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Writing and Editing

Meeting with Moira Stillwell MLA

by on Jun.15, 2014, under Projects, Writing and Editing

 On Tuesday, I will meet with Moira Stillwell MLA who represents Marpole in the Provincial Legislature. We met previously at a Marpole Residents Meeting that was focussed on the re-zoning of our neighbourhood. Moira Stillwell is trained as a doctor and has held many responsible positions in the medical industry. I was impressed by her intelligence and approachable manner, so I can only hope that what I will say will make a difference. I still have some work to do to prepare my submission, but here is a preliminary look.

Five Issues 

1. Oil and Gas

Our Premier, Christy Clark, is closely associated with the oil and gas industry and is heavily promoting the development of natural gas in the province using fracking. The LNG industry is the new gold rush — with the same level of sustainability. Have you seen ghost towns in BC?  Source: http://shalebubble.org/ Northern Gateway pipeline referendum is now being supported by many BC residents because it is still being promoted by our Prime Minister as a “done deal” despite opposition. plus, Expanded pipelines through Vancouver  (see more below)

2. The Agricultural Land Reserve

Agricultural Land protected under the land reserve is less than 5% of all land in the province of BC.  Now changes to the Act have made it easier to use land in that reserve for other purposes.

Established in 1973, the ALR has successfully halted the conversion of, on average, 6000 hectares of agricultural land per year into residential, commercial and industrial uses – a transformation that is largely irreversible.

A quote from West Coast Environmental Law on a page that contains a great deal of information praising our former Agricultural Land Reserve Act. The changes to the Act have made it easier to do oil and gas exploration on agricultural land in Zone 2, that is central and northern BC.

But farmland advocates are concerned such changes will lead to more development because it will be easier for oil and gas companies to use Zone Two land for activities like drilling for oil and gas. Source: CBC News 

The Site C Dam will flood some of the best farm land in the north of the province of BC. Who is paying to build the dam? BC taxpayers will pay an estimated $8 billion. Who will benefit? The oil and gas industry. BC Hydro reports tell us that BC can meet our on-going energy needs with conservation.

BC Hydro says it is because we need the energy, but we don’t: Hydro’s own reports say we can meet current demands through energy conservation. Site C is not about meeting the electricity demands of British Columbians; it is about subsidizing BC’s oil and gas and mining industries. It’s an $8 billion taxpayer subsidy to a dirty fossil fuel industry that needs cheap energy to expand. Source: Wilderness Committee

3. Water Sustainability Act

Tied in with the oil and gas industry needs is our new water act. We need an Act like this one in BC because water will become increasingly scarce as we loose our glaciers to global warming. Right now, we are lucky to have clean water in this province, but many of us are wondering where the water will come from for fracking and who will pay to clean it after it is contaminated with a cocktail of unknown chemicals?

In April, the government granted the energy industry regulator — the OGC — authority to issue long-term water licences to natural-gas companies, making the fossil fuel industry the only entity in B.C. with its own dedicated water regulator, a regulator established by the province to speed approvals of industry development applications. Source: David Hughes, Post Carbon Institute

Oil and gas exploration use huge amounts of water that is contaminated and half of the fracking chemical soup is left in the ground to contaminate water in future. Other industries also use huge amounts of water, but contribute very little to support the province or to clean the water after they are finished using it.

4. Development in Vancouver and Affordable Housing

Belacarra cottages — eviction of long term residents Provincial Social Housing in Vancouver

5. The Arts as an Industry for Full Employment

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OIL and GAS IN British Columbia

Our Province is embroiled in a teachers strike that is affecting many student’s education and the livelihood of our teachers. Although the government insists there is no more money in the budget to pay teachers, there is money to help the LNG industry bring northern students to an expensive industry conference.

The provincial government and companies working on developing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry spent approximately $60,000 taking nearly 60 Coast Mountains School District secondary school students, teachers and chaperones to a Vancouver LNG conference last week.

