Good Sunday Morning

Good Sunday Morning,

Real people, representing real people. Whether or not we agree with their view of the world, this basic premise underscores the populist movement sweeping the globe. Rule by the elites, no matter how variant the criteria we use to define them, is no longer acceptable. So our first impulse is to upset the apple-cart and send a clear message to those in power: "We're not going to take this anymore."

Jesse_we_can.pngThis kind of reactionary politics is nothing new. As Preston Manning recounts in this piece, we have been here before; many times. In fact it's the hallmark of the majoritarian oppositional voting system we call First-Past-The-Post. And while it has presented us all with the reality show of a Trump presidency, it does not have to inevitably result in right-wing populism. A closer look at last week's election in the Netherlands, which has been widely reported as a defeat of populism, makes that clear. While the Liberals will likely lead a coalition to hold onto power, both they and the Labour party took a hit. To the benefit of the ultra right yes, but also to the benefit of every other major party on the ballot except the socialists.

Unlike the US, which offered only one alternative to the status quo, Holland's electoral system offers many. To get on that country's unusually complex preferential ballot, new parties simply have to pay a deposit of €11,250 and gather a total of 580 signatures spread over the 19 electoral districts. The result, which left all of Europe breathing a sigh of relief, was that the ultra-right Freedom Party had to compete with a wide field for that protest vote.

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Can you see the difference?

Good Sunday Morning,

Trudeau_in_Texas.jpgMy initial response to this address by Trudeau during CERAweek in Texas was "what a total sellout he has turned out to be." And then as I stuck with the speech I had flashbacks to the heady days of the 2008 US presidential election and then 2009, when Barack Obama failed his progressive base with the compromises of governing. The parallels are mind boggling. Like a sitcom rerun with a new cast of characters. Bush/Harper, Obama/Trudeau, Trump/O'Leary.

It is of course argued that Canada is different. Currently we have three official parties in the House and, with just one stellar MP, a much stronger Green Voice on the national stage. There are two leadership races under way that could change our trajectory. But in the general election we have the same 'winner takes all' voting system that breeds an US versus THEM mindset. In order to impact change 'WE' have to win and 'THEY' have to lose. Winners rule. Losers languish.

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choosing a hopeful future

Good Sunday Morning,

coalsolar.jpgBefore the industrial age, almost everyone engaged in some form of activity that would contribute to the wealth of society. Farmers and farriers, miners and flour mill workers, shoemakers and fishermen, all combined their skill with a natural resource to create something that offered value to their families, neighbours and communities.

Then the industrial age made it easy to to redistribute that wealth. We pulled it out of the ground and out of the oceans with ever increasing efficiency, processed it in factories and shared it mostly through blue collar jobs. Henry Ford showed us how the economic benefits of primary production and resource extraction could ripple through society as a result of the multiplier effect. I remember an old coal miner coming into my computer store and peeling off 25 one hundred dollar bills. He could barely talk, for talking aggravated his black lungs and induced coughing fits, but he wanted to buy a better future for his daughter.

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people who get off the couch

Good Sunday Morning,

E16.jpgAs I walked into the office supply store I recognized the person intently focused on the photocopier. I was there to mail out the 2016 Tax Receipts. (Thanks to all of you who sent us your unsolicited donations last year.) Immediately a smile spread over my face. You see, Donnamae is sort of a legend around here. In her bashful, unassuming demeanor she has earned a reputation as a star canvasser, networker, volunteer, and all round fun person to be around. When Donnamae sees a street corner she recognizes an opportunity to hand out flyers. And that was precisely what she was doing on Friday.

After we shared our usual hug, her excitement about the petition that has exceeded 125,000 signatures just bubbled over. Moving from the photocopier to the paper cutter, she handed me one of the little flyers she was distributing. "There are only a few days left until the deadline," she explained. "And it's the biggest parliamentary petition ever!" Donnamae is quintessentially Canadian. Her deep modesty (she will be embarrassed when she reads this, sorry Donnamae) underlies a devotion and commitment to making our world a better place. It goes to the core of her being and inspires so many of us: "I can't just sit there. I have to do something!" 

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Two visions of our world

Good Sunday Morning,

Stuart_McLean.jpgStuart McLean has died. Like so many iconic Canadians, the legacy he leaves behind is larger than life. It's larger than Stuart himself because it spoke to so many at the deepest level. As Jess Milton shared in this As-It-Happens interview, "He never let facts get in the way of the truth... His stories connected us, to our country, to each other and to ourselves. He swam in our oceans, he rode our railways, he skated on our ice, and he told us our story over and over and over again until we could really hear it, until it felt really true." We will miss him.

Stuart McLean told us our story. Our story. Not the factual one that we all live day to day but the one we aspire to when we take the time to reach out to a neighbor, help a friend or touch a perfect stranger with our kindness. Stuart gave us permission to believe in a world of love, forgiveness and acceptance. It's a world that so many of us long for, especially in these troubling times when others use their pulpit to legitimize hate and bigotry.

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It's not too late...

Good Sunday Morning,

ER_Rally.jpgWhat does it mean to find new solutions? How committed are we to the trajectory of the past? Will our future be shaped by inertia or by innovation?

