Good Sunday Morning,
Desmond Bull, a councilor with the Louis Bull Tribe, tells us, "As First Nations and Canadian citizens, we need to take care of each other, take care of the land and take care of future generations." In the heart of Alberta's oilsands, Louis Bull Tribe now powers its daycare with solar energy. Together with Iron & Earth, Louis Bull helped train oil and gas workers with new skills for a renewable energy future.
“The Government of Alberta’s Renewable Electricity Program has tremendous potential to do these things and to increase Indigenous participation in the green economy." Local Indigenous leaders welcome a new energy program. “Every day, Indigenous peoples see the effects of climate change first-hand,” Treaty 8 Grand Chief Rupert Meneen says. “We need to stand up, be heard and take action on this issue because it impacts everyone. Working together, we can create a better life for everybody – Indigenous peoples and Albertans.”
The highly competitive opening round of the program attracted about $1 billion of private-sector investment in green power generation in Alberta. Building off that momentum, the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) is preparing to open the second and third series of competitions, which will add approximately 700 megawatts of renewable energy, or enough to power nearly 300,000 homes. And I just heard that down in Morocco there is a new solar installation that will use desert sun to supply electricity to two million Europeans.
Finally refining in Alberta - or at least upgrading
Meanwhile the Alberta government has announced it will spend up to $1 billion on a series of grants and loan guarantees to build two to five partial oil upgraders in the province. The government hopes the money will attract up to $5 billion in additional private investment and create 4,000 new construction jobs. Notley credits Peter Laugheed with this brilliant strategy and her minister confirms that by eliminating the need for diluent they could move up to 30% more product through existing pipelines.
Clearly we don't need Kinder Morgan to blow past our Paris Targets. As it is the Toronto Sun reports that a recently released federal report notes the gap between this government's commitments and the likely result of its policies has grown to 66 megatonnes — a 50% increase in just 18 months. Mike De Souza writes in the National Observer that current capacity already substantially exceeds the production forecast for 2018.
No need to apologize for defending our coast
I want to, but it's really hard to let go of this story when Rachel Notley spins her capitulation on the illegal wine boycott as BC backing down and then spews this kind of rhetoric: "If BC tries to pull a stunt like that again, not only will the wine ban come back, but so too will additional retaliatory measures." While BC clearly isn't backing down, Martyn Brown makes a good argument that George Heyman and John Horgan need to go all-in on this.
"Instead of letting Notley frame the public debate and British Columbians’ understanding of this issue, Horgan needs to make his case in public. He needs to ramp up public communications efforts with a full-blown public-information campaign, to let people know what is at stake from the risks of increased bitumen transportation and to directly engage all citizens in a public debate. The government has a whopping advertising budget. It should use some of that to communicate with British Columbians via television, radio, print, and social media to invite them into the “engagement” process. People need to see pictures of heavy oil spills, of the damage they cause, and of the threat they pose to the Burrard Inlet, to the Salish Sea, to our terrestrial habitats. They need to be reminded of the living reality of what is at stake, including to the endangered lives and ecosystems that strengthened regulations might help to avoid or minimize."
Antidote to Apathy
It's a great point and reminds me of this short TEDx talk on apathy. If governments genuinely want to engage the public their opaque processes need to become more transparent and they need to stop relying exclusively on the back room strategists to formulate their policies. There are other voices. Our Saanich Gulf Islands Green Media Group for example shares a lot of references on social media each week. Including how an alarming heatwave in the sunless Arctic winter is causing blizzards in Europe and how they can't find 30,000 liters of fuel that a Navy ship leaked into Georgia Strait.
Our volunteers also inform me that with a little help from our friends in Alberta we secured a 1984 supreme court ruling which confirmed that B.C., uniquely in Canada, does own its adjacent seabeds — in the Strait of Georgia, Juan de Fuca, Johnstone and Queen Charlotte, and that David Anderson, a Liberal MP and later Minister of Environment who fought against tankers on the West Coast back in the 70s now says this about claims that the pipelines are safe: "Trudeau should be called on this misstatement of fact that is actually worthy of Donald Trump.”
Remember that piece I covered last week about how various jurisdictions in the US are suing the oil companies? Well it seems the oil industry is fighting back with tactics that follow a well-worn pattern used by the fossil fuel industry and its allies; spreading doubt and misinformation to push the consensus on climate issues to the margins. Sound familiar?
The Federal Budget
Last week the Liberals tabled their budget and Elizabeth was appalled (starts at 5:00) that any consideration of the climate emergency was missing. The Green Party press release calls it a squandered opportunity. Of course, unlike budgets in countries where they have proportional representation, tabling the budget in a false majority government is just a formality. That's why, as Elizabeth points out in her interview with Don Martin, there is no transparency and do validation or supporting numbers for the all too familiar slight of hand. (For more of Elizabeth's fabulous work in the House don't forget to visit her week in review links)
Electoral Reform (and more)
That's maybe also why Martyn Brown started his oped last Tuesday with this proclamation: "I’m warming up to the idea of embracing proportional representation (PR) in British Columbia. There, I’ve said it. Sometimes you surprise yourself." After challenging the NDP on a number of shortcomings in the way they are handling the referendum on PR, he then undertakes a very thoughtful exploration of the lessons learned from the confidence and supply agreement between the NDP and the Greens.
