Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment
Fisherville, Ontario, Canada
Tel. 416 410-0432, Fax: 416 362-5231
Vol. 15, No. 7, October 21, 2010
Honoured Reader Edition
which this time is the same as the Subscription Edition
This is the honoured reader edition of the Gallon Environment Letter and is distributed at no charge: send a note with Add GL or Delete GL in the subject line to Subscribers receive a more complete edition without subscription reminders and with extensive links to further information following almost every article. Organizational subscriptions are $184 plus HST nd provide additional benefits detailed on the web site. Individual subscriptions are only $30 (personal emails/funds only please) including HST. If you would like to subscribe please visit If you feel you should be receiving the paid subscriber edition or have other subscriber questions please contact us also at This current free edition is posted on the web site about a week or so after its issue at See also events of external organizations at Back free editions from January 2009 are also available.
It appears to the writers at GL that issues of environment and sustainability are getting more profile in the municipal elections that are happening this Fall than in any other cluster of municipal elections. That is really good news and we certainly hope that more of the candidates that are raising these issues will be elected than ever before. The City of Calgary has already been a most surprising leader in this regard. At the same time we think it is important to recognize that there are very few, if any, municipalities which have the power to reach a high degree of Sustainable Development by themselves. Just as a manufacturing company needs to green its upstream supply chain and its downstream product operation and end of product life chain so a municipality needs to green its supply chain, its environs, and its neighbours if it is to become significantly more sustainable. We'll be returning to this theme in a future issue but in the meantime we hope you find our update of the municipal green scene as interesting as we did when we compiled it.

We sort of promised you that we would not harp too much on the BP Gulf of Mexico disaster, and we certainly promise not to overdo the Chilean mine crisis, but we found what we think is a very interesting connection between the two, relevant particularly to our business and government readers. That forms the editorial in this issue. A usually reputable US newsmagaine has published a report in its tourism section suggesting that you should hurry up your visit to a number of world cities because they are about to sink beneath the waves. GL has investigated whether you should believe everything you read in this magazine and has used the article to kickoff a mini-section on a couple of North American "sinking cities".

Canada's new Governor-General was the founding chair of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. In his first days in office, he demonstrated that Sustainable Development is likely to be one of his mantras in the Vice-Regal position. We bring you a report. In the US the FTC is reviewing, and likely revising, the rules for green marketing claims. All those interested in greener products should take note: whatever is finally adopted in the US will likely come to Canada and so far the rules do not look terribly positive for green marketers. We provide a brief summary. In our last issue we told you of a British supermarket chain that was being prosecuted for overpackaging a roast of beef. Charges have been dropped - we tell you why - but the damage to reputation has probably already been done. The chain said when the charges were laid that it was already planning a packaging reduction for this product and many others. Finally, we could not resist Lawrence Martin's new book Harperland. There have not been  many Canadian political books that have discussed the environment. We bring you a brief summary of Martin's findings.
The theme of our next issue will be the environmental and sustainability issues that were raised during the US mid-term elections. Until then enjoy this issue and if you have comments we encourage you to send them to either for possible publication or for our enlightenment.

There is nothing new in the idea that crisis responses that underpromise and overdeliver will generally be applauded while those that overpromise and underdeliver will generally be criticized. Nothing has recently made this more clear than the Chilean mine collapse.

Gallon Environment Letter normally stays away from news that is adequately covered by the daily media but the lessons from Chile are so dramatic we are making an exception in this editorial.

Chile, a country with a population about half that of Canada and not at all well known outside of its direct neighbours, has become, as a result of the mine disaster, one of the best known and most respected countries in the world. Now inquirers are looking to Chile as a tourist destination and as a business partner. International awareness of Chile is booming and the results can only be positive for the country. Popularity of the President of the country, who won only 51.6% of the vote in a runoff election in January of this year, is now reported to be soaring not only in his own country but also in Europe, which region he is currently visiting on a pre-arranged tour.

The most amazing part of the mine rescue is that neither the government of Chile nor the mining company, which appears to have declared bankruptcy, have had to pay the full cost. Both Chilean and international companies and governments have poured in technology, technical resources, food, and consumer goods for the rescue and for the miners. No doubt some of these companies will soon be using their advertising dollars to tell us how they helped in the rescue.

