Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment
Fisherville, Ontario, Canada
Tel. 416 410-0432, Fax: 416 362-5231

Vol. 14, No. 2, February 23, 2009

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This issue of Gallon Environment Letter is about the Federal Budget 2009. There is a lot about energy and the environment in this Budget, not all of it clear and not all of it good. But it is there and we hope our analysis helps your interpretation.

President Obama has come and gone. Environment Minister Jim Prentice had expressed a hope for an agreement on a greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program. It was not to be, at least not yet, but may come in the future. Our editorial explores whether this would be a good thing for Canada.

Will Amos has written to us about our St. Lawrence Cement coverage and Treena Hein has written to draw our attention to Storm Cunningham's book: The Restoration Economy. Also in our 30 Second Summary feature we report on the leading edge Delhi, India, initiative on plastic bags and draw your attention to the fact that Waste Diversion Ontario has issued a draft report for consultation on the Blue Box Program Plan Review.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada will be looking for applications for those who could effectively use some money for new biofuel technologies and their twice annual application period for funding for other types of environmental technologies also will be announced this week. Our associate editor reviews Slumdog Millionaire as a movie about Sustainable Development. As we conclude our Groundhog Month issue we ask a question we never thought we would ask: Where’s PETA when you need them?

Next issue we will take an in-depth look at the recent report of Canada’s Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development. The report sets a higher bar for federal government environmental performance that could have an impact on many future programs, possibly including some of those announced in the budget.


Recently we have heard a great deal from the Federal Government on how they want to do a greenhouse gas cap and trade program with the Obama administration. Apparently some in the government were hoping that this subject would be the Prime Minister’s agenda in his meetings with President Obama. That we only got agreement on a technology dialogue, as if talking is action on the challenge of climate change, does not mean that the idea of a binational cap and trade program is dead.

As GL sees it, there is little doubt that a binational cap and trade program would be good for Canada. We are short of low cost industrial emission reduction opportunities and on a percentage basis our emissions have risen faster than those of the US: a 25.3% rise between 1990 and 2005 since 1990 compared to 15.3% for the United States. A significant part of our emissions are the result of our resources and manufactured goods trade with the US, something that the Kyoto Protocol failed to address. Developing a cap and trade program that spanned both countries would give our industries access to lower cost carbon credit opportunities and would allow the Conservative government, still less than forthcoming on climate change initiatives, to say that Canada was only doing something that the US has already decided to do.

However, we have two or maybe three, questions.

First, it is not at all clear why the US administration would want to enter into a joint cap and trade program with Canada. President Obama has made it quite clear that climate change will be one of his priorities. It is still not a priority for the Canadian government and, at least in the short term, designing a binational program will add a level of complexity that will only slow down US progress while offering the US program nothing of significance. Or is there something? The fact that Canada does not add much to a US cap and trade program is so obvious that we have to think that it would be obvious even to a bunch of climate change sceptics like the Harper cabinet. So does the Canadian government have something up its sleeve to offer the US? We wonder what it might be.

Second, although a binational program would reduce the cost of carbon credits for Canadian emitters in the short term, the tables could be turned in ten years. If Canada moves forward with major nuclear power initiatives in Ontario and in Alberta, Canada might well have a glut of carbon credits for sale in that timeframe. The Canadian numbers would still be small on a continental scale but they might be enough to attract significant US investment in Canadian power and steam generation. Is the federal government planning its binational cap and trade initiative with an eye to attracting US investment in Canada’s nuclear industry?

Third, the rules for a US cap and trade program are likely to be much more comprehensive than anything yet discussed openly by governments in Canada. Congress and the US administration will move more quickly and will likely cover far more industries than anyone in Canada is realistically expecting our government to do. A US program, the ground rules for which are already visible in the regional initiatives that are already well advanced, will be designed for the US economy. The structure of the Canadian economy is quite different. The Conservative Government has, quite correctly, criticized the Chrétien government for signing on to Kyoto without having a plan and without understanding its implications for Canada. Are we now seeing the Harper government signing on to US cap and trade without having a plan and without understanding its implications for Canada?

