In this edition:
- Take Action for A Merrier Year Ahead
- Take Action for Electoral Reform!
- Upcoming Events
Take Action for A Merrier Year Ahead
A huge thank you to all who attended, or helped others to attend, the Special General Meeting held in Calgary on December 3 and 4.
Saanich Gulf-Island Greens can be grateful, not only for our wonderful leader and MP, Elizabeth May, but also for the incredible efforts of our own Thomas Teuwen who inspired many participants from SGI and across Canada with his Unity Tour. Thomas encouraged us to be positive and take bold steps to keep building a Party we can proudly support as a real alternative to business-as-usual politics.
The success of the meeting reflects the hard work by the meeting organizers and the passionate dedication of Party members to walk the talk of Green Values. Elizabeth May described the origin of Green Values in her keynote address in Calgary. Then the meeting participants put the Green Values into action, achieving far more than many of us had thought possible.
On the first day of the meeting, it did not seem quite so promising, more of an example of the saying about policy and sausage (i.e., you don't want to see how either is made). The next day, however, was a beautiful example of the power of working towards consensus. Read Elizabeth May's comments on the meeting here.
In Calgary, members of the Green Party of Canada clearly re-committed to consensus-based decision-making. There was positive action on a surprising number of key issues - strong support for Indigenous rights, including repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery; a new resolution adding to our long-standing policy seeking peace in the Middle East with a balanced approach for the complex challenges faced by Israel and Palestine; an affirmation of proportional representation; and the first bold steps down the path to an improved process for policy proposals and directives.
Now to make this stick - all members of the Green Party of Canada are asked to support the decisions made in Calgary via an online ratification vote. Email notification of the vote went out December 7th with the subject line '2016 Online Special General Meeting'. The email has a link to the ratification ballot plus a unique password.
Elizabeth urges all of us to please vote in favour of the resolutions passed the Special general Meeting in Calgary! Voting is open until February 6, 2017.
Take Action for Electoral Reform!
Many Canadians want the federal government to keep the election promise of electoral reform but the government appears to be wavering. Let's show our support for the hard work of the special parliamentary committee (ERRE) on electoral reform and our support for change. Let's send a crystal clear message to the federal government - we want proportional representation!
One immediate way that you can help is to complete the online survey by the government that is now underway, at https://www.mydemocracy.ca/. All Canadians were notified of this survey via postcards. Seize this opportunity, encourage others to do the same, and share your opinions broadly.
Although some of the survey questions are misleading, we encourage you to respond. Fair Vote Canada has more information on the survey and its limitations. Check their website here to decipher the survey: the myths, the traps and the facts.
To help ensure that the government receives a tidal wave of interest in electoral reform, our fellow Greens in the Barrie-Innisfil riding, led by CEO Bonnie North, had a brilliant idea - an action kit called "Operation Postcard". This link takes you directly to great ideas and useful tools that you can use to bring people together and make our voices heard via the online survey, social media, letters to the editor, and more. They even have an alternative postcard with 'I want Proportional Representation - Please Keep your Promise! that you can print and mail to Prime Minister Trudeau or Minister Monsef.
And, wait, there's more! There is another survey from the GPC where you can provide more feedback to the federal government. Let's encourage all Canadians to let them know that we really do care about improving Canadian democracy!
The future really is in your hands!
Just in case you thought Elizabeth May might be slowing down after the herculean effort for electoral reform, here is her MP town hall schedule for January 2017. Please note - these are non-partisan events for all Saanich Gulf-Island constituents.
Please share this newsletter! Let us know what you think.
In this edition:
- Canadians Ready for Electoral Reform, Really
- What's at Stake
- Take Action!
- Upcoming Events
Canadians Ready for Electoral Reform, Really
The Special Committee on Electoral Reform (ERRE) just finished their public meetings (in every province and territory across Canada). Our MP Elizabeth May pointed out that the ERRE committee set the record for public consultation. Canadians have an historic opportunity to revamp our electoral system.
Elizabeth participated in all 46 ERRE meetings, 17 on the road. Our local Green Media group joined in virtually, kept us up to date, and gave the Committee a rousing welcome at the Victoria airport. You can add your voice to the discussion by letter writing, emailing, calling, or tweeting, all 30 cabinet ministers.
ERRE committee members of all political stripes agree that meeting participants overwhelmingly support proportional representation (PR). The Green Party of Canada supports PR, the NDP support PR, and over 89 per cent of experts who testified at ERRE meetings recommend PR.
Unfortunately, from the get go the Conservative and Bloc Quebecois ERRE committee members insisted that a referendum is needed before any change to our voting system. Conservative held 'household' votes over the summer, and lo, in response to their survey found 90 per cent support a referendum.
This reveals the problems with a referendum - it is highly likely that partisan politics will affect the results. Previous efforts in BC and elsewhere show that a complex or biased referendum question will result in a vote against PR. Experts say that is not realistic to expect voters to be positive about something that they have not experienced.
