Bay of Quinte Greens, Newsletter
Comic Relief: The tree hugger’s confession
I watched the film Don’t Look Up. I was horrified. Sometimes movies tell the truth. My Therapist said I need to be more courageous. I had been working on a film script entitled “Salesbeings from Outer Space.” Extraterrestrial real estate salesbeings market homes on a goldilocks planet in a nearby galaxy. Now that the Webb Telescope has been launched and opened we stand a better chance of spotting these potential havens—planets with names like New Florida and New Arizona and New Trump. But I just want to stay here. My therapist said I need to act but not react. She said I must understand how some folks are fearful, confused and, so, angry. Yeah. Fearful, confused and, so, angry like me? She said I must not hate anyone. She said especially now it’s important to accept disagreement graciously but remain active. I told her I was a Green campaigner. She said “Fine, be gracious”. I said, “I’ll try.”
Some of what follows is discouraging. Good! Better to know the truth than to hide. Courage Jim!
Welcome to the newsletter.
Please Vote Green.
A message from Mike Schreiner, President of the Provincial Greens on Affordable Housing
Today I introduced a new motion to make the #HousingCrisis a priority in Ontario.
It shouldn’t take the average Ontarian 15 years to save up for a downpayment, and it is unacceptable that up to 90,000 Ontarians experience “visible” homelessness throughout the year.
We are neck-deep in a #HousingAffordability crisis & the government is sitting idly by.
It’s time for a real plan for real action. I’m calling on the government to immediately and aggressively invest in affordable rental housing and attainable home ownership opportunities.
Leader, Ontario Greens
From Lori Borthwick, President of the BQGPO
BELLEVILLE CONTINUES TO STRUGGLE TO CARE FOR PEOPLE WITHOUT HOUSING THIS WINTER
Homelessness is an increasing issue in Belleville and the surrounding area. There are many reasons for people to be lacking adequate housing and as each municipality and county struggle to find funds and solutions for this important problem I wonder why our Province is silent on this issue.
Belleville’s warming centre did not open until Jan. 3rd as the Belleville Downtown Improvement Association Kathryn Brown once again raised her voice and spoke out against the chosen warming centre location which was to be Bridge Street United Church. A decision was made to use Belleville’s transit centre (also downtown) opened on Jan. 3rd to support those without a warm place to pass the night after more discussion by Hastings County and Belleville municipal government.
To my mind this is a multifaceted issue. It appears some, like Kathryn Brown, are disturbed to see people living rough on the street near them, but not concerned about meeting their need to keep warm and fed. This mindset only serves to criminalize and discriminate against those people who find themselves without a place to call home.
The other issue is how to fund the needed support services and housing required by an ever-increasing number of people failed by our lack of mental health, addiction, disability and poverty services. The issue always ends up in the lap of municipalities who must find the funds without the ability to run a deficit and must come hat in hand to the provincial government to dole out funds to deal with this and multitudinous other issues.
The Green Party of Ontario has a plan to support people who find themselves homelessness and support municipalities by first taking on 50 percent of the cost of providing shelter and community housing while allowing municipalities to maintain management control. We support a province-wide integrated approach to temporary and permanent supportive housing by breaking down barriers that prevent those in crisis from accessing housing, mental health and other services.
If you want to learn more about how the Green Party plans to support this issue please read our housing policy found at https://gpo.ca/housing/. In the mean time please reach out to your local municipal council to speak in support of those who are often voiceless and out in the literal cold.
Don Wilford: COVID – A letter
Time to be angry!
It’s not something a Green often says. There’s so much to be angry about – the climate crisis, disgraceful inequality, and shocking destruction of the eco-systems on which we all depend. Instead, being Green means seeking ways to make our world a greener and more caring place. But anger has its place and sometimes even a Green has to just pull over and scream.
I’m talking of the Ontario government’s incompetent response to Ontario’s Covid crisis. Twenty-five years ago, when Mike Harris became conservative Premier of Ontario, Belleville had 500 hospital beds. Now, courtesy of Conservative cuts, it has less than 200. Ontario went into Covid with the lowest number of hospital beds per person in the developed world.
And nursing used to be a respected profession with decent wages and benefits. Today, courtesy of Conservative cuts, 60% of our region’s nurses are temporary staff with no benefits, including sick pay and mental health support. Ontario went into Covid with the second lowest number of nurses per person of any Canadian province.
We celebrate our health care providers but behind the scenes and in the middle of the pandemic, last Fall the provincial government passed Bill 124. It limits pay increases to nurses to 1% (less than inflation) and curtails their right to negotiate for benefits like sick pay and programs to address mental stress.
And after almost two years to put things in place, nurses still don’t have sufficient N95 masks. And there is no policy to provide N95 masks for teachers, daycare staff, and other essential workers, many of whom, too, don’t have sick pay to enable them to take time off when they need to isolate.
Ontario hasn’t developed clear guidelines on ventilation and the use of HEPA filters indoors. Some businesses have paid for them but are locked-down anyway. Some school boards are purchasing them to make our children safer but there’s no policy to include one in every classroom.