We are not suggesting that any of the above is true. It is just that something does not smell right about the Harper government’s new found enthusiasm for signing on to a US cap and trade program. We invite anyone with any inside insights to give us a call - as always, tips will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Colin Isaacs

CANADA’S FEDERAL BUDGET                                    


Hopes for a green economy budget, faint as they may have been, were dashed when Canadians heard the federal Finance Minister present his plans late last month. Since the budget we have not heard too much about a green economy from the opposition leaders, though many outside government in most OECD countries are discussing how this recession may lead to a restructuring of developed world economies along greener lines.

However, green is sufficiently entrenched these days that even a budget designed to prop up brown industries includes a few tidbits for environmental industries. The following is a summary of the green and anti-green aspects GL was able to dig out of the Budget.
Note: where the sentence is preceded by - this is directly from the the budget statement.

The Budget Plan includes a section headed A More Sustainable Environment. In this section the announcements are limited to:

- A new Clean Energy Fund that supports clean energy research, development and demonstration projects. We expect this funding will generate more than $2.5 billion in investments such as carbon capture and storage, over the next five years.

- Improving the Government’s annual reporting on key environmental indicators such as clean air, clean water and greenhouse gas emissions with $10 million in 2009–10. The Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators initiative produces a coherent set of indicators on water quality, air quality, and greenhouse gas emissions over time. Budget 2009 will provide $10 million in 2009–10 to sustain the Government’s annual reporting on the environmental indicators.

- Strengthening Canada’s nuclear advantage with $351 million to Atomic Energy of Canada Limited for its operations, including the development of the Advanced CANDU Reactor, and to maintain safe and reliable operations at the Chalk River Laboratories.

Private Sector Participation in AECL?

GL readers may also be interested to know that the Budget promises that:
- The Minister of Natural Resources is reviewing AECL’s structure to ensure that it is appropriate in a changing marketplace. The review will include consideration of options, including private sector participation in the commercial operations of the corporation, in order to position Canada’s nuclear industry to take maximum advantage of future opportunities at
home and abroad.
Whatever can that statement mean?

Contaminated Sites

One of the fiscally larger government program announcements relates to contaminated sites:
- $81 million over the next two years for program management and additional assessments of federal contaminated sites—contributing to an improved environment as well as economic development and employment opportunities. This funding is expected to enable departments to accelerate $165 million of environmental remediation work on sites covered by the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan in all regions of Canada,

Bringing Northern Natural Gas to Market

More natural gas only benefits the environment if it actually displaces use of coal or oil. Such details appear not to be deterring the government’s appetite for bringing more fossil fuel to market:
- Investments in a Mackenzie gas pipeline are currently being considered that would unlock natural gas reserves in the Mackenzie region. Budget 2009 provides $37.6 million in 2009–10 to departments and agencies in support of environmental assessments, regulatory coordination, science, and Aboriginal consultations related to the Mackenzie Gas Project.

Youth Internships

Perhaps with a partial focus on community environmental projects, the budget promises:
- a one-time grant of $15 million to the YMCA and YWCA to place youth in internships in not-for-profit and community services organizations, with a focus on environmental projects.

Regulatory Efficiency and Reducing Environmental Assessment?

In the "we wonder what it means" category, the government has promised:
- to introduce changes to the federal regulatory framework through legislative, regulatory and administrative actions to drive efficiencies in assessing environmental and other impacts of infrastructure projects without compromising protection of the environment.

As part of this, the government has said it:
- will implement administrative changes to streamline application of the Fisheries Act, and regulatory efficiencies will be pursued for projects subject to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. For example, for projects requiring a federal environmental assessment
decision, regulations could allow one environmental assessment process to meet federal and provincial requirements, by agreement with the provinces and territories.
GL notes that most observers see the federal Fisheries Act as having been one of the most effective pieces of legislation for dealing with industrial pollution.