It is also clear that the government can legally proceed to change the electoral system without a referendum, that a referendum would be costly ($300 million), and effectively make it impossible to implement any reforms to the voting system in time for the next federal election.
Fortunately, when Prime Minister Trudeau recently appeared to be waffling on the election promise to change the electoral system, claiming that Canadians don't need change since they are happier with the current government, he was vigorously challenged.
So, what's next? The ERRE Committee report will be given to the government December 1 and we shall see. There is one more chance to speak with Minister Monsef (see Upcoming Events below).
Stay tuned! Contact us if you would like to join the Green Media group and encourage the Liberals to honour this promise to Canadians.
What's At Stake
The ongoing problems with the majoritarian, first-past-the-post system continue to plague Canada. In a nutshell, once elected a majority government can simply do what it wants, with little or no debate or input from the other elected representatives. Canadians thought the Liberals would behave differently than the Conservative, but no.
A few recent examples of why majoritarian governments do not serve us well:
Bill C-51 This highly controversial legislation, introduced during the Harper regime, is a good example of what can go wrong with a false majority. Although the Liberals did support the bill when introduced in 2015, they also said that they would 'fix it'. But now that they can, they haven't. Elizabeth May led the opposition to the bill and has a wealth of information on why this anti-terror bill actually makes us less safe.
The government launched an online consultation with Canadians on security. Let them know Bill C-51 has to go!
'Pretend' Action on Climate Change In complete contradiction to meeting the Paris Accord agreement to keep warming below an increase of 1.5 degrees C, the Canadian government kept Harper's woefully inadequate targets.
And, worse, Canada will not even meet these if projects such as the Petronus Liquefied Natural Gas project, the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, and Energy East proceed. Recent federal approval for the Petronus project is nothing short of shocking. It ignores the science, the economics and the environmental impacts.
A New Relationship with First Nations The investigation into missing and murdered Aboriginal women is a good sign. But the recent federal government approvals for the Site C dam on the Peace River in BC are in stark opposition to any claim for a more respectful relationship with First Nations. Indigenous leaders gave the federal government a failing grade for their empty promises.
We don't need any more evidence that democracy in Canada needs help. We need and deserve a government that governs based on fair representation, evidence, and consensus.
The wise council of Elizabeth May is needed. The Green Party of Canada is needed.
The GPC must provide a compelling example of the positive power of consensus-based decision-making but it is at a cross-roads: The recent policy change to use Robert's Rules of Order is a mistake that undermines our credibility.
If you are a GPC member, please vote 'No' to ratifying resolution G16-C008 so we can return to the Green Rules for policy development and decisions.
The future is in your hands!
Get the latest on Upcoming Events in Saanich Gulf-Islands by clicking here.
Meeting with Minister Maryam Monsef on Electoral Reform, Thursday Oct 29, Victoria
One more chance to let Minister Monsef know how important proportional representation is to Canadians!
There is a special roundtable from 3-4 pm to hear from seniors on the issue of electoral reform, plus an open session from 7-9pm.
When: Thursday, October 27, 3-4 pm, 7-9pm
Where: Harbour Towers Hotel & Suites 345 Quebec St., Victoria
3-4 pm Saanich Room 205
7-9 pm McKenzie Rom
Town Hall with Elizabeth May on Bill C-51 and National Security, Tuesday Nov. 8, Victoria
Elizabeth May will be hosting a town hall to discuss Bill C-51 and Canadian national security.
This is a non-partisan event open to the public.
When: Tuesday, November 8, 7 pm
Where: Room B150, Bob Wright Centre, University of Victoria, Victoria
An Evening With Maude Barlow, Sunday Nov. 20, Sidney
This event is part of the Saanich Gulf-Islands Eminent Speakers Series. It is a special opportunity to hear from Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, best-selling author, and activist for a discussion on Canada's water crisis. Seating is limited - you can buy your tickets here. Doors open at 6:00pm.
When: Sunday, November 20, 6:30 pm
Where: SHOAL Centre, 10030 Resthaven Dr., Sidney, BC
Special Meeting of the Green Party of Canada - Dec. 3-4, Calgary
This is an important opportunity for Green Party of Canada members to discuss:
1. The recommendations of the Special Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reform.
2. Policy resolutions passed at the August 2016 Convention which did not achieve consensus.
When: Saturday and Sunday, December 3-4
Where: Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, 1301 16 Ave NW, Calgary, AB
Please share this newsletter! Let us know what you think.
In this edition:
- Electoral Reform - Fast Facts
- Take Action!
- Upcoming Events
Electoral Reform - Fast Facts
Canadians have wanted to improve electoral system for decades. Now is our chance! A few points to consider:
Fact #1 We Need to Improve Our Voting System
The status quo isn’t good enough for democracy in 21st century Canada.
