Good Sunday Morning – April 21

Good Sunday Morning!!

And Happy Earth Day!

I hope to see many of you later today in Sidney for the Saanich Gulf Islands Green Party EDA (local party organization “Electoral District Association” what used to be called a riding association) Earth Day event.

Yesterday I was in Duncan with BC Green Party candidate Cammy Lockwood for the Duncan Earth Day festivities. I put the word out to avoid any Earth Day events on April 22 itself, especially none in the evening as it would conflict with the first night of Passover and the most important Passover meal, the Seder. Happy Passover to those who observe.

I do not thank the local Green volunteer team nearly enough—or loudly enough. We have a great group on the Saanich Gulf Islands (SGI) EDA executive—Tom is CEO, plus Mary Leslie and Shelagh, Jim, Jennifer does all the financial bookwork and Debra, SO many great and talented local work! For example, all the work after I write this weekly letter goes to a team of four stellar volunteers—Linda, Brian, Karen and Bob—who take turns on the formatting, proofreading, checking if links work— and then using the NationBuilder software to send it to your personal email address. Amazing—and then Olympic medal winning volunteer—Robyn, who never wants the limelight, goes through your notes sent to the [email protected] email in-box and shifts and sorts to decide which ones I need to reply to personally! And then we have great volunteers who help the non-partisan work of keeping the constituency office in Sidney functioning—greeting constituents and answering the phone. (Let me know if you would be interested in joining one of our volunteer teams!) It is national volunteer week, so a good moment to THANK all the Green volunteers coast to coast to coast. (And by the way, although I am paid as an MP, I am a volunteer as leader of the Green Party.) I love doing it but I could do nothing without the huge band of Greens who work so hard behind the scenes.

I want to start with some good news! I have been working for months to stop the planned deportation of Zain Haq. He lives in Vancouver and came to Canada on a student visa from Pakistan. He is now married and has made so many friends who support him in his amazing climate activism. When Pakistan was devastated by climate-crisis-caused floods he was arrested in acts of non-violent civil disobedience. He received a deportation order from Immigration Canada months ago. Thousands of people have rallied to keep him in Canada. Friday there was a court hearing where we all hoped the court would grant a stay on the deportation order. Instead, to our horror, the motion for the stay was dismissed. I wrote Zain, to ask how much time I had to keep up the pressure on the two key ministers, with whom I have been pleading (begging) for their intervention. Zain replied that his flight to Pakistan, never to return to Canada, was set for this morning. I once again emailed to their personal addresses the two key ministers, Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration and Dominic Leblanc, Minister for Public Safety to tell them that time was running out and to beg them not to allow Canada to be the first country to deport someone for climate activism. You cannot imagine my relief and joy when I got home to Sidney late Friday afternoon and got the news that they had acted and cancelled the deportation. We always beat up on government for doing the wrong things. Please send notes to express your thanks to both Ministers Marc Miller and Dominic Leblanc. I know the departmental advice was not on our side. Thanks to all who helped and Hooray!!

Speaking of punishing brave non-violent civil disobedience on Wednesday April 24, I will be at the Nanaimo court house at 10 am for the resumption of the sentencing hearing for Rainbow Eyes, Green Deputy Leader, and Mother Earth defender. The Crown wants her to spend 51 days in jail. I am hoping and praying for her to also receive the kind of last-minute reprieve that just happened for Zain.

So often in the midst of major global turmoil, wars of aggression and the slaughter of innocents, I can find myself working for one sole individual. Hoping to make a difference and save a life. That is the case for a kidnapped New Brunswick resident and Canadian citizen whose case is being championed by the leader of the New Brunswick Greens, David Coon. Four months ago, Freddy Mwenengabo was kidnapped in Congo. He has been a courageous defender of human rights and his kidnapping is so shocking. His family has received grim photographic evidence of torture as the kidnappers demand ransom.

I was very torn this week as I had given David my word that I would use my one opportunity for a question this week to ask what our government was doing to help Freddy and get him home safely to his family. As is my custom, I always let the minister know what question I am going to ask. I think it increases the chances of a meaningful answer. So I had placed notes on the Prime Minister’s desk in the House and also on other relevant ministers’ desks. Before Question Period could really get underway key ministers and parliamentary secretaries were begging me not to ask the question. They argued that making Freddy’s case more high profile might actually make his situation worse. That the kidnappers would think that their hostage was more valuable and make it harder to gain his release.  They promised me the government was actually working hard to help which is definitely not what David Coon nor Freddy’s family believe. I was so torn. I had given David my word. I never go back on my word. I do not think I have ever been so unsure of which was the right action. Mike Morrice sits right next to me so he heard as various people pleaded with me not to raise the issue. Mike left the chamber to try to phone David and get his advice and maybe permission for me to change tactics. I was nearly in tears when Mike returned to say he had not reached David, and that I had two minutes to decide. My question was coming up. Instead of raising Freddy’s case, I asked about the abysmal pittance in the budgetary support for a Canada Disability benefit- $200/month and the token of $1.3 million over three years to create a “Red Dress Alert” to raise the alarm to rescue Indigenous women and girls, $1.3 million for stolen sisters, versus $47 million this year for stolen cars.

I still do not feel certain I made the right decisions. Please pray for Freddy Mwenengabo’s release and safe return to his family.

Meanwhile, it was a very busy week with Tuesday’s release of the budget and the questioning of Kristian Firth, the disgraced GC Strategies IT business man (aka “grifter”) who is at the centre of the ArriveCAN app scandal. Here is the full 5 minutes of my questions in the historic admonishment of a private citizen held in contempt of parliament.

You can find links to our Green response to the budget below:

CPAC coverage of the scrum:–reaction-from-the-green-party?id=9e1fd894-27e3-4723-87d6-a802d0a41da0

And my last bit of parliamentary success this week,  I achieved unanimous consent after working to obtain unanimous consent for a motion against anti-Semitism. It was a quiet moment of agreement that nearly went unnoticed and came after months of tension among MPs over the Liberal government’s response to the Mideast war.

And before closing one more really important bit of news!  The Federal Council has approved the Special General Meeting to resolve the question of co-leadership. It will be held on June 23, 2024. It is planned to be a short meeting—not days on zoom, but hopefully 4-5 hours. Please make sure your membership in the federal Green Party of Canada is up to date and please plan to participate. More details to come!!

Many thanks and Happy Earth Day!!!

Much love,

PS: Please join us for an Earth Day celebration today!

Earth Day Event in Sidney:

The Saanich-Gulf Islands federal Greens are hosting a free Earth Day event today, about Miyakwaki Forests. Everyone is welcome. You can read more about a local initiative building one of these small but mighty forests here.

There will be a film presentation, an expert speaker about Miyawaki Forests, speakers MP Elizabeth May, MLA Adam Olsen and a stunning door prize.

The slogan is “Put a forest in your pocket of the world”!

Date and Time:  Sunday April 21st, 1 – 3 pm

Location: Star Cinema, 9840 Third St, Sidney, BC 

With gratitude to the Saanich-Gulf Islands Greens for organizing this amazing event!