Free parking for freighters (May 8, 2022)

Good Sunday Morning!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Originally, Mothers Day was one women’s effort to honour her own mother.  Ann Reeves Jarvis, who died in 1905, had been a peace activist in the American Civil War. She and Julia Ward Howe, another peace activist, started “Mother’s Day for Peace.” Her daughter took the effort to governments to gain official recognition for Mother’s Day. And then Hallmark cards took over.

Mother’s Day should be a day for peace-work.  All the mothers who mourn in Ukraine and Russia should be honoured by ending the war. I also think we need to honour Mother Earth this day.  I am very happy to have my daughter coming over to make me a fabulous brunch, shared with John’s oldest daughter – also a great mother.  But as we continue our war against Nature, we should mobilize to love and protect Mother Earth.

Nothing threatens Mother Earth as much as the threat of nuclear war and the climate crisis.  It is a daily horror that we have the risk of both.

This week I raised the threat of nuclear proliferation from the development of experimental nuclear reactors in Question Period, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cap6YIJ4ne4 as well as putting a direct question to  Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault in Environment Committee.  I asked if he was prepared to overhaul the “Emissions Reduction Plan,” (ERP) released March 29, so it could align with the IPCC report of April 4. I put it to him that we must comply with the urgent warning that to even stay below 2 degrees C, globally emissions must peak at the latest by 2025 and dropping rapidly in half by 2030.  I was baffled by his answer. He said Canada’s emissions have already peaked so we are compliant with the pathways to hold to 1.5. But the ERP says we will increase oil and gas production by 21% by 2030.  And then they approved Bay du Nord, and the budget commits to completing TMX– but shifting it to Indigenous ownership!   I was lucky to be able to ask even one question. I was given 2 minutes from a friendly Liberal on Committee, Patrick Weiler from West Vancouver.  But it is frustrating to have no right to participate on any committee. For that Greens need ten more MPs – 12 being the minimum number under our strange rules.  Three years to 12 MPs is my internal mantra these days!

Some of the same points that drive me crazy in pressing the government for appropriate action were made brilliantly in this opinion piece by Seth Klein:

https://www.nationalobserver.com/2022/05/05/opinion/canada-versus-ipcc-do-nothing-halves-which-can-be-done-quarters

Could there be a better description of the Liberals’ gong show of climate action than this great F.R. Scott’s poem about Mackenzie King:

Postpone, postpone, abstain …

Truly he will be remembered

Wherever men honour ingenuity,

Ambiguity, inactivity, and political longevity.

Let us raise up a temple

To the cult of mediocrity,

Do nothing by halves

Which can be done by quarters.

 

As of last week, we wrapped up MP Community Meetings in nine locations, on  each of the southern  Gulf Islands of my riding and in Gordon Head, Brentwood Bay, Sidney and Cordova Bay.

It was a real joy to see people face to face – or more accurately, mask to mask!  Turn-out after a two-year hiatus was lower then pre-COVID numbers, but that was a good thing as we were able to maintain distance, and also left windows and doors open for good ventilation.

All together over 200 constituents participated.  We are planning to hold more meetings before summer – but on zoom.

As was always the case in the past, constituents are well informed and came with interesting questions and comments.  Some key issues were raised in every session – climate, the affordability crisis in housing and the doctor shortage. We also dove into questions of the April 7 budget – details of what was there for housing – whether making flipping less advantageous from a tax standpoint, banning foreign ownership or providing tax rebates to homeowners who add a granny suite.  Many constituents expressed deep concern about the war in Ukraine. Others raised the question of Canada’s failure to move rapidly to rescue Afghanistan’s endangered former translators, as well as women and girls at risk.

As ever, the communities on Pender and Mayne Islands expressed their understandable frustration at the use of our waters as free parking for freighters. On this, I was able to report that I continue to press the Transport minister for action, as well as having coordinated with a supply chain of others aggrieved by the problem.  For those who do not know, the worsening situation stems from a failure to properly coordinate the arrival of bulk goods at the Port of Vancouver to be picked up by incoming freighters. The bulk cargo is basically two things – grain and coal.  The government has promised to end the thermal coal shipments as an aspect of our climate commitments, but has not yet done so. Hence my petition (please sign if you have not- deadline is Tuesday! https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-3919

The grain shipments used to be coordinated through the Canadian Wheat Board.  Since Harper abolished the Wheat Board no one is coordinating the shipments with the railroad companies, CN and CP. Now both private sector, CN and CP have a habit of cutting employees and then being unprepared for the grain harvest.  So I work with the Teamsters as well. They are very frustrated with management for cost cutting that also leads to unsafe working conditions. Further up the supply chain, the grain elevator owners and Prairie farmers struggle with losses and delays created by the railroad and by the inefficiencies of the Port of Vancouver. And those ships that show up for bulk shipments that have not yet arrived end up anchoring in the Salish Sea, particularly in Plumper Sound, and all the way up to off Ladysmith and Cowichan Bay.  Dragging anchor, polluting and diminishing the quality of life for residents.  Adam Olsen, Green MLA and I are working hard on this. Transport Canada has deflected responsibility by delegating solutions to the Port of Vancouver. No one is adequately engaging First Nations whose Douglas Treaty rights are also violated by the ongoing and worsening situation.  I am so grateful to the volunteers and concerned residents who formed the South Coast Ship Watch Alliance https://nofreighteranchorages.ca/about-us/.

Others raised the on-going threats to species at risk- Pacific salmon and Southern Resident Killer Whales. No one is satisfied with the Ocean Protection Plan.  Single use plastics remain a concern and the government’s draft regulations are full of loopholes.

Never short of work to do, we now have parliamentary rules that allow extending sittings to midnight. We did so the other day in a long and quite respectful debate on the anniversary of the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKD1EZFYN98

Our response as a nation is a daily tragedy.

So I close this Mother’s Day missive with the call that we each and every one do something this week in solidarity with those mothers who went missing, to their daughters whose disappearances were met with neglect from authorities. Hang a Red Dress this Mother’s Day and commit to justice.

Love and thanks to all our mothers,

 

Elizabeth

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