No. 149 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver
A TALE OF TWO ELECTIONS
Back in 2001, the public was unhappy with the ruling New Democrats
in British Columbia. Everything seemed to be stale, and slightly
rotten. Ever since the young Glen Clark had become Premier, power
had been centralized in his office, morale in the ministries had
taken a tumble, and the NDP had gone on a slide. The fast ferries
fiasco put a knife in, and the Liberals twisted it over payments
for a sundeck. Remember all this? Does it bring back weary feelings?
The NDP had to go. With the right wing vote no longer split, the
result was predictable. The Green Party took 12% of the vote, the
NDP 22%, and the Liberals 58%. With our "First past the post
wins all and screw the rest" system of democracy, the Liberals
gained a staggering 97.5% of the seats in the Legislature.
And so we entered four years of hyper-dominant Liberal rule. The
rich received tax-cuts, and everyone else received fee hikes to
pay for them. Funding to the Ministry of Environment was slashed;
jobs in species protection were eliminated. Mining companies which
gave money to the Liberals were rewarded with loosened regulations
and tax-payers money to clean up their dirty abandoned sites. Forest
companies were rewarded with an abandoned Forest Practices Code,
and allowed to write their own rules. Raw log exports boomed. Fish
farms expanded. Parks were no longer free. Parks programs were
The government did nothing to control climate change, nothing
to reduce the flow of toxins into our bodies, nothing to support
sustainable energy, and everything to help the oil, coal and gas
Meanwhile for the NDP it was politics as usual. Bash the party
in power, and hope to win the voters. The Citizens Assembly (the
one good thing to come from the Campbell years) recommended changing
the voting system to make it more proportional, but the NDP ignored
it, determined to win total power again. They ignored the Green
Party too, pretending it didnít exist.
When Green and NDP party supporters approached the NDP leadership
to say "Letís cooperate", they received the cold shoulder,
right up to the day of the election. The Greenís leadership was
rebuffed every time they suggested cooperation. It was "business
as usual", even at the cost of a four more years of Liberal
And so, stupidity ruled. Without strong encouragement, who knows
if the referendum to adopt the STV system of voting, which would
end this stupid system, will succeed?
This is the election we are about to have. It is a stunning loss
of a huge opportunity. Liberals 56 seats; NDP 22; Green Party 1?
For goodness sake, fellas: start cooperating!!!!!
Back in 2001, the public was unhappy with the ruling New Democrats
in British Columbia. Same story, same result: a Liberal government
with a whomping big majority, ruling with delight for the rich
and disdain for everyone else. With the votes of progressive people
being split, the 77 seat majority was a predictable outcome.
But then the NDP leadership did something very unusual: they paused
to think, and ask themselves "Why did the Green Party exist
at all?" Why did its members care enough to be willing to
split the vote? They said "Letís talk, and see what we have
Many Greens gain their discomfort with the NDP from two sources.
First, they see no evidence that the NDP leaders understand the
truly critical nature of our planetís plight. Corporate and consumer
greed are chewing away at the Earthís ecosystems, creating a huge
black hole into which Nature is falling.
And secondly, they donít like the NDPís traditional hostility
to business, and their constant "us vs. them" mentality.
Without the tax dollars that businesses generate, would there be
any income at all? The Greens want a strong business environment
guided by rules and tax shifting systems that encourage businesses
to develop ecologically sustainable and socially responsible practices.
This was news to the NDP, but they listened, and they learnt.
So when Adriane Carr launched a Citizens Initiative to change
our voting system to proportional representation, the NDP encouraged
its members to get behind it. When it failed to get the majorities
needed, and the Citizens Assembly recommended a slightly different
system based on the Single Transferable Vote, both the NDP and
the Green Party got behind that too, arguing that while it may
not be perfect, it was far better than the current system.