One might say that the government of Chile was able to win good press because it was not the cause of the mine disaster but in fact poor regulations and weak enforcement were almost certainly a major factor in the trapping of the miners in the first place. More importantly, the government, and indeed the President himself, seemed to understand how to structure management of the rescue, how to communicate, and how not to make the kind of serious missteps that dog most corporations and governments following major incidents. The President of the country personally appointed a senior engineer from Codelco, the government-owned copper mining company, to head the rescue effort. That in itself was a bold step, risking the President's reputation if the rescue had failed.

How much must BP or CN or any of the other companies whose reputations are in the dumpster wish that they could have received the kind of positive outcomes from their disasters that Chile has received from its mine collapse? Clearly the situations are somewhat different, but even so GL is convinced that the negative fallout from disasters in the north could be much less if companies handled their operations and related communications in a much more rational way.

Even governments need to learn the underpromise and overdeliver mantra that Chile applied with such effectiveness. Following a major incident or piece of bad news, companies and governments should provide full and accurate disclosure. They should tell the media and the public exactly what is going on. They should seek help from technical experts and companies from outside the organization. They should never, ever, give deadlines and impacts that are at all optimistic. They should move swiftly, with no hint of delay, demonstrating that they are committed to do more rather than less if there is any doubt as to the extent of resources required.

Sometimes the corporations and governments remember these things but most often they let spindoctors and lawyers handle the communications even though these people are not on scene. Maybe better disaster management and communications will be among the most important lessons to come from the Chile mine rescue.

Colin Isaacs

For a similar opinion from a somewhat different perspective see:
Chile mine rescue spurred unprecedented global coordination, The Christian Science Monitor,

For examples of corporate contributions see Canada's Precision Drilling Corporation homepage at  for Precision Drilling Rig 421 on location in Copiapo, Chile. Also see 33 ATCO Modular Units in Rescue Mission at the Alberta-based ATCO Ltd website at

Municipal elections are scheduled this Fall in Alberta (October 18), Ontario (October 25), Manitoba (October 27), selected municipalities in Prince Edward Island (November 1) and Saskatchewan, for certain rural municipalities. Many towns and cities will have councils with a significant number of new councillors and/or mayors. While the articles in this issue are mostly about mayors, the mayor isn't necessarily the person with the most power in Canadian municipalities. Not too many councils feature political parties and even where there are parties, voting at council meetings is not always along party lines. Many decisions of municipal councils level have environmental impacts. Municipalities may be limited by federal and provincial laws but their responsibilities range widely in areas such as planning and land use including green spaces, waste and water infrastructure and management, citizen awareness and education, and other infrastructure such as roads and bridges. Municipalities are often the first initiators of bylaws which have negative or positive impact e.g. bans on clothing lines prevent people using the sun as energy for their laundry or bans on cosmetic use of pesticides which set a positive trend for water and soil protection. Some municipalities even have green plans and strategies requiring reporting on progress to the public.


Clive Doucet, running for Mayor in Ottawa, may be a dark horse but he is certainly a green one. GL awarded him an Eco-Councillor award a number of years ago. His urbanist platform for mayor has many environmental features including:
If Doucet doesn't win, he will also, of course, no longer have his Councillor seat which will be a loss for Ottawa.

Clive Doucet for Mayor.


The Council of Canadians says that two important issues face communities this year: decrease of municipal autonomy resulting from international trade agreements and the need for major reinvestment in public water systems. The Council of Canadians has prepared materials that can be shared with municipal candidates across Canada, as well as questions to ask those candidates during mayoral or councillor debates.

Specifically some of the issues include:
Council of Canadians. UPDATE: The Council of Canadians and municipal elections. October 2010.

For questions to candidates


The Toronto Board of Trade's web site, Vote Toronto 2010, includes guest blogs, Big Idea, comments and a media scan. The Big Idea is a key point for mayoral candidates, including some who have dropped out of the race. The BOT says that "a comprehensive transportation plan has become a must for every serious contender."