The old ‘if it ain't broke, don’t fix it' only applies if all is well, but as Canadian journalist Andrew Coyne points out, all is not well with our electoral system.
Our current first past-the-post (FPTP) system is an antiquated majoritarian, winner-take-all approach that fuels partisan politics. The reality TV show election south of our border is an interesting illustration of the divisive politics that are encouraged by FPTP.
The Broadbent Institute's submission submission to the Special Committee on Electoral Reform is another excellent summary of why electoral reform matters or you can watch Mr. Broadbent’s presentation on August 29 (starting at 7:04). He comments that a survey of Canadians right after the 2015 election discovered, “46 per cent voted for a party that was not their first choice”, so-called strategic voting for the party most likely to win to prevent a worse outcome.
Fact #2 Having Proportional Representation Matters
This is our chance to make history! A truly representative democracy is within reach.
The FPTP electoral system has led to over a dozen federal governments with false majorities, that is, governments with all of the power elected by less than a majority of votes. The current majority Liberal government was elected in 2015 with 39.5 per cent of the actual vote; the votes of over 9 million Canadian voters did not elect a representative.
One of the best (or worst) examples of the distortions caused by our FPTP system is the 1993 federal election. The Liberals gained a majority government with 41 per cent of the vote, the Progressive Conservative’s held onto only 2 seats with 16 per cent, and the separatist Bloc Quebecois party became the official opposition with 13.5 per cent.
We can make Canadian history by supporting a more representative, fair electoral system. The time is now!
Fact #3 Proportional Representation Will Not Lead to Chaos
PR is working just fine for the democratic countries that use it.
Misinformation about PR is surprisingly common. Some suggest that it leads to extremist views having disproportional influence or that progress is paralyzed by the need for consensus.
This is neatly dismissed in Andrew Coyne: No, proportional representation would not turn Canada into a dystopian hellhole.
* More stability by governments without polarized swings from election to election.
* Greater fiscal responsibility.
* More women elected.
* Less income inequality.
* Greater cultural and ethnic diversity.
* Better environmental protection.
Fact #4 Canadians Are Being Consulted
You can attend public sessions, watch the presentations, and send your thoughts to the Special Committee on Electoral Reform.
Elizabeth May is a full voting member of the Committee, actively championing a better, more fair system for Canada.
The Committee is intensively studying options and reviewing submissions from Canadians. Different electoral systems, online voting, and more are being carefully considered. The Committee has just started an intensive two-month schedule of consultations across Canada. Click here for the full schedule.
For more information and the latest news from the Committee, see our blog on the Special Committee on Electoral Reform.
Fact #5 Changing Our Electoral System is Not Too Complicated
We have a great Special Committee on Electoral Reform receiving submissions from experts from around the world.
The Committee goal - to recommend the best system for Canada. Watch the testimony presented to the Electoral Reform Committee.
* To keep up with Elizabeth's work on the Electoral Reform Committee, check our blog.
* To support Elizabeth on social media, see Tweet4Canada.
* To do more, see the Green Party of Canada's Electoral Reform Toolbox. It has sample letters, petitions, handouts, and images to use on social media.
In this edition:
- Good News for Canadian Democracy
- Food for Thought
LNG Processing Facility in Saanich Inlet
- Upcoming Events
Good News for Canadian Democracy
The Special Committee on Electoral Reform finally began its important work at its first meeting June 21. The Liberals no longer have a majority on the committee, Ms. May is recognized as an equal voice and is clearly respected by her colleagues on the committee (see the first meeting video here).
Now Canada's hardest working MP, Elizabeth May, will be busy this summer helping to develop recommendations to strengthen Canadian democracy and ensure the composition of parliament reflects Canadian votes. In this recent CTV interview, Elizabeth discusses the importance of the Green Party of Canada to help parliament and why changing our electoral system will benefit us all. Stay tuned!
For more information on electoral reform, why it is so important and how virtually any version of proportional representation would be better than the first past the post system, visit the Fair Vote Canada website here.
Food for Thought
Summer is here and the bounty of local food is marvellous. Ripe, sweet berries of all sorts, fresh vegetables, and luscious cherries abound. We are so fortunate in BC. We can produce over 250 foods and approximately half of what we need in the province, all from a relatively small amount of agricultural land. Yet as the global population grows and wildfires and drought in California and elsewhere affect food production, it is clear that we must become even more self-reliant.
With this in mind the deliberate loss of over 13,00 hectares (32,000 acres) of valuable farmland in the Peace River Valley is a questionable move. This is the area that will be flooded by the construction of Site C, the 3rd hydroelectric dam on the Peace River. The permanent flooding and erosion of arable land, a breadbasket that could grow enough to feed a million people, is a high price to pay for a megapower project that many question for many reasons.
