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. 156 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - February 2006


WELCOME TO DEMOCRAZY!

Canadians have just elected a government that is strongly opposed by 64% of all those who voted. Is this weird, or what?

It is certainly strange to hear people be so enthusiastic about the Tory "breakthrough", when almost two thirds of the country shuddered in their sleep on the night of the election.

Would proportional representation (Pro-Rep) have made any difference? If we had MPs seats based on the parties’ share of the popular vote, we would have a Parliament like this:

Conservatives - 36.3% 113 seats
Liberals - 30.1% 93 seats
NDP - 17.5% 59 seats
Bloc - 10.5% 31 seats
Greens - 4.5% 12 seats

In reality, if we had proportional voting, our voting behaviour would change too, and the Greens would likely win closer to 8% of the vote, as they do in Europe. Is it just tradition which says that the party with the largest number of seats forms the new government? Under the Pro-Rep scenario, if the Liberals and NDP declared that they would vote against the Conservatives, the logical solution would be for the Governor General to invite them to form a coalition government, since they controlled the majority of the seats.

Here’s Fair Vote Canada’s response to the election: Once again, Canada’s antiquated first-past-the-post system wasted millions of votes, distorted results, severely punished large blocks of voters, exaggerated regional differences, created an unrepresentative Parliament, and may possibly have even given us the wrong government.

Democracy is a journey that we have only just begun. Historically, it is only yesterday that we were ruled by kings and landlords. At first, it was only rich landowners who could vote. Then, as a result of relentless pressure from the labour movement, the vote was extended to all men.

It took the persistent efforts of the women’s suffrage movement, jail and all, to win the vote for women, starting with Manitoba in 1916 and ending with Quebec in 1940. And for all this time, Canada’s First Nations were not allowed to vote. This was not corrected until 1960.

I am full of hope for the future of democracy, based on the understanding that we have to work for change every step of the way. Here in Canada, we have reached the threshold of our next great struggle, to upgrade to a new model that is fair and proportional. I invite everyone to join me as a member of Fair Vote Canada (www.fairvotecanada.org), so that we can add this to the steady evolution of democracy in Canada.

Success would also give hope to people in the USA, who live in one of the world’s most corrupted democracies, where corporate control of the media, campaign financing, and electronic voting has stolen democracy from the people.

But our vision of democracy needs to evolve far beyond proportional representation.

We need to extend the vote to 16 and 17 year olds, and make voter registration automatic, not something they have to hussle after.

We need to develop "deep democracy", where we really learn to listen to each other’s point of view, and engage in respectful decision-making based on this listening.

We need to learn how to use democracy in the family, which is where bad habits often begin. We should ask ourselves "What are our children learning about democracy when they watch their parents discuss things and make decisions?"

We need democracy in the workplace, which invites a huge change in the way businesses are owned and operated. Experience around the world shows that worker-owned businesses can be hugely successful if they are given a chance.

We need democracy in the major decisions that our governments take on the global stage, out of reach of an idle media that pays little attention. There should surely be a public process involving elected MPs before Canadian bureaucrats head off to global conferences to push for global agreements that favour genetically modified organisms, terminator seeds, and the global trade in toxic wastes, as they currently do.

We need the ability to make global decisions democratically as one world, so that we can protect our oceans, protect our atmosphere, and create new legal contracts for the world’s corporations, requiring them to embrace social and environmental goals as well as just financial ones.

Democracy is a process, and we are still beginners. Let’s work together to achieve the change to fair and proportional voting. Let’s paint a picture of the future that fills us with hope, not with weird dreams of an even weirder democrazy.

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.

The Money

Dec

Jan

Feb

Copies printed

2000

2000

2000

Sent by email

2200

2200

2300

Print, postage

$878

$820

$820

Editorial

$350

$350

$350

Donations

$2333

$2040

You?

