Newsletter No. 73 - Serving
Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - June 1998
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
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
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
Published as a monthly service, nourishing
the vision of an Island blessed by the harmony of nature and community, funded by your
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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.
* To receive EcoNews call (250) 881-1304.
* For email - email@example.com
* If you don't want to receive EcoNews please let us know, to save the postage !
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.
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
Portable washer. Chemically sensitive
person seeks portable washing machine never used with fabric conditioner. Tanya, 920-0036
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
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or come to the June 9th
meeting - see Diary.
Working with local environmental groups and
organizations to make an impact on the web.
Dave Shishkoff 598-0734
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
USDA 'ORGANIC' PROPOSAL
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 email@example.com
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 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
1860 Island Highway, V9B 1J2 474-5425
1590 Fairfield Rd, V8S 1G1 598-4769
475 Simcoe, V8V 4T4
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
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 !
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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