Good Sunday Morning,
This Sunday finds John and me on an unexpected adventure. I am getting used to the unexpected – from June 29th and an unexpected stroke to August 9th and finding out that due to the stroke I am not allowed to fly, thus unexpectedly missing the planned Montreal Pride Parade and our train trip to Nova Scotia for a long planned vacation in Margaree. The saddest cancelation being unable to attend yesterday’s funeral for Pat Carney on Saturna Island – no way to get there. Fortunately, I should be able to get to British Columbia in time for her Vancouver Celebration of Life on September 9. Being barred from air travel did not stop my required in-person sessions with security and intelligence officers to investigate the issue of foreign interference in Canada’s electoral process.
As I wrote in earlier letters, we were very fortunate in being able to book round trip BC to Ottawa on Via Rail. We started the trip back to the coast on Wednesday August 23rd, departing Union Station in Toronto for Vancouver.
August 23rd was an emotional day for me – marking twenty years since my mother’s passing . My Jewish family (my older step kids, Cate’s half sibs) have taught me the word “Yahrzeit.” It is Yiddish for the anniversary of a death. It makes so much sense to have a tradition of marking the anniversary dates of loss. My mom, Stephanie Middleton May died on August 23, 2003. It also made sense to pass that day on the train. August 23, 2003, Cate and I were on the train departing a Sierra Club meeting in Sackville, New Brunswick. I heard my name being paged up and down the train as we pulled into Moncton station. On the train platform RCMP officers were waiting to tell me they had an urgent family message. They handed my one of their large shoe-phone sized cell phones and said “call home.” I remember thinking, “whichever parent answers the phone the other must have died”. My mother was by far the healthier of the two. It was a shock to hear my father’s voice and for him to say that my mother had died. It was totally unexpected. I had only said good bye to her the day before. She was in great health. But that is another story. Despite an autopsy (required because she died unexpectedly at home) we never really knew the cause of death. Dying in her sleep of natural causes.
It just seems amazing that of my now 69 years of life, my mother, the dominant force for the first 49 years has been gone so long. She raised me to be an activist. She had been a driving force in the movement to stop atmospheric nuclear weapons testing. She was fully committed to the civil rights movement and then multiple campaigns in the peace movement to stop the war in Vietnam. She raised me to save the world. Nothing less was expected. She and my dad supported me in my own campaigns against pesticide spraying and uranium mining and all manner of causes and battles – most of which we won.
The unexpected is more expected all the time this summer. Our train tickets indicate we get to Vancouver today – only we do not. Due to the wildfires, VIA Rail cancelled this trip to BC with the final destination now being Edmonton.
The four hundred people on board were left to our own devices to find any way to where we are supposed to be going. John managed to find us a U-Haul truck in Edmonton. Still not sure exactly when I will be home in Sidney – but at least we are not stranded in Edmonton. The bad news that the train would go no farther then Edmonton was delivered before we got to Winnipeg yesterday. Just about then everyone on the train got an emergency alert on our phones to take cover immediately due to a tornado warning. The VIA service manager was quick to get on the PA system to reassure the passengers that we were not in the path of a tornado.
The climate news everywhere is grim. All the burning forests contribute vast amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. It is estimated that wildfires in Canada have emitted 290 million tons of carbon this year – double the previous record. Our emissions from industry and all human activity are in the range of 700 million tons/year so this is a very significant pulse of GHG further warming our atmosphere – drying out our forests and driving extreme events. This is but one example of a “positive feedback loop.” Human caused global warming unleashing more warming – as in when melting ice from warmer ocean water allows more of the sun’s heat to be absorbed in the oceans instead of bouncing back toward space in the albedo effect. Warming and melting permafrost releases methane – a powerful greenhouse gas. We’re in a race against time to arrest our releases of GHG to avoid hitting tipping points where the warming world – caused by human activity – releases more warming and faster driving greater warming.
And still our government pushes ahead with building the Transmountain pipeline, which this week hit yet another obstacle driving even higher costs.
This week another increase in costs on Transmountain was revealed: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/trans-mountain-pipeline-construction-delay-1.6946053
Thanks to the Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation for holding firm. Meanwhile the hugely cynical ploy by our government continues to tout “selling” the pipeline to First Nations interests. Worse yet other renewable energy projects and electric grid expansions with indigenous partners are being held up so that the “model” used to “sell” TMX to indigenous interests can be used for all projects.
I will try to stay on top of the news as we make our way towards home.
Watch for details as the voting starts for the Federal Council elections of the Green Party of Canada on September 2. We tend to get very low participation rates in internal elections, but the people chosen really do matter. Please have a look at the website. Feel free to ask me anything. I am not allowed to endorse candidates but I am happy to provide information and hope to boost member participation!
Hoping to see many of you over the Labour Day weekend at the Saanich Fair!
PS: And another day to mark on your calendar. There will be marches in many cities in mid-September to call for an end to fossil fuels. I had been thinking of how to get to the September 17 march in New York City when I heard that Vancouver will have a big climate march on Friday September 15. Please plan to join me there! September 15 in Vancouver!!
Saanich-Gulf Islands Greens