Advertising

$180 $90

Balance

$2004 $2964

A big thankyou to Helga Naguib, Ali Sproule, Arnold Ranieris, Joan Tiernan, Steve Price & Puri Govindarajulu, Vera Gottleib, Alice Stevens, Restorative Justice Victoria, Kate Rubin, Cheryl Coull, Noel Taylor, Felix Lion, David Rothkop, Kim Feltham, Susan Grout, Nadia Ariff, Gillian Smith, Margaret Hutchison, Susan Draper, Tom Knott, Helen Furnes, Ann Richardson, Hilda Cottam, Gail Schulz, Hilda Tutton, Barbara Hourston, Elizabeth White, Marvin Haave, Brian Mason, Sylvan Foreman, Correne Alice, Roger Colwill, Lind Miller, Marilyn Weland, Joan Edwards, George Prothero, Elisabeth Haythorne, New Society Publishers, Joan McIntosh, Joyce Baker, Lesley Wicks, Religious Society of Friends, Danielle Froese, Jocelyn, Braithwaite, Ed Matthews, Brian Pinch, Warren Nickerson, Vivian Chenard, & Anita Galitzine.


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 letter envelopes (9" wide) always needed for EcoNews. 881-1304

* VEGAN HOUSE! Seeking 1-2 responsible, progressive, positive, eco-friendly veggies for 5bdrm house in Oak Bay, Mar 1st! veganhouse [-at-] gmail.com 598-0194

* Courtenay Cohousing Call 250-339-5993 www.creeksidecommons.ca

* Go to www.esperanto.net and have some fun. Copy and paste something you like to Wally du Temple at esperanto@shaw.ca. When 100 people respond EcoNews will get $100.

* Charming guest room, $25/night. Cook St Village, ocean. 250-361-3102

* Quiet woman seeks modest dwelling near downtown Victoria, sharing ok. Approx $400 inc. 382-6661.

* Organic Garden and Landscape Creation by Timbergint Designs. Call LeighMae 472-8008.

* Taxes done by financial professional, phone Roxanne Brydges, CFP, at 704-2778. Self-employed people welcome.

* Ecoloving person with serious health challenges but strong spirit seeks rural home, good transit to Victoria to be near like-minded souls. Can pay $150-200 max rent + gentle work exchange (gardening, housework, pet-care, housesitting). Thanks! Janet 709-0559

* Wanted: Organic Grower for land nr Elk Lake. Many possibilities. Call Sylvan to discuss. 382-2612.

* Ecofriendly organic farmer seeks !BR suite with storage in quiet area north of Cook St. $500, possible barter for more. PO Box 1167, 242 Mary St, Victoria V9A 3V9

* Winter Warmth Campaign. Elite Earthfriendly Cleaners  is collecting coats, blankets, hats, mitts, scarves, socks, and yoga mats for homeless people on Vancouver Island. Call Laurel Nathorst, 1019 Cook St 250-381-2221

* Biodiesel enthusiasts. Soon-to-be immigrant American couple seek lodging and parking for semi-trailer in exchange for work on organic farm in the Gulf Islands. Call Carol or Jan at 503-635-3229.

* Wanted: Volunteer with interest in natural history and background with children to work with school groups at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary, 2-3 hours, once a week. Call Joan 479-0211 volunteer@swanlake.bc.ca

* The Dogwood Initiative seeks submissions for its 2nd Annual Strength in Community Awards. Four categories: photography, non-fiction, audio, video, for people whose submissions capture the spirit of community power in BC. See www.dogwoodinitiative.org

* Congratulations to Elaine and Brian, who meet at an EcoNews Mailout party two years ago, and who tied the knot together on Thursday, December 29th, at their favourite place overlooking the mountains and ocean. Elaine writes:" When I moved to Victoria 3 1/2 years ago, one of the things I hoped for was to find a man to love and who would love me, someone to spend the rest of my life with. As you know, I found that man in Brian. December 29th will mark the second anniversary of the occasion when Brian and I were first introduced. We were both volunteers at EcoNews, a local newsletter on the environment, helping to stuff envelopes and lick stamps. Somehow we ended up sitting beside one another that night, then began hiking and doing yoga together as the weeks went by, and here we are....". The EcoNews Dating Agency places no limits on what may be possible, if you come and volunteer!

oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

WILL WE LOSE THE AGRICULTURAL LAND RESERVE?

