In this edition:

  • Rebuilding Our Democracy
  • Canada's Green Future
  • Upcoming Events

Rebuilding Our Democracy

iStock_000056183968_Double-web.pngIn the 2015 federal election, two-thirds of Canadians voted for parties that want to replace the archaic first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system. 

Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament (MP) for Saanich Gulf-Islands, discusses the issues with FPTP in her recent householder. Elizabeth points out that FPTP was, “invented back in the 12th century, when people thought the earth was flat”. Canada, the US and the UK are the only major democracies that still use FPTP.

The winner-takes-all approach of FPTP results in false majority governments in which the votes of many Canadians do not elect a representative. The last federal regime with a false majority dramatically reshaped our country to align with the former Prime Minister’s personal ideology. Canadians overwhelmingly want electoral system change.

Fortunately, the new federal government elected in 2015 committed to changing the electoral system. We have a historic opportunity to rebuild our democracy. Consultations with Canadians will begin soon. We can influence the decision of the all-party committee on electoral reform.

Canadians want to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to advise our government; however, many don't feel they have enough information. The Every Voter Counts Alliance has formed to explain the issues and the options. The Alliance includes members from across the political spectrum. One member group, Fair Vote Canada, has a wealth of resources on proportional representation (PR) and how PR means just that – the MPs elected actually represent the vote distribution. Every voter counts and our voices matter to a government that appears to be listening.

For another way to learn more about proportional representation, please join us for an interactive workshop, Making History - Rebuilding Our Democracy, sponsored by the Green Party of Saanich Gulf-Islands and Fair Voting BC. Click here for more information and to RSVP.


Canada's Green Future

pnw-lng-emissions-vs-cuts-cropped.jpgSome of the other positive changes Canadians want from government are evident in the 2016 federal budget. It's very encouraging that many initiatives that the Green Party of Canada presented in the pre-budget submission are in this first budget. There is increased funding for science, innovation, environmental protection and green infrastructure.

What's missing is decisive, comprehensive action to support the green economy by addressing climate change. 

The ‘business as usual’ economics over environmental action still permeates this budget. The discredited National Energy Board is unchanged.

Hopefully, the new government will hear and respond to our concerns with the recent federal approval of the environmental assessment of the Woodfibre Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) project. We will continue to encourage the federal government to fulfill their commitments to:

   * Consider upstream effects in the review of pipeline and LNG projects
   * Listen to communities and their concerns about infrastructure projects. 
   * Build better, respectful relationships with First Nation communities
   * Reduce global warming to 1.5oC

It is really either/or for Canada and BC to act on climate change. Neither level of government can continue to subsidize and promote the fossil fuel sector, generally, nor the non-existent 

BC liquefied natural gas (LNG) sector, specifically. 

The good news that the federal decision on the Petronas-backed Pacific NorthWest LNG project is deferred to cabinet. This gives us another three months to voice the many significant concerns about this project. The NorthWest LNG project alone would wipe out years of efforts to reduce BC's emissions.

Skeena_River_aerial_view.jpgThe science is clear on the climate impact from fracked LNG when the upstream emissions from fracking are included. The US now has strong evidence that fracking is not climate-friendly, "Our leaders thought fracking would save our climate. They were wrong. Very wrong."

It is also clear that the most directly affected BC communities oppose the development of a massive industrial LNG operation on the shores of the thriving Skeena River salmon ecosystem. The Lax Kw'alaams First Nations strongly rejected it. A new coalition of First Nation leaders and other community members have formed an alliance to stop development of Lelu Island, the proposed site for NorthWest LNG.

The risk of irrevocable environmental damage is high, as are the threats to human health and safety, and the economic benefits dubious

Marc Lee, Senior Economist for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives summarized all of the concerns that the Canadian government should consider in its environmental review of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project. He stated, 

“In lieu of recommending conditions [for] approval of this project, we must conclude that [it] violates the spirit and letter of the Paris Agreement, Canada’s greenhouse gas reduction targets and BC’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act (2007), and should be rejected.”

In response to a pointed question from Elizabeth May on the budget, Catherine McKenna, the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, is on the record saying that the government is revisiting the environmental assessment process. However, consider the elephant-in-the-room questions: Who will the federal government be listening to? Will the forces pushing LNG such as the Fraser Institute alumnus just appointed to the BC government ‘help’ with the decision?

We can counter this. We can continue to engage with this new Canadian government to take meaningful action on climate change. We can help them change course from the still subsidized fossil fuel sector and take greater steps to support renewable energy innovation and adoption. 

You can be part of the solution - wherever you live. Visit our web site at Take Action. Get involved. Volunteer. Join our Green Media Group. If you are already a Twitter user, check out our new feature called "Tweet 4 Canada". It's an easy way to s

upport the real change we voted for in 2015.

Upcoming Events

Making History - Rebuilding Our Democracy, Saturday, April 2nd, 1-4pm , Sidney
Experience fair voting at this interactive workshop. This is our time to be part of history. We can build a better democracy. Please join us for an engaging afternoon and experience fair voting in action. This is a non-partisan event co-sponsored by SGI Greens and Fair Voting BC.

Admission by donation, but please RSVP here as space is limited. Light snacks and beverages will be provided.

WhenSaturday, April 2nd, 1-4pm
 Mary Winspear Centre, Sidney, BC

Eiffel_tower.jpg"We Met in Paris - now what?" - Climate Change. Hot Times. Cold Facts. Wednesday, April 6th, 7:30pm, Sidney
Elizabeth May is the guest speaker at this event hosted by the Canadian Federation of University Women. Click here for more information and where to buy tickets.

WhenWednesday, April 6th, 7:30pm
Mary Winspear Centre, Sidney, BC

Planet_Ocean.jpgCreatively United for the Planet - Sustainability Showcase, Saturday, April 16th, 10am-5pm
The 5th annual Creatively United for the Planet event will take place over four days in four locations. See the event website for more details. 

The SGI Green Party is hosting a panel, film and discussion, facilitated by Adam Olsen, Vision for the Future of the Saanich Inlet. Please stop by - we will be there all day Saturday.

WhenSaturday, April 16th, 10am-5pm
 Royal Bay Secondary School, 3500 Ryder Hesjedal Way, Colwood, BC

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