Good Sunday Morning!
All I can think of this morning is the climate emergency. Tomorrow morning, John will take the earliest ferry to head to his farm in Ashcroft – now under evacuation alert. His daughter who has been living there is still in Vancouver recovering from heat stroke after being in the 50 degree C record-smashing temperatures at end of June.
With no one on the farm, John is heading back there to place sprinklers on the roof to do what can be done to protect the house in case the fire leaps the Bonaparte River to his family home. I remain unable to drive – or walk, for that matter. Dear friends are coming over to stay with me (so please do not worry about me!) I just worry about my husband, but he is smart and competent about disaster preparedness. Still, I cannot help but worry.
The climate emergency is now blaring an ear-splitting siren across British Columbia. The ten-year average for wildfires to this point in the summer is 209. This year we already have had 1100 fires. Mayors and others across the province are begging the premier to call a provincial state of emergency. Horgan continues to refuse.
The BC Coroner’s Office has still not determined how many of our fellow citizens died at the end of June in the heat dome. We know it will likely top 500 people. All people whose deaths were avoidable had the province acted quickly to provide cooling centres and warnings to citizens for steps that can be taken to avoid heat stroke and death. Heat dome warnings are now being issued from Idaho to Montana, the Rockies to the Prairies into Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Meanwhile, the climate emergency is dominating the news in Barrie Ontario, where tornadoes swept along a five kilometre path, causing catastrophic damage. https://www.theweathernetwork.com/ca/news/article/photos-ef-2-tornado-strikes-barrie-amid-powerful-storms-in-ontario
Looking at the photos, it is amazing that no one was killed. Meanwhile, 55 million Americans are under flash flood warnings this weekend. https://abcnews.go.com/US/55-million-americans-risk-flash-flooding-weekend/story?id=78899986
But the worst flooding has been in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. The death toll in Germany is now over 150 people.
“This is the climate crisis unravelling in one of the richest parts of the world — which for a long time thought it would be 'safe'. No place is 'safe' any more," tweeted German climate activist Luisa Neubauer.
The rainfall amounts smashed previous records. The Guardian reported: “Parts of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia were inundated with 148 litres of rain per sq metre within 48 hours in a part of Germany that usually sees about 80 litres in the whole of July.”
More rain in 48 hours than parts of Germany usually receive in an entire month – 54% more.
Yet, just when Greens are needed more than ever to call for the kind of “all hands on deck” the climate emergency requires, we are sidelined by internal debate and in-fighting. The leader has asked both of us MPs not to speak publicly about internal party matters. My recent surgery has been a substantial reason that I am actually not able to take on the long list of media requests that press on me.
But Greens in Canada are not alone in our values, our inherent differences from all other parties and in a structure that relies on grassroots democracy -- and which emphatically rejects the notion of leader as “boss.”
This week, after stunning electoral success across England in local elections, the co-leader of the Greens stepped down. Siân Berry, who has served as sole co-leader since Jonathan Bartley stepped down last month for unrelated reasons, resigned over a controversy relating to solidarity with the trans community. I am so dreadfully sad about this. Recently, I had done a zoom event with Siân in her campaign to win the Mayoralty of London. She is a terrific and inspiring Green. Summarizing the conflict, the Guardian reported:
“A vocal supporter of trans equality, Berry had said one of the first things she would do as mayor would be to set up a commission on the rights of trans Londoners. In her resignation letter on Wednesday, Berry said there had been significant disagreement with colleagues elected to the party’s frontbench team.
“She said the party’s democratic structure meant decisions could be made that leaders did not agree with and she felt it was irreconcilable with her own position.”
In explaining her decision, she reveals a lot about the nature of leadership among Greens:
“Failing to win the confidence of a majority of my colleagues to reflect these [inclusive attitudes] is also a failure of leadership….
“Green leaders do not hold power, but we do have a duty to influence, so I must apologise to you all for this failure and hold myself to account.”
That is leadership at its heart-breaking best.
In all the coverage of the latest controversy, former leader and the Greens’ only MP in Parliament, Caroline Lucas, is not quoted. Like me, I imagine she shed some tears at home. Former Green leaders, who continue to serve as MPs, need to do whatever we can to continue to support from behind the scenes.
It seems increasingly likely that we will be in a federal election very soon. Time to do whatever we can as grassroots Greens to hold on to each other and do our best for the issues that matter most.
Thank you for your continuing support at this difficult time,
P.S. We have some non-partisan volunteer opportunities in my Sidney constituency office. We need help with receptionist duties. If you are interested, please phone 250-657-2000. Thanks!!
And petitions to sign!
e-3348 Canada‘s alleged political interference in Haiti (closes July 29)
e-3408 Work with First Nations to immediately halt old-growth logging (closes September 8)
e-3483 Moratorium on deep seabed mining (closes September 9)
e-3398 Redefine our nation’s defence policy (closes August 25)