Bay of Quinte Greens, Newsletter
Welcome once again to the Quinte Provincial Greens online newsletter. The sun was shining today and yesterday and my wife was the garden. I put out the garden chairs and put away the snow shovels. Sudden spring. The yard is full of doves, sparrows and robins. Some come in pairs. I also saw a butterfly near the compost. At night in my backyard I set up my telescope and looked at the Orion Nebulla. I think, wow what a great planet!
Quinte Greens Speaker Series: Don Wilford
We have had a lot of interest in the recording of “Vaccines and Variants”
Links to our previous events:
John Hirsch, Councilor for South Marysburgh was our host. He mentioned many more people watch these recordings after the fact – we hope it will be seen by many who couldn’t join us on Wednesday evening. As well, Drs. Bernstein and Evens have kindly agreed to allow us to post their slide decks – see below.
Whenever I take notes at an event like this I try to sit back, afterwards, and synthesize my impressions. In this case they were a sense of calm and of wonder. I am a scientist by training but have lost knowledge of the awesome scientific capability in our midst – in our universities, institutes, and in the private sector. And while I visit my physician regularly, it was humbling to see the deep knowledge, capability, and kindness shown by Dr. Evans and to realize how immensely impressive our oft-maligned health care system is.
My overwhelming impression is that we are in good and safe hands and that we are truly fortunate to live here, in Ontario.
Dr. Bernstein opened the presentation with a brief explanation:
• Today’s technologies (recombinant vector, sub-unit, and nucleic acid) vaccines are safe and effective
• Variants are nature’s way – all viruses mutate – it’s at the heart of evolution. He showed us where on the virus “spikes” the variants occur.
• The big picture is that while the rollout of vaccinations in Ontario has been slow, the number of deaths is also very low – a third of that in the U.S. and U.K. It means our situation is much better than is often presented.
Dr. Evans talked about: 1) the current situation; 2) variants and; 3) vaccines:
• Yes, we’re in a third wave – it started in mid February and it’s caused by the UK “B117” variant (which we know, after Dr. Bernstein’s presentation, is more properly labeled as N501Y – yes, there’ll be a short test at the end). For those of you who remember the reproduction number, “R” (how infectious the virus is), B117 is higher by about 0.4 – it means it’s pushed us above the critical value of 1.0.
• Ontario is no different from anywhere else – the percentage of B117 in Ontario is growing in exactly the same way it’s done elsewhere
• The concern is that variants: 1) can be more transmissible (B117 is 50% more); 2) have greater virulence (ICU admissions are higher and mortality is higher) and; 3) may have decreased protection from vaccines or previous infections, ie, mutations to the virus “spike” result in decreased binding of our antibodies.
• Every person infected offers the virus more chances to randomly mutate – the large number of cases around the world (over 120 million) is not just a problem for our health and healthcare systems, it also generates more opportunities for the emergence of variants we’re now seeing. It was likely that the previous SARS (CoV-1) died out because of limited spread globally and control of case numbers that were small enough to allow for successful eradication.
• Which vaccine is best? We all wanted the answer to this question. As you might expect, it depends what you’re looking for:
◦ All our vaccines are 100% effective in reducing hospitalizations preventing severe Covid at home
◦ All vaccines appear to be about 70% effective in preventing infection altogether
◦ One of the later questions was about long-Covid – there is early anecdotal evidence vaccination may help long-Covid too, although the studies will likely go on for years
◦ All vaccines reduce asymptomatic infection by about 80%
• Are there side effects? Yes, 14 were listed (local and systemic) but all are temporary. The most common are: pain at the injection site; fatigue; headache; and muscle pain.
• Have things been rushed? – time has been saved by doing things in parallel, not by cutting corners, eg, it’s normal for trials to be completed before turning data over to regulators who can spend as long as a year going back and forth with drug companies. This time it was all compressed by having regulators at the table during the trials.
• Timing between shots: 3 months is fine (for many other vaccines it’s 6 months). The danger in making it too short is that our immune system might see the two shots as just an extended single shot.
• In summary: 1) we’re in the 3rd wave because of variants; 2) variants are cause for concern so we need to keep up our “prevention toolbox” (hand-washing, wearing a mask, and distancing); 3) vaccines are effective and safe and; 4) global production is ramping up fast and because it’s easy to tweak the new technology vaccines, more are on the horizon to deal with variants.
I won’t summarize the Q&A – you can watch it for yourselves. Suffice it to say it went on for an hour and Dr. Evans was only dragged away when his dinner was burning.