Funding was given to the school districts at $800 per student to attend an industry conference about natural gas from an industry point of view. The industry sponsored admission to the conference, priced at $1,680 for a full pass.

“The provincial government offered funding to all school districts from the north to attend this conference, and that was the impetus for industry to sign on and fund the rest,” said Coast Mountains school board chair Art Erasmus . . .”

They were among 110 students, teachers and chaperones from the northwest at the May 21-23 provincial government-sponsored conference attended by 1,400 delegates. taken from http://www.terracestandard.com/news/260549231.html

Other individuals and groups also are suspicious about this “educational” opportunity . . .

But one local environmental group raised concerns that the students would not receive a balanced view of the LNG industry and its potential impacts. “Students are young minds and easily moulded and they’re forming opinions, and when industry offers an all expenses paid trip to an industry conference when 90 per cent of the speakers are pushing industry, I don’t think they’re getting a very balanced view,” said North West Watch representative Anne Hill. “I think it’s much more than a field trip.”

I agree that this is more than a field trip! As evidence mounts that fracking is an irresponsible practice, Christy Clark is making sure that the industry has an opportunity to make a huge impression on these students. Somehow, I am sure that no research on birth defects caused by fracking, methane leaks, groundwater contamination and other problems were presented. In fact, here is a review of the conference as an opportunity to sell investors on the projects, surely not a time to mention that fracking is BANNED IN FRANCE. Here is a list of other areas that have banned fracking as a potentially dangerous practice.

Clark is focussed on the LNG export business as being an economic saviour, but she is ignoring all the evidence that points to the exact opposite conclusion.

The massive push to frack our pristine wilderness and productive farmlands is creating anger and resentment in BC.

People are seeing the actual jobs they have in farming, tourism and other industries threatened by the mythical jobs that may or may not be created by natural gas. First Nations tribes see this development as further destruction of their ancestral rights. We all worry about contaminating our drinking water and pollution causing climate change. Although natural gas has always been considered a “clean” fossil fuel, studies show our emissions would be 2/3  that of the Alberta tar sands development. What is the royalty for natural gas that goes to the BC government? Only 7% on the PROFIT.

So, in 2012, Premier Clark amended BC’s Clean Energy Act by order-in-council (no debate), to exempt LNG-conversion emissions from being reportable. Source: http://www.nomorepipelines.ca/Start.html

With leaks from fracked sites that contaminate ground water and cause health problems, how can we allow industry to go ahead with this destruction of our drinking water?

In a report to the Council of Canadians, Dr. Theo Colburn found that 94% of the fracking chemicals in her database are associated with skin, eye and respiratory harm, 93% with harm to the gastrointestinal system, and 83% with brain and nervous system effects (p.14). Only an average of 50% of frack water is recovered. The other water remains underground.  The concern is when people come in direct contact with these fluids or when these chemicals get into freshwater supplies.  The new fractures can connect with other geological conduits. http://www.bcwi.ca/hydraulic-fracturing-of-natural-gas/

Citizens of BC are so upset with decisions that favour the oil and gas industry that we are requesting a referendum to block Enbridge’s Northern Gateway. Source: CBC News

People are protesting the expansion of pipelines through Burnaby and Vancouver and the increase of tanker traffic.

DESTRUCTION OF PROVINCIAL PARKS

Recently, a law was passed in BC to allow oil and gas exploration and pipelines in our Provincial Parks! Yes, unbelievable, but true. The Park Amendment Act will open the last vestiges of wild areas to the destruction of our last wild spaces. Tourism as an industry? Not in BC. No thought is given to the impact of this industrial expansion into our last remaining protected areas.

Conclusions

It is time for BC to move away from the boom and bust resource based economy. Given the current climate change scenario on our planet, it would be best if the government of BC recognizes that the train has left the station. There will be no amazing revenue stream from exporting natural gas. China has signed an agreement with Russia to obtain natural gas, plus they have some of the world’s largest reserves. Who are the clients? By the time we have the infrastructure in place to export fracked gas, the flow from the wells may have already declined as geologists have confirmed, initial wells provide much more gas than subsequent fracking. Please see Snake Oil: How Fracking’s False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future by Richard Heinburg.