Infrastructure Funding

The almost $12 billion in total infrastructure funding in Budget 2009 that is attracting such attention seems to be focussed on "roads, bridges, broadband internet access, electronic health records, laboratories and border crossings". Not too much in that list that helps advance a greener economy, though in other places in the budget document the same list also includes "clean energy", as if it was added as an afterthought.

Green Infrastructure Fund

Budget 2009 provides $1 billion over five years for a Green Infrastructure Fund. Funding will be allocated based on merit to support green infrastructure projects on a cost-shared basis.
However, the government’s ideas of what constitute Green Infrastructure seem a little unusual, if the following example is any indication:
- Green infrastructure includes infrastructure that supports a focus on the creation of sustainable energy. Sustainable energy infrastructure, such as modern energy transmission lines, will contribute to improved air quality and lower carbon emissions.
GL wonders how "modern energy transmission lines" are green? Maybe the authors of the budget meant to describe a Smart Grid", something that is more to do with control systems than the wires themselves.

The government has identified other specific examples of how this Green Infrastructure Fund may be spent:
- In Newfoundland and Labrador, we will proceed with improvements to the Tshiuetin railway,
- In Prince Edward Island, we will invest in the Summerside Wind Energy Project.
-In Quebec, we will upgrade roads in the Québec City metropolitan area, and upgrade water and sewer systems across the province.
- Railway stations in Hamilton, Windsor and Belleville will be improved. The crucial commuter hub for the Greater Toronto Area, Toronto’s landmark Union Station, will, at last, be revitalized.
- And, in Ontario and Quebec, we will take a big step forward in improving travel on the Toronto–Montréal–Ottawa corridor. We will add a third railway track at key locations between Montréal and Toronto, which will allow more express trains and make the express trip shorter by 30 minutes
- In Manitoba, work on Winnipeg’s Centreport Project will accelerate, and the province’s Keewatin Railway Company will receive new investments.
- In Alberta, work will proceed on the Telus Science Centre in Calgary, and we will help twin the Trans-Canada Highway through Banff National Park.
-In British Columbia, funds will flow for the Evergreen Transit Line and for a more modern railway station in Vancouver—key projects as the city prepares to host the Olympic Winter Games.
-In Yukon, investments will be made in water-treatment projects.
While it is difficult to criticize transit improvements, the Green Infrastructure Fund appears to GL to be more a mechanism for enhancing federal profile than for making major improvements to the environmental footprint of Canadians.

Municipal Sewer and Water Infrastructure

Rightly, in GL’s opinion, because it encourages full cost recovery for municipal services, money for municipal infrastructure upgrades is being provided in the form of loans rather than grants
- And over the next two years we will make available another $2 billion in low-cost loans to municipalities to invest in sewers, water lines and other housing-related renewal projects.
First Nations water and wastewater problems are also addressed:
-Over the next two years, we will make major, new investments in Aboriginal communities, to build and renovate schools and health services facilities, to improve wastewater treatment, and to provide safe drinking water

Energy Efficiency in Social Housing

There is no doubt that much social housing in Canada is in poor condition, especially with respect to energy efficiency. However, the announced program provides money without requiring that energy efficiency is addressed:
- In Canada’s Economic Action Plan, we are also investing in social housing facilities—another key part of our country’s infrastructure. Many of our social housing units need general renovations, energy-efficiency upgrades, and improved accessibility features.

Home Renovations: Energy Efficiency not Mandatory

The much ballyhooed Home Renovation Tax Credit program does not require energy efficiency and environmental improvements. Apparently one can even claim the tax credit if the home renovation worsens energy efficiency and increases environmental footprint by expanding the size of the home:
- And, to stimulate spending and to help Canadians invest in the long-term value of their homes, we will provide a temporary Home Renovation Tax Credit. Effective until January 31, 2010, this measure will provide tax relief for home renovation costs—saving Canadian families up to $1,350 each on their 2009 taxes. The Home Renovation Tax Credit is available for renovations to the house or the cottage, for everything from a new furnace to  energy-efficient windows to a new deck.
On a slightly more positive side, Budget 2009 has committed to
- providing an additional $300 million over two years to the ecoENERGY Retrofit program to support an estimated 200,000 additional home retrofits.
GL notes that, although the government claims that grants under ecoENERGY Retrofit can be up to $5,000, the typical grant to date is a little over $1,000, hardly enough to make much progress towards the government goal of reducing the energy use of participating homes by 25%.

