Must Reads from Last Week
BC Electoral Reform Referendum
The BC government consultation site for the 2018 referendum is up. They are looking for feedback between now and February 28, 2018, at 4 p.m. Everyone please check out the questionnaire and make a written submission if you think some of the questions are too confusing or obscure. There are links to read about different systems, the questionnaire, and for written submissions to email@example.com.
Go to http://www.fairvote.ca/bc-government-consultation-survey-guide/ first, and it will take you to the survey.
BC Electoral Reform Referendum: Get involved locally
Fair Vote Comox Valley is also now accepting donations. If you can’t give your time, here is your opportunity to support this campaign over the next year. E-transfers can be made to: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do an e-transfer, please put your name in the Note field and some sort of contact information so we can thank you.
In order to get to a 50+1 Yes vote on the referendum, we need your help to counter the opposition’s hyperbole. This is our moment to change BC’s electoral system. Get in on the action! Contact Megan at email@example.com if you’d like information on participating in any way.
New electoral reform proponent society. The more people organizing around this referendum the better!
My apologies for the Site C piece and the one on Kinder Morgan being long; these were emails and not published online.
This came from Courtenay-Comox MLA, Ronna-Rae Leonard to an email to those of her constituents who had written to her about Site C. I’m reproducing it here because I can’t find it on her website. I think you’ll be interested to read it. Right at the end, is she inadvertently admitting that the BC NDP government’s decision on Site C has eroded BC citizens’ hope for the future?
“A word on Site C from Ronna-Rae Leonard, MLA for Courtenay-Comox:
To those who emailed me regarding Site C
It has been a month since the decision to continue with the Site C dam. I heard from many of you before the decision. Please know that I faithfully brought your sentiments forward. At the time of the announcement, Premier Horgan acknowledged how many of the New Democrat Caucus shared your disappointment, and that included me.
The decision has been a shock to those who oppose Site C. I can’t say the decision was wrong, because sometimes impossible choices have to be made. With a heavy heart, I became convinced that it is the only way forward in the circumstances. We can’t terminate Site C and, as we promised in our platform, still work to provide better policies and programs to make life more affordable, provide the services people need, and build sustainable communities with good paying jobs throughout BC.
The Liberals, having turned on the afterburners to get the project to “the point of no return”, boxed a progressive government into a corner. I am angry about the deep debt we inherited from the BC Liberals, as they looked after the best interests of the top 2%, and I am extremely frustrated by the financial world’s borrowing rules that force the government’s hand. We are now faced with having to find a new path forward.
Because the decision to continue with the site C dam was not the outcome many hoped for, it is not surprising that every aspect of the decision is subject to criticism and every fact looked with skepticism. In time, perhaps the work to mitigate the impacts and a focus on our shared values will give you hope for the future.”
Check out the Site C Summit page.
Kennedy Stewart, NDP MP from Burnaby South, has as the facing page on his website an action form on Kinder Morgan. He did a telephone town hall on Kinder Morgan last week. Below is an email he sent out after that event:
Last week I held a massive telephone town hall about stopping the Kinder Morgan Pipeline. We invited over 50,000 people from across British Columbia to listen in as my special guests updated you on the project and how you might get involved. It was a fantastic call with thousands phoning in to participate and dozens asking questions live and by email. A very special thanks to Tsleil-Waututh Nation Band Councillor Charlene Aleck, BC Civil Liberties Association lawyer Dylan Mazur, and all who took time to participate.
At the core of the call was a series of questions where participants could use their telephone keypads to vote as to what political actions people they might personally consider doing to stop the pipeline. Here are the results:
Action 1: 81% would “consider writing a letter to your MP to show your opposition to the project”
Action 2: 78% would “consider attending a public protest or march against the KM pipeline”
Action 3: 43% would “consider engaging in acts of civil disobedience to stop or disrupt construction of the KM pipeline”
I think it is encouraging so many are so opposed to this project that they are willing to take action – especially when it comes to risking arrest to stop this horrible project.
I also promised on the call I would provide follow up information on each of these three political actions. The rest of this email contains information about writing your MP, groups involved in organizing against this project that you can join, and more information as to what you can expect if you engage in civil disobedience. Everyone has varying degrees to which they want to be involved or contribute to the opposition of Kinder Morgan, so I provide this information for you to inform your personal choices. Thanks again for your interest. Together we can stop Kinder Morgan,
Action 1: Writing your Member of Parliament (MP)
STEP 1: Find your MP and their contact info. Type your postal code here: https://www.ourcommons.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members
STEP 2: Write your letter. Sample letters are included at the end of this email, but feel free to add your own personal concerns including impacts on property, recreational land use, public safety risks, economic impacts, or environmental concerns.
