No. 113 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island -
MAKE OUR DEMOCRACY FAIR
is hard to be in BC right now, watching the Liberal government plough
through the cultural and environmental landscape like a Ford Explorer
on Prozac. With 58% of the vote but 97.5% of the seats, they are
acting like a classroom bully, who has no need to be called to account.
is hard to watch as important initiatives are scrapped, like the
climate change action plan, Forestry and Fisheries Renewal, the
anti-SLAPP suit legislation, the position of Environmental Auditor,
the ‘Buy BC’ program for locally grown food, the youth environment
teams, the moratorium on grizzly bear hunting, and the staff responsible
for endangered species and biological diversity research. It is
hard to watch as funding for the Ministries that care for BC’s environment
and natural resources is slashed, as teachers and health care workers
contracts are torn up, and as the moratorium on offshore oil and
gas development is about to be lifted. It is especially hard when
all this is being done to cover the deficit caused by tax-cuts for
the wealthy, in the name of a neo-liberal political agenda that
has proven disastrous elsewhere, and which is driven (and effectively
paid for) by big business and the doctors.
can protest all these things, but it is harder still to know that
at the next election, if the Green Party and the NDP continue to
split the vote, the Liberals will receive another four years in
power, and continue in power until either the Greens or the NDP
decide to throw in the towel.
try asking committed Green Party members to throw it all away, and
go back to supporting the NDP: fat chance.
asking people who have worked for the NDP all their lives, and whose
parents often worked for the NDP too, to switch their support to
the Green Party: fat chance.
why should people have to abandon their core values and beliefs
in order to make democracy work? A proper system of democracy should
encourage citizens to stand by their values and enrich the body
politic, not weaken it by eliminating the voices at the edge that
often raise the larger questions, and offer new solutions.
democracy is no longer working, it is time for change. When 44%
of the voters feel that voting is a waste of time, and a further
23% see their votes turned to nothing by a system that is so screwed,
something is very wrong.
solution is quite straightforward: switch to a fair, proportional
system of voting, as proposed by Fair Vote Canada (www.fairvotecanada.org).
If BC had used the proportional voting system that is used by most
of Europe at the last election, with the overall number of seats
reduced to 68, there would have been 43 Liberal, 16 NDP and 9 Green
Party MLAs sitting in the Legislature, representing the citizens
of BC. The system we use throughout Canada has been discarded by
most major democracies precisely because of the way it distorts
the election outcomes, and deprives so many people of an effective
retrospect, it was foolish of the NDP to wait until last November,
after they had been defeated, to come out in favour of proportional
representation. Ex-Premier Glen Clark said that "proportional
representation is for losers", displaying the same blunt-headedness
that caused such disaster for the NDP in the first place – but if
the NDP had brought in proportional representation during their
9 years in office, things would look different today.
how can we get change, when the Liberals have no interest in weakening
their own grip on power? Paradoxically, it was the lack of such
a system that caused them to lose the 1996 election, when they won
a majority of the vote, and should rightfully have formed the government,
instead of the NDP.
one avenue that we have is BC’s Recall and Initiative Act, which
allows citizens to petition the government for change. The rules
of the game are that you have to gather support from 10% of the
registered electorate in every riding in a 90-day period; if you
succeed, the government must respond either in the Legislature,
or by taking the issue to a province-wide vote.
Green Party’s leader, Adriane Carr, has launched such an initiative.
She has 90 days from April to July to collect 200,000 signatures,
which must be gathered by registered canvassers. For this to succeed,
we will need all the help we can get, from NDP as well as Green
Party and other minority party supporters. This is in all our interests
– so please think about it, and then commit to gather 10, 50 or
100 signatures, wherever you live.
BC succeeds with this, it will light a light for all of North America
- so let’s give it our very best.
note: the Green Diary has moved, click here to view.
monthly newsletter, funded by your donations, that dreams of a Vancouver
Island and a world blessed by the harmony of nature, the pleasures
of community & the joys of deep fulfillment.
to Ellen Rainwalker, Robert Nation, Kathleen Bloomfield, Jayne Gerlach,
WB Moffat, Doug Koch, Peter Schofield, Dan Jason, AD & Laura
Fisher, Kathleen Schloessinger, David Stott, Pauline Kenneally,
Chris & Elizabeth Garrett, Edo Nyland, Lesley Wicks, Sandra
McConnell, Roger Colwill and Michael M’Gonigle. And many thanks
to Joanna Wilkinson for prepping the envelopes.
can be sent to EcoNews, 395 Conway Rd, Victoria, BC, V9E 2B9. For
a receipt, send stamped addressed envelope.
receive EcoNews by email, fill out the form at the top of the
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(non-profits & low-income free) 1" box ad $35, $2"
box ad $65
Vegan House. Interested to share living in a communal, environmental,
vegan house in Victoria? Call Dave, VeganHouse@shaw.ca
Home needed by environmentally committed professional family.
