Good Sunday Morning!
And welcome to May 1st Monday morning.
Tuesday will mark twelve years since the Greens in Canada elected our first Member of Parliament, leading to green growth in provinces and more MPs in Parliament. Of course, I was that first MP, back on May 2nd 2011. It was the amazing team of volunteers knocking on doors, day after day, week after week over nearly two years, from my nomination in 2009 until the federal election on 2011, who made the idea of a Green MP – someday – a reality.
Thanks so much to all the volunteers of Saanich-Gulf Islands and those who came from other areas to lend a hand. It was a devastating result in other ways as Stephen Harper won a majority of the seats within only 39.6% of the popular vote. First Past the Post delivers perverse results, but that disastrous result eliminated a quite strong plan to meet Kyoto, canceled the detailed universal childcare plan, and ended the commitments under the Kelowna Accord.
Despite winning my seat, I went home and wept.
In 2015, I had high hopes when Harper’s Conservatives were turfed. Justin Trudeau swept in to a majority government with 39.4% of the popular vote. I believed him that 2015 would be the last election under First Past the Post. I believed “Canada was back” to live up to climate action. I believed that the Kinder Morgan pipeline could not be approved as Trudeau had said no project could be approved after such a flawed process of environmental review. I believed the Liberals would fix what Harper broke, but environmental assessment law is still broken and with the approval of Roberts Bank every shred of faith I had in believing Justin Trudeau capable of fulfilling a promise is gone.
This is how I raged in parliament this week in QP over the devastating decision to threaten the survival of the Western sandpiper, Southern Resident Killer Whales and Chinook salmon. The rage was not over the approval, but over the public relations sham of their much touted 370 legally binding conditions. I read them all. Clearly the government was looking for a big numbers more than meaningful efforts. There are dozens of commitments to process, to consult, to monitor and so on. There are going to be efforts, destined to fail, to find new habitat for species at risk, like the Western sandpiper, to keep the noise down if whales are in the vicinity during construction and the kind of useless efforts that have seen SRKW numbers drop. The condition I found draw dropping in its cynicism was 14.7.1:
“painting the cranes to be used during operation in colours that reduce contrast and enhance blending with the surrounding landscape, determined in consultation with Transport Canada, and shall maintain these colours throughout operation, subject to safety and regulatory requirements.”
I was angrier than usual on Thursday as I referenced this “legally binding condition.”
When I look back at the last dozen years, there are many accomplishments of which I am humbled, proud and grateful. I am so very grateful that I was elected as a Green MP and not in some other party. I am not constrained by industry pressure or backroom trade-offs for political favours. I have succeeded in getting two private members bills passed into law – for a federal Lyme Disease Strategy and to ban the keeping of whales in captivity. Now, having passed every stage in the House, my bill to confront environmental racism is before the Senate, sponsored by the extraordinary Senator Mary Jane McCallum. The speeches and debates for Second Reading in the Senate are underway.
The testimony of Dene National Chief Gerald Antoine in the Environment Committee hearings this week spoke directly to that work. I was astonished to hear him say “We agree with Elizabeth May, the Green Party Member of Parliament, who stated this is criminal activity,” Antoine said. “This is a crime and it comes under environmental racism.”
Watch here for his whole statement: https://parlvu.parl.gc.ca/Harmony/en/PowerBrowser/PowerBrowserV2/20230424/-1/38999?mediaStartTime=20230424110745&viewMode=3&globalStreamId=29
Looking for strong Green growth across Canada, a shout out to New Brunswick Greens. In provincial by-elections last Monday, Greens came in second in two out of three seats, and across the three races had 29% of the vote. They are well satisfied with the strong showings in the northern part of the province, boding well for winning more seats in the next provincial election.
Meanwhile, Alberta Greens are holding on to their 3rd place – after the Conservatives and NDP who remain neck in neck. At the request of the Alberta Greens, I will head to Calgary later in May. We expect the writ drop for the May 29th election any day now. Only residents of Alberta can donate. If you live in Alberta, please help them today!
Speaking of Alberta Greens, I have a correction to last week’s letter on our Edmonton event. I actually wrote about Michael and Beth Hunter’s eco-home retrofits before actually seeing them. So I made a mistake in saying they installed geothermal. Here is a note from Michael with details:
We did not install geothermal: we went with electric air-source heat pump technology, which has come a long way in the last few years, and is less expensive than geothermal.
We replaced our:
- gas stove with an electric induction stove,
- gas furnace with a cold-climate electric air-source heat pump, and
- gas hot water heater with an electric air-source heat pump hot water heater.
And this was all possible without upgrading our electrical service from 100 to 200 Amps, by using a load sharing device on our electrical panel.
The 27 existing solar panels we have on the roof off-set our electrical load prior to disconnecting the gas and adding the new electric systems. So, the next step is to build a garage to create enough roof space for a second solar PV system to off-set the increased electrical load, and THAT will enable us to reach net-zero carbon emissions (and claim a $10,000.00 grant from City of Edmonton for doing so!). The entire project will be complete later this summer.
This is newly advanced technology, and the fact that air-source heat pumps are now practical in cold climates is a very big deal: this is the technology most building retrofits in Canada will be using in the coming years. Co-ordinated government efforts to ramp up the adoption of both ground source (geothermal) and air source heat pumps is vital to eliminating our emissions from buildings, and is central to my campaign to become MLA for Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview.
Thanks again to Michael, Beth and Diana Hunter for opening their home to our Earth Day teach-in. Nothing educates like a good example!
Have a great week until I write again. Next Saturday John and I will be in Campbell River for the AGM of the North Island-Powell River Greens!
Please note below some important events and opportunities.
- Youth Award nominations open!
The Youth Climate Activism Award is open to students under 20 years of age in British Columbia who demonstrate impactful, unique and creative actions to mitigate climate change. Show us your climate activism.
Youth aged 14 and under $500;
Youth aged 14-20 $1000.
- Important events coming up on Salt Spring Island:
- May 5 – Bob McDonald Talk at ArtSpring
- May 6 – Electric Float Plane Visit https://saltspringcommunityenergy.com/events/electric-float-plane-visit-to-ganges/
- May 6 – Panel Discussion at GISS
- May 5 – Bob McDonald Talk at ArtSpring
- We did a lot of work last week drawing attention to SMRs.