Canadian government failing Sustainable Economy 101: report card

by Maude Barlow, Brent Blackwelder, and Randall Hayes

Read the report here.

September 20, 2013

School has only just begun, but the Harper government has already earned itself a failing grade. A new report card from a leading international think-tank gives the federal government straight Fs for its management of the economy, ecology, and equity.

Foundation Earth, a U.S.-based think-tank advocating for a sustainable economy, issued The Canadian Economic Rethink: At War with the Earth or Getting it Right? in partnership with the Council of Canadians. The report card’s authors – Dr. Brent Blackwelder, president emeritus of Friends of the Earth U.S., and Randy Hayes, founder of the Rainforest Action Network – have over 80 years of experience in international environmental policy.

“In past years we looked to Canada for leadership, especially when the U.S. was lapsing,” said Hayes. “Canada had a chance to be a renewable energy superpower and a world leader in sustainable economic development.”

“Unfortunately, the Harper government instead chose to develop some of the world’s most destructive energy projects,” said Blackwelder. “Our report shows that Canada’s economic model is now one to be avoided rather than applauded.”

The report card measures 16 categories of performance, highlighting nations that have initiated significant innovative action. It gives separate grades for Alberta and British Columbia, two of the provinces most affected by the resource boom. The provinces fared somewhat better than the federal government, suggesting that there’s still hope for some of Canada’s struggling students.

“This report card confirms that the Harper government has gutted environmental protection for its friends in the oil patch,” said Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “It’s behaving like a schoolyard bully, and that’s got to stop if we’re to regain our status as an international leader.”

Brent Blackwelder is president emeritus of Friends of the Earth U.S. and founding chairman of American Rivers. Randy Hayes is the founder and former executive director of the Rainforest Action Network. They recently formed Foundation Earth, an advocacy think tank working for a sustainable economy. Maude Barlow is the national chairperson of the Council of Canadians.

Note: The Canada report is the second in a series published by Foundation Earth. In the summer of 2012 our report entitled The Economic Rethink: Who Does it Well? highlighted Brazil’s poor record as the host to the twenty-year anniversary of the 1992 UN Earth Summit.

– 30 –

For media inquiries:

Dylan Penner, Media Officer, Council of Canadians, (613) 795-8685 | | Twitter: @CouncilOfCDNs


Maude Barlow is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and chairs the board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch. She is a board member of the San Francisco–based International Forum on Globalization and a Councillor with the Hamburg-based World Future Council. Maude is the recipient of eleven honorary doctorates as well as many awards, including the 2005 Right Livelihood Award (known as the “Alternative Nobel”), the 2005 Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Fellowship Award, the Citation of Lifetime Achievement at the 2008 Canadian Environment Awards, the 2009 Earth Day Canada Outstanding Environmental Achievement Award, the 2009 Planet in Focus Eco Hero Award, and the 2011 EarthCare Award, the highest international honour of the Sierra Club (US). In 2008/2009, she served as Senior Advisor on Water to the 63rd President of the United Nations General Assembly and was a leader in the campaign to have water recognized as a human right by the UN. She is also the author of dozens of reports, as well as 17 books, including her latest, Blue Future: Protecting Water For People And The Planet Forever.

Dr. Brent Blackwelder graduated summa cum laude from Duke University, holds a Master’s in math from Yale, and a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Maryland. He teaches part-time at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC. Blackwelder served as president of Friends of the Earth from 1994 until his retirement in October of 2009. He was the founding chairman of American Rivers in 1973 and worked for 40 years on environmental issues, testifying over 100 times to Congress. He led many efforts to protect rivers throughout the United States and the world, helping to halt over 200 dam and diversion projects and increase the national scenic rivers system from only eight protected rivers in 1973 to over 250 rivers today. He was listed by Vanity Fair as one of the 22 Best Stewards of the Planet in 2005. Additional awards include: National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship 1964, Woodrow Wilson Foundation Graduate Fellowship 1964, and Outstanding Alumnus Award from the University of Maryland’s College of Arts and Humanities in 2001. In April 2008 Washingtonian Magazine featured Brent as one of 30 environmental leaders in the DC metropolitan area.

Randy Hayes, renowned environmentalist perhaps best known for founding Rainforest Action Network in 1985, now leads Foundation Earth as its founding Executive Director. A filmmaker in the 1980s, Randy is a veteran of many high-visibility corporate accountability campaigns and has advocated for the rights of Indigenous peoples throughout the world. He served for five years as president of the City of San Francisco Commission on the Environment, and for two-and-a-half years as director of sustainability in the office of Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown. He also spent four years at the International Forum on Globalization, a San Francisco-based think tank that analyzes the cultural, social, political and environmental impacts of economic globalization. Hayes has a Master’s degree in Environmental Planning from San Francisco State University (Inducted in Alumni Hall of Fame scheduled May 2010). His master’s thesis, The Four Corners, won the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences award for “Best Student Documentary” in 1983. He contributed to Alternatives to Economic Globalization: A Better World is Possible. Not satisfied with short-term thinking, Randy’s 500-year plan offers a vision of a sustainable society and how to get there. His corporate campaign activist peers honored Randy Hayes in 2008 with an Individual Achievement Award, given by the Business Ethics Network. Additionally he was one of the original set of inductees in the Environmental Hall of Fame. Randy Hayes has been described in the Wall Street Journal as “an environmental pit bull.”