Something fishy

photo of Vesanto Melina

NUTRISPEAK
by Vesanto Melina

Fish has long been viewed as an ideal protein source and the significant source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA. Health authorities have sometimes advised people to consume at least two servings of fish per week.

Globally, an estimated one trillion fish are caught each year, excluding illegal catches and bycatch. About half of the commercial fishing industry targets wild fish and other aquatic animals and half relies on “farms.” Concerns about both sectors grow each year. This article features wild sea life. Next month’s topic is fish farming.

Overfishing is rapidly devastating marine ecosystems. Experts predict that, if current trends continue, by 2048 there will be a global collapse of all stocks currently fished. Sea lice and other infections from farmed salmon have an impact on numbers and global warming is changing habitat; for example, aquatic temperatures in the Strait of Georgia and Fraser River are one and a half degrees warmer than 50 years ago.

Bottom-trawling – dragging huge nets with metal plates and metal wheels – along the ocean floor is the underwater equivalent of clear-cutting. It is like bulldozing entire communities and it is wasteful. For example, shrimp trawlers kill up to 20 pounds of non-target marine life for every pound of shrimp plucked from the trawling net. The creatures trapped inside the nets are dragged upward, along with rocks, coral and other fragments of ocean habitat. They experience rapid decompression, causing vital organs to rupture. This bycatch, including sea turtles, dolphins, sharks and numerous other species, is commonly tossed overboard.

Long-lining uses one or more main lines from which dangle short branch lines with hooks at the ends. Lines can be as long as 75 miles and hold hundreds or thousands of baited hooks, set at varying depths depending on target species. In addition, other animals are hooked. This industry is notorious for the deaths of millions of birds, dolphins, sharks and turtles, all of which (along with the fish) can be dragged behind a boat for hours or days.

Gill-netting uses huge floating nets with mesh, sized to snare the target species. Targeted fish become trapped by their gills and nets are often left unmonitored for long periods so trapped fish can slowly suffocate.

Purse-seining also employs a large net like a purse with a giant drawstring rope that is hauled to the surface. Dolphins are commonly trapped and can drown. Fish are often still alive and conscious when they’re pulled on deck to be gutted.

Fortunately, those who like the flavour of seafood can still enjoy it without supporting environmental damage and cruelty. Products similar to breaded filets and crab cakes are now made from pea or soy protein and the textures and flavours are good. Examples include Sophie’s Breaded Vegan Fish Fillets, Toona and crab cakes and Gardein’s Golden Fishless Filet, available at www.vegan supply.ca (250 East Pender St. in Vancouver). Whole Foods and Choices carry Gardein’s Fishless Filets. And you can get DHA (in supplement form) from the same source that fish use to get their DHA: microalgae. Just Google “Vegan DHA.”

EVENT

September 29, 7:15: A presentation by Nic Waller about aquatic animals and what options we have. A shared evening of snacks and great company. Check out www.meetup.com/MeatlessMeetup/events/242482062/

Vesanto Melina is a Vancouver dietitian and co-author of the award winning Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition and other books. www.nutrispeak.com

 

Our lieutenant governor’s “Three Rs”

Judith Guichon

by Bruce Mason

Photo: 2017 Canada Day Citizenship Ceremony at Government House, in which Her Honour presided over the swearing-in of 150 new citizens. Photo by Rachel Rilkoff of Government House.

For a short time in late June, all eyes, and much speculation, focused laser-like on Hon. Judith Guichon, BC’s 29th lieutenant governor. Representing the Queen is mostly ceremonial, but the urgent, unenviable task of making a vitally important decision thrust Guichon onto a red-hot seat, under a glaring spotlight. The corporate media pack sniffed, chowed down and quickly moved on to another flavour shortly after she denied then-premier Christy Clark’s desperate, self-serving, 90-minute plea for a snap election.

Judith Guichon, BC’s busiest lieutenant governor in decades, was etched into our history then calmly carried on with her own personal goal, which includes visiting 150 schools and pledging to use her position to educate about what we must learn if we are to have a future worth living.

She calls them “my three R’s: respect, responsibility and relationships.” Guichon lives and breathes the belief that we have a responsibility to respect the land, and to honour that relationship in order to leave a healthy planet for future generations..

In January of this year, while accepting an honorary doctorate from Vancouver Island University, she explained why she had taken the job in 2012: “There’s an increasing gap in understanding between urban and rural populations. Since we both need each other, I thought this was an excellent opportunity for me to bridge that gap. And it was such a wonderful opportunity to learn something new.”