 

The actual cost of oil and gas production is not profitable unless the taxpayers of BC invest in this industry and support it with tax dollars. BC plans to invest in building a huge mega project dam to subsidize the oil and gas industry. Damage to roads and development of transportation systems to bring in equipment is a major expense. Further subsidies in the form of cheap access to water, pollution clean up and low royalties on our resources. In addition, the cost of water contamination, leakage and spills that may never be cleaned up, will be costs that BC residents will have to live with. With the pollution, loss of farmland and the cost to human health it is not worth supporting the oil and gas industry. We should use the billions to support the farmers of BC and changing to sustainable energy instead of building a dam. With climate change an undisputed reality and the retreat of our glaciers, we will need every drop of drinking water that we can get.

Where do you think our water comes from? With groundwater being contaminated, we will be dependent on rainfall — With less snowpack, summers will be very dry. Our rivers flow in summer from snow melt, with no snow — where will we get water to drink and  water our crops?

How can we remove any land from the Agricultural Land Reserve when we have so little arable land and we are increasing the population of Vancouver so exponentially? We cannot depend on drought stricken California to feed us. We have to be self-sufficient, because it will no longer be economic to use fossil fuels to bring us food. We have a food system that is designed to rely on inexpensive fossil fuel, but this cannot continue.

Development in Vancouver is providing housing for many more people. A lot of people are expected to move to Vancouver over the next few years. Where will we get the water and food for this population increase? What kind of jobs will these people have? Job estimates from pipeline development are highly suspect. Economies will contract due to climate change and energy costs. How can we maintain a civil society and have meaningful lives without constant growth? In my opinion, the current grass roots movement to local food production, energy conservation and appreciation of nature should be supported. To create jobs, invest in the Arts. The Arts is an unlimited source of human employment that is very difficult to automate, outsource or replace.

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Open letter — Constituent Disagrees Profoundly with Canadian Government Policy‏

by on Mar.11, 2014, under Writing and Editing

 As a Canadian who is very upset with the current government policy, I am writing to my MP.

Update: After I posted this letter and sent a copy to my MP, I found that someone had hacked into my website.  Please use the following shortlink when sharing this post because there is now a hidden code if you copy the URL. http://vix.ca/blog/?p=1239  I do not know how to remove this hidden text. You can only see it if you copy the URL and paste it.

 

Wai Young MP Vancouver South

Wai Young MP Vancouver South

Hello MP Wai Young,

The Fair Elections Act is the last straw.

Corrupting our electoral process in an attempt to maintain power reveals the dictatorial policies of Steven Harper.

I know that as an MP, you have very little say in policy. However, I see that you are allowed to stand up in Parliament — when it is permitted to be in session and not suspended from operation — and spout the party line with conviction.

Reading from Conservative Party approved text?

How can you part of a government that is destroying the rights and freedoms of Canadians?

My mail contains many letters from your office, the latest one glorifying income splitting for wealthy pensioners while the government is delaying retirement pensions for two full years to the age of 67, for those who rely on them — but this fact is not mentioned. Tax savings initiatives are enumerated while poverty among our seniors is rising.

The Conservative government has consistently revealed their strategy of slashing taxes for the wealthy, especially corporations, while depriving Canadians of needed services that we depend on our Government to provide.

“Building a stronger future for Canada” has so far included a “fair trade deal” with China that gives Chinese companies the right to ignore our laws and to sue the government in a secret court if environmental regulations or other Canadian cultural values prevent them from profiting. Canadian taxpayers could be liable for millions of dollars in damages, but of course we will never know because the proceedings will be secret.

China trade deal — Canada borrows cute panda bears — China gets rights in Canada for 35 years! Fair Trade?

