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Have your say at the Green New Deal set up

The Sunrise Movement is promoting the Green New Deal via posters like this one - Photo courtesy of Nancye Belding

Green New Deal set up in Belleville, Monday, May 27th at St Thomas Church  7 to 9 pm.

The House of Commons saw two separate motions calling on Canada to declare a climate change emergency. This is a big deal, since it means many of our politicians are finally waking up to see climate change as what it is — a global crisis that demands urgent action.

But, actions speak louder than words. If, and likely when, it passes next week, this emergency declaration will still be backed up by a climate plan that misses the Paris targets and puts us on track to exceed 4ºC of global temperature rise.

That’s why a Green New Deal for Canada is so important, because a climate emergency demands an emergency level response. This weekend kicks off more than 150 town halls across the country where people from all walks of life will get together to craft the ambitious climate solutions that we need response.

This energy to declare a climate emergency didn’t come of out of nowhere. For the past few months student strikes have poured out of classes and into our communities calling for bold action. The Our Time campaign has launched across the country, bringing in thousands of young people committed to winning a Green New Deal for Canada by building a once in a generation voting alliance for climate justice. And, earlier this month, the Pact for a Green New Deal launched, collecting tens of thousand of signatures from people who believe we can, and we must, do more to tackle climate change and inequality.

All of this has pushed our politicians to respond with platforms, pledges to show us their vision of a Green New Deal for Canada and now, climate emergency declarations.

This energy to declare a climate emergency didn’t come of out of nowhere. For the past few months student strikes have poured out of classes and into our communities calling for bold action. The Our Time campaign has launched across the country, bringing in thousands of young people committed to winning a Green New Deal for Canada by building a once in a generation voting alliance for climate justice. And, earlier this month, the Pact for a Green New Deal launched, collecting tens of thousand of signatures from people who believe we can, and we must, do more to tackle climate change and inequality.

All of this has pushed our politicians to respond with platforms, pledges to show us their vision of a Green New Deal for Canada and now, climate emergency declarations.

With over 150 town halls confirmed in cities, towns and First Nations, we’re just getting started. If you’ve been waiting for it, this is the moment to get involved. MORE

SEE ALSO:

June 5th, 2019 Tamworth Town Hall for Canada’s Green New Deal: Wednesday,  7-9 PM, Tamworth Library, 1 Ottawa Street

Pact for the Green New Deal: “Now is the time to build power behind the solutions we need.”

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1.5 to Stay Alive

1.5 to Stay Alive

We only have until 2030 to keep emissions to 1.5 degrees C. If we don’t, runaway feedback loops will make our planet unliveable. Write to your MP to insist they make climate change their main focus. HERE

The County Sustainability Group presents Up in the Air, a short film about the wind turbine project in Prince Edward County

Watch the movie HERE

Up in the Air is a short film about the wind turbine project in Prince Edward County. For nearly two decades, a group of County residents have been supporting wind energy initiatives. The White Pines project near Milford looks to be the answer to that quest. But with four of the nine turbines up and ready to capture wind energy, the provincial government recently halted the project. Watch the full movie HERE

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After watching the movie, all the information you need to contact your MLA’s and MPPs is on this page!

AOC! AOC! Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Lays It On The Line For Green New Deal

The two videos below, one American, one Canadian, show why activism is so important now and  why so many environmental organizations are  organizing for a Green New Deal for Canada.  

Image result for alexandria ocasio-cortez sunrise movementAt a Sunrise Movement rally, on Monday, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized “both sides” of the aisle for sidelining climate action. Photograph by Alex Wong / Getty

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave a fiery speech at an event sponsored by the Sunrise Movement on May 13. The symposium at Howard University marked the end of a 30-day campaign by the Sunrise Movement designed to educate voters across the nation about the Green New Deal proposed by AOC and Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts.

Now folks, politicians give speeches all the time. Most of them are nothing more than hot air, filled with empty promises and blue sky blathering. The speakers know their promises will never be fulfilled. The audience knows the promises they are hearing are just sloganeering. We all wink and nod and pretend we are witnessing some historic peroration, knowing in our heart of hearts that it is all window dressing designed to obscure the real political wheeling and dealing that goes on in the background.