Andrew Coyne started his monologue with the insight that: "Anyone who ever proposes to change anything runs up against the unanswerable objection that this would mean, well, changing things." Real change is what Canada needs to stay ahead of the technological curve that is sweeping the globe. Yesterday thousands of Canadians from coast to coast took to the streets to express their disappointment and outrage about what history may well record as Justin's biggest miscalculation. Elizabeth spoke in Victoria.

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Protecting Canadian Democracy? Or Breaking Promises?

Good Sunday Morning,

“We’re going to watch Donald Trump rip apart everything that Barack Obama has put in place,” Kelly Carmichael, the executive director of Fair Vote Canada, was quoted in the The Walrus just after the US election. “That doesn’t happen with a proportional system. We watched the same thing happen here. The Liberals came in and they’re undoing what the Conservatives had done, and the Conservatives undid what the Liberals had done. It’s just incredibly ineffective policy making, and when you look at proportional countries you see continuity. There aren’t massive swings. You can vote people in and out, but a two percent difference in the vote doesn’t mean a wholesale change in government, which is what you see under winner-take-all politics.” As the article points out, "electoral reform is no longer just about improving our democratic interactions. It’s also a way to inoculate our political institutions against the virus that Trump’s election has unleashed—a virus that’s already crossed the border to us."

Elizabeth_Calls_on_Trudeau.jpgThis week the Liberal government has decided not to vaccinate our democracy against that virus; a reckless gamble at best and a capitulating return to old style, cynical politics at worst. "The Prime Minister and his Minister of Democratic Institutions broke their clearest election promise:" Elizabeth wrote in her weekly parliamentary review.  "To end First-Past-the-Post and install a new electoral system for 2019 that would ensure ‘every vote counts.’ I’ve written about Prime Minister’s Trudeau reckless, cynical decision here.

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Truth and Power

Good Sunday Morning

It's hard to believe that it's only been one week since Elizabeth gave her amazing speech at the Women's march in Victoria. You can hear Elizabeth describe her experience in this C-FAX interview. Every day the new president has signed executive orders that stunned people around the globe. How many of them will stand the test of time is up in the air but he's making his intentions clear. We have also already been introduced to Alternative Facts and the relationship between the press and the White House is already strained while the science community is feeling the heat. A second clip from this week's CBC science show tells us how Carl Sagan shared our concerns as his words went viral this week: "Science is more than a body of knowledge. It's a way of thinking."

LNG-Adam.jpgOn Tuesday evening many of us attended a presentation and discussion about the Malahat LNG plant proposed for the Saanich Inlet which was kicked off by a documentary film followed by a compelling presentation by Eoin Finn on the numbers and players behind this Fracked Gas facility. Adam Olsen makes it clear why this is a bad project. One of the new pieces of information I picked up was that Steelhead is planning to connect with a second fracked gas export facility near Port Alberni that is reported to be three times as large as any existing LNG facility. And we are asked to believe that turning our Salish Sea into a global hub for carbon fuel exports will not prevent us from meeting our Paris targets.

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Fairness and Respect

Good Sunday Morning,

this_is_china-m.jpgThis week a piece in the Globe and Mail reported that numbers don't lie.  China is investing $324 Billion in wind and solar over the next five years. That's more than the total capital investment of the entire oil and natural gas sector in Canada. So who is going to buy the expensive dilbit Kinder Morgan is hoping to build pipelines for? Here is the conclusion to the Globe and Mail piece:

"The rising global demand for renewables represents an opportunity for Canada to become a leading provider of clean technology. Our clean-technology sector is already generating exports and creating well-paid jobs while cutting greenhouse-gas emissions. Investments now being made in clean technology innovation, coupled with a road map for pricing carbon, position us to take a greater slice of this rapidly growing global market.

It is vital that we continue to support creation and adoption of new clean technologies in Canada, or we risk losing our competitive edge to countries that are fully committed to a low-carbon economy.  The rush for renewables is happening – and it will continue with or without us. In the long term, failure to embrace this transition really would be economic suicide."

So is it really about shipping low grade petroleum to China or is it all about trying to build confidence in a dying industry? The numbers don't lie. If oil prices go up, solar and wind will become even more attractive for investors. If oil prices go down, the oil sands simply can't compete.

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Town Halls, Tar Sands and the Salish Sea

Good Sunday Morning

Kinder Morgan and the Carbon Bubble

KM_BattlePC.jpgThe Kinder Morgan expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline can't be built. It makes no sense. Unless you need to keep the old story alive. Unless you need to keep inflating the carbon bubble.

“That’s what is so frustrating — nobody’s interests in this have been served,” Adam told CHEK news. “Not the environment, not people, not industry and the economic interests have not been served.” Adam stands strong in his opposition to this five fold expansion of tanker traffic and explains why the Salish Sea is particularly vulnerable.

Both Adam and Elizabeth were intervenors in the failed NEB process and with your support, they continue their fight to expose the misinformation surrounding this issue.

Economist Robyn Allan wrote last October that Governments are being dangerously mislead: "There is no market for Alberta’s heavy oil in Asia. If markets in Asia ever develop it will take many years and Asian purchasers are not going to pay a higher price for Alberta’s crude than it commands in North America."

And that price is now being undercut by solar. Protests and court cases are great tools to show opposition and slow down the process. But we should also remember to spread the news that this just doesn't make economic sense nor is it in the best interest of Canadians.

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