Carbon Capture and Storage

Carbon capture and storage, a technology which is so far unproven, is technically controversial, and which is at least many years away from large scale implementation, seems to be the cornerstone of the government’s greenhouse gas reduction technology program, gets many mentions in Budget 2009:
- Canada has committed to a 20 per cent reduction of greenhouse gases by 2020. Clean-energy technologies have the potential to make a significant contribution by reducing emissions from the production and use of energy, and creating new opportunities as Canada transitions toward a greener global economy. This is particularly the case for technologies that capture carbon dioxide, one of the most important greenhouse gases, at the point of production in industrial facilities and safely store it underground.
Since 2006, the Government has provided $375 million to support the development of carbon capture and storage technologies, including $250 million in Budget 2008 for a full-scale commercial demonstration of carbon capture and storage in the coal-fired electricity sector in Saskatchewan, research on the potential for carbon storage in Nova Scotia, and economic and technological issues. An additional $125 million is available for carbon capture and storage projects under the ecoENERGY Technology Initiative of Natural Resources Canada.
- To further support Canada’s leadership in clean energy, Budget 2009 provides $1 billion over five years to support clean energy technologies. This includes $150 million over five years for research, and $850 million over five years for the development and demonstration of promising technologies, including large-scale carbon capture and storage projects. This support is expected to generate a total investment in clean technologies of at least $2.5 billion over the next five years.
- In light of the potential importance of carbon capture and storage as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from large industrial facilities, the Government will also consult with stakeholders to identify specific assets used in carbon capture and storage with a view to providing accelerated capital cost allowance (CCA) in respect of such investments. Accelerated CCA is used to actively promote investment in certain clean-energy generation technologies. Advancing the timing of capital cost deductions for tax purposes defers taxation and improves the financial return from investment in particular assets.

Note that currently no industry is investing in carbon capture and storage projects in Canada so to GL the idea of providing accelerated CCA to CCS projects seems somewhat premature.

Transport Canada

We are not sure what the government sees as being wrong with Transport Canada but Budget 2009 provides that:
- Transport Canada is shifting to a more effective regulatory approach to safety and security, strengthening its leadership to meet global challenges in support of trade and security priorities, and refocusing its operations on national and essential services. As a result, Transport Canada is strengthening its capacity to advance transportation safety in Canada and to promote a more efficient, effective and environmentally clean transportation system.

Throwing Away More Computers
Businesses are being given a tax break to encourage them to replace their computer and IT systems. The government accurately notes that:
- This temporary measure could result in some limited adverse environmental effects to the extent that computer equipment that is being replaced is not stored, reused, recycled or disposed of in an environmentally-friendly manner.
The government’s statement that:
- However there are a number of government and industry programs that encourage re-use and proper disposal of electronic equipment
ignores the fact that few of these programs are ready to accept a large influx of additional end-of-life technology. Although new technology can help companies become more competitive, and is therefore generally well worth supporting, it is not clear how an initiative which encourages industry to spend money on what is almost entirely imported technology finds its way into a budget supposed to be focussed on job creation.

Funding to Industry

Many of the commitments appear to involve a degree of double counting. For example, the Green Infrastructure Fund is included in the total $12 billion budget promise for infrastructure. This makes it difficult to dissect which sector will receive what monies.
The Budget promises:
- $7.5 billion in extra support for sectors, regions and communities. This includes targeted support for the auto, forestry and manufacturing sectors, as well as funding for clean energy.
It is not clear to GL that much of this $7.5 billion will go to clean energy. The Canadian Wind Energy Association has pointed out that the ecoENERGY for Renewable Power Program (eRPP), that was announced by the Harper government in January 2007 to support deployment of 4,000MW of new low-impact, renewable electricity projects was expected to run until 2011 but has been so successful in encouraging projects that all funds will be allocated almost two years ahead of schedule.

