House Rules Matter (February 14, 2021)

Good Sunday Morning!

And a very Happy Valentine’s Day!

Here on Vancouver Island, we had an uncommonly large snowfall yesterday after a deep chill from the Polar Vortex that has gripped much of Canada.  Another reminder of the climate emergency generally missed by our nightly news and weather reports. 

How the warming of the globe impacts the Arctic – and vice versa- is still being researched.  What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic!  The warming waters that melt the ice, that reduce the albedo effect that result in a positive feedback to faster warming and more loss of ice also impacts global climate.  The jet stream used to move in a strong horizontal flow at mid latitude. It helped keep a sort of ring of wind at the poles, keeping the Arctic cold. As the temperature differential between cold Arctic and warmer equator begins to shrink, the jet stream wobbles.  Arctic blasts reach southern Canada, while the Arctic is far warmer than southern Canada.  I found this fairly clear explainer on the NOOA website of the US government. Good graphs and clear communication if you want to dive in:

https://www.climate.gov/news-features/blogs/enso/polar-vortex-going-make-you-put-sweater-be-afraid-be-very-afraid

Parliament did not sit this week, but first thing on Tuesday, I am going to be asking the Speaker for help.  The larger parties are preventing Green MPs from having any questions ever to the prime minister.   

When I was first elected in 2011, I had a question a week.  The questions for those of us not in one of the larger parties are always at the end of Question Period (QP), and we rotated through the week days. I never knew it was lucky that in 2011 the MPs not part of the larger parties were exactly five in number. A great number – one for every day of the week.

The ebb and flow of questions changed with additional Bloc members in 2015, still shy of the required 12 MPs to be considered a “recognized party,” but I still got a question a week.

All that changed after the 2019 election.  With only about 100,000 more votes than the Greens, the Bloc jumped to 32 seats. (We really do need to get rid of First Past the Post!)  And the Conservatives, Liberals, Bloc and NDP met secretly and decided that since Justin Trudeau had adopted the practice of answering all the questions asked on Wednesdays, no Greens should ever have a Wednesday question.  Ditto no questions for Jody Wilson-Raybould on Wednesdays.  For more than a year, I have been asking for an explanation from the Speaker – who says – go ask the other parties.  So I make the rounds of in-person chats – when that was possible - with each of the party house leaders.  No one will take responsibility or provide an explanation.  We have written all of them. No reply.

On January 27th, we held a press conference by zoom to make the situation public. https://www.greenparty.ca/en/media-release/2021-01-27/greens-go-public-objections-anti-democratic-actions-larger-parties

And some media began to ask questions of the other parties.  Althia Raj from HuffPost got an answer from Jagmeet Singh. To my deep shock, he claimed there was a rule and the rule was fair and that MPs from smaller parties should not be able to ask questions in QP.  Of course, just like the Bloc, back in the day when the NDP was below 12 seats, they argued for more questions in QP. But never in the history of our parliament has anyone suggested some MPs do not get questions in QP.  https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/green-party-question-period-slots-elizabeth-may_ca_601583e8c5b63b0fb2814483

Considering we had just shy of 1.2 million votes in 2019 and elected three members of parliament, the idea that our limited rights of participation should be further reduced by the bigger parties strikes me as profoundly anti-democratic. My last question in QP was on February 4th.  My next one is not until March 8th.  With Wednesdays pulled from the roster for questions for MPs who are independent or in non-recognized parties, there are only four days to divvy up.  And every time an MP gets booted from their caucus, they get a slot in the rotation.  So with Derek Sloan being given the heave-ho from the Conservative benches, Paul Manly, Jenica Atwin and I have less opportunity to ask a question.  What was four MPs a year ago – 3 Greens and Jody - is now eight as MPs face discipline in their own party.    Please keep your fingers crossed the Speaker will agree that we have the right to ask the prime minister a question – now and again.

I have a request that I hope you can take on board.  In addition to the notices in the post-script, I wanted to draw a government consultation to your attention.  The issue is very well explained in this article from FOCUS magazine:

Getting arsenic out of your garden - Earthrise - Focus on Victoria

The issue is of posts treated with a very nasty arsenic mixture called chromated copper arsenate (CCA).  CCA treated posts are still being sold in places like Rona, Slegg, and Buckerfields.  The arsenic can leach into soils and contaminate the veggies we eat. And some people do not know how such treated wood products must never – ever – be burned.  Thanks to Allan Galambos, who contacted me about this a few years ago, I have been pressuring the government to act.  Now there is a consultation with the Canadian Standards Association that ends on February 18. So please do send your comments and a call for tighter regulation to Kat Crew, Project Manager with the CSA,  [email protected].

Enjoy your valentine today – whatever it might be!! Cuddle with your favourite human, dog, cat, or if stuck alone in this awful pandemic – have some fair-trade chocolate and watch a schlocky romance on TV!

Tomorrow is family day!  So zoom it is!

Much love and thanks for all you do!

 

Elizabeth

 

P.S.

Amazing true story - the new leader of the Green Party of Alberta, Jordan Wilkie is the grandson of the legendary founder of Wardair, Max Ward.   Max Ward passed away in November and Jordan has a petition to have the Edmonton airport renamed in his honour. Please sign! The Petition: https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-2999

DEADLINE FOR COMMENT TO BC GOVERNMENT!

BC Government's Trans Mountain Expansion Reconsideration Engagement by the MARCH 1st deadline. You may already be aware of the above, but wanted to share this link to their webpage with the details just in case.

 

 

"Trees in the Wild" ZOOM event on the Great Bear Rainforest on Sunday, 07 March 2021 2:00 p.m. (pst).......registration is available on EventBrite.   Tickets

Tickets for Trees In The Wild - A Conversation About The Great Bear Rainforest can be booked here.


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