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Guy Dauncey, Editor
395 Conway Road, Victoria, BC
CANADA V9E 2B9
Tel (250) 881-1304
www.earthfuture.com

Executive director of The Solutions Project

 

Newsletter No. 113 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - February 2002


LET’S MAKE OUR DEMOCRACY FAIR

It 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.

It 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.

We 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.

But try asking committed Green Party members to throw it all away, and go back to supporting the NDP: fat chance.

Try 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.

And 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.

When 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.

The 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 vote.

In 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.

But 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.

The 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.

The Green Party’s leader, Adriane Carr, has launched such an initiative. (www.freeyourvote.bc.ca). 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.

If BC succeeds with this, it will light a light for all of North America - so let’s give it our very best.

Guy Dauncey


Please note:  the Green Diary has moved, click here to view.


ECONEWS

AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)A 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.

Dec Jan Feb
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Donations: $635 $785 You?
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Balance: $1702 $1284  

 

Many thanks 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.

Donations can be sent to EcoNews, 395 Conway Rd, Victoria, BC, V9E 2B9. For a receipt, send stamped addressed envelope.

To receive EcoNews by email, fill out the form at the top of the page. EcoNews does not share its mail or email lists with any other groups.


THE ECO-CORNER

$5/line (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 thegardenpath@shaw.ca

* 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.


WORLD ORGANIC GROWERS CONFERENCE, AUGUST

Volunteers 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 ifoamvolunteers@hotmail.com call 655 5652 or see www.cog.ca/ifoam2002.


ORGANIC APPRENTICES

Are 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 soil@shaw.ca www.soilapprenticeships.org


SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT

It’s 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 pinchgroup@raymondjames.ca

* Frank Arnold (Partners in Planning) 382-9993 invest@frankarnold.ca

* Michael Mascall (Cartier) 595-2393

* Doug Campbell (Nesbitt Burns) 953-2362. Canada’s Social Investment Organization

www.socialinvestment.ca lists these ethical mutual funds:

  • Acuity Social Values Funds
  • Clean Environment Funds
  • Desjardins Funds
  • Ethical Funds
  • Investors Summa Fund
  • Mackenzie Uni Global Ethics Fund
  • Meritas Funds
  • Sentry Alternative Energy Fund
  • YMG Sustainable Dev’t Fund
  • Working 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 development. (www.vancity.com/communityinvestments). 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 (www.mjra-jsi.com), 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 there.


WINNING ELECTIONS ONLINE

With 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!


GLOBAL WIND REVOLUTION

The 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

Canada 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.


GREEN INVESTING

Did 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?

If you would like to make this part of your financial plan, or if you want to discuss green RRSPs, call

Frank Arnold

250-382-9993, or 866-382-9993 invest@frankarnold.ca


SAVE THE E & N

Right 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 bbread@telus.net.

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.


GREEN LOMBARDY

Italy's 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)


SEEDS OF VICTORIA

Locally harvested organic vegetable, herb & flower seeds

All $1.99/packet

Order on-line at

www.earthfuture.com/gardenpath


SEEDY SATURDAYS

As 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.


ACTION OF THE MONTH

RATIFY KYOTO!

Canada 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.

Action: Send letters & emails to David Anderson (anderd@parl.gc.ca), Prime Minister Chretien (pm@pm.gc.ca) and Energy Minister Herb Dhaliwal (dhalih@parl.gc.ca), all at the House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6.


The Green Diary has moved!  Click HERE to see whats happening!

 


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EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304

Author of "Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change"
(New Society Publishers)
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