STEP 3: Send your message. Send your letter by email or postage free to the MP’s listed Ottawa office. Make sure to CC: the Prime Minister. I would also appreciate a copy, CC: Kennedy Stewart on the letter by mail or email at Kennedy.Stewart@parl.gc.ca.
Action 2: Joining Groups
There are many groups taking action to stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline, including organizing marches, fundraisers and protests. Here are links to a few you might consider supporting:
Burnaby Residents Opposed to Kinder Morgan (Broke): https://brokepipelinewatch.ca/David Suzuki Foundation: https://davidsuzuki.org/
Dogwood Initiative: https://dogwoodbc.ca/
Georgia Straight Alliance: http://georgiastrait.org/
GreenPeace Canada: http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/home/
Pipeup Network: http://www.pipe-up.net/
Pull Together: https://pull-together.ca/
Raven Trust: https://raventrust.com/
Stand. Earth: https://www.stand.earth/
Tiny House Warriors: http://tinyhousewarriors.com/
Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust https://twnsacredtrust.ca/
West Coast Environmental Law Association: https://www.wcel.org/
Wilderness Committee: https://www.wildernesscommittee.org/
Action 3: Civil Disobedience
Many people have indicated to me they have lost faith in the process by which Kinder Morgan has been approved. Although not previously active in politics, they have signed petitions, sent letters, protested, and marched. Some moved further and joined us on Burnaby Mountain in 2014 in an attempt to stop Kinder Morgan from further destroying our conservation area – with 125 arrested, then released due to legal mistakes made by the company. Some are now undertaking action at Camp Cloud on Burnaby Mountain (https://www.facebook.com/kmsurveillancepost/) or with the Sea Wolves in Burrard Inlet (https://www.facebook.com/bcseawolves/).
Before undertaking any such effort it is important to know your rights as well as the possible consequences if you are arrested. Stand.Earth has put together a useful video to help you better understand your rights and responsibilities featuring Chief Bob Chamberlain from the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs and BC Civil Liberties Association Executive Director John Patterson. I suggest you watch this excellent video.
The link is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynpbrbKYM3w
Insert MP’s NAME,
During the 2015 election, Prime Minister Trudeau promised he would not approve the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion until the National Energy Board review process was revamped to be more inclusive and fair. Instead, the Prime Minister broke his promise and approved this new bitumen pipeline. I oppose the pipeline and ask the government to reverse its approval.
I oppose this new pipeline as it has not received community consent. The British Columbia government opposes the pipeline and is employing legal tools to oppose the expansion in court. The project also faces legal challenges from the City of Burnaby, City of Vancouver, other municipalities, and many First Nations whose territories and reserve lands are directly affected by the development.
I oppose this new pipeline because it is not safe. The new bitumen pipeline will pass through densely populated urban areas. The existing pipeline has already spilled 40,000 barrels of oil into our communities and waterways. In Burnaby, where the new pipeline terminates, the local Fire department released a report indicating the Kinder Morgan expansion puts the public and environment at serious risk in the event of a spill.
I object to this new pipeline as it brings no substantial economic benefit to British Columbians. None of the oil will be consumed or refined by Canadians. Kinder Morgan projects the expansion will only create 50 permanent full time jobs upon completion and admits most of the promised temporary construction jobs will not go to local workers.
I object to this new pipeline because of the environmental risk. The pipeline will increase tanker traffic from 8 to 34 tankers per month along our beautiful coastline. As we have seen elsewhere, tanker spills happen and the damage is irreversible.
I hope that you will respond to the concerns I have addressed in this letter.
CC: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
CC: Kennedy Stewart, MP Burnaby South
Burnaby is still fighting Kinder Morgan hard. Read more
On January 30th, CBC reports that the BC NDP are pushing back on Kinder Morgan.
Excerpt: “The British Columbia government is creating more uncertainty around Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project with a proposal to restrict any increase in diluted bitumen shipments until it conducts more spill response studies.
Provincial Environment Minister George Heyman says there needs to be more confidence in how well oil transporters are prepared to respond and fully mitigate the effects of a potential spill.” Read more.
350.org is reporting on this as well. They have a call out to call Prime Minister Trudeau and ask him to do what’s right. Join us in calling the Prime Minister’s office to tell Trudeau to stand up to Big Oil and respect the people of BC by supporting this decision from the provincial government.