Right leaning candidate and current poll leader (by a hair) Rob Ford proposes fewer streetcars, more buses and better roads. He accuses Toronto City Hall and former mayor David Miller of "declaring war on cars". The BOT quotes from the Toronto Transit Commission that streetcars carry a maximum of 108 passengers for an articulated 23 metre car and 74 passengers for a standard 15 metre streetcar. Buses carry a maximum of 57 passengers (high-floor bus) and 52-55 passengers (low-floor bus). In order to replace streetcars, the TTC would essentially need to double the number of buses compared to streetcars removed from service and double the number of drivers. Ford argues that buses create less traffic congestion in the downtown core but the BOT says that transit experts say that is incorrect mainly because downtown buildings are so close to the road that there is no place for bus bays where the buses can get out of the way of the traffic flow.

Business groups including the BOT are targeting taxes, they like other groups and taxpayers also expect and demand more and more services and attention from their councils. For example, the BOT's Vote Toronto 2010 posted a plea by the Yonge Street Business Improvement Association for the need for significant public expenditure on the three subway stations in the area to make the transit stations brighter and attractive. While recognizing the importance of a regional transportation system and social issues such as "promoting social cohesion and economic inclusion", the BOT's 12 recommendations for the election are eerily missing any mention of the environment and climate change. These terms are notably absent and used in another sense, ie the "business environment" and the "jurisdiction's business climate". There is one suggestion for investment in priority neighbourhoods which suggests borrowing from programmes such as New York's Green Job/Green NY Program, San Francisco's GreenFinanceSF Program and Berkeley's Property Assessed Clean Energy Program. The successes of these examples are seen as ways to encourage energy efficiency retrofits, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop industry expertise in green energy.

Toronto Board of Trade. Toronto Votes. Rob Ford: His Idea: Less streetcars, more buses, better roads. September 10, 2010. or go to the Big Issues page: The Issues: Framing the issues, leading the debate. 2010. where BOT has also posted policy roundup for each candidate. [To find the older post find  Older Entries, click and then find "Get Traffic Moving".]

Toronto Board of Trade. Pushing the Boundaries: Advancing Civic Leadership for Regional Prosperity. Toronto, Ontario: September 13, 2010.


The Toronto Environmental Alliance rated about 200 candidates for the Toronto area election. For the three remaining front-running mayors in Toronto (Ford is said to be leading slightly with Smitherman close behind while Pantalone is said to be further behind) their scores are:
Toronto Environmental Alliance. Top Mayoral Candidates graded on the Environment.

A series in the Hamilton Spectator in April 2010 called Code Red used census and other data to compare neighbourhoods. The results showed glaring disparities in health likely resulting from poor environmental conditions and poverty. For example, there was a 21 year difference in average age of death among some neighbourhoods. Neil Johnston, a Hamilton health researcher worked on the project for three years and analysed the available data. Steve Buist, writer for the series,  wrote that some of the poorest neighbourhoods "live with Third World health outcomes and Third World lifespans - all the more shocking in a city with a major medical school and top teaching hospitals, in a country with universal publically funded health care." Some of the negative health outcomes in poor neighbourhoods relate to the environment: more respiratory-related problems due to location near major truck routes serving industrial areas where more poor people live, substandard housing subject to mould and other indoor air problems.

The Code Red series may have influenced voters who are putting poverty on the list of big issues for the 2010 municipal election. Candidates are also mentioning it. For example, Bob Bratina, former Councillor and one of the three mayoral candidates who are said to be in a close race has promised to "Act on the Code Red Study to enrich neighbourhoods throughout our community."

Incumbent mayor Fred Eisenberger promised to work with the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction and the local private sector to match provincial dollars to provide a school nutrition program with local food. Local food boxes would also be distributed to local workplaces and poor families in lower income neighbourhoods. Support for community gardens is also promised. A community food centre would help families develop skills to cook the food.

GL thinks Hamilton isn't greener since Eisenberger took office but some members of Council are so pro-development Fred acted as a brake, he slowed things down so paving happened more slowly. Di Ianni, the third mayoral candidate, has been mayor before. He is more pro-development but reportedly has better ability to manage than Fred.
Code Buist, Steve. Code Red series begins today. Exclusive Spec series reveals glaring disparities in wealth and health in the city. Hamilton Spectator. April 10, 2010. posted at 25 in 5 Hamilton Network for Poverty Reduction.

Bratina For Mayor. Hamilton, Ontario: 2010.