Christy Clark had welcomed her, saying, “She has a deep appreciation for the history and traditions of BC and has spent a lifetime ensuring that we all stay connected to our roots.” In retrospect, our former premier underestimated and misunderstood Guichon’s overriding “appreciation” and “lifetime” of work.

Sure, Guichon had been recommended by then-prime minister Stephen Harper and had donated a modest total of $1,350 in 2005 and 2009 to Gordon Campbell’s liberals. Her friends and neighbours note that she leans right, as most of them do, obvious in the recent election, supporting fiscal responsibility and economic diversification. All of which had little influence over doing the right thing.

Before she was appointed in 2012, Guichon lived in the Nicola Valley in BC’s interior and owned and operated the Guichon Ranch, as the family of her late husband, commercial pilot Lawrence Guichon, had done since 1878. The couple took over in 1979, the fourth generation to run the ranch. They studied holistic management, focused on environmental stewardship and practised and promoted sustainability that emphasized natural habitat, such as letting cattle graze longer and using less feed. They are credited with introducing healthy techniques to the ranching community.

While growing a small parcel of land and a few head of cattle into a sprawling property with thousands of livestock, a general store, post office and a hotel, Judith Guichon, with a neighbour, started a recycling society in Merritt. She played the flute in the Nicola Valley Community Band and spoke up on water issues, served on health boards and task forces on species at risk, ranching and agri-food. She also developed her signature biodiversity program.

After her husband died tragically in a motorcycle accident in 2003, she wrote, “The love of my children enabled me to carry on. To say that I would not have endured without them is not overstating the case.” Her current husband Bruno Mailloux and four adopted children carry on while she nears the end of her five-year term.

Personally, I never had any doubt that she would do the right thing and I wish I could shake her hand and share a few words, again. Two years ago, in a reception line at the end of her tour of the Gabriola Island Medical Centre, she asked if I wrote the book, Our Clinic, that had just been presented to her. It tells the story of how a community of 4,000 residents and a volunteer army of 170 built a multi-million dollar urgent care health clinic and heli-pad on donated acreage, without raising any taxes. Christy Clark’s liberals chipped in a total of $100,000 at the last-minute.

A short time later I received a hand-written letter – remember those – from Guichon: “It will be my pleasure to tell your story where I go because it is incredible, an absolutely amazing feat that I hope others can learn from. My own projects are about healthy land and healthy communities. We all have a responsibility to leave them in as good or better state for those who follow.”

Just as she did as a rancher, Hon. Judith Guichon broke the mould of lieutenant governor by making a decision to invite the NDP and Greens to form government in the best interests of the people of the province. And her story, the real story, is the one to record, share and act on.

The Weekend Warrior recovery ritual

Lemon water

by Dai Manuel

I work hard but I play harder. I am a weekend warrior – HOO-rah!

I live for competition; my entrenched desire to defeat an opponent fuels me and many others just like me. My body takes a beating but my mind keeps on craving more, but there comes a point when the body catches up with the mind and simply answers with “enough is enough.”

This is when progress grinds to a halt.Nagging little injuries and strains start to appear and the realization starts to set in that something has to be done. This is what used to happen to me until I implemented a “recovery ritual,” which now has me faster, stronger and more energetic than ever.

My weekend warrior recovery ritual

The first thing I do upon waking every morning is drink a full 0.5 to 1 L of water; the body is naturally in a state of detoxification in the morning and this helps to expedite the process while also giving my muscles and digestive system what they need to fully absorb the nutrients that I’m about to consume.

I also add the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon to my water. Lemons and limes contain a phytonutrient known as d-limonene, which helps to cleanse the liver and kidneys while also alkalizing the body as a whole; neutralizing your body’s acidity levels is a crucial aspect of recovery.

Around 10 to 20 minutes later, I consume the following: 5 to 10g BCAA (Branched chain amino acids and creatine). This helps with muscle protein breakdown and kickstarts protein synthesis in the body, while also providing the essential amino acids valine, isoleucine and, most importantly, leucine. Containing around 3g of leucine per 5g serving, BCAA is perhaps one of the single most important recovery supplements on the market today.

Four key features to note about BCAA, creatine and glutamine:

  1. Increase lean muscle mass.
  2. Improve strength and power.
  3. Assist in cell muscle repair.
  4. Prevent muscle catabolism.

5g glutamine

Glutamine is what is known as a conditionally essential amino acid and as a weekend warrior I know that giving my immune system a helping hand is incredibly important to speed up recovery and stem the tide of flu and other illness throughout the year.

