Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Daily Digest May 8, 2012 030


The DAILY DIGEST: INFORMATION and OPINION from ST. JOHN'S to VICTORIA.
ARCHIVED at http://cdndailydigest.blogspot.com/

OPINION AND INFORMATION
_____CANADA

Taxpayers on hook for Harper's high-powered legal defence in Guergis case
The Conservative government has hired a private-sector lawyer, at taxpayers' expense, to represent Prime Minister Stephen Harper and three other people who are among those being sued for defamation by former Tory cabinet minister Helena Guergis, Postmedia News has learned.
MORE...

Related   _____FOREIGN AFFAIRS
>>>>>>>>>>INFOS <<<<<<<<<<
MARDI 8 MAI 2012
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Tories considering splitting omnibus budget bill into five pieces after opposition outrage: NDP


Should environmental law changes be pulled out of bill C-38?
http://www.cbc.ca/news/yourcommunity/2012/05/should-environmental-law-changes-be-pulled-out-of-bill-c-38.html
Yes.  90.85%  (4,350 votes)
No.  8.6%  (412 votes)
I'm not sure.  0.54%  (26 votes

Should Bill C-38 be split at all it will not be because of "opposition outrage"
but rather results of government polls are showing the same spread as above.

Arguments for and against changes included in the Bill being passed quickly
are at post end - would you have the Bill passed on Thursday as is or not?

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From: "Tom Brewer"

Gee.. How long will it take for the Harper government to accept "financial" help from immigrants to further their application to become Canadians?
I find it hard to accept that our government is imposing restrictions on intended immigrants. One must ask "what's next"! As a born Canadian I have worries should I vacation outside of Canada and get into problems will this government do what it is supposed to do to help Canadians! Yes, I'm concerned as I see the problems others are having.
I'm sorry to suggest if you are not a dyed in the wool Harperite... You will have problems. The disgusting attitude Harperites have is annoying!
In my mind IF and WHEN our our MP's get the message to answer the question... Then things will change. We chastise kids for not being truthful... Well why should they be when elected reps fail to answer the questions asked and continue to suggest "when they(other party) was in gov't they did this or that! Might I dare suggest that perhaps the reason the other party is not in gov't results from the electorate removing them. I dare suggest if the Harperites are not careful they will be on the other side of the House come the next election.
Canadians are disgusted in the "robo-call" affair. They don't have the intestinal fortitude to stand up and say "yes, it was us"! In my opinion they are hiding their prowess to earn the right to represent Canadians. If they had the balls.. They would work to "out" the culprits as what they are doing is disrupting our right to elect who we want to represent us.
Republicans are known to have done this and we know the Cons use Republican help to stay in power.
It is time that we clean up our act in Parliament

Tom

===================================
From: Mahmood Elahi
To: <letters@nationalpost.com>
Subject: Canada will face union with the U.S. if Quebec separates

The Editor
National Post [ This is in response to your invitation to write with reference to the question: "Does Quebec have a future in Canada?"]
Copy to: Prof. Desmond Morton, Professor Emeritus of History, McGill University: With reference to our earlier exchanges on the subject. I have been writing to National Post, but it refuses to publish my letters on the subject, although it has been publishing highly contrived letters calling for Quebec's separation. Most of them failed to realize that Canada will also face a dramatic transformation if Quebec separates.

Canada will face union with the U.S. if Quebec separates
Re Lettrs of the Day: "Does a velvet divorce' lie in Canada's future?" (May 8).
After the British conquest of Canada in 1759, the colonial Gov. Sir Guy Carleton thought Canada would always remain a French-speaking country. "Europeans who migrate," he asserted, "will never prefer the cold inhospitable winter of Canada to the more cheerful climate ... of His Majesty's southern provinces. So barring tragedy shocking to think of, this country must, to the end of time, be peopled by the French-Canadian race." This was not to be. Within a decade and half, came a crowd of American royalists driven into exile by revolutionary upheavals in their own country. They were North America's first political refugees who fled to Canada to escape persecution in the hands of so-called Patriots.
Influx of American royalists, who called themselves United Empire Loyalists, signalled the transformation of Canada. It could no longer be contended that Canada would remain French to the end of time. A substantial and growing population of Anglo-American stock had been planted in Quebec and areas next to it what was to become Ontario, triggering a process in which the francophones became a minority in the country founded by them. However, Quebec's separation will reverse the historical process, bringing into focus the great similarities that exist between "His Majesty's (former) southern provinces" with Her Majesty's present English-speaking northern provinces.
After Quebec's separation, English-speaking parts of North America will look like an organic whole and instead of a splintered Canada (as the Maritime provinces will become isolated), a union of His & Her Majesty's southern and northern English-speaking provinces may look more practicable. As such, Quebec will resume its march as a French-speaking nation and "Manifest Destiny" of one-nation, one-language and one-flag in North America long cherished by the Americans will become a reality.

