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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

 

 ECONEWS


Newsletter No. 73 - Serving Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - June 1998


TIMES COLONIST BLACKED OUT -& DOES IT REALLY MATTER ?

The news that the Times Colonist has been taken over by Conrad Black's Hollinger newspaper empire should send ripples of alarm among those who care about what's happening in the world.

This is a man who controls 350 papers in six countries, including Britain's very conservative Daily Telegraph, the Ottawa Citizen and the Vancouver Sun and Province. Since taking over the Citizen, the paper has dropped its wire services from the progressive British papers the Guardian, Independent and Observer, and relies instead on wire services from the Telegraph. We can expect the same fate at the Times Colonist.

When Conrad Black took over the Southam chain in 1996, the Council of Canadians undertook an extensive study of newspapers recently acquired by Hollinger, analyzing 4,000 items from six Southam newspapers :

"The study shows that Hollinger newspapers are almost exclusively focussed on business news, crime and parliamentary coverage with little or no attention to labour, women's issues or native affairs. From 1991 to 1996, labour reporting dropped from 4.5% to 0% at the Ottawa Citizen, from 16% to 0% at the Calgary Herald, from 21% to 1.8% at the Windsor Star and from 11.4% to 0% at the Vancouver Sun." (Maud Barlow, Times Colonist, May 7 '97). The Vancouver Sun has ceased doing any environmental coverage outside Vancouver since Black took over. When the Times Colonist ran a front page story about the government's 25 'Broken Promises' on the environment (see inside) the Sun didn't even give it a mention. Black's pro-business view of the world was doubtless also behind the contributions that Hollinger poured into Gordon Campbell's Liberal Party coffers, in advance of the May 1996 election.

In future, we can expect to see more of the 'junk news' that gets fabricated in the Hollinger empire, and fewer (if any) of the thought-provoking articles the Times Colonist has sometimes carried. The recent TC story (May 26th) criticizing opponents of the MAI and promoting the OECD's position is probably a sign of what's to come.

On the other hand, does it really matter ? It is true that the TC went through an awful phase when some editor decided to fill the front page with local stories about crime and lost dogs, but they seemed to regain their
sanity a month ago, and return to being a newspaper instead of a snoozepaper.

Either way, we are still missing out on key news from around the world. In London, in late May, the G8 meeting of world leaders was marked by a huge and very powerful circle of 50,000 people forming a human chain around the Birmingham centre where the leaders were meeting, demanding an end to the gargantuan debt loads that have been crippling many third world countries for years. All we heard in the mainstream media were stories about the
crises in India and Indonesia, and about the leaders drinking beer. It matters to me that so many people are organizing to demand a sea-change in the way the financial powers rule the world's economy. It makes a difference to the way I feel about the world to know that immense obstacles such as this may be overcome,. I feel hugely sad that most people in North America are not hearing about these things, because the media moguls decide they're not important.

Nor did the mainstream media report the exciting news that the US Department of Agriculture's proposal to redefine organic food to include sewage sludge, irradiated and genetically engineered foods has been roundly defeated, after 200,000 people wrote angry letters of protest (see inside). Not a peep. Nor has there been any mention about the big meeting of the World Trade Organization that's about to take place in Geneva, or how it was greeted by a huge, all-day rowdy street party with 4,500 protesters.

Where do I learn these things ? Off the Internet, through various email services that I subscribe to (all free) or that people send me. Very soon, we will be able to bypass the printed media altogether, by subscribing to Internet news services personally tailored to include coverage of the areas you are interested in, downloaded not onto a computer screen, but onto a portable, handheld tablet with a layout just like a newspaper, which you can read over the breakfast table. To turn the page or seek extra detail, just press a button or click on a hyperlink. The technology already exists - it's just a matter of time.

The world is vastly more rich and full of change than the measly-minded visions of people like Conrad Black. We should mourn the Times Colonist's capture - but celebrate the far greater freedom of information that is opening up to us all through the Internet.