And when the group called a Broad Coalition (www.islandnet.com/~dolcla)
suggested a cooperative strategy not to split the Green/NDP vote
in key constituencies, they listened. Yes, there were party faithfuls
who resigned, but the party leaders realized that fundamentally,
they shared the same goals, and the same deep vision. In strong
Green seats, the NDP ran deliberately weak campaigns; in strong
NDP seats, the Green Party did likewise.
The result: NDP 36 seats, Greens 5, Liberals 38? And a coalition
government which would adopt proportional voting, eliminate campaign
donations over $1,000, end the domination of big business and big
unions, end BCís chronic political polarization, and raise the
flag for the reform of democracy all over North America.
Not bad, eh?
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A very big thankyou to Katey
Bloomfield, Madelin Emery, Gunther & Bev Honold, Art & Marg
Simons, John & Diana McMahen, Chris Morrison, Dan Schubart,
Karen Sampson, Tara Allman, Mary-June Pettyfer, Paul Gareau,
Jim Hackler, John Kenny. Garry Oak Meadow Preservation Society, & Nina
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* Unused envelopes always needed for EcoNews. Call
* Charming and reasonable guest room, Cook St Village & ocean
* Professor with sabbatical wishes to lease, house-sit
home or cabin Sept 2005 to June 2006. Sunshine Coast, Comox
Valley preferred, not required. Single, non-drinker, non-smoker.
Broadband connection a plus. Dr. Tom Jones email@example.com 1-866-514-6233
(Athabasca Univ, Alberta).
* Wanted: House/cat sitter for 3 weeks in July. Sunny
house & garden close to Mayfair Quadra Village. Free accom
for right person. firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Building Sustainable Community on 60 acres shared
land, Comox Valley. For sale: 1200 sq ft cob-strawbale house
5 acres forested land. $110,000. Call Susan 250-334-2375 email@example.com
* Folk Herbal Revival!, Duncan, BC. An intercultural
event focusing on the diversity of knowledge and uses in folk
herbalism with "traditions from around the world". 250-709-8018
or 250-743-1585 www.folkherbal.com
* Seeking partners to buy land for sustainable living. firstname.lastname@example.org
* Organic garden share? I have a raised veg bed, greenhouse
not being used. No charge, in exchange for light watering.
Some tools available. Close to bus #4, off Henderson. 598-6222
* Learn how to cycle in traffic Bike to Work skills
course. Saturdays May & June. Susanna Grimes email@example.com 920-5705. www.biketoworkvictoria.ca
* Rainey Hopewell writes: I thought EcoNews readers
might like to know how to be liberated from ads for Telus products:Call
Telus Customer Relations @ 1-800-567-0000; choose option #1.
For no marketing calls, ask to be removed from their telemarketing
list. For no ads in phone bills, ask to be removed from their
direct marketing list.
Listening quietly to the voice of the Earth
Going for a walk
Spending some time every day doing nothing
Learning more about local flora & fauna
Shrinking my ecological footprint
Setting aside more time for friends and family and conversation
Honouring the domestic arts
Growing more of my own food
Keeping a journal to record what I see, hear, smell and feel
Stepping lightly upon the Earth
Keeping my eyes, ears, mind and heart open.
- Nina Raginsky, Society for the Advancement of Slow, Salt
Looking for a community that cherishes the earth, challenges
the mind, nurtures the spirit?
You'll be welcome here.
First Unitarian Church of Victoria
5575 West Saanich Road 744-2665
GREEN SPACE GUARDIANS
Our first stop is the north end of Salt Spring, top of Mount
Erskine, where the Salt Spring Island Conservancy has signed
an agreement to purchase 40 hectares of spectacular arbutus
and coastal Douglas fir forest along the edge of a dramatic
cliff. The lands include a key link in the trail network, with
gorgeous views over Stuart Channel and the Island. The Land
Conservancy has launched a major campaign to raise the $650,000
purchase price. If you can help, call Peter Lamb, 250-537-4859.
