Must Reads from Last Week

BC Electoral Reform Referendum


Helen Clark, former PM of New Zealand, on proportional representation

Have a listen.

Why would business/company owners file an injunction to halt the referendum?

Read more.

Challenging a colonial inheritance: PR and First Nations

Read more.

Is democracy even possible anymore?

“It’s a widespread belief that once democracy takes hold, citizen commitment to the system grows stronger with time.” But is that true?

Excerpt: “[Researchers] found “deeply concerning” trends: citizens in several Western European and North American democracies had grown more cynical and distrustful about their political system and more willing to express support for authoritarian alternatives.” Read more.



Courtenay/Comox third bridge could kill Hollyhock March and Kus-Kus-Sum

This blog has written numerous times about the Kus-Kus-Sum project. (In fact, this writer was at the Nomadic Tempest show just last night.) This project is tremendously exciting. So the City of Courtenay is working on its Transportation Plan for the next 20 years and is considering a third bridge which, according to Decafnation, “would wipe out the Courtenay Airpark, part of the Airpark walkway, destroy the estuary’s last remaining intact ecosystem at Hollyhock Marsh, undermine the Kus-kus-sum rehabilitation project and create another major signaled intersection on Comox Road at a point that regularly floods during winter storms.”  Read more. There is a survey for the Transportation Master Plan: Take the survey here.

FURTHER READING: See the study’s open house display boardsThe city’s Master Transportation Plan webpage.

Potlatch 67-67

2018 marks the 67th year since the Canadian government’s Potlatch Ban was lifted, after it was imposed for 67 years. Hence the “67-67.” The Comox Valley Record recently ran its third instalment in the Potlatch 67-67 series, which have provided good background to the potlatch ban and its effect on BC’s Indigenous peoples. Check out the website for this amazing exhibit that is happening at the Comox Valley Art Gallery (CVAG) July 20 to October 4, 2018.

This blog previously featured The Blanket Exercise on June 8, 2018, which took place at the Native Sons Hall, and June 21 was National Indigenous Peoples Day.

On July 5, 2018, there will be a screening of Beau Dick – Maker of Monsters, and Barb Cranmer – Our Voices, Our Stories.

On July 20, from 6-9 p.m. will be the welcoming ceremony and opening of the Potlatch 67-67 exhibit at CVAG.

On Saturday July 21, 11am – 4pm, the community is invited to engage in cultural sharing rooted in Potlatch 67–67: The Potlatch Ban – Then and Now thematic program and the exhibition Hiłt̕sist̕a’a̱m (The Copper Will Be Fixed). A day of stories, songs and dance is planned for the Kumugwe Bighouse on the K’omoks First Nation. This will be a ticketed event, details TBA. 
For more information please call 250.338.6211 or email

Breaches, belly-flops and a close encounter with humpback whales

Several weeks ago, this blog linked to an article talking about humpback whales returning to the Salish Sea. This week also has a link to an article about the North Pacific right whale. Now, here’s an article about more whales, etc. in our nearby waters. Read more.

…And in case you want to go hiking in the North Island…

Read more.



Site C: 

Part 1:  July dates to plan for:
July 5: We Are All Treaty People
July 14: Paddle for the Peace
July 21: Farmland First! No Site C Dam
July 23: West Moberly & Prophet River First Nations injunction court case starts

Part 2:  A review of the book, Breaching the Peace: “Sarah Cox’s book is a damning reminder that Canadian politicians still practice a state-sanctioned tragedy, argues reviewer Andrew Nikiforuk.” Read more.

Fish Farms

Part 1:  Last week this blog covered fish farm protests in the Comox Valley and elsewhere because BC fish farm licenses were up for renewal. These expired licenses “have apparently been converted to a month to month renewal,” according to Andrew Nikiforuk in his piece in The Tyee. Rather than end fish farming, Agriculture Minister Lana Popham released a new fish farm policy that requires all fish farm operators to:

  1. Prove to Department of Fisheries and Oceans that their “operations will not adversely impact wild salmon stocks;” and
  2. They “must negotiate agreements with the First Nation(s) in whose territory they propose to operate.”

Just how a fish farm operator could prove stipulation A is unclear when “scientists generally agree that fish farms, combined with climate change, river destruction and overfishing, have played a role in decimating wild salmon stocks in Norway, Scotland, Ireland and Canada.”

From one of the impacted First Nations, “We are disappointed — though not surprised — by this policy, which violates our Aboriginal title and rights,” said Willie Moon (Okwilagame), Dzawada’enuxw First Nation elected chief and traditional leader.”

Part 2:  As a follow-up to the above article, Andrew Nikiforuk has another piece in The Tyee on “Five critical issues to consider before the province renews fish farm licenses.”