MAHMOOD ELAHI

===================================
From: Rebecca Gingrich
_______
Subject:  Maybe if we didn't have to pay to keep the incompetent UN functioning we would have more money for food?

 UN monitor probing Canada's food supply issues
http://winnipeg.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20120507/United-Nations-food-Olivier-Schutter-Canada-120507/20120507/?hub=WinnipegHome
_______
Subject: DND, procurement officials  DD

Joe--sadly this is just the latest farce that is being perpetrated on the Canadian taxpayer.  Remember the dud subs?  
They failed to do due diligence?  So why is this a surprise?   In 2006 they decided that was the best aircraft to 'meet the requirements' but hadn't decided what they needed until 2010?  Just another case of follow the money? 
The only requirement this purchase has to meet is to justify the incompetent actions of our government.  The more things change the more they stay the same?
Becky
_______
Subject: DD

Joe--thanks to the Nantroses for their discussion of the reality of our 'future'(sadly, we don't have one).  They are so right in their depiction of where our governments are leading us.  Destruction of the serfs is their aim.  We all know there are too many people on the planet so governments will decrease our numbers through wars and starvation.  Government's only concerns are the well being of their corporate masters.  And yes, we can trust no government.  They are nothing but puppets promoting what their masters demand. 
I find it passing strange that our government can present this huge missive that we are all supposed to support without knowing what it contains  just as we are supposed to accept that a letter can justify paying billions for an unproven jet.  And sadly it doesn't matter what is written in either article, it only matters how the government translates those words.   And past actions have proven that no matter what it says we pay, they play.
Becky
_______
Subject: "if you are not for our troops you are against them"?  Where does that put the government?

Soldier defies order and speaks up over military health services
... http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/05/07/mb-soldier-mental-health-stoesz.html
Stoesz returned to Canada in 2008 after surviving three bomb attacks in Afghanistan and suffering speech and balance problems.
He said he is worn down by the amount of red tape he has needed to go through to get counselling, physiotherapy and other medical care.
Stoesz said he had to wait for more than three years to get surgery for some injuries.... Read 285 comments285
_______
Subject: Mulcair against the west--if the West isn't making money how can they keep sending money east????

Two articles about Mulcair's comment
s about western natural resource development. So - he thinks that we are pushing up the value of the dollar and hurting eastern manufacturers. Well - isn't that a shame? 
Read on:
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is accusing federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair of dividing Canadians with his comments about the economy and energy.
In a recent interview, Mulcair said the resource sector in western Canada is artificially driving up the dollar, making it tough on eastern manufacturers and exporters.
Speaking on the CBC Radio program The House, Mulcair compared the current Canadian economic situation to the so-called "Dutch disease."
That's a term coined by The Economist magazine explaining the collapse of the Dutch manufacturing sector, after development of the oil industry pushed up the Netherlands' currency in the 1960s.
Wall first expressed his disapproval on Twitter: "Thomas Mulcair calls the strength of our resource sector a "disease" ... Resources have been the cure not the problem, NDP."
Later, speaking to reporters, Wall accused Mulcair of pitting eastern voters against the west.
"I think it's very, very divisive," Wall said.
"For someone who aspires to be prime minister to label a certain sector of our economy that's actually creating jobs — creating jobs through exports and through their development for all of the country — that he would label this as a problem, is very disconcerting and I hope he changes his tune."
Mulcair said he's not against developing the oilsands — but it should be sustainable development where the polluter and the users pay the environmental costs.
"We've hollowed out the manufacturing sector," he said. "In six years since the Conservatives arrived, we've lost 500,000 good-paying, manufacturing jobs … more than half of them because we're not internalizing the environmental costs."
Mulcair added that his analysis looked generally at the impact of resource exports on the dollar and manufacturing — insisting he wasn't specifically targeting Alberta or the oilsands industry.

