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WWII tactics could be key to combating today’s climate crisis

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The release of the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report has given humanity a very grim warning and a 10-year time frame in which to make massive changes in how the human race creates energy, produces goods, feeds itself and manages its relationship with the natural world.

There have been numerous calls from scientists, news media and public figures to change our ways on a massive scale. These calls have not, however, provided a large-scale blueprint for sustained and organized change. This desperately needed blueprint for massive, effective and rapid social and economic transformation can be found in Canadian socio-economic mobilization for the Second World War.

When Canada entered the Second World War in 1939, it mobilized every part of its economy and society to meet its responsibilities as part of an international coalition of Allies to fight against Hitler’s Germany. Canada’s integrated and organized approach to fighting the war was highly successful. It helped Canada — a country with a small population — to more than hold its own on the world stage and to play a vital part in winning the war against the Nazis.

The history

During the Second World War, the War Measures Act allowed the federal government to suspend civil liberties and to rule by Order in Council. This meant the prime minister and cabinet had the power to make laws without parliamentary approval. This was done to facilitate speed and efficiency in meeting the changing needs of the war effort. Parliament passed the Munitions and Supply Act to mobilize all aspects of the economy for war.

The Second World War mobilization included wage and price controls, food rationing and establishment of Crown (government-owned) corporations to produce war materials and supplies the private sector was unable or unwilling to provide.

Taxation of the wealthy and private businesses was dramatically increased to support the war effort during the Second World War. Amounts in excess of government-imposed profit levels were taxed away.

In order to mobilize all parts of society to support the war effort, the Canadian government provided housing and childcare for workers in war industries. Publicity campaigns encouraged women, children and all Canadians not stationed abroad to “do their bit” for the war effort. They conserved and recycled on a large scale, and made use of gardens and parks for food production. There was also a large-scale move toward reorienting education and training to support the war effort.

On the international stage, Canada and other western countries made a collective decision to put aside long-standing tensions and rivalries with other countries — in particular, the former Soviet Union — in the face of the enormous mutual threat they faced in the form of Nazi Germany and other enemy states.

Mobilization Policies: Updated and Adapted

One of the greatest concerns about implementing a centralized plan for the Canadian society and economy to meet the climate crisis is the potential for infringement of civil rights. This is a valid and serious concern, as the War Measures Act that was the legal basis for the transformation of the Canadian economy during the Second World War was based on the suspension of civil rights and the power of the Canadian Parliament. This underpinned internment of Japanese-Canadians and seizure of their property. The War Measures Act was also used during the FLQ Crisis of 1970 to send the Canadian military into Montreal.

In order to prevent further violations of civil liberties, the War Measures Act was replaced in 1988 by the Emergencies Act. It protects the civil liberties of Canadians that are enshrined in the 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The components of Second World War mobilization which should be updated and adapted to meet the climate crisis are:

1. Planned resource management and development, created in partnership with Indigenous communities, aimed at reducing carbon emissions and repairing environmental damage.

2. Taxation of wealth to fund the restructuring of the economy.

3. Reorienting education and training toward development of green industry and technology.

4. Creation of new Crown corporations to meet industrial production needs and protect access to necessaries of life.

5. Building co-operative international relations to reduce carbon emissions and protect shared environmental resources.

Planned resource management

Canada has a long history of resource overuse and long-lasting environmental destruction created by resource extraction. A tragic example is the ongoing mercury contamination crisis on the Ojibwe land of Grassy Narrows, caused by Dryden Chemicals Ltd. dumping mercury into the English-Wabigoon river system between 1962 and 1970. Resource management focused on preservation, serious environmental protection and repair of damaged natural areas must be given the highest priority. Canada must take rapid and effective action to protect ocean and inland waters, land and forests and animal habitats. Human expansion into protected lands must be minimized. For this purpose, a meaningful collaboration between the federal Canadian government and Indigenous governments and communities is absolutely vital. Indigenous-managed lands have been demonstrated to have 80 per cent more biodiversity than non-Indigenous-managed lands. As well, Indigenous communities have had great success in managing animal populations and in protecting water resources. Many Indigenous-led initiatives are underway throughout the country. For example, four First Nations in the Yukon provide environmental stewardship, heritage and culture protection and oversight of economic development in over 67,000 square kilometres of the Peel watershed region of the Yukon. This model should be emulated throughout Canada.