One serving of a greens powder

A decent greens or superfood powder will provide a host of phytonutrients, antioxidants and/or probiotics. This not only helps to further alkalize the body and protect against the oxidative cell damage that can result from hard and heavy training, it will also boost your digestive system so you can absorb more of the nutrients from the whole foods you eat and recover even faster.

1 – 2g vitamin C

Since adding higher doses of vitamin C to my recovery ritual, I have noticed that my morning anxiety levels have all but disappeared. Vitamin C helps to control rather than suppress the stress hormone cortisol, a hormone which can be highly catabolic and lead to muscle wasting so it provides a natural way of keeping stress levels down while also giving my immune system a further boost. Remember that vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin so be sure to get plenty of water in first thing.

At age 15, Dai Manuel, aka “The Moose,” made a decision to lead a life of inspiring others about the benefits of living life to the fullest through a health and fitness orientated lifestyle. He is the co-founder and former COO of Fitness Town Inc., a keynote speaker, published author of the Whole Life Fitness Manifesto, a CrossFit athlete and coach (and he loves to #GetAfterIt). In 2010, he created “The Moose is Loose,” successfully combining multiple genres to create an information rich resource blog. He lives with his wife and two children in Vancouver. daimanuel.com

Reflections of Canada – now that the party’s over

Canada reflections

by Bruce Mason

It’s been 150 years since the old province of Canada was carved up into Quebec and Ontario and joined by the hip to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in Confederation. We’re spending a cool half billion – plus security, promotional items, provincial expenditures and other unforeseen costs – to celebrate. Never mind the big bucks spent on beer, flags and assorted props and memorabilia. Some of us even learned to utter “sesquicentennial.”

The feds picked up the tab for 500 “projects” – 3,285 were pitched – for everything from the Gros Morne Summer Music Festival in Newfoundland and Labrador to a giant game of snakes and ladders in Calgary and Ontario’s six-story high, 11 ton rubber duck, which cost $150,000 to rent and transport to six cities. In the Lower Mainland, the SkyTrain stopped running to an overflowing Canada Place. There were so many parties and goers that a mobile application and website, Passport 2017, was created, to the tune of $1.3-million, to help us find nearby events in all this glorious and much-touted diversity.

Refelections of Canada book cover
The provocative book includes a foreword by Governor General David Johnston

But one of the biggest surprises had to be the number of citizens who opted to utilize, at least part of the day, to reflect on the current state of their nation. I spent July 1 with a remarkable book I had been saving for the occasion. It’s been getting a bit of a buzz in the press and deservedly so. Reflections of Canada: Illuminating Our Opportunities and Challenges at 150+ Years delivers on its promise on the book jacket “…to communicate a complex and engaging landscape of what Canada is at this point in its history. This is a book of lively, respectful and thoughtful debate.”

The book is a product of UBC’s Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies. Founded in 1996 through a donation from Peter Wall (of iconic Wall Centre fame) of $6.5 million shares in the Wall Financial Corporation, it was worth $15 million at the time. It was the largest single private donation in the university’s history. The institute is a significant community of scholars; more than 450 faculty associates “address fundamental research questions through collaborations that transcend disciplinary boundaries.”

The book includes a foreword by Governor General David Johnston, a preface from UBC president Santa Ono and an introduction by the editor, followed by a poem, “Diverse by Design,” from George Elliott Clarke, who will soon be an artist-in-residence at the Institute.

However, it is the first of 41 easily accessible essays that sets the tone and hits the reader right between the eyes. This is a collection that is more provocative than celebratory and “Practising Reconciliation” starkly lays out our collective “horrific reality.” It is conversation between three scholars who work in partnership to locate the burials of children who died at the Indian Residential School on Kuper Island, now called Penelakut Island, in the Salish Sea. And if you still don’t get reasons for the urgent need for Reconciliation, you will find them here in a handful of pages.

The book covers the state of Canadian democracy, environmental challenges, changes to our health-care system, income and other inequalities, the Arctic, arts and culture, technology and even relations with China. In “The Hygiene Hangover,” UBC microbiologist Brett Finlay and public-health physicians Perry Kendall and David Patrick address the unfortunate consequences arising from Canadians’ zeal for cleanliness, which include a sharp rise in asthma rates and other auto-immune diseases.