She pushes back hard against the namby pamby, go slow, middle of the road policies put forth by Joe Biden and clears the air about charges by Republicans that she seeks to make America a socialist country by reminding her audience that a strong nation, a proud nation, a great nation is one that tends to the needs of the poor and the powerless.

Some speeches leave a permanent mark on society. This speech by AOC may well stand the test of time. Please watch the entire video below. It is just over 11 minutes long and it may be the best speech of the 21st century so far.

SOURCE

And if you need more convincing that Canadians face an urgent climate crisis, watch this video by Elizabeth May:

Paying some piddling carbon tax will do nothing to defend us from what lies ahead: Neil Macdonald

“This is Canada, for heaven’s sake. The cost of flood-proofing this country will be largely paid for with tax revenue. It’s inevitable. It is a clear and present danger at this point, and what are we discussing? A meaningless bit of window-dressing sin tax that would barely cover the cost of morning coffee once a week for most drivers, and is largely being rebated to taxpayers through the income tax system (it is revenue neutral) rather than put toward, say, digging diversion channels or building barriers or strengthening sewer systems, etc.”

The carbon tax is just misdirection, and nothing compared to the bills that are coming


The tax provides an excellent diversion to keep the public’s attention away from something our politicians are not saying a word about: the monumental cost of preventing, or paying for, the damage climate change will deliver from now on. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press)

Centre [for Climate Change Adaptation] director Blair Feltmate points to scientific consensus: the climate change that has happened so far is irreversible, and “even if we were to go to zero emissions tomorrow, the effects will continue to get worse. And we are not going to zero emissions. The world will continue to use 30 per cent oil, 30 per cent coal-fired electricity, and 30 per cent natural gas. We can’t meet even modest goals.”

“The carbon tax in Canada right now is symbolic,” says Feltmate. “In fact, there is a danger in it: that it will allow liberals to say they’ve done their part, and carry on the way everyone does.”

The tax also provides an excellent diversion to keep the public’s attention away from something our politicians are not saying a word about: the monumental cost of preventing, or paying for, the damage climate change will deliver from now on.


Entire neighbourhoods will have to be evacuated in the next few years. Others will find themselves on newly redrawn flood plain maps.(Michel Aspirot/Radio-Canada)

Canada needs to be flood-proofed, and somebody has to pay for it. Yes, there are other threats, too – fire, hail, wind, snow load, permafrost loss and shoreline erosion will all cost a great deal of money to remediate – but flooding is the big, urgent one.

Entire neighbourhoods will have to be evacuated in the next few years. Others will find themselves on newly redrawn flood plain maps, forced to pay both individually and at the community level for some awfully expensive flood-proofing measures. Even those on higher ground will have to cope with increasingly frequent “waterbomb” storms that park over a city and dump millions of gallons of water in a single rainfall. MORE

RELATED:

Toronto keeps flooding when it rains hard. Here’s why

“The fact is that we are sitting in a city that was built for a climate that no longer exists.” — Councillor Gord Perks

 

Frustrated by Pipeline Myths Albertans Tell Themselves? Here Are the Facts

This is a must read! We are bombarded daily by the oil industry’s misinformation, mindlessly repeated as gospel by Canadian media, and self-serving political spin. In the full article below, Andrew Nikiforuk, one of Canada’s best investigative journalists, systematically demolishes the myths that are peddled to Canadians and Albertans especially about Canada’s oil. 

A guide to educating relatives and friends who cling to oily falsehoods.

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Debunking claims, in the name of strong neighbourly relations.

Alberta’s major exports these days seem to be piles of misinformation, denial, blame, and propaganda on the state-owned Trans Mountain pipeline.

According to some of the more ridiculous claims, environmentalists are to blame for bitumen price discounts, Vancouverites are being punished for their orca-loving ways with high gasoline prices, and climate change really doesn’t matter.

Their politicians don’t dare admit the reality — that combined overproduction of bitumen and U.S. tight oil brought down the global price of oil with a thundering crash in 2014. In the world we inhabit now, oil business as usual has died.

Given that we all have and love our Alberta relatives and friends, here’s a brief guide on how to reply to some of the false claims being traded like crypto-currency among Alberta’s political columnists, Liberals, New Democrats and the United Conservatives. MORE

Big Data and Criminal Justice – What Canadians Need to Know

Every Google search, credit card purchase, social media interaction, and doctor’s visit leave traces of information about you, where you’ve been, who you’ve interacted with, and what you like. What’s more, advertisers, data brokers, and government agencies can collect and analyze the digital breadcrumbs you leave behind as you go about your day. Welcome to the world of ‘big data.’