Another initiative is the placement of solar panels on the roofs of more than 300 Toronto schools. This initiative has now become countrywide. Toronto Community Housing has also mounted solar panels on some of its large residential buildings.

Taxation of wealth

Climate-emergency mobilization must be financed by heavily taxing the rich, particularly those who have made immense wealth from investment in the fossil fuels that have caused the climate crisis. As in the Second World War, profits in excess of a government-imposed limit should be taxed away to fund and support environmental restoration and protection. Climate-emergency taxes must support new Crown corporations, which will maintain and expand vital social services.

Reorienting education and training

There is enormous fear and concern from many working people in Canada regarding job loss and economic hardship in the transition away from a fossil-fuel-based economy. This is especially true in Western Canada because of its dependency on the oilsands industries. Reorienting education and training to support oil and gas workers in a just transition of the economy away from fossil-fuel dependency can also be modelled on the policies of the Second World War, when large numbers of workers were retrained and relocated for work in war industries. There is already a movement of this sort in Western Canada. Iron and Earth, a non-profit organization, retrains oil and gas workers for jobs in green industries. This movement could grow exponentially with government support, particularly if the annual multibillion-dollar subsidies of the fossil-fuel industry were redirected toward green-sector education and training.

Creation of new Crown corporations

Crown corporations, modelled on Second World War mobilization, can be used to rapidly transition to new forms of production on a mass scale. As Crown corporations were used to quickly change industries from peacetime to wartime production, Crown corporations could be used to undertake a massive and rapid shift in production to meet the climate crisis. They could be used to transition to mass production of electric vehicles, a move that has already been proposed by Green Jobs Oshawa and members of UNIFOR Local 222 to produce electric vehicles at the defunct General Motors plant in Oshawa. Crown corporations could also be used for a swift change in energy production, especially with a move toward small-scale local energy production in the form of micro-grids. Some of these are already in use and production in parts of Canada. Sustainable farming practices that guarantee local food production could greatly reduce the carbon footprint caused by international transport of food. Crown corporations focused on the creation of plant-based biodegradable products and packaging could also allow for a rapid, large-scale shift away from plastic pollution.

Building co-operative international relations

Climate crisis mobilization must involve international co-operation on a massive scale. Struggle between trade blocs for political-economic dominance must be set aside, and countries must work together to meet the unprecedented risk to our species posed by the climate crisis. For example, current trade wars should be abandoned in favour of meaningful and enforceable methods of regulating pollution of the oceans. Damage to the oceans and to oceanic food chains from de-oxygenation, plastic waste and other toxic wastes is escalating daily and poses a risk to the entire planet. This must be curbed by enforced international agreements.

Naming the enemy

During Second World War mobilization in Canada, Hitler’s Germany was the enemy of Canada and the other Allied countries. In the climate crisis, fossil-fuel corporations and related industries are the enemies of all countries because they have created the crisis we now face. It is clear they intend to continue their practices that now threaten the existence of human life on our shared planet.

Fossil-fuel companies are now claiming we are all responsible for the climate crisis because most of us use fossil fuels. This is a diversionary tactic by fossil-fuel companies to distract the general public from the basic fact that it is these companies who are to blame for what we now face. It has now been revealed that major oil companies such as Exxon knew for decades combustion of fossil fuels causes global warming. Instead of changing their industries, they funded climate-science denial on a massive scale.

