Newsletter No. 71 - Serving
Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - April 1998
MAI DEFEATED BY
There is a whole new game being played on the
world stage, which most people are only dimly aware of.
It started with the collapse of the communist bloc in 1989, and the disappearance of
socialism as a coherent alternative to free market capitalism.
With the ideological opposition in tatters, the world's financiers and corporations took
heart. Wouldn't it be great, they thought, if there were no obstacles to the free flow of
capital around the world ? No social or environmental impediments, no constraining labour
rules, no nationalistic protectionisms ?
With this in mind, the OECD - the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development,
a club of 29 wealthy nations - started work on a new treaty, to be called the Multilateral
Agreement on Investment (MAI). The OECD's trade representatives started negotiating in
1995, and though they claim there was nothng secretive about it, they certainly made no
effort to tell anyone, even though the proposed treaty would have huge impacts on
national, provincial and even municipal legislation around the world. As late as mid 1997,
MPs in Ottawa were insisting that no such treaty was being negotiated. They simply didn't
know - that's how effective the 'Zero PR' strategy had been.
This is a heroic drama, so let's be duly heroic about it. Early in 1997, the word somehow
got out to the world's non-profit community that this was going on. Emails started flying,
as disbelief spread. It was someone in the non-profit community who first posted the draft
treaty on the Internet - though the OECD would later claim that this was evidence that
they were not being secretive. Maude Barlow and the Council of Canadians put on their
swords, along with Friends of the Earth International and a host of other social and
environmental groups around the world, and battle was engaged.
At this point, let me step back for a moment. In the Middle Ages the flow of information
in Europe was controlled and policed by the Catholic Church. Their monks wrote the
manuscripts, and their priests controlled the content. If you said or wrote the wrong
thing, you were liable to be burned. When Guttenberg developed his steel printing press in
1457, everything changed - from now on, anyone could print information. The Renaissance,
the Reformation and the Scientific Age only became possible because of the printing press.
Today, the amazing revolution of the Internet is allowing a free flow of information in an
unprecedented manner. Like the revolutionaries of the 16th and 17th centuries, we no
longer dependent on third party sources for our information. An enormous revolution is
about to unfold. Now back to the story.
In 1997, as word about the MAI spread around
the world, so too did people's instinctive rejection of this blatent attempt to hijack
democracy. They boasted that they were writing the constitution for a single global
economy, and we responded. At the time, there was a sense of outrage, anger - and despair,
for how could anyone stop such a juggernaut in its tracks ?
Patiently, the world's non-profit community
organized, and as word flashed around the world by email, the pressure on national
negotiators grew. People wrote to their MPs and got the MAI raised on TV; an alliance of
565 global non-profit groups signed a joint declaration of protest; the World Council of
Churches expressed its 'alarm'; the European Parliament voted 437 to 8 in favour of a
series of resolutions that demand far greater thought and study before the MAI is signed;
the Czech government said that it could not sign at all; and finally the MAI's chief
negotiator, Frans Engering, admitted they would not be able to reach an agreement by the
April deadline. The MAI is now off the tracks for at least a year; maybe for ever. A
global treaty on investment may be a good thing - but not one that seeks to trash
everything else that is good in the world.
Let there be no doubt that this is a huge
victory for the world's non-profit community. We should be astonished at the speed of our
success in derailing a sinister plot by the world's top financial forces. And it's all
because of the Internet, the new means of global communication that allows us to organize
on an unprecedented level. The MAI victory is only one battle, however. Already, the
forces are re-organizing to sidestep their defeat. There are moves to take a similar
treaty to the World Trade Organization, and far more sinister moves to rewrite the
International Monetary Fund's articles to grant capital the same freedoms that the MAI
would have allowed. We have to re-engage the battle, and start all over again. But let us
not be mistaken - this new strength that we are seeing in the world's non-profit community
is just the beginning.
To get on-line with the MAI, send a message
to email@example.com, or visit their site at www.infohabitat.org/mai
- Guy Dauncey
Published as a monthly service, nourishing
the vision of an Island blessed by the harmony of nature and community, funded by your
||? ? ?
Many thanks this month to all our
angels - Barbara Lopusynski, Ann Gower, Unlimited Possibilities, Joan Hurwood, Hannah
Main, WB Moffat, TL Danlock, Ian Graeme, Judy Walker, Barbara Scott, Lou Ray, Crosspoint
Strategies, Roger Colwill, Caroline Larsen, Mel Moiliet, Roger Pollard & Gail Schultz.
Donations can be made to EcoNews, 395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1. If you don't want to
receive EcoNews, or are going away, please let us know - it avoids wasting the postage. To
receive EcoNews call (250) 881-1304, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
SIERRA CLUB COMMUNITY
'Where there's a Worm there's a Way :
Composting for Every Household'
Wed. April 8th, 7:00 - 10pm at the
Fairfield Community Place, 1335 Thurlow.
