summer 2021

Bay of Quinte Greens, Newsletter
Summer 2021

Comic Relief: The tree huggers confssion

When I was 23 in grad school I wrote speeches for a minister in the Davis government and was, at the same time, a member of Stephen Lewis’ provincial NDP.   I needed the money eh.  For the job I was  entrusted with interfaith addresses which were vigorously scrutinized by the Minister’s executive assistant.  There was no Green party.

Now I am a Green supporter for non political reasons.  I simply think that the causes of the environmental disaster must be overcome or we commit our posterity and our beautiful home planet to terrible suffering.  I was taught by scientists and find their conclusions convincing.   Indeed, how can anyone now doubt the human origin of the climate disaster?  My concern is that we have created a global industrial consumptive complex whose momentum may be beyond rational change.  It is not, however, beyond disastrous change.

Darwinian capitalism:  it is a terrible irony that one of the finest environmentalists—Charles Darwin—should be misused by salesmen like the Koch boys to justify free marketeering where the fittest salesmen thrive and are thus deserving.  Darwin didn’t mention lobbyists, market deregulation or corporate political donations that I can recall.  Did he mention profit?

You say you want a revolution? Well, we all wanna change the world.”

I agree with Lennon not with Lenin.  I don’t want a revolution.  I would prefer a careful withdrawal.   Still I am concerned that folks want to re-source the transport industry with electrical energy so we can continue with three car families and vast highway and seaway networks and vast metropolises.  I am convinced the best solution is less and local, not the same and global, not more.  Such a proposal is bad for sales I know.  I’ll start with myself.  Less Jim, less.

Vote Green.
– Editor, Jim Colby
Orange shirt on the line

A note from Mike Schreiner, President of the Provincial Greens

This week’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is harrowing to say the least. But it was hardly surprising.

The terrible news: we’re headed towards climate disaster if we continue with the status quo. The report states that the crucial warming thresholds of 1.5°C and 2˚C will be exceeded without huge cuts to emissions.

Failure to act with acute urgency means deadlier heat waves, more frequent flooding, more intense storms, increased ocean acidification, rising sea levels, longer droughts, and more devastating wildfires.

We’re walking into a reality where extreme weather events will occur with frequencies that are “unprecedented in the historical record”, according to the IPCC.

The silver lining: we can avoid the worst — if urgent climate action is taken.

But we need to act. Now.
Tell Doug Ford To Act Urgently On Climate Change

Doug Ford’s anti-climate agenda is toxic. Half measures from the status quo parties will not address the crisis we are in. Empty promises will not save us.

We’re the only party with the commitment and solutions to properly address the climate emergency.

Solutions like stamping out sprawl, which is a leading driver of climate pollution in Ontario and paves over the wetlands and green spaces that protect us.

Solutions like stopping subsidies to fossil fuels and saying no to pipelines like Line 5.

Like rapidly electrifying transportation and retrofitting our buildings to be more energy efficient.

We need to become a global leader in clean tech. And invest in the caring professions so no one is left behind.

We can do this in a way that creates good jobs, enhances health and improves life.

The time for talk, discussions, empty promises, half measures and compromises is long past.

Every policy decision made needs to have climate at its core.

Because we’re out of time.

Join me in telling Doug Ford to take urgent climate action and avoid the impending climate catastrophe.I stand with you in solidarity, and I will continue to fight for our future and for the planet at Queen’s Park.

Sincerely,Mike Schreiner
Leader, Ontario Greens

From Lori Borthwick, President of the BQGPO

Strategic Voting.

Why do I spend so much time volunteering with the Green Party? There will be a Federal election most likely in little over a month and then a Provincial election on June 2 2022.  Why am I putting all my energy behind the Greens?

My paramount concern is the climate crisis, as a nature lover and mother and grandmother I am saddened to think of the world we are leaving our children. In the 2015 Federal election I voted Liberal, although my heart was Green I knew that without a real candidate in the riding that they would not win.  I decided to strategically vote to try to ensure a Conservative did not win the seat. Many others did likewise and the Liberals won a majority government under the first past the post system, 100 percent of the power with 39 per cent of the vote.

This was great news, there was a lot of hope, the Liberals had campaigned on reforming the outdated First Past the Post voting system, they had campaigned on reducing our carbon emissions. Surely they would tackle the climate crisis and reform the voting system and next election I could follow my Green heart and vote Green.

But the majority government did not take swift action on climate issues in fact carbon emissions under the Liberals rose and continue to rise to this day. The Liberal government did NOT reform the voting system as promised and next election once again the words vote strategically were heard. They wasted 4 precious years while climate overheating continued.

Climate voters are told to vote strategically by many progressive organizations, like Lead Now, like EnviroPac and they hardly ever promote Green Candidates but instead promote a variety of Liberals and NDP candidates with good environmental records pre-election as the candidates they endorse must be within 10 per cent of winning the riding in question. In 2019 I followed my heart and I voted Green, the Liberals won a minority government and continued to subsidize oil and gas with billions of tax payer’s dollars and our carbon footprint grew.

