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This isn’t Pixie Dust

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That’s the trouble with talk radio. In between the adverts for cars and the best deal on tires, someone accuses you of saying something you didn’t say. It is not “either/or” (roads or transit) – at least becuase the road expansion is well under way and in the case of Port Mann/Highway #1 nearing completion. And I really do not expect a magic bullet or a tooth fairy to fund it – both things that got discussed before we got to the callers. In fact I think the callers got lined up before I started speaking. They evidently weren’t listening.

But just supposing someone was listening to CKNW this morning and got intrigued this is what I am prescribing.

Funding transit

We spent $3bn on a bridge and have to pay that loan down, so users are stuck with tolls for the bridge until it’s paid off. Meanwhile we have to find a way to fund transit expansion. It is not enough to come up with a formula that enables Translink to carry on as now – or allow some modest increase. We need a way to to ensure that transit can grow its market share. The current plan for 2040 is way too modest in my view. We need much more and quicker than that.

I am also disenchanted with dedicated funding sources. The problem is that if you tie your funding source to something that is also going to change behaviour – and you are successful – then you are stymied. To some extent that has happened with the gas tax – and also happens with the carbon tax. I also dislike user fees – for the same reason. Pricing something is a good way to reduce consumption. It is also unfair to those who have little income – and therefore very little discretion on how to spend it. Of course those who are comfortable are quite happy to state that since they can afford the fee, everyone else should be willing to shoulder the same burden. Except, of course, they do not share the same ability to do so.

The right wing has seized the agenda on taxes and made us convinced that income and corporate taxes have to be reduced in order to make us  more competitive. That has simply got us engaged in a race to the bottom. We now work longer – households need multiple sources of income – in order to just stay where we were. Real incomes have declined. We may have the lowest income tax but that is only because we now pay through a variety of fees and charges for the same services – or rather in many cases, a reduced set of services. Plus a greater reliance on sales taxes.

We continue to subsidize fossil fuels – both nationally and provincially. The latest expansions of natural gas exploitation are being achieved with a concession of NO payment of royalties to the province. The expansion of the oil sands in Alberta is only possible because of an extraordinarily favourable tax treatment. In both cases we would be much better off leaving it in the ground. For one thing the planet cannot tolerate the current rate of increase in carbon emissions. Since the IPCC’s warnings on climate change, CO2 output has not only increased, the rate of change has also increased. Fossil fuels left in the ground would also become much more valuable in future – because there are so many other things you can do with them other than simply burning them, all of which have much great value added and many of which are going to be very difficult to do in future.

So I am advocating a two pronged approach.

1. Stop funding silly things (subsidies to oil and gas, F35 jets, mega-prisons ….)

2. Increase income tax for the rich and corporations – as well as a switch of enforcement away from chasing small amounts from the poor to the huge sums squirrelled away illegally in tax havens.

You will note that these funds then have to come from the federal government as well as the provincial government. This is intentional. Canada is the only advanced western economy that does not have a national transit program.

Senior Government support has to extend to operating funds as well as capital funds. We also should stop collecting tax from transit agencies – it is ludicrous that we levy a tax to pay for transit on fuel burned in transit buses.

I am not going to suggest that we abandon private sector partnerships altogether. But if we are going to do them, we have to transfer the risk to the private sector. Translink revenues are being dragged down by the deal on the Golden Ears. It is unconscionable that money raised to pay for transit is being paid to a private company who built a road bridge we don’t need – and which cannot be paid for from tolls – which is what they promised initially.  We also have to look long and hard at why Macquarie Bank is still getting paid long after the P3 for the Port Mann fell apart, and the project proceeded with public funding.

Expanding transit

There are two aspects to this – what we build and where we build it.

Currently the priorities appear to be first the Evergreen Line and then – probably – a subway to UBC (though that is not set in stone, yet). Like the Port Mann, let us assume that the Evergeen Line is a done deal. It may not be the best one, but it is too late to change.

If we commit to building a subway to UBC it will be because the current B-Line “cannot be expanded” and is overloaded, and the idea of light rail down Broadway, or more elevated concrete structure for SkyTrain, is intolerable on the West Side of Vancouver (but not anywhere else in the Lower Mainland, apparently). It will also mean that the part of the region that currently enjoys the best transit service will get more and, absent a new funding arrangement for transit, that means less everywhere else.

