Welcome to the November SGI EDA newsletter.
This issue features a message from Elizabeth, GPC leadership news plus the November garden, a book club offer and more.
We are pleased to provide you with information about local EDA activities as well as some Federal Green Party news and relevant information from other Green organizations. We are excited that this newsletter goes out to over 4000 subscribers, many of whom reside outside of SGI. We welcome all readers, and greatly appreciate your feedback.
Notes from Elizabeth
Dear friends within Saanich-Gulf Islands,
If anyone had told me back in March when the House adjourned due to COVID, that in November I would be working from home – non-stop – I don’t think I would have believed it! I am now totally at ease using Zoom to vote in Parliament, to table new legislation, make amendments, debate and hold government to account – basically anything I used to do in parliament – from my desk in Sidney. And my chiropractor has had more work in sorting out my back after being virtually chained to my computer!
At a very basic level, eight months ago, I would not have imagined that the pandemic would still be part of our day to day lives, with 11,000 Canadians who have died, with no end in sight. Our hopes are pinned on better testing and tracing and a vaccine.
And those developments are making progress.
So in sharing thoughts with you, my first thought is one for our collective well-being. Please stay safe and please be careful.
I also want a big shout out to our wonderful BC Green cousins. A great campaign was run by Sonia Furstenau, with no time to catch her breath from winning leadership before John Horgan’s cynical snap election call. Thanks to all of you who helped re-elect our amazing MLA Adam Olsen and helped other local Green campaigns.
I hope you are all getting to know our new federal leader, Annamie Paul, and are as impressed with her as I am. She is doing a great job getting into the national media and getting known. (Recently on “The House”, “Power and Politics,” on TVO and in the daily press.)
So, the obvious question in politics is how long do we have before a federal election? We were nearly in one last month- and almost by accident! So, I am trying to get ready. Of course, my role will be different in the next election. I will not have to lead the federal party, but (COVID restrictions permitting) I will travel and help Greens
get elected – including our new leader! I think she will seek a seat in Ontario. Meanwhile, I am running again! So please let your friends, who are kind and think I am going to enjoy retirement, know that is NOT the plan. At least not yet. (Freedom 75??)
I hope you will be willing to help out whenever it happens. For now, if you can manage it, a donation to our SGI Greens would be very helpful before year end. If it is something you can afford, I would be so grateful.
So as the holiday season approaches, let’s try to figure out how to get the right balance in our shopping.
We cannot crowd the malls. Let’s make our holiday shopping do some good for the world – locally and globally. Globally? Gifts from Oxfam – a goat for a family in need? education materials for girls?
And locally? Check out the Facebook pages or websites of local stores – adapting to provide COVID safe shopping. Buy local as much as you can!
I will miss our annual big Green Christmas Party. So let’s plan an extra nice one for December 2021!
Thank you again for all our kindness and support!
News from the GPC
Congratulations to Annamie Paul for winning the leadership contest for the Green Party of Canada! Annamie wasted no time following the leadership contest, running in the Oct 26th Toronto Centre by-election where she placed a solid second with 33% of the vote to the Liberal Marci Ien’s 42%.
Annamie has been busy capturing media attention, for good reason. She was recently a guest of Linda Solomon Wood of the National Observer. In the lengthy interview she clearly outlined her goals and intentions for the Green Party going forward. You can watch the interview here. In addition, her more recent brief interview posted by CBC, she outlines how Canada can improve it’s response to Covid 19.
We look forward to hearing more from Annamie in the coming days, weeks and months.
News from BCGreens
The nail-biting and hard work are over. Following 3 days of the mail-in ballot count, huge congratulations go to BC Greens Leader Sonia Furstenau (Cowichan) and Adam Olsen (Saanich North and the Islands) whose elections on October 24th were confirmed as expected. Unfortunately, the West Vancouver Sea to Sky Country seat narrowly won by BC Green Jeremy Valeriote was overturned during the mail in ballot count, with the win going to Liberal Jordan Sturdy by only 41 votes! The BC Greens are heading into a new and exciting phase with a strong, vibrant leader in Sonia who has captured imaginations and attention around the province and a new and highly capable executive director, Jonina Campbell.