While data-driven technologies may be used for the benefit of individuals and society as a whole, they run an equal risk of entrenching discrimination and
exacerbating various forms of inequality. The realm of criminal justice is no exception; big data has both the potential to infuse fairness into the administration of justice, and, more worryingly, expedite the reproduction of existing biases.

In this Broadbent Institute report we show what ‘big data’ is, how it is used in the context of criminal justice in Canada and beyond, and how we might think about the potential beneficial and detrimental effects of these technologies on our society.

Download the Report

Green New Deal for Canada requires changing Capitalism’s systemic failures

Capitalism is being unmasked as a systemic failure in this study of the US economy — one has not delivered on several objective measures: wealth inequality; racial wealth inequality, healthcare costs; criminal justice; democracy . The Canadian economy shows signs that a crisis is systemic, rather than purely political or economic, is that key indicators decline or stay the same regardless of changes in political power or business cycles. 

These numbers drive the debate for system change: Introducing The Index of Systemic Trends

Image result for change everything climate protest
More than 300 high school students marched in downtown Halifax to demand action on climate change.

This week The Next System Project releases its first “Index of Systemic Trends,” a series of economic indicators that together make the case for systemic solutions that get at the roots of the nation’s most critical economic and social crises.

“While it is tempting to blame Donald Trump and the virulent form of right-wing extremism he represents for the nation’s ills, this is, unfortunately, an inadequate reading of our recent history—and a dangerous one at that,” reads the introduction to the index. “In many ways, the rise of Trump is actually a symptom of a much longer systemic crisis that has been building over the last several decades. This first-ever edition of The Next System Project’s Index of Systemic Trends is an effort to begin to quantify, track, and visualize this crisis.”

The index specifically tracks a set of economic and social indicators that reveal the chronic and systemic nature of economic and social inequities and our qualitative standing when compared to other major countries. Some highlights:

  • Wealth Inequality: In 1970, the top 1 percent and the middle 40% of Americans had a similar share of wealth (around 28%). By 2015, the wealth share of the top 1 percent exceeded 37% while the share of the middle 40% was almost unchanged at 27%. The wealth share for the bottom 50% was also unchanged—at virtually zero.
  • Racial wealth inequality: The median net worth of Black families had by 2016 had fallen to roughly half what it was in 1983. The median net worth of White families went from 1,600% higher than that of Black families in 1983 to 4,000% higher by 2016.
  • Healthcare costs: Per person, health costs in the US are close to five times higher than they were in 1970 in constant dollars. Yet our residents fare worse, most notably in life expectancy, than those of any other high-income country.
  • Criminal justice: While Canada, Mexico, and most European countries incarcerate fewer than 200 residents per 100,000 population, the US incarcerates 274 per 100,000 White residents and Black residents at a rate that is six times higher, 1,609 per 100,000. For Latinx, the rate is 857.
  • Democracy: When measured against other major countries, the United States finished dead last in the Index of Economic Democracy, measuring workplace and individual rights, distribution of economic decision-making, transparency, and associational economic democracy.

“This index is by no means a comprehensive or empirical study,” the introduction concludes. “It is designed purely to be illustrative of what, we believe, is an important observation: that our current political-economic system is consistently failing to deliver improvement and or competitive results compared to other advanced economies across a variety of different measures; and that this is indicative of a systemic crisis and the need to move in the direction of a new system that can and will produce better outcomes.“ SOURCE

 

Europe’s Striking Climate Kids Show How to Defeat the Far Right

The scourge of climate change is the great unifying issue of our time. The time is propitious for Canadian political parties to adopt the Green Party’s suggestion to establish an inner cabinet of all parties to address the emergency facing us. Tell your MP we need all hands on deck.

Fighting climate change now polls as a top priority among European voters—while most far-right leaders are climate denialists.

Student Climate Strike
German students use a carnival float depicting environmental activist Greta Thunberg during a school strike to demand action on climate change on March 15, 2019. (Reuters / Wolfgang Rattay)

For years, European politicos and others committed to the idea of a united Europe have pined for a popular, all-Europe project that stands for the best intentions of, and the imperative for, the European project. In order to counter the EU’s distant, bureaucratic image—and the blunt the attacks of right-wing Euroskeptics—EU officials have turned to issues that touch almost all Europeans, from digital rights to consumer protection to telecommunications.

