Pride and Gratitude on Canada Day

Good Sunday Morning,

toronto-airport-T1.jpgMy uncle Paul was happy to drive us to the airport in Frankfurt. He and his co-driver Helmut specialized in long distance taxi fares. "So Margaret," he asked his sister a short while into the trip. "How much money do you have on you as you embark on this journey to emigrate to Canada?" It was the summer of 1968. A nasty divorce had decimated our thriving family business, forcing this former executive manager to work at a clothing store in the Bavarian Alps: "Money? I have no money. I cashed in the last of my pension to scrape together the one way airfare for the kids and I."

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A new way of doing politics

Good Sunday Morning,

Elizabeth has often reminded us that our biggest challenge in the world today is that we are afraid to abandon our cynicism. Perhaps it's our fear of being labeled naive. Perhaps we are infected by the cynics that surround us. But in our hearts we know that we long for something better. We know this because when we see it, when we catch a glimpse of how things could and should be, we are touched deeply. So deeply in fact that it can move us to tears. That's what happened to me as I watched Arnold Chan address the House of commons this week.

Arnold_Chan_02.jpg"I would beg us, to not only act as honourable members but to treat this institution honourably. And to that extent I want to make a shout out to our colleague from Saanich-Gulf Islands, a parliamentarian. Despite the fact that we are not in the same party, despite the fact that we may disagree on some substantive issues quite vehemently, I consider this particular member to be a giant. Not simply because she exhorts us to follow standing order 18, but more importantly I've observed in her practice, Mr. Speaker, that she reveres this place, she is dedicated to her constituents, she practices both here and in committee the highest standard that any parliamentarian could ask for. Despite perhaps strongly disagreeing with the position of the government of the day, she does so in a respectful tone and I would ask all of us to elevate our debate, to elevate our practice, to that standard. We Must!

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Inspiration at the AGM

Good Sunday Morning

Elizabeth.jpgNormally I spend my whole Saturday writing this missive but today we held our Annual General Meeting (AGM). We elected a new slate of members to our Executive, adopted a bold vision document and passed a motion to adopt an updated constitution and bylaws. It is now 8pm and I am finally sitting down at my keyboard. Let's see what emerges, shall we?

The AGM was a tremendous success. Once again our Events Team worked their magic. Nancy, Annie and Yves brought flowers. Lil, Nancy, Annie and Claire baked birthday cakes for Elizabeth. Alexis and Teri created colorful fruit trays. Gary and Nancy signed people in at the door and distributed ballots. Grace led the vote and was the official ballot counter. Dan and Yves were scrutineers, Ann and Teri worked the Bar, Laura and Donnamae handled cards and everyone did their best to fill any gaps.

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Balance of power or shared responsibility?

Good Sunday Morning,

the_team.jpgThose of us who attended Adam Olsen's volunteer appreciation potluck last Sunday afternoon received a preview of what was about to unfold. In Adam's speech to the gathering, he clearly articulated the values that were continuing to drive negotiations. Then he left the event early to attend what turned out to be the last negotiating session. Adam reminded us that it has been a dream of Greens to hold the balance of power and joked that we have to be careful what we wish for. Suddenly this amazing Green caucus had been thrust into a role with crushing responsibilities that determine the trajectory of not only this province but of the Green movement and even electoral reform across the country.

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Failure of Kinder Morgan IPO could stop the pipeline

Good Sunday Morning,

ticker.jpgTuesday is going to be a big day. It's the day that the new Initial Public Offering (IPO) to finance Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion starts trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSE). To build the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Kinder Morgan has to spend about 7.4 billion dollars. But of course it doesn't want to spend its own money even though Richard Kinder, its co-founder and executive chairman, has a reported personal net worth of 7.2 billion himself. Better to pass the cost (and the risk) off to unsuspecting investors like the beneficiaries of pension and insurance funds. As the former President of ENRON (yes, that house of cards), Kinder knows how the game is played.

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Embracing the New Economy

Good Sunday Morning,

Amid the roller coaster ride that Tesla's stock price is on, one analyst points out that Tesla will be a major player in a $2 trillion autonomous taxi market. A two trillion dollar Taxi market! That's three times as big as the total sales of the three largest automakers in the world; Volkswagen, Toyota and GM - combined. This week the Financial Post caught on to a study that was presented last year and that Elizabeth alerted us to over the Christmas holidays. It was made by Stanford University economist Tony Seba. His report, with the deceptively bland title "Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030", has gone viral in green circles and is causing spasms of anxiety in the established industries. "We are on the cusp of one of the fastest, deepest, most consequential disruptions of transportation in history."