The electricity is not needed. Electricity demand in BC is declining; we may never need the proposed extra 1,100-megawatts power. The power required for natural gas fracking in north eastern BC is not (hopefully!) going to increase. The economic rationale for aggressive development of this industry in BC has faltered with the global glut of natural gas. And more of us are questioning the logic of investing $9 to 12 billion of taxpayers’ money on a mega hydro project that will decrease our food security.
Head of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, stated it bluntly, "Site C is a make-work project intended to hide the failure of Premier Christy Clark's "pipe dream" of creating a liquefied natural gas industry".
The Green Party has long opposed Site C for environmental reasons and to honour First Nations treaty rights. Please consider supporting groups with campaigns opposing the Site C dam, such as the Wilderness Committee and Leadnow.ca.
LNG Processing Facility in Saanich Inlet
On May 31, over 600 people attended a public meeting in Sidney hosted by the District of North Saanich on the proposed Malahat/Steelhead LNG (liquefied natural gas) processing project. Audio recordings of the meeting and all presentations are available here.
The panelists included Chief Don Tom, from the Tsartlip First Nation, but representing the four peninsula W̱SÁNEĆ First Nations; Frank Whitney, Emeritus Scientist for Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Dr. Eoin Finn, Retired Partner KPMG; Alex Brigden, Steelhead LNG Project Director for Steelhead; Renee Racette, Malahat Nation CEO; Dr. Robin Pitblado, VP DNV Energy North America; and Gordon Wilson, the Buy BC LNG advocate.
The panel moderator did his best to ensure civility, but many attendees found the project proponents' information vague. Gordon Wilson's outbursts were disconcerting. In response to Dr. Finn's presentation, Mr. Wilson said that he has travelled to 35 communities in BC including 15 First Nations and "none of them believes what you just heard from Eoin Finn" and "it's not even good science fiction". He also stated that he "doesn't go as an advocate for LNG". Mr. Wilson has received an annual salary of $150,000 from BC taxpayers since 2013, a contract the provincial government has recently extended until 2018.
It was a very different atmosphere at the LNG town hall for constituents hosted several days later by Elizabeth May in the same venue. No security checks required, questions and comments welcomed.
At this meeting, one audience member identified what may be the real reason for the Malahat/Steelhead LNG project - the opportunity for the US-based company Williams Companies to circumvent US regulators, who have denied all efforts to build LNG plants on their west coast. The Steelhead project would need an undersea pipeline from Cherry Point in Washington State to the Island to deliver the high volumes of natural gas for the energy-intensive liquefaction process (900 million cubic feet of natural gas per day).
The audience member pointed out that the proposed pipeline is actually an extension of Williams’ vast US network, plus their connection to the Spectre pipeline in BC. It would be hard to dictate to any company where to source their product, so the gas could just as easily come from Williams’ refineries in the fracking fields of the American Midwest. Further, if regulatory approvals are obtained for this pipeline, any future attempts by BC or Canada to change regulations for LNG (since we have few) or restrict its export, could be challenged under NAFTA (or other investor-state protections).
Regardless of corporate motivations, any industrial development in the Saanich Inlet would be a foot in the door for more projects.
Saanich Gulf-Island residents can learn more about the hazards of LNG on the BC coast here. For specific information on the Steelhead/Malhat LNG proposal, see this blog and video by Adam Olsen, Deputy Leader of the BC Green Party.
To take action, join the second Paddle for the Saanich Inlet on July 9 (see Upcoming Events below). The event is to celebrate the beauty of the inlet and show solidarity with those opposed to the Steelhead LNG project.
Paddle for the Saanich Inlet II, July 9, 2-6pm, Brentwood Bay BC
The Saanich inlet Network is organizing another paddle to celebrate the Saanich Inlet and raise awareness of the proposed 6 million tonne LNG (liquefied natural gas) processing facility. For more information and to RSVP, please click here.
Where: Brentwood Bay, BC
When: Friday August 5 to Sunday August 7
Where: Delta City Centre, Ottawa
In this edition:
- Keep It In the Ground
- Liquefied Natural Gas in Saanich Inlet?
- Upcoming Events
Keep It in the Ground
Enthusiastic participants and 'kayactivists' from Saanich Gulf-Islands, Victoria and beyond joined the protest May 14 against the twinning of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline in Burnaby. The protests were part of the ‘Keep it in the Ground’ civil disobedience all over the globe urging governments to take meaningful action against climate change by stopping fossil fuel subsidies and development.
The message was loud and clear! Canadians will not accept the National Energy Board's (NEB) business-as-usual approval for every fossil fuel development project and diluted bitumen pipeline. Nor will Canadians accept the misinformation in mainstream media - it is not difficult to find the truth about Kinder Morgan's track record with spills and their ongoing, successful efforts to avoid paying taxes in Canada.
