Good Sunday Morning!
It actually is beginning to feel like a New Year, but the walloping snow storms plus Omicron, school closures and lock-downs certainly blunt the usual feeling of being back in the swing of things. Add to that my own circumstance of slow recovery from the most recent knee replacement, and I would like to re-set the calendar at pre-Christmas.
This last week, we have all been immersed in the media and political attention to the anniversary of the January 6th insurrection. There have been a number of very compelling pieces about the fate of US democracy. Stephen Marche’s new book, The Next Civil War: Dispatches from America’s Future is setting a tone.
Our own Canadian scholar of conflict studies, Thomas Homer-Dixon of Royal Roads Cascade Institute has made waves. His Globe and Mail January 1 massive essay was deeply concerning. This line resonated:
“Evidence is as close as the latest right-wing Twitter meme: widely circulated holiday photos show Republican politicians and their family members, including young children, sitting in front of their Christmas trees, all smiling gleefully while cradling pistols, shotguns, and assault rifles.”
A year after the attempt to deny the results of a fair election with an armed attack on Congress, as insane as it seemed at the time, is now defended by Republicans.
In ever more chilling news, far from being repulsed by the anti-democratic thuggery of January 6, 2021, Republicans are lining up behind Trump. More than 60% of Republicans now believe the 2020 election was stolen from them. In worse news, they are seeking to win low-level positions in the normally boring apparatus of confirming election results.
This from the New York Times: “In races for state and county-level offices with direct oversight of elections, Republican candidates coming out of the Stop the Steal movement are running competitive campaigns, in which they enjoy a first-mover advantage in electoral contests that few partisans from either party thought much about before last November.”
Differences between Americans and Canadians appear to be holding. Canadians are not fans of armed insurrection. We do not like seeing our militarized RCMP brutally arresting indigenous land defenders. Right wing movements to shut down protests are spreading in the US and the UK. New Draconian laws in the UK seem designed to arrest climate protesters, like Extinction Rebellion.
A rebellion to stop the bill in the House of Lords is being led by Green peer Jenny Jones.
This should make us all worried. We cannot take democracy – nor our civil liberties – for granted. Ever.
I came across a true gem in shuffling through things, as I do, to prepare this Sunday missive. It is a reflection on American democracy in the middle of a war. It is by E.B. White, one of my favourite writers of all time, a regular contributor to the New Yorker, where this appeared July 3, 1943. White, also an early environmentalist, is best known as author of Charlotte’s Web:
“We received a letter from the Writers’ War Board the other day asking for a statement on ‘The Meaning of Democracy.’ It presumably is our duty to comply with such a request, and it is certainly our pleasure.
“Surely the Board knows what democracy is. It is the line that forms on the right. It is the don’t in don’t shove. It is the hole in the stuffed shirt through which the sawdust slowly trickles; it is the dent in the high hat. Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time. It is the feeling of privacy in the voting booths, the feeling of communion in the libraries, the feeling of vitality everywhere. Democracy is a letter to the editor. Democracy is the score at the beginning of the ninth. It is an idea which hasn’t been disproved yet, a song the words of which have not gone bad. It’s the mustard on the hot dog and the cream in the rationed coffee. Democracy is a request from a War Board, in the middle of a morning in the middle of a war, wanting to know what democracy is.”
—E. B. White
I agree: Democracy is a letter to the editor. But is democracy putting an entire national consultation on the climate plan until 2030 into an on-line survey – announced just before Christmas and wrapping up on Friday, January 14, 2022? I am not impressed.
As I mentioned in the December 19th GSM, the Net Zero consultation has been launched. I have been digging into it, finding the on-line survey with space limitations very frustrating. The whole exercise is getting hardly any publicity and time is running out.
To the rescue come a small team of volunteers with whom I started working when C-12, the so-called Canada Net Zero Climate Accountability Act, was first launched. Unlike most environmental organizations in Canada, quick to fall in line cheer-leading for Liberals (no doubt out of the perpetual fear the Conservatives will win if we do not keep pretending the Liberals are better than they are), this great group started exposing flaws in C-12 with videos posted on line. Now known as Climate Messengers they have put together this fantastic tool kit to help citizens weigh in on climate action. It is 58 pages, but designed so a busy person can use the “quickie” version. Those with more time can use more of the background detail. I strongly recommend reading through the tool kit before starting to answer the government’s on-line survey:
PLEASE use this tool to help you make the best possible submission. I will share the Green Party submission next week, but while there is still time for you to reiterate key points:
- Net zero by 2050 is not the right target
- 1.5 degrees C global average temperature increase and as far below 2 degrees as possible is the Paris target. Net zero by 2050 is too late.
- Canada must substantially increase our target in 2022 – to at least 60% below 2005 by 2030.
- Canada must end fossil fuel subsidies, meaning no public money to fossil fuel infrastructure (cancel TMX), exploration, development or expansion of fossil fuels
- Ban fracking
- Expand and connect a national electricity grid of 100% renewable energy – north-south-east-west, entailing negotiations with every provincial utility
- Work closely with Indigenous peoples and governments to expand renewables, protect and expand healthy ecosystems, respecting UNDRIP
- Stop logging old growth; plant billions of trees on the land and in cities
- Invest massively in energy efficiency and low carbon infrastructure
- Protect fossil fuel workers and communities with a Just Transition Act
- End export of thermal coal by 2023
- Embrace regenerative soil agriculture for carbon sequestration
- Ban new sales of ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles.
- Make public transit affordable, reliable and low carbon within cities and between them, investing in bus and rail.
And probably a few thousand other things.
Please go to the Environment Canada and Climate Change website link found in the Climate Messengers toolkit above. Please share with friends and colleagues and ask them to submit before the January 14th deadline.
We do have public support. Recent polling shows Canadians are back to being more concerned about the environment than about COVID.
For now, have a great week. Hope you are safe, avoiding Omicron and able to weather whatever winter storms are coming your way. Sending well wishes to several friends who have COVID- get well soon Brian, Murray, Lindsay, Amanda and Shelagh!
With love and, surprisingly, feeling hopeful for 2022!
P.S. SAVE the DATE: My Green Party Electoral District Association for Saanich-Gulf Islands is holding our Annual General Meeting (for calendar 2021!) on Saturday, January 22, 2022, from 2-4 pm BC time. It will be entirely on zoom. Next week I will send out the link.
If you are one of the 1200 or so Green Party members in SGI you will receive a direct invitation, so please come! You have voting rights. But if you are not a member or do not live in SGI, you will want to hear our great speakers! I am really thrilled that interim leader Dr. Amita Kuttner will be our key note, as well as my parliamentary bench-mate Mike Morrice, MP for Kitchener-Centre. I get to say a few words as well. I really hope Amita will be able to give us an update on how the federal party is doing in organizing for the next leadership contest. And I hope we will be able to share some good news on recent fundraising. So for now, please SAVE THE DATE!
And one last thing, my sum-up of COP26 for Policy Magazine:
Saanich-Gulf Islands Greens