Who's in charge?

Good Sunday Morning,

oil's_deep_state.jpgHas the federal government — along with certain provincial governments — been captured by Canada’s energy sector? That's a question asked by Bruce Livesey in this analysis published last week.

Bruce writes: "Kevin Taft, a former leader of Alberta’s Liberal Party (2004-08) believes so. He’s the author of a new book, Oil’s Deep State. 'In Canada, the fossil fuel industry has captured really key democratic institutions and in some ways has captured so many of them that it has formed what I call a deep state,' explains Taft. 'So democracy stops functioning for the people and begins to function first and foremost for the fossil fuel industry.

"Those who believe the oil industry has become a deep state point to how the political elites, whether Liberal, Conservative or NDP — from Justin Trudeau to Stephen Harper to Rachel Notley — go to bat for the industry, even if it means Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions rise and jobs are needlessly lost. Or how Canada has never forced the oil industry to curb emissions — even as the impacts of global warming become more catastrophic. And why Canada is highly unlikely to reach its targets under the Paris climate agreement.

He quotes Elizabeth May to underscore his point: “As things now stand, there is no chance in the world that Canada is aimed towards our Paris targets.”

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The impossible, made possible

Good Sunday Morning,

vandeglobe.jpgAlbert Einstein called it the biggest blunder of his life when he invented the cosmological constant to explain away something that was perceived as unimaginable at the time. Every religion or faith in human history finds its strength from something that appears on the surface to be impossible. Sailors in the Vendée Globe have survived impossible conditions, lashed to the rudder of their upturned sailboats with 50 foot waves washing over them for two nights and two days on the frozen sea of the antarctic ocean. Skiffs crossed the English channel to rescue 300,000 soldiers at Dunkirk when the prudent decision would have been to surrender to Hitler. We decided to put men on the moon with a fraction of the computer or navigation power contained in our smart phones today.

The impossible, made possible. The unlikely made inevitable. The dream willed into reality. Human civilization is built on this. And still, we are surrounded by what Becky Bond defines as "the counter revolution" in her book - Rules for Revolutionaries.

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You are probably right

Good Sunday Morning,

“Whether you believe you can change the world, or you believe that you can’t… You are probably right.”

Sea_of_Life.jpgLast weekend's retreat was filled with hope and confidence that ordinary people can organize and mobilize to make our world a better place. Greens from all over this country want to inspire Canadians to participate in our democratic process and help bring integrity back to politics. To face the challenges of our time we need to be honest with ourselves and with each other. We need to walk away from power politics and embrace the reality that we are all in this together.

Rob Stewart, a renowned Canadian film maker, before he died last year, taught me the true magnitude of our climate threat through his film "Revolution." He said this: "This is our task. It's not about are you going to be a doctor, a lawyer, a secretary. It's about how are you going to change the world?"

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There is a bargain that makes sense

Good Sunday Morning,

alberta_oilsands.jpgAs most of my readers know I spend my day on Saturday's writing this Good Sunday Morning blog. But today I was fortunate enough to be asked to participate in a fabulous, one day retreat with some of the leading minds of the Green Party of Canada. Elizabeth and the Campaign Advisory Group invited 27 of us to gather at a private home in North Saanich to explore and share the Green vision of a renewed politic as we approach the 2019 campaign.

It was an exhilarating and intense 24 hours that inspired us all to engage and replicate our enthusiasm in communities across the country. But alas, it left me little or no time to write this blog. So I am simply sharing a few interesting links with a promise to be more engaging next week.

First here is Elizabeth's week in review which includes this article in DeSmog entitled An Oilsands Bargain that Actually Makes Sense.

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Our National Interest?

Good Sunday Morning,

dirty_flag.jpgSo I'm standing in the departure lounge at Pearson International Airport waiting for my flight home to start boarding, when I hear commentators on CTV openly advocate on national television that "we just have to make the pressure on John Horgan unbearable." The piece then went on to cite the usual litany of untruths as a factual backdrop to this incitement of hatred.

  • "China will pay a premium for Alberta's bitumen"
    • In fact almost none of the "crude petroleum" shipped out of Vancouver last year went to China, there is no appetite for this dirtiest of "oils" when the world is swimming in light sweet crude. The much touted "discount" price for bitumen is the result of the low quality of dilbit and the landlocked nature of Alberta's resource. It has to compete with much more accessible and higher quality products from around the world.
  • "The pipeline has been approved based on a rigorous environmental assessment."
  • "Alberta needs access to markets"
    • Alberta has access to markets now and by Rachel Notley's own admission simply upgrading bitumen in Alberta would allow them to ship 30% more product through existing pipelines. Isn't that enough if we are to meet our Paris targets?
  • "Oil Sands Royalties pay for bike lanes"
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A new way of doing politics

Good Sunday Morning,

PEI.JPGShortly after clicking send on last Sunday's blog, I had the pleasure to facilitate a very special workshop with Greens in Fredericton. It resulted in one of the longest GreenStorming session I have ever had the pleasure of leading. We crystallized some powerful principles of community engagement and citizen participation. I was also invited to a discussion the next day in Nova Scotia and to lead another workshop on Tuesday in PEI. My little tour was made possible by volunteer contributions of air travel points from members of EDA 2.0. An ad-hock assemblage of Green EDA (Electoral District Association) leaders from across Canada, these folks are committed to a Green movement that champions integrity in politics and effective citizen engagement to build a better world for all.

