Cameron Wigmore, Green Party Member: April 2007

April 30, 2007

Going green is an economic plus, but Tories won't do it

While surfing the news online (I mostly use the highly customizable Google News but I have other alternative sources too) I spotted The Province, a CanWest Global paper from Vancouver BC. Here are a few links and story excerpts on the latest green plan from the Harper Government...

Tory Green Scheme Kills Kyoto With Hot Air

CLIMATE CHANGE: Greenhouse gases to continue rising under weak plan
James McNulty, The Province
Published: Sunday, April 29, 2007

Perched on a sunny Vancouver hotel rooftop last fall, Stephen Harper pitched his then-new Clean Air Act as the golden eagle of climate-change plans.

It would soar through greenhouse gases like a bird and sting pollution like a bee, Harper told the glorious photo-op, which cost taxpayers $75,000 to stage.

Nuts, said the opposition parties. The Liberals and NDP claimed the Clean Air Act was a partisan time-waster, when GHGs and smog-causing pollutants could be regulated under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

Nuts, said Harper, claiming CEPA wasn't strong enough. The Clean Air Act was declared "dead" by the opposition and a stalemate ensued.

Instead of standing by the CEPA argument, the opposition -- and Harper -- bought into NDP Leader Jack Layton's plan to revive the act for rework by a House committee.

The act was then bolstered with GHG caps and returned to Harper three weeks ago. The revisions were too tough for his liking.

Harper's solution? Abandon the big-sell act and have green foghorn John Baird announce that Canada's environment would now be saved . . . with new CEPA regulations.

The impenetrable haze of climate-change politics is thicker than ever for bamboozled Canadians.

The opposition, having spent months rebuilding the act it once said was unnecessary, now argues that it trumps CEPA.

Layton, the Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois were suckered when Harper agreed to rework his act. The PM clearly had no intention of honouring the committee's work, using the sop to waste time on a file already years behind schedule.

Harper and Baird's new plan is called the Clean Air Regulatory Agenda. It amounts to unambitious, unbalanced, half-slices of old Liberal policy, weak "intensity-based" GHG-reduction targets that allow total GHG output to continue rising, and a feebly low carbon tax of $15 per tonne for non-compliers.

It abandons Canada's Kyoto targets, even as a new Strategic Counsel poll shows that a clear majority of Canadians -- 61 per cent -- want the signed targets honoured.

Harper is trying to have it every which way, voting last week to support a BQ motion to meet Kyoto objectives while simultaneously trashing Kyoto.

Harper is willing to bring in hard caps on smog-causing pollution, but avoids GHG caps, not wanting to annoy tar-sands producers counting billions in profits in all-Tory Alberta.

"The government of Canada is the only government of 165 nations to officially announce we have no intentions of ever trying to reach our targets," says Green party leader Elizabeth May. "It's really very shameful."

Economists polled by the Canadian Press said the Harper government overstated Kyoto costs while claiming one of the world's "most aggressive" climate-change plans.

Denmark, for one, has far tougher carbon penalties, yet its economy continues to grow as GHGs come down faster than in Canada.

Dirty Canada Failing Global Test

CLIMATE CHANGE: Smart nations move as Canada's record worsens
James McNulty, The Province
Published: Sunday, January 28, 2007

The heat is on, and Canada is running cold. The Great White North is falling far behind the world's enlightened nations in the growing push to cut greenhouse-gas emissions hastening global warming.

As the Conference Board of Canada notes in a new report, Canada has the highest rate of increase in greenhouse-gas emissions of any G8 nation. The growth in emissions under Stephen Harper's Conservative government is even greater than that of the previous do-nothing Liberal regime.

The Conference Board, urging a cap on industrial emissions, warns that Canada would be "ill-advised to wait" and "risks being left behind" the United States, Europe and Japan in moving to a cleaner, greener economy.

Even the great climate-change skeptic George W. Bush, one of Harper's top ideological soulmates, has changed his tune from denial to urging conservation in gasoline use.

Ten major U.S. corporations, including General Electric, BP, DuPont, Duke Energy and Alcoa, joined environmental groups last week in urging Congress to "significantly reduce greenhouse-gas emissions" with mandatory caps and a carbon-trading market to speed the inevitable conversion to greener energy sources.

Canadian climate-change deniers falsely argue that there is no scientific consensus on global warming. In fact, there is consensus, to be demonstrated again this week in the latest UN report from top world scientists.

The need for action has never been clearer. Under Harper, Canada marches backwards.

Going 'green' makes eminent economic sense

Published: Thursday, February 01, 2007

I'm concerned about climate change and feel it's crucial our government takes urgent action.

It should commit to clean energy sources and reduce emission targets and guidelines as well as stop coal-fired power plants.

As an entrepreneur and a capitalist, I believe there is greater economic opportunity for all communities that pursue a greener path. B.C. has a chance to lead the country and the world by adopting policies that deal with climate change.

If we ignore climate change and work only to maintain the status quo, our economy and lifestyle will suffer rather than flourish.

See two recent related Green Party media releases on this here and here.

As many people expected, the GPC Green Plan Squared (pdf link) continues to be the most economically sound and the best plan currently around.

April 28, 2007

Water and Oil - Tough to Mix, Easy to Sell

I've been following a lot of recent developments in Alberta on water and energy. There's a lot for us to be concerned about.

The aquifers are significantly depleted, yet the government continues to allow industry to use copious amounts of fresh water for their operations. Mexico, the USA and Canada are looking to share water. Guess who has the most? Where's the consultation with the people of this province & country who will be affected?

A power transmission line was approved without proper consultation with local landowners, and now it seems the government just wants to continue to ignore the concerns of Albertans who's money is being spent to build this power line. Other questions surround that issue.