OTTAWA — NDP leader Thomas Mulcair said Saturday that, because of the way it raises the value of the Canadian dollar, other parts of the country are paying a price for the prosperity enjoyed by natural resource sectors such as the oilsands in Alberta.
"It's by definition the 'Dutch disease,' " Mulcair said Saturday on the CBC Radio show, The House.
The "Dutch disease" is a reference to what happened to the Netherlands economy in the 1960s after vast deposits of natural gas were discovered in the nearby North Sea. The resulting rise in its currency was thought to have caused the collapse of the Dutch manufacturing sector, and Mulcair said the same thing is happening in Canada.

"The Canadian dollar's being held artificially high, which is fine if you're going to Walt Disney World, (but) not so good if you want to sell your manufactured product because the American clients, most of the time, can no longer afford to buy it."
The Canadian dollar has traded higher or close to parity with the U.S. dollar for most of this year and last.
Mulcair cited Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick as some of the places affected by the high loonie.
"We've hollowed out the manufacturing sector. In six years since the Conservatives have arrived, we've lost 500,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs."
Mulcair also discussed the need for the "internalization of the environmental costs" of oilsands and other natural resources development and making the "polluter pay."
===================================
Environment laws getting facelift to accelerate projects: Joe Oliver
 
http://www.canada.com/news/Environment+laws+getting+facelift+accelerate+projects+Oliver/6578445/story.html
 
BY BY MIKE DE SOUZA, POSTMEDIA NEWS MAY 8, 2012 COMMENTS (3)

OTTAWA — Are Canada's environmental protection laws under attack, being systematically dismantled and replaced through the back door via legislation the government has tabled to implement its budget?

While some environmentalists fear the answer is 'yes,' the Conservatives argue they are trying to handle environmental oversight more effectively as they focus on the economy.

Through add-ons to the budget bill, the Conservatives are shifting responsibilities and oversight of the environment to the provinces, observers say, while adding new powers that would allow cabinet to short circuit environmental reviews.

Of the more than 400 pages of legislative changes, tabled by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and described as a bill "to implement certain provisions of the budget . . . and other measures," about 150 pages are dedicated to rewriting federal environmental laws.

Further, the government has said it will limit initial debate on the budget bill to seven days.

What are the changes that could affect the environment?

- Environmental Assessment Act

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver led off a debate in Parliament on the legislation by arguing the changes would boost markets and profits for Canadian energy companies, "especially oil" exports, by speeding up approvals for projects such as pipelines.

He said the existing situation forces Canada to sacrifice tax and royalty revenue, "billions of dollars in economic activity" and "thousands upon thousands" of jobs.

"In the interests of Canada and Canadians, we need to act and we need to act quickly," said Oliver. "Major projects such as pipeline infrastructure must not be subject to unnecessary delay."

But in order to avoid those "delays," Flaherty is proposing to scrap Canada's Environmental Assessment Act and replace it with a new bill that would give powers to the federal environment minister to decide which industrial projects have adverse impacts on the environment that require a review.

The existing law that the government wants to kill, now requires environmental assessments for any project that receives federal funding, affects federal lands, is proposed by the federal government, or is triggering provisions of an existing environmental law such as the Fisheries Act.

- National Energy Board Act

The legislation also proposes to rewrite sections of the National Energy Board Act to set a two-year limit on the review process, before giving the federal cabinet power to allow a project that was rejected by an assessment.

"We believe that for major projects that could have a significant economic and environmental impact, the ultimate decision-making should rest with elected members who are accountable to the people rather than with unelected officials," said Oliver. "Canadians will know who made the decision, why the decision was made and whom to hold accountable."

- Fisheries Act

The Fisheries Act, considered to be Canada's strongest environmental protection law, is being rewritten, stripping requirements to protect fish habitat, and instead focusing on supporting "commercial, recreational or aboriginal fisheries."