And here is the BC government’s announcement on January 30, 2018.
And here is Rachel Notley’s response. Read more
And here’s a poll by the Vancouver Sun, asking if you agree with BC restricting shipments of bitumen from Alberta. At the time I did the poll, the results were 85% against and 14% for the BC decision. Either the pro-oil side has a lot of paid poll-takers or people are misreading the question and are saying No, thinking they’re saying no to shipping the bitumen. Given the people out at the town hall on Friday, I have a hard time believing that 85% of people are in favour of the pipeline. I actually find this very disturbing for reasons I can’t quite articulate.
BC NDP and LNG
This is a good article in the Straight about the issue of LNG in BC and how Premier Horgan is buying into it.
Excerpt: “Only B.C. Green Leader Andrew Weaver has had the guts and conviction to properly point out that obvious truth. Once again, he has exposed the great lie that is at the heart of that two-faced imaginary Matryoshka doll, which Horgan is currently peddling in China, Japan, and other Asian markets, not unlike his predecessor.”
And here’s an interview with Andrew Weaver on why the BC Greens cannot support the BC NDP in pursuing LNG.
In court January 29, 2018: Canada’s environmental protection laws vs NAFTA
Excerpt: “Bilcon, an American company, wanted to expand its gravel quarry in an ecologically-sensitive area of Digby Neck, N.S. The project was required to undergo an environmental assessment, and a joint panel found it would adversely impact the ‘core values’ of the surrounding communities. The federal and provincial governments agreed and rejected the project.
But that was not the end of the story. The company filed a NAFTA claim, arguing Canada’s rejection of its proposal was unfair. And this is where things get really interesting: A NAFTA tribunal went outside its realm of expertise to rule on a matter of Canadian law, and found Canada liable — and Bilcon is now seeking at least $500 million in damages!” read more
As background, read more.
Sexual harassment of women
LeadNow is calling for people to sign a petition to have all political parties, federal and provincial, conduct a comprehensive, open review of sexual harassment within their parties.
How Canadian politics’ sexual harassment problem harms democracy
This article in Maclean’s puts the sexual harassment of women firmly in the arena of how our politics are conducted in Canada. If we in Canada want to reflect the societal gender balance in our governing bodies, this has to stop.
Excerpt: “All I want is for our leaders and women with socio-political capital to stand up for survivors and for each other,” says Najibzadeh. “We can’t encourage women to run for office if we aren’t willing to create spaces in which they can thrive.”
Here’s an illustration of how endemic the exploitation of women is in our culture. This SumOfUs campaign against Pepsi is using the woman as an object of little boys’ fantasies as a vehicle for their message against Pepsi using palm oil. It is trading in the most base, most crass trafficking of women’s bodies to get their message across. If it’s a parody, it’s very poorly done. They obviously haven’t been watching all the news reports of the fallout from the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. I was sorely tempted to put this in all caps, believe me!
Brazil moving forward on climate change
David Suzuki’s column in The Comox Valley Record on January 25, 2018, essentially counters all the arguments in favour of large dams and in opposition to renewable energy sources.
Excerpt: “In an interview with O Globo, Mines and Energy Executive Secretary Paulo Pedrosa said the government is reconsidering hydro construction in the face of societal pressure, environmental damage and increasingly competitive renewable energy options.”
Warning to Canada’s First Nations from Maori indigenous rights group
Excerpt: The original TPP included a clause that should be of interest to First Nations in Canada, says Hone Harawira, the Maori leader of an Indigenous rights-focused political party in New Zealand called the Mana Movement.
The Treaty of Waitangi between the British and the Maori, signed in the 1800s…much like First Nations Peace and Friendship Treaties, is regarded as a document that laid the foundation for what is now New Zealand.
“Waitangi states that Maori could retain sovereignty over their lands, forests and fisheries in return for allowing the British Crown to govern New Zealand,” said Harawira.
“But of course, we didn’t retain sovereignty of these things, and we’ve been fighting for it ever since.”
Harawira calls the TPP’s Waitangi clause “cosmetic only” and “useless in principle.” He said Canada’s First Nations should learn from the Maori. “Keep pushing for your treaties to be included in international trade documents, but ensure your rights are adequately represented,” he said. Harawira said he thinks Indigenous Peoples should be given a seat in trade negotiations. He said he’s concerned that some may not understand the nature of the CPTPP, and that it can allow foreign investors to infringe on their rights at no consequence.” Read more