- Guy Dauncey


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


ECONEWS

Published as a monthly service, nourishing the vision of an Island blessed by the harmony of nature and community, funded by your donations.AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)

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Many thanks to Renate Wellman, Donna Dublin, Chris Edwards, Harriet Ruggeberg, Barbara Hourston, Emile Lacroix, Janice Turner, Alan & Joan Greatbatch, Janet Morgan, Wendy Loly, Marlene Cookshaw, Unlimited Possibilities, Margaret Fear, UVic Centre for Studies in Religion & Society, Freda Milburn, John Pirquet, Jan Zwicky, Bruce Saunders, Nitya Harris, Jason LeSage, Monica Oldham, Erica Thomas Booth, Across Borders Media, Marion Cumming, Judith Carder, Peter Spurr & Rose Stecher.

* Donations can be made to EcoNews, 395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1.
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THE ECO-PERSONALS !

  • Earth Mercantile is an exciting new store planned for Duncan, designed in an earth-friendly way to house eco-businesses and non-profits. To find out more or join in, call Jenny Farkas on (250) 701-0299.

  • 'Cabin in the Woods' to rent on eco-aware, clean farm in the Highlands with woodlot, acreage. Small house (single/couple) with attached greenhouse, organic garden. Suit seclusion or recreation, reasonable rent.
    Peter 652-2613

  • Vic West Heritage House, used as rooming house. Buyer or good long-term 2nd mortgage required. 11 units. Could be office or B & B. Call Cameron, 380-1660

  • 'A Thousand Ways to Cut Consumption'. How many ways can you think of to cut consumption ? Send your list to the Sierra Club, 1103 Oscar St, Victoria V8V 2X3 or GAIA@islandnet.com   Great prizes !

  • VanCity Envirofund Grants available for non-profit projects that address Air Quality & Transportation; Water, Wetlands & Watersheds; Hazardous Wastes & Toxics. Grants range from $15,000 - $20,000, must be practical, solution-oriented. Deadline for 1998 is July 1st. Moira Teevan, (604) 877-7620.

  • Capital GreenWays Advisory Committee   has vacancies for members to assist with greenways development. Deadline June 10th. Call 386-1356.

  • Portable washer. Chemically sensitive person seeks portable washing machine never used with fabric conditioner. Tanya, 920-0036


ECO-TOILETS

You've heard about composting toilets and grey-water systems - now see 'The Ecos Catalog - Tools for Low-Water and Waterless Living' ! A feast of details about compost toilets and rainwater catchment systems. Ecos Water Conservation, 152 Commonwealth Ave, Concord, MA 01742-2842.


A CAPITAL IDEA

Are you concerned that southern Vancouver Island is heading towards becoming a sterile wasteland of roads, suburban sprawl and big box retail outlets ? If so, you are not alone : the kinds of development we see going in are hardly encouraging. Last fall, a group of concerned citizens got together to ask what they could do about this. We call ourselves the South Island Sustainable Communities Network, and  we are keen for people to understand that there ARE alternatives to sprawl. As our first shot we have published a book called 'A Capital Idea : Alternative Approaches to Growth Management for the Capital Regional District', with chapters on managing growth, transportation, community economies, green/blue spaces, water, farmland, sewage, housing and governance. The book has been endorsed by 42 community and environmental organizations - if you belong to a group, or think your school or councillors should see it, or want a copy for yourself, send $5 (community organizations) or $10 (individuals) to Eco-Research Chair, Deborah Curran, UVic, PO Box 2400, Victoria V8W 3H7.


Precedent Setting Environmental Event !

First Victoria Straw Bale Building Permit

STRAW BALE BUILDING WORKSHOP  JULY 10th - 12th

Master straw builder Habib Gonzales will lead a hands-on workshop at the Victoria Compost Education Centre - a chance to learn about this innovative and simple way of building.

$200/person, $350/couple      Info/Registration :  (250) 995--0225


THE GREEN PAGES

Imagine this - a beautiful, integrated Internet home page enabling you (and anyone in the world) to contact every one of Victoria's 150 non-profit environmental groups, all Victoria's eco-businesses and ecotourism groups, the environmental pages of the provincial and regional governments, and a schedule of guided hikes and walks. We're about to do it ! EcoNews has set up a partnership with Dave Shishkoff of Random Web Design to survey every
group and create the page - see  http://members.xoom.com/vicgreen

This is an exciting task which needs lots of volunteers to help contact the groups. If you can help, call Dave at 598-0734, email drshishkoff@home.com or come to the June 9th meeting - see Diary.


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Working with local environmental groups and organizations to make an impact on the web.