Over the years the EUB has not heeded the advice to do baseline testing of water in order to allow for a benchmark to test against when complaints of water pollution come forward. Here we are many years later with water wells showing pollutants that shouldn't be there, but no record that they were or weren't there before nearby CBM drilling & fracing occurred.

The bottom line is that we Albertans, the people who elected our political representatives to represent us - are being ignored. Our concerns fall on deaf ears.

There must be a way to fix this.

(note: for reference documents and data email me directly at camsax(at)

April 20, 2007

Methinks they doth protest too much

Layton A Hypocrite About Deal, May Says

From the Nova Scotia Chronicle Herald article by Stephen Maher:

"There’s something wrong with Jack Layton if he’d rather open up discussions with the Taliban than the Green party," Ms. May said.

The NDP has angrily denounced Ms. May and Liberal Leader Stephane Dion for agreeing not to run candidates in each other’s ridings. Ms. May says she has tried many times to persuade Mr. Layton to discuss similar co-operation, but he refuses to talk with her.

It’s strange, given that Mr. Layton is happy to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Ms. May said.

"We know that Mr. Layton meets regularly with Stephen Harper," she said. "As a matter of fact Stephen Harper has praised Jack Layton as the leader of the opposition with whom he meets most often and finds the most co-operative."

But Karl Belanger, Mr. Layton’s spokesman, brushed aside her comments.
"If, and that is a big if, she ever gets elected to Parliament, we might answer her silly attacks," he said.

It was pointed out to me that the term 'silly' is a word used little to describe men, except maybe to try to emasculate a man, and that when used to describe women it is a sexist term.

- - -

NDP makes issue of Elizabeth May in the leaders debates
Two NDPers say yes; two say no.

From the Globe & Mail article by Brian Laghi:

MP Peter Stoffer, while agreeing with Mr. Layton that his party should run a candidate against Ms. May in the riding of Central Nova, said he thought she had the right to take part in the debate.

"I have no problems with her being in the televised debates, regardless of what happened in Central Nova. I honestly believe that she should have the right to be in the televised debate."

Meanwhile, Jim Laxer, a former party leadership candidate in the early 1970s and a political scientist, said he supports the idea of not running a candidate against Ms. May. A pact could help unite the opposition against Mr. Harper, Mr. Laxer said.

"I kind of think the deal is interesting because it's got some potential for a way for opposition parties who don't want to be divided up by Stephen Harper," he said.

He said Mr. Harper is dealing with the opposition against him piecemeal, which makes it difficult for the opposition to coalesce.

Mr. Laxer also said Ms. May should be part of the debate.

"I think she should be in the debate, but based on some kind of rule like 5 per cent [of the vote]," he said.

Mr. Laxer said the Greens, with 660,000 votes in the last election "clearly deserve a member of Parliament. . . . People should think of this on a higher level."

The party was not represented at the debates during the last election. Only parties with seats in Parliament and a comprehensive national platform were allowed last time.

Mr. Layton has said that the television networks decide who can take part. Typically, however, the networks require the agreement of all party leaders over who should be in on the contest.

Interestingly, a poll from January of this year showed that Canadians want the Green Party leader in debates.

- - -

NDP urged 2004 deal, ex-Green leader says

From the Toronto Star article by Susan Delacourt:

OTTAWA–Former Green party leader Jim Harris says NDP Leader Jack Layton sought a deal with him before the 2004 federal election, so he's baffled why New Democrats are suddenly saying that it's wrong for the Greens and Liberals to co-operate in the next campaign.

"Methinks they doth protest too much," Harris said in an interview yesterday, describing a meeting he held at a College St. café in Toronto with Layton before the 2004 campaign.

But according to Harris, Layton asked for the Greens not to run candidates in 2004 and to endorse the NDP instead. A 2004 newspaper story makes mention of the meeting and includes confirmation from an NDP strategist that Layton was looking for the Greens to back his party.

Layton, however, recalled yesterday that it was Harris looking for the NDP's support. "He asked for the meeting," Layton said, noting that Harris brought a list of demands, one of which was a request for the NDP not to run candidates against Greens.

That's not how Harris remembers things. He said he had gone to Layton to ask for his backing in getting into the televised leaders' debates during a future election campaign. Layton replied that Greens would need to do something for the NDP in return for their support. According to Harris, the question was something like: "Why don't you just not run any candidates and endorse the NDP and me?"

Harris said he couldn't see what the Green party would get out of that proposal.

Sometimes I'm left baffled and exhausted from trying to figure out whether the old-line political parties are being honest or just playing chess games. Our country still desperately needs transparency and accountability in our government, and I expect that electing Green MPs will help make this happen.

The Greens, under heavy fire, have to be careful and continue to respond to attacks with a pro-green message, rather than an 'anti-other' counter attack. Non-violence is one of the key values of the Green Party, and that includes non-violent communication.

April 16, 2007

Democratic Space analysis & article from Ottawa Citizen

Can Elizabeth May win Central Nova? Click HERE.

Even with the Liberals not running a candidate in Central Nova, there are many who question whether Green Party leader Elizabeth May can defeat Conservative incumbent Peter MacKay. People typically look at previous results and see the Greens so far back that they discount the possibility that May could actually win. People would be wise to re-think that position. I, for one, think it’s certainly possible for the Greens to win...

The comment section is a great discussion.

Grit-Green pact rattles
Susan Riley, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Monday, April 16, 2007

Jack Layton, with trademark piety, expressed disappointment that May has climbed into "the muck" with the Liberals. "If she wants to be a Liberal, why doesn't she just run for the Liberals?" sniffed his former aide, Jamey Heath. For the Conservatives, the deal is further evidence -- along with the Ottawa Senators' second-game loss and this month's miserable weather, presumably -- that Dion is a "weak leader."...

