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Guy Dauncey, Editor
395 Conway Road, Victoria, BC
CANADA V9E 2B9
Tel (250) 881-1304
www.earthfuture.com

Executive director of The Solutions Project

 

 ECONEWS


Newsletter No. 65 - Serving Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - October 1997


COULD CANADA LEAD A GLOBAL ECOLOGICAL ALLIANCE ?

When I first came to Canada in 1985, I had a growing sense of a country which had a rare quality to it, as well as its huge open spaces and overall spirit of civilized optimism. This was a country which still had its political innocence intact, which had done no real harm in the world, and actually wanted to do good. The other major powers - Britain, France, Germany, USA, Japan, Russia, China - had all at one time or another conquered or oppressed other peoples, tarnishing their ability to speak with the simple, quiet voice of truth.

Here was a country whose people were proud of their country's record, whether in supporting Europe in World War Two, in Lester Pearson's peace initiatives, or in Trudeau's opening a dialogue with China when the rest of the world was cold-shouldering her. Here was a country to whom 'military' meant 'peace-keeping', which had always supported the United Nations, and whose people practiced multiculturalism and co-operation.

Maybe it comes from living so close to the USA, and defining the Canadian character by what the USA is not - which makes Canadians happy to be ordinary guys sharing this beautiful planet with other countries, instead of trying to dominate it.

But then I lived here under Mulroney and began to realize how much of the country was being sold down the American river, Irish eyes shining as the soul of the nation was stolen by corporate visionaries who had their gaze fixed so steelily on the dollar. I also saw pressures within the country that were hot to steal it away and lock it in an offshore bank. If I had sensed a possibility in the Canadian soul, where was it now ?

But recently, a visitor from Europe expressed the same hopes. He could sense the possibility too - it's still alive, just waiting to be picked up.

Canada still acts with global leadership, in Haiti, in Rwanda, in Cuba, in initiating the global treaty to ban landmines. There is a desire to chart a different path, to provide the world with a different kind of leadership.

The old alliances were all military - NATO, the Warsaw Pact and a hundred similar pacts. Today's crises, by contrast, are increasingly ecological. It will be the threat of hunger, climate chaos and disappearing fish stocks which bring conflicts as nation scraps with nation in a world that has passed its ecological limits.

Our need today is not for military or even trade but for ecological alliances - for a Global Ecological Alliance between nations which choose to work together for common global social and ecological goals, whether preserving the rainforest, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, eliminating child labour or taking the lead in pressuring other nations to sign the Law of the Sea.

Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Iceland, Ireland, Britain, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Holland, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Bhutan, Nepal, Vanuatu, Fiji - these are all nations which might join such an Alliance, and work together through lobbying, voting blocs, learning exchanges and joint projects to make it a power on the world stage. Six months ago, it would have been impossible to include Britain in such a list. Today, the old order is crumbling, and Britain is leading Europe on the reduction of C02 emissions, instead of dragging its conservative heels.

Could Canada join such a group ? Could it lead ? There are many reasons why this may be a pipe dream - our continuing addiction to oil; our foot-dragging about the forthcoming Kyoto conference on climate change; the proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investments, which would ban any actions by nations to priorize social and environmental policies.

We live in an era of remarkable changes, however, when ordinary people all over the world are becoming aware that the old ways are no longer enough. Who, in 1897, would have predicted the end of colonial empires around the world ? That was their hay-day, when glory came unbounded. Today, we can predict the end of global corporate empires, and the birth of an era when countries and regions will govern their own economies without being bullied and tantalized by the power of superior force. It will come, and Canada could be there to help lead it, regaining a sense of unity as a nation (with or without Quebec), enjoying the quiet pride we already feel when Canada stands up for social or humanitarian causes. Being sucked into America's commercial maw is a black hole for Canada's soul. The way to rediscover who we are is to carefully extract ourselves, and raise a new flag which will annoy the shit out of the States by openly championing social and environmental goals on a global level.

Of course, that would mean quite a revolution in our various practices and policies - but hey ! - everything's possible.

