The Globe and Mail - 19.09.2019

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The European Union’s top offi-
cials have toughened their talk
on Brexit and called on British
Prime Minister Boris Johnson to
stop the pretense of negotiating.
“We are at a moment of
truth,” Michel Barnier, the EU’s
Brexit negotiator told the Eu-
ropean Parliament on Wednes-
day. “Some three years after the
Brexit referendum, we should
not be pretending to negotiate.”
There’s growing exasperation
among EU officials at Mr. John-
son’s pledge to pull Britain out of
the EU on Oct. 31 no matter what,
while also insisting that he wants
to strike a deal. Mr. Johnson has
claimed repeatedly that an
agreement was close and that
negotiators were making pro-
gress. But Mr. Barnier and Eu-
ropean Commission President
Jean-Claude Juncker told Eu-
ropean parliamentarians on
Wednesday that no progress had
been made, particularly on the
thorny issue of the Irish back-
“I asked the British Prime
Minister to specify the alterna-
tive arrangements that he could
envisage [to the backstop],” Mr.
Juncker said. “As long as such
proposals are not made, I cannot
tell you, while looking you
straight in the eye, that progress
is being made.” He added that he
was “not sure we will get there”
in avoiding a no-deal Brexit.
The main stumbling block in
the talks has been figuring out
how to keep the Irish border
open after Brexit. There are cur-
rently no border controls and
the 500-kilometre-long frontier
exists only on paper. The back-
stop was included in a deal
struck last year by the EU and Mr.
Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa
May. It called for Northern Ire-
land to remain aligned to EU reg-
ulations while the rest of Britain
stayed in a form of the bloc’s cus-
tom union.
Under the deal, the backstop
would stay in place until both
sides agreed to a broader free-
trade deal. Since replacing Ms.
May as Prime Minister in July, Mr.
Johnson has vowed to scrap the
safety net because he says it
keeps the country too closely
tied to the EU. The EU and Ire-
land, however, have stood firm

and said the backstop protects
cross-border trade and ensures
that there won’t be a return to
sectarian violence in Northern
On Wednesday, Mr. Juncker
said he “had no emotional at-
tachment” to the backstop, but
he stood by “the objectives that
it is designed to achieve.” He
called on Mr. Johnson “to come
forward with operational pro-
posals, in writing, for practical
steps which would allow us to
achieve those objectives.”
Mr. Johnson has yet to outline
his proposals, but he has indicat-
ed that he favours some of the
alternatives raised in a report by
a cross-party group of British
The group, which calls itself
the Alternative Arrangements
Commission, has spent months
examining border controls
around the world in conjunction
with a London-based think tank
called Prosperity UK. The MPs’
250-page report concluded that
there were plenty of alternatives
to the backstop that did not in-
volve tying Northern Ireland or
the U.K. to the EU.
The report said that the U.K.
and Ireland could adopt technol-
ogy that’s in use along the Cana-
da-U.S. border, such as the trust-
ed-trader program, which
streamlines entry by preapprov-
ing shippers and checking docu-
ments electronically. Similar
technology, called Transit, has
been launched on the Swiss bor-
der and between Norway and

The group also said that the
U.K. and Ireland already relied
on a series of checks for agricul-
tural goods, which could be ex-
panded after Brexit. And they
said there was no reason that the
U.K. and Ireland couldn’t contin-
ue to allow people to cross freely
by working out an agreement
based along the current system,
known as the free-travel area.
An overall border program for
people and goods could be in
place within three years, the re-
port added, alleviating the need
for the backstop.
“We believe a deal can be done
around the areas of alternative
arrangements ... which avoids
the need to have border infras-
tructure,” Greg Hands, a Conser-
vative MP who chairs the com-
mission, said Wednesday in a
briefing with reporters.
Mr. Hands didn’t support
Brexit in the 2016 referendum
and he doesn’t want the country
to leave the EU without a deal on
Oct. 31. But he said the backstop
has been rejected by Parliament
three times and it must be
changed if there is any hope for a
deal. He added that the group
has discussed its findings with
Mr. Johnson several times, as
well as with Mr. Barnier.
“I’m not privy to what has
been discussed at the negotiat-
ing table,” Mr. Hands said.
“But I think we can all see that
a lot of what the U.K.govern-
ment has been reported to be
proposing is not dissimilar to
what is in our alternative ar-
rangements report.”




