant Crisis Fund – an anti-poaching initiative from Save the Elephants and the Wildlife Conservation Network.

“Can you imagine your children not ever being able to see a live elephant in the wild? The Mardi Gras is a unique opportunity to tell Canada’s CITES delegates to stand with the rest of the world and stop the poaching. Canadians don’t want a world without elephants, but we have to speak up at this event or it might be too late. Elephants don’t forget – so let’s not forget elephants,” explained Fran Duthie, Co-Founder, Education Director and Volunteer at Elephanatics.

Patricia Sims, an award-winning documentary filmmaker (When Elephants Were Young) will explain how an ivory sale price in China of CAD$1,500 per kilogram attracts international terrorist groups like the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Sims co-founded World Elephant Day (August 12). Now in its fifth year, the initiative partners with 100 elephant conservation organizations worldwide.

Film and television actor, Paul Blackthorne (“Quentin Lance” in Vancouver-filmed Arrow), will also be a guest speaker. “It is more important than ever to support awareness raising efforts which pressure governments to implement and enforce wildlife crime laws. We simply can’t be the generation responsible for the extinction of elephants and rhino,” says Blackthorne.

Also joining the speaker’s panel is NDP MLA Mike Farnworth who has tabled a private member’s bill (M-234) banning the sale of ivory and rhino horn. This bill closes a loophole that permits trade in ivory and rhino horn in British Columbia.

To tell CITES delegates to provide elephants with the highest level of protection, a petition can be signed at http://www.elephanatics.org/blog. To take part in history’s largest and most powerful global wildlife event, join the Mardi Gras for Elephants and Rhinos and demand an end to poaching on Saturday September 24 beside Science World.

About Elephanatics

Elephanatics is a non-profit organization founded in May 2013 in Vancouver. It is run exclusively by volunteers who aim to help the long-term survival of African and Asian elephants through conservation, education and action. Elephanatics first introduced Vancouver to the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos in October 2014 and has hosted the annual free event ever since. www.elephanatics.org

About Global March for Elephants and Rhinos

Global March for Elephants and Rhinos is a registered, non-profit organization in the United States. It is a grassroots, worldwide movement demanding an end to ivory and rhino horn trade. The first march was in 2013. www.march4elephantsandrhinos.org

For more information or to book media interviews –

Contact: Tessa Vanderkop

Director of Community Engagement

Elephanatics

elephanaticsinfo@gmail.com

604-789-8886

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Too Much Happiness: Alice Munro

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Congratulations Alice Munro on winning the Nobel Prize for Literature!

‘There’s nothing much to write about here except go read Alice Munro – go now – read her . It’s true.  She must be experienced. She kept me up at night well past my bedtime pulling me line by line into each word and sentence, into each complete world she creates in every single one of her stories. Wow. And yet the stories she tells is the stuff of every day life and I have to insert ‘and yet’ in here again because there is an  unexpectedness of where these stories travel and take us to, their breadth, their depth, their ability to capture an entire world and still draw you into some lurking darkness of life’s ordinariness, the incremental blocks that build a life’s arc, a character’s failure or their greatest moment. Wow. Did I say that already? Read “Child’s Play” and see the twists and turns she takes us on or the story of a young woman who sits nude reading poetry for an older man – nothing happens yet everything happens.  Does Alice Munro write with that beautiful turn of phrase that  great literature often seduces with? No, not really. She doesn’t actually have to. She builds her stories more surgically than that – that is her master craft. Have I said ‘wow’ already? Wow, go read Too Much Happiness. Go read any one of her collections.

Not surprisingly this weekend’s Globe and Mail did a story on Alice Munro: 10 Telling Details Behind the Genius of Alice Munro.

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Paul Wells: Harper’s plugged pipeline policy – Time to change the agenda again?

I quite enjoyed this article by Paul Wells in Macleans.ca – So for your reading pleasure here it is –

“What if the major policy initiative of Stephen Harper’s majority mandate is a non-starter?

This will take some explaining. Let’s begin with a pop quiz. You’re in charge of a big pipe that carries liquid a long distance. One day you notice the pressure inside the pipe is dropping. What on Earth could be making the pressure in your pipe fall?

If it takes you less than 17 hours to answer, “hole in the pipe,” then you would have been much too clever to work for Enbridge in July 2010, when more than three million litres of diluted bitumen gushed out of that company’s pipeline and into the wetlands and rivers near Marshall, Mich. That’s an amount of ethical oil roughly equivalent to the amount of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The oil kept spilling for 17 hours after the initial alarm. By Enbridge’s own rules, the response to a pressure drop should have been to shut the line down until the cause was known, but, you know, whoopsie.

“While there have been larger onshore oil spills, in this case, Enbridge Incorporated is responsible for the release that has been the most expensive to clean up,” said Debbie Hersman, the chairman of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Bureau. “According to a recent Enbridge SEC filing and the EPA, the total cleanup cost, so far, is more than $800 million. That is already more than five times the next most-costly onshore oil spill.” Continue reading

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Omnibus Bill Passes: Research on oil-sands impact cost centre its funding, scientists say

Unfortunately for Canadians we have a Conservative majority government so the Omnibus Bill will be passed by the legislature. Three years from now when we have the opportunity to vote the Conservatives out it will be hard to undo all the damage they are doing with the removal of environmental protective measures in Canada. This article discusses the impact of the closure of a world-reknowned research facility that studies toxins in freshwater lakes.