Our next Speaker Series Event will be on Wednesday the 28th April, on water – “Precious and Free – Water As A Vital Need And A Basic Commodity In A World Of Climate Crisis”
And now, we hope you won’t mind us asking you for a small, monthly donation – only, of course, if you’re willing and able? If you can donate $5 or $10 a month – at tinyurl.com/3s4bfk6z – it would be much appreciated.
As you may know, the Provincial government has phased out per-vote subsidies – they were an attempt to clean-up election financing. Whether or not you agree, it leaves the local Bay of Quinte Greens with only the funding we can raise from supporters. That said, we don’t spend much but if we wish to mount a campaign (the next Provincial election is scheduled for June 2022) it is essential we build up a fund to pay reasonable campaign expenses, including road signs and campaign literature.
Finally, Canada’s tax system provides generous reimbursements – annual donations up to $423 receive a 75% tax refund. It means a $10 donation will cost you only $2.50 – a small price for helping to build a clean and caring economy and doing politics differently.
PEC News: The County Conservancy
We are on the eve of spring – a time for renewal and new beginnings!
We are pleased to announce the launch of “The County Conservancy” a NFP organization to continue on the efforts of Save Picton Bay. Our mandate is to encourage responsible development in the County and safeguard and protect the County for future generations. Ken Stewart, Ryan Wallach and myself are Board members. Here is the link to the website and facebook page.
Please go to the facebook page (County Conservancy) to see Doornekamp’s latest announcement regarding cargo containers coming to Picton Bay starting May 2021.
Our primary goal is support Council at the upcoming LPAT hearing. As predicted, Picton Terminals has appealed Council’s decision to turn down the rezoning application to allow for 2,300 cargo containers and cruise ships.
We are entering the critical stages of this fight and we need your support now more than ever!
Please note that future communication will come directly from The County Conservancy.
My Pandemic Experience,
Lori Borthwick, President of Bay of Quinte Provincial Greens
I have worked as a respiratory therapist for over 30 years. For those of you not familiar with the job, we manage the ventilation of critically ill patients both in Intensive Care Units, Emergency and throughout the Wards. We are among the first to be called to help resuscitate and stabilize critically ill patients and this pandemic has changed our work lives in ways we could not imagine.
I cannot explain the feeling in the pit of my stomach when I am paged STAT to help a critically ill patient in the hospital, how ill are they? Will they survive? Will we need to place them on life support? To this has been added the worry – do they have COVID 19? Will I make a mistake with my Personal Protective Equipment that will infect me or those who I live and work with?
Due to these worries I have severely limited my in person contact with family and friends. I have met patients who have gone through COVID and while some return to their normal lives others are left with lingering symptoms of weakness, breathlessness and fevers. No one can tell them whether this is their new normal or how long to expect these symptoms to go on. I wonder if the person that infected them even knows that they changed someone’s life, possibly forever. I wonder how it would feel to have to tell people that I have COVID and put them at risk, and now they need to get checked and self monitor and worry.
In mid December something changed for those of us on the front lines of health care, vaccines, highly effective vaccines were approved and the roll out began. Hope of being able to some day put this pandemic and the shadow it has placed on our lives, behind us. I cannot tell you how relieved myself and my fellow Respiratory Therapists were when we received our invitations for vaccination in early March. At the vaccination clinic, it was smiles and relief, the main vaccination side effect amongst frontline hospital staff was hope.
Now as we see the rise of variants of concern (variants of the COVID-19 virus which are more virulent or contagious) we feel the time pressure to get people vaccinated. This is why despite vaccinations rolling out across the province we just have to keep up the public health care measures, wash your hands, wear a mask, stay 6 feet away from others, how awful it would feel to know we contracted this virus when the end was in sight.
I, like many people, am tired of wearing a mask for my entire work shift, tired of not being able to see or hug my family, longing to attend a concert event, or go to a restaurant with friends. But I cannot stress just how important it is to maintain public health measures until a lot more people are vaccinated. If you would like to hear more about vaccines and variants can I suggest the video from our presentation given by Dr Alan Bernstein and Dr Gerald Evans “Covid -19 Vaccines and Variants”.
Take care, stay safe. Lori Borthwick
Green Entrepreneurs: Chop Value
Here is an example of making the better of a not so good waste. Did you ever wonder what happened to used chop sticks? Check this out:
Tree the County, from Geraldine Jenkins
Good afternoon, all,
Here’s our most recent newsletter from Tree the County. You’re receiving it because of your interest in the Neighbourwoods project over the years. (We hope to complete the project in 2022.)
Tree the County will be at Seedy Saturday on March 20 from 11 to 2 pm. This year, the tables will be set up by the Community Gardens in Delhi Park, on Lalor Street (off York St). Do drop by and say hello!
