Good Sunday Morning – May 26

Good Sunday morning!

This morning finds me on my other favourite coast, in Antigonish, Nova Scotia along the southern coast of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. I am so lucky to have friends across Canada willing to give me a bed and host a Green Party fundraising event!  Tonight I will be in Antigonish and tomorrow in Chester. I am visiting Halifax in order to give the keynote speech at an energy conference on Wednesday.

Friday night was the nomination meeting and launch of the Green campaign in Toronto-St. Paul’s. Trudeau called that by-election last Sunday on a very short timeline – Election day is June 24!!! Yikes! Voters in Toronto-St. Paul’s will fill the vacancy left as my friend, former Liberal MP and former minister the Hon. Carolyn Bennett, left Parliament to become Canada’s Ambassador to Denmark. Everyone thinks it is a strong Liberal riding, but I think it was a strong Carolyn riding. As a local doctor in obstetrics and a champion of Women’s College Hospital, it seemed at times that she had delivered half the babies in the riding. Our candidate is a very dedicated young man, Christian Cullis. In 2021, he was our candidate in Burlington Ontario. He has his master’s in international relations and has been the constituency coordinator for Green Toronto Councillor and former Commissioner for the Environment in Ontario, the remarkable Dianne Saxe.

By-elections are fantastic opportunities for voters to send a powerful message. With no risk of the government changing hands, no one need be scared into fear-based voting. Every citizen can vote for what they want. I will be helping as much as I can. With only four weeks to go we need to help Christian Cullis and his team get the word out that voters in Toronto-St. Paul’s can send a shock wave across the political landscape by voting Green.

My week in Parliament was tough. I got back from Victoria Day events by taking the overnight flight, arriving in Ottawa around 7 am Tuesday and then working until midnight. We are back to most nights being midnight sittings, although mercifully we were done on Thursday by 11 pm and I was back at it on Friday morning. I had my weekly question in Question Period and finally got back to the question I had nearly asked a few weeks ago about kidnapped Canadian citizen Freddy Mwenengabo. Frederick  Mwenengabo is a human rights activist, originally from Congo and a resident of Fredericton. You may recall I shared my anguish at not being able to decide the right course when government ministers persuaded me not to ask that question a few weeks back. David Coon, leader of the New Brunswick Greens and Fredericton MLA was very understanding. Since then, I also met with Freddy’s sons when they came to Ottawa to plead for government help. Debra Eindiguer, my Chief of Staff, managed to assist in getting them to meet with Minister of Global Affairs Melanie Joly. We know that Canadian government officials are trying to assist, but we have very little capacity on the ground in Congo. Actually, all around the world our diplomatic muscle has atrophied a bit. I think of the news from Carolyn Bennett in Denmark whose first challenge is to find a place to live in Copenhagen. Under Harper, many of our official residences were sold. They are irreplaceable parts of Canada’s presence in the world, places for quiet diplomatic chats, building relationships and deepening our understanding of the world. The damage done by Harper in penny-wise and pound-foolish decisions is extremely difficult to reverse. When Canadians cannot afford a home, how does any government justify buying an Ambassador a pricey house in a foreign capital? I know these matters are not easy, but as we closed embassies and residences and consolidated services in fewer and fewer countries our ability to make a difference as a nation has shrunk. And after five months as a hostage in Goma, Freddy’s life is very much at risk. (please pray for him and his family.)

