"The Pulse of Canada "


Climate Change

This MAY be your best chance to meet one of Canada’s best

Posted November 16, 2014 by Erich Jacoby-Hawkins
Countless accomplished Canadians, including three PrimeMinisters, many scientific pioneers, artists, writers, and performers, were born abroad, chose to live here, and in doing so made Canada better.

One such person is Elizabeth May. From New England stock, counting three ancestors’ signatures on the Declaration of Independence, her family uprooted themselves and resettled in beautiful Cape Breton, a move that wiped them out financially but was a boon for Canada. You can now read about her early life and how she came to know and love our country with the intensity often found in new Canadians in her latest book “Who We Are: Reflections on my Life and Canada.

Luckily, French studies in elementary school put her in good stead upon arriving in Canada, inhabiting a one-room log cabin with gaps the snow blew in and a TV that only got CBC and its sister French station, Radio-Canada. While friends went off to university, she spent her twenties waitressing and cooking for tourists in the family restaurant, campaigning to protect Cape Breton’s forests from toxic spraying in the off season.

Under a special admissions program and armed with a recommendation from the governor of Arkansas (an old activist friend destined to be United States president), this waitress/cook/activist from the Cape directly entered law school and went on to an environmental career so successful she was elevated to Officer of the Order of Canada with a teaching chair at Dalhousie University named after her.

Between founding several major environmental organizations (Canadian Environmental Defense Fund, Canadian chapters of Cultural Survivaland Sierra Club) she also spent two years as senior policy advisor to Tory Environment Minister Tom McMillan, an extremely productive and successful period that led to Brian Mulroney being honoured as Canada’s “greenest” prime minister. During this time she also learned how Canada’s parliament worked: MPs from all parties rolled up their sleeves in committee and made legislation better. The Prime Minister showed respect for opposition leaders, consulting with or notifying them of major policy initiatives; international delegations included members from both sides of the House.

How much things change! Now an MP in her own right, she sits in a House more sharply divided and subject to more top-down control than ever before in our history. Much of her book deals with how unhealthy government is failing to serve the public interest, how we have strayed from the democratic ideals enshrined in our founding documents and instead fallen under the power of a dictatorial Prime Minister’s Office and party leaders, leading to policy failure on many key issues, particularly climate change.

But this topic, which takes up most of her book (with some common-sense prescriptions for how to fix it), goes beyond the capacity of a short column. Luckily, we have a chance to hear Elizabeth speak directly about these topics when she visits Barrie next Saturday (November 22) on her book tour. At 7 pm at the Southshore Centre, May will read from her book and take questions from the audience – unique among elected party leaders, with no pre-screening of attendees or questions! This is your chance to hear from the amazing source in person. For information, to book a ticket or attend the VIP reception, please visit

Published as my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner as “Elizabeth May shares her insight in new book
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of Living Green and the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation
Full Story »


Tens of Billions Wasted

Posted November 12, 2014 by Stephen Elliott-Buckley

How much will we keep spending to develop more fossil fuels when we know we have to stop to avert climate breakdown? $88b/year? More? How about zero. It’s time to redirect that money to wind, solar, geothermal, and hydro so we can stop exacerbating our climate crisis. Redirect NOW! Let us end this silent accord […]

Full Story »


You can’t handle the truth: BC Liberals – Updated

Posted November 11, 2014 by Norm Farrell
Site C not necessarily a slam dunk: Bennett, Business in Vancouver, October 15, 2014
“Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett says he is still torn on whether his government should give the green light to BC Hydro’s $7.9 billion Site C hydroelectric dam…”

Vaughn Palmer quoting Bill Bennett, The Vancouver Sun, October 17, 2014

“Despite the rumours to the contrary, government has not made a final decision on Site C. We are definitely not in the ministry of energy biased toward one choice or another. No one should think that we have made a decision to build Site C, because we haven’t.”

Meanwhile, in the real world, Partnerships British Columbia issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to three shortlisted proponents for Site C worker accommodation as part of the selection process for building worker accommodation at the Site C dam site.