...Pay them no mind, Ms. May. These are the delusional mutterings of a dying cult. These are the custodians of politics as it always has been: stupidly partisan, pathologically afraid of innovation, mean-spirited and self-interested. Faced with a bold gesture -- particularly a gesture motivated by idealism -- they are, naturally, frightened and confused. But only for a moment. Too soon they fall back into the cynicism that sustains their tired, increasingly-exclusive little club...

...So why didn't May pursue an alliance with Layton, whose green credentials go back farther than Dion's, whose environmental policy has long been more progressive?

Well, she tried. She says she phoned Layton a number of times, but got no response. So she called an old friend, Stephen Lewis, to see if he would intervene. Layton has characterized this as "backroom wheeling and dealing," and accuses May of betraying her own high standards. As for his private meetings with Harper last fall (a relationship that has since cooled?) that was a noble attempt at co-operating in the public interest, of course -- a distinction that may escape outsiders.

"What the hell is wrong with Jack Layton that he can't answer a phone call?" May retorts, when asked." I don't understand this. He talks to Harper all the time. Surely, the shared values are much closer between the NDP and Greens."

Layton, however, has a history, a venerable institution and a fragile footing in the polls to defend -- not just a climate change plan. The Greens are competitors as much as allies. As for May, if her goal is electing a green government (and it is), cold calculation comes into play: Dion is more likely to become prime minister than Layton...

...May will have trouble beating MacKay, no matter what. But she really is doing politics differently, not just claiming to. She is fearless and Dion isn't weak. No wonder the old guard is closing ranks against them.

A specific google news search netted me 180 stories on the internet today. One hundred and eighty internet hits on the Green Party of Canada.

April 15, 2007

Open Letter - May & Dion - Democratic Nonpartisan Politics

First, a link to a video clip of May being interviewed on this.

Click on the 'watch this video' link next to the picture of Elizabeth May.
- - -
Here is my letter, written in reply to a concerned GPC member in Alberta.

Thank you for your very well written and engaging letter.

I respect your opinion, and want to share with you that I don't see May's actions as treachery, as you put it. The specifics of this arrangement are that the Green Party will not be running a candidate in Dion's riding - a riding where there is no Green Party EDA or nominated candidate. Dion (someone that is not too popular in my neck of the woods) has agreed to not run a Liberal candidate in the riding of Central Nova where Elizabeth May is the nominated Green Party candidate. This has been called treachery and back-room dealing some wishing to label it that way. It has been called admirable, courageous and an effort towards co-operative teamwork by many others. Dion's decision to support May has been made because the Liberal Party wants May to be elected. Interestingly, many Greens, who are understandably shaken up, are asking 'why not just vote Liberal?' At the same time many Liberals are asking 'why not just vote Green?' To be clear, this is an agreement involving two ridings, and two leaders of federal political parties. This is not a wholesale endorsement of either party, by either leader, nor should it be.

A point of interest: Apparently the Liberal riding association is supportive of this arrangement.

Another point of interest: A number of very prominent members of the now dead Progressive Conservative Party were instrumental in helping May achieve a respectable second place in the London North Center byelection with 25% of the vote, ahead of the NDP and Conservative candidates. Last time I checked, those green conservatives and blue conservationists were fine with the Green Party's efforts to work above partisan lines.

In my short time with the Green Party I've come to realize that running 308 candidates in 308 ridings was nothing short of a miracle. For the Green Party to do this in two elections in a row was unbelievable! Here is the Green Party, a national party, with over 600,000 votes, 30% of Canadians supporting the Green Party and considering to vote Green, polls putting the Greens in the double digits, and no elected MP's. Then I hear that some might say the Green Party is a 'fringe party', but with a platform and policies that cover all issues, the ability to organize 308 candidates, and this level of support, one has to acknowledge that the Green Party is a force to be reckoned with.

I believe that it is our dysfunctional electoral system that has failed us through the years. While the other national parties have claimed to support some kind of electoral reform in the past, once in power they quickly forgot about fairness and equality. Elizabeth May managed to arrange a very high profile agreement, and the message it sends to me is that the old-line parties will have to change their ways or face the Greens head on. We will not be denied!

I am a spiritual person. In my life I live by principles that are very important to me. They include honesty, open-mindedness, patience, tolerance and hope, to name a few. I've found that if something doesn't fit with these principles it's probably not worth doing. I've looked long and hard at this decision, as well as the six key values and the constitution of the Green Party of Canada, and I cannot agree that this was the wrong thing to do.

Under Article 4 - Purpose, from the GPC Constitution, 4.1 reads "fielding and electing candidates in federal elections." This action is made in an effort to ensure that the Green Party elects a candidate in the next election. It is not made in lieu of continuing to work hard at the grassroots level. It is not a short cut. It is acting in accordance with the Party's constitution. Rest assured, the Green Party is working to have candidates running (no, not literally 'running', although one Liberal-loathing fellow had me on the 'run' today ;-) in the 307 remaining ridings.

Under Article 6 - Accountability, it reads: "All units and individuals within The Party are accountable to:
6.1) the membership in general meetings of members, and
6.2) the Federal Council when the membership is not in general meetings
To me this is very important. It means that I, as the Alberta Provincial Representative, must represent the federal members within the province of Alberta. I take this volunteer position very seriously, and since I've been elected by the members in Alberta to represent them and make decisions on their behalf, I must listen to what their thoughts and opinions are. I wouldn't have it any other way, and I will continue to bring the comments, questions and concerns of members in Alberta to Federal Council and the entire Federal Green Party.