“These pipelines are not nation-building projects. They are catheters designed to drain a giant pool of carbon as cheaply as possible, so oilsands companies can keep the lights on for a few more years.” Kai Nagata, Dogwood Initiative
The new Canadian government gives the appearance of listening. It’s not clear, however, whether or not Minister Carr’s additional review process for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain project will respond to community, scientist, and First Nations objections.
There is no doubt, however, that the citizens of Saanich-Gulf Islands and beyond will continue to protest. We do not support the investment of our tax dollars in petro projects that undermine positive action for the climate. And we do want to join the 21st century clean energy revolution.
Liquefied Natural Gas Processing in Saanich Inlet?
On the other side of the Salish Sea, Saanich Gulf-Island citizens are concerned about yet another fossil fuel development scheme that makes no sense - the Malahat LNG project in Saanich Inlet. Residents of Brentwood Bay, Saanichton, North Sidney, and Sidney are filling the rooms at information events hosted by the project proponents, environmental organizations, the newly formed Saanich Inlet Network, and local governments.
The proposed LNG processing facility for the Saanich Inlet is a significant industrial development in a fragile ecosystem. Every 3 to 5 days, a LNG gas tanker would dock up to the LNG processing plant consisting of three massive floating platforms, fill up and leave the Saanich Inlet. The LNG facility would not be responsible for the pipeline coming to it, nor the tankers leaving for Asia.
There are compelling economic and environmental arguments against the Malahat LNG project. Many people believe it could never proceed. Yet the NEB has already approved an export permit for 6 million tons of LNG per year from this proposed facility.
The federal approval of the Woodfibre LNG project in Squamish and the continued efforts of the pro-LNG BC provincial government to promote an industry that should be considered dead in the water are reasons to pay close attention to Malahat LNG. For detailed information on this proposal, check the Saanich Inlet Network website.
Concerned? Then see you tonight at the North Saanich Town Hall on Malahat LNG. On Friday, share your thoughts on LNG with Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament for Saanich Gulf-Islands at her Town Hall for all constituents. Ms. May will discuss LNG development in BC, including the widely-criticized Petronus LNG project that threatens Lulu Island and the Skeena River. For more information on the LNG town hall, click here or see Upcoming Events below.
To read more about LNG, click here to see the Summer Newsletter from our MP, Elizabeth May. You can also fill out a survey about LNG here.
Public Information Meeting on on Malahat LNG Project, May 31, 5 pm, Sidney
The District of North Saanich hosts a public town hall on the proposed Malahat LNG project. There will be seven presenters in attendance representing opposing positions on the project. The panelists will include Steelhead LNG's Project Director, Tsartlip First Nation Chief Don Thom and Eoin Finn, an LNG expert from Squamish, BC. For more information click here.
Where: Mary Winspear in Sidney, BC
LNG Town Hall with Elizabeth May, June 3, 7pm Sidney
Elizabeth May, MP for Saanich Gulf-Islands, will host a Town Hall meeting on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) with panelists retired scientist Dr. Eoin Finn and author Andrew Nikiforuk. A discussion and Q&A led by Elizabeth will follow the panel. Elizabeth and the panelists will discuss the increasing prominence of LNG in British Columbia, and specific proposals that have the potential to affect local residents. At the moment, there are 19 LNG proposals across BC, including the Woodfibre LNG at the head of Howe Sound and the proposal by Steelhead LNG for the Malahat LNG processing project in Saanich Inlet. For more on LNG click here to read Elizabeth's recent community newsletter.
When: June 3, 4 and 5
Where: University of Victoria, Victoria, BC
In this edition:
- Fossil Fuels - the Economic Myths
- Take Action!
- Upcoming Events
Fossil Fuels - the Economic Myths
The decline and fall of fossil energy is happening now, including ongoing court action against some of the biggest players for misleading their shareholders about the impacts of climate change. Climate change deniers are switching from their tactic of confusing and distorting climate science to 'economic' arguments. A few points to counter some of the economic myths:
Myth #1 Canada’s economic survival depends on the fossil fuel industry
"We just have to get fossil fuels to market – we need new pipelines."
No, the economic argument for new pipelines has crumbled. The fossil fuel industry and the government of Alberta want us to believe that lack of market access is a major factor in the decline of the Canadian oil and gas industry. It’s just not true. From the industry's own estimates, the low growth scenario (which now appears overly optimistic) will not need the four proposed pipelines.
There is a global surplus of oil. There are even supertanker traffic jams. And the kicker? The International Energy Agency says that Canada already has enough surplus capacity for additional Canadian exports to Asia without the construction of the Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway or TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline.
There is no economic justification for more mega projects. A former executive in the fossil fuel industry, Ross Belot (see his full article in iPolitics here) says the moment for new pipelines has passed, “Money spent on a pipeline right now would be money wasted. There are no new markets – there is no need for Energy East – not now, not years from now."
