Lyme Disease there Ought to Be a Law, and There Is!

Published in Vitality magazine May 1, 2015:

Readers of Vitality magazine will know that May is Lyme Disease awareness month. This magazine has done a real public service by educating people about Lyme disease for years. My own journey to understand the threat of Lyme disease started in 2007 when one of my neighbours in Pictou County, N.S. told me why she was in a wheelchair. It was not what I had ever imagined could happen from Lyme Disease. Brenda Sterling’s story really shocked me. She went from being healthy and active to being wheelchair-bound. And she told me it was because of a bite from a tiny tick. But what was most shocking was that, once she discovered the source of her illness – Lyme disease – the medical establishment in Nova Scotia did not believe her. “You cannot have Lyme disease,” they told her. “We do not have Lyme disease in Nova Scotia.”

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Budgets Through the Decades

Published in Policy magazine May 2015:

I have been going into lock-ups and reading budgets for years – and years.

I remember the first seriously green budget.  It was the Mulroney administration’s 1990 Green Plan - a five-year $3 billion commitment for forests, clean water, climate action and greener technology.

Next contestant for greenest budget ever was Finance Minister Ralph Goodale’s 2005 budget – $4 billion over five years for climate action, not including green municipal infrastructure commitments.  This was the budget that launched the gas tax as a commitment for cities.  And the climate component would have gotten Canada within shooting distance of our Kyoto targets.

Not in the running – even as a distant 65th greenest budget in Canadian history -- is Joe Oliver’s 2015 budget.  It was a flabbergasting moment this week when Environment minister Leona Aglukkaq claimed it was the greenest ever.  Maybe she counts on no one remembering a time Before Harper.

Remembering only makes it worse.

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2015: The Year That Must Change Everything

Published in Focus Magazine April 27, 2015

Having worked on the climate issue from 1986, back when it was a future threat, to present times, where it is the stuff of daily headlines, I have to admit that it would be easy to feel discouraged.  We have squandered decades that would have allowed humanity to avoid the climate crisis altogether.

Still, I am more optimistic now than I have been in the last nine years.  Nine years ago – 2006 -- was also a year that changed everything.

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Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices

Published in Island Tides March 2015:

Years ago, when my daughter was about ten years old, we visited my relatives in Charleston, South Carolina.  I had not seen them in years – cousins of my mother who live in one of the most beautiful cities in North America.  My daughter had no memory of ever having met them.  Charleston still holds to its old traditions and one of them is the St. Cecilia Society and the indoctrination of children at a young age to the terrors of ballroom dancing.

We went with a dear elderly first cousin of my mother to watch her grandchildren as they danced to a scratchy recording of the fox trot.  Little boys and girls wearing white gloves made their way in awkward couplings around the centuries old ballroom.  I wondered if my daughter was wishing she had such opportunities.   As soon as we were out of earshot, she said, “Oh Mommy! How awful.  All those sweaty little boys. Those white gloves.  How barbaric!”

Well. Once again, our personal style guide and arbiter of all social and cultural norms, Stephen Harper, rides to the rescue with Bill S-7, “Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act.” 

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Bill C-51 Harper's Police State Law

Published in The Tyee February 2015 :

Passing it means 'death of freedom' writes Green leader Elizabeth May, 10 February 2015,

I remember the events of Oct. 22. While I was in lock-down on Parliament Hill, I remember who hid in a closet and who ran toward gun fire. The guy in the closet is now planning to concentrate the powers of the state in his own hands while converting the Canadian spy agency into a secret police with virtually unlimited powers.

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Re-Engaging in the World - Canada has a short runway to prepare for COP21

Published in Embassy magazine March 18, 2015:

Globally, nations are engaging, with varying degrees of enthusiasm and ambition, in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the deadline negotiations set for December 2015 in Paris. It will be the 21st Conference of the Parties; the deadline for a workable comprehensive treaty.

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Silver Linings in Low Oil Prices

Published in Island Tides February 2015:

The Governor of the Bank of Canada Steven Poloz has dropped our interest rates to help avoid the threat of deflation.  In doing so he gave his judgment that the dropping price of a barrel of oil was unequivocally bad news for the Canadian economy.  Finance minister Joe Oliver has so lost his way in the face of a relatively minor fiscal impact of reduced oil prices that he has postponed the budget to April, or maybe even May.

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Climate Negotiations: A Long Road from Lima to Paris

Published in Island Tides January 2015:

On Sunday, December 14 at 3:30 AM the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP20) in Lima Peru limped across the finish line. The “official” adjournment had been scheduled for Friday afternoon.  The Peruvian Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal had chaired a session that attempted innovative approaches.  

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