Kinder Morgan

Part 1: The June 16 edition of this blog shared an article in which David Dodge, previous Governor of the Bank of Canada, essentially sanctioned Canadian government snipers killing Kinder Morgan demonstrators. This week the National Observer has a rebuttal to Dodge in their Memo to David Dodge: who are the extremists? If you didn’t read the first article, I urge you to read this one. Dodge’s language about the protesters is shocking. Read more.

Excerpt: “A false and frightening narrative is emerging from the band of politicians, fossil executives and commentators determined to see the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion built at any cost.

They’ve gone into overdrive to spin the massive, overwhelmingly peaceful civil disobedience at the Kinder Morgan construction site on Burnaby Mountain as violent and extreme. And now, former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge is essentially asserting that if a few people die in the protests, that’s the price the country will have to pay to get essential infrastructure built.”

Part 2: is calling for Canadians to hold their own Town Halls on PM Trudeau’s buyout of the TransMountain pipeline, between July 7 and July 14, 2018. If someone organizes one here, please make sure you let Greens of NIPR know.  Read more.

Rare whale sighting spurs hope and research on Canadian Pacific Ocean

Off the coast of Haida Gwaii, in 2013, marine mammal researchers saw a rare North Pacific right whale. Another, different whale was also seen off the coast of Vancouver Island. These were the first recorded sightings since 1951. Now, five years later, a third, much younger North Pacific right whale was again spotted off Haida Gwaii. Though there is no hard data, “the Department of Fisheries and Oceans estimates fewer than 50 of these whales exist today.” Read more.

Skidegate on the way to becoming a “city of the future”

“In a genuine effort to decrease diesel consumption, heat pumps have been installed in almost all of 350 homes and solar panels installed on all major buildings.” Read more.

UVic professors on why they say no to pipelines

This is a powerful piece on the necessity of addressing the climate crisis.

Excerpt: “Pollution and climate change are now the main killers worldwide. Every year, seven million people die from causes linked to climate change and pollution, according to the World Health Organization. Climate change is now considered to be the greatest threat to human survival.”



Green Party of Canada Biennial Convention

September 28-30, 2018. Read more.  Convention 2018 is Sept 28-30 in Vancouver! Join us and help us build for success in 2019. Rumour has it Neil Young may make an appearance.Info and registration here.  

BP drilling off the coast of Nova Scotia

This blog has previously posted about BP obtaining licenses to drill off the coast of Nova Scotia, and how threatening that is to the marine environment in general of course, but specifically to the Atlantic right whale population. Also, there was a BP “unauthorized discharge” of fluids (which BP is calling “mud”) shortly after those licenses were obtained. Now the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs is looking for answers. The Council of Canadians held a rally on June 23 in front of the PMO’s office. Also, Elizabeth May has commented on BP’s use of the word ‘mud’: “It is not ‘mud.’ It is an industrial mix with a lot of metals and toxics…But CNSOPB has a mandate to promote oil and gas.” See also this article in the National Observer.



Women in politics

Women are winning lots of elections in the United States since Donald Trump became President. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a self-declared socialist, just won a primary in New York State, and is favoured to win in the mid-term elections. Ocasio-Cortez has an ambitious plan to address climate change in the US. Read more.

Excerpt: What sets Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal apart is her plan to meet the target by implementing what she called a “Green New Deal,” a federal plan to spur “the investment of trillions of dollars and the creation of millions of high-wage jobs.” Though the slogan harks back to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1930s New Deal program of infrastructure spending and labour reforms, she compared the program she envisions to the tens of billions of dollars spent on armaments manufacturing and the rebuilding of Europe after World War II.”

The US migrant crisis

Well, first of all, let’s not feel smug that the crisis currently unfolding in the US has no ties to Canada. Canada has historically (and currently) often condoned and supported dictators in an effort to protect Canadian economic interests (often mining) with disastrous effects on both the environment and the populations. Here’s just a bit of perspective on that. Canada’s past interventions in some of these countries ethically binds us to care about what is happening now to their citizens.”

Mumbai to ban plastic bags and bottles

Read more.

The dangers of parents distracted by technology

We know about the dangers of distracted driving, and we’ve heard about the dangers of kids learning electronic devices too early, but what are the consequences to children when their parents’ attention is constantly diverted from the child to the smartphone?

ExcerptAccording to Hirsh-Pasek, a professor at Temple University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution…language is the single best predictor of school achievement…and the key to strong language skills are those back-and-forth fluent conversations between young children and adults...Toddlers cannot learn when we break the flow of conversations by picking up our cellphones or looking at the text that whizzes by our screens…Hirsh-Pasek [and colleagues] tested the impact of parental cellphone use on children’s language learning. Thirty-eight mothers and their 2-year-olds were brought into a room. The mothers were then told that they would need to teach their children two new words (blicking, which was to mean “bouncing,” and frepping, which was to mean “shaking”) and were given a phone so that investigators could contact them from another room. When the mothers were interrupted by a call, the children did not learn the word, but otherwise they did.” Read more.