If you experienced the viral video of Trudeau’s explanation of quantum computing, you will enjoy Philip Stamp’s, “A Quantum Parable,” which offers a different take on the topic from PM Justin Trudeau. While Canada has been a global leader in quantum computing, it could be on the verge of hemorrhaging high-tech talent by not supporting Burnaby-based D-Wave, an innovative pioneer in the field. Stamp likens it to Avro, the Canadian company that manufactured the world’s most advanced fighter plane in the late 1950s: the CF-105 Avro Arrow. At its peak, the company employed 50,000 people, but after the program was cancelled by the Diefenbaker government, it led to a massive “brain drain.”

There is much more to recommend in Reflections of Canada. In the months that still remain in 2017, on the beach, in the fall and during the onslaught of an uncertain Canadian winter, this is a must-read for a sober analysis and for answers to ubiquitous questions, such as “What’s happening?”, “What now?” and “Will Canada grow into it’s legacy of hope and leadership in the world?

Bruce Mason is a Vancouver and Gabriola Island-based banjo player, gardener, writer and author of Our Clinic.

Jesse Waldman an inspired voice from Vancouver’s dark side

Jesse Waldman

by Bruce Mason

Jesse Waldman’s long-awaited record debut was decades in the making, including four years of painstaking recording and production. The brilliant concept album, Mansion Full of Ghosts, stands out for not only capturing life in contemporary Vancouver, but for also giving voice and hope to all those who struggle in the dystopian, hollowed-out nightmare into which Canada’s most expensive city has devolved.

“I started with 20 songs and wrote at least 15 more, which accounts for some of the time,” reports Waldman. “More than half of the people that my girlfriend and I know here live under constant threat of renoviction and skyrocketing housing costs, holding on for dear life, with fingernails. I’m just back from playing gigs in Toronto, my old stomping grounds, and it was outstanding. In Kensington Market, on Queen, College and Bloor Streets, there is a vibrant, supportive arts scene, a stark contrast to the corporate, cookie-cutter culture that Vancouver is becoming.”

The 16 tracks on Mansion Full of Ghosts are individual rooms, artfully designed and built, with wave-like walls of sound, without any superfluous musical notes or words. From a journeyman’s lovingly created, solid, eclectic musical foundation, haunted dream-like characters emerge, linked with a jeweller’s eye for gems and settings. A “country mouse” doesn’t care for big-city small talk in the “smiley plastic face rat race of shiny people and phony deadbeats.” Others include “A Ballerina From the East Coast.”

Perhaps the most fully realized is “Lorraine.” A dime-less high-school dropout from Mississauga decides, “I’m goin’ it alone… changed her clothes in a phone booth and rolled a smoke for the road. Her grubby hands were shaking/As the honest world was waking she flagged down trucks in high heels.” She ends up on a poster at a drop-in centre, disappeared without a trace with no helpful leads. A cold case indeed.

Waldman’s own story is essential to fully appreciating Mansion Full of Ghosts. A cherished cassette of his grandmother singing a Yiddish folk song and a guitar abandoned in the basement of his family home helped fuel his teenaged flight from the suburban sprawl of Thornhill, Ontario. He paid his dues, underage, in Toronto bar gigs, through a succession of groups, including the grunge band Zygote, Web, The Beefy Treats and Phatty Phatty, perfecting his impressive chops and accompaniment skills in finger-style folk, country, blues and pop genres.

“Every band needs a writer and I became that guy, almost by default,” Waldman recalls. Fine-tuned musical and other skills enabled his emergence as a very fine songwriter. His website (jessewaldmanmusic.com/media) features four videos. “The Rest of My Days,” produced to launch the album, includes raw archival family footage, charmingly illustrating a credo and promise revealed in the album. The other three earlier examples demonstrate his laid-back, comfortable virtuosity on electric, acoustic and resophonic guitar.

A cross-country adventure to the West Coast was pivotal and transformative. After touching down, he has stayed for 25 years in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, the poorest postal code in Canada. Home is Hastings St. and Commercial Drive where he is – and this is a compliment – a “fixture on the Drive,” as well as a highly accomplished national touring act.

Sensing the growing need for rehearsal space, then recording space, he co-founded Redlight Sound Studios, where months of rehearsals and pre-production for his debut took place. He also studied the recording arts and sound design and he is now in demand, with a busy client roster, including the CBC, Telus, The Knowledge Network and Bravo.

Waldman assembled an all-star cast of other “fixtures,” most notably Marc L’Esperance, whose diverse skills, longtime friendship and musical partnership resulted in a well-deserved credit as co-producer. Jesse excels at portraying post-modern Vancouver where shopping carts roll down alleyways as skyrocketing numbers of homeless sleep in too-many boarded doorways, with pleas for help on scraps of cardboard, in front of ATM’s and… “all them lyin’ servants in their parliamentary seats.”