Myth #2 There are no replacements for the high-paying jobs from the fossil fuel sector
No, opportunities in green jobs are growing, especially for solar energy. A new organization, Iron and Earth, started by an oilsands pipefitter, wants to retrain oil sand workers for green jobs. The provinces that are leading in job creation are not dependent on energy production.
The Leap Manifesto introduced in late 2015 points out how a “complete and economically-beneficial transition toward renewable energy is feasible within the next two to three decades”. It’s practical; it’s doable. Canada, once a leader in clean technology, has fallen behind.
As the Green Party of Canada has pointed out for years, the low-carbon economy is not only possible, it’s happening all around the world.
Myth #3: Fast-tracking carbon reduction policies will divide Canada regionally
No, people across Canada, in all industries, want to move to a green economy. A majority, 70 per cent, of Canadians want to see a price on carbon. The change is happening, in spite of the massive lobbying (over $150 million a year) by the major fossil fuel companies, to oppose effective climate change policies. In her recent talk in Sidney, We Met in Paris - now what?" - Climate Change. Hot Times. Cold Facts. Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament for Saanich Gulf-Islands, politely pointed out that both the mainstream media in Canada and the Canadian civil service are out of the loop on climate change.
The real news is out there despite Postmedia’s agreement with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers to provide positive messaging about the fossil fuel sector and intense lobbying. 'News' from a biased media (including outright misinformation) and advice from a civil service compromised by ten years of climate denial by the Harper regime may not be providing Canadian leaders with the best information.
Myth #4: Renewables are not economically practical. They can't just replace fossil energy.
Actually, yes they can. Money talks and it’s saying 'yes' to investments in renewable energy and other sustainable technologies. Most major economies, with the sad exception of Canada, and even fossil industry members are increasing their investments in renewable energy. In 2015, $286 billion was invested in renewables, an all time high and much more than the $130 billion in the fossil industry.
Well-respected economic analysts including Mark Carney, Governor at the Bank of England recommend avoiding investments in fossil fuel development - the risk of stranded assets is simply too high. Plus, the financial risk of not addressing climate change is dramatic.
A recent analysis says the Paris accord could unlock $90 trillion in economic opportunities.
Myth #5 We can't just radically change how we drive and heat own homes
Yes, we can! In spite of bargain basement prices per barrel of oil, electric vehicle sales increased 60 per cent in 2015. Bloomberg reports that this rapid rate of electric cars means the declining demand could trigger a possible fatal crash in the oil market. See the first episode in the Bloomberg Business animated series Sooner Than You Think for more.
Gas-powered vehicles are going the way of the horse and buggy. The economics for fossil fuels and, especially for the non-conventional, expensive fuels such as bitumen and fracked gas, will not improve in the foreseeable future. The $350 million in federal subsidies to the fossil fuel sector is money down the drain - do the Koch brothers really need more help from Canadian taxpayers? Renewable energy technologies and adoption are developing rapidly – why is Canada lagging?
More investment in energy grid integration and proactive policies are needed to support adoption of renewables for electricity. Returning from New York where Canada signed the Paris Agreement on Earth Day, Elizabeth May wrote in her recent blog, "My favourite placard that day read “It is time to stop debating what is possible and start doing what is necessary.”
Our government needs to hear from us, loud and strong, that this is not the time to shovel more money into propping up the resource-extraction sector. The National Energy Board just approved Enbridge and may speed up the reviews for Energy East and Kinder Morgan...
Let's counter this with our support and our ideas for a clean, green future. Join the Break Free protest (more information below). Support Tweet4Canada sending positive messages encouraging the Canadian government to do the right thing!
In this edition:
- Rebuilding Our Democracy
- Canada's Green Future
- Upcoming Events
Rebuilding Our Democracy
In 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
Some 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:
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.
The 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 http://www.sgigreenparty.ca/. 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.
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.
When: Saturday, April 2nd, 1-4pm
Where: Mary Winspear Centre, Sidney, BC
"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.
When: Wednesday, April 6th, 7:30pm
Where: Mary Winspear Centre, Sidney, BC
Creatively 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.
When: Saturday, April 16th, 10am-5pm
Where: Royal Bay Secondary School, 3500 Ryder Hesjedal Way, Colwood, BC
Please share this newsletter! Let us know what you think. And follow us on Twitter via @SGIGreens and like us on Facebook.
Canada’s Cognitive Dissonance on Climate Change
NASA declared 2015 to be the hottest year in recorded history (2014 is now relegated to 2nd place). The parliamentary budget officer just reported that the federal disaster fund estimates it will spend over $900 million a year to provide reimbursement for damage from storms and floods. Not surprisingly, Canadians are asking what are the ‘sunny ways’ doing for the climate?
Announcing ‘Canada is back!’ and helping to promote a climate change goal of less than 1.5oC for the Paris Climate Agreement at CoP21 were definitely points of pride for Canadians. It was also a good sign that the new government created a Minister for the Environment and Climate and that she is trying to implement positive action for the climate.