- Guy Dauncey


ECONEWS

Published as a monthly service, nourishing the vision of an Island blessed by the harmony of nature and community, funded by your donations.

Many thanks to Zard Sarty, Eileen Dombrowski, John Pirquet, Doug Crow, Peter Alison, Bill Turner, Barry & Margaret Sadler, Valerie & Michael Torontow, Pamela Bruce, Gail Schulz, Mary June Pettyfer, Donald Trapnell, Elizabeth White, Don & Clare Vipond, Karin Foreman, Warren Nickerson & Karen Hope. Thanks too to Ian Barclay who faithfully enters the address changes, Teresa Lindner who preps the envelopes and everyone who comes out for our envelope stuffing parties. Thanks to the BC Wildlife Branch moving office, we now have 28,000 envelopes - enough for the next 2 years ! But if your office or business is moving, we have plenty of storage space.

Donations can be made to EcoNews, 395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1. To receive EcoNews by mail, call (250) 881-1304; to receive EcoNews by email send a message to guydauncey@earthfuture.com


ORGANIC FOOD PROGRESS

In Austria & Germany, organic agriculture has reached 10% of all food production; Denmark plans to reach 50% by 2005. In Britain, Tesco's sales have doubled since they started selling organic food for the same price as non-organic. Here in Victoria, all the organic food brown box programs are full, but you can still buy organic food at Moss Street Market and many other markets, or by joining Fresh Piks Organics (383-7959) or Share Organics (595-6742). Linking Land and Future Farmers (LLAFF) was set up to help potential growers find land to grow on, and has so far arranged 15 matches. Hey now - if you want to help local growers and enjoy a great evening at the same time, why not come to the LLAFF Barn Dance on Sat Oct 4th (see Diary). See you there !


SIERRA CLUB COMMUNITY NIGHT

'How to Make City Governments Work For Us' Laura Acton, Art Vanden Berg & Peter de Hoog. Wed, October 8th, 7:30pm Fairfield Community Place, 1335 Thurlow Come on out - Let's build community !


WILDWOOD - DON'T MISS IT

If you live on Vancouver Island and have not yet been to visit Merve Wilkinson's ecoforestry operation at Wildwood, you've got a treat in store. On October 4th & 5th the Sierra Club has arranged four alternative forestry displays when you can visit the forest and learn about Merve's methods. (See Diary) At each demonstration, a tree will be felled, limbed, bucked and yarded out by horse or small skidder to two mobile mills for manufacture into value-added products. Merve has been running a sustainable logging operation at Wildwood for over 50 years, and has more timber left now than when he started. In the long run, Merve cuts more timber out of the forest than clearcutting does, while the forest is left standing in a way that provides more jobs, uses no pesticides, has minimal capital outlay, does not create destructive roads or landslides, produces superior wood in a healthier forest, provides medicinal and food products, and protects the forest for wildlife. Everyone is welcome ($5 donation); children 5 and up must be accompanied by an adult. For details and travel arrangements, call the Sierra Club at (250) 386-5255.


MAI - THE MULTILATERAL AGREEMENT on INVESTMENTS

There's a lot of concern going around about the new treaty that bureaucrats from the 29 member countries of the OECD are preparing. The official line (backed by groups like the Fraser Institute) is that's it's no big deal - just a little tidying up of existing trade agreements that'll make everyone happier and more prosperous.

Its real purpose is to institute a transnational regulatory framework of private corporate ownership and trade as a sovereign order which overrides national, regional and municipal jurisdictions and laws. Under the MAI, foreign corporations must never be "discriminated against" by any government on any level on any account. Laws, policies or subsidies to protect labour, health or the environment which have the effect of 'discriminating' against an overseas corporation will be deemed 'protectionist', and make the nation or region subject to a legal challenge. Te Ethyl Corporation of Virginia, for instance, has filed a $250 million lawsuit against the Canadian government under NAFTA rules, after Canada banned a toxic gasoline additive. Under MAI, corporations would be allowed to export their commodities or services across borders with no conditions attached; to own any saleable natural resources and have the national rights to any concession or license to extract oil, mineral or other resources without obligation to sustain these resources (there goes what's left of the Forest Practices Code), to be free of performance standards.