“The design, construction, partial financing, operation and maintenance of two temporary accommodation camps for the Site C Clean Energy Project (Site C). The two camps — one located on the north bank and one on the south bank of the Peace River — would provide accommodation and recreational facilities for the majority of workers at the dam site for the duration of the Site C construction period.”

Above published November 11, 2014

Update November 12, 2014

Request For Proposal (RFP) #1951, BC Hydro and Power Authority, BC Hydro and Power Authority, Site C Dam

Site Preparation – North Bank

The purpose of this RFP is to select a proponent who will be responsible for site
preparation on the north bank of the Peace River at the site of the proposed dam and
surrounding project area. Any work contemplated under this RFP is subject to a provincial
investment decision to proceed to construction of the Project. No construction will begin
unless all relevant approvals are in place.

The scope of work under the Contract will generally include the following site preparation
(a) excavation and disposal of approximately 3,000,000m3;
(b) quarry development, including riprap production, of approximately 100,000m3;
(c) building of approximately 7.25 kilometres of access roads; and
(e) clearing and grubbing of approximately 115 hectares.

BC Hydro will give consideration to a request from a proponent for a site visit and has
tentatively identified November 18 – 20 as dates for such site visits. To register please
email the Contact Person at

Full Story »


Con MP Supports Action on Climate Change? What?

Posted November 8, 2014 by Stephen Elliott-Buckley

What? What? What? What? Could this be the end of the denial of science? Chong for prime minister? What? “This most recent report concludes that the warming of the planet due to emissions is ‘clear’ and ‘unequivocal,’” Chong said. “The report also concludes that without urgent action to reduce emissions, by the end of this […]

Full Story »


Are you going to be thirsty or hungry in the future?

Posted November 3, 2014 by Ian Welsh

As I’ve warned before, aquifers are being massively depleted, and it’s happening in places that grow food.  California, which is in drought, is now draining its aquifers especially fast.  Note also that fracking uses immense amounts of water. This is also a problem in other nations, most notably India, where some farmers are already losing […]

Full Story »


Welcome, Dropping Oil Prices!

Posted October 28, 2014 by Stephen Elliott-Buckley

So, expensive oil made the tarsands and LNG more financially attractive if not climate-destroying. We know this because…science! Unless you are a science-denier. But even with and prices AND demand dropping, we are seeing the makings of a real flattening of long-term stability in demand that can fundamentally undermine the BC Liberal Party’s ignorance-embracing lust […]

Full Story »


Green leaders keep Barrie clean

Posted October 17, 2014 by Erich Jacoby-Hawkins
Have you ever sprung into clean? Every April on a weekend near Earth Day, Barrie residents “Spring Into Clean” through community litter clean-ups, tidying parks, schoolyards, parking lots, roadsides, and other areas where litter accumulates. Living Green pioneered this activity in 2003 when the Georgian College student group Responsible Adventure Travel Society (R.A.T.S.) contacted us about doing a waterfront clean-up right around the same time that Tim Horton’s contacted us about sponsoring one, so we brought them together and got the City’s permission to coordinate a clean-up along Centennial Beach. The event grew by leaps & bounds, more sponsors came on board, and Living Green handed over coordination to the City of Barrie and moved on to start more new initiatives (the latest being FruitShare Barrie).

But litter doesn’t wait for spring, so the City also has the Adopt-a-Park or Trail program, which allows individuals or groups to take on spring and fall clean-ups of any city-owned park or trail. Your group can adopt here, or you can join in with an existing adoption, for example, Living Green has adopted Queen’s Park and the Barrie Green Party has adopted Kidd’s Creek Trail at Sunnidale Park.

Barrie Greens are crazy about collecting litter!
In fact, this Sunday, October 19th, marks a special anniversary for the Barrie Greens’ adoption of Kidd’s Creek: this will be the 10th year we tidy it up, having started the adoption process way back in the spring of 2005. To help us celebrate, Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner will take a break from trying to clean up politics and instead join us to clean up this wonderful green space in Barrie.