Unfortunately, current projections show Canada won’t even meet the inadequate GHG reduction goals set by the former government and the pushback from groups supporting fossil fuel development is growing.
To truly salvage our reputation (and help save the planet from the worst), the Canadian federal government has to do much more, much faster. Elizabeth May, MP for Saanich Gulf-Islands and Leader of the Green Party of Canada captures this urgency, "So much carbon; so little time." in her new article Climate action - the time crunch.
There is hope but aggressive action at all levels is needed to reduce the risk of the worst effects of climate change. The commitments made at Paris are not sufficient to stop global temperature increases of more than 2oC even if all the policy changes and greenhouse gas reduction Paris commitments were met. Every day of inadequate action affects the quality of life on Earth in the short and long-term.
Canada’s Credibility Gap
A recent report, Beyond the targets: assessing the political credibility of pledges for the Paris Agreement (Feb 2016) ranks Canada in the lowest category of G20 countries for meeting environmental commitments. Canada also unfortunately holds the G20 record for withdrawals from multinational environmental agreements. Canada’s 2011 repeal of its 2002 Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act is regarded as one of the most significant and damaging climate change policy reversals. This ‘saved’ Canada a paltry $596,000. At what cost?
The new Canadian government says it “will provide national leadership…to take action on climate change, put a price on carbon and reduce carbon pollution”. The big questions are when and how? For example, the newly released guidelines for reviewing oil pipelines do include direct and upstream greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) but there is no indication if or how GHGs estimates will influence decisions.
There will be a First Minister's conference on the climate, as pledged during the 2015 election. It is now scheduled for March 3rd in Vancouver.
Will there be a meaningful national strategy by September 2016? Will Canada adopt proactive policies such as a harmonized evidence-based climate test for energy projects reviewed federally? For more on why a climate test is so important, click here.
Along with advice from other experts and lobby groups, the Green Budget Coalition of 16 environmental advocacy groups provided a number of costed recommendations for the 2016 budget. Countering efforts for progress on climate action, lobbying to support the fossil fuel sector is ramping up. This includes the Chinese government overtly pushing for pipeline development as a condition for free trade. Which groups will influence the Finance Committee? Will the old economy control our future?
The budget will be presented March 22, 2016. Canadians must support the Canadian government to meet and exceed the promises made in Paris.
What You Can Do Now
This government needs to hear from you. It is still very much engaged in consultation and you can bet your last nickel that the oil lobbyists and carbon industries are busy bending everyone's ear in Ottawa. Their biased information needs to be counter-balanced. The government's commitment to govern by cabinet provides many more opportunities to engage them and make your voice heard.
The volunteers of the Saanich Gulf-Islands EDA are working tirelessly to assemble resources to facilitate maximum citizen engagement. You can help. Visit our web site at http://www.sgigreenparty.ca/. Take Action. Get involved. Volunteer. Join our Green Media Group and learn how to tweet the ministers directly. Be part of the solution.
And if you are already on Twitter, check out our new feature called "Tweet 4 Canada". It's an easy way to make a difference with the First Ministers Climate Meeting this week.
Elizabeth May's Compelling Testimony on the Kinder Morgan Expansion
Elizabeth May, MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands and Leader of the Green Party of Canada, continues to serve her constituents by supporting positive initiatives in Parliament and holding the new government to account. This includes ensuring that Canada restores environmental regulations and re-creates an independent environmental review agency, removing the responsibility for environmental assessment from the National Energy Board (NEB).
Elizabeth recently testified at the National Energy Board (NEB) hearings in Burnaby on the Kinder Morgan (KM) Trans Mountain expansion project. Notably, she was the only MP to testify on behalf of constituents. She eloquently discredited the validity of Kinder Morgan's application - both the project itself and the deeply flawed NEB review process.
If you missed the live-streamed video of her riveting final testimony, it is available on SGI Facebook and YouTube.
The day after the NEB hearings concluded, Prime Minister Trudeau announced positive steps - requirements for additional reviews for significant resource development projects, including the KM pipeline expansion.
On the negative side, however, the NEB itself continued to compromise the project review by ruling that KM can keep their pipeline emergency plans secret. A new audit by the federal environment commissioner further emphasizes problems with NEB's performance as a pipeline regulator.
The Canadian government already has ample reasons to reject the KM proposal now. Building more fossil fuel infrastructure is a bad investment - for our precious coasts and waterways, the battle against climate change and the Canadian economy.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Canadian Democracy
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is described as a trade agreement to reduce trade barriers among 12 Pacific Rim nations including Canada; however, the TPP affects much more. The greatest concern is that the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) process in the TPP will further entrench the ability of corporations to sue our government if they feel that Canadian regulations or laws infringe on their ability to generate profits. This undermines our sovereignty and ultimately, our democracy.