- Species at Risk Act

Endangered or threatened species in Canada will also see reduced protection under Flaherty's bill, as companies will no longer be required to renew permits on projects that threaten critical habitat of species listed under the Species at Risk Act. The proposed changes would also exempt the National Energy Board from being required to impose conditions to protect critical habitat under a project that it approves, said William Amos, director of the Ecojustice Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Ottawa.

"This is all about reducing the federal government's involvement in environmental protection and it does this by minimizing its own responsibilities and (downloading) some of its remaining responsibilities onto the provinces," said Amos.

He added that some of the changes would politicize decisions on environmental assessments while limiting the ability of the public to challenge decisions, since they would only have 15 days from the date of a cabinet decision to prepare a written appeal for the courts to review an approval.

- Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act

The federal government is also proposing to kill legislation that required accountability and reporting on its climate change policies and results under the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, as well as legislation which established the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy as a government advisory panel.

The budget has also proposed to invest about $50 million over two years to improve marine and pipeline safety, including more inspections of oil and gas pipelines. It also proposes new penalties of up to $400,000 for any company that doesn't respect conditions established by regulators following an environmental assessment of a new project.

mdesouza(at)postmedia.com

Twitter.com/mikedesouzaEnvironment laws getting facelift to accelerate oil exports: Oliver. 750 words.

By Mike De Souza

Postmedia News

OTTAWA — Are Canada's environmental protection laws under attack, being systematically dismantled and replaced through the back door via legislation the government has tabled to implement its budget?

While some environmentalists fear the answer is 'yes,' the Conservatives argue they are trying to handle environmental oversight more effectively as they focus on the economy.

Through add-ons to the budget bill, the Conservatives are shifting responsibilities and oversight of the environment to the provinces, observers say, while adding new powers that would allow cabinet to short circuit environmental reviews.

Of the more than 400 pages of legislative changes, tabled by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and described as a bill "to implement certain provisions of the budget . . . and other measures," about 150 pages are dedicated to rewriting federal environmental laws.

Further, the government has said it will limit initial debate on the budget bill to seven days.

What are the changes that could affect the environment?

- Environmental Assessment Act

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver led off a debate in Parliament on the legislation by arguing the changes would boost markets and profits for Canadian energy companies, "especially oil" exports, by speeding up approvals for projects such as pipelines.

He said the existing situation forces Canada to sacrifice tax and royalty revenue, "billions of dollars in economic activity" and "thousands upon thousands" of jobs.

"In the interests of Canada and Canadians, we need to act and we need to act quickly," said Oliver. "Major projects such as pipeline infrastructure must not be subject to unnecessary delay."

But in order to avoid those "delays," Flaherty is proposing to scrap Canada's Environmental Assessment Act and replace it with a new bill that would give powers to the federal environment minister to decide which industrial projects have adverse impacts on the environment that require a review.

The existing law that the government wants to kill, now requires environmental assessments for any project that receives federal funding, affects federal lands, is proposed by the federal government, or is triggering provisions of an existing environmental law such as the Fisheries Act.

- National Energy Board Act

The legislation also proposes to rewrite sections of the National Energy Board Act to set a two-year limit on the review process, before giving the federal cabinet power to allow a project that was rejected by an assessment.

"We believe that for major projects that could have a significant economic and environmental impact, the ultimate decision-making should rest with elected members who are accountable to the people rather than with unelected officials," said Oliver. "Canadians will know who made the decision, why the decision was made and whom to hold accountable."

- Fisheries Act

The Fisheries Act, considered to be Canada's strongest environmental protection law, is being rewritten, stripping requirements to protect fish habitat, and instead focusing on supporting "commercial, recreational or aboriginal fisheries."

- Species at Risk Act

Endangered or threatened species in Canada will also see reduced protection under Flaherty's bill, as companies will no longer be required to renew permits on projects that threaten critical habitat of species listed under the Species at Risk Act. The proposed changes would also exempt the National Energy Board from being required to impose conditions to protect critical habitat under a project that it approves, said William Amos, director of the Ecojustice Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Ottawa.

