Good Sunday Morning – June 2

Good Sunday Morning!!

And to start your day, some wonderful, even miraculous, news! Freddy Mwenengabo has been freed from his kidnappers and last night made it home to Fredericton!  We knew last week he had been released, but the family asked us to keep it quiet until he was safely home. Thanks for your prayers, thanks to David Coon, NB Green leader, for fighting so hard and thanks to Global Affairs Minister Melanie Joly and parliamentary secretary Pam Damoff.  Such a harrowing tale. If only all hostages and prisoners from the horrific Hamas-Israel conflict could also be safely home and soon.

This week in Parliament was, once again, an exercise in exhaustion. Most nights went until midnight. On behalf of the health of all my colleagues I keep asking for help.  A few of my women friends in other parties feel the same, but maybe it is a macho thing that men do not seem to care. When I pressed Liberal House leader Steve McKinnon as to why we did not, at least, have some cots for quick naps available, he told me it was all the Conservatives’ fault. I can agree that the level of obstruction and toxicity can be blamed more on the Conservatives than other parties, but honestly, the tit for tat, game of chicken approach to parliamentary business is on all of our heads. We can do better. I learned yesterday that there used to be a medical unit on Parliament Hill, closed in the interests of cost-cutting some years ago. I understand why the MP shoeshine service and on-site barber were shut down in the 1990s, but some things seem worth the cost, for instance to keep us alive.

On Friday I had the enormous honour of delivering a eulogy at the Vancouver funeral of one of my favourite people in the world, the Hon John Fraser. Vicky Husband and I went together as we had all bonded deeply in the campaign to stop the logging of the ancient temperate rainforests of Haida Gwaii, now in Gwaii Haanas National Park. I told the story of when another dear friend, the late Colleen McCrory of Valhalla Wilderness Society, had been working non-stop for what we then called the “South Moresby Wilderness proposal,” while also running a general store and the New Denver BC Sears outlet. She was juggling South Moresby calls with multiple Sears phone lines. Once talking to John Fraser, then Speaker of the House, she kept putting him on hold to handle Sears orders. He finally got a bit miffed and said, “Look Colleen, I am a very busy man, you cannot keep putting me on hold!” and she replied, “And I am a very busy woman,” and hit the hold button again. John loved that story, laughing as he would retell it. On his remembrance page  former Prime Minister Kim Campbell wrote “he laughed with his whole body.”

In the following Hill Times article on the current conflict within the Liberal caucus over keeping their promise to shut down open-pen toxic fish factories, I recall Fraser’s leadership in protecting our fisheries. It leads me to want to add some details for those who remember the scandal that ended his time in cabinet – the so-called “Tunagate” affair.  One speaker recalled Friday that it was really a “fake scandal,” and after so much time it could stay forgotten except it has crept into news coverage of his passing. In short, inspectors declared a large batch of Starkist canned tuna unfit for human consumption, but without any actual testing. Fraser, knowing hundreds of jobs were at stake,  approved the sale of the canned tuna and started the process for valid scientific testing for all seafood. The CBC Fifth Estate broke the story that John Fraser had over-ruled the inspectors and approved the sale of the tuna. He told me the whole story years later. It turned out the fisheries inspectors used a sniff test. It was pretty rank tuna to be sure, and Starkist was a bargain brand cut-rate kind of tuna in any event. Chicken of the Sea by comparison was primo. In any case, his resignation in the wake of the media story was engineered by Deputy Prime Minister Yukon MP Eric Neilson who had no love for Red Tory Fraser. Mulroney had asked Neilson to tell Fraser that he was personally displeased. And to make it clear to Fraser that the dressing down from Neilson was to be referenced as if it had been the Prime Minister himself. Neilson left out that bit when speaking to John Fraser. And no one alerted Fraser to the fact Mulroney had replied in a scrum that he had personally called Fraser to express his disapproval. Moments later reporters asked John about it. He said that he knew Mulroney was concerned and unhappy with Fraser’s decision, but, no he had not spoken with him personally. He was now on the record directly contradicting the PM. He had no choice but to resign. He never bore any ill will towards Mulroney over that mess, but the same cannot be said about how he felt about Eric Nielson. All long ago, but John Fraser’s reputation for integrity is not something that should be left sullied by cheap tricks of those who set him up. And as you will read below I still wonder if Fraser had stayed as DFO minister if we would still have cod in the North Atlantic.

It’s time to fight for our fish – Published in Hill Times May 27.