The latest IPCC report paints a dire picture of the future. Six years have been lost since that 2015 election with no real action taken in Canada to reduce our CO2 emissions (one of the worst per capita Co2 polluters on the earth). We have no more time to waste. Only the Green Party has a plan based on the best science to drastically cut our Carbon emissions and so I ask all of you climate voters, is it strategic to vote for a party that will not do enough to fight the climate crisis and thus sentence future generations to an unimaginable future? Or is it strategic to vote Green so that the other political parties realize that unless they take real action on climate crisis they may not win the next election?

That is why my vote will always be Green going forward. Strategically, I have to ensure that every party incorporates real climate action in their platform and the way to ensure that, is only if those parties fear losing Climate voters to the Green Party. In 2021 and 2022, vote with your heart, your mind and your conscience, Vote Green!
Amazing Albino Squirrel! Photo by Les Wheatcroft

Don Wilford

We started our Green Speaker Series, last fall, as a way of keeping Greens together – a COVID alternative to “Meet and Greets” in cafés, pubs, and restaurants.

We quickly decided we didn’t want our events to be partisan but to highlight issues that are important, not only to Greens but to everyone, and especially relating to the Climate Crisis.

On that front, a lot happened during the brief eight months of our series. On July 1st, paraphrasing an article from the Guardian newspaper, “Our poor little town of Lytton, B.C., is gone”. Temperatures that shattered longstanding records – at one point reaching 49.6°C (121°F) – eased slightly but the same afternoon a wildfire tore through the town. It consumed buildings so quickly residents couldn’t be given advance notice – they saw the thick, black smoke filling their valley, grabbed what they could, and escaped. Within hours, most of the town had burned.

Back in November 2020, at the beginning of our Series, super typhoon Goni made landfall in the Philippines with sustained winds of over 300 kmph – the strongest in recorded history. And in December, the temperature in portions of the Yakutia region of eastern Russia, dropped below minus 40°C with one of the longest stretches of subzero cold in 14 years.

In January 2021, temperatures in Molina de Aragon, in Spain, hit minus 25°C – Spain’s coldest temperature in 20 years. And in February, it was Texas – an unprecedented eight-day period of winter weather in which water and electricity failed. Escaping freezing homes, Texans slept in cars or hotels. Over a thousand died and the economic toll will be in the billions.

In March, the Australian government declared a natural disaster across portions of New South Wales as torrential rains inundated the region causing some areas to resemble “inland seas.” In April, more than 30 million people in the U.S. South were under the threat of severe weather and in May, temperatures in Russia’s Arctic-Circle village of Nizhnaya Pesha hit plus 30°C – more than 20°C higher than normal.

Since then, regions around the world have experienced unprecedented heatwaves, including India, the U.S. and Europe. Germany suffered severe flooding and here in Ontario, dawns and dusks are tinged red by smoke from fires burning throughout northern Ontario.

We anticipate a Federal election and a Provincial one, next summer. Will anyone ask our politicians about the Climate Crisis? Will you? Will you be satisfied with promises of “back to normal” and inter-party point-scoring? Do you worry about your children and grandchildren? Are you concerned about loss of the planet’s biodiversity and today’s extreme economic inequality?

Our Speaker Series came to highlight local experts – people who know our region and our lives – some academic and some with impressive life experiences and knowledge. Their quotes are worth considering

.On our housing crisis and homelessness, “It’s sobering to realize that help often doesn’t come from those more fortunate but from disadvantaged people who have found strength in their own adversity. 

On the climate crisis, “Trust science – scientists have long predicted climate change. But don’t trust business – business has long known the dangers of global warming and has actively hidden the truth. 

On the pandemic and relating to our government-run healthcare system, “My overwhelming impression is that we are in good and safe hands and that we are truly fortunate to live here, in Ontario.”

On water (PEC has the longest municipal shoreline in Canada – 500km), “Despite recent spring flooding, we haven’t determined its overall cost. And Canada’s flood maps are outdated – worthy of a third world country. 

On macroeconomics, “Inequality is the economic issue of our time. And Covid has reinforced it. Governments have freedom to pursue policies that will lead to a fairer and greener society. When you hear people tell you we can’t afford these things, ignore them.”

On Food, “Until recently there was little interest in building robust local supply chains and supply relationships are repugnant – suppliers are bullied, including farmers and independent retailers.”

And on municipalities and sustainable communities, “Why not advocate a re-think? Why not allow municipalities to step-up? Municipalities are a modern, mature form of government that provides most services that residents rely on. We don’t want to be junior partners but full partners at the table.”

When a candidate knocks on your door, ask them how they really plan to help. Whatever your political persuasions may be, please vote – Federally, Provincially, and Municipally. And it goes without saying, think of voting for real change. Think of voting Green.