“Leading environmental scientists say Ottawa is cutting funding to a research station that studied the ecology of freshwater lakes for more than 50 years because it is producing data the Conservatives do not want to hear as they promote development of the Alberta oil sands.

A massive budget bill that is about to be passed into law by Stephen Harper’s government will cut about $2-million in annual funding to the Experimental Lakes Area in Northwestern Ontario and close the highly-regarded research centre by next April if a new operator cannot be found.

David Schindler, a word-renowned biological scientist who teaches at the University of Alberta, took part in a news conference Friday to decry the decision, which he said will eliminate an effective monitor of the impact of the oil sands.

Recent studies conducted at the station have found that when the mercury input to a lake is cut off, the lake begins to recover, Dr. Schindler said. That contradicts the oil industry’s position, which says that once a lake is polluted with mercury, it is beyond repair and adding more won’t make any difference, he said.

“My guess is our current managers don’t like to see this kind of [research] because the oil sands have an exponentially increasing output of mercury,” Dr. Schindler said. “I think the real problem is we have a bunch of people running science in this country who don’t even know what science is.” Continue reading

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David Suzuki: What’s so radical about caring for the earth and opposing Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline?

Here’s an excellent editorial piece by David Suzuki and communications specialist Ian Hannington in this week’s Georgia Straight about our government and the proposed development of the two pipelines. Very well done.

By David Suzuki, January 17, 2012

Caring about the air, water, and land that give us life. Exploring ways to ensure Canada’s natural resources serve the national interest. Knowing that sacrificing our environment to a corporate-controlled economy is suicide. If those qualities make us radicals, as federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver recently claimed in an open letter, then I and many others will wear the label proudly.

But is it radical to care for our country, our world, our children and grandchildren, our future? It seems more radical for a government to come out swinging in favour of an industrial project in advance of public hearings into that project. It seems especially radical when the government paints everyone who opposes the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project as American-funded traitors with a radical ideological agenda “to stop any major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth.”

It’s bad enough when our government and its “ethical oil” and media supporters don’t tell the truth, but it’s worse when they don’t even offer rational arguments. Their increasing attacks on charitable organizations and Canadians from all walks of life show that if they can’t win with facts, they’ll do everything they can to silence their critics. And we thought conservative-minded people valued free speech!

The proposed Northern Gateway and Keystone XL pipeline projects and the massive, mostly foreign-controlled expansion of the tar sands are not about finding the best way to serve Canada’s national interests. If we truly wanted to create jobs, we would refine the oil in Canada and use it to reduce our reliance on imported oil, much of which comes from countries that government supporters say are “unethical”. If we really cared about using resources for the national interest, we would slow development in the tar sands, improve environmental standards, increase royalties and put some of the money away or use it to switch to cleaner energy, eliminate subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, and encourage Canadian companies to develop the resource.

Instead, we are called radicals for daring to even question the wisdom of selling entire tar sands operations to China’s state-owned oil companies and building a pipeline so that the repressive government of China, rather than Canadians, can reap most of the benefits from the refining jobs, profits, and the resource itself. We are radical because we are concerned about the real dangers of oil-filled supertankers moving through narrow fiords with unpredictable weather conditions and through some of the last pristine ecosystems on Earth. We are condemned by our own government because we question the safety of two pipelines crossing more than 1,000 streams and rivers through priceless wilderness—a reasonable concern, in light of the more than 800 pipeline spills that Enbridge, the company in charge of the Northern Gateway, has had since 1999.

And so here we are, a country with a government that boasts of our “energy superpower” status but doesn’t even have a national energy plan. A country willing to sacrifice its manufacturing industry, its opportunities in the green-energy economy, its future, and the health of its people for the sake of short-term profits. A country hell-bent on selling its industry and resources wholesale to any country that wants them, without regard for the ethics or activities of those countries. Continue reading

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The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud: A book review


I can’t imagine two first-time novels being more different than The Bone Cage and Johanna Skibsrud’s Giller Prize winner The Sentimentalists. The former relies heavily on the meat and potatoes of narrative writing while the latter delivers a slow evocative story with beautiful, lyrical passages that pause (sometimes endlessly) on details that don’t often advance the story.

Johanna Skibrud clearly lends her poetic talents to this thoughtful exploration of the impact of war and memory on family and the isolation it creates in generations that come long after the war is over.

Napoleon Haskell is an American Vietnam war veteran who leaves his North Dakota trailer home and moves to Casablanca, Ontario to live with Henry, the father of his best friend Owen, who died under mysterious circumstances during the war. His grown, daughter, whose own life is at a crossroads, goes to spend the summer with her father and Henry at the old house where she had spent many summers as a child. Continue reading

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