If you're on the web, here's the addresses. Full draft of MAI : www.essential.org/monitor/mai/contents.html. Sierra Club's page on MAI and trade : www.sierraclub.ca/national/trade-env/   Tony Clarke's document on MAI : www.policyalternatives.ca/   From Sept 29th - Oct 10th there's an on-line seminar on MAI including Paul Hawken and a rep from the OECD. To subscribe, send an e-mail message of: "sub sustainable-economics Firstname Lastname" to Listproc@csf.colorado.edu

I'm sorry if this is gobbledygook to non-web readers; I'll try to keep abreast of MAI in future issues. Right now, President Clinton is trying to get Congress to let him 'fast track' the treaty, which would bar amendments in Congress and limit the debate to 30 hours. I don't know what the status is in Canada.


STRAW BALE BUILDING

Do you have a piece of land where we could run a straw bale building workshop this fall, leaving you with the building? Call Bill Robson 361-9446 if you can help - or if you'd like to attend.


THE LAND CONSERVANCY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA

In Britain, the National Trust plays a huge role in helping protect heritage buildings and parks. South of the border, the Nature Conservancy Washington does the same with its 32,000 members. And now (drum roll) we have The Land Conservancy (TLC) (trumpet fanfare), our very own province-wide, non-profit membership-based organization with a mandate to protect biodiversity and lands of heritage and cultural value, with founding directors Bill Turner, Briony Penn, Michael Kennedy, Don Benn, Misty McDuffee, Vic Derman and Karen Wristen. TLC's goal is to protect biodiversity and heritage lands by holding conservation covenants, purchasing land and providing technical support to other organizations.

Right now, TLC is campaigning in partnership with the Nanaimo and Area Land Trust and the Island Trust Fund to purchase South Winchelsea, a 10.4 hectare island which is one of 19 islands in the Ballenas/Winchelsea archipelago, off the coast from Parkesville. The archipelago is particularly valuable because the islands remain relatively undisturbed by human activity or exotic species, and have been given the highest biodiversity rating by the Conservation Data Centre. They contain excellent examples of rare and endangered species such as Water-plantain buttercup, Slimleaf Onion and Seaside Rein-Orchid. In August, TLC paid $4,900 for the option to buy South Winchelsea from its owners for $595,000 by 2002.

TLC can succeed in its vision if it builds a strong, caring membership of people who are committed to preserving B.C.'s biodiversity, so that places like the Ballenas/Winchelsea archipelago and their natural inhabitants are safe, secure and protected not only for our grandchildren but in a thousand years time - what a legacy ! To do this, it needs members - TLC's goal is to have 3,000 members by the year 2000 (that's 111 new members a month).

Will you join ? The cost is Individual $35; Family $50; Senior, student and low income $15; Supporter $100; Patron $1,000; Business $1,000; Classroom $50; Non-Profit Society $250. Write to : TLC, 5793 Old West Saanich Rd, Victoria V8X 3X3 (250) 361-7693 Email bturner@vvv.com


COSTCO vs GARRY OAKS

Who needs fairy tales, when we have battles as profound as a Garry Oak Meadow full of wildflowers versus Costco, the epitome of the bland, money-oriented consumerism ? (No, I'm not being irrational). So far Costco have agreed to eliminate 8 of the 724 parking spaces in their planned store on the Trans Canada Highway at Millstream Road - the rest will be demolished and turned into a parking lot (Joni Mitchell, where are you ?). Costco say they can't adjust their plans, because all 272 Costco stores are designed by the same architectural firm, and certain criteria have to be met - like making it easy for shoppers with full shopping carts to get to their cars. Katie Stewart (386-4792) and Janet Simpson (381-6657) of the Garry Oak Meadow Society have the latest details, but the event to get to is the Public Hearing on Tuesday October 7th (see Diary). There's lots of talk about a regional growth strategy these days - it's exactly this kind of native habitat that regional planning must protect. Langford has no requirement for its planners to identify environmentally sensitive areas, which is why we end up with this kind of conflict.