Dave Shishkoff    598-0734
drshishkoff@home.com
http://members.home.com/drshishkoff


THE GARDEN PATH

Organic Heritage Plant Nursery
Final Weekend Sale  All Plants 50% off
Sat June 6th & Sun June 7th 10 am - 5 pm
1834 Haultain St
(between Richmond & Foul Bay)
Carolyn Herriot, 592-4472


OH, THE GLORIOUS BIKE !

It's the first week of June, Bike to Work Week, Clean Air Week and World Oceans Day on June 8th. If there's one thing that can contribute to all three, it's cycling. (Yes, our planet's beautiful and amazing oceans are also being adversely affected by climate change, caused by our burning of fossil fuels.) What better time to get into the habit, now that summer's here ! Throughout the week, why not join the growing numbers of cycle-commuters ? And on Sunday June 7th, bring your bike and family to join the fun and festivities, starting with a fun-filled Family Bike Ride and Scavenger Hunt in Beacon Hill Park (see Diary). Come in crazy outfits, and bring your sense of humour - call the Hotline 413-3188 for all the details.


BETRAYING OUR TRUST

In 1996, many people who care deeply about the environment voted for the New Democrats, believing that the new government would continue the achievements begun under Mike Harcourt, when environmental stewardship was a top priority. Oh, how we feel betrayed ! In decision after decision, environmental concerns have been brushed off as irrelevant by  a Premier who grew up in a downtown urban setting and has never seemed to grasp what environmental issues are all about. Last week, cabinet voted to give breaks to the oil and gas industry, as if the Kyoto Treaty on Climate Change had never been signed. Now, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and the B.C. Endangered Species Coalition have published a report cataloging 25 instances of environmental commitments being rolled back.

Greenhouse gas targets have been ignored. beehive burners continue to pollute the air after the law to shut them down was rescinded. Groundwater is still unprotected, and there's no safe drinking water legislation. The promised Environmental Protection Act "is no longer needed". The revamped Forest Practices Code allows small salmon streams to be clearcut right to the bank. The promised legislation to bring in a Wildlife, Fish and Endangered Species Act has been shelved. It goes on and on. The Ministry of Environment has seen its most committed and experienced staff cut or removed to other ministries. The proposed Sustainability Act which was 'urgently required' has never been enacted, and now Cathy McGregor, Minister for the Environment, says it's no longer part of the government's plans.

And how do the Liberals stand on these issues ? Worse by far than the NDP, with the sole exception perhaps of Endangered Species Legislation, where Murray Coell, the new Liberal Environment critic, recently said "It is time
for endangered species legislation. I don't want to live in a world where species are disappearing." Unless there are some dramatic changes, very few people in the environmental community will be voting NDP next time round. The Green Party may get a surprise ! Copies of Betraying Our Trust are available for $5 from the Sierra Club, 1525 Amelia St, Victoria V8W 2K1.


COHO SIGH OF RELIEF

Congratulations to David Anderson for his 100% protection of the fast vanishing coho salmon. As a species, the coho have been around for many million years, and been spawning in BC rivers for at least 5,000 years. We are the ones who get to decide whether to fish them to extinction, or to restrain our crazed desire to wipe them out for the sake of quick money.

David Ellis, of the Fish for Life Foundation writes : "In making a commitment to rebuild coho salmon stocks, Fisheries Minister David Anderson last week actually made a decision to fully rehabilitate all wild salmon runs in B.C. This is because the rarer coho swim together with the returning sockeye, chum, pink and chinook salmon, and steelhead trout.  If the highly efficient seiners are made to honestly address the bycatch issue, I believe there can be very little commercial fishing, for at least four years. We in the environmental movement will be publishing every action the seiners make on the Internet, to make sure the little coho are truly protected. Mr. David Anderson, may the wild coho splash a little water upon you, in your honour."