Mansion Full of Ghosts is audio alchemy. Gold is transmuted into various forms – Klondike gold, fools’ gold – with its colour depicted in occasional skies and rays. In “Eastvan Blues,” he writes and sings, “I got one foot in a sunbeam/I got one foot in the grave.” The album is highly recommended, especially for those down-and-out in Vancouver.

I asked him to share his expertise from 25 years on both sides of the studio glass. “Tips for Up-And-Coming Artists Headed Into a Studio” is a one-page, seven-point checklist to avoid common problems and pitfalls in making the best, most-natural recording of roots music. Email brucemason@shaw.ca and I will reply with a copy.

Healing addiction

It takes a village

by Jennifer Engrácio

Perhaps it is possible to heal an addiction on your own. I have not personally met every addict in the world to know if that is true or not. However, I do know that the vast majority of addicts I’ve met needed a good support system around them in order to recover fully.

Many addicts do not have a healthy community to interact within. Addicts across the board tend to have weak skills in some areas, including impulse control, self-command, boundary setting and will, to name a few. During the healing phase of an addiction, addicts need to lean on the will of others so they can maintain their sobriety until they’ve built up enough self-worth on the inside and strengthened their own will.

We’ve assumed that punishing addicts for their behaviour and marginalizing them is the way to deter addictive patterns, but this is actually the stance that encourages addiction to flourish. Humans regulate themselves and learn and grow within the context of healthy and secure relationships. In the absence of loving connections and solid bonding with community and family members, humans begin looking for other ways to feel secure, accepted and safe in any way they can: joining gangs, taking drugs and becoming fanatical in their beliefs. Because intergenerational trauma is passed down through generations, many attitudes about parenting, relating to others and messages about how the world works that many of us carry are not life-giving.

Thankfully, my higher self guided me to a spiritual pathway that is filled with folks who have the experience to work with addicts and wounded people from all walks of life. They did not, of course, do the work for me; I had to do that myself. They always accepted me, even at my worst and ugliest. When I was filled with self-pity, they didn’t go along with it. They called me on it and this sent me to a place of ownership so I could reclaim my power. When I was self-important, they had gentle ways of bringing me down to Earth.

Ideally, the community is a place where we learn good coping strategies, where we are supported to grow, where there are elders and people available who can help us get to the root of what ails us and guide us in letting go of belief systems and habits that no longer serve us.

I am proof that it is possible to seek out these sorts of communities. They do exist. It requires the courage to try something new. It requires being willing to heal. It requires being willing to keep seeking support and never giving up. Perseverance. Patience. Faith. I found my way within a non-denominational spiritual community. Perhaps that is not your way. I pray you can find a way that is a good fit for you. Reach out. It’s worth it. You’re worth it.

A student of shamanism, Jennifer Engrácio is a certified shamanic coach, reiki master, lomilomi practitioner, and a certified teacher who has worked with children since 2001. She runs Spiral Dance Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, BC, she lives in Calgary with her life partner. Engrácio participated in self-publishing three books: The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within, Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life and Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey Into Healing. For more information, visit www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

Mr. Premier, do it now for democracy

John Horgan cover

Summer is upon us. While we enjoy the bounty of sunshine, we must be careful not to fall asleep and get burnt. As with the outdoors, so it is inside politics. Ecology, equality, food security, affordable housing, etc., and democracy itself are getting baked. Here’s what some of Common Ground’s contributors have written:

The prominent issue that the BC NDP was elected for was to get big money out of politics at the provincial and municipal levels.

The NDP and Greens committed to banning corporate, union and foreign donations with limits on individuals. We also need limits on campaign spending.

These changes should be the first order of the new BC government and apply to the anticipated City of Vancouver by-election, likely in October.

Unfortunately, with the NDP’s appointment of Geoff Meggs as the new Chief of Staff for BC, it sends a confusing signal.

Geoff Meggs was central to the split within COPE forming the development industry backed Vision Vancouver that continues to accept large corporate donations with enormous influence on housing policy.

– Elizabeth Murphy

In April, Common Ground published and videotaped our extensive interview with John Horgan, providing a rare opportunity to present his platform beyond a few disconnected seven-second sound bites. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwtiLzC5pck Here are some highlights for which we intend to hold him accountable:

“Inequality in our society is the biggest challenge that the new government will have, and in fact it’s the biggest challenge British Columbia has.