Special mention must, of course, go to Adam for his decisive win with 52% of the vote. The provincial riding of Saanich North and the Islands (SAN) lies entirely within the federal riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands (SGI) and many of the volunteers are “shared” between the federal SGI-EDA and the provincial SAN-RA. A snap election is an incredible thing to experience – there are many similarities with regular campaigns and a few key differences. Then throw Covid-19 into the mix and everything is suddenly different! SGI and other EDAs should take time now to learn and prepare from the BC Greens experience since the Liberal minority government may well not last it’s full term.
Of note, BC Greens candidates came second in 17 out of 87 ridings, including Esquimalt-Metchosin, Kootenay West, Langford-Juan de Fuca, Mid Island-Pacific Rim, Nanaimo, Nanaimo-North Cowichan, Nelson-Creston, New Westminster, Oak Bay-Gordon Head, Powell River-Sunshine Coast, Vancouver-Hastings, Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, Victoria-Beacon Hill, Victoria-Swan Lake, and now West Vancouver-Sea to Sky Country. Federal EDAs encompassing ridings with these strong second place finishes can take note and encouragement to prepare for the next election. Full BC election results can be found here.
Congratulations to Green Party of Prince Edward Island candidate Chris Van Ouwerkerk who placed a strong second in the Charlottetown-Winslow by-election on November 2nd. To learn more about Chris and the Green Party of PEI, read here.
New Zealand Greens
The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand has entered into an historic agreement with Jacinda Ardern’s Labour party following the October 17th election. This agreement was unprecedented since the Labour Party won a majority in the election under their proportional representation system, and has resulted from the past years of cooperative work. Read more from the Guardian.
Seeking Green Equity: Young Greens
The Green Party, whether global, federal or provincial, desires to effect change.There are plenty of issues to deal with, whether it has to do with a deteriorating environment, toxic fossil fuel politics or a myriad of other issues. These problems will not be solved easily or quickly, in which case we should utilize everybody that we can muster. We have a great group of people ready and willing to help out but their support is dependent on us asking for it. I am referring to our Young Greens.
Our youth are the ones who are going to bear the brunt of the climate horror stories that we hear about every day. They are well aware of what is going on in the world and are committed to help out. I could start with Severin Cullis-Suzuki who warned us about environmental problems at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 and move up to the modern day with Greta Thunberg and her valiantly trying to get an urgent message about climate breakdown out to world leaders. So what about the other thousands of youth?
British Columbia provides a very good example of young leaders coming forward to act in what they perceive to be a vacuum of interest. Their concern for the environment has led them to organize actions and attract multitudes to their demonstrations. Pre-pandemic, there was a rising amount of dissent being channeled by these young people into actions in cities around the world. This illustrates that our youth are prepared to do the hard work necessary to help us effect change.
We must embrace the energy and enthusiasm and confidence of these young people and accept them into our political parties as equals. Young Greens are looking for a safe space to be created in our system for them to function from. Older members need to unlearn old biases and relearn new acceptances. There is no room for tokenism, which is often used as a way of minimizing unwanted voices.
The fact of their youthfulness is not a hindrance but is rather an indisputable advantage. These young people know that they are fighting for our collective future. There is a recognition of the multiple crises we face. They realize the work has to be intergenerational and must cross party barriers because climate change does not recognize your age or political affiliation.
This series of stories will give our readers a chance to meet some of the amazing young people who choose to work with the Green Party. They are known as the Young Greens and they are going to end up as our future leaders. The respect and love we give them now will grow and return to all of us when we regard them as equals.
INTRODUCING GRACE SINATS
Imagine finding Elizabeth May on your front doorstep. That is what happened to Grace Sinats after the 9 year old had sent some pointed environmental questions to Elizabeth. Obviously, a personal visit was needed to discover what this young girl was about.
This is how Grace described to me what furnished the spark for her becoming a Green. Right from that very young age, Grace has been a relentless fighter for environmental concerns. Whether working on one of five election campaigns or helping to lead the activists assembled for Fridays for Future, Grace enthusiastically puts in the time and energy needed to put the environment front and centre in our daily concerns.
Grace is in constant motion as the many words she needs to say spill out; her concern for the environment is as obvious as the expressions flitting across her face as she gesticulates to illustrate a point. This is whole body and mind involvement and illustrates the intensity this young lady brings to her passions.