Environmental group Ecojustice is threatening to file a legal
challenge against Alberta’s public inquiry into the foreign
funding of environmental charities if changes aren’t made to
the investigation’s mandate.
The group’s threat is the latest sign environmental and ac-
tivist groups are mobilizing against the public inquiry, which
is a centerpiece of Premier Jason Kenney’s plan to use the
provincialgovernment’s resources to fight critics of Alberta’s
oil sands in court and in public. The Premier dismissed the
group’s demands after they were published Wednesday and
criticized it for accepting foreign funds.
Vancouver-based Ecojustice
says the province’s public inquiry
is unlawful and possibly uncon-
stitutional because of the lan-
guage used in the mandate given
to the investigation’s head, com-
missioner Steve Allan. The
group’s executive director says
the language is biased and pre-
judges the inquiry’s outcome by
labelling environmental groups
critical of oil and gas develop-
ment as “anti-Alberta.”
“We were surprised that this
public inquiry was a manifesta-
tion of a campaign promise by
Kenney. It really is a reflection of
his political intention to target,
intimidate and stigmatize Cana-
dians concerned about climate
change and Alberta’s role and re-
sponsibility related to that,” De-
von Page, the executive director
of Ecojustice, told The Globe and Mail.
“This is an attempt to stigmatize and silence debate. Poli-
ticians do that all the time. What they can’t do is muster a
judicial process to do that for them,” he added.
Amnesty International warned last week that the public
inquiry, as well as Mr. Kenney’s promise to fund a war room to
combat criticism of the oil sands in the media and online,
could violate the human rights of Canadians.
Mr. Kenney said the public inquiry would continue with-
out changes to probe the foreign funding of environmental
charities and what he said was the “legal and ethical harass-
ment” of Alberta’s oil and gas companies.
“I understand why these groups are hyperventilating,” Mr.
Kenney told reporters during a call from New York where he
was promoting Alberta’s energy industry to U.S. investors.
“Apparently, these folks think they should be able to use Al-
berta as a punching bag.”
Mr. Kenney said the promise to call a public inquiry into
foreign funding was one of the most popular commitments
he made on the campaign trail before his United Conserva-
tives took power earlier this year.
After the call, Mr. Kenney’s press secretary sent reporters a
link to Ecojustice’s tax returns filed with the Canada Revenue
Agency and called attention to the group’s disclosure of reve-
nue from foreign sources. The environmental group received
just over $1-million in foreign donations in the 2017-18 tax
year, out of about $7.4-million in total revenue – less than 14
per cent.
“This isn’t the first time a premier has resorted to name
calling us. That doesn’t get them anywhere in the courts,” Mr.
Page said.
While the majority of Ecojustice’s funding comes from
Canadians, the environmental law group does accept money
from foreign donors, according to Mr. Page. He said the group
has strict fundraising rules and won’t accept money from do-
nors who seek to change its focus.
Mr. Kenney has argued that new pipelines have not been
built to export Alberta energy because of a foreign-funded
campaign to land-lock the province’s oil.

















The U.S.government is being urged to apply pressure to Can-
ada to do more to protect the endangered North American
right whale population to avoid a ban on various Canadian
seafood products.
Nine U.S.-based organizations wrote to the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday ex-
pressing “deep concern” over the continuing entanglement
of right whales in Canadian waters.
The letter highlights the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection
Act, which requires a ban on the import of fish, crab and lob-
ster caught with gear that results in the killing or serious in-
jury of marine mammals “in excess of United States stan-
dards.” The groups say current conservation measures in
Canada are not comparable to those in U.S. fisheries, and im-
provements are needed to help avoid the species’ extinction.
“We know that there is a major bycatch problem for right
whales on both sides of the border, but there’s definitely a
problem in Canada,” Sarah Uhlemann, program director of
the Center for Biological Diversity in Seattle, Wash., said in an
interview Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the first death of a right whale in U.S. waters
was announced, while eight have died in Canadian waters
this summer out of a population numbering only about 400
animals. Twenty-nine right whales have died in North Amer-
ican waters since 2017.
Ms. Uhlemann said there have been another four entan-
glements that have injured whales this year in the Gulf of St.
Lawrence mainly because of the snow crab fishery.
“We are very worried that this level of entanglement is
harming the population, is really contributing to its decline
and could eventually cause its extinction,” she said.
Canada instituted measures after 12 right whale deaths in
2017, including altering shipping lanes and reducing vessel
speeds, along with increased surveillance, fishery closings
and dynamic or moving closings based on the sighting of
right whales in a particular area.
The federalgovernment said protecting the species is a
shared responsibility and it continues to work closely with
the United States to monitor right whales in the Gulf of St.
Lawrence and respond when necessary.
Ms. Uhlemann believes further measures that have been
implemented in U.S. waters should be adopted. They include
the wider use of gear marking and of sinking lines that an-
chor lobster and crab traps closer to the ocean floor.






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