Latest : Saanich Council has scheduled its Public Hearing for the Rogers Farm development for the very same night. The north part of the Christmas Hill Garry Oak Woodlands is being left outside the Nature Sanctuary, and used for housing.


FALL BROOM BASH

The falling leaves, the nip in the air, the cry of migrating geese as they call their way to warmer lands - what better time than to don your gardening gloves and join one of 25 broom bashes that are happening this fall, as local groups labour to pull out the invader broom and allow the native wildflowers to return to their glory. New friends, team-work, good exercise, hot apple juice - what more can you ask ? The details are all in the Diary.


GET ME OUT OF HERE !

How about an Internship with the Institute for Sustainability at Kibbutz Gezer in Israel ? ($300 US per month) marketing and publicity, Earth Building, Bio-Dynamic Agriculture, Sustainability Planning Projects. Deb Dvir, ISS Earth Internship, Kibbutz Gezer, DN, Shimshon Israel 99786 tlw@gezernet.co.il or International Communities Semester (Jan 9th-April 28th & Sept 2nd-Dec 18th) with the Gaia Education Outreach Institute, Univ of New Hampshire ? 16 students, 4 staff visiting intentional communities in India and France. $9,400 (603) 654-6705 geo@igc.org


OUR FUTURE IN 2022

Oh my goodness - I should be writing a rapturous piece about life in 2022, and how wonderful it could be with a vision of sustainable, solar communities surrounded by parks and forest, all connected by fibre optics. Maybe next month ! For now, what matters is that you try to get to one of the Capital Ideas Discussion Workshops that the CRD's Regional Growth Strategy team is putting on, to identify why depending on existing Official Community Plans is not an option - not if we want to save Victoria from turning into Vancouver, that is. You can pick up a Discussion Kit at the CRD (524 Yates), at most Municipal City Halls and at Esquimalt Rec Centre. If you can't get to a meeting, you can complete the survey and mail it back to the CRD. You can also complete it on the web (www.crd.bc.ca). The details of the workshops are all in the Green Diary.


ACTION OF THE MONTH : SKIN CANCER

Because of our collective foolishness in using CFCs, HCFCs, methyl bromide and other chemicals that eat away at the Earth's protective ozone layer, a child born today has a 1-in-7 risk of developing a common type of skin cancer, and a 1-in-115 chance of developing a deadly melanoma. More than 61,000 Canadians will develop skin cancer this year, and 600 will die from it.

Among young children, the risk is at its highest; the Canadian Cancer Society says that a single severe exposure in young children can lead to skin cancer.

Given this danger, you would have thought that local School Districts would have a policy to ensure that all children wore hats, long sleeves and sunscreen when they went out in the sun. Far from it ! The Ministry of Education has no policy; the School Districts have no policy; the Schools have no policy; and teachers don't bother to make young children wear hats. Steve Balyi found this out to his alarm when his Grade 1 daughter, Alyssia, came back with a chronic sunburn after a beach outing in the sun. During a sunny lunch hour when he went to discuss this with her Principal, out of several hundred children playing in the sun, only 13 were wearing hats. Out of 22 adults, not one was wearing a hat. We teach children to wash their hands - why can't we teach them to wear hats in the sun ?

ACTION : Write a letter to Carole James, Chair, School District 61, 556 Boleskine, Victoria V8Z 1E8 (Fax 475-6161) urging the trustees to bring in a policy requiring all schools to practice sun-safe conduct, and to Paul Ramsey, Minister of Education, (Legislative Assembly, Victoria V8V 1X4, Fax 356-6595), asking him to introduce a BC wide policy that would require school districts to develop sun-safe practices.

Steve Balyi needs a few fellow parents to help him campaign for their children's safety - can you help ? Call him at (250) 480-7285. steveb@octonet.com


Click here for other back issues.


EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304

Author of 'After the Crash : The Emergence of the Rainbow Economy'
(Greenprint, London, 1988. 3rd edition 1997)

EcoNews is printed on Tree-Free paper from Ecosource