Together, Building Community !
PACIFIC COAST SAVINGS
Are you one of the 100,000 people in Greater
Victoria who are members of Pacific Coast Savings ? If so, you are entitled to vote for
the Directors of your choice. Now is election time, with April 3rd as the final day for
voting. You will have already received details of the 8 candidates who are standing for
the 3 positions on the Board - but who to vote for ? My personal recommendations are
Patricia Lane, a mediator and conflict resolution teacher who is standing for her 2nd
term; Bernie Jones, who has 30 years background in community development; and Kathryn
Molloy, co-founder and coordinator of the Victoria Car Share Co-operative, active with the
Gaia Project and other initiatives. These 3 will provide a strong voice for a progressive,
community-based approach, in conjunction with the existing directors, as will Ross Peters,
who has been helping the new Greater Victoria Community Economic Development Corporation.
Make sure you vote before this Friday !
JUST SAY NO TO JUNK MAIL
Under Canada Post's new arrangements, if you
don't want any junk mail, you just have to say so, with a clear sign by your mailbox.
Nationally, 1% have gone junk-free. Salt Spring scores 11.3%, Saturna 10%, Mayne 4.8%.
Does anyone know the figures for Victoria ?
CABINET CONTACT LIST
Legislative Assembly, Victoria V8V 1X4
Premier, Youth. Glen Clark 387-1715 Fax 387-0087. Gurmeet Sall, Exec Secretary 356-6370.
Aboriginal Affairs. Dale Lovick 387-0886. Fax 356-1124. MA Trevor Jones Advanced
Education, Training & Technology, Intergovernmental Relations, Andrew Petter,
356-2771. Fax 356-3000. MA Jim Rutkowski
Agriculture & Food. Corky Evans. 387-1023. Fax 387-1522. MA Pratik Modha
Attorney General, Human Rights, Multiculturalism. Ujjal Dosanjh. 387-1866. Fax 387-6411.
MA Joanne Moody
Children & Families, Lois Boone, 387-9699; Fax 387-9722. MA Christine Skrepetz
Education. Paul Ramsay, 357-1977, Fax 387-3200. MA Brian McIver.
Employment & Investment. Michael Farnworth. 356-7020; Fax 356-5587. MA Jessie
Energy & Mines, Northern Development. Dan Miller, Deputy Premier, 387-5896; Fax
356-2965. MA Robert Simonds
Environment. Cathy McGregor, 387-1187. Fax 387-1356. MA Dave Cubberley. Finance, Corporate
Relations. Joy McPhail. 387-3751. Fax 387-5594. MA David Perry.
Fisheries. Dennis Streifel, 356-2735; Fax 356-2961. MA Kenn McLaren
Forests. Dave Zirnhelt 387-6240. Fax 387-1040. MA Bill Duvall.
Health, Seniors. Penny Priddy, 387-5394 Fax 387-3696 MA Donna Cameron
Human Resources. Jan Pullinger, 387-3180. Fax 387-5720. MA Norm Wickstrom
Labour. Dale Lovick, 356-6348. Fax 356-6595. MA Dan Barrett.
Municipal Affairs, Housing Jenny Kwan, 387-3602. Fax 387-1334. MA Par Sihota
Small Business, Tourism & Culture. Ian Waddell, 387-1683. Fax 387-4348. MA Maria
Transportation & Highways. Harry Lali, 387-1978. Fax 356-2290. MA Michelle Kemper
Women's Equality. Sue Hammell. 387-1223. Fax 387-4312. MA Thelma Oliver.
No excuses now, when you want to share your
thoughts or ideas ! For a full version of this list, including the Deputy Ministers and
all the various assistants, call 387-1337 (Cabinet Policy and Communications Secretariat).
MAJOR UK SUPERMARKET SAYS
NO TO FRANKENFOOD
Extracted from a recent article in The
Guardian, by Paul Brown : In a decision which should test the nerves of agro-companies
like Monsanto, one of Britain's biggest supermarket chains announced last week that it
would refuse any use of genetically modified plants or bacteria in its own-brand food
From May 1st, the company known as Iceland will guarantee that nearly 400 grocery lines
will not contain rogue genes. Malcolm Walker, the founder, chair and CEO of Iceland, which
runs 770 stores, said "Consumers are being conned. The introduction of genetically
modified ingredients is probably the most significant and potentially dangerous
development in food policy this century, yet the British public is largely ignorant of it
and they are likely to be eating genetically modified foods already without their
He quoted Professor Philip James, head of the British government's new Foods Standards
Agency, who said "The perception that everything is totally straightforward and safe
is utterly naive. I do not think we fully understand the dimensions of what we are getting
into." Dr Michael Antoniou, senior lecturer in molecular biology at London
University, said "Combining genes could create a mutant that would never occur
naturally, with potential untold consequences. Once released into the environment, unlike
a BSE epidemic or chemical spill, genetic mistakes cannot be contained, cleaned up or
recalled but will be passed on to future generations indefinitely."