"If what we have today is 'responsible government', it would be all the more so if those two parties had been awarded their fair share of seats, proportional to their popular vote. More than anything, the Gree/NDP alliance is an experiment in power-sharing. It is doing much to effectively represent the previously marginalized voices reflected by its constructive majority that is, above all, dedicated to advancing progressive change. It is giving new power and voice to all people concerned with the environment, social justice, social equality, and sustainable development. And it is doing that within a collaborative and constructive approach to government policy-making and decision-making that fits PR’s mould of “negotiation democracy”, “compromise democracy”, or “consensus democracy”.
After he goes on to admit that he voted against PR in the last two referendums, he lists the advantages he saw then in the first past the post system: “Advantages I am now newly questioning, in light of the more broadly representative example that is unfolding and working well in British Columbia, in contrast to the harm being done to our nation by its entirely too powerful and tone-deaf majority government in Ottawa."
It's a long and meandering piece which sort of reminds me of this Good Sunday Morning. But Martyn tells it like it is. He calls one leader after another out an the carpet before acknowledging that some politicians are showing leadership. "We need more fearless voices. Not politically expedient leaders who are more concerned with their party’s electoral chances in winning seats under FPTP than with saying what must be said. Indeed, of the national leaders, only federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May had the courage and conviction to stand up for British Columbia’s interests on Kinder Morgan when push came to shove.
"Only she was unwavering in her opposition to that project, as the others either supported Alberta’s unlawful actions to weaponize trade against B.C., or sat meekly on the fence. Time and again, Elizabeth May has been there for all Canadians—in Parliament, at the NEB hearings, in social media, in columns and editorials, and on the podium—to speak up for a sensible approach to sustainable resource development that is truly in the interests of our environment, our oceans and wildlife, and our planet’s atmosphere.
"Tell me one MP or MLA can’t make an important contribution. Like Weaver proved in his initially lonely quest, May is putting the lie to that assertion. We need more of that in Canada and in British Columbia. We need more of her ilk in politics, and more MPs and MLAs from opposition parties that want to work with the government, help shape its decisions, and also hold it accountable as need be. Minority governments can help foster that. So can proportional representation.
"That is precisely what Andrew Weaver, Sonia Furstenau, and Adam Olsen are all doing as B.C. Green MLAs, in partnership with Horgan’s entire NDP government caucus. Instead of fearing PR, I now see it as an opportunity worth embracing, if smartly pursued and democratically adopted."
Joining thousands to stand with First Nations
Right now we have to continue our steadfast resistance against the lunacy and hypocrisy of increasing our shipments of dilbit through our sacred waters. Justin Trudeau seems to be determined to come down on the wrong side of history by claiming that enhancing the profits of foreign multinationals and jettisoning our climate targets, is in Canada's national interest. Next Saturday we will join thousands to stand with the Tsleil-Waututh in Vancouver against Kinder Morgan. Please join us and bring a friend. Municipal, provincial and federal Greens are uniting with Dogwood, Greenpeace, Leadnow, and other champions like MP Kennedy Stewart to stand with First Nations to protect our coast. For information on how you can join us click here.
And while in Vancouver you can support Greens by joining Elizabeth and Wade Davis on Sunday at this reception and fundraiser. If you are still in Vancouver on Tuesday the 13th or if perhaps you live on the lower mainland, you can also join Elizabeth for a riveting discussion on Canada's role in a challenging time. Who We Are with Elizabeth May at UBC.
Why do we still have to protest this sh*t?
On Wednesday back in our own riding we have a very timely event indeed. The world has been frightened since Donald Trump became president and assumed the nuclear launch codes for the most powerful nation on earth. But this week, his buddy Vladimir Putin has surely escalated that fear by announcing the dawn of his new nuclear arsenal which includes underwater long range drones and nuclear powered drone missiles. Some dismiss it as mere showmanship but there is little doubt that the doomsday clock has moved closer to midnight once again.
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists puts the clock at 2 minutes to midnight. It has not been this close since 1953, the year the United States and the Soviet Union decided to pursue the hydrogen bomb. So it is fitting that on March 14th in Sidney, Dr. Jonathan Down and Dr. Mary-Wynne Ashford will be addressing the threat of nuclear war at our next Sustainable Living Series event. Learn what you can do to support the UN Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons. To reserve your seat please RSVP here.
Finally on March 17th we are pleased to invite our Saanich Gulf Islands Sustaining Donors to a special sustaining donor appreciation event with Elizabeth right here in Cordova Bay. If you are a sustaining donor you will already have received your invitation. And if you would like to become a Sustaining Donor and support our efforts to reinvent politics and foster more responsible government, you can do so by visiting this site.
I was asked three times this week, how I remain so positive. The short answer is that I would like this experiment of civilization to succeed. The longer answer has something to do with the buds on our apricot tree that are about to burst open and a hummingbird that has made its nest in the Douglas Fir tree just outside my office window. But mostly, I have the privilege of working side by side with so many wonderful volunteers who love this planet as much as I do. And that deeply inspires me.
So until next week, take good care of each other.
Thanks for reading,
"It is our job to work tirelessly for justice, for peace, and for a planet that can survive with a human civilization that thrives. This is the challenge that we take on as Greens." Elizabeth May, October 19th, 2015
This weekly missive is authored by Thomas Teuwen, our SGI EDA coordinator. Opinions expressed are his own. We welcome your comments and feedback. If you were sent here by a friend and would like to subscribe to our weekly email simply click here. You can also go to the archives section of our SGI website to read back issues. And if you are on twitter please join in on this hashtag.