"This is all about reducing the federal government's involvement in environmental protection and it does this by minimizing its own responsibilities and (downloading) some of its remaining responsibilities onto the provinces," said Amos.

He added that some of the changes would politicize decisions on environmental assessments while limiting the ability of the public to challenge decisions, since they would only have 15 days from the date of a cabinet decision to prepare a written appeal for the courts to review an approval.

- Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act

The federal government is also proposing to kill legislation that required accountability and reporting on its climate change policies and results under the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, as well as legislation which established the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy as a government advisory panel.

The budget has also proposed to invest about $50 million over two years to improve marine and pipeline safety, including more inspections of oil and gas pipelines. It also proposes new penalties of up to $400,000 for any company that doesn't respect conditions established by regulators following an environmental assessment of a new project.

mdesouza@postmedia.com
===================================
Why we should all Black Out and Speak Out
http://pacificfreepress.com/news/1/11602-black-out-and-speak-out.html
by Andrew Gage l West Coast Environmental Law


Have you heard about the Black Out Speak Out campaign?  West Coast Environmental Law is working together with other organizations across the country to let Canadians know that changes proposed for the country's environmental laws will silence laws and voices that speak out for our environment - for clean air, clean water, wild creatures and fish.

The Black Out Speak Out campaign wants to mobilize concerned citizens, businesses and organizations across the country to speak out for Canadian democracy and our environment on June 4th.
 
Our websites will be going black for a day as a symbolic start of a major online campaign to empower Canadians to speak out for democracy and nature. Working together, we'll be speaking out for as long as it takes.
 
Join us in working for stronger environmental laws, not gutted ones, and help us spread the word.

Why should Canadians speak out?  The Black Out Speak Out website provides 5 top reasons, adapted from the analysis that West Coast Environmental Law and Ecojustice have been doing on the changes to our laws found in the Budget Implementation Act (Bill C-38).  This Environmental Law Alert will expand briefly on those 5 reasons (highlighted in black below), and provide more resources if you'd like to know more about each.

1.  The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) is being replaced with a totally new law.  Under it, Ottawa will play a much smaller role in protecting people from harmful projects, while retaining the role to basically rubber-stamp big projects that powerful oil interests want.  And the new weaker rules are being applied to review processes that are already underway - so projects like the Enbridge Northern Gateway tankers and pipeline project could get an easier ride.

We've written a lot about the new CEAA - which abandons Canada's international commitment to assess all federal government decisions that are likely to negatively impact the environment.  Far from avoiding duplication, the new CEAA will mean that many environmentally dangerous projects are not subject to any environmental assessment.  For example, it appears that in British Columbia, hydro-electric plants up to 50 MegaWatts in size will not be subject to either a federal or provincial assessment of environmental risks. 

The new rules give special treatment to the oil and gas industry, and especially pipeline projects.

For further information about the new CEAA, see our environmental law alerts, or Ecojustice's CEAA Backgrounder.

2.    The government is adding $8 million in new funding for the Canada Revenue Agency to audit charities - including environmental groups - because they use their legal right to advocate for things like laws to fight global warming.  This will have a chilling effect on democratic debate, with the real winner being powerful oil interests.  Under the new laws, citizen's groups will likely be shut out of environmental reviews of big projects like oil pipelines.  Key government agencies with expertise will also have less input.  Well funded backroom lobbyists will have greater influence.

The new laws may well shut not just "citizen's groups", but also landowners living near oil pipelines, hunters and fishers who use the area, and others.  The role of government agencies is reduced through a reduced role in environmental assessment, cuts to scientific staff, and tight time-lines which may be too short to allow for complete scientific research in some cases.

$8 million over two years to ensure that charities comply with the law would be less objectionable (but still an odd priority in a budget that cuts more pressing government programs), were it not for the inflammatory rhetoric directed by government Ministers and by groups affiliated with the oil industry against opponents and critics of the tar sands and associated infrastructure.  The federal Budget plan refers implicitly to this rhetoric, when it explains that the reason for the $8 million expenditure, and for the expanded powers to suspend the tax status of charities for as little as making a mistake in filing a return, is because "concerns have been raised that some charities may not be respecting the rules regarding political activities."