Elizabeth May describes the issues with ISDS in her recent article, When is a trade agreement not a trade agreement?
A recent article in The Tyee, Seven Ways TPP Favours Mega-Rich Foreign Investors, Not Canadians, concludes:
"The TPP is a threat to our institutions of sovereignty, democracy and the rule of law. At the core of the threat is the uncertain and potentially huge price tag that the TPP puts on any law or regulation opposed by a foreign investor. The problem is not that foreign investors would be too big to fail. It is that the TPP would make the biggest and richest ones too risky to regulate."
During the 2015 election campaign, the Liberals committed to a public consultation on the TPP. The Minister of Trade, Chrystia Freeland, recently posted an open letter to Canadians stating the TPP will be debated in Parliament and Canadians will be consulted. It is clear now that the deal cannot be renegotiated. A transparent public consultation will be an important step; however, Minister Freeland's letter also states that Canada will sign the TPP.
If Canada does ratify the TPP, it will affect our economy and our future as a nation. We need to actually discuss the agreement and determine whether it works for Canadians or not. It is NOT too late.
For more on the issues with the TPP, see our post, The Brief and Chilling History of the TPP. To take action - sign the Council of Canadians petition and the Green Party of Canada petition urging the Liberal government to reject the TPP.
The Year Ahead - Important Issues in 2016
One of the issues we will focus on in 2016 is to find the best and most democratic alternative to our outdated First Past The Post electoral system. Please tell us what other topics you would like to hear more about - in our newsletters and on the Saanich-Gulf Island Greens website. Also send us suggestions for speakers that you would like to see in the 2016 SGI Eminent Speakers series.
Another way that you can support our democracy is by helping the Saanich Gulf-Islands Electoral District Association to share Elizabeth's messages,. Elizabeth May is determined to encourage this new government to reach its promise for a positive future and you can too.
Share this newsletter, volunteer to help with an event or join our Green Media team - your support is so important and greatly appreciated!
Congratulations and a big thank you to all the Green Party members, supporters, donors, and incredible volunteers who successfully re-elected Elizabeth May as the MP for Saanich Gulf-Islands.
Probably every person reading this email has helped to make this happen. Whether you are a member of one of the 3,000 families that proudly displayed an Elizabeth May sign on your property, one of the more than 700 active volunteers who knocked on doors, put up signs, used social media, wrote letters, phoned, came to events or helped in one of the offices, or one of the 1254 donors to Elizabeth's campaign, you are part of her re-election.
If you talked to friends about how much you love the way Elizabeth' represents you; if you voted and encouraged others to vote, you are part of this supportive community standing with Elizabeth and giving her such a strong vote of confidence.
On Election Day, more than 225 trained volunteer scrutineer Candidate's Representatives observed the voting and the ballot count, supported by 40 volunteer drivers, 30 data entry and office volunteers and many phoners who encouraged and assisted supporters to get to the polls. These volunteers were participating actively in the mechanics of democracy.
On all five islands, Salt Spring, Pender, Galiano, Mayne and Saturna, Elizabeth's supporters came forward to make sure she had a presence with signs, information tables and scrutineers. Islanders are among Elizabeth's strongest supporters.
It is heartbreaking that no other Green MPs were elected. So many exceptional candidates came forward, worked just as hard with all their campaign teams and volunteers, only to be disappointed on Monday. Although they did not win, they increased the Green vote in their ridings, engaged volunteers, had fun and learned about campaigning. Several are already considering the BC provincial election in 2017!
Watch Elizabeth's election night speech here. Here is the full transcript.
But let's look at what we have accomplished together. In in Saanich Gulf Islands there are 83,970 of us on the Voters List. 68,076 of us voted. Our voter turnout rate was 81%. We didn't have the highest voter turnout in the country this time, but we were in the top 5 out of 338 ridings. We obviously believe in democracy here. We want to be heard. More than half of us, 54.5% of those who voted, 37,076, selected Elizabeth May. The Conservative came second, but he was 23,813 votes behind!
The members of the core campaign team are humbled by the high level of your support and engagement with Canada's best MP and the democratic process. We, the volunteers and everyone who participates, feel inspired by Elizabeth and by one another. We thoroughly enjoy working together. You accomplished something remarkable when you re-elected Elizabeth May on Monday. Congratulations to her and to all of us who support her in Saanich Gulf Islands. In the words of the editorial in Tuesday morning's Times Colonist,
"While the results are certain to be a disappointment for the Greens, May's principled and articulate presence in the House of Commons will continue. Parliament will be the better for that presence....Canadians are fortunate that the voters of Saanich Gulf Islands have sent Elizabeth May back to Ottawa".
The Re-Elect Elizabeth May Campaign team: Marilyn, Jocelyn, Thomas, Mark, Ann, Dave, Bob, Tom, Jean, Eileen, Robyn, etc.