The callers to CKNW this morning were appalled by the idea that they could be expected to use a bus. I cannot say I blame them, given what they know of bus service here. But if we are going to persuade people to get out of their cars and use transit, it is going to have to meet at least some of their needs some of the time. We also need to make the newer, better services widely available. Our current approach seems to – and does – favour some parts of the region over others. In part that is because the operator, being cash strapped, has to concentrate resources in areas where they get the most return. So if there is a ridership, there will be service – not the other way round. That is why things never change. Because we keep doing what we have always done.

So in future we will have to see some innovation. And in some cases that means taking a risk with a new kind of service, in a place that doesn’t see it now. When the railways first got into the commuter business, at the end of the nineteenth century, there were no suburbs. They built out into green fields, and hoped that those would become new subdivisions. A bit like the way the transcontinental railway was built – in the expectation that they would encourage settlement in what were then seen as “empty” areas. Indeed, that was also the way that the interstate highways got taken over by people driving to and from work. Because subdivisions popped up like mushrooms after rain, right next to the off ramps.

So if we have the ability to build rapid transit, it can only go to places that will see rapid and sustained increases in population. When the Expo Line was built through the East Side of Vancouver the residents of the areas around the stations were mostly successful in resisting an increase in density. We cannot afford that again. This seems to me to be a linkage that would allow for investment – and is a model in use in Hong Kong. There, the Mass Transit agency is a property developer. If that makes you queasy, turn it on its head, and come up with an experienced developer who knows how to do high density, mixed use development and create some kind of vehicle that ties the risks and rewards into producing transit and transit oriented development together. Stop thinking about transit – and transportation – as an end in itself. It never has been. It has always been inextricably linked with land use. Instead of building a new transit line and handing much of the increase in land value to a few lucky land owners and developers, indulge in some “joined up thinking” and get a better built environment and less car dependance on the same dime.

But rapid transit is hideously expensive – almost as much as building massive highways and bridges – and relatively limited in its reach. And we need solutions for a very wide area, where mostly people drive themselves around in single occupant vehicles. So we start by tackling the paradigms of ownership and use – since most cars sit idle most of the time, and only one or two of their seats are ever occupied. That means breaking down the barriers we have erected – mostly to protect transit. The rules we now use came into being once car ownership began to spread after World War one, and “jitneys” threatened the viability of the (private companies’) transit systems.  We are already seeing the impact of widespread, mobile information systems on car sharing. It would be even more rapid if it were not for these obsolete rules. Indeed, even those lucky enough to have operating licences apparently cannot make money because of the way the rules are applied.

I do not advocate a free for all deregulation – but I do think that there is obvious potential when entrepreneurs keep popping up with ideas that seem to work but get slapped down – mainly to protect vested interests. It is also the case that even where transit service is good, people can come up with other services that appear to meet local needs better. So obviously there needs to be some kind of oversight, but the rules need to be drawn up to protect the broader public interest, and not just the narrow “economic interest” of the industry, as our current regulator has it. In some respects, with the creation of a new smartcard payment system, giving multimodal regionwide access, Translink actually will have a useful tool to ensure cooperation. So the same card that you swipe to ride the bus or SkyTrain could also get you a shared taxi, or a even an exclusive ride in a shared car, like car2go. It is instructive that modo – the car coop – expands in areas that are well served by transit. It is complementary – not competitive – to the transit system. You cannot expand the reach of transit deep onto low density single family home areas with a 40 foot diesel bus. And there are limits to what can be done with shared rides and demand responsive systems. The DART in HandyDART once meant “Dial a Ride” – but you now have to book days in advance and be qualified. The service that results satisfies no-one, but contains the germ of an idea that ought to be allowed to flourish, and benefit from the extra-ordinary explosion of information abilities of smart phones.

It is significant, I think that the companies that need to hire bright young minds now provide bus service to get their employees to the workplace. The buses they use look nothing like a transit bus – they have wifi on board for a start – and do not pick up at bus stop signs. But a new app allows them to be mapped. I am willing to bet that the man who upbraided me this morning for expecting him to use something as slow and cumbersome as our current transit service would be quite happy to get on board one of these. The IT aspect means that all our current practices of mapping and scheduling can be discarded. The routes can be adapted on the fly, in real time, to meet changing need. The rigidity of regulation means that Greyhound can’t adapt service levels to changing needs the way Bolt Bus (its subsidiary) can. The same paradigm starts to make suburban shared ride services look feasible even of they don’t look a lot like transit does now – and maybe that is a good thing in and of itself.