Financial Post: The future is hereThis emerging market will be based more on the technological model offered by Apple and Amazon than the industrial model one would expect. As Seba points out the new autonomous electric vehicles are not computerized cars but rather smart phones on wheels. Tesla has already set the standard by upgrading features in their cars regularly with a simple (and automatic) software update. Since electric cars have 80% fewer moving parts than Internal Combustion Engine cars, (ICEs) once you make them autonomous and add the technology of UBER-like ride sharing, city dwellers the world over will find car ownership obsolete. Seba predicts up to 80% fewer cars on the road and that all fossil-fuel vehicles will vanish in 8 years resulting in a twin ‘death spiral’ for big oil and big autos.

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A glimpse into a winning campaign

Good Sunday Morning,

Every house in the cul-de-sac had a volunteer at the doorstep. Adam spied an occupant through an open basement window.  He seized the opportunity to engage and crouched down for a face to face chat. He listened intently and answered questions thoughtfully. “You are the first politician that has ever knocked on my door and actually talked with me.” the man tells Adam. “They all come asking for my vote but no one ever seemed to really care about me and my family.”

reaching inot the hearts of teh communityThe campaign team tried to simulate the pressures of the stage during debate prep. Adam had studied the latest policy announcements from the BC Green Party platform until late into the night, reminding himself of the intent and deep considerations that went into crafting them. He was nervous as his expectation of himself grew exponentially. Then he found his rock, the foundation of his being, and stood on it firmly. From there he ventured out into the depths of political discourse knowing that he could easily return to the stability of his personal values. Like a jazz musician dancing around a familiar tune he found comfort in spontaneity. With every debate he trusted himself more.

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Who Owns Your Vote

Good Sunday Morning,

BC Voting InformationVoting is the sacred bedrock of our democracy. Our vote is power, it's justice, it's freedom. It's our opportunity to build a better world. Yes, that's a cliche. But it's true. Voting is the most powerful tool we have to decide how we govern ourselves and what the rules are that keep our civil society civil. 

It's a right we have sent our young men and women in uniform to die for. It's a privilege that has been afforded to us by those who stood up for what was right and what was fair. It's a responsibility to future generations who will inherit the consequences of the decisions we make today. Perhaps that's why it pains me so when campaigns turn nasty.

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The Fallacy of Dilbit and LNG

Good Sunday Morning,

it is a potant trigger to runaway climate changeIt is widely reported that methane is about 30 times as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2. "But as reported in a paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change, authored by MIT assistant professor of engineering systems Jessika Trancik and doctoral student Morgan Edwards," writes David Chandler, "this conversion factor may significantly misvalue methane. Getting this conversion factor right is challenging because methane's initial impact is much greater than that of CO2—by about 100 times. But methane only stays in the atmosphere for a matter of decades, while CO2 sticks around for centuries. The result: After six or seven decades, the impact of the two gases is about equal, and from then on methane's relative role continues to decline."

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It's about the economy

Good Sunday Morning

suzuki.jpgGreens often feel misunderstood when we are perceived as being a one issue party. Fact is Green policy platforms have repeatedly demonstrated that we offer a comprehensive approach and that we seek complete solutions to the challenges of our time. But all those solutions are, in the end, intrinsically linked to the environment. When David Suzuki wants journalists to forget about the Dow Jones and report on climate change every day, it's because he understands that our civilization (which includes the Dow Jones) depends on it.
Except for the nuclear option, all our energy is generated by the sun. Plants capture that energy through photosynthesis and power the food chain. Ancient plants used photosynthesis to capture carbon and sequester it underground over millions of years. Eventually this made it possible to have a 10,000 year sweet spot of climate stability that allowed us to invent agriculture. We all depend on the natural processes powered by the sun. As we have exploded our human numbers, we depend on our ability to grow food reliably for our survival. And when we feel all powerful and in control, it's good to remind ourselves that the industrial revolution has not yielded a single new staple in our food supply.

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