EcoNews Options
EcoNews PDFs
Subscribe to EcoNews
Get EcoNews by email each month:
Name:
Email:
* EcoNews protects the privacy of its email list, and does not share it with any other group or organization.
To receive EcoNews by mail, call Guy at 250-881-1304.
Appeal

AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)EcoNews reaches thousands of people each month, including every MLA in BC and every CRD municipal politician. It’s 95% funded by donations from readers like you. If you value the information it provides, will you support it with a donation?

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

Donations can also be sent via PayPal:

$
(Donations in Canadian Dollars.)
Contact Econews

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. 149 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - May 2005


A TALE OF TWO ELECTIONS

ELECTION ONE:

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 eliminated.

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 industries.

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 rule.

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!!!!!

ELECTION TWO:

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 in common."

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?

Guy Dauncey

ECONEWS

AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)A monthly newsletter, funded by your donations, that dreams of a world blessed by the harmony of nature, the pleasures of community, & the joys of personal fulfillment, protected and guided by active citizenship.

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

Donations can also be sent by PayPal, please send to GuyDauncey@EarthFuture.com, be sure to 'earmark' it to EcoNews.

  Mar Apr May
Circulation: 2000 2000 2000
By Email: 2024 2059 2094
Print & Post: $842 $796 $800
Editorial: $350 $350 $350
Donations: $365 $510 You?
Advertising: $175 $40  
Balance: $1468 $890  

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 Raginsky.


THE ECO-CORNER
$5/line (non-profits, low-income free)
1" box $40, $2" box $70. Insert $180

THE ECO-CORNER

$5/line (non-profits, low-income free) 1" box ad $40, $2" box ad $70

* Unused envelopes always needed for EcoNews. Call 881-1304

* Charming and reasonable guest room, Cook St Village & ocean 250-361-3102

* 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 tomj@athabascau.ca 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. lkenny@telus.net.

* 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 cvec17@hotmail.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. rainwalker@shaw.ca

* 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 courses@biketoworkvictoria.ca 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.

oOoOoOoOoOoOo

SLOW ISÖ..

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 Spring Chapter

oOoOoOoOoOoOo

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

www.victoriaunitarian.ca/eco.php

oOoOoOoOoOoOo

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.

oOoOoOoOoOoOo

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.

oOoOoOoOoOoOo

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.

oOoOoOoOoOoOo

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.)

oOoOoOoOoOoOo

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 Carr.

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

oOoOoOoOoOoOo

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 governments.

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.

oOoOoOoOoOoOo

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

oOoOoOoOoOoOo

ORGANIC MILK

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 healthy food.

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.

oOoOoOoOoOoOo

Elite Earth-Friendly Dry Cleaners

Victoriaís only solvent free dry cleaner

1019 Cook St. 381-2221

Mon-Fri 8-6. Sat 10-4

www.greendrycleaner.com

oOoOoOoOoOoOo

BP PROFITS

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

oOoOoOoOoOoOo

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF WEB

Some sites that have passed my way:

oOoOoOoOoOoOo

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


NOTICE

EcoNews provides this electronic version of the newsletter without charge even though it costs around $1,200 CAN to produce each month. Please feel free to repost.

If you can help by making a donation, whether $5 or $100, that would be most welcome. Please send it to: EcoNews, 395 Conway Rd, Victoria, B.C. V9E 2B9, Canada. Thanks ! (Not tax-deductible; if you want a receipt, please send a stamped addressed envelope)


Click here for previous issues of EcoNews.


EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria
V9E 2B9
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304

Author of "Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change"
(New Society Publishers)
$25 + postage from www.earthfuture.com

Web Design by Dave Shishkoff, Victoria's Fastest Vegan on Two Wheels!

EcoNews shares Content Partnerships with the following:
EnviroLink www.envirolink.org
Solar Access www.solaraccess.com
Sustainable Business.com: www.sustainablebusiness.com