“I’m dedicated to do what I can, if fortunate to win the election to make substantive changes and leave a planet that’s healthy. Instead of just giving tax breaks to people, I want to give money back to people so they can change their own behaviour…That’s the standard we should be measured by.”

“I’m grinning like the Cheshire cat at those three crowns – ICBC, BC Hydro and BC Ferries particularly, fundamentally… So, yes, we’re going to look at those three major crowns – with a magnifying glass and find a better way forward, that has people at the centre.”

Voters in BC will be watching closely. In the meantime, here are a few quotes from UK Labour Jeremy Corbyn for everyone – especially our new government – to keep in mind.

“Nothing was given from above, nothing was given from above by the elites and the powerful, it was only ever gained from below by the masses of people demanding something better, demanding their share of the wealth and the cake that’s created.”

“You should never be so high and mighty you can’t listen to somebody else and learn something from them. Leadership is as much about using the ear as using the mouth.”

– Bruce Mason

The real price of democracy is eternal vigilance, i.e paying active attention after voting, so those we elected keep their word. We voted for change, specifically: 1) get big money out of politics, 2) proportional electoral reform; each are fundamental for improving our democracy. Both the NDP and Greens promised no less. And during their swan song Speech from the Throne the Liberals joined the consensus.  The parties are lined up, now the job must be done before the forces against democratic reform attack. The sharks are circling, having left the warm waters of neo-liberalism. They smell fresh blood in the NDP-Green government in the making. Big money and big developers want to insert their agenda into the mix. The newly forming government must be protected from the same big financial, land-flipping forces that made Vancouver housing unaffordable for most. Don’t let what corrupted Vancouver infect the rest of BC.

Will political power remain with the old economic rulers or become fresh, new power of the people? This is the choice before us. The commoners are 99 percent; big money is 1 percent. 99 percent is a far larger democratic majority. In BC we have suffered 16 years of 1 percent rule, now it is our time to shine.

Former SFU professor, R. D. Mathews, told Common Ground: “John Horgan can call or appoint people to a public inquiry into the financial operations of BC Hydro. The prior government used BC Hydro as a cash cow, milking it dry by taking profits from utility bills we pay, and putting that money into general revenue to make it look like they had a balanced budget all the time running BC Hydro into debt.”

Some experts believe their goal was to bankrupt BC Hydro and then privatize it by selling it to their corporate friends. We have the opportunity now to bring the real workings of BC to light. Let us save our most precious public asset from privatization. We can stop this further theft of the commons now.

As well, the scandalous made-in-secret Independent Power Producer contracts have directed money away from the public purse into private hands. Many of the original owners of IPP contracts, which include run of river licenses, have flipped their IPP licences to much bigger multi-national corporate interests like General Electric. When sold the new owners receive the lucrative IPP secret contract. Our new government can open the books and let the public see what the previous government has done.

There are a host of other non-transparent issues: Kinder Morgan pipeline, Woodfibre LNG agreement with Indonesian billionaire, Site C Dam, ICBC. And while we are cleaning up the mess, let’s review BC Rail and BC Gas privatization sales. The prior Liberal governments kept much from the public, let the new government open the books.

Give us the change we voted for, and get it done now. Thanks in advance.

– Joseph Roberts

To the heartfelt cheers from a massive audience at Glastonbury Music Festival, Jeremy Corbyn quoted Shelley:

Rise like lions after slumber,
in unvanquishable number.
Shake your chains to earth like dew:
Which in sleep had had fallen on you.
You are many, they are few!

PS Send us your comments for future editions to editor@commonground.ca

Remembering Gwen Barlee

Gwen Barlee

Activist, ally, mentor, leader, friend

Gwen BarleeThe Wilderness Committee is deeply saddened by the passing of Gwen Barlee on June 21, 2017. As one of Canada’s leading environmental advocates, Barlee worked as the Wilderness Committee National Policy Director since 2001 and she was an invaluable member of the organization’s executive leadership. For more than 15 years, Gwen guided both this organization and its community of allies through many hard-fought environmental campaigns.

She touched hundreds of lives as a mentor, ally, activist, leader and friend. Wild rivers, forests, meadows, all creatures big and small including western toads, mountain caribou, sage grouse, killer whales, spotted owls and bees, these were Gwen’s passions. She stood for the public good, defending parks and waterways against all those who would exploit them for personal profit.