Reilly, Emma. Jobs, taxes, poverty top voters’ agendas. October 19, 2010.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger: Building Momentum: Clean, Green & Prosperous. Eisenberger Dishes Up Healthy Food for Hamilton Families: Focus on local fresh food; protecting local agriculture. October 4, 2010.


Internet voting means that the elector does not have to go to a voting place. In a number of cities, online voting is offered as an option. For example, in Burlington, Ontario, voters wanting to use this alternate voting had to register to obtain a PIN number and internet voting closed sometime before the election on October 25.

Candidate web sites can be a chore to find. Burlington also provides contact information including email and web sites, home address, telephone number and campaign office information for all registered candidates. GL found that checking some web sites even for mayoral candidates didn't provide enough information to make a decision about their position on environmental issues (or sometimes on any issues at all.). Of course, the home address helps voters find out whether the candidate lives in the city and/or the ward. Some e.g. Town of Milton provide instead a mailing address. The information is sourced from the candidates so some fields are blank.

City of Burlington. Municipal Elections 2010. Internet Voting.


Naheed Nenshi, who describes himself as a fiscal conservative, was elected as Mayor of Calgary, Alberta on October 18, 2010. Among his "Better Idea" platform was "Calgary will be a city of sustainable, walkable, livable, complete communities". He promised to lead the City towards long-term sustainability. GL notes that for many reasons including population growth, the lucrative oil industry, and the easy access to some of the most spectacular scenery and recreation in the world in the Rockies, Calgary has sprawled far and wide. Nenshi's ideas relate to focussing on drawing residential development into downtown and planning new communities differently. Among his ideas are:
Nenshi for Mayor. Better ideas. Better Calgary. and
Nenshi, Naheed. Better Idea: Calgary will be a city of sustainable, walkable, livable, complete communities. August 10 2010.


Stephen Mandel was reelected mayor in Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, for the third time. During his tenure, he said the city moved up the Light Rail Transit plan and improved roads, boosted spending on neglected neighbourhood roads and sidewalks, new recreation facilities and libraries, tackled homelessness and community safety. Among initiatives in his latest platform were:
Stephen Mandel Mayoral Campaign 2010 For A Greater Edmonton. Edmonton, Alberta. October 2010.


Former New Democrat Party Member of Parliament Judy Wasylycia-Leis For Mayor has green as part of her overall theme: A safer, fairer, greener... better Winnipeg. Her plan for a greener city include:
The Winnipeg Downtown Biz (the business improvement association) posted a list of questions and answers for/from the two front-runners: Judy Wasylycia-Leis and Sam Katz, the incumbent. One of the questions highlighted the importance of transportation to business: "An economically growing, competitive and environmentally sustainable downtown is one that is a hub for green transportation, with strategies that integrate automobile, transit (LRT, BRT, streetcars and other), cycle and pedestrian travel."

Judy Wasylycia-Leis - Winnipeg Election 2010.

Downtown Winnipeg Business Improvement Zone (BIZ). Questions & Answers from the Mayoral Candidates About Downtown Issues Mayoral Candidates: Judy Wasylycia-Leis and Sam Katz. 2010.

[Note: Judy was campaign manager for GL's editor Colin Isaacs when he successfully ran for a seat in the Ontario Legislature in 1979. We would vote for her no matter what she promised because we know her personal integrity.]


The Muskoka Lakes Association, claims to have 2,000 members who are both permanent and seasonal residents. The mission of the MLA is to promote the responsible use, enjoyment and conservation of the unique Muskoka environment. Web and email contacts are given to make it easier for people who live somewhere else to contact candidates. The interests of cottage owners may be different from permanent residents. Many of the homes in the Muskoka Lakes region of Ontario are multi-million dollar residences.

The MLA runs a number of stewardship programs including water quality initiatives, but is also opposed to higher waste management fees and supportive of septic tanks to protect water. It asks for consistent setbacks from the lake to act as buffers and opposes a bylaw which sets extra setback for threatened or sensitive areas. The MLA ranks candidates with different number of stars.