Calvin Sandborn writes:

We are losing thousands of hectares of farmland in British Columbia, and it must be stopped! Before 1973, BC was losing 6000 hectares a year of our best farmland to urban development, but in 1973, under Premier Dave Barrett, the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) was established to protect agricultural land for BC’s food supply. It has protected our farmland for three decades, but now we are again losing thousands of hectares, because the government is allowing the Land Commission to dismantle the ALR for urban development. (See www.alc.gov.bc.ca)

Since 1973, BC has had the strictest regime for protecting agricultural land in North America. That’s why the Saanich Peninsula and much of the Fraser Valley have not been lost to subdivisions. However, this protection is now being lost under the government’s new Agricultural Land Commission structure. Key farmland is being excluded, allowing it to be developed, paved, and lost.

Hundreds of acres of superb farmland were recently released for development near Abbotsford; the Commission is considering excluding 1200 prime acres on Barnston Island, home of the organic Avalon Dairy; and 267 hectares have just been excluded in the East Kootenays so that an Alberta real estate developer can build recreational and residential homes. The vast majority of applications are being approved. The ALR is no longer functioning as a Land Reserve.

The UN reports that a third of Earth’s agricultural areas are at risk of desertification; the US is losing 120 acres an hour to urban development. We must look after our farmlands. Agriculture in BC supports 280,000 people, and contributes $2 billion a year to the economy. With only 5% of our land in the ALR, we cannot afford any more lost. It must be stopped!! The UVic Environmental Law Centre is sponsoring a forum on Tue Feb 7th (see Green Diary) that will hopefully launch a campaign to protect the ALR. Premier Dave Barrett will kick it off, followed by a moving power point presentation from the Agricultural Land Protection Committee. Please come to the meeting and begin to work together to protect our farm heritage.

oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

DESPAIR IS A SIN

From a recent interview with Amory Lovins, co-founder of The Rocky Mountain Institute, the world’s premier centre for intelligent energy solutions (www.rmi.org). "When I give talks about energy, the audience already knows about the problems. So I don't talk about problems, only solutions. But after a while, during the question period, someone in the back will get up and give a long riff about all the bad things that are happening—most of which are basically true. There's only one way I've found to deal with that. After this person calms down, I gently ask whether feeling that way makes him more effective?

oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

TEN FOREST COMPANIES

Feeling worried about the state of the world’s forests? Yes, it’s bad. But get this. Back in 2001, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) looked closely at the ability of the world’s forests to meet humanity’s demand for paper and timber products. They concluded that wasteful though we are, if the world used responsible forest management, we could meet all our needs from just one fifth of the world’s forest area. "The problem is not forestry of consumption per se, but poor practice and over-exploitation in some areas."

The solution, therefore, is the certification of forestry practices by groups such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Back in 2001, when their report came out on "The Forest Industry in the 21st Century", over 20 million hectares of forest in 35 countries had been certified, guaranteeing that consumers buying products from these forests could be sure that responsible, ecologically sustainable management was in place, representing 2-3% of the world’s production forest.

The WWF concluded that "a sea change in certification" was needed to speed things up. Since 2001, certification has increased to 67 million hectares, in 60 countries. This includes 5.5 million hectares of forest in north-east Alberta managed by Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc that was announced in September 2005, the largest FSC certification in the world. Did we hear a word of this in the media? We must constantly remember that the media feeds us cotton wool, not news of critical progress that is happening beneath the dross of political scandals and sports victories.

The FSC came to the realization that since a few large companies commanded a major part of the market, just ten companies could help save the world’s forests if they put their minds to it, and required their forest suppliers to become certified. They are the five largest wood processors (International Paper, Georgia Pacific, Weyerhauser, Stora-Enso, & Smurfit Stone), and the five largest wood buyers (Home Depot, Lowes, IKEA, Kimberley Clark, and Proctor & Gamble). Of the latter, Home Depot, Lowes, and IKEA already actively support the FSC.

The message is clear: we must persist with what is already proving successful. In January 2006, Random House, the largest publishing group in the UK, announced that it would join the FSC’s "chain of custody", meaning that all their books would be printed on FSC certified paper. Sustainability in the world’s forests is both possible, and within reach – as long as we can also control climate change, to stop the forests from frying in the increasing heat.

oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

Elite Earth-Friendly Dry Cleaners
Victoria’s only solvent free dry cleaner

1019 Cook St. 381-2221 Mon-Fri 8-6 Sat 10-4
www.greendrycleaner.com

oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

IS BOTTLED WATER TOXIC?