From our Key Value of Social Justice it is stated that "there is no social justice without environmental justice, and no environmental justice without social justice", and that this requires "a new vision of citizenship built on equal rights for all individuals regardless of gender, race, age, religion, class, ethnic or national origin, sexual orientation, disability, wealth or health." This reminds us all that we can never discount a persons value, nor can we elevate a persons status based on any of the points from the list above. Green Party members within the two ridings, non members in those ridings, Green Party members across Canada and Canadians of all political leanings will be heard equally by my party. I will make sure of it. Whether or not there is an electoral district association formed, the members of the Green Party of Canada are on equal footing with the Leader of the Green Party of Canada. They are no greater or lesser that any other member of this party.

From our Key Value of Participatory Democracy it is stated that "building grassroots institutions that enable decisions to be made directly at the appropriate level by those affected, based on systems which encourage civic vitality, voluntary action and community responsibility." Will this agreement facilitate this value? How can we judge if this value has been upheld? Will this deal encourage civic vitality, voluntary action and community responsibility, or will it discourage it? Has this deal been made in contradiction of this value? How does it apply to each riding that it directly affects, and how does it apply to the big picture of Canadian politics? I'm certainly no political strategist, but I can comment on the relevancy of this value to this arrangement. I believe it will lead to the fulfillment of this value, and I believe that the actions of Dion and May are examples of real participatory democracy.

It could be wonderful if Canadians had a right to vote for every registered federal party, a right that could be enshrined in the Canadian constitution, but there is no such right. Like driving in our vehicles, being able to vote for the party of our choice in the riding where we reside is a privilege that we must never take for granted. We must participate in supporting our party of choice in ways above and beyond offering our vote. We must work to ensure that our local ridings are organized and able to elect candidates. I want to see this done more at the grassroots level in the ridings by the riding associations, and less by Ottawa through the National Office.

While we all have a right to vote, we must recognize that our vote is burdened by our electoral system. So much so, in fact, that many people speak of so-called 'strategic voting', as if there's any strategy or even measurable logic to our electoral system. Many Canadians are stuck with whoever has the overwhelming majority of support in their riding, and no matter what other party they vote for, it will only be effective as a protest vote. That voter can do their best to organize, support their underdog party, assist in any way they can to help grow their party, but in the end, election after election, in that particular riding, nothing will change. The old-line parties will continue to see their support bleed to the other party, they will read the polls, they will message accordingly in order to re-attract their support, but in the end nothing will change. For how many decades are we willing to subject ourselves to this?

Then there are the close ridings, the ones where every vote 'matters' (the system is bizarre in that it puts more or less value on your vote, based on your riding stats), or at least they 'matter' until the results are in, and the parties that lost have to lick their wounds and tell their voters "sorry, we tried, but your votes were cast for naught". In those ridings Canada's first-past-the-post electoral system has caused extreme partisanship and Canada's federal parties have focused their efforts time and time again on strategy rather than on people. I say if nothing changes, nothing changes! If we allow the old-line parties to continue to be so negatively affected by this electoral system, we are selling ourselves short and giving up on our hopes for positive change in Canada. Things need to change and they need to change now.

I ask myself how my country came to this point and I look back on recent political developments in Canada. What has happened to the Right? It became 'united', meaning that Harper and Mackay destroyed a Canadian institution by dissolving the Progressive Conservative Party and reducing voter options. Talk about back room deals and a loss of voter choice!!!

What has happened to the Left? This is now the Green party's dilemma. They could risk being possibly seen as the Party that split the Left (after it's already been split previously) and caused the election of a Harper majority. No, that would not be a good thing, but really neither would a majority under any other party right now. Alternatively the Greens, along with other progressive parties, can work together to ensure that progressive values, a healthy environment, healthy Canadians and a sustainable economy are made a reality. We are the electorate choosing our representatives - in some cases nonpartisan selections based on the strengths the candidate possesses. I want to stress that this is democratic nonpartisan politics.

While the Greens are neither Left nor Right, they do have to show Canadians why it's worth voting for them. There are so many reasons that we need the Green Parties in all of the countries around the world to continue to fight for real positive change. The Left, as well as the Right, must continue to welcome the Green Party as the new progressive and responsible option. I see so many ex-Progressive Conservative supporters joining the Green Party, as well as disillusioned NDPers fed up with a lack of real progress, that I stand in amazement. I've seen people with no previous partisan leanings join the Green Party, as well as long time Liberals who know that the greenwashing of the old line parties isn't going to bring about real action. The Green Party is a national party that appeals to Canadians from across the political spectrum. This is now the new face of Canadian politics.

This was an open and transparent agreement, not a back-room deal. It was proudly announced with no effort to conceal or otherwise deny the agreement. This was a leap of faith in the spirit of kindness & hope, not a sin. Collaboration is not a sin, although some people including NDP's one time research and communications director Jamie Heath would have you think that working together isn't what Canadians want their elected representatives to do.

This agreement takes our dysfunctional first past the post electoral system and throws it back in the face of the political parties who've been unable to fix it. It allows Greens across Canada a better chance of representation in parliament. Democratic values have remained uncompromised. We've now realized the next logical step to the electoral system that our country uses. Unless some kind of electoral reform takes place, we will only continue to see more frustrated Canadians voting in long shot riding for a party with little chance, and more frustrated Canadians voting in neck-and-neck ridings where the fight to win power continues to take on ever more ugly form of partisanship that, in May's own words, "exceeds sense". Until Canada's democracy is reformed to become a truly fair and equal democratic government, I will continue to fight for real change, and I will do so through my efforts within the Green Party of Canada.

April 13, 2007

Elizabeth May & Dion Work Together

Cooperation in Canadian Politics?!?

Well, I suppose these days it's becoming a bit more common.

The Harper Government and Jack Layton worked together on the Clean Air Bill (C-30) and now Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada has agreed to not run a candidate in Dion's riding, while Dion will not run a Liberal candidate in Central Nova, the riding that May has chosen to run in.