MLA has a best practices series for lake front home owners. One is called Protecting Your Waterfront Investment. It encourages maintaining a shoreline buffer using species native to Muskoka. A varied number of species and ages helps protect against disturbances such as wind and ice and environmental changes of the future. The buffer helps protect the quality of the water and reduces erosion. The MLA borchure says, "Think of the natural vegetation as a free shoreline insurance policy." GL thinks there should be more to protect natural areas from being turned into miniature suburban yards. Of course, that isn’t too astounding as we think more should be done to naturalize suburban yards. When GL's editor canoes through cottage areas, there is usually a lot of noise from the front seat paddler who loudly laments the citification of natural areas.

Muskoka Lakes Association: MLA Municipal Candidate Assessments.
Protecting Your Waterfront Investment.


Cory Thomas, a councillor elected in 2006 in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, population about 14,000 and the 2nd largest municipality in PEI, said that in his canvassing of 342 homes these were the issues in his ward:
Summerside's largest employer is the Canada Revenue Agency. Maybe the federal government should start disseminating a sustainable community message among its own employees!

Cory Thomas, City Councillor for Ward 8-Wilmot. Summerside, PEI.


Okotoks, a town in southern Alberta, has a high profile because of the Okotoks Sustainable Development Plan. In 1998, the town became one of the first to voluntarily recognize limits to growth and the carrying capacity of the Sheep River Watershed. One of the elements in the plan was a cap on population (25,000-30,000 people) to limit sewage in order to meet water quality standards.

The new mayor Bill Robertson, a former councillor, was elected to replace retiring Bill McAlpine. Robertson says the town has to solve current water problems. Without a pipeline from Calgary, which some of the elected councillors oppose, Robertson says the cap is effectively the limit to growth but he has said the town needs more water.

Sustainable Okotoks, Alberta. Tools of Change.

Barlow, John, Editor. Robertson defeats Kish to win Okotoks’ mayoral race. Western Wheel. October 18, 2010.


A story on Yahoo travel copied from US News & World Report listed seven world cities said to be in imminent danger of sinking or being inundated (within the next 10 years or so). The cities are Bangkok, Houston, Shanghai, New York, New Orleans, Venice and Mexico City. Author of the piece and US News Travel Editor Miriam B. Weiner supplied GL with the original sources she used to support the claims of catastrophe.

In GL's opinion, the US News and World Report story significantly overstates the extent of the damage, the likely time frame, and the area affected. In some cases it also ignores possible solutions which may mitigate the damage and extend the number of years these cities might continue to exist.

Nevertheless, GL enjoyed this article because it makes vivid in a short space something that volumes of scientific studies do not: quite a few threats do face some cities. The UN lists over 3,000 cities that worldwide are vulnerable due to being low-lying and which for a number of reasons, including climate change, could be in danger in one way or another.

GL agrees with the UN and with Ms. Weiner that climate change and excessive withdrawal of water are factor threatening many cities. But suggesting that these cities will disappear within a decade is a bit of a stretch, the kind of thing we would expect from some environmental groups more than from a reasonably respected news magazine. We hope that the future of travel marketing, or of any product marketing for that matter, is not the exaggeration of environmental risks. Things are bad enough as they are without fabricating major emergencies in order to sell a product.
Weiner, Miriam B. 7 Cities About to Sink. US News and World Report.


Although the travel story above suggests, "If Houston is on your list of cities to see, you best prepare soon for take-off." the scientific research doesn't actually make any kind of prediction about Houston as a whole or give a timeframe.

University of Houston geologists reported in September that parts of northwest Houston are sinking rapidly. Parts of the northwestern Harris County known as Jersey Village is sinking at the rate of 5.5 cm a year according to Shuhab Khan, associate professor of geology in research published in Tectonophysics (peer-reviewed journal published by Elsevier about the solid earth including earthquakes and fracturing). An area of about 30kmx30 km is gradually subsiding but Jersey Village is sinking fastest. Withdrawal of water from deep underground is thought to be the reason. Subsidence is not new to the area. The Brownwood subdivision developed for residents in 1930 was 3 metres above sea level. By 1970, the subdivision was half a metre above sea level and in 1983 was destroyed by Hurricane Alicia. Now the area is the Baytown Nature Center. Brownwood's demise is attributed to groundwater withdrawal by petrochemical facilities.

U of H's study indicates that some land is being lifted up southeast of Houston due to salt domes which push up the ground. There are also fault lines in this area of Texas which push up with potential to damage buildings and streets in Houston.