Now Harper is so eager to sign away more of Canada’s future in a deal with S. Korea that opens our market to their cars, but does not include clauses that the US found essential to prevent non-tariff barriers. No provision for Canadian jobs, just more benefits for others.

Craig says the South Korean government has continued to protect its home market and subsidized its exports through non-tariff barriers and active intervention in its currency.

“No Canadian manufacturer can compete with a market controlled by non-tariff barriers and currency manipulation,” she writes, adding the new agreement does not address these key issues.

Oil companies are in control of our environmental policy and the Northern Gateway ads on CBC radio are a national scandal!

Look at Norway’s oil management policy.

Because the government [of Norway] is highly invested, (oil profits are taxed at 78 per cent, and in 2011 tax revenues were $36-billion), it is as interested as oil companies, which want to maximize their profits, in extracting the maximum amount of hydrocarbons from the reservoirs. This has inspired technological advances such as parallel drilling, Mr. Lindseth says.

Look at the revenue Norway gets from oil and tell me why Canadians are in debt.

Norway produces 40 per cent less petroleum than Canada and has one-seventh our population, but has saved more than $600 billion in oil revenue and counting. This is equivalent to about 140 per cent of Norwegian GDP, or about $120,000 for every man, woman and child in the country. In contrast, every Canadian is in the red about $16,000 due to our $566-billion national debt.
How can you support policies that gives every concession to the wealthy multi-nationals and strip away every benefit for Canadian citizens?

There will only be the very rich and the very poor if these policies continue!

However, Harper will not say what his staff are earning!

Andrews and Simms weren’t the only MPs left with fundamentally unanswered written questions after the government tabled more than a dozen responses on Thursday afternoon.

In fact, the latest batch of answers reveals what would appear to be an ongoing effort to shut down one of the few remaining avenues of inquiry for parliamentarians hoping to pry loose the occasional morsel of information on the operation of government.

Secrecy and lack of accountability are firm policy in the Harper government.

I will do everything I can to prevent this government or ANY member of the Conservative party from being elected in this country.

Many Canadians are becoming more informed on these matters and I will do my part to try to let everyone know how the Conservative government is destroying our identity as Canadians.

Canadians who care for the less fortunate and expect health care and pensions to be paid for by our taxes and contributions.

Canadians who expect corporations to pay their fair share and governments to protect our land for future generations.

Canadians who support fair and democratic electoral process.

You are my representative in Parliament — tell them they have gone too far and the constituents are getting angry.

We will not stand aside and let Harper destroy our land and the future of our children.

How can you look at the faces of your children while allowing Canadian children to be poisoned by fracking and oil development?

The tar sand mines of Alberta are the site of the second fastest rate of deforestation in the world, behind the slashing on the Amazon Rainforest.

These citations are taken from Canadian media outlets, like the cbc and the globe and mail. These stories are not fantasy, these stories are Canadian reality.

Enjoy your trips to China and the many perks you receive — just think about how other Canadians are struggling as this government gives to the rich and dismantles the middle class.

Please think about these issues and look at your conscience — I know Harper has none — however, I hope that all Conservatives are not only out to get as much as they can for themselves and their supporters.

If you send me another letter — I will send you one in return.

Regards,

Victoria Gibson

If the video above doesn’t work try this link http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/13939494

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Writing a column or feminist blog Paradigm Shift

by on Apr.18, 2013, under Integrated Media, Writing and Editing

It always causes a pang of sadness and anger that women are still fighting the same battles that I thought we had won already.

Why are women still being forced to fight for control of our own bodies, reproductive rights, equal pay for equivalent work and other gender related issues.

In my opinion, these rights are so obvious, there should be no room for argument.

Now I am writing for a feminist blog based in NYC, you can read my first post here.

I wrote about the Femen protests as the political protest actions of young women, including Pussy Riot, have started to gain media attention.

I plan to write regularly in support of gender related issues.

 

 

 

 

International Womens’ Day inspired me to write a song.

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