Recent news article have focused on the increased risk that the Cabinet shuffle changing Fisheries Ministers, from British Columbia’s Joyce Murray to Gaspe’s Diane Lebouthillier, may undermine long-promised actions to get open-pen aquaculture out of BC waters. The issue of the threat to wild Pacific salmon from foreign-owned aquaculture operations, growing a non-native species of Atlantic salmon, is well known. It was the subject of extensive study back in the Harper years conducted by an independent commission chaired by Mr. Justice Cohen. It collected testimony from scientists, experts, fishers, indigenous peoples and conservationists over a year and a half. Its final report “The Uncertain Future of the Fraser River Sockeye” was a roadmap for preserving our wild salmon. Following up on the Cohen inquiry’s recommendations, the Liberals pledged in their 2019 election platform to transition from open-pen salmon farms to closed-containment systems on the West Coast by 2025.

Years ago. in one of my many town hall meetings with constituents, someone challenged me to stop calling aquaculture “fish farms. “Call them what they are,” she urged; “toxic fish factories!”  I have done so ever since.

In the Fisheries Committee we heard from many experts who detailed the ways in which DFO officials have attempted to censor and squash the science that proved the damage of these toxic fish factories.  Dr. Kristi Miller’s research documented the dangerous viruses that reached wild salmon from the open pen operations. Her work was buried. It took ten years for her research to be published.

The willingness of DFO to suppress the science and mislead the minister makes sense when one examines the mandate of the department. It has a built-in conflict of interest. DFO is both in charge of regulating aquaculture and of promoting growth in the aquaculture industry.  DFO should have a mandate to protect coastal ecosystems and fish habitat. The Green Party believes that growing fish for food should be on land and regulated by Agriculture and Agrifood Canada.

I am so grateful that former minister Joyce Murray is following up on the commitment to get open pen toxic fish factories out of our waters. British Columbians are deeply committed to our wild salmon.

Over the years British Columbian ministers of Fisheries have really fought to protect our salmon.  The late John Fraser as Minister of Fisheries not only fought for Pacific salmon, he also took DFO to task as he realized the data coming from the East Coast was deeply worrying. As an avid fisher and conservationist, he had noticed the size of the average cod landed was getting steadily smaller. DFO experts said. “but do not worry Mr. Minister. The total tonnage of the annual harvest is remaining constant.” Fraser was even more alarmed. He tried to warn subsequent ministers of DFO. If only they had listened we would not have seen the commercial extinction of the cod and the loss of 30,000 jobs overnight, as well-documented in Michael Harris’ Lament for an Ocean.

It puts me in mind of the many Fisheries ministers over decades who have been misled by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

In fact, the case can be made that the degree to which any minister of Fisheries and Oceans is successful in protecting our fisheries is in direct proportion to that minister’s ability to stare down their officials and insist on conservation. Former minister Dominic Leblanc did so to restore the Fisheries Act to what it had been before Harper gutted it in spring 2012 in omnibus bill C-38.

So free advice to Minister Lebouthilier, talk to former ministers Leblanc and Murray and fight for our salmon!

Wild Pacific salmon is at risk.  Just as are our whales, from the Right Whales on the East Coast to the Southern Resident Killer Whales that share the Pacific waters with our salmon. This is squarely federal jurisdiction. Fight for our natural ecosystems, protect fish habitat!  And move the toxic fish factories to closed systems on land.”  (by the way, I am grateful to Hill Times for giving me a monthly column. They do need to get subscribers.  I often put my articles in this letter and not behind the pay wall.. but I feel a bit guilty so do consider a subscription.)


Sharing one of my interventions on the House this week, not able to directly ask Poilievre a question, I raised in debate how his citation of a new Facebook group of Canadians moving to Florida made me feel, a group Poilievre seemed thrilled to announce had 55K followers..


And one last tribute to a great Green Saskatchewan volunteer and activist, Dave Abbey who died this week. We had worked together for many years.  As described in this note from Saskatchewan Green leader Naomi Hunter, “He had family by his side and listened to his favourite song, ‘Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream’. We will carry on to make his dream come true.”

The song, Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream, was written by Ed McCurdy. (there are many recordings on line. I love the Weavers and Pete Seeger’s version, but there is also a wonderful one from Simon & Garfunkel.) I do so wish our modern society had more mobilizing and inspiring protest music. We do so need it!


Last night I had the strangest dream

I ever dreamed before

I dreamed the world had all agreed

To put an end to war


I dreamed I saw a mighty room

The room was filled with men

And the paper they were signing said

They’d never fight again


And when the papers all were signed

And a million copies made

They all joined hands and bowed their heads

And grateful prayers were prayed


And the people in the streets below

Were dancing round and round

And guns and swords and uniforms

Were scattered on the ground


Last night I had the strangest dream

I ever dreamed before

I dreamed the world had all agreed

To put an end to war


The Strangest Dream – The Weavers – (Lyrics) ( (


Hoping to see many friends this afternoon at my Salt Spring Island birthday party.

Until next week, much love and deep thanks,



Saanich-Gulf Islands Greens