Good Sunday Morning!
Elizabeth was undone last week from sheer overwork, fatigue and stress. She has spent a few days under observation at our wonderful local Saanich Peninsula Hospital (where she is well known and much loved for all her work to help keep the facility itself alive and well). She was discharged on Saturday morning to come home and keep resting for a bit to restore her much-depleted energy. Elizabeth is so grateful for all the warm thoughts so many of you sent her. I read them all to her, and she is just delighted. Thanks
Does it not seem odd to you that we expect our parliamentarians to work double shifts through May and June, sometimes nineteen-hour days, to sit until midnight almost every day, to keep up with their always demanding constituency work, and still to have minds at all? In any other profession we acknowledge that people cannot do their best work when they’re over-tired – here, with those who are arguably responsible for some of the most important decisions in the country, we expect them to handle routine sixteen-hour days in and out of Parliament, constant travel, instant responses to matters of urgency from constituents and the press, to be available for any and all local matters (for instance, Elizabeth has attended, with love and joy, nine high school graduation ceremonies this year, each a 2 or 3 hour event plus travel to and fro), and all the while we expect them to be alert and smart. In any decent union job the grievances would be flying thick and fast. No wonder any number of lesser parliamentarians, even some party leaders we know, restrict themselves to childish insults and silly blame games – hardly takes any brain for “work” like that. In addition to all that, she of course has the additional multiple-pronged job as leader of the Green Party of Canada, itself nearly regular full-time work for any reasonable mortal.
She’s at home now, will take it easy for at least another week. One of the ironies of all this is that now that Parliament has risen for the summer, it’s normally time, not for a break, but for much more enjoyable things like those high school grads, Pride Parades (Elizabeth was the only party leader at Pride in Toronto), even her annual appearance at the Calgary Stampede (not at the rodeo, of course) flipping pancakes and meeting tons of people at one of the largest events in western Canada. So the summer festivities have been cut down because of the idiotic schedule in the spring, that itself because (my opinion) Parliament spends so much time in idiot bickering that actual legislation always takes longer than expected, and always backs up into the late spring. Predictable, just like climate change.
Speaking of which, I was perhaps a bit rude last week about Ministers Wilkinson and Champagne sitting down for tea and cookies with the board and senior executives of Royal Dutch Shell. You may remember that Minister Champagne said “With a strong and historic presence in our country, Shell is our reliable partner. Together, we can and will pave the way for tomorrow’s green economy.” Reliable, for sure. A partner for the “green economy”, not so much. This week in the UK, Shell’s CEO said “What would be dangerous and irresponsible is cutting oil and gas production so that the cost of living, as we saw last year, starts to shoot up again.” The Guardian said “his comments defending ongoing oil and gas production, which experts say is incompatible with global climate goals, underline the shift in approach at Shell under his reign towards prioritising fossil fuels and increasing payouts to shareholders. Last month the FTSE 100 company announced it was abandoning plans to cut oil extraction each year for the rest of the decade.” Now there’s a partner for you.
This, of course, in the context of Earth experiencing the three hottest days in 125,000 years or so. And remember John Vaillant’s suggestion I passed on last week: that’s looking backwards – if we look forward, we might say that Earth’s three hottest days in 2023 are very likely to be cooler than the three hottest days in any of the next few hundred years to come. We can buy all the air conditioners and cooling fans on the planet – without whacking seriously at the burning of fossil fuels, we’ll just be playing catch-up and we’ll never get there.
On the same topic, sorry to be so boring, governments and industry are now proudly proclaiming that we’re all going to get to “Net Zero by 2050”, so everything will be all right, don’t you worry your little head about it, the big boys are in charge and they’ll fix it all up. Even the profoundly conservative and steadfast supporters of oil & gas at the Globe & Mail recognize that this is likely, in the words of the Editorial Board, to become a “climate delay tactic”. Sorry to break it you, Globe guys, but is already just a marketing slogan, right up there in uselessness and distraction with “carbon capture and storage”. The constraints we need to meet is to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial temperatures, or at worst to 2 degrees C. To do that, we can only burn a limited amount of carbon – that’s our worldwide “carbon budget”. Burn more that the budget and we heat the planet more than it can handle. Simple, really. Here’s a picture we put in “Climate Change for Dummies” (signed copies available from the Green Party of Canada for a $100 donation. Contact Marlene Wells at [email protected] for yours):
The light gray area is the carbon budget. The dark grey is the amount over budget the doorknobs in politics and the profiteers (let your mind wander about for other suitable, perhaps not printable, words) in the oil business want to burn. Obviously, we need to get fossil use down right now – that’s the 45% drop in emissions by 2030 shown in the upper right part of the graphic– without that, the “net zero by 2050” palaver is hugely over-budget and irrelevant to global health. Not irrelevant to profits for our reliable partners and for government revenues, mind you, but surely only some sort of crazed environmentalist would think money was less important than survival.
Back to Elizabeth and health for a bit – we got a close-up and very personal look at a couple of troubling elements of our vaunted health-care system, some of which might be new to you. Neither Elizabeth nor I have had a family doctor for years – now we’ve been inducted into the Emergency Room long-and-fruitless-wait crowd and the how-quickly-can-I-possibly-dial-to-get-through-to-a-clinic-before-they’re-full-for-the-day crowd (huge thanks to Linda Brown, one of the fine crew that gets this letter to you all faithfully every week, for the warning about being very quick off the mark with the phone calls – without Linda’s advice, I would have failed to get through and we would never have seen a doctor). Most importantly, we’ve seen anew the dedication, smarts and caring devotion of nurses, attendants, porters, techs, doctors, administrators, and all the wonderful people who staff our health system, working hours like Elizabeth’s with even more personal stress, and sticking to their oaths to serve us. Such wonderful people. Such a messed-up system. More on this next week from Elizabeth when she picks up her pen again.
Finally, Elizabeth wants to acknowledge Grace Sinats of Claremont Secondary School in Saanich. Grace was selected by her teachers as this year’s winner of the Green Party scholarship for civic engagement. She’s already a leader (her story here), with so much more to come. Congratulations, Grace.
It has been my honour to sub in for Elizabeth these last two weeks. Next week, the real thing will be back.
Cheers to you all,
Saanich-Gulf Islands Greens
Saanich-Gulf Islands | Electoral District Association (edagreens.ca)