Our second stop is Ryan Hill, near Hillside mall, one of six
untouched Garry oak meadows in the city of Victoria. The city
owns the lot, and was planning to keep the front as part of
the Greenways Plan, selling the rest for development to help
pay for the greenway. But not so fast! Enter local residents
from the Oaklands Community Association who picked up their
phones and wrote letters. At a city meeting in January, Councillor
Dean Fortin proposed saving the space and converting it into
a park, supported by Helen Hughes. The park, to be called Ryanís
Meadow, has now been saved. Good work, team! Call Ludo 592-0487.
LAND OF FREEDOM
The US prison population grew in 2004 at a rate of 900 new
prisoners a week. A US government study shows that 2.1 million
of its citizens are now in prison. According to the Justice
Policy Institute, the US has the highest rate of incarceration
in the world, with one in every 138 residents in jail. Nearly
13% of all African-Americans in their late 20s were in prison
last year, compared to under 2% of white men in the same age
group. Itís a living tragedy.
LAND OF MORE FREEDOM
Who needs legislation? Theyíre Americans: they need freedom!
Tucked away in the 2000 page US federal budget is a paragraph
that would give the President power to appoint an 8-member
panel called the "Sunset Commission", which would
systematically review all federal programs and agencies every
ten years and decide whether they should be eliminated. By
a simple vote of five commissioners (likely lobbyists from
the corporate world), any environmental or health program they
didnít like could be gone. "We need it to clear out the
dead wood", said Rep. Kevin Brady, a Republican from Texas
who has been working for nine years to establish such a commission.
The budget needs approval from the Republican dominated Congress
to become law.
FREEDOM FOR SALE
A further clause in the US federal budget proposes that since
freedom is such a desirable commodity, it should be marketed
and sold. "Itís the American Way", said Republican
Congressman Ivan Uremoney. The proposed legislation would establish
a Freedom Rights Trading Act, allowing every American (including
corporations) to buy packages of rights at various levels,
buying immunity from clusters of state and federal legislation. "This
is the pure expression of American freedom," Uremoney
said. "The bill will encourage anyone with get-up-and-go
to pay to increase their freedom, while helping to pay off
the federal deficit."
(Spoof News, Atlanta, April 1 2005.)
THE MAY 17 ELECTION
So now we come to the real issue thatís on our minds. Weíre
stuck with a wretched system, and two progressive parties splitting
the vote. My advice is to "Vote for the greenest candidate
whoís most likely to get elected".
In Victoria, that includes NDP candidates Carole James in
James Bay; David Cubberley in Saanich South; Charley Beresford
in Oak Bay/Gordon Head; and Rob Fleming in Hillside/Quadra.
In Alberni/Qualicum, it includes NDP candidate Scott Fraser,
and on the Sunshine Coast, it includes Green Party leader Adriane
Iím a strong Green Party member and supporter, but letís get
real: these people have a good green record, and they deserve
to be elected.
If you want to switch your vote from your traditional Green
Party or NDP home, the Broad Coalition has set up a Vote-Pair
Registry where you can trade votes with someone in a different
constituency. Right now, the list needs NDPers on the Sunshine
Coast to trade votes with Greens in Victoria. See www.badke.ca/bc/vp/vplist.php
THE SINGLE TRANSFERABLE VOTE: YES OR NO?
My call is a strong and unequivocal yes. I wonít try to explain
the system: you should do that for yourself at www.citizensassembly.bc.ca .
If youíre short for time, see the animated feature, www.citizensassembly.bc.ca/resources/flash/bc-stv-full.swf
Iíll let EcoNews reader Martin Golder speak for me: Senator
Bob Brown, visiting from Australia, pointed out that the main
opposition to STV down under has come from big business and
large political parties. Some also comes from a lack of understanding
of the system. The system is complicated, because it is fair.
Like the tax system, fairness demands intricacy.
The reason large parties don't like STV is because it diminishes
their power. If they are in minority coalitions they are going
to have to negotiate more and dictate less. Likewise big business
no longer gets to have cozy lobbying relations with one party.
They have to lobby parties of different views and moderate
their demands to satisfy a wider range of constituents.