And if Covid has told us anything it’s that delay is fatal. The omicron variant has a doubling time of just over two days. It means ten times in a weak and 10,000 times in a month. Even ten times will overwhelm a health care system. Yet the Ontario government’s response, in December, was to “wait and see”. And when things predictably got serious, there was no thought-out strategy, just the imposition of the same lockdown procedures that were used last time around. If you’re a small business – and supports to small businesses have been cumbersome, hard to follow, and with long delays in getting help – there was no point in investing in staying open. If you’re a parent, teacher or student, there is no plan to keep our schools open. And if you’re a hospital, there is no staffing plan to shore-up our health care system instead of blaming exhausted healthcare workers for “absenteeism”.
It all speaks to incompetence from a government that has no idea how to build and invest – just how to cut costs. What’s maddening is that the cost cutting invariably costs more – imagine hospitals paying agency fees to obtain essential nursing staff.
In the midst of all this and with the shocking record of Ontario’s privatized long-term care facilities, the government recently privatized home-care too. It’s fine if you’re lucky to be part of the 1% but if you’re a regular 99% Ontarian it means if you can’t afford care you’ll go without. Imagine the suffering and burden on other public services, what’s left of them.
There is an election in June. Why would anyone want to vote for more of this government’s approach – obsessing over the cost of everything and being wholly blind to the value of anything, including essential public services.
When the climate crisis really hits us, ask yourself this question. What program will the current government cut to deal with it?
From the County Sustainability Network
JANUARY CALL TO ACTION
On December 15, under cover of Christmas so that it would be easy to miss, the Canadian government announced a consultation on their climate change plans. Next Friday, on January 14 the consultation closes. It’s a crucial opportunity for regular people to have our say about Canada’s climate targets and the plan to reach them.
Let’s pack the consultation with calls for an end to fossil fuel extraction and a just transition so we can send a clear message: the public expects bold climate action.
Here are some ways you can participate:
• LeadNow has created a simple form to send a letter as input to the consultation. You can tailor your response or just send the very good answer that’s already there. This is the easiest way for you to have an impact.
• Climate Messengers has created this toolkit that explains the consultation questions and gives you sample answers. You can learn about the different topic areas in the survey, read their sample answers, and tailor them so that they become your own. This will take you longer, but you will learn something in the process and have a greater impact.
• Or you can go straight to the Government survey and create your own answers. This might have the biggest impact.
Whichever way you choose to participate, please do so – our silence on an issue like this is similar to tacit approval of the current government plans which must be made stronger.
From Kate Hodgson at Leadnow
I don’t need to tell you that the past few weeks have been hard. Our loved ones are getting sick, businesses are closing, and many Ontarians are finding themselves strapped for cash and without access to emergency benefits. [1-3]
And now, to add insult to injury, Premier Doug Ford just rubber-stamped a new maximum rent increase — allowing landlords to hike rents at a time when people are already struggling to keep a roof over their heads. 
James D, a rent increase could mean the difference between keeping or losing a home. It’s an unfair burden to place on anyone who’s stopped working in order to keep their communities safe.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. At the beginning of the pandemic, Ford instated a rent freeze and banned evictions to keep people from losing their homes. [4,5] Now, with COVID cases reaching record levels, a flood of public pressure could be enough to force him to do it again.
Ontario cities already have some of the highest rents in Canada . A rent increase now, while so many people are struggling, is a slap in the face for renters.
The pandemic has exposed the existing inequalities rampant in our society — and from his bungling of Ontario’s back-to-school plan to cuts to healthcare workers’ wages, Doug Ford has let down Ontarians. [7,8]
It’s our government’s job to keep us safe — and amidst the outbreak of a deadly virus, keeping people housed is a matter of public health just as much as it is a matter of social responsibility. If you agree, will you sign the petition now?
James D, if we’ve learned anything from this pandemic, it’s that we’re better off when we take care of one another. Ford has already shown us that a rent freeze is possible — and we won’t let him shirk his responsibility now.
Kate and Claire on behalf of Leadnow
Leadnow doesn’t take handouts from corporations or political parties. Everything we achieve together is only possible because of ordinary people like you chipping in what they can. Please will you consider donating a few bucks a week to Leadnow? Click here to set up a secure donation: http://www.leadnow.ca/donate
A Note from Abhijeet Manay
Candidate for Beaches-East York
Ontario is home to many species of plants and animals that you can’t find anywhere else; and they need our help.
In her annual environmental audit, Ontario’s Auditor General (AG) gave Doug Ford an ‘F’ for failing in its mandate to protect species at risk.
Under the Ford government Ontario has seen a rise in the number of species at risk by 22%. The number of changes Doug Ford made in 2020 to protect these at-risk animals was zero.
Ford is doing nothing while animals struggle for survival.
The AG’s report found that last year the Ford government increased approvals that harm species at risk and endangered species by more than 6,200%.
That number is staggering.
In the same time period stewardship funds were decreased by 10%. Ford is more interested in lining the pockets of his developer friends than saving Ontario’s at-risk species.
Tell Ford To Save Our Species At-Risk Now
Once they’re gone, they’re gone.
Ontario Greens are fighting to save these amazing flora and fauna that are so crucial to our ecosystem.