Every person currently alive was born into a fossil-fuel economy and infrastructure. We did not give our consent to be part of this destructive system, and numerous attempts by both scientists and ordinary people to change it have been aggressively suppressed and undermined by the economic giants of the fossil-fuel industry. But there are now warnings by major financial institutions such as the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England that fossil-fuelled climate change threatens the global financial system. If carbon emissions are to be reduced in accordance with internationally adopted targets, coal and oil must be left in the ground. This will remove the profitability of large fossil-fuel corporations. There are also a rapidly growing number of lawsuits in various countries against fossil-fuel corporations. These lawsuits contend that fossil-fuel corporations are legally liable for the damage caused by extreme weather events to infrastructure, crops, fisheries and other resources.

Looking to the past for a way forward

Public awareness of the climate crisis is increasing daily, as is public anger and fear. People are afraid the climate crisis will bring breakdowns of social infrastructure, as well as serious threats to public safety and, ultimately, large-scale loss of human life.

It is important in times of crisis to look to history for solutions. The Second World War was a global disaster that involved unprecedented loss of life. We now face potential loss of life on a much larger scale because of climate change resulting from combustion of fossil fuels. The model of Second World War mobilization in Canada demonstrates the incredible capacity of people and society to change rapidly, to adapt and plan and to successfully navigate and survive crises.

Fossil-fuel corporations and related industries have denied climate science. They deny the possibility that we can change the ways we generate energy. They deny the possibility that we can distribute goods and services fairly. They deny the possibility that we can create equitable and sustainable relationships with the natural world and with each other. Second World War mobilization in Canada demonstrates these fossil-fuel companies are wrong. Canada is capable of making the massive, effective and rapid economic transformation we now need. Second World War mobilization has given us the blueprint from which we can meet the crisis we now face and build a new and better way of living.

Natasha Bartels, MA, is a secondary teacher in Toronto. Her father, Dennis Bartels, Ph.D., is a retired anthropologist. They are longtime advocates of renewable energy.

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Thanksgiving, large gatherings to blame for surge in COVID-19 cases in Ontario, officials say

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As Ontario saw record numbers of daily COVID-19 cases over the weekend, health officials on Monday are putting some of the blame on large gatherings that may have taken place over Thanksgiving two weeks ago. 

In York Region, 16 people, including three infants, are believed to have contracted the novel coronavirus following a Thanksgiving gathering. 

Three families gathered at a home in Vaughan over a span of two weeks around the Thanksgiving weekend.

At least one person attended despite having mild symptoms. 

One family member then went to work while symptomatic and infected two additional individuals. 

“Every time we socialize with anyone beyond our immediate household, there’s a risk that we enter into,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s medical officer of health. 

“This particular cluster illustrates that sort of a risk.”

In the province’s daily COVID-19 briefing, Health Minister Christine Elliott pointed at Thanksgiving gatherings as one of the factors for the recent surge in COVID-19 cases. 

“We are also starting to see some of the numbers go down in some of the modified areas but because of the impacts of Thanksgiving, we’re not seeing that happening quite as quickly as we’d like to,” Elliott said.

Weddings, religious service exempt from provincial gathering limits

This past weekend, nearly 100 people, many without masks, congregated outside a Toronto church for a wedding on Saturday. 

A woman, whose identity CBC News agreed to protect because she fears repercussions from the community, was passing by when she saw the gathering and spoke out.

“It was wrong,” said the woman.

“It was going against everything we’re being asked to do right now and it gives the impression that what they’re doing matters more than keeping the rest of the people safe,” she said. 

Ontario has restricted gatherings to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors in areas that are in Stage 2 — Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa.

But religious services, like weddings — even in hotspots like Toronto — are exempt, as long as the venue is at less than 30 per cent capacity. 

In a briefing Monday, Toronto Mayor John Tory said the rules may need to be changed.

“I think we have to take another look at those regulations,” he said. 

“Any large gathering, no matter how careful you are, has a certain risk associated with it.”

PC MPP under fire for maskless photo at indoor gathering

Meanwhile, a Progressive Conservative MPP is under fire for not wearing a mask while posing for a group photo.