3 BR + house/cottage/duplex/townhouse, garden in Fairfield, James
Bay, Fernwood, Maplewood, Oak Bay for rent, lease or purchase. Could
buy & duplex with another family/person. Robin, 384-1437
Gardening Apprenticeships. The Garden Path Organic Plant
Nursery is offering two 3-month learning opportunities. Room and
board in exchange for 3 days work a week. Apply to 395 Conway Rd,
V9E 2B9, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteer Coordinator needed to gather marshals for the Dallas
Road "Fresh Air/Car-Free Day" on Sun, April 14th. Jane
Victoria King, 380-2014.
Can you help EcoNews? I need help prepping the envelopes
during February & March. It’s a couple of hours work with a
friend or two. Guy, 881-1304.
ORGANIC GROWERS CONFERENCE, AUGUST
wanted! This August 20th- 25th, the International
Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM) is holding
its 14th Organic World Congress, Organic Wine Congress
and World Exposition right here in Victoria, at the Conference Centre
and St Anne’s Academy. We, the local community of organic growers
on Vancouver Island, are proud to be co-hosting this huge international
conference, when over 1000 organic farmers from around the world
will gather to share their experiences. To pull it off, we need
LOTS of volunteers. Reduced registration fees are available plus
orientation, training & credit towards registration. Each 4
hours earns $25 off the registration to a max of $200, reducing
registration to $100. Please email the office at email@example.com
call 655 5652 or see www.cog.ca/ifoam2002.
you looking to get some healthy dirt under your fingernails this
spring? Stewards of Irreplaceable Land (SOIL) is looking for volunteer
apprentices to participate in its organic farm apprenticeship program,
to live and learn on a Canadian organic farm. Open to anyone over
18 who is healthy, motivated and eager to learn. OR - Are
you a farmer looking for an opportunity to pass on your skills in
exchange for the ideas, energy and enthusiasm of an apprentice?
Any farmer committed to sustainable, organic agriculture is welcome
to apply. Send a stamped self addressed envelope to SOIL, PO Box
807, Sooke V0S 1N0 firstname.lastname@example.org
February – which means that alongside crocuses, snowdrops, and Seedy
Saturdays, the deadline for buying RRSPs approacheth. Unless you
have chosen to invest your money in an ethically screened fund,
you can rest assured that some of your hard-earned savings is being
invested in Big Tobacco’s efforts to seduce more young smokers in
China and the third world (the top 15 funds all invest in tobacco.)
If you want to step into the world of socially responsible investment,
here are four Vancouver Island ethical investment advisers:
Brian Pinch (Raymond James) 405-2420 email@example.com
Frank Arnold (Partners in Planning) 382-9993 firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Mascall (Cartier) 595-2393
Doug Campbell (Nesbitt Burns) 953-2362. Canada’s Social Investment
lists these ethical mutual funds:
- Acuity Social
- Clean Environment
Uni Global Ethics Fund
- Sentry Alternative
- YMG Sustainable
Opportunity Fund (BC)
There is a lot of wiggle-room in the world ‘ethical’, and some of
the funds invest in forestry and natural gas companies, so it’s
good to take a close look. For the most ethical investment, try
VanCity’s International Community Investment Deposit, which invests
in projects to help low-income and marginalized communities around
the world become self-reliant through microlending, affordable housing,
small businesses, community development, co-op and credit union
Doug Campbell has told EcoNews about Clean Power Inc Fund, an open-ended
income trust owned by Probyn Eastman and Clarica, which invests
in eight facilities that generate power from hydro, biomass and
wind energy, and has been certified by Canada’s EcoLogo program.
If you want to invest directly, check out the Jantzi Social Index
a market capitalization-weighted common stock index of 60 Canadian
companies that pass a set of social and environmental screens. So
there you have it – you can plan your retirement and nurture the
Earth at the same time. If we each take responsibility, we’ll get
municipal elections coming up this fall, what better time to do
some homework for the electronic era? The book "Winning Campaigns
Online: Strategies for Candidates and Causes" by Emilienne Ireland
and Phil Tajitsu Nash (www.campaignadvantage.com)
has been winning rave reviews. The authors have been responsible
for campaign web sites and Internet fundraising for a broad array
of state and federal candidates across the USA. The book covers
everything from using your site to convey your message, recruiting
volunteers, online fundraising, database solutions, budget considerations,
GOTV activities, e-newsletters, and blunders to avoid. The potentials
of the Internet for enhanced democracy are huge – so go for it!
battle to prevent Vancouver Island from being turned into the pollution
pin-up girl for the natural gas industry continues. At the recent
Hearings, almost everyone spoke out against the proposed gas pipeline
(GSX), while the Chair, Ms. Elizabeth Quarshie, won high praise
for the way she listened and chaired the meetings, and at the North
Cowichan public hearing to rezone land ready for the big gas-fired
cogen plants, hundreds of people came to speak out against the plan,
with all their heart.