This is the first of two Green Party leader visits to Barrie; the second will be when federal leader Elizabeth May presents her new book at the Southshore Centre on November 22nd. (Watch this space for more info about this exciting visit.) Green leaders like to visit Barrie because of our enthusiastic support: in the past 11 years, the Barrie riding has consistently shown about 50% higher Green support than the provincial or national average and been in the top 10% of Green vote results.

This clean-up is now a long-term tradition with us; photogenic Barrie Greens at work are even featured prominently in the City’s official Adopt-a-Park/Trail brochure. We’ve found some pretty startling things alongside the normal litter: bikes and shopping carts (both functional and junked), waterlogged down comforters, wheel rims, tires, and clothing, to name a few. Getting this garbage out of the stream and forest is an important way to help nature thrive in our urban surroundings.

You can be a part of this, too! Our clean-ups are always open to the public, and are great fun for the whole family. Meet us at the Dorian Parker Centre at Sunnidale Park this Sunday morning at 10 and join us for 2 hours of tidying, then we’ll treat you to lunch! You also get to roll up your sleeves and get down & dirty with a provincial party leader; how cool is that? Dress for the weather and wear something tough and waterproof on your feet; we’ll provide gloves and trash bags. See you there!

Published as my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner as “A variety of community clean-ups to choose from
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of Living Green and the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation
Full Story »


We must Act to make polluters pay

Posted September 5, 2014 by Erich Jacoby-Hawkins
What if you went to a public beach, were careful to pick up and take away any trash you created, but the people next to you left a pile of garbage? And what if their excuse was “well, we pay parking fees and taxes that go toward cleaning the beach, so it’s our right to litter”. Would you accept that, or should they get fined?

I know how I feel, and I hope you feel the same: people must be responsible for the cost of cleaning up their own mess. It’s not fair to make us pay, through taxes or other burdens, for the garbage of others. That includes the trash from making and packaging the consumer products we buy.

Yet right now, much of the cost of taking your garbage away from the curb is paid out of general property tax, regardless of how much actual trash you do, or don’t, toss. The same goes for recycling. That means those who make the most waste are subsidized by the taxes of those who make the least. Yet this can easily be fixed, and if Ontario’s Waste Reduction Act is re-introduced and passed, we’ll be well on the way to having waste pay for itself.

Franke James was Banned on the Hill for saying this!
This legislation would replace the much-maligned and ineffective industry-managed “eco fees” we’ve had to pay for several years. It makes good sense for consumers to pre-pay the cost of disposal of the products they buy, and the related packaging. But under the current system, a standard fee applies, with no regard to how much or little waste the particular manufacturer creates, which means no incentive to choose greener producers. So if ACME is wasteful but Zenith is green, you pay the same eco-fee for a TV from either.

Under the new system, ACME will pay for their own wasteful ways while Zenith will save, passing that on to you in the price. Affordable Zenith TVs will fly off the shelves while overpriced ACME ones get dusty. All producers who reduce waste or packaging will have more sales and profit while wasteful ones will dwindle.

Sadly, this Act didn’t pass before the recent provincial election. But on our behalf and at the suggestion of Canadians for Clean Prosperity, last week Barrie’s City Council passed a resolution for the government to re-introduce it. Contact your MPP and add your personal voice to this request.

When polluters get out of paying for their harms, the costs fall on the rest of us, in the form of higher taxes and other financial burdens. Changing the rules to harness the power of competition to make our economy greener will lower our taxes, reduce waste, and spur innovation leading to high-quality jobs right here at home. No more subsidizing pollution and job stagnation! Make polluters pay, so they compete to pollute less!

Oh, and a special nod goes out to Pizzaville Barrie South, who took up my challenge last week and will now be donating pizza for blood donors on Tuesday & Thursday afternoons, joining Toppers who donates Thursday lunch. Hurray for our bloody generous local Barrie businesses!

Published as my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner.
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of Living Green and the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation
Full Story »



Posted July 23, 2014 by Mulder

Oh, the irony. the pine tree planted in 2004 near Griffith Observatory in memory of George Harrison will be replanted shortly because the original tree died as the result of an insect infestation. Yes, the George Harrison Tree was killed by beetles

Full Story »

The Latest