Whenever I have an opportunity like this, to personally interact with Greens in other parts of the country, I am inspired by the common dedication we all have to reach beyond the partisan divides and embrace our common future with gusto. We recognize the urgency of our time and know that community engagement is the key to addressing the challenges we face in a fair and sustainable way.

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The Oligarchy and Canada's Carbon Debt

Good Sunday Morning,

Elizabeth.jpg"It's very hard to understand something if your job depends on you not understanding it." It's a quote I have often attributed to Al Gore but it actually is an adaptation of a quote by Upton Sinclair who said: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Sinclair wrote an account of a 1934 election where an "End Poverty In California" campaign turned that state upside down and almost won him the governor's mansion. He lost the general to a vicious media campaign but his quote lives on and remains true, almost a century later.

A recently uncovered report by a major oil company titled “The Greenhouse Effect,” states that the effects of climate change would be notable by the late 20th Century and early 21st Century. It cautions that by then it may be too late to reverse its effects. “With fossil fuel combustion being a major source of CO2 in the atmosphere, a forward looking approach by the energy industry is clearly desirable. By the time the global warming becomes detectable, it could be too late to take effective countermeasures to reduce the effects or even to stabilize the situation,” the report states. The Oil Company? Royal Dutch Shell. The date of the report? 1988.

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Corporate Bullying

Good Sunday Morning,

feeding_time.jpgMany traditions celebrate renewal this time of year. Often around a theme of calamity or hardship, followed by a sign of hope or rebirth. For some it's Easter. For others, it's Passover. For us, in our urban world, that hope manifests itself in a little nest perched on a waving branch of a Douglas Fir outside my office window. It started as a living Christmas tree planted in the yard about 20 years ago with tinsel still hanging from its boughs and now is almost 40 feet tall with the bark at its base just starting to crack in that tell-tale way that mature Douglas Firs do.

Mummer is what we call our resident hummingbird mama. She tried last year but her babies died and we had to bury them in the back yard. To our delight she came back this year and reconstructed her nest of lichen and spider's silk on the same branch, just three inches from where the old one was. Every day for the last two weeks she has brought joy and excitement into our lives with her simple, round the clock dedication to care for the next generation.

A few years ago I learned about the commitment that giant octopus make to their offspring here in the Saanich Inlet. The female finds a crevasse or small underwater cave and after crawling inside, pulls rocks up to seal the entrance. Then she lays 100,000 eggs and strings them up like bunches of grapes hanging from the ceiling of her nursery den. She guards them and cares for them tenderly for six months without eating. Then, just as the eggs hatch, she dies of exhaustion.

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Self respect is what we earn when we do the right thing, even though we could have done anything.

Good Sunday Morning,

Elizabeth_and_Kennedy.jpgWhat a week it's been. Where do I start? How about with something quintessentially Elizabeth.

The Arrests

“I feel in my heart that I’ve done the right thing,” she told reporters. “I’m just doing my duty in reconciliation [to Indigenous communities] and in climate action and on behalf of the constituents of Saanich-Gulf Islands who are vehemently against seeing our Salish Sea have seven times more tankers loaded with bitumen. This is a project that does not have the permission of British Columbians.”

RCMP officers asked Elizabeth, Kennedy Stewart and other protesters (including Tom, Marcelle and Alexis, volunteers from our own Electoral District Association) to step away from the gates. When they refused, Mounties told them they were under arrest. Elizabeth locked arms and chatted with the officers as she was led into a tent set up by RCMP as a processing centre.

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Solar for $10 a barrel equivalent

Good Sunday Morning,

Canada is missing outAs if on cue, Catherine McKenna and Jim Carr tag teamed their talking points here in BC last week, to entrench the spin around their version of our "national interest". Of course Elizabeth set the record straight in this rebuttal on CBC's, The Early Edition: "We have to be much bolder. If we're serious about our kids having a livable world, building fossil fuel infrastructure in 2018 is a sign of deep negligence, which is the kindest thing I can say about it." But that won't dissuade the Energy Minister of Texas and his newly indoctrinated sidekick.

The talking points about access to world markets was debunked somewhat in the piece I wrote last week. This week, with the help of many of you who have submitted the stories that follow, I want to take a look at that world market and see where it is headed. So hold on to your suspenders and let's take a little trip.

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