Funding for Environmental Sustainability in Agriculture

The budget also provides, without any details, for:
- a five-year, $500 million agricultural flexibility program that will facilitate the implementation of new initiatives, both federally and in partnership with provinces, territories and industry.
This program will help the sector adapt to pressures and improve its competitiveness by funding non-business risk-management measures such as those that will reduce costs of production, improve environmental sustainability, promote innovation and respond to market challenges. Budget 2009 allocates $190 million over two years to support the agricultural flexibility program. The balance will be funded from existing unallocated Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada resources.


In an effort to find more uses for wood and therefore, presumably, to cut more trees, Budget 2009 includes:
- a total of $170 million over two years for the following measures that will secure a more sustainable industry by helping companies develop new products and processes, and take action on new opportunities in the international market place.
- $80 million over two years to Natural Resources Canada for the Transformative Technologies program administered by FPInnovations. FPInnovations is a not-for-profit forest research institute that focuses on the development of emerging and breakthrough technologies related to forest biomass utilization, nanotechnology and next generation forest products.
- $40 million will be provided to Natural Resources Canada in 2010–11 to develop pilot-scale demonstration projects of new products that can be used in commercial applications.
- $40 million over two years for the Canada Wood, Value to Wood, and North America Wood First programs to help forestry companies market innovative products internationally.
- $10 million will be provided to Natural Resources Canada in 2009–10 to support large-scale demonstrations of Canadian-style use of wood for construction in targeted off-shore markets, and non-traditional uses of wood in domestic markets.

Arctic Research

The Government has committed to building a world-class, High Arctic research station to improve understanding of the northern environment. However, not much will happen for a while:
- Budget 2009 provides Indian and Northern Affairs Canada with $2 million to undertake a feasibility study for the proposed station.

Barging In

Last but by no means least, the budget includes a commitment to:
- 30 new environmental response barges that will support Canadian Coast Guard operational requirements across the country.
It is not clear to GL what these barges are for. Interestingly, according to Google, the word "barge" does not currently appear on the Canadian Coast Guard website. Barges, which are unpowered vessels, are hardly the fastest way to respond to environmental emergencies.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.



Hi Colin,

Hope all is well – I note that you covered in your December newsletter the St. Lawrence Cement victory. Thanks for mentioning Ecojustice….we sometimes struggle to get recognition for our victories, and this was a huge one. It was my first appearance before the Supreme Court of Canada.

I have written a memorandum for Bea Olivastri, our client on the file; this is to be published in a scholarly journal and I'll send along the link when it is published. Certainly, this is a case that goes to the heart of your personal interest in the connection between business and environment.

As it happens, I am engaged on another case that might be of interest to you: the Dow Agrichemical lawsuit against Canada under Chapter 11 of NAFTA related to Quebec’s ban on the use and distribution of cosmetic pesticides. Certainly one that engages your precautionary principle article in the latest edition.


William Amos
Staff Lawyer/Conseiller juridique
uOttawa-Ecojustice Environmental Law Clinic, University of Ottawa
Tel: (613) 562 5800 ext. 3378 Fax: (613) 562 5319 wamos/// [replace with symbol]
Sierra Legal is now Ecojustice. For more information, please visit our new website at 


Treena Hein, Science writer, editor and educational consultant writes to GL to say "Thank you again for your excellent newsletter" and in regard to the book reviews about non-growth economic models, suggests checking out GL did check it out and found it to be the web site for Storm Cunningham's book called The Restoration Economy.

Cunningham who is based in Washington, DC. recently spoke at McMaster University in Hamilton ("Steeltown"), Ontario. The key part of his concept of restorative development is to return property, objects or other elements to an earlier state without using up more land so he is keen on brownfield restoration. He suggests growth sectors of the future will be in eight industries, four natural (restoring ecosystems, watersheds, fisheries and farms) and four built (restoring brownfields, infrastructure, heritage and damage from disasters/war).