Her loss has left a hole in our hearts. But her positive impact on environmental preservation in BC is undeniable. Through the Gwen Barlee Memorial Fund, her legacy will continue. The Wilderness Committee will continue Gwen’s work. Will you join us? We have established the Gwen Barlee Memorial Fund to honour Gwen’s memory and to continue the vital public policy work that was Gwen’s passion:

Parks: Gwen fought fearlessly to protect the wild. She defended BC parks from industrial development and devastating government funding cuts. In her sights was the protection of key contiguous lands for a new national park in the South Okanagan Similkameen. This fund will continue her work preserving the wild nature of BC and Canada’s parks.

Wildlife: Gwen stood up for some of Canada’s most endangered species on the ground and in the courts. Advocating for endangered species legislation in BC was one of her most important causes. This fund will ensure Gwen’s work continues, fighting for at-risk species from grizzlies to wild bees and pollinators and all those in between.

Wild rivers: Gwen’s ferocious defence of wild rivers was one of her defining campaigns. When corporations dammed and diverted BC’s wildest rivers for costly, irresponsible private power projects, Gwen joined forces with community groups and citizens to stop the BC government’s “ruin-of-river” policies. We will keep up that fight in her memory.

Freedom of Information: Strategic use of provincial and federal Freedom of Information laws was Gwen’s trademark tactic. She created persuasive campaigns based on data gleaned from the government’s own files. She held decision-makers’ feet to the fire, releasing facts to the public to increase government accountability on environmental matters. This fund will support a new generation of environmental activists conducting investigative research.

Strong environmental and economic policy: Gwen’s activism was motivated by the public good. Whether it was eliminating provincial park user fees so that everyone could enjoy the park or opposing the Site C dam to protect family farmland and First Nation sacred grounds, as well as managing hydro rates, Gwen always believed the best environmental policy should be the best policy for people. Help us continue that legacy.

Gwen was a strong leader and a tireless activist for social change

Over the past 16 years, Gwen distinguished herself as an extraordinarily talented and determined defender of Canadian wild nature, especially in her home province of BC. She showed a passion beyond compare for the defence of the land and the species that call it home. She was a YWCA Women of Distinction nominee in 2016.

She was a fierce defender of species at risk. Gwen laboured for years to push the case for standalone endangered species legislation for British Columbia. She was instrumental in convincing the BC government to set aside tens of thousands of hectares of land for the protection of the northern spotted owl, one of Canada’s most endangered species. She continued to call for an even greater amount of protected forest habitat, not just for the spotted owl, but for other species at risk including BC’s southern mountain caribou, marbled murrelet and goshawk.

Gwen fought for the establishment and protection of provincial and national parks. She helped stop government plans to put large private resorts in provincial parks. She was a ferocious defender of wild rivers since the mid-2000s against the government’s policy of giving them away for private power projects. She helped mobilize thousands of BC residents to protect the Upper Pitt Watershed, Bute Inlet rivers and Glacier and Howser Creeks from industrial power projects.

What distinguished Gwen as an environmental advocate was her research ability and her commitment to enhancing government accountability, upholding the right for British Columbians to scrutinize government activities and promoting transparent, fair and inclusive decision-making through filing freedom of information (FOI) requests.

She worked hard to create unique alliances of people and facilitate a common vision for coming together on environmental issues. Whether working with union leaders, park rangers, First Nations communities, beekeepers or kayakers, she was committed to working with people who loved BC’s spectacular wilderness and wildlife.

www.wildernesscommittee.org


An invitation to honour Gwen Barlee

Wednesday, July 26

6pm reception, refreshments, appetizers, cash bar.
7PM tributes. Vancouver Rowing Club, 450 Stanley Park Drive.

On behalf of Gwen’s family and friends, the Wilderness Committee invites people to honour the life and legacy of their colleague, partner, activist, friend, sister and daughter. Please join us in remembering her compassion, determination, tenacity, humility, fearlessness and strength.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Wilderness Committee’s Gwen Barlee Memorial Fund.

Lower wireless prices on horizon

photo of David Christopher

INDEPENDENT MEDIA
by David Christopher

For decades, Canadians have paid some of the highest prices in the industrialized world for what’s often sub-standard wireless service. But an encouraging new shift in policy direction by Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains could be about to change that.

Our current policies around wireless pricing and competition have failed Canadians. A Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) report last year revealed that average household spending on telecommunications increased for the third year running, to a whopping $215/month, with the largest increase falling on mobile services.

Sky-high prices hold back our economy and exacerbate our digital divide. Canadian businesses face monthly bills that are often twice as much as that of their overseas competitors and far too many low-income Canadians are forced offline because they simply cannot afford the high cost of service. Another recent CRTC study revealed that one in three of Canada’s lowest income residents do not own a cellphone, compared with just one in 20 of high income earners.