These precious creatures play a vital role in maintaining a healthy environment for everyone – and they don’t have a voice of their own to fight for themselves.
We’ve asked Ford to reconsider building the Holland Marsh Bypass and Highway 413; both of which will cut through significant environmentally sensitive areas.
We must fight for them.
Demand Ford to take immediate action to stop development projects that could hurt Ontario’s at-risk species, restore stewardship funding, and take action to save them now.
Tell Ford to take action and make changes to save Ontario’s endangered species now.
At the end of a difficult year for Greens, we need your help:
• We’re looking for a candidate. Do you know someone who’d like to run as a provincial Green?
• And we’re going door-to-door with a petition for affordable childcare – https://bayofquintegpo.files.wordpress.com/2021/11/childcare-petition-bay-of-quinte-green-party-of-ontario-1.pdf. Would you like to volunteer to help us in the New Year?
• Or donate to help in the next provincial election – https://secure.gpo.ca/index.php?q=civicrm%2Fcontribute%2Ftransact&reset=1&id=3&riding=6. Donations up to $427 receive a 75% tax refund.
Amita Kuttner, the new, interim leader of the Green Party of Canada, was recently asked what would happen if the Green Party went under. Her answer was a breath of fresh air.
“We’re the only party whose economic policies are not based on consumption. We’re the only party that understands humanity is a part of nature. And we’re the only ones who are willing to always tell the truth no matter what. That’s what we would lose from Canadian politics.”
We’re now less than five months away from a provincial election and the stakes have never been higher. The Ford government promises prosperity built on tarmac, subdivisions, highways, cars, and environmental destruction while Andrea Horvath – leader of the NDP for over a decade and Steven Del Duca – Minister in the Wynne government are voices from the past.
Last year’s IPCC report declared, “Code Red for Humanity” – a need for strong and sustained reductions in our emissions of carbon dioxide. A not-so-fun fact is that with the exception of the 2009 financial crash and the 2020 Covid pandemic, we have never been able to do this. Despite increasing use of wind and solar, our use of fossil fuels continues to increase. It’s why we urgently need new solutions.
Mike Schreiner, leader of the Green Party of Ontario, has demonstrated a fresh outlook and bold, new ideas, including collaboration across party lines rather than endless confrontation. And Mike warmly welcomed Dianne Saxe, previously Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner as Deputy Leader to develop a credible Green climate plan, “Roadmap to Net-Zero – A Real Plan for Real Action”.
At the end of a year filled with climate crises, are you ready to be Green? We need your help leading to the next provincial election, in June. It would be great to have you on board.
Best, Don Wilford, CFO
Movie Review: Don’t Look Up
I loved this Netflix film by Adam McKay: Yes I was horrified by the echoes of the ‘real’ world but I was also delighted by the satire of the post COVID civilization. ‘Serious’ film critics didn’t like it—55 % on Rotten Tomatoes but simple folks like me loved it. An interesting divide eh? The plot is simple: the end of the world. Two astrophysicists discover the impending arrival of a asteroid—a “planet killer”. They try to alert the world. Remember though this is just a movie not a documentary. The brilliance of the humour is in the deliberate parody of media, politics, heroes and ideological villains (like the Greens?). After watching it I checked with my brightest friends and they all agreed: it was wonderful. I am not going to rehearse the details but I invite all to see it and see what you think.
Book Review: Can We Talk About Israel? by Daniel Sokatch, Bloomsbury, New York, 2021.
At a crucial point in her political career Annamie Paul asked that people step back and talk rationally about Israel. This book by an American Jew who grew up during the establishment of Israel explains how demanding such a conversation can be. It is an impressively compassionate and unbiased account. I am old now and have had so many personal benefits from Jewish friends and teachers. I wish that as a young man I could have read this account. Skotatch retells the factual history and the backstory of Israel. He also in footnotes honestly acknowledges his own biases. He is equally fair to the Palestinians and the Jewish settlers. He offers no solution save compassion and profound patience. Nevertheless his account disables anger and hatred—two poisons in the world today. At the outset Skotatch writes:
Have you ever found yourself at a dinner party when the topic of Israel came up, and you wanted to flee to another room?
I feel your pain. I’m often asked, “Can you just explain the Israel situation to me in, like, ten minutes or less?” People want to know, they want to understand and they want me to wrap it up before their entrees arrive. This book will take more than ten minutes to readout it won’t be a daunting, intimidating undertaking. It will be, I hope, interesting and engaging, and after you’ve read it, you’ll be able to hold your own in any Israel conversation, at any dinner party.
I read this book quickly and easily but have returned to sections to make notes. That’s how I read important books. Why Israel? Well his process of dispassionate reasoning is also a model for divergent discussions in the greater world. If you face a conversation on the dismantling of the global transport system or the reduction of waste or the regulation of plastics and water sales . . . well this book is an example of how to proceed.
Comic Section: Do it yourself/Not the New Yorker!
Submit a caption for the following cartoon and win a prize! Yes the winner will receive a signed cartoon by cartoonist and agitator James D Colby:
Editor’s comment: We would love to hear from you. We need donations, members, volunteers and captions. 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.”