Here’s something we bet you didn’t know!

The secret to turtle survival in the winter. Read more.

Good news around the world

This week, this blog is shamelessly ‘borrowing’ content from Thomas Teuwen of the Saanich-Gulf Islands EDA. If you already subscribe to Thomas’s weekly blog, you needn’t read further (except to read the Thought of the day). If you don’t yet subscribe, you can do so here. Here is part of Thomas’s wonderful compilation of good news stories:

While we here in Canada are paying $4.5 billion for an outdated pipeline valued at $500 million a decade ago, the rest of the world is moving ahead with renewables, despite Trump being Trump and Ford chasing the solar industry out of Ontario. Here is what I found:

Utility scale solar projects in Nevada are now clocking in at about 2.3 cents per kWh. That’s electricity ready to plug into the grid. By comparison, West Texas Crude is currently trading at $75 a barrel, which translates to twice the cost of solar at 4.6 cents a kWh, even before considering the cost of refining it and generating electricity.

Global solar module prices have collapsed and are expected to fall another 34% this year, making oil and gas even less competitive. It is estimated that monocrystalline silicon modules will cost only $0.24 per watt by the end of the year. At the same time, the EV market is heating up. We already know about BMW and Mercedes giving Tesla a run for its money but now even companies like KIA are introducing all electric vehicles with a 450km range.

Seeing consumer pressure mount for clean transportation options Uber is starting to pay drivers an incentive to switch to electric. At the same time the founders of Lyft, Uber’s biggest competitor, have said that by 2025, Lyft will provide at least 1 billion rides per year using electric autonomous vehicles. Currently, there are 100,000 Lyft drivers in the US who use EVs.

While the natural gas industry has a leak problem and is putting out 60% more methane than the EPA had calculated, Siemens is shedding its gas turbine business. Green Tech Media reports that: “Renewables now make up the majority of investment in new power generation, far outpacing spending on fossil fuels. This year could be one of the toughest for gas turbine makers in over a decade.

“According to figures from the U.N. and Bloomberg New Energy Finance, renewables (excluding large hydro) accounted for 157 gigawatts of electricity capacity additions last year, while fossil fuels only accounted for 70 gigawatts. “I think that the whole industry has significantly been underestimating the rise of renewable energy,” said Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser in a March interview with The Wall Street Journal.”

“The power generation industry is experiencing disruption of unprecedented scope and speed,” said Lisa Davis, a member of the managing board at Siemens. In another piece Julia Pyper reports that financial institutions say they could double their planned investments in the U.S. renewable energy sector and unlock $1 trillion in renewable energy investment. The International Renewable Energy Association reports that in 2017 Renewables already employed over 10 million people!!

While high profile politicians in North America are racing each other to the bottom, India is in a race with China for the top. At the Indo-German Energy Dialogue on Solar PV Market Development in India, Shri Anand Kumar, secretary of India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, said the country plans 500 GW of capacity by 2030. He also underlined India’s plans for becoming a solar and storage manufacturing hub and said the International Solar Alliance needs to widen its membership. They are already exceeding their 2022 targets, while we are not even close to meeting ours.

You might remember Michael Eckhart with Citi Global Finance. We featured this video a couple of times already where he is interviewed about the financial case for renewables. He has been following alternative energy for the last 40 years: “All of this has been very predictable if you know manufacturing economics. Renewable energy is subject to manufacturing economics where all products go down in cost the more you make. Versus the competition, fossil fuels, are resource oriented, not manufacturing. And the cost of resources goes up the more you use. So you fundamentally have two curves that are going to cross. And they’ve crossed in the last five years.”

Now Michael Eckhart, along with other global financial managers and investors, is setting his sights on rescuing the oceans. With every discussion of how we can bring finance to help solve the ocean’s challenges, writes Helen Avery in Euromoney, there also has to be one on what our capital should not be financing. Part of the solution, says Eckhart, is simply to stop doing the damage: “As an industry and as a planet, the urgency is such that we will have to open a dialogue around how we invest in expanding fisheries and shipping.”

It’s pretty clear where the future lies. Keeping in mind that these predictions have been too conservative in the past, the Bloomberg New Energy Outlook for 2018 states that “Wind and solar are set to surge to “50 by 50” – 50% of world generation by 2050 – on the back of precipitous reductions in cost, and the advent of cheaper and cheaper batteries that will enable electricity to be stored and discharged to meet shifts in demand and supply. Coal shrinks to just 11% of global electricity generation by 2050.”

Thought of the day:


“Until we put principle before comfort, no true and proper government can be formed”. (Henry David Thoreau)

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