Really? If you're aware of anyone who has been alleging that "some charities" may be exceeding their allowed political activities, other than people connected to the oil industry or the current government, please post about it in the comments section below. An analysis of tax returns of Canada's charities suggest that only a tiny percentage do any political work. 

Ensuring that charities follow the law might be a good idea if we could be sure that all charities would be targeted equally, and if there was evidence that charities were breaking the law, but unfortunately right now there is no evidence that environmental charities are doing anything other than taking a position that the federal government does not like.

In short, the $8 million for investigations of charities comes in the midst of what the Globe and Mail has described as a "smear campaign" against environmental charities - "The only nefarious thing in sight at the moment is a government bent on quashing a legitimate debate."

3.    The National Energy Board will no longer be able to say "no" to oil pipeline projects that are not in the public interest.  Politicians in Cabinet will be able to overrule the expert energy regulator if powerful oil interests don't like its decision.  Permits that allow the destruction of habitat for fish and threatened or endangered species will be issued behind closed doors without public scrutiny, if they are required at all. 

The National Energy Board (NEB) is an expert body, set up to regulate national energy projects in a responsible way.  We have been critical of laws that ask the NEB to evaluate environmental impacts when its focus and expertise is primarily on the operations of the oil and gas industry, and only secondarily on the environment.  Nonetheless, the NEB has considerable expertise in its field, and keeping the NEB arms-length from government has kept the regulation of the oil and gas industry from becoming overly politicized.  The oil and gas industry has considerable political clout, and giving Cabinet the ability to override NEB decisions will encourage corporate interests to spend even more money lobbying politicians, rather than demonstrating that their projects are in the best interests of Canadians.

For more information see Ecojustice's NEB Act Backgrounder.

4.    Many lakes, rivers and streams that provide habitat to fish will be at greater risk of destruction because of changes to the Fisheries Act contained within the budget implementation bill. Healthy fish habitat is important for fish and for the people and businesses that depend on them.

Amendments to the Fisheries Act claim to make it legal to destroy fish habitat - as long as the damage is not permanent and the government cannot demonstrate that the harm directly killed fish.  As we have explained:

  a.. Maiming, deforming or stunting the growth of fish does not amount to "serious harm" [under the proposed amendments];
  b.. Only fish that the government considers useful enough or which incidentally support those "useful" fish species get legal protection; and
  c.. Temporary alteration or destruction of fish habitat* is not prohibited unless it can be shown to have resulted in the death of useful fish.  . The "serious harm" test also does not recognize that fish and their habitat can suffer a "death by a thousand cuts."  So while a series of small and temporary changes to fish habitat might individually not kill fish, taken together they might permanently jeopardize the survival of a run or destroy their habitat.In addition, the government will get the ability to simply declare that even the weak protection for fish and their habitat that remains will not apply in any "Canadian fisheries waters" that Cabinet decides should not have protection. 
For more information, see our environmental law alert, or Ecojustice's Fisheries Act backgrounder.

5.    The 2012 budget eliminates the funding for the last remaining government advisory body - the National Roundtable on the Environment and Economy (NRTEE) - focused on providing analysis and advice on how to meet our international commitments to reducing greenhouse gas pollution. 

In November 2011, the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy released its report, Paying the Price, that demonstrated that Climate Change, even if aggressively fought, is expected to cost Canada $5 billion each year by 2020 - just 8 years from now - rising to between $21 to $43 Billion by 2050.  And that's if the world succeeds in bringing rising greenhouse gas emissions under control.  Reminders like this are not comfortable for a government that has failed to provide a meaningful action plan to meet even its weak Greenhouse Gas reduction targets.

But cutting the NRTEE to avoid politically inconvenient reports may be very short-sighted.  In Paying the Price, the NRTEE mapped out climate change adaptation measures which, if adopted now, could save Canada literally Billions of dollars.

Cutting the NRTEE has saved Canada approximately $5 million per year (just slightly more than the $8 million over two years that will allow the Canada Revenue Agency to crack down on charities).  Following the NRTEE's advice could save Canada billions of dollars per year.  You do the math.

We are proud to join with organizations from across the country in Black Out Speak Out.  We hope that you will join us as well.

By Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer
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