Sam Oosterhoff posted the picture on social media over the weekend but later deleted it. 

“I think it was shocking,” said Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca on Monday. 

“I think it was inappropriate and I think there definitely needs to be consequences for Mr. Oosterhoff.”

Oosterhoff, who is also the parliamentary assistant to the education minister, apologized for the picture, saying he should have worn a mask when taking the photo, given the proximity of the people around him.

Critics have called for his resignation, saying he was not following his government’s pandemic guidance. 

In the province’s daily COVID-19 briefing, Premier Doug Ford said that’s not going to happen. 

“Hey guys, everyone makes mistakes,” said Ford. 

“I have 100 per cent confidence in Sam. He does a great job representing his area. People love him out there and he came out and apologized.”



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‘A community champion,’ philanthropist and former Ticats owner, David Braley dies at 79

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Hamilton is mourning the loss of David Braley, a former owner of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats with three decades of success in the Canadian Football League, a supporter of sport in the city, and an honoured philanthropist. 

Braley, who had owned the BC Lions since 1997, passed away in his Burlington, Ont. home at age 79, says a media release from the team.  

In a tweet, Mayor of Hamilton Fred Eisenberger called Braley a “community champion.”

“David Braley’s contributions live on and continue to make our city a better place,” he wrote. “His passion for community, arts & sport was immeasurable.”

He also journeyed into politics, when former Prime Minster Stephen Harper appointed Braley to the Canadian Senate in 2010, where he served for nearly three years. 

He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2019 “for his contributions to the Canadian Football League, and for his entrepreneurial and philanthropic leadership in his community.” 

His philanthropy was remembered in a tweet Monday from Hamilton Health Sciences which said “We are profoundly saddened by the passing of David Braley. He was a champion for the people of Hamilton and contributed so much to improving medical education and research to the benefit of the global community.”

In a media release Bob Young, caretaker of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, said “I and the Tiger-Cats mourn David’s passing. He was an enthusiastic Hamiltonian and a wonderful benefactor to our community’s hospitals and universities. The CFL and Hamilton communities have lost a great leader and champion today.”

The first team Braley owned in the Canadian Football League (CFL) was the Hamilton Tiger-Cats from 1989 to 1992, when it returned to community ownership.

During his first season of ownership, the Ticats went to the Grey Cup.

“While David was well known for his role with the BC Lions, he was also always, at heart, a Ticat fan. Our sincerest condolences go out to David’s family, and his wide circle of friends and admirers across our community,” said Young. 

Braley went on to collect four Grey Cups during his time as an owner in the CFL. Three of them were with the BC Lions, and his last was with the Toronto Argonauts, which he owned from 2010 to 2015.

The Argonauts won the 100th Grey Cup in 2012. 

He also acted as chairman of the CFL’s Board of Governors and served as an interim commissioner from March to November in 2002. 

Braley was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (2012), McMaster Sports Hall of Fame (2007) and Hamilton Sports Hall of Fame (2006).

Tributes to man whose name adorns buildings across the city are being posted on social media. 

Along with contributions to football, Braley championed sport in Hamilton by helping to bring the World Cycling Championships to the city in 2012. 

He was also part of southern Ontario’s successful bid for the 2015 Pan Am Games, which saw Tim Hortons Field host all 32 soccer matches. 

“David Braley…was our champion in every sense of the word,” said CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie in a statement. 

“David didn’t just talk about this idea. He lived it. An owner of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, as well as the Argos and Lions, he often stepped in to sustain and turn around franchises when they needed him the most.”

Braley was born in Montreal in 1941, but moved to Hamilton two years later. The Ticats say he discovered his true passion for football after attending his first Tiger-Cats game at Ivor Wynne Stadium. 

He played high school football at Westdale Secondary School, studied sciences at McMaster University, and worked with General Motors Acceptance Corporation in Hamilton and then with London Life Insurance.

In 1969, he purchased William Orlick Industries, which is now known as Orlick Industries, and transformed it into a leading manufacture of aluminum die-cast auto parts that provided hundreds of jobs in the Hamilton area. 