Leaders' ridings have always been treated differently in party politics. In the past, no other leader has ever taken the Green Party leadership seriously. This reciprocal leadership non-contestation is simply a statement of principle that we need urgent action for the planet. There is a tradition of “leaders’ courtesy”. For many years, Canadian political leaders observed a tradition of not contesting each others ridings. This tradition existed for decades and has included such people as John A. Macdonald, Wilfred Laurier and William Lyon Mackenzie-King.

Canadians want their elected officials to work together for the good of our country. It looks like the Greens are bringing a spirit of kindness and helpfulness to politics. This answers the question of whether May would change politics or politics would change May.

It's now been demonstrated that the Green Party of Canada is a serious player. The Greens are running to win in ridings across Canada. The Green Party of Canada puts our country and our planet above partisan political games, and cooperation, not competitiveness, is our core value. The Green Party will always put principle and progress above petty partisanship.

Elizabeth May continues to tell the truth. When she ran for leadership, Elizabeth May promised to be a relentless truth-teller, even if that might be to a short-term disadvantage. May’s experience with Mr. Dion is that he is honest, intellectually rigorous and thoroughly committed to Kyoto. She formed and expressed that opinion before he became Liberal leader, and she continues to express that opinion now. May’s comments about politicians and their records has no ideological bent. It is based only on their records. This announcement shows that Elizabeth May is telling the truth when she says we’re doing politics differently. The Green Party wouldn't be where it is today if not for her leadership.

Both parties were motivated by wanting a better Parliament. Stéphane Dion wants Elizabeth May to be in Parliament. Both leaders want more MPs in Parliament who recognize the serious threat of climate change.

This announcement doesn’t change the fact that outside the leaders’ ridings Green Party candidates will be running hard to defeat Liberal MPs and candidates. We are committing to electing a solid caucus, not just one or two MPs. We cannot expect other parties to keep a clear focus on issues Greens care about: social justice, the need for a peace-making approach and independence in our foreign policy, or on climate, unless we have many Green MPs in the House. The Party is working hard to ensure that Adriane Carr, Deputy Leader, wins in Vancouver Centre, where she’s running against Liberal MP Hedy Fry.

The Green Party does not conduct it's business like other parties. We think there is far too much partisanship getting in the way of real progress. Greens will always put the health of the planet above short-term partisanship, and in doing so, the heath of Canadians and the path to a sustainable and vibrant economy as well.

In Elizabeth May's own words, “I have discovered a lot about politics since becoming Leader of the Green Party less than eight months ago. I have discovered that there is a nastiness to partisanship that exceeds sense. It is essentially a form of tribalism, and quite primitive tribalism at that. As Leader of the Green Party, some would prefer I never said that Mr. Harper’s policies are the biggest threat to our planet and our country, even though they know that to be true. They would prefer I never said that Mr. Dion is a man of integrity (even if we can all agree his Party has appalling baggage). I promised when I ran for leadership to be a relentless truth-teller. Even if that might be to a short-term disadvantage.

The Green Party will always put principle and progress above petty partisanship. So I am proud of what Stéphane and I have agreed to do. In addition to not running against me in Central Nova, he has signaled a willingness to reform our electoral system. This is real progress toward Green goals.”

Statement by the Hon. Stéphane Dion, Leader, Liberal Party of Canada and Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party of Canada

April 9, 2007

Harper Governments Income Trust Mess

First this: (click this link for full story)


Surprise move breaks major Conservative campaign promise to avoid taxing trusts

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he had no choice because he feared that increasing numbers of corporations were preparing to convert to trusts — a trend he said threatened Ottawa's tax base.

Then this: (click here for full story)

There have been 12 takeovers of trusts announced or proposed in the five months since the Harper government announced a surprise 31.5-per-cent tax on income trusts, according to Deloitte & Touche...

...Finance Minister Jim Flaherty sold the trust tax as a way to recoup tax revenue that these corporate structures were not paying, but critics say the measure will ultimately cost Ottawa money as takeovers put trusts in the hands of entities, including foreign private equity funds, that won't pay Canadian federal taxes.

New foreign owners of trusts would pay less Canadian tax, says Ogilvy Renault LLP's Leonard Farber, a former Finance official. "Foreign takeover will result in less tax at both the federal and provincial levels," he said yesterday.

Now this: (full article here)

The rash of recent income trust takeovers that critics blame on the Harper government's trust levy will cost Ottawa tens of millions of dollars in annual lost tax revenue, Bay Street investment experts say.

That's tax revenue that would have been paid by trust unitholders and will now be lost to tax avoidance by predominantly foreign entities that have snapped up most of the trusts in the last five months.

It's a sign of how misguided the income trust tax was, critics say, arguing that the levy sold by Ottawa as a solution to tax leakage is actually causing its own bleed of revenue from federal coffers...

...“If so-called tax fairness was intended to accelerate the sale of Canadian companies to foreign entities, then it is a success,” Mr. McIntyre said. “If it was intended to increase Canadian tax revenues, it is a failure.”

Mr. Flaherty justified the 31.5-per-cent trust tax by saying it was necessary to stem tax avoidance by trust investors that the Finance Department had estimated was at least $500-million a year.

It would only take slightly more than 15 per cent of the trust sector to be bought out by foreign private equity, and non-Canadian firms before Ottawa was losing annual tax revenue equivalent to what it said eluded its grasp before the trust tax.

What a mess.

Was this simply a big mistake made by a party unable to govern, or was this done on purpose?

I know a great number of ex-PCers who absolutely will not place their vote with the Harper Conservatives. This party is failing to represent their voter base. The Harper government has taken Alberta's oil&gas revenues and used the cash in the spring budget to buy votes in Quebec. They have not demonstrated transparency or accountability.