She is not to be trifled with as her concerns for the environment and social justice are paramount. However, being young means she has been disregarded at times, giving her firsthand experience with injustice. Those sorts of experiences have led to a sense of caution about participation in some green activities.
Grace, now 15, captures the wisdom and experience of activists much older. Combining that with her good ethical sense and a willingness to do the work gives Grace a depth and commitment that is needed to continue to advocate for our Green values..
INTRODUCING KATE O’CONNOR
Statistically, she almost doesn’t exist, but in reality, there was Kate O’Connor sitting in front of me and smiling serenely. This 18 year old just finished an election campaign and not only ran as the youngest candidate in BC but also ran against an incumbent cabinet minister.
Setting yourself up against insurmountable odds is a remarkable thing to do, but for Kate, it made perfect sense. Someone needed to bring the BC Green message to the large, urban riding of Saanich South.
It was a short election period which started unexpectedly, and everybody had to be fast off the mark. It was an intense campaign, which was very wearing on everyone, especially the candidates. Kate remained composed and focused throughout and provided a wonderful example of how heart-centered the issues are with Greens. With Sonia Furstenau providing the big frame for the BC Greens campaign, Kate’s personality and vitality fit in perfectly.
I met Kate during the campaign and also saw her on TV and social media. Each time she answered questions honestly and directly with grace and composure. That is amazing for any candidate in the middle of a campaign and speaks well to the values this young lady demonstrates.
Her gentle manner does not reveal the strength of spirit that she brings to her daily life as exemplified in the election campaign. Her collaborative skills were useful as the moderator of a Zoom call with Sonia Furstenau and Annamie Paul that was truly a wonderful experience – three Greens of different ages and political levels enjoying a heart-warming session that we were all invited to.
Young, capable candidates like Kate will attract more young people as they see their issues being positively dealt with and not disparaged as of little importance. Ultimately, we are not serving the young or the old but everybody as we endeavour to promote the values of the Green Party.
The November Garden
I love November in the Garden. That’s because most of our garden is either in the freezer, on the shelf, in the root cellar (we have a root closet), in the refrigerator or in our stomachs. And what is in the garden is growing slowly under cloches primarily to keep the soil from getting pounded into asphalt by the winter rains, but also for a bit of plant protection on those occasional cold, clear nights. We actually have a lot still in the ground: Brussels sprouts, beets, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, cilantro, kale, parsley, chives, parsnips and, of course, garlic for next year. We find most things do better outside under cloches than they do in the cool, damp environment of the greenhouse. But we have some late beans going in the greenhouse as well as ginger and turmeric which will need to get dug up soon. But the limes, lemons and grapefruits are a real treat all winter long. Yeah, you can grow them outdoors, but they do so much better inside a greenhouse, and get so much larger. I picked the Granny Smith apples last week and just picked the kiwi yesterday (9 November) because it was threatening to be a killing frost (which didn’t happen). So that is the last of the fruit for the season, except for the apple, pear and peach ciders fermenting away that we will be bottling in a couple of weeks.
And since our gardening season begins in January with planting seeds of onions, leeks, celery, many of the brassicas and even peas (for the greenhouse), I like to get my seed order in early so I have my seeds by the end of December. And what gardener does not like the ritual of planning for the next year, inventorying their collection of seeds, and fantasizing about next year’s garden all at the same time. It is a very Covid-friendly thing to do in your isolated, insular bubble. Now, beside the daily trip to harvest some of those winter veggies for dinner, we can turn our attention to all those other things that need to get done, but aren’t as fun as planting seedlings and watching them grow.
Have a good winter and, sadly, a virtual Christmas. We will write again from the greenhouse in January.
Nancy & Gary Searing
Green Book Club
We are excited to announce the Saanich Gulf Islands Virtual Book Club, open to members and non-members. Meeting on zoom each month. The aim is to become informed on current conditions and solutions. Books will be chosen to develop candid discussion on Green Party issues and policies, as well as politics and economics of the day. Whenever possible, we will have a guest speaker to introduce the topic and lead the discussion. To enroll for this virtual book club, please email Shelagh.