Iceland's market research shows that 81% of its customers are concerned that they could be
buying genetically modified food which they would otherwise avoid. Iceland has spent 18
months finding substitutes for modified foods, and is now buying from farms in Canada and
Brazil which are inspected by independent scientists from Switzerland. Tesco, Safeway and
Sainsbury's have all agreed to label genetically modified food by the end of 1998, but not
to phase it out. The list of products which Iceland is replacing includes chocolate, ice
cream, crisps, beer, bread, biscuits, baby foods, cooking oil, pies made with pastry,
ready-made chips, cola, maize-based snacks, sausages, fish in batter or breadcrumbs, and a
whole range of ready-made meals : chicken burgers and nuggets, vegetarian lasagna, many
sorts of pasta, and Indian and Chinese cuisine. The review has been a major challenge,
since genetically modified soya is now used in 60% of all processed foods.
THE CAT'S MEOW
Bunk & Breakfast
Quiet, comfortable alternative
accommodation in Fernwood.
Shared $17.50 Private $43.00
PLANNING FOR OUR FUTURE
The CRD is halfway through a 4-year process
to develop a Regional Growth Strategy for the next 25 years. This is a major affair, which
needs our involvement. The CRD Board is proposing a 'Framework For Our Future' based on a
combination of existing Official Community Plans and the Regional Blue/Green Spaces
Strategy, identifying 6 areas where there are significant challenges - Managing and
Balancing Growth, Transportation, Economic Development, Environment and Resources, Housing
and Social Wellbeing. All this is described in 'Foundations for our Future No 5', which
you can pick up at any library or town hall. Now we come to the important bit. On April
24th & 25th, there is a Capital Region Public Forum (see Diary), when 40 people or
groups will be allowed to make spoken submissions - the details are in the 'Foundations'
document. If you have an idea which you think is important for our future, now is the time
to speak out ! Details from the
CRD at 360-3133.
In the little town of Totnes, in south Devon,
England, where I've just been visiting old friends, there's a huge new Safeways store,
with a tiny difference. As well as the normal supermarket trolleys, you can tow your
groceries home with a bike-trailer ! You pay a $25 deposit and have to return the trailer
within 4 days. How about it, Thriftys ?
FAXING THE FEDS
Anne Moon writes : If you've got email, you
can use the federal fax numbers in last month's EcoNews to fax the
Feds by using following format: remote-printer.<FirstName_LastName>@1<fax
no>.iddd.tpc.int To fax Jean
Chretien, you would send your message to: remote-printer.Jean_Chretien@16139416900.iddd.tpc.int
For details, see FAX the FEDS www.net-efx.com/faxfeds/
"Nothing will benefit human
health and increase the chances for survival of Life on earth as much as the evolution to
a vegetarian diet."
- Albert Einstein
THE GARDEN PATH
Organic Heritage Plant Nursery
Open Tues April 21st - Sun June 7th
10 - 5pm (closed Mondays)
1834 Haultain St
WATER MONITORING KIT
The Global Rivers Environmental Education
Network has developed a low cost Water Quality Monitoring Kit, packaged in a 3"
x 5" unbreakable plastic canister, price US$25.00. The kit includes reagents,
instructions, a waterproof sampling glove and safety guidelines so that citizens can
safely test surface water for dissolved oxygen, total coliform bacteria, pH, biochemical
oxygen demand, temperature change, nitrates, phosphates and turbidity. The kit includes
background information on how to incorporate water monitoring activities into school and
community-based initiatives. Contact David Schmidt, (734) 761-8142 email@example.com
PERSONAL UV METER
With summer coming, it's time to tune into
its dangers, especially for children. SafeSun is a personal UV meter that measures the
sun's UV intensity and exposure doses. See www.safesun.com
or write to SAFESUN Pty. Ltd, Unit 3, 321 Arden St, Coogee NSW 2034, Australia.
EcoNews provides this electronic version of
the newsletter free of charge even though it costs time and money to produce. Please feel
free to repost. You can help by making a donation, whether $5 or $100, to:
EcoNews, 395 Conway Road, Victoria, B.C. V8X 3X1, Canada. Thanks !
for previous issues of EcoNews.
EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304
Available free by mail or email
Author of 'After the Crash : The
Emergence of the Rainbow Economy'
(Greenprint, London, 1988. 3rd edition 1997)
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