There’s no mystery about the underlying cause of these steep prices. Canada’s wireless sector is woefully uncompetitive, with the ‘Big Three’ providers controlling over 90% of the market. Thus, there’s no incentive to reduce rates and every incentive to price-gouge Canadians. For years, we’ve been calling on the CRTC and government to lower prices by opening up the market to greater competition and choice.

That’s why it was so encouraging to see Innovation Minister Bains order the CRTC to look again at whether smaller, affordable wireless providers – technically known as wifi-based Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) – should be allowed to enter Canada’s wireless market.

Minister Bains was responding to a disappointing CRTC decision in March that permitted Rogers to block customers of Sugar Mobile, an innovative wifi-based provider, from accessing its network. That ruling sparked an outcry from consumer advocates who argued that allowing Big Telecom to block smaller competitors is a licence to price-gouge Canadians. After all, where’s the incentive to lower prices when you’re allowed to simply shut out your competition?

As a result of Minister Bains’ direction, the CRTC will need to revisit both its decision on Sugar Mobile and the wider question of whether Canada should join the many other nations that have successfully lowered prices by enabling consumers to purchase wireless services from MVNO providers.

MVNOs are a powerful tool for increasing competition. Instead of having to build out their own networks and infrastructure, which can be prohibitively costly for a small startup, MVNOs purchase network access on behalf of their customers from large incumbents, thereby enabling those customers to roam on existing networks. This allows startup providers to compete effectively on a level playing field, with the increased competition resulting in significantly lower prices for consumers.

The UK, a country where unlimited wireless plans can be purchased for the equivalent of just $35/month, is a great example of this successful model. Those are prices Canadians can only dream of. But if Minister Bains and the CRTC do the right thing, Canada will finally be moving in the right direction.

David Christopher is Interim Communications and Campaigns Director for OpenMedia, a community-based organization that works to keep the Internet open, affordable and surveillance-free openmedia.org

Trump the climate pariah

photo of David Suzuki

SCIENCE MATTERS
by David Suzuki

In withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, US President Donald Trump demonstrated monumental ignorance about climate change and the agreement itself. As Vox energy and climate writer David Roberts noted about Trump’s announcement, “It is a remarkable address, in its own way, in that virtually every passage contains something false or misleading.”

From absurd claims that the voluntary agreement will impose “draconian financial and economic burdens” on the US to petty, irrational fears that it confers advantages to other countries to the misguided notion that it can and should be renegotiated, Trump is either misinformed or lying.

The agreement to limit global temperature increases that every country except Syria and Nicaragua signed in December 2015 (the latter because it doesn’t go far enough!) is an astonishing achievement. Despite a relentless, massively funded campaign of denial, the world’s nations came together and agreed to reduce the risk of climate chaos.

With Trump’s single-minded focus on propping up outdated, polluting industries, he’s unlikely to lead us out of this mess, but that doesn’t mean we should give up hope… Climate change and our response to it will be the defining moment of humanity’s relatively brief history.

Life on Earth was made possible by the blanket of greenhouse gases enveloping the planet. They regulated temperature and kept it from fluctuating drastically between day and night and through seasons. As life evolved, photosynthesis became the planet’s primary means of capturing and using the sun’s energy, eventually producing and maintaining atmospheric oxygen. Plants mediated the balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen, but the rise of fossil fuel-driven industrialization has pushed carbon dioxide beyond plants’ capacities to utilize it. We have steadily altered the chemistry of the air beyond levels that developed over several million years.

Scientists have anticipated the crisis of catastrophic climate change from human activity for decades, but despite their warnings, political and economic agendas have, with a few exceptions, trumped real action to reduce fossil fuel use.

The problem didn’t appear suddenly. Industrialized nations have been the major greenhouse gas contributors, spurred by the American economy’s spectacular growth. Signatories to the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 recognized that countries responsible for the problem should cap and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions while allowing poorer nations to develop economically until leaders could enact another all-inclusive treaty.

If there’s a bright side to Trump’s decision, it’s that climate change has received more serious media coverage than ever before, and people around the world – from municipal, state and business leaders in the US to heads of state everywhere – have agreed to increase their efforts, to lead where Trump has failed.

People from all walks of life are joining forces to confront the common threat. The leader of the most powerful nation is not among them. Sad!

Excerpted from “Trump is a pariah in the face of climate crisis.” David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation senior editor Ian Hanington. David Suzuki’s latest book is Just Cool It!: The Climate Crisis and What We Can Do (Greystone Books), co-written with Ian Hanington. Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org