Good Sunday Morning!
It has been a week of carnage for the poor people of Ukraine. Hospitals bombed, a theatre destroyed where hundreds of people had been sheltering – Russian bombs repeatedly hit civilian targets.
On Tuesday, for the first time in history, a foreign leader addressed our parliament by zoom. I have never been more nervous about any speech than the one I had the opportunity to deliver following President Volodymyr Zelensky’s address. In advance, the only thing I was sure I would say was to share the letter from Ukrainian Green president, Vitaliy Kononov.
I had no more then 3-4 minutes and there was so much I wanted to say. But being the last speaker, after our prime minister, the Speakers from the House and Senate, and leaders of Conservative, Bloc Quebecois and NDP, I wanted to hear them first, absorb President Zelensky’s speech and not repeat what others had said. I never deliver a prepared text in any event, but this crisis and knowing I would be speaking directly to a man I admire so much – in a shelter and targeted for assassination by Vladimir Putin – increased my nervousness. More than usual, it felt like stepping out on a high wire without a net.
Many of you will have already seen the speech as it received a higher than usual amount of media coverage, but here are the links for the video of the speech, and thanks to Policy magazine, the text:
We must do more to support Ukraine and defend it against this brutal Russian aggression. But, as I wrote last week, we cannot respond with a NATO “no fly zone.” The risk of an expanded war and of a nuclear exchange is simply unacceptably high. I wanted to be sure to keep separate the Russian people from Putin. Mine was the only speech to thank the enormously brave peace protesters within Russia.
One other point I wanted to make as the world increasingly paints this conflict as a morality play in which Putin is a bad man and war criminal (which assuredly he is) was that his conduct was not out of keeping for super-powers – East or West. I remember the 1964 escalation of the war in Vietnam authorized by the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, by-passing the Constitutionally required ¾ vote in the U.S. Senate. The resolution was named for an event that never happened. Famously, the Iraq War under George W Bush and Tony Blair was based on a pile of lies about “weapons of mass destruction” in Saddam Hussein’s arsenal. Wars are fought based on lies and war crimes are committed. No wonder the U.S. government has fought so hard against the establishment of the International Criminal Court. While we join the cries to bring Putin to justice, we must not forget that other leaders, from the US, UK, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Israel, have done much the same.
I gravely fear that this current conflict could affect our next federal budget – expected some time in April. The calls to spend 2 percent of our budget on war and preparations for war, the NATO members’ target, must be rejected. Let’s demand that we spend 2 percent on peace and preparations for peace. That increased spending could go immediately to helping Ukraine.
In the media coverage after the speech, I learned I had been noticed by none other than Vladimir Putin himself. I am now banned from ever travelling to Russia. I regard this as an enormous honour.
In non-war news this week, the science reports on global warming are deeply alarming and almost unnoticed. There are simultaneous heat waves in the Arctic and the Antarctic. This from the Washington Post: “Antarctic climatology has been rewritten,” tweeted Stefano Di Battista, a researcher who has published studies on Antarctic temperatures. He added that such temperature anomalies would have been considered “impossible” and “unthinkable” before they actually occurred. https://www.washingtonpost.
And this headline from the Physics journal, Phys.org: Hot poles: Antarctica, Arctic 40 and 30 degrees Celsius above normal.
An atmospheric river in Antarctica is accompanying these unprecedented temperatures. To say this is all unprecedented is to state the obvious. To say the world is distracted by war, is equally redundant. To say we need to be able to focus on war, pandemic and the dangers of a deteriorating life-support system is a call to all humanity to rally for democracy, peace and survival all at once.
Not easy, but essential.
I try. But I totally sympathize with leaders who cannot. We need unrelenting public pressure.
As COVID restrictions ease, I am finally able to announce actual events!
We have a fundraiser for the Green Party on Thursday in Ottawa with Amita and Mike and me. Please join us. It will be the kick-off for phase 2 of the Green Virtual General meeting (see details in the P.S.)
And I have a slew of meetings coming up in person in Saanich-Gulf Islands. Details are listed below. Please mark them down in your calendar!
Thanks again for all the lovely emails this last week. I will be back in Ottawa from today until April 7th.
With love and prayers for peace,
Join us this March 25-27 for the 18th General Meeting of the Green Party of Canada.
Upcoming SGI Community Meetings (non-partisan!)
Details may be changed, watch for confirmations!
BRENTWOOD BAY COMMUNITY MEETING: Friday, April 8 – 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm PST – Central Saanich Cultural Centre – 1209 Clarke Rd, Brentwood Bay, BC V8M 1P8
GORDON HEAD COMMUNITY MEETING: Saturday, April 9 – 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm PST – Mt Doug Auditorium – 4100 Lambrick Way, Victoria, BC V8N 5R3
SALT SPRING ISLAND COMMUNITY MEETING: Sunday, April 10 – 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm PST – Fulford Hall – 2591 Fulford-Ganges Rd, Salt Spring Island, BC V8K 1Z4
CORDOVA BAY COMMUNITY MEETING: Tuesday, April 12 – 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm PST – CB55+ Association Facility- 5238 Cordova Bay Road Victoria, BC V8Y 2L2
PENDER ISLANDS COMMUNITY MEETING: Wednesday, April 13 – 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm PST – Pender Islands Community Hall – 4418 Bedwell Harbour Road Pender Island BC V0N 2M1
SIDNEY COMMUNITY MEETING: Thursday, April 14 – 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm PST – Mary Winspear Centre – 2243 Beacon Ave, Sidney, BC V8L 1W9
JOINT COMMUNITY MEETING WITH MP MAY AND MLA OLSEN: Wednesday, April 20 – 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm PST – St. Elizabeth’s Church – 10030 Third Street Sidney, BC V8L 3B3
MAYNE ISLAND COMMUNITY MEETING: Thursday, April 21 – 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm PST – Mayne Island Community Centre – 493 Felix Jack Rd, Mayne Island, BC V0N 2J2
SATURNA ISLAND COMMUNITY MEETING: Saturday, April 23 – 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm PST – Saturna Recreation and Culture Centre – 104 Harris Rd, Saturna, BC V0N 2Y0
GALIANO ISLAND COMMUNITY MEETING: UNCONFIRMED: TO BE DETERMINED – Galiano Community Hall – 141 Sturdies Bay Rd Galiano Island, BC V0N 1P0