So where does a Canadian, who wants to see the power to make choices concerning their land and municipalities actually put back in the hands of the land owners and municipal representatives, where does a Canadian concerned with fiscal responsibility, social justice, and ecological sustainability place their political support?

Edited to Update: Green Party Income Trusts Media Release Here.

April 5, 2007

A Geologist Talks Peak Oil & Canada

I'm always on the lookout for articles like the one below.

I know that we have a choice to either stay with a major focus on using the oilsands to drive our economy or invest instead in cleaner and more sustainable forms of energy. Eventually we (and our descendants) will be left with depleted supplies of fossil fuels. It's up to us now to decide on how fast we want this to occur. It's obvious to me that the faster we extract oil from the oilsands, the faster we'll use it up, or rather the faster the United States will use it up. What's the rush? It's not going anywhere sitting in the ground, except for maybe up in value.

I like to focus on solutions. The problem is that our economy is driven by the destruction/development of the oil sands. The development of oilsands is causing massive greenhouse gas emissions (in turn contributing to global warming), illnesses due to pollution, ecological degradation, and is attached to other unresolved issues.

The solution starts with ending government subsidies for the most profitable substance in the world. Instead of offering the oil companies incentives to invest in the oilsands (they need our tax money to help them operate?!?) Our government - the one we elected to represent us* - should instead invest that money in renewable energy technologies. Jobs will be created. We will be able to work in wind, geothermal & solar technologies. Our economy will shift away from being resource based and instead Canada will develop sustainable green energy & export that energy technology. We have to act now though; other countries are already doing this and realizing great profits. Their citizens are healthier. Their economies are stable and sustainable. Why hasn't Canada done this? Because our government lacks the political will.

* (due to our dysfunctional first past the post electoral system, our government doesn't actually represent the majority of this country. That's a post for another day though... ;-)

Back to the article...

David Hughes on Canada's Oil and Natural Gas

Here are some excerpts from this interview. Read the whole transcript here.

DH: I am Dave Hughes. I work for the Geological Survey of Canada. I have been there for 31 years. I've worked on energy for my entire career, and I've been concerned about the whole global supply issue, and Canadian and North American supply issues, for more than 10 years...

...DH: Really, all you have to do is look at the last 10 years at what's happened. Even take it back 15 years to 1990. In 1990, we had a gas production probably of around 14 Bcf a day, and we had an overall decline rate of about 13%. So, if you didn't drill a well, gas production would drop by 13%. Going forward to 2004, the overall decline rate on a slightly higher production is now 20%. But, even more important, it's the initial productivity of the gas wells. Back in 1996, the average gas well - when it came on production - it came on production at about 600 Mcf per day. The average gas well, today, is around 200 Mcf/day - a little bit better than that.

JD: That's a thousand cubic feet.

DH: Thousand cubic feet. So, we have to drill 2-3 wells to get the initial productivity of a well that was drilled back in 1996. And you can see it in the overall drilling rates. In 1996, we drilled 4,000 successful gas wells. The price of gas spiked in 2001 - we drilled 11,000 gas wells. We've had about a 10% increase in productivity by drilling three times as many wells. 2003: even though we drilled 14,000 wells, gas production fell by about 3%. So, it basically hit a peak in 2001, maintained that plateau till mid-2002, declined 3% in 2003. We're now drilling nearly 16,000 gas wells per year, as of 2005, and production is about what it was back in 2002... We have to drill more and more wells each year - hopefully to stay flat - but, eventually, even to hold declines, to relatively small, incremental levels...

JD: Turning to the tar sands, the oil sands. Can you explain what kind of oil is extracted from the tar sands?

DH: I like to talk about the food chain when it comes to oil - conventional and unconventional. When we drill an oil well - really, this is a comment on energy return on investment - so, how much energy do we spend developing the resource versus the energy that we get back from the resource that we recovered? And when we drilled a vertical well in Saudi Arabia back in the 1950s, the energy that it took us to drill that well versus the energy in the 20 thousand barrels a day that we got back, was 100:1, or greater... If you look at oil sands - again, they're very low-grade oil, they require upgrading to turn it into synthetic crude, which is something that can actually be used - I think the ratio is something like two tonnes of oil sand for one barrel of oil - that's moved by trucks (hydrocarbons, diesel fuel). It's upgraded with natural gas, water. So, the energy input for tar sands is on the order of two to one. So, we burn a barrel to get two - with all of the greenhouse gas implications of doing that. So, as we move down the food chain, from 1950’s Saudi Arabia to oil sands in 2006, we're committing more and more hydrocarbon consumption, just to get hydrocarbons. And you can see the greenhouse gas implications of doing that. How much can the oil sands can grow? my calculations, if we spend $90 billion (which is on the table right now), we may be able to get the oil sands to 2 million to 2.5 million barrels per day. And, again, that's going to keep Canadians in oil. It's going to result in a huge increase in greenhouse gas emissions. And, if you fire up GoogleEarth and go north of Fort McMurray and have a look at the surface - environmental impact of those oil sands - we're going to have a major ecological issue for those 2.5 million barrels per day of oil, a lot of which will be exported to our neighbors to the South...

JD: What do you think of Canada being trumpeted as having more reserves than - or, at least, being equivalent to the new Saudi Arabia?