One of the reasons young people do not want a car – or a mortgage – is because we have loaded them down with student debt. Until they pay that off, a car loan or a 25 year mortgage is neither practical or appealing. Moreover, they no longer use the same systems we did to get in touch with each other. They have texts, twitter and Facebook. Almost anything can be set up on the fly – just ask the Occupy movement.

I really doubt that it is possible to win over everyone to using transit and I am not even willing to try. There will always be some people driving everywhere all the time – just steadily less of them as a percentage of the total. After all, we could not cope with a sudden influx to transit – as the UPass so convincingly demonstrated.  The way we built the Canada Line showed we had not really thought through what “change modal split” actually meant. There already enough people who want to use transit – and who want to use it more often – but are frustrated, to provide a significant increment in transit use. The increase in service just to meet those desires would also bring in more riders, as service frequencies and reach would make those services more attractive. This is the benevolent cycle of growth that has been seen in so many other cities  that have stuck consistently to expanding transit. We, on the other hand, seem so besotted with short term point scoring that we are going to enter the other spiral – where cost cutting reduces service, and thus ridership and thus to further cuts.  I am convinced that these systems will always respond to these dynamics. There is no steady state. It is either growth or decline.

So the strategy I am suggesting is for conventional transit to incrementally add to its service – which means, right now, more buses. And more exclusive bus lanes – by taking road space away from single occupant vehicles. As demand grows, more limited stop and express routes – creating a hub and spoke system based on town centres, supported by an intricate and much more varied web of feeder services. That means space at the hubs has to be provided for bike storage, or shared bikes, as well as park and ride, kiss and ride, shared cars and station cars and shuttle buses. Rapid transit stations are, of course, hubs – as well as centres of mixed use, denser development – because they are within walking distance of so many services and facilities. I doubt that there will be many new rail based services added for a while – but obviously if there is an underused rail corridor available it must be pressed into use. Freight gets to use the lines when people are sleeping. Where there are highways, there will be rapid bus services – with priority where needed. At the very least so that those who insist on driving can have the educational experience of seeing the bus swish past them while they are stuck in traffic. Elsewhere it will have to be more and better buses – and the whole panoply of related “Better than the bus, cheaper than your own car” services.

Since we have hobbled public enterprises, and are convinced of their ineffectiveness, the expansion has to incorporate private enterprise. But we should look long and hard at what we are doing before we do it. Compare and contrast BC Hydro before and after IPPs, for instance. Learn from the experience of Britain with its railway privatization – or the Underground in London – and benefit from their experience.

There is no one simple solution – because although the problem looks straightforward (how to pay for transit) it is in reality complex and difficult because of all the connections. Politicians like big capital projects because they get to cut a ribbon. But what is needed is a whole range of small, incremental changes, and a shift in mind set. Mostly it needs a change in the way that government behaves.

Sustainable Energy Roadmap

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This is another of the Press Releases that I get, and unusually this one struck a nerve. First off there was the CBC news report this morning that Barack Obama was using his “bully pulpit” to persuade congress to end the massive subsidies to the oil industry. They have been getting them for over a hundred years to subsidize exploration and drilling – and not only do they not need them (they are, after all, hugely profitable) but there are much better things to spend taxpayers money on. (Buried in the block quote below you will find this gem “fossil fuels benefit from decades of subsidies and the support of powerful interests”. Indeed.) Secondly the Green Party of BC is in the process of developing its own “technology road map for the production of clean energy”, so it would certainly help if we could have access to one that has already been developed.

What also attracted me was the first recommendation of the authors is energy efficiency. This goes back to my days as a provincial civil servant at MEMPR’s Energy Management Branch. While everyone else in the energy ministry was busy try to get ever more coal, oil and gas out of the ground,we were trying to make better use of the stuff we already had. And since in the mid-nineties energy prices were low (though plenty of people didn’t see it that way) we had to work to find things with sensible payback periods. That wasn’t hard, even then – and is even easier now, I think. One thing we have to do is stop being quite so blinkered. Like the gas inspector from the City of Richmond who insisted that if I installed a high-efficiency gas fire in my living room, it would also need an air brick through an outside wall for combustion. Actually, no it didn’t, it gets that from the flue but I suppose he had not seen the drawings and did not like to admit ignorance.

