Good Sunday Morning – January 7

Good Sunday Morning!

I am gratefully and happily back home in British Columbia and looking forward to the round of community meetings scheduled for this month – first up is Saturna on Tuesday January 9.

And on Thursday January 11 we will be on Pender.  Details on all meetings through this month can be found at my MP website

These meetings are non-partisan and open to one and all as I report to constituents about my work in Parliament and hear from residents of Saanich-Gulf Islands about their concerns.

I cannot adequately express how grateful I am to all who take the time to attend and share their views. Over the years as MP for Saanich Gulf Islands, these community meetings have proven such a huge help informing my work; Parliament resumes on Monday January 29. The upcoming round of meetings will help me set my Parliamentary priorities for 2024.

In a similar way the cross-country speaking tour for Jonathan Pedneault and me will help shape our Green Party priorities. Between February and late June we will get to every province and at least one of the Territories.   On that subject, thanks to the over fifty GSM readers who sent ideas for the name of the upcoming Green Leaders tour.  We are working on choosing the right name.  An important reminder is that the next Green Party of Canada General Meeting will be February 24-25. It will be a virtual event. Registration is now open. Please register here. There will be a number of critical policy and constitutional changes under debate. I will share my views about those in coming weeks. Some I strongly support, but others would be really difficult for me to support or defend. More to come! Please make sure you are a member in good standing by January 23 to be able to vote on these proposals!

Meanwhile, this week with a few days in Ottawa, we grabbed the chance to suggest some New Year’s Resolutions for the Liberal government.

Ottawa is, at the moment, pretty empty. MPs and ministers are elsewhere and as a result we did not have competing media events for our press conference on January 4th. We had a really good turn out of reporters with coverage on CPAC, CBC, CTV, Radio Canada, Globe and Mail, National Post, Canadian Press, and Ottawa Citizen. You can watch the whole thing here:

And here is a small sample of the coverage. It does feel that we are truly back at work! My how I loved the all too brief holiday!

I had an email from a concerned resident of Salt Spring Island asking why I was not active in fighting against EVs prompted by a December 30 CBC story about the environmental down-sides of the mining for minerals for EV batteries.

In replying to him I thought many Good Sunday Morning readers might be interested as well. In short, there was a lot wrong with the CBC online story.

I was not happy to see our national public broadcaster swallow so uncritically what amounts to a concerted effort by the fossil fuel and Internal combustion engine lobby to attack electric vehicles. The reality is the demand for more batteries is spurring new breakthroughs in technologies around batteries of all kinds. The minerals used in EV batteries are also used in computers and cell phones. Technology shifts fast and with it the pressure for certain minerals. A prime example is that the media was full of stories about the critical shortage of the mineral palladium. New areas of Canada were being opened up to mine palladium as recently as spring 2023. But then the rise in EV sales has reduced the demand for palladium. Eighty per cent of palladium demand is for catalytic converters, an essential pollution control in cars with internal combustion engines. Electric cars do not need or use catalytic converters so the demand for palladium has plummeted. This story is from January 4 Globe and Mail: Palladium falls as concern EVs will destroy demand returns to the fore

Similarly breakthroughs in EV battery technology is reducing the demand for lithium. The share in Cobalt in batteries is expected to decrease with technological change.  The International Energy Agency identifies these key technological advances as key to reducing lithium demand in future: advanced battery technologies requiring smaller quantities of critical minerals, as well as measures to support uptake of vehicle models with optimised battery size and the development of battery recycling.

The more fundamental point is that all mining for all minerals has environmental downsides that must not be ignored. All mining poses environmental and labour choices with room for tougher standards always. The media focus on EVs and critical minerals is designed to discredit EVs.  Meanwhile we need to press for environmentally sensitive approaches to any and all mines and protections for any and all workers. So while it is the case that sensitive areas of Canada’s north could be mined for minerals in demand for batteries, the Green Party is active in demanding all mines meet high standards. Meanwhile,  improvements in batteries and greater recycling of battery components reduces pressure for new mines.

The CBC story is sadly lacking in critical thinking. There are a number of articles like this one that seek to correct the imbalance in anti-EV propaganda.

I wish CBC had looked at the big picture. This is one of the best reviews I have seen on the future of batteries for many uses, beyond EVs, as part of decarbonizing our economy through greater electrification.

In reading this review and seeing the work of the Global Battery Alliance, the reference to the importance of a “circular economy” leapt off the page. I do not think I mentioned in this letter or other reports from COP28 the significant commitment found in paragraph 36 of the Global StockTake decision:

  1. Notes the importance of transitioning to sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption and production in efforts to address climate change, including through circular economy approaches, and encourages efforts in this regard;

This is an exciting “first” that every nation on earth is committed to moving to “circular economy approaches” ! That concept is a key tenet of Green thinking.

The European Union is miles ahead of North America in this approach. This definition is from the website of the European Parliament

What is the circular economy?

“The circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended.

In practice, it implies reducing waste to a minimum. When a product reaches the end of its life, its materials are kept within the economy wherever possible thanks to recycling. These can be productively used again and again, thereby creating further value.

This is a departure from the traditional, linear economic model, which is based on a take-make-consume-throw away pattern. This model relies on large quantities of cheap, easily accessible materials and energy.

Also part of this model is planned obsolescence, when a product has been designed to have a limited lifespan to encourage consumers to buy it again. The European Parliament has called for measures to tackle this practice.

So thanks again to my Salt Spring Island correspondent for prompting me to explain why I am not on the barricades to protest EVs. I will continue to press for radical transformation of our economy from one that exploits, destroys and colonizes without regard to the costs, to one that is compassionate, fair and regenerative. Our future will not look like our past!

On that happy note, have a great rest of your day and see you soon!

Love and thanks!


Saanich-Gulf Islands Greens