But none of these worthy endeavors, among others, have fired the passions of the average European, much less young Europeans.

But now, on the eve of the landmark May 23–26 European Parliament election, such a cause—complete with hundreds of thousands of energized participants—is banging at the EU’s door. Although the striking high schoolers of Fridays for Future (FFF) is not just a European movement but a global one, the students of Europe have found common cause with one another in a campaign demanding tangible political action from the EU to address climate change.

Perhaps unwittingly, the kids have revealed a new raison d’être for the EU beyond the postwar remits of peace and prosperity. As the young people insist, the supranational EU can and must devote itself to leading the global battle to arrest rising temperatures and seas if we expect to slow global warming.

In an open letter to the EU earlier this month, an international group of FFF activists wrote that the EU “holds enormous responsibility, not just for our future, but also for the life of billions of people across the world. Accept this responsibility. Make climate the priority.”

For the EU, the scourge of climate change could be just the ticket to rejuvenate it. On the one hand, it is our age’s most urgent issue. On the other, it is one that the surging far-right parties don’t even pretend to have answers to. When Europe’s radical nationalists deny climate change, as most do, they side with less than 5 percent of Europeans in the EU’s most populous countries. (In Germany, the hard-right Alternative for Germany calls man-made climate change “heresy” and wants to halt the clean-energy transition, and the Brexit Party’s front man, Nigel Farage, ridicules the link between rising temperatures and greenhouse gases.) The national populists have committed a huge blunder—and Europe’s democratic parties should pounce on it by making the kids’ campaign their own. MORE

Canadian scientists create stable, affordable way to transport fragile vaccines

This is a huge breakthrough that dramatically reduces the cost of transportation of vaccines. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 9 to 36 million cases of flu occur annually, resulting in 12,000 to 56,000 deaths each year. 

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Globally, nearly 20 million children are vulnerable to preventable diseases because they don’t get vaccines

A breakthrough by researchers at McMaster University could save lives around the world by making it easier and far cheaper to deliver fragile vaccines for deadly viruses such as Ebola and influenza to remote communities in developing countries.

The innovation is almost as easy “as stirring milk and sugar into coffee,” said Matthew Miller, an assistant professor in McMaster’s biochemistry department, who was part of the interdisciplinary team that worked on the project. The process involves combining sugars used for other purposes with the drugs, turning the temperature-sensitive vaccine into a lightweight sugary gel that can travel for long periods through harsh climates.

Globally, nearly 20 million children are vulnerable to preventable diseases because they don’t get vaccines, with one-quarter living in three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Transporting and storing vaccines is complicated because they need to be kept at low temperatures to remain viable – a system of constant refrigeration known as the “cold chain.” Warm weather and rough roads don’t just increase the risk the vaccines will fail, they also raise the price tag – in some cases, transportation alone accounts for 80 per cent of the cost of a vaccine program, Dr. Miller said.

At McMaster, a team of engineers and infectious-diseases scientists decided to look for a lighter, more travel-friendly solution. They had one already: an edible coating that had been previously created by chemical engineers at the university to extend the shelf life of fruit.

As researchers discovered, the same two ingredients – a pair of sugars called trehalose and pullulan, which are used to make the jelly coating on breath strips – could do the same for a delicate vaccine. Combine, stir and dry, and their work suggests that a vaccine would be able to travel safely and relatively cheaply in the sugary gel, protected from the heat for months. MORE

Ford government slashes funding to research institutes focused on artificial intelligence

The Ford Government is a textbook example of extreme neoliberal policy: reduce government and regulations to a minimum; cut taxes; let business operate freely without restrictions; encourage investment and embrace the free market to deliver growth, maximum profits — all leading to prosperity. Question: Is this making your life better?

Yoshua Bengio, an artificial intelligence pioneer and CIFAR fellow, says the institute helped position Canada as an international leader in AI.

The Ford government has axed provincial funding for two institutes credited with positioning Ontario and Canada at the forefront of artificial intelligence research — a field the government’s own prosperity think tank says must be supported if the province wants to remain competitive and create jobs in a booming technology sector.

The Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade cut $20 million from the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence and $4 million annually from the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), which supports a hub of AI-focused computer scientists. Both draw funding from the federal government and other sources and say they will adjust programming or operations.

A prosperity think tank funded by the ministry concluded in a report last year that Ontario has a “rich AI ecosystem led by some of the world’s best AI scientists and business thinkers,” thanks in part to early investment in basic research. The report cited the Vector Institute as an attractor of high-profile talent to the region.

The report’s key recommendation: “It is imperative that the province stay ahead of the curve and support the research and development of this technology, so that we stay at the leading edge of AI innovation.”

The think tank that issued the report, the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity, was itself axed by the government and closed its doors last week after 18 years. It was the research arm of a task force created by then premier Mike Harris in 2001 and was designed to examine policies that could help Ontario become more competitive. MORE

RELATED:

Why Doug Ford is worse than Mike Harris

Even With Fewer Seats, Justin Trudeau Should Try To Form Minority: Elizabeth May

 

Image result for elizabeth mayGreen Party Leader Elizabeth May says not enough is being done to tackle climate change, and the future is at risk if that doesn’t change.(Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Elizabeth May has high hopes for the 2019 federal election.

OTTAWA —  If the 2019 election ends up in a minority situation but the Tories have the most seats, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May thinks the Liberal government should try to form a new  government with support from other parties.

In an interview with HuffPost Canada’s politics podcast ‘Follow-Up,’ May said that if the campaign results in a hung Parliament, “yes, of course” the party in power should try to convince the governor general that they can hold the confidence of the House.

“We’re now up to 17 elected Greens across Canada. And that’s pretty cool.”

May thinks the party’s support is due in part to the public’s increasing concern over climate change but also to “a general disillusionment with the idea that any of the old three parties tend to disappoint and will say one thing in an election and something else afterwards.”

“I don’t think that, you know, adherence to ignorance is really something that encourages voters to support you.”
—Elizabeth May

She remains concerned that support for her party could swing back to the Liberals or the NDP during a campaign when voters are told a vote for the Green candidate would indirectly help elect a Conservative member. But she’s hopeful “fear factor voting” has prompted enough voter remorse that Canadians will feel free to vote for candidates they believe in.

What’s more, May said, is that while Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer may represent the same policies as former prime minister Stephen Harper, he is less polarizing a figure. Not that she thinks he should become prime minister. She calls him “unfit to govern” due to his position on climate change. MORE

RELATED:

History will judge ‘reckless, even criminal’ politicians ignoring climate change crisis: Elizabeth May

The federal NDP must stand tall in its commitment to a boldly progressive agenda

 

Image credit: Joshua Berson

In 2015, Libby Davies retired as deputy leader of the NDP and member of Parliament for Vancouver East, after four decades of work as a politician, community organizer and activist for progressive causes. Her recently published book, Outside In: A Political Memoir,recounts her career and the causes she has worked for, from the legalization of same-sex marriage to housing justice and access to safe injection sites on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. In the following excerpt, Davies diagnoses what went wrong for the NDP in the 2015 federal election and how the party can avoid the same pitfalls in the future.

Certainly, what happens in Parliament is enormously important. The terrible legislation passed by Harper’s government, his disregard for democracy, his secrecy, arrogance, and elitism, it was all part of a decade of darkness. Fighting the government in Parliament was our job, and we did it well.

But somewhere along the way we lost our bigger vision and connection with people, including some of our base, as we became focused on winning. We forgot how to be creative and bold outside of Parliament and bring people with us.

I know we face formidable double standards in the mainstream media. Regardless of how well we do, they would still find a way to trash or ignore us. On that I am cynical. All the more reason for us to be smarter than all of them, and find new ways to do politics with people who have a passion for social justice and a better world.

In these political times, the NDP is needed more than ever. The rise of right-wing populism even here in Canada and the underwhelming position of Trudeau’s Liberal government on crucial issues such as climate change, democratic electoral reform, income inequality, and more make it crucial for the federal NDP to stand tall and unwavering in its commitment to a boldly progressive agenda. We must embrace a post-fossil-fuel economy and lead the way on an economic and social transition to it, and demonstrate that retraining, good jobs, and social advances create a healthier economy and healthier society overall. MORE

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