Welcome to your weekly roundup from National Observer.

Whatever the outcome of the SNC-Lavalin situation, Canadians got to see some very unusual displays this week.

It is incredibly rare for the media to shine its spotlight so brightly on such an impressive Indigenous woman. Jody Wilson-Raybould radiated dignity, strength and thoughtfulness.

Another reason the country has been transfixed is that it's so unusual to get such a "graphic demonstration of corporate power in politics."

As Sandy Garossino put it, "As with (the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion), the lesson to corporate Canada is that threatening the [government] works."

There are eerie similarities to the pipeline decision. You may remember National Observer revealed that one day after Texas-based Kinder Morgan lobbied a top public servant, officials altered the review process.

Mike De Souza also reported allegations that the federal decision was rigged after public servants said they had been instructed to "give cabinet a legally-sound basis for saying 'yes.''"

We have full coverage of all the latest developments in the SNC-Lavalin saga:

SNC-Lavalin overshadowed the other big news in federal politics this week — Jagmeet Singh won a seat in Parliament. Singh ran on a platform of pocketbook issues like affordable housing, coupled with broader issues of climate change and energy. Climate activists were quick to argue that the NDP's best hope is a Green New Deal for Canada.

Some clean energy, lots of oil

Clean energy projects have become shockingly cheap.

Alberta is making progress towards its 2030 target for renewable energy, and the latest project — a solar contract to supply more than half of the Alberta government's needs — came it at an average price of just 4.8 cents per kilowatt hour. Last year, other projects came in at 3.7 cents. Read more in Alberta creeps closer to 2030 renewable energy target.

The federal government wants to copy the U.K.'s successful independent climate watchdog. Carl Meyer reports that the feds are planning to award millions of dollars to create one in Canada.

  • "McKenna’s office said that such an institute could help fill the void created by the government of former prime minister Stephen Harper when it cancelled funding for the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, or NRTEE, forcing the independent organization to close its doors in 2013."

The head of that U.K. climate watchdog was in Ottawa this week. He says we need a "grown up discussion about getting off fossil fuels" (article for subscribers only).

  • “Put bluntly, if we are to meet the emissions targets that are implied by the Paris agreement, then we know already that we have too many fossil fuel reserves out there that are recoverable.”

But not everyone in government is focused on climate solutions.

The premiers of Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador called on the Senate to force the Trudeau government to take into account the economic benefits of fossil fuel projects.

The Notley government says it cannot ship the ever-greater amounts of crudeits industry is making available for export, an amount that has more than doubled since 2010.

Meanwhile, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador hopes to usher in a new offshore oil rush. It is looking to permit as many as 140 wells in the North Atlantic and hopes to pump 650,000 barrels of oil per day. One of them, Bay du Nord, would represent the first deepwater drilling site for the provincial industry, plunging over a kilometre down into the ocean.

This comes after the province experienced the largest spill in the history of its offshore industry last fall, when 250,000 litres of oil spilled into the ocean in November.


In case you missed it, last Friday Fatima Syed reported that the provincial government is shutting a service that helps Ontario citizens fight wealthy developers.

And this week, the Ford government moved to scrap 'restrictions' on development in northern Ontario

Meanwhile, Lisa MacLeod wanted the mother of an autistic child to say the Ford government was 'on the right track'

  • "... if they've manipulated my quote and then gone and read it making it seem like I wrote that in support of her plan, how many other stories has (MacLeod) read in Queen's Park that are an outright lie or that have been used or manipulated in the wrong way?"

South of the border, our Climate Desk colleagues reported that Pro-Trump billionaires continue to bankroll climate denial.

But let's end on a more promising note. Scientists discovered a giant tortoise in the Galapagos Islands that has not been seen since 1906. The Fernandina giant tortoise was thought to be extinct.

A Chelonoidis phantasticus tortoise is shown at the Galapagos National Park on Santa Cruz Island, in Ecuador's Galapagos Islands, on Feb. 20. Photo Credit: Galapagos National Park
  • "The female tortoise, believed to be more than 100 years old, was found in a patch of vegetation on a remote part of the island of Fernandina. Tracks indicate there may be even more of these tortoises elsewhere."

“There may be hope,” says Stuart Pimm, a professor of conservation ecology at Duke University.

That's all for this week's roundup but there's lots more over on the main site. Thank you for supporting National Observer and have a great weekend.

Chris Hatch

Executive Editor