Hein herself is a Canadian journalist who won the 2008 Star Prize sponsored by John Deer presented in Graz, Austria in September 2008 by the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists.

Hemsworth, Wade. Hamilton ripe for renewal, says author who studies cities. The Hamilton Spectator February 3, 2009.

International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ). Canadian journalist wins 2008 Star Prize. September 1, 2008

The Indian city of Delhi is tackling plastic bags in ways no other jurisdiction has. The notification reads:

"That the use, sale and storage of all kinds of plastic bags shall be forbidden in respect of the following places in the National Capital Territory of Delhi, namely :—
 (a) Five Star and Four Star Hotels.
 (b) Hospitals with 100 or more beds except for the use of plastic bags as prescribed under Bio Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998.
 (c)All restaurants and eating places having seating capacity of more than 50 seats.
 (d) All fruit and vegetable outlets of Mother Dairy. [GL: about 400 outlets run by Mother Dairy set up in 1974 under the Operation Flood Programme. It is now a wholly owned company of the National Dairy Development Board ]
 (e) All liquor vends.
 (f) All shopping Malls.
 (g) All shops in main markets and local shopping centres.
 (h) All retail and wholesale outlets of Branded chain of outlets selling different consumer products including fruits and vegetables.
...In places other than the aforesaid places and as observed by the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi only Bio-degradable plastic bags shall be used. "
Fines and jail terms are to be levied for lack of compliance.

GL has thought that the idea of charging for shopping bags while providing free plastic bags in the store for fruits, vegetables and other bulk items undermines the  idea. In fact, we have often found that cashiers will pack our loose fruit, lettuce, and packaged meats into a separate bag even when we have our own reusable bags, reusable or cardboard boxes. And the plastic bags often used to line every garbage bin, ice bucket, and so on in hotel rooms has raised the ire of some of GL’s associates; however, we need to be careful that eliminating plastic bags, say in the hotel bathroom, may expose more hotel workers to unsanitary conditions which may affect their health.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.
Waste Diversion Ontario has issued a draft report for consultation on the Blue Box Program Plan Review. The draft was developed after consultations one of which GL's editor attended. Written submissions received by February 27, 2009 will be considered in the revision of the report and its recommendations before being submitted to the Minister of the Environment, John Gerretsen who requested the review of the Ontario curbside recycling program in late 2008. Extended producer responsibility EPR is a key focus. Another report summarizes the consultation process.
Among the draft recommendations are:
Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) is an arm’s-length foundation which has received $1.05 billion from the Government of Canada. SDTC operates two funds.

The $500 million NextGen Biofuels Fund™, launched in September 2007, supports the establishment of first-of-kind large demonstration-scale facilities for the production of next-generation renewable fuels for up to 40% of eligible project costs. The contribution will be repayable based on free cash flow over a period of 10 years after project completion. The fund is open for applications all year-round. To be eligible, a project must:
The $550 million SD Tech Fund™ supports projects that address climate change, air quality, clean water, and clean soil. The SDTC will call for statements of interest on February 25, 2009 with SOI submission deadlines of April 22, 2009 and results notification is May 27, 2009.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


Part fantasy, part too-much-reality, the Slumdog Millionaire movie won awards including four Golden Globes, seven British Academy of Film and Television awards and 8 Oscars including best picture at the February 22 Oscar awards. It is said that over $40 million in India alone was riding on it in bets about the Oscars. At a cost of "only" US$15 million, the film is considered small by movie industry standards but had already grossed over $130 million in box office sales by mid-February. The public rarely has the same views on the big business of movies/television,  stars and film directors as it does towards the big business of manufacturing and banks.