DH: I think it's very misleading. I don't question that the reserves are there. The whole issue is how fast can you convert them to supply. And that's the whole problem with oil sands: it takes a long time to build the infrastructure, and to grow deliverability, compared to drilling a 1950 well in Saudi Arabia. So, it's a deliverability issue, not a resource issue. There's a study done at Uppsala University in Sweden on the oil sands, the implications of a crash program - if you didn't worry about natural gas limitations, water limitations, environmental impact limitations - how fast - or, the whole inflation situation that's happening in Fort McMurray because of all the development. If we didn't worry about any of that, and said, how much could we get if we just went flat out, and their analysis was that the oil sands would peak in 2038 at about five million barrels per day. And that's, again, significant, but the forecast [global] demand at that time is over 120 million barrels a day. So, compared to what the world needs, it's still a small part. And, the other thing about that analysis is, by 2050, all of the surface mineable oil sands will be gone, so we'll be left just with what we may, or may not, be able to recover from the in-situ [resources].

JD: The greenhouse gas situation in terms of Canada and Canadian politics is not exactly clear cut, but it does seem to have taken a - it does seem to be heading in the direction of being less worried about it. What light can you shed on that picture?

Can you comment on the greenhouse gas situation in Canadian politics?

DH: Canada has been a bit of a bad offender when you look at greenhouse gas emissions growth. Since 1990, Kyoto was supposed to get us down to 6% below 1990 by 2012, I believe. What's actually happened is we're now about 30 odd percent above 1990 levels, which requires a horrific decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. The Liberals said we were going to do it, but if you look at what happened, greenhouse gas emissions just kept rising. The Conservatives are backing off on Kyoto. In a way, I sort of agree with them. I can't see [with] people committed to business as usual, how we're going to get a cut of 36% by 2012. I see a lot of inertia. I don't see things happening - in fact, I can see things getting worse with the developments at Fort McMurray. So, they might have been realistic in assuming that we can't meet those targets. What really disturbs me is we're looking around the world to try to maintain business as usual without realising that we have an oil problem, a natural gas problem. There are things that we could and should be doing to reduce our consumption of those resources, as opposed to desperately trying to find more to keep business as usual going. I think we have to kind of wake up and smell the roses, and start doing those things. And that's the only way we're going to manage the greenhouse gas problem, or the long-term energy sustainability problem...

That's a lot to read, but well worth the time.

Final thought goes to Folke Günther:

"After 1850, the human population changed from using a flow (sun and its derivatives) to using a storage (fossil fuels). This is reflected in the population growth curve. When speaking of a change from a store to a flow, (renewable energy sources), you also have to invent a new (logistic) economy, since our current economy is adapted to the energy extraction from a storage."

How Will Our Grandchildren See Us? [article]

I found the article below interesting because stories like these are becoming very frequent, regardless of whether the source is on the left or right of the political spectrum. The climate crisis issue is not a partisan one. The realities of the climate crisis are being realized by Canadians and people all over the world, and the effects are being seen right now, from the loss of habitat and traditional native lifestyle in Northern Canada to the Pine Beetle infestation made worse through warmer and shorter winters.

So what can we do?

While we can change our own lifestyles, I believe that our government needs the political will to make the changes that we Canadians collectively want. Shifting our industries away from an unsustainable resource based one to a sustainable renewable energy technologies one is something that will be good for our economy today and for the next seven generations. That's the time frame that Green Party policies operate under.

We can strengthen our economy by conserving our ecology.

See the GP2 document by clicking here (PDF file) for more info on where the Greens are coming from with regards to energy, the economy, and climate change.

Back to the article...

The US Counterpunch website posted this article by Scott Bontz on April 3rd, '07. Here are a few selected passages. For the full article click the link just below.

The Great Depletion
How Will Our Grandchildren See Us?

Thirty years ago, Alex Haley's "Roots" on television inspired millions to sleuth their blood ties to history. On this anniversary, let's imagine what our own descendants will make of us when they look back.

What they will see is that Earth's people more than tripled between 1950 and 2050. They'll see that halfway through this explosion, American material consumption had grown so voracious that four Earths would be needed for everyone on the planet to live the same way. And they'll see that billions tried.

They'll see that this combination exhausted and poisoned water supplies, exterminated hundreds of thousands of species, and plowed under forests and grasslands, eroding essentially irreplaceable soils.

They'll see that what fueled the "free market" was humanity's biggest free lunch: We exploited energy accumulated over millions of years -- coal, oil and natural gas. And we did it even though we knew we'd run out.

They'll see that burning these fossil fuels raised temperatures and sea levels to drive tens of millions from coastal cities and drown rich delta soils, turned rich midcontinent farmland into desert, and made storms in wetter regions destructively stronger and erratic.

They'll see that even during this delayed reaction to the Big Burn, fossil fuels petered out, and with them the irrigation and fertilizer that made it possible to feed so many extra billions.

And they'll see that before the resulting hardships, people in the richest countries got much fatter, yet no happier.

They -- the Children of the Great Depletion -- will see that we squandered Earth, their birthright, for the sake of the "good life."

Since the free market has failed us here, we need new rules of taxation, regulation and treaty. So:

-- Make the American way of life negotiable. Our fuel burning pumps into the atmosphere more global-warming carbon dioxide than any other nation, even though No. 2 China has more than four times as many people. We have to lead the way out.

-- Do this by taxing fossil fuels to slash release of greenhouse gases. Price these fuels at their true, long-term cost, including illness from pollution and food production lost to climate change. Invest the revenue in sustainable alternatives. Do it soon: Leading NASA climate scientist James Hansen reckons we have a decade at most to start reducing greenhouse gases before drastic climate change becomes inevitable.

-- And for policy and individual conduct in general, recognize that what we call economic growth, running now on so much principal from the natural world, cannot last. Instead of spending like there's no tomorrow, conserve -- make this the United States of Conservation -- and pass along a good life to our descendants.

What could make them prouder?

Scott Bontz wrote this for the Prairie Writers Circle, a project of the Land Institute, Salina, Kan. He edits institute publications.