University of Houston. UH Geologists Find Parts of Northwest Houston Sinking Rapidly. September 8, 2010.


One of the October articles in Canadian Geographic starts with "Global warming is giving Halifax a sinking feeling." When Hurricane Juan hit Halifax in September 2003, the devastation was unbelievable." Flooding, high winds and a storm surge destroyed buildings, boats, power transmission lines, streets and trees. It seems the storm is part of other changes identified by the article. A wharf which used to have little water over it now has half a metre of water splashing over it regularly. One hundred year storms with major storm surges are hitting the coast every 5 -10 years instead of 50-100 years. During storms, the waves are higher and winds stronger causing more damage. And it seems the city's waterfront is slipping under water due to rising sea levels and sinking land mass. The city has developed the Climate SMART (Sustainable Mitigation and Adaptation Risk Toolkit) strategy, formed in partnership with the federal and provincial governments and the private sector.

Demont, John. Halifax Harbour faces rising waters. Canadian Geographic. October 2010.


For his first official event, the new Governor General of Canada His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston spoke at the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy reception launching a joint project with the Canadian Geographical Society. Twenty-two years ago, Johnston served as NRTEE's founding chair in 1988 .His new office also makes him Patron of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. As president of Waterloo University, he established the Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change as one of a number of institutions within the university focussing on climate change. He said, "The important collaboration we celebrate today - on climate change - addresses an issue that will define out times and, in a very real sense, determine our future. Climate change is no longer a matter for academic debate alone - it is a matter for public discussion and public policy."

Some of the projections of the joint project are said to be positive such as more tree growth further north, more cod further north and better tourism and recreation such as golf. It seems that access to fossil fuels and minerals in the Arctic are also seen as benefits.

Governor General of Canada. Reception for the Reception for the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. October 5, 2010.

National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Joint Initiative Lays Out Physical Effects of Climate Change on Canada. October 5, 2010.
and or
[GL found the layout of the diagram and supporting material somewhat complicated but layout of web sites is getting more and more fancy. We visit a lot of sites and are finding it more of a challenge figuring out how each one works.]


The US Federal Trade Commission FTC has issued a request for public comment on proposed revised Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims. Comments are due December 10, 2010. (see GL V15 N5). GL needs to read it through a few more times to get the nuances but the following is a brief first summary.

Certifications, Seals and Approvals

One of the proposed changes relates to use of environmental certification, seals and approvals including third party and self-certified. The FTC conducts consumer surveys to see what consumers understand when they encounter certain types of labelling. The revision states that environmental seals, approvals and certifications can convey that a product is environmentally superior when in fact the seal applies only to particular features. Such certification on the product may also imply that there are no negative impact for the product. If seals and certifications are used, the language on the product should indicate the particular product attributes that can be substantiated. Sometimes the name of the label or the certifier could be good enough to convey the specific effect e.g. chlorine-free or "No Chlorine Products Association." GL notes that the use of the "...-free" can create disfavour in other areas covered by the guide because of dispute about what is sufficiently little chlorine.

Third party certifications and seals are seen as endorsements which are proposed to meet rules such as those in the Endorsement Guide which covers also non-claims. For example, Endorsement Guides say that marketers are required to disclose a material connection e.g. if the advertiser pays dues to the association that gives it the seal of approval or make clear that the seal is self-certified.

The advertiser must ensure that each and every claim in the third-party certification is supported by tests, analyses, research or studies done and evaluated by qualified persons in ways generally accepted by the profession. Possessing third-party certification is insufficient to provide this substantiation. All claims contained in the certification must be supported by such evidence.

The proposed guides do not require that marketers make their substantiation public. In Canada, marketers are encouraged to provide public substantiation if such doesn't compromise confidentiality of business secrets. GL wonders if the Canadian version is essentially the same as in the US but less honest.

Other Changes

More specific guidelines are proposed on both existing and new claims. The FTC continues to interpret according to what it sees consumers expect and how consumers act. For example, "reasonable consumers" [who are they?] are said to interpret the word non-toxic as not harmful to both humans and the environment. GL happens to agree that that particular interpretation is a good one but notes that this way of interpreting whether a product label is accurate or not is rather idiosyncratic: many Americans don't "believe" in climate change so how does the FTC pick what is a "reasonable consumer" when a large percentage of consumers are ignorant of the facts.