Book Review, by Jim Colby
The Sport & Prey of Capitalists, How the Rich are Stealing Canada’s Public Wealth, Linda McQuaig
At the close of this history of public and private interests, Linda McQuaig writes:
Rather than continuing to passively accept the corporate world’s vision for our country, we should free ourselves to think boldly about what is really in our interests and not be intimidated if our conclusions don’t fit with those coming from business commentators who dominate public debate. Bold thinking would include a willingness to consider not just resisting further privatization, but actually expanding the public domain. (P. 217)
This book presents a carefully documented history of our “public heritage, including among others, Ontario Hydro, Connaught Labs, and Canadian National Railways, [the Alberta tar sands]. . . and the wartime Crown Corporations that manufactured visionary products”. (P. 217).
It was a slow read for this writer as I followed up on the references the author supplies. I had been taught at the dinner table that most public ventures were best left in the hands of skillful capitalists whose desire for profit over all else, like the mechanism of natural selection, would lead to the survival of the fittest ventures. Economics, however, and Political Science left me with a headache. I set aside questions of neo liberal capitalism and studied biology instead. Besides, the capitalists I heard about seemed like greedy cut throats and their opponents like angry raging outcasts. It was confusing and scary. I had four kids to feed. I confess I read mostly comics.
Now, however, I am old with six grandchildren and the world faces a global crisis brought on by corporate free market capitalism and fossil fuel addiction. What happened? McQuaig’s book answers my question for Canada and interestingly for Norway as well which in certain ways resembles Alberta. The reader can make the same journey I did. I recommend the trip. McQuaig is not just thorough; she is a good writer, a good story teller and these are true stories not advertising nor business propaganda.
She discusses the history of the development of oil resources in Alberta and demonstrates the provincial government’s astonishing submission (except for Progressive Conservative Premier Lougheed!) to foreign corporate interests. Norway, like Alberta, has large oil reserves and a small population. When the 2014 collapse in global oil prices hit Alberta, the province had set aside seventeen billion dollars in a Trust Fund (p 173 ff). Norway, in a similar situation, had set aside one trillion dollars by resisting the influence of Big Oil. Norway, unlike Alberta, has also taken an interesting lead in withdrawing from the oil business in favour of environmental protection. But while McQuaig is clear sighted she is by no means contemptuous of the plight of Albertans. Imperial oil in 1947 discovered large oil reserves in Leduc, near Edmonton. She writes:
The province was quickly caught up in the hoopla of a new petro prosperity–a thrilling change for many people still haunted by the dark days of the Depression in the Prairies. (P.175).
But as she points out: “By 1971, the mainly American-owned multinational oil companies accounted for fully 79 percent of the oil and gas revenues in Alberta and 84 percent of the industry’s profits, with half of the province’s oil output exported to the United States. (P. 176).
She offers eye opening accounts of several large Canadian infrastructure projects including Ontario Hydro and the rail and highway business. Again and again the reader learns how publicly disastrous but privately enriching developments were hidden or dismissed by the media and the politicians (Harper’s policy of deregulating public oversight–p 86 ff).
Part of the problem of public apathy is the old narrative that business is competitive and expert while public service ventures are incompetent and naive. This is the story I heard at the table. As she shows in these well documented accounts this is just not the case. But alas, it is a great oversimplified story repeated again and again by corporate media. It is like the media version of Occam’s razor–the simplest account will be swallowed by anybody. The book is an antidote for citizens who have been repeatedly told to butt out and let the experts deal with the people’s heritage and resources and political structures. Why not privatize medical care? I urge you all to get, read and pass on this wonderful book. Jim Colby
The Importance of Donating and Volunteering
The Green Party is the only party that is unequivocally committed to a green future for our children and a new way of doing politics. You can listen to our leader, Mike Schreiner, describe our 5-point, post-Covid, “Green and Caring Recovery Plan”.
Ontario’s next election is in June 2022 – just 20 months away. If you agree that Green voices are essential in our next Provincial assembly, please consider donating to us – the Bay of Quinte Greens – we need money to put up signs, organize, and mount a competitive Bay of Quinte campaign – go to tinyurl.com/y25geka.
Canada’s tax system provides generous reimbursements – total donations up to $423 receive a 75% tax refund, up to $1,410 a 50% refund, and up to $1,625 a 33.33% refund.
Please think of us at Thanksgiving, talk about what it means to you and your family, and consider donating to the Bay of Quinte Greens.
Editor’s comment: You made it to the bottom of the newsletter again! Well done. We would love to hear from you. We need donations, members and volunteers. Remember what Tarfon said: “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. … You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” We can help.