BC Hydro is planning 20 MW of green energy for the Island, as micro
hydro (7-9 MW), ocean wave (7-9 MW), and wind (10 MW). But let’s
get this into proportion. In 2001, the world’s wind energy increased
by 31% from 17,800 MW to 23,300 MW. In Germany, where the Green
Party has led the drive to phase out nuclear power, wind turbines
now produce 8000 MW. In terms of wind turbines per land area, here’s
how things look:
Denmark: 1 MW per 17 sq km
Germany: 1 MW per 45 sq km
Spain: 1 MW per 153 sq km
UK: 1 MW per 517 sq km
USA: 1 MW per 2,256 sq km
Canada: 1 MW per 50,113 sq km
has 198 MW of wind energy, but at least we have crossed the 100
MW threshold. Globally, wind energy is on the edge of an enormous
revolution. In Ireland, the government has approved the construction
of 200 turbines off the east coast, to produce 520 MW. In north-west
Scotland, the Hebrides island of Lewis is planning a 600 MW land-based
wind-farm, feeding the energy to England and Wales by an undersea
cable. Right now, the world’s largest windfarm is the 300 MW Stateline
Wind Project, being built on the Oregon Washington border. In South
Dakota, with the capacity (around 24,000 MW) to supply 29% of the
US grid, a California wind pioneer has secured the wind rights to
222,000 acres of farm and ranchland, where he plans to develop a
3,000 MW wind farm. BC Hydro is studying BC’s land-based wind potential,
but not its off-shore potential. With the winds being what they
are off Cape Scott and the Charlottes, we probably have the capacity
for 1,000 MW of wind energy, enough to meet the needs of 1 million
people. BC Hydro’s excuse is the price – wind energy sells for 4
cents US per kilowatt hour (6.3 cents CAN) at prime sites, while
they are looking to pay 3.5 cents. The sensible strategy would be
to double the price by an efficiency tax, recycling 100% of the
revenue back to the consumer as energy efficiency incentives and
rebates. After becoming more efficient, our bills would remain the
same, while the whole province would require less energy. The money-minded
pursuit of oil and gas is emblematic of everything that is wrong
with our world.
you know that if you designate your favourite ecological charity
as a beneficiary to your life insurance, you'll get a tax credit
on the premiums?
you would like to make this part of your financial plan, or if you
want to discuss green RRSPs, call
or 866-382-9993 email@example.com
THE E & N
now, we have this wonderful little railway, called the E & N,
that runs rather slowly in the wrong direction, but we love it,
and we need it for a sustainable future. Right now, it is threatened
with death. The track runs through the heart of Victoria, Duncan,
Nanaimo and Courtenay, and if the land is sold for development,
the railway will be dead for ever. Given the urgency, a Coalition
to Save the E&N Railway has been born, called SaveRail, which
is calling on the federal and provincial governments (1) to freeze
the E&N rights of way and assets for a year, to prevent abandonment;
(2) to continue running the VIA Dayliner for 1 year, and bring over
rebuilt Dayliner cars to ensure reliable service; (3) to meet with
Norske Canada, formerly the E&N’s largest shipper, to determine
if and how they can return their traffic to rail, instead of trucks;
(4) to sit down with the stakeholders to devise a fair solution
that will revitalize the E&N, and let it grow to its potential.
For details, contact Brendan Read, 382-3893 firstname.lastname@example.org.
PS On Friday Feb 8th, the Raging Grannies are taking
a trip on the E&N to talk to MLA Judith Reid, Minister of Highways.
Do join the ride - the more the merrier, as the train sways along!
See Green Diary.
bustling Lombardy region plans to phase out petrol and diesel-powered
cars and replace them with "green" vehicles to clean up its polluted
cities and towns. With smog soaring to more than five times permitted
levels, President Roberto Formigoni told Reuters he was counting
on Europe's automobile industry to come up with electric, gas and
other alternative fuels. "I want to establish a date, for example
January 1 2005, after which all new cars that are sold will be ecological."
This is by far the best strategy to phase out greenhouse gases,
and move to a sane, sustainable future. Formigoni said it was too
early to estimate the cost to public coffers of a switch-over to
clean cars, but said Lombardy planned to spend 60 million euros
($52 million) on new electric buses, research on hydrogen fuels,
and water-heater conversions. There are an estimated four million
vehicles on Lombardy's roads. (www.ENN.com)
harvested organic vegetable, herb & flower seeds
spring begins to unfurl her curls, Seedy Saturdays are blossoming
all over the Island, inviting you to a day with local seed growers
where you can buy local organic seeds, and bring seeds to swap and
share. Begin your plans for the coming garden year – a year without
drought! See Green Diary.
OF THE MONTH
has signed the Kyoto Protocol on Global Climate Change, along with
every other industrial nation, apart from the USA – and now we have
to ratify it, to bring it into law. I can assure you that climate
change has not gone away as the world’s most worrying environmental
problem, whatever Bush says south of the border. The US government
and industry are applying heavy pressure on Canada to forget all
this stupid climate stuff, and groups such as the Canadian Association
of Petroleum Producers, whom David Anderson has promised to consult
with, are hoping to talk the government out of it. Now is the time
to write, urging the government to ratify.
Send letters & emails to David Anderson (email@example.com),
Prime Minister Chretien (firstname.lastname@example.org)
and Energy Minister Herb Dhaliwal (email@example.com),
all at the House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6.
Green Diary has moved! Click HERE
to see whats happening!
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