USDA 'ORGANIC' PROPOSAL DEFEATED

The US Department of Agriculture's proposal to create a US standard for organic food allowing the use of sewage sludge, genetically engineered crops and irradiated food has been withdrawn after the USDA was besieged with 200,000 angry letters, faxes and emails protesting this blatant attempt by corporate food corporations to take over the organic food movement. Even Monsanto, one of the biggest names in biotechnology, urged the USDA to defer any decision on genetically engineered plants for three years. The USDA will now go back to scratch - and the new generation of Internet activists can chalk up their second major victory in as many months. Still on the subject of food, I hope you enjoy the Organic Food supplement - and don't miss coming to hear Joseph Pace speaking on Canada's Food for a New Millennium on June 10th (see Diary). Joseph is an exhilarating speaker who is consulting with people like Howard Lyman and John Robbins in preparation for his new book, and his vision of the role Canada could play as a world leader in developing a healthful, humane, sustainable agriculture.


Monday June 8th, 7:30pm
Inspiring Environmental Stories :
The Greenspiration Odyssey, with Tooker Gomberg.

Tooker Gomberg is a longtime eco-activist and past Edmonton City Councillor who is touring the world by bicycle with his partner, Angela Bischoff, tracking down inspiring environmental stories, complete with laptop
computer and camcorder.

He is in Victoria for two days, fresh off the plane from six months cycling around Asia, and brings slides and  green tales from Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China and Vietnam.  All are welcome. Tooker is a personal friend, and this can be guaranteed to be a great evening. Tell your friends !

Parish lounge, St. John's Church (1611 Quadra). By donation. 995-0225.


SAVE THE MARMOT!!

Times Colonist 'Save the Marmot' campaign. To add your name to the TC's petition asking the government to make saving the marmots a priority, you can email them at marmot@victoriatimescolonist.com


CORRECTION

Wes Gietz's phone number ('A Week of Ancient Living on Hornby Island, June 7th - 14th, is 250-478-3100) not as printed.


ACTION OF THE MONTH:

WILL THRIFTY FOODS AGREE TO LABEL FRANKENFOOD ?

Frankenfood is food that has been genetically engineered (GE) in weird ways, like putting fish genes into tomatoes to stop them from freezing, and Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) genes into potatoes and corn to increase resistance to the pesticide. Genetically engineered soy, corn and potatoes are already on the market in Canada, but there are a hundred reasons why such unproven, scary experiments should not be carried out on us. 80% of Canadians would shun genetically altered food if given the choice. Up until now, we've had no choice, but that's beginning to change. Since May 1st, the UK retail giant Iceland Foods has been refusing all use of GE organisms in their own-brand foods, and starting in December, Tesco intends to label all genetically modified foods in the UK, and their suppliers will have to segregate modified from unmodified foods. Wouldn't it be good if Thrifty Foods could label their foods in the same way, here on the Island ? That would be another really good reason for supporting what is already a great store.

Action : Write to Alec Campbell, Thrifty Foods, 6649 Butler Crescent, Victoria V8M 1Z7, Fax (250) 544-1102, and/or the manager of your nearest store, asking them to label all foods and food ingredients that have been genetically manipulated. Here are the addresses & fax numbers for local stores :

1495 Admirals Rd, V9A 2P8       380-6558
777 Royal Oak Drive V8X 4V1     479-2259
3475 Quadra, V8X 1G8             382-8963
1860 Island Highway, V9B 1J2    474-5425
1590 Fairfield Rd, V8S 1G1      598-4769
475 Simcoe, V8V 4T4              386-1919
101-3995 Quadra, V8X 1J8        479-8488
9810-7th St, Sidney V8L 4W6     655-3661
7860 Wallace, Saanichton V8M 2B3 652-4153
114 Purvis Rd Ganges V0S1E0     537-1539
50-2750 Mill Bay Rd V0R 2P0     743-4633
650 S.Terminal Ave, Nanaimo V9R 5E2  753-6936
660 England Rd, Courtenay V9N 2N4  388-9916


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

 

 


Deadline for July/August : June 24th


NOTICE

EcoNews provides this electronic version of the newsletter free of charge even though it costs time and money to produce. Please feel free to repost. You can help by making a donation, whether $5 or $100, to:

EcoNews, 395 Conway Road, Victoria, B.C. V8X 3X1, Canada. Thanks !

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Click here for previous issues of EcoNews.


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

Sustainable Communities Consultancy

Author of 'After the Crash : The Emergence of the Rainbow Economy'
(Greenprint, London, 1988. 3rd edition 1997)

Forthcoming  'Journey into the Future : 2000 - 2015'
An ecofictional novel

EcoNews is printed on Tree-Free paper from Ecosource

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