William Shotyk, Director of the Institute of Environmental Geochemistry at the University of Heidelberg, has just released a study which shows that bottle water in Canada (advertised as clean and pure) contains higher levels of a toxin called antimony than groundwater, and even tapwater.

The toxin leaches out of the polyethylene terephthalate plastic the bottles are made from, which is made using an antimony catalyst. The longer the water stays in the bottle, the higher the level of antimony, a brittle, silver-white metallic element that is used as an alloy in manufacturing, which in small doses can causes headaches, dizziness and depression.

Spring water from a family farm near Barrie, Ontario, contains 2 parts per trillion (ppt) of antimony. Shotyk took the spring water and put it in a plastic bottle. Six months later, the level of antimony had risen to 630 ppt.

He tested 15 brands of bottled water in Canada, which averaged 160 ppt. In Europe, 48 bottles averaged 350 ppt. The water from a bottle made from polypropylene, by contrast, had only 8 ppt. Water in glass bottles had 30 times less antimony than water in plastic bottles.

Health Canada allows 6,000 ppt, which makes you wonder abut their standards. Shotyk, whose data will be published in Journal of Environmental Monitoring, no longer drinks water from PET bottles. See www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antimony

oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

SEEDS OF VICTORIA

Certified Organic, Locally Harvested

2006 Seed Collection

Vegetables – Flowers - Herbs

Order online at www.earthfuture.com/gardenpath

oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

HERE COMES THE SUN

And now for something completely different. I have been sent a new book by Joshua Greene about the spiritual life of George Harrison, "the quiet Beatle", which started when George went to India to learn the sitar from Ravi Shankar, and found himself also attracted to yoga, meditation, chanting, and God. Quite the change from sex, drugs, and rock’n roll. Joshua’s book is not just well written; it is also intriguing, inspiring, and peacefully uplifting. Joshua had close contact with parts of George’s life, and his own clarity of soul comes through. The book is called Here Comes the Sun: the Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison, and is being launched on February 23 and 24th with a variety of no-cost gifts. Check it out at www.herecomesthesunbook.com, and enjoy the journey!

I really want to see you
Really want to be with you
Really want to see you lord
But it takes so long, my lord
- George Harrison

oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

CITIES OF JOY

On June 19th–23rd, Vancouver will host the World Urban Forum (www.unhabitat.org/wuf/2006) to tackle the problems of the world’s cities. Among them (I hope) will be Enrique Peñalosa, who was Mayor of Bogota, Colombia, from 1998 to 2001.

Enrique studied in Paris, and fell in love with European cities, their public squares and gardens, their bicycles and pedestrians. American cities are a very damaging model, he says. "In Bogota, our goal was to make a city for all the children. The measure of a good city is one where a child on a tricycle or bicycle can safely go anywhere. If a city is good for children, it will be good for everyone else."

During his three years as Mayor (the most he was allowed to serve), his administration created the Trans-Milenio, a bus rapid transit system that now carries half a million people a day, at a fraction the price of a metro. They reclaimed the sidewalks from motorists, established 300 kilometres of cycleways, and created the world’s longest pedestrian street (17 km). They reduced the traffic by 40%, and inaugurated an annual car-free day.

They planted 100,000 trees, and established or refurbished 1,200 parks and playgrounds.

They built 52 new schools, increased student enrolment by 34%, built 13 libraries, and built 100 nurseries for children under 5, all with permanent sources of funding.

They improved the life of slum-dwellers by bringing water to all households and buying land on the outskirts of the city to prevent real estate speculation, and ensure that affordable housing will be built.

They saw the murder rate fall by two thirds.

"Economics, urban planning, ecology are only the means. Happiness is the goal. .. It doesn’t cost anything to dream, so I say let’s dream!" For the full interview in Ode Magazine, see www.onthecommons.org/node/525

oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF WEB

Some sites that have passed my way:

oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

ACTION OF THE MONTH: PROTECT OUR FARMLAND!

Short and sweet, since the details are above, in the story by Calvin Sandborn.

Action:

Write a letter to The Hon Pat Bell, Minister of Agriculture and Lands, PO Box 9043, Stn Prov Gov’t, Victoria, V8W 9E2, and speak your mind! Let’s try to get 20 letters, so that he registers that people are concerned.


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