Braley has donated over $125 million to various organizations, says the Ticats media release. 

From August 2006 to June 2007, he donated $50 million to McMaster’s medical school and another $5 million for the university’s athletic centre, which is named after him. 

Braley also gave $10 million to Hamilton Health Sciences for a new cardiac, vascular and research institute, also named after the philanthropist, and $5 million to St. Joseph’s Healthcare for operating rooms and kidney care. 



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Andrew Wilkinson resigning as B.C. Liberal leader after worst party showing in decades

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Andrew Wilkinson has resigned as leader of the B.C. Liberal Party, two days after the party had its worst provincial election outcome in decades.  

Wilkinson announced his resignation in a very brief address to the media on Monday. He said he has asked the party’s president to begin the work to find his successor and that he will step down when his replacement is found.

“Leading the B.C. Liberals has been a great honour, but now it’s time for me to make room for someone else to take over this role,” he said. 

Wilkinson took no questions from reporters.

Saturday night’s election results saw John Horgan’s B.C. NDP capture a majority of seats, a disastrous outcome for the Liberals that led to the possibility that Wilkinson, who was elected leader in 2018, would lose leadership of his party.

The Liberals face a projected loss of 12 seats in the legislature after voting day. As many as 525,000 mail-in ballots will be counted in the next two weeks. 

The announcement comes after a disastrous outcome for the B.C. Liberals in Saturday’s provincial election. 1:40

The B.C. NDP is projected to take 55 of B.C.’s 87 ridings, compared to 29 for the Liberals and three for the Green Party.

It will be the first majority government for the NDP in British Columbia since 1996, and while the B.C. Liberals will stand as the Official Opposition, it will be with the lowest seat count the party has had since 1991.

Wilkinson, 63, served in several cabinet positions when in government, including minister of justice and advanced education.

Reaction to results

Wilkinson addressed constituents and the media Saturday night. He acknowledged the NDP were “clearly ahead” based on preliminary results, but did not concede, saying the race wasn’t over until the mail-in ballot count.

“We’ll have more to say going forward but for now we all have a responsibility to be patient, to respect the democratic process and to await the final results,” he said before leaving the stage at his campaign headquarters.

But Wilkinson appeared to concede on Sunday evening, saying he phoned Horgan around 5 p.m. PT to offer his congratulations.

“The people of B.C. have spoken,” Wilkinson wrote in a tweet.

Horgan thanked Wilkinson for his dedication to the people of B.C., acknowledging the challenge he faced serving as Opposition leader.

“I’ve done that job, and I’ve often said it is the toughest job in politics,” Horgan said in a statement. “Mr. Wilkinson led the Official Opposition through a very challenging time for our province. He ran a spirited campaign and I wish him the best in the future.”

Wilkinson seemed to have trouble connecting with voters during the campaign.

He made comments about renting being a “wacky time of life” and described domestic violence victims as “people who are in a tough marriage“. 

Wilkinson also did not immediately face the press after sexist comments were made by candidate Jane Thornthwaite during a video conversation he was a part of. 

Who’s next?

Dianne Watts, former Surrey mayor and runner-up in the last B.C. Liberal leadership race, told CBC on Monday she felt Wilkinson’s wait time before addressing the sexist comments likely did not sit well with voters.

When asked if she was up for the task of replacing Wilkinson should the party look for a new leader, Watts laughed.

“Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt,” she said.

Longtime Liberal and Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond’s name has been floated as a possible replacement.

She told CBC’s Daybreak North on Monday it’s a role she is not considering.

“It’s not something I’ve ever aspired to,” she said.

Bond said she’s focused on serving her constituents and is looking forward to being part of a Liberal party that will need to explore what it will take to resonate further with British Columbians. 

“My job is to be part of this team as it asks some really hard questions about did we do, what do we need to do and how do we begin to re-engage with British Columbians in every corner of this province,” Bond said.



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