Good Sunday Morning – June 9

Good Sunday Morning!!

Today I turn 70 years old, which even I find hard to believe, and I have known myself from birth. I did not think seventy years old would feel so young, but I am lucky. Today is a day in transit, leaving Edmonton on an early flight to Toronto and switching to VIA Rail from Toronto back to Ottawa for Parliament on Monday.

All the same this is a great birthday, starting out with the Salt Spring party last weekend, thanks to Bob MacKie! And then a great gathering in Calgary Friday night with the most gorgeous cake ever, thanks to Evelyn Tanaka’s husband who just took a cake baking course!  Last night was a party in Edmonton with the special lift of support from former Progressive Conservative MP, former Senator and our once Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament, the Hon Doug Roche. I will continue enjoying birthday parties this week! If you are in the Ottawa area come on June 13 to the AllSaints event space on Laurier Avenue East (5-7).  John Kidder will be singing!

We are rebuilding this party one hug at a time. And it’s working! The Alberta trip was great. Yesterday I spoke to over a thousand locally elected people from across Canada at the annual meeting on the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). As I walked on stage they all sang “Happy Birthday!” thanks to Halifax Mayor Mike Savage who led the choir. I walked off the stage to a standing ovation. And had a great hug from my dear brother in arms, Paul Manly, now a Nanaimo municipal council member ! I was there in time to hear local mayors who have dealt with the pointy end of the climate crisis, mayors dealing with fires, like Rebecca Alty from Yellowknife and those in flood like Stephen Matthews, a one-time Green candidate, Mayor of the Quebec town of Saint-André-d’Argenteuil. One first responder on the same panel reflected on what it was like to help Lytton where the town council no longer had the ability to legally spend any money. All the town by-laws had burned up in the fire.

In case you missed it, some good news about climate leaders. Last Sunday, the new president of Mexico was elected. Most news coverage mentioned she is the first woman president of Mexico, less mentioned is that she is an IPCC scientist! Mexico’s President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum, an energy engineer and physicist and former Mayor of Mexico city where she pursued aggressive and effective climate action.

This week we juggled a lot of media, hosting the visiting BC Southern Resident Killer Whale activists, holding a press conference about asbestos fibres in pipes delivering drinking water across Canada, calling for real climate action with the victims  of climate change events who came to Ottawa in person, while Oil and gas CEOs testified over zoom. The biggest news of the week was likely the astonishing report of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP). This relatively new committee includes members of parliament and Senators from all parties, except us, with each member required to have top secret security clearance. Their report raises serious alarms, while leaving huge areas of uncertainty. Are any MPs actual traitors? If anyone passed on secrets about Canada in exchange for money or any form of favour, then I think that is a traitorous action.

This very helpful New York Times article interviewed one of my favourite smart experts in the field Kent Roach. Here are some verbatim bits from Ian Austin’s piece, Did Politicians Break the Law by Aiding Foreign Influence Efforts?

“China was “the most prolific actor” involved in foreign interference, followed by India, the committee said, with some “limited” activity involving Pakistan…

“Politicians, who were not identified in the report, gathered support for candidates favored by their diplomatic contacts, the report said, and shared with those contacts information about other politicians, which was then used by foreign governments “to inappropriately pressure Parliamentarians to change their positions.” Someone offered “information learned in confidence from the government” to a foreign spy, according to the report, and others lobbied Canadian politicians on behalf of their foreign contacts.  In exchange, the report said, some of these politicians accepted, “knowingly or through willful blindness,” money or other “benefits” from diplomats or people acting on behalf of the foreign governments…    Prof. Kent Roach at the University of Toronto told me the only law that might have been broken was the Security of Information Act, but only if officially classified information had been passed along. The report does not suggest that happened.

“Professor Roach added that there were many reasons to conceal the names of the politicians. Intelligence assessments are not evidence and can be wrong — as in the case of Maher Arar, the Canadian engineer who was imprisoned and tortured for 10 months in Syria after being deported there on flawed intelligence from the Mounties.

“The history of intelligence-led terrorist listing shows that intelligence is often guided by a precautionary principle and can be over-inclusive in terms of individual culpability,” Professor Roach wrote in an email.”

Mike and I were asked how we felt about the brewing scandal in the course of our press conference on a different issue.

Later in the day I also spoke with CBC Power and Politics:

By next week’s letter I hope to have had full access to the report and any background documents. As one of the only MPs, outside of the NSICOP, with top secret security clearance I will share all that I can to put this issue in perspective and recommend next steps. For now, we are all flying somewhat blind. If it is only cocktail chatter at a foreign embassy’s reception, I doubt it amounts to treason. Personally, I think commentators and media should focus more on whether MPs have violated the oath we take when sworn in as MPs. It has a lower threshold than proving a criminal act, but any MP who violates that oath should face consequences.

This coming week, fingers are crossed for the final vote in the Senate on my bill to deliver Environmental Justice, Bill C226.

Lastly, my question in QP on protecting our SRKW:

And here is the full presser on asbestos in drinking water: Prevent Cancer Now at a press conference on Thursday

I will be back in Toronto to campaign in Toronto-St.Pauls on June 17 and 18. Speaking of which, with the by-election there on June 24, the Green Party will postpone the planned Special General Meeting from June 23 until the fall. But we cannot put off asking members their views on the transition to co-leadership. Please watch for the ballot from Simply Voting in your in-box to have your say!

In the meantime, thanks for giving me such a nice boost to start my 71st year!



Saanich-Gulf Islands Greens