I had hoped to be able to share wonderful news this Sunday about my bill to advance Environmental Justice and confront environmental racism, Bill C-226. My dear friend, Cree Senator and former dentist, Mary Jane McCallum, (“MJ” now that we are friends working together on C226) is the bill’s sponsor in the Senate. I find Senate processes beyond bewildering. One good thing about the Senate is that the changes Trudeau has made to Senate appointments has almost eliminated the role of political parties in the Upper House. Now any Canadian can apply to be a Senator, the number of women, Indigenous people, racialized Canadians and Canadians from a wider spectrum of our society are increased in the Senate. The vast majority are “Non-affiliated” or “Independent.” The only political partisanship in the Senate that remains is the Conservative Caucus. (By the way, the only way to really reform the Senate is to open up the Constitution, so Trudeau’s changes are policy only as long as the government of the day keeps them in place.) We had hoped the Third Reading of C226, the final vote in the Senate, would be this Thursday May 23. Instead, when another friend in the Senate, Marilou McPhedran, called the question to force the vote, the Conservatives moved to adjourn. That led to a hour of bell ringing, unfortunately too near the end of the day. The Conservatives carried that vote and now that last hurdle to get C226 passed has been delayed. We WILL get there, but it was a hard blow not to be celebrating Thursday night!

The highlight of my week, without a doubt, was a dinner and tribute to the Right Honourable Joe Clark, slightly in advance of his June 5 85th birthday and on the 44th anniversary of his Progressive Conservatives forming government. Oh my, such a wonderful Cabinet, with Flora MacDonald as Minister of Foreign Affairs, my old friend David MacDonald who was there on Tuesday, John Fraser as Minister of Environment and as Energy Minister Ray Hnatyshyn– the only Energy Minister ever to commit to a public inquiry into the nuclear industry. Sadly, when the Clark government fell after only nine months, the inquiry was canceled, never to be revived. And although it did not seem as significant at the time, his government fell on a gas tax. Billed as a “fireside chat”, Joe Clark’s daughter Catherine, a professional interviewer of real skill, interviewed her dad. I will look for a link so you can watch it. Our former Prime Minister, elegantly and subtly, without ever naming the politicians he was describing delivered an evisceration of the politics of rage-farming and cynical divisions. He called for a return to our core values as Canadians, of cooperation and compassion.

Another taped conversation worth watching was the back to back sessions on Green co-leadership featuring former Green leader for England and Wales and first ever MP elected in a First Past the Post voting system, Caroline Lucas, and current MP and co-leader of Scottish Greens Lorna Slater (herself a native of Calgary!). I missed the sessions but was thrilled to get this note from Christa Grace Warwick of Pender Island-

“These presentations were most interesting. What admirable women – and so informative, clear and even-handed. The additional appearance of the German Green was a bonus.  I think the Zooms opened the listeners up to a much broader view of the co-leadership issue and to what is, in fact, customary globally.

“Very interesting that a major issue for the European Greens is gender equality. Here, perhaps, the parallel thing is French-speaking/ English speaking. Which is curious. It gave people a lot to think about.”

As soon as I get the link to the sessions, I will share them!

Last week’s letter about toxic sewage sludge seems to have been well-timed. There is a lot of local news and soon Dr. Peter Ross, former fisheries scientist at DFO and now working with Raincoast Conservation Foundation, will release his findings on the risk of so-called “biosolids.” I received this urgent alert from fellow Green and friend Bev Bacon in Metchosin:

Metchosin Council meeting this Monday, emails before noon Monday or come for public participation at 7:00 -CRD open-ended survey  by Monday June 3.

CRD email, also by June 3: [email protected]  (good to copy [email protected] ) If you aren’t in Metchosin, please copy your letter to the CRD to your council.”

Lastly, I will never give up on trying to get fair voting. I debated the point one late night this week. Sorry I lost my temper a bit, well, maybe a lot, but I did go sit with the parliamentary secretary for a bit afterward to pursue the point.

Hope you all have a wonderful week. I am so very glad that Jonathan Pedneault is back from his trip overseas. Life feels back to normal – whatever that is!

Much love to all and keep praying for peace.


Elizabeth and her dog Xo march with the Green Party of Canada and the BC Greens in the Victoria Day Parade May 19th in Victoria BC.
Photo credit: Adrian Lam, Times Colonist, Victoria BC
  1. Let me know if you need details to join me next weekend on Salt Spring Island June 2nd for an early birthday party. I turn 70 on June 9! Woohoo!