20210828 NARWHAL FATIMA SYED

From the Greenbelt to the Greens

The first stories from our new Ontario bureau have arrived. Here’s what Emma McIntosh and Fatima Syed have been up to — and what they have in store

Ontario reporter Emma McIntosh has, shall we say, an obsession with the two-million acre protected region that stretches around the Greater Toronto Area.

“At this point, I think people in my life are starting to get annoyed by me because every time I go on a road trip and see a sign that says, ‘Welcome to the Greenbelt,’ I yell, ‘Shout out to the Greenbelt!’ I don’t know how much longer I can do that without losing all my friends and family. But I’m still excited to write about it.” 

She’s wasting no time testing the patience of her loved ones: Emma’s first story for The Narwhal dives into the battle over Carruthers Creek, an ecologically sensitive area that sits just outside the Greenbelt despite growing calls to include it.

A proposal to build a hospital in Pickering to respond to the needs of a growing population has opponents warning of flood risks downstream in Ajax, not to mention issues with water quality.

“I guess we just have to decide: do we want to protect this system that’s already degraded, or further exacerbate the problem?” aquatic ecologist Andrea Kirkwood told Emma. “If you start developing the headwaters, you’re absolutely removing any kind of fresh clean water coming down, flowing downstream, and so it pretty much tanks the entire creek. It’s like, if you’re gonna poop in a pool, it’s ruined for everybody.”

Speaking of murky situations — apologies in advance for this transition — let’s talk about the future of Canada’s Green Party.

The fraught state of the party is the focus of fellow Ontario bureau reporter Fatima Syed’s first piece as a member of The Narwhal’s staff.

fatima posing by the water
Photo: Christopher Katsarov Luna / The Narwhal

The 2021 federal election could have been the Greens’ breakthrough moment, especially on the heels of a deadly summer heat wave and a damning IPCC report that pushed the climate crisis to the top of people’s minds. Instead, internal divisions have left the party in search of its role in a country where climate is no longer just a “Green” issue.

Fatima caught up with everyone from Elizabeth May to David Suzuki to examine where the party goes from here. Spoiler: the rift over equity issues, which contributed to Annamie Paul’s resignation as leader, doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.

We can’t wait to read all the stories that Emma and Fatima are cooking up with Ontario bureau chief Denise Balkissoon.

One thing is certain: they’ll be bringing an unwavering commitment to reporting on pressing environmental issues.

“Journalists today have this moral duty to not merely report what’s happening to the natural world around us — and by extension how it’s impacting human life — but also to confront it,” Fatima says. “We can’t just be neutral observers of it anymore; we actually have to engage with the impacts that are unfolding around us.”

Take care and shout out the Greenbelt,

Arik Ligeti
Audience engagement editor


The Narwhal in the world

emma gilchrist and carol linnitt smiling at each other
Photo: Taylor Roades / The Narwhal

Guess who made a list of Canada’s sustainability heroes? Our co-founders Carol Linnitt and Emma Gilchrist, who were both recognized as Clean50 Awards honourees for their innovative efforts to educate people about environmental issues.

“Canada needs accurate and unbiased environmental journalism more than ever,” Clean50 wrote. “Carol and Emma co-founded The Narwhal in 2018 in response to a crisis in Canadian environmental journalism that had seen the elimination of nearly all the environmental reporters at major news outlets.”

“Leveraging tireless, Watergate-levels of investigative journalism that dishes out freedom-of-information requests like Halloween candy, the team regularly conducts deep, on-the-ground research that exposes misbehaviour and corruption by governments and companies.”

Here’s to plenty of more servings of investigative candy.


This week in The Narwhal

What the International Energy Agency’s path to net-zero means for Canada’s oil and gas industry

A worker stands on the dock of at the Trans Mountain pipeline terminal in B.C.

By Drew Anderson

Looking at different policy scenarios around climate change, the agency report lays out a path for holding warming to 1.5 C. Read more.


Research shows getting tough on methane could reduce warming by 0.3 C

sunset on pond near oil and gas infrastructure

By Ali Raza

If Canada and other countries are serious about preventing global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 C, scientists say they should start with tougher regulations to slash methane pollution. Read more.


Lytton residents frustrated as TSB shuts down investigation into fire

By Ainslie Cruickshank

“A recent report found no evidence of a train starting the Lytton wildfire, exonerating CP and CN. Read more.


What we’re reading

"Private Equity Is Quietly Keeping Fossil Fuel Companies in Business"
"‘It was really, really apocalyptic’: After fire in Lytton, B.C., museum staff find artifacts that survived"

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Our Ontario bureau is here to bring you weekly updates on the province's climate future this election campaign
We’re on a mission to add 500 new members in May so we can pull off three more ambitious investigations this year — and we’re nearly halfway there! Will you join the thousands of readers who make The Narwhal possible?
‘These are the stories that need to be told’
We’re on a mission to add 500 new members in May so we can pull off three more ambitious investigations this year — and we’re nearly halfway there! Will you join the thousands of readers who make The Narwhal possible?
‘These are the stories that need to be told’