Minority governments are a good thing. Denmark is a complex
society with a good standard of living, good social structure,
successful business, and it has had minority governments almost
continuously. Good legislation has often been created by minority
The randomly selected members of the Citizens Assembly met
for a year, and they really did their homework. They had no
positions of power to protect; they were entirely free of political
interests. Their sole aim was to do what is best for the people
of BC. By an overwhelming majority they agreed to recommend
BC STV, a slightly modified version of the electoral process
which has been used in Ireland for 70 years. We need to embrace
this system, and give it twelve years to see how it works.
So please encourage all your friends. Vote YES.
THE GARDEN PATH ORGANIC PLANT NURSERY
Open Daily: 10 am to 5.30 pm
April, May & June 2005
The Tomatoes are Ready! Best Selection in Town -- $1.50
2-acre Organic Display Garden
Saturday Morning Workshops
395 Conway Road (Off Interurban, past Camosun College)
(250) 881-1555 www.earthfuture.com/gardenpath
Yes, itís more expensive; but pause and think. When we switched
to Valley Pride Avalon Dairy organic milk recently, the girl
at the Thrifty Foods check-out counter said "I was allergic
to milk all my life until I started using organic milk."
So whatís happening here? Thereís clearly something in regular
milk that harms her. I now think of the cheap regular milk
as "junk milk".
To back this up, the Soil Association, Britainís premier organic
organization, found that organically reared cows, eating high
levels of fresh grass, clover pasture, and grass clover silage
produced milk which is 50% higher in vitamin E, 75% higher
in beta carotene (a powerful antioxidant which boosts the immune
system), and 200% to 300% higher in the antioxidants lutein
and zeaxanthine than non-organic milk. They also found higher
levels of omega 3 essential fatty acids.
It makes sense. Cows that feed on grass from chemically treated,
depleted soil are treated like drug addicts and deprived of
PS. All dairy products require the male calves to be taken
away; they are usually caged to turn their meat into veal.
If you want to try a fully vegan diet with no dairy products,
contact the Vancouver Island Vegetarian Association at www.IslandVeg.com and
see also www.GoVegan.net.
Elite Earth-Friendly Dry Cleaners
Victoriaís only solvent free dry cleaner
1019 Cook St. 381-2221
Mon-Fri 8-6. Sat 10-4
As oil prices rise, oil company profits rise too: itís a windfall
game. BP has just declared record first quarter profits of
$5.49 billion US. Let me see: this much money could install
5,490 MW of wind turbines.
Or, if it was used to provide a $2/watt subsidy on the cost
of BPís solar PV ($4/watt), it could trigger the installation
of almost 3000 MW of solar PV. Thatís 3 times the entire global
production for 2004, and enough to kickstart mass production.
This in turn could cause the world price of PV to fall to $2/watt,
enabling businesses and householders all over the world to
install solar on their roofs, and launch the global solar revolution.
And thatís just one oil company, with one quarterís profits.
BP officially stands for "Beyond Petroleum". www.bp.com
THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF WEB
Some sites that have passed my way:
ACTION OF THE MONTH: BILL C-27
The Conservatives would have us believe that Canadaís Parliament
has ceased to operate effectively. But not so. Bill C-27, the
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Enforcemant Act, is
on its way to Second Reading.
It increases the CFIAís power, while decreasing its accountability.
The CFIA is one of Canadaís most secretive government agencies,
and generally speaks for big corporations, against small farmers.
If passed, Bill C-27 will authorize the CFIA to rewrite Canadaís
food and agriculture regulations, make it even harder for small
farms and food processors to survive, and let the CFIA make
agreements to lock us into the US regulatory system, controlled
by the big US agri-food corporations. For details, see www.beyondfactoryfarming.org
Action: Write to your MP (see www.parl.gc.ca for
details), and demand that the whole process be stopped. We
need to expand organic farming, not agri-farming. For letters,
write to MP, Houses of Parliament, Ottawa K1A 0A6
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