April 2, 2007

Our Military & Media Release on Iran

See below for more info on our policies on Canada's military and foreign policy...

Media Release - Green Party calls on government to speak out clearly against accelerating tensions in Iran

April 02/07 Green Party Leader Elizabeth May today called on the Harper government to speak out clearly against accelerating tensions in Iran and to dissociate Canada from the war games in the region.

The arrests of British military personnel by Iran are part and parcel of the continuing escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf, said Ms. May. The Green Party is asking Prime Minister Harper to spell out the connection between American military build-up in the region and the recent arrests of British forces.

“The tit-for-tat war games going on at this very volatile time and place in the world are dangerous and irresponsible. Where is Canada’s independence and leadership on this issue? This is no time to take sides. It is a time to take diplomatic action, a tool the Harper government has simply abandoned,” said Ms. May. "Foreign affairs Minister Peter MacKay should be making peace-making efforts in the region a top priority."

The Green Party acknowledged that the spectre of American military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities is becoming clear. Canada has long advocated that attacks against nuclear facilities can have catastrophic consequences on the environment and human health.

Green Party Peacebuilding Advocate, Shodja Ziaian, called on the Harper government to initiate an open and comprehensive dialogue between American, British, European and Iranian diplomats to resolve the boundary dispute between the United Kingdom and Iran, and urged the Bush administration to abandon its hard-line stance against discussion. Mr. Ziaian also called on Ottawa to name a Canadian peace envoy to assist with diplomatic efforts.

Ms. May has instructed her Critic for International Cooperation, Janina Komaroff, to immediately take the initiative of contacting and exploring the coordination of a common action with European and American Green Parties in this respect.

As International Affairs consultant Jillian Skeet has noted, despite our difficulties with the Islamic Republic of Iran, Canada has never completely slammed the door on contact with the Iranians or their government. This fact, combined with our diplomatic ties with the United States and the United Kingdom, and our status as a non-nuclear country, provide us with an opportunity to actively engage in diplomacy.

Mr. Ziaian further emphasized that “in Canada we have an opportunity to change the tone and restore rationality to this limited dialogue – let’s use it”.



Shodja Ziaian

Peacebuilding Advocate


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I'd like to add a bit more background about where the Green Party stands regarding Canada's military. I respect and support our country's soldiers, and I'm proud of the Green Party's policies in this area.

The Green Party would maintain funding for the armed forces budget. We support mandating the funding of our military forces and support reallocation of resources to alternate conflict resolution, ecosystem protection, disaster relief, and strengthening of the UN.

The Green Party of Canada calls for an end to Canada’s current involvement in the NATO-led military campaign in southern Afghanistan, and advocates that Canada instead strictly confine its efforts to peacekeeping, rebuilding infrastructure, and humanitarian work to improve the lives of the people of Afghanistan. The military security aspect would strategically best be undertaken by the United Nations or other appropriate nations and Canadian troops would cease undertaking offensive military operations.

On defense policy, the Green Party of Canada is committed to the international Green pillar of nonviolence, working for a culture of peace and cooperation between states, the rejection of militarism, and the commitment to economic and social development, environmental safety and respect for human rights.

We are committed to our historic policy of promoting multilateral disarmament, peaceful resolution of conflict, military conversion, support for United Nations peacekeeping operations, and the strengthening of the United Nations through reform of the Security Council and the expansion of the role of the General Assembly.

The Green Party of Canada supports international law, the general principles of the United Nations, and the right of all countries to self-determination and democracy. We also support the key founding principle of the Organization of American States, of which Canada is a member: the right of all countries to be free from military intervention by other countries except under the United Nations Responsibility to Protect doctrine.

A Green Party of Canada government would undertake to enforce the World Court decision which affirmed that the use or threat of nuclear weapons is contrary to international humanitarian law.

A Green Party of Canada government would undertake to promote the banning of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and land mines.

A Green Party of Canada government would undertake to improve Canada's contribution to conflict resolution, and peace building.

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From the 2006 election platform:
Foreign Policy - Keeping the Peace

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Related Green Party media releases:

Canada should focus effort on relief in Afghanistan, not combat

Green Party conference to take hard look at Canada’s foreign policy

May calls on Harper to condemn military provocation in Middle East

Focus Afghanistan development on alternatives to illicit opium, says May

Alberta Green Party Training Session a Success!

I am proud to announce that our candidate & electoral district association (EDA) training session was a huge success. We had great presentations, about 30 people attended, and we had many fantastic discussions while staying on schedule and adhering to the agenda. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to organize and facilitate both this training session and the first one held in February.

We chose a roundtable discussion format for the workshop and had a number of presentations throughout the day as well. The focus in the morning was on EDA’s
campaigning, and the afternoon focused on candidacy and messaging.

Mark M was up first to do a short presentation on
fundraising, with Stephen S speaking afterwards on different aspects of messaging.

George Read, Leader of the Green Party of Alberta and former Federal Green Party Campaign Manager, was one of our featured speakers. His afternoon presentation was very well received and I noticed people scrambling to write notes on his excellent suggestions for messaging & campaigning.

For this event I created a training CD with over 600 files and 650 MBs of data on anything and everything related to campaigning, candidacy, messaging and more. The files on the disc came from almost two years of collecting and researching the Green Party, ‘green’ related subjects (see our Key Values) and politics in general. I think the training disc will be very useful.

It looks like there will be enough interest to continue this training session as a monthly event. We had one person down from Edmonton who intends to reproduce our efforts there with a local training session for Edmonton & area. As more candidates step forward and are elected by their EDA’s, and as more EDA’s are formed and registered with Elections Canada, the interest in these training sessions will continue to increase.

Thanks to everyone who helped to make this a productive and successful event!

View this post on my GPC hosted blog by clicking HERE.