Free Interview from Tyee: The Most Important Climate Action We Can Take

Book Review: 
By Jim Colby
Mike NickersonLife, Money and Illusion—Living on Earth as if we want to stay , New Society Publishers, BC, 2009
The back cover of this book describes Mike Anderson as “a longtime environmental activist, popular educator and the author of Change the World I Want to Stay On and Planning for Seven Generations.  He also helped draft the Canadian Well-Being Measurement Act.”

As I write the media everywhere is filled with stories about the climate disaster.  In my own small community (Prince Edward County) folks are angry at the tourists cause they mess up the environments.  On the other hand they also bring money, appreciation and, in many cases, good manners.  I have only been here for eleven years so I finally get a chance to disdain ‘outsiders’.  I should feel pious.  But I don’t.  People trucking thru town in huge RVs towing their jeeps are, after all, just trying to be happy and do what the market tells them will make them happy.  I sympathize.  Nobody tells them to consider seven generations ahead.  Maybe I need to sympathize though not agree.

Nickerson’s book is the most thorough and most compassionate history of how we got here (the climate embarrassment) and how we can go there (a kinder healthier world).  Nickerson reviews the developments and opinions that brought us here.  Writing about Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” he summarizes:

Capitalism, in essence is a system of mutual provision operating on the basis of private ownership, individual and corporate, with decisions about resources and production being made by those owners and informed by supply, demand and price signals from open markets.  The legitimacy of this way of organizing economic activity is, to this day, frequently justified by Adam Smith’s work from over two centuries ago. One concept in particular, and often the only one referred to, is his analogy of ‘the invisible hand.’ 

As ever greater numbers of people were integrated into systems of mutual provision, they become less and less connected to each other.  With this shift, the motivation to work for one’s community for love, loyalty or duty gives way to working from the perspective of one’s personal self-interest. (p. 81)

He is right of course but this passage illustrates a feature of his presentations throughout the book:  he declines to blame or simplify.  If anything vitiates the public discussion of our dilemma it is blame and anger which always reduce complex situations to nonnegotiable caricatures of the real and prevent consensus building.  Considering again how we got here further on he writes about the medieval laws against usury:

Charging interest on loans of money is the practice most often identified as usurious, yet it is not making a profit from loaning money that is the essence of the sin.  Payment for loss incurred or gain foregone  by the lender was considered legitimate  Compensation for late repayment was okay.  Annuity investment, where the amount of the return is based on the actual performance of the investment and investment in trade journeys where profitable returns are expected but not certain, were acceptable.  What was considered unlawful was to loan money at an interest rate identified in advance to be paid, come what may, with no risk to the lender. 

During a 16th century parliamentary debate in Britain usury was described as “any bargain, in which one party obviously gained more advantage than the other, and used his power to the full.”  . . .this definition of usury comes from a debate that need with the removal of British laws that forbade charging interest. (p 149) 

The historical background that he provides in the clearest language help again and again show how it wasn’t malice that got us here but growth and complexity which disabled human decency.  He stresses again how we can move towards sustainable fair communities.  I will not discuss the detail of the book except to say I have learned more from this book than from any other discussion of the present dilemma.  I also enjoyed reading it more than most such works, if only because of the dispassionate and compassionate tone of the writer.  For instance on reclaiming politics: 

Back in the 1920s, we had the capability to serve all human need in the industrialized world.  What if we had used that capacity to eliminate need and shared what we had learned with the developing world.  If, rather than expanding the public’s appetite for consumption  and wild speculation in financial markets, we had followed the other path, the next decade might have begun an extraordinary new age.  Had pressing need been abolished at that stage in history, basic security would have been available to all, and the global population would have stabilized at a level that could easily be sustained.  (p. 415) 

and in the same vein 

There are millions of people around the world working on recreating civilization.  Collectively we can achieve sustainable ways to live.  Your continued actions, if you are already involved, or your time, inspiration and patronage, if you take up the challenge today, are important.  Given legitimacy and the mechanical strength that is still available to help reorganize material structures in the short term, the pioneering work underway today could spawn the transformation around the world. (p 415) 

Nickerson’s book presents a good account of how we got here because it has the advantage of very readable and clear prose.  He’s a gifted narrator.  If you doubt, try reading the work of celebrated academics on the same topic.  For example Karl Polanyi’s celebrated The Great Transformation:  the Political and Economic Origins of Our Time .  You can hear Mike speak at the BQGPO annual general meeting.  Come on.

The Importance of Donating and Volunteering

Don Wilford: Being together, this year, will be difficult for all and impossible for many. Thomas Homer-Dixon – Canada’s renowned political and climate scientist talks about Covid-19 in his new book, “Commanding Hope”. “I was thinking about the pandemic as a really vivid example of how things can change extraordinarily quickly”. He tells the story of how the crude climate models of 20 years ago got it basically right – predictions of climate heating, fires, droughts, and floods. And what more sophisticated models tell us about the next 20 years – how impacts will accelerate and affect more and more people. He dedicates his book to children, “It’s the best I can do to explain what I think you need to hold on to in your future.”

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.

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.

Donate here.

Free Comic
by Jim Colby

Editor’s comment:    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.”

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