According to a posting by Sophie Lubin on the onearth magazine, a publication of the US Natural Resources Defense Council, the movie has a lot to do with the environment and economics. In brief, the character Jamal Malik (played by British actor Dev Patel), born and raised as a street child from the Dharavi slums of Mumbai, at age 18 enters an Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, not because he wants to be rich but because of the show's high viewership: he hopes to find the orphan girl Latika who shared his boyhood and whom he loves but whom he lost in escaping from a gangster who collects street children to use them to make money, begging, prostitution, pick-pocketing, etc. He is one question away from winning 20 million rupees when the show takes a hiatus. The movie opens when the police arrest and torture him to obtain a confession he has cheated. Instead he affirms his innocence and describes the events many of them horrific as experienced by children growing up in such poverty and chaos which have led him to know the answers to the specific questions. While some succumb to criminality and despair, Jamal and others favour loyalty, hope and love. Commenting on the film, Lubin says that the movie "shows with cinematic clarity precisely what the social, environmental, and economic trade offs actually look like of the population boom in India’s most depressed slums, for her most undervalued heroes." She writes that this isn't a documentary which comments on trash, population overflow and poverty so it is "not a movie about solving the problems of India, but rather a baseline of understanding from which solutions to the fundamental issues at hand can be formulated."

Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan wrote in his blog that after seeing asylum seekers begging in Paris that "Conditions the world over are so similar. Perceptions differ but the reality of life and existence unchanged" as a prelude to saying while "SM projects India as Third World dirty under belly developing nation and causes pain and disgust among nationalists and patriots, let it be known that a murky under belly exists and thrives even in the most developed nations. It's just that the SM idea authored by an Indian and conceived and cinematically put together by a Westerner, gets creative Globe recognition. The other would perhaps not." He lamented what had been the lack of appreciation given to the "entertaining mass oriented box office block busters that were being churned out from Mumbai" but that was changing now as TV channels in the West run Hindi cinema in prime time and India's movies are premiering in London, Paris and New York to throngs of crowds. According to the UK Guardian these comments indicated that "Bollywood Icon Amitabh Bachchan rubbishes Slumdog Millionaire", newspaper articles which Bachchan said were misreporting and " spawned an epidemic in the Asian press now reaching such a feverish pitch that I can no longer make light of their content." One of the questions Jamal Malik in SM has to answer relates to Bachchan. It still remains controversial whether the film is British or Indian.

Another controversy relates to what the child actors who were from the slum were paid for a month's work. The issue of fair compensation is one faced by multinational corporations who have corporate social responsibility policies: is paying people in the developing world, a few dollars a day fair pay even if that is more than many people there can expect to get? Many companies say they apply high environmental standards wherever they operate even if the countries they are in don't require it but GL hasn't heard of any who also pay the same wage around the world. 

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


There are good stories, and then there are bad stories. Santa Claus belongs in the former category but Groundhog Day does not. After living through yet another year of Wiarton Willie, Punxatawny Phil, Shubenacadie Sam, Staten Island Chuck (we mention this because Staten Island is home to what was the Fresh Kills Landfill, one of those marvels of human activity that is so big you can reportedly actually see it from space. It is to become a city park) and a dozen and one other February 2nd Groundhogs. GL thinks its time to put an end to this whole story line. After all, according to Environment Canada’s resident weather guru and climate change sceptic, Dave Philips, these guys, at least Wiarton Willie, are only right about 37% of the time. That could be even worse than Dave Philips’ own weather predictions. (see next GL issue on the annual report from the Auditor-General of Canada by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development on Environment Canada's weather forecasts.)
Have you ever been asked which you would rather have, a watch that tells the right time twice a day or a watch that tells the right time once every 1440 years? The February 2nd groundhog brigade are in the latter category, and now everyone wants one. Even Balzac Billy in normally sensible Balzac, Alberta and Brandon Bob in Brandon, Manitoba (home of one of Canad’s largest hog processing plants, nothing to do with groundhogs) are getting in on the act.

Looking at the online pictures of Punxatawny Phil this February 2nd (see below for link), we cannot be sure whether he is stuffed or alive. But whichever he is, the proliferation of groundhog awakenings in the middle of hibernation season seems to GL to be a definite case for attention by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

We implore thee, PETA, get to it before next February 2nd. Please.

Punxatawny Phil slide show (see if you agree he looks stuffed)

Lots of information about the Fresh Kills landfill in Wikipedia at  
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