Monthly Archives: August 2006

Letters to the Editor

The first time I ever wrote a letter to the editor of the Globe and Mail it was published. I think I’m being rightfully punished for that, because they haven’t printed one since. Yesterday’s letter makes the score 1 for 4, but that’s ok, because here are three great letters they printed instead.

The Globe defends Chapter 11 of the North American free-trade agreement by saying that only two cases were lost by the Canadian government in response to corporate lawsuits. It is not the quantity of cases but the effect of the cases that is important.

One case the government lost concerned a gasoline additive banned in California. When the Canadian government came to the same conclusion as the California Environmental Protection Agency and decided to ban the additive, a U.S. company sued Canada for loss of revenue and won.

This one case has had a chilling effect on future regulation and makes the government think twice about banning toxic substances.

“Almost 85 per cent of our merchandise exports go to our NAFTA partners,” you say. If you think that’s a good thing, I’d shudder to hear what you think is a bad thing.

Re Elizabeth May, Off To A Bad Start? (Aug. 29): You no sooner get elected to the leadership of a marginal political party and the leading newspaper in the country leaps to the attack. Seems like a pretty good start to me.

What can Elizabeth May be thinking?

Lots of positive press today, and one negative piece from the Globe
and Mail. My letter to the editor follows.

What, you ask, can Elizabeth May be thinking? Good question. Perhaps she’s thinking about the full, true cost of NAFTA (environmental, social, labour rights) and not just the cold financial numbers. Perhaps she’s thinking about the fact that when a trade agreement isn’t being respected, then it’s not worth the dead tree it’s written on. Perhaps she’s thinking that no trade agreement should allow a foreign company to put its profits before the health of Canadians.

Or maybe she’s thinking about taking a principled position instead of just saying what polls and focus groups tell her to. But I’m just guessing, of course.

Chris Tindal
Former Candidate, Green Party of Canada (Toronto Centre)

May, Oui!

Apologies for my absence over the last few days. Many of you have likely realized that I’ve been at the Green Party of Canada’s National Convention in Ottawa since Wednesday. I had intended to blog live from the convention, but it turns out that (1) conventions mean you don’t have a moment of free time to do things like blog, or sleep, and (2) the Ottawa Congress Centre wanted me to pay for wi-fi. Rude.

Realizing the impossibility of doing justice to the last five transformative days in one blog post, I’ll tell one quick “looks like we’ve made it” story.

After Elizabeth May (who I’d been supporting) was announced leader and had made her victory speech, she made her way out of the convention room through the crowd. (For those of you who weren’t there or didn’t follow on TV, it was a great show, and Newsworld carried it live.) As Elizabeth passed where I was standing she hugged a woman in front of me. I squeezed her arm and yelled my congratulations, but she didn’t hear or see me and moved on.

My phone rang immediately. It was my brother, “So, couldn’t get her attention, eh?”

Same thing happened when I returned to the office today. So there we have it, I was snubbed by the new leader on national television and people noticed. Good work team.

Congratulations Elizabeth, I’m very excited for the months leading up to the next election. We’re making history — politics in Canada will never be the same.

ps. Let me know if you’d like me to comment on anything regarding the convention or Elizabeth more specifically. I’ve got lots more I could say, but don’t know where to start. Help requested.

Against Bottled Water

The United Church of Canada‘s General Council is meeting in Thunder Bay this week. That meeting happens once every three years, when democratically elected commissioners vote on various policy and directive resolutions affecting the church. It is the highest governing body of the church.

I’ve been at the last three General Councils, so I’m a little sad to not be at this one. (I’m going to the Green Party of Canada’s National Convention next weekend instead.) Three years ago, at the General Council meeting in Wolfville Nova Scotia, I met Alexa Mcdonough. We only spoke briefly, but were both able to agree that if parliament worked more like a General Council meeting it would be much more productive. For example, everyone sits at randomized round tables (instead of in the automatically adversarial arrangement of our parliament) and decisions are made by consensus (instead of by….um….how does our parliament make decisions again?).

And for those of you who would say that can’t work in a large group, there are around 600 people at a General Council meeting, with over 400 voting commissioners. Parliament has 308 MPs.

The past two General Councils have generated media attention for the United Church’s support of same sex marriage. I was proud to be a part of that. This year’s meeting is getting attention for a vote scheduled for tomorrow, where the GC will vote on a resolution opposing the commodification and privatization of water, including bottled water. I’m proud again (this time in absentia).

There are a number of reasons. For one, I do believe that water should be public, and that access to clean water is a human right (even though the government of Canada disagrees). That on its own may not be enough to avoid bottled water, but there’s more. The bottling process drains aquifers and reduces the flow of streams and lakes, which causes stress on ecosystems. And of course, the bottle itself is an unnecessary piece of waste.

What do we get for those sacrifices? Not much. Bottled water isn’t even regulated under Ontario’s Safe Drinking Water Act, is regulated less strictly than tap water, and is often just treated tap water anyway (as is the case with Coke’s Dasani and Pepsi’s Aquafina, which I’ve read is mostly tap water from Detroit — yum).

Check out Now magazine for more details about bottled water and water politics in general. We can’t take this stuff for granted. We’re even more addicted to it than oil, and we’ve seen what those wars are like.

ps. What will those wars have to do with us? Well, we’ve got the world’s largest fresh water reserves, and we’re right in-between the US and China. Might be hard to stay out of this one.