Good Sunday Morning!
Having left you last Sunday with news of wildfires around John’s farm in Ashcroft, I will start with the update. He is home safe, but it was scary and near thing for him to see the flames along the ridge across the Thompson River so close to his place. Having secured drip hoses, fire hoses and sprinklers in strategic locations, he had called at 9 pm Tuesday to say he did not see flames and it was just smoky.
That changed in the night, and the flames seemed far too close for comfort. He was up most of the night, wearing his respirator and packing. He loaded our electric car with as much as could be squashed in. He took his little Smart car and put more prized possessions in it and left it parked in a field farther from things that could burn. John stashed anything with gas in it, like the chainsaw and any jerry cans, as far from the house - and the Smart car - as possible.
This is true desert. There are no forested areas near the house to burn, and what could burn nearby was mostly consumed in the 2017 Elephant Hill fire that burned over 192,000 hectares. But the same could be said of Lytton and it is gone.
The nearby community of Spences Bridge has been under an evacuation order for the last two days. We have friends there. In fact, the Globe and Mail feature on Lytton and the fire there included a full-colour photo feature including the stories of people of Spences Bridge rallying round to provide free meals to the firefighters. The owners of the Packing House restaurant were front and centre. You may be familiar with Spences Bridge from Wendy Wickwire’s wonderful book At the Bridge: James Teit and an Anthropology of Belonging. James Teit was a remarkable anthropologist- not having an academic background but having married into the community, operated from a place of deep knowledge and respect. His writer’s cabin was home to a dear friend now living on Salt Spring. I really hope it is not to be lost. No one can stay there to defend it.
Climate emergency news continues to dominate from many corners of the globe. The severe drought is impacting crops from our Prairies to Russia to North Africa – with the Western Producer (not a climate aware publication) referring to the conditions as an “evolving disaster.” https://www.producer.com/markets/crop-markets-wake-up-to-evolving-drought-disaster/?module=under-carousel&pgtype=homepage&i=
Devastating floods this week have killed hundreds in China and India. https://www.scmp.com/topics/flooding-china https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/23/india/floods-landslides-maharashtra-intl-hnk/index.html
The UK is under a heat wave warning. In fact, it was the Met Office’s first-ever high heat wave warning in UK history. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/jul/20/heatwave-health-alert-for-england-extended-to-friday
One horrific disaster that I had not associated with the climate crisis may in fact be connected. The sudden collapse of the 12-story condo in the Surfside area of Miami may have been due, at least in part, to sea level rise and its corrosive impact, coupled with shoddy construction. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/miami-beach-building-collapse-climate-change-1191989/
And still, governments, provincial and federal, pile on the subsidies to fossil fuels. As John drove toward Ashcroft last Monday, driving up Highway 1, between Chilliwack and Hope and up the Coquihalla, traffic was delayed by the massive construction operations on the side of the highway. Hundreds of men and some women, huge pieces of equipment were at work building the Trans Mountain pipeline. It occurred to John as he raged internally at this irony, that we (the people of Canada) were paying for all this. It would have been ever so much more helpful if these enormous resources were redeployed to build fire breaks and protect communities. But, as Justin Trudeau has so frequently reminded us “The pipeline must be built.” Recently on CBC morning news with Stephen Quinn, Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson insisted that Canada had a duty to get our oil to other countries. You really have to wonder that they are thinking.
I know a lot of people are wondering – with a similar sense of disbelief – what on earth is going on in the Green Party. I wish I could offer more clarity. I wish I could stop this all from its continuing downward spiral. I believe that once the writ drops – whenever the writ drops- this will fade into irrelevance. That is what I told Jack Knox and I totally believe it to be the case. https://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/jack-knox-will-climate-fears-douse-flames-in-house-that-may-built-1.24344845
Meanwhile, I did issue a fairly long statement to contradict some of the less helpful rumours. I include it today as a postscript.
We have an election for the federal council taking place. Party rules prevent me from sharing endorsements in this little newsletter since it is published by the Saanich Gulf Islands EDA. If you are a GPC member, please remember to vote. And we also have policy resolutions to be considered. This week there will be policy reviews taking place for discussion. See below for links.
Be well and stay safe. I am excited for the two-week mark in my full vaccination status tomorrow. Will my daughter decide it is safe to hug me?? I sure hope so!!
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The links for the policy meetings this week are here. Be sure to log in to your Green Party account to view the proposals:
And here is my full statement from Tuesday, July 20:
I stepped down as leader of the Green Party less than two years ago, despite our best ever results in electing three MPs, knowing it was time for new leadership. That new leader is Annamie Paul.
I recognize, and totally supported Annamie’s decisions communicated early to me in her leadership, that she needed to take centre stage and become known as our leader. I agreed without hesitation to forgo press releases, joining her in news conferences, or holding my own news conferences. I confined my work to my role as a parliamentarian, which is far more than a full time job. This is a change I asked for – for myself and my family. Being a Member of Parliament and applying myself full time to the interests of my constituents, working with other Green MPs, has been my singular focus.
Rumours have prompted media to continue to ask for clarification if I am playing some role in party matters. I have no role – official or unofficial – in any of the Green Party governing bodies. Since the first weekend of October 2020, I ceased to be on federal council as I rotated out of the non-voting former leader’s spot and former interim leader Jo-Ann Roberts took that chair. I am no longer a member of federal council, voting, or non-voting, not ex officio or in any capacity. I am not a member of Shadow Cabinet. I am not a member of the GPC Fund. I am not a member of any sub-committees engaging our volunteers.
I am well aware that if I do or say anything about internal party matters, the impact of my comments would be over-sized. Indeed, in the leadership race, my positive comments about Annamie Paul caused significant attacks that I was somehow interfering. In light of the clear and lasting impact of having been leader for 13 years, I had no difficulty in accepting my leader’s wishes in not making any media comments. I will continue to refuse any media requests about internal party matters. I can provide no insights into recent events.
The only events that remain deeply troubling and about which I did have first-hand knowledge are those surrounding the loss of our Green MP from Fredericton. That loss is painful, but the misplaced anger, blame and name-calling that have followed it are doing even more damage than the event itself.
To be clear, I fully support the Green Party of Canada, our values and our constitution. Our leader is Annamie Paul and only our members have authority to call that into question.
We need to pull together for what appears to be an imminent election campaign.