The proposed guide discussion also states what areas it will not give general guidance on; for example, the words, organic, natural, and sustainable, the latter is one which consumers don't always interpret as environmental. This doesn't mean that the FTC won't contest use of such terms but that such terms will be evaluated on a case by case basis. The USDA already regulates agricultural product claims for organic. Only limited guidance will be provided on carbon offsets.

For GL readers interested in the green labelling issue, the proposed guide revisions discuss what various commentators say on several sides of each of the topics discussed like whether the FTC should align with ISO standards or require life cycle analysis.

US. Federal Trade Commission. Proposed revisions to the Green Guides. Text of the Federal Register Notice (with table of contents). October 6, 2010.


Lincolnshire County Council has dropped charges against giant food retailer Sainsbury's in the UK. The company made reductions in the meat packaging (GL V15 N6) which could have been a landmark case with repercussions for other stores. The company said it reduced the meat packaging by 53% and plans to make further reductions. The council said the company had withdrawn all existing stock. Launching a court case under these conditions would not be in the public interest.

Local Government Lawyer. Lincolnshire CC drops legal action against Sainsbury's over packaging. UK. October 13, 2010.


"In keeping with the culture of control they were bringing to the capital, the Tories sought to minimize access on the environment file." This quote is from the recently published book, Harperland, by Globe and Mail columnist Lawrence Martin, which devotes an entire chapter to "The Green Games". The chapter starts with a discussion of the differences between Mulroney and Harper on the environment file: Harper did not see the environment as urgent in the way Mulroney had seen it.

Martin provides quite a long description of the failure of Harper's first Environment Minister, Rona Ambrose, but after noting that Ambrose was replaced by John Baird, the Green Games chapter then veers off into a discussion of the Harperland Department of Foreign Affairs, with little or no connection to the environment, and then on to the question of how the government decided to give nation status to Quebec, and it never returns to anything particularly green.

However, the book does return to the environment file from time to time. Former Environment Canada climatologist Andrew Weaver is quoted as saying that under the Harper government "The concept of free speech is non-existent at Environment Canada. They are manufacturing the message of science." This in the face of Harper's second environment minister, John Baird, proclaiming that "this is the most open and transparent government in Canadian history." Regular readers of GL will not be at all surprised to learn that Martin conveys the idea that manufacturing the facts is apparently a government speciality in Harperland. An unnamed PMO insider is quoted as saying that Harper "positioned himself to say he was mimicking Obama when speaking to enviro-crazies and that he was just heading off enviro-protectionism when talking to the business community."

Martin's book provides quite a lot of information about the place of environment in the Harper government but it is scattered throughout the book in a pattern that is neither issue based nor chronological. Many of us who have closely observed the government's environmental performance will find parts of the book an interesting reminiscence of the last four years of environmental inaction and potentially missed opportunity by the federal government. For those who have been out of town, parts of the book are a simplistic but possibly useful review of the reasons behind current federal inaction on the environment file.

In GL's view, Harperland falls short by failing to attempt to analyse where the Harper government goes from here. It is great to review where we have been, but a close Ottawa observer such as Lawrence Martin should have some useful insights on where Harper may be headed in the near future. The final paragraphs are written in the past tense. The closest to a future projection seems to be a paragraph on the last page of the book which reads:

" For Stephen Harper the end justified the means, almost any means. It was what troubled so many Canadians about him. He was caught up in his own internal war. The forces of old grievances and narrow ideology pulled him in one direction. The forces of broader enlightenment pulled him in the other. The former won too many of the battles."
Despite Lawrence Martin's use of the past tense, GL suspects that Stephen Harper's serious distrust of most environmental policy initiatives will be a factor in Canada's environmental policy for at least a few more years. A little more informed insight on what is to come as the rest of the world does move forward on climate change and on the tools and policies that might appeal to Stephen Harper would have been welcome. Maybe, however, Harper's "authoritarian methods", to quote Martin, are so inscrutable that no one actually knows where he will go next with the nation's environment policy file.

Harperland: The Politics of Control. Lawrence Martin. Viking Canada. Toronto, Ontario: 2010.,,9780670065172,00.html $35.00  
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