The WorldWatch Institute has a web page you should visit, even if the idea of sustainable energy roadmap is not top of your mind. You can also buy a copy of the report from there as a pdf or hard copy for $12.95. They are doing these studies in places like the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica. Not that you will find those easily on this graphic of where the energy gets used.

Worldwatch is an independent research organization based in Washington, D.C. that works on energy, resource, and environmental issues.

Sustainable Energy Roadmaps Chart Course to Healthier Economies and Societies

Mix of GIS, technical and financing advice helps countries shift
from high-carbon imports to low-carbon domestic energy 

Washington, D.C.—-By embracing an integrated mix of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and grid technologies, countries can put their energy systems on a more sustainable path while developing economically, according to a new report from the Worldwatch Institute. The report, Sustainable Energy Roadmaps: Guiding the Global Shift to Domestic Renewables, lays out an innovative, targeted approach that details how countries can take specific technical, policy, governance, and financial steps to help make the shift to sustainable energy a reality.

“Still today, an estimated 1.3 billion people worldwide lack access to electricity, and another 1 billion have unreliable access,” said Alexander Ochs, Director of Worldwatch’s Climate and Energy Program and the lead author of the report. “But expanding fossil fuels is not the solution to the world’s energy challenges. We need solutions that are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable—-many of which are now at hand.Implementing our Sustainable Energy Roadmaps will enable decision makers to pursue strategies that are in the true interest of their people while protecting Earth’s climate.”

To develop a Sustainable Energy Roadmap, Worldwatch analyzes an area’s potential for energy efficiency gains and undertakes detailed GIS mapping of local renewable energy resources, including wind, solar, and biomass. The Institute also produces an infrastructure inventory that assesses solutions for grid renovation and energy storage. In addition to technical analysis, the Roadmaps explore the socioeconomic impacts of diverse energy pathways, including the potential for sustainable energy development to create jobs and reduce healthcare and electricity costs. Worldwatch’s Roadmaps can be applied almost anywhere—-in industrialized and developing countries—-and at multiple levels of political organization, from the municipal to the regional.

“When governments, energy specialists, and the public join in a guided conversation to consider their country’s energy status and potential, they can see more easily the options for freeing themselves from dependence on imported fossil fuels,” said Worldwatch President Robert Engelman. “The Roadmaps show a route to sustained long-term economic development, universal energy access, cleaner local environments, healthier populations, and carbon-free energy systems. It’s impressive that some developing countries are now poised to make this shift more rapidly than many countries that are much wealthier.”

The burning of coal, oil, and other fossil fuels is a leading driver of global climate change and many other environmental and socioeconomic problems worldwide. Air pollution from fossil fuel combustion contributes to smog, water pollution, and acid rain and can trigger or exacerbate health conditions, including chronic respiratory and heart disease, lung cancer, and asthma. Many countries rely heavily on fossil fuel imports, making them dependent on foreign energy supplies and vulnerable to price fluctuations on the global market. Competition among energy-insecure countries over dwindling fossil fuel resources also contributes to civil or international conflicts, creating an unnecessary obstacle to development and prosperity in many regions.

Due in large part to massive subsidies to fossil fuels, the world’s energy resources are not utilized as effectively or efficiently as they could be. Coal, oil, and natural gas still account for more than 80 percent of the world’s primary energy consumption, despite the adverse impacts of these fuels on the well-being of both present and future generations. And although energy production from all major renewable energy sources—-wind, solar, biomass, hydro, and geothermal—-is booming, it remains far from its full potential. Developing local renewable energy resources, alongside job training and education programs, can provide quality long-term employment and help countries build strong economies with sustained growth.

In Sustainable Energy Roadmaps, Worldwatch emphasizes four key components that can help countries and regions transition successfully to sustainable energy use:

  • Capture synergies from energy efficiency and renewable energy. Expanding both energy efficiency and renewable energy capacity simultaneously results in increased energy benefits. Reducing energy demand through efficiency measures means that renewable energy can displace fossil fuels more rapidly. At the same time, many sources of renewable energy, such as solar photovoltaic (PV), have much higher efficiency rates than conventional energy sources. And, since renewable energy is often produced at or close to the location where it is consumed, less energy is lost in distribution through the grid.
  • Integrate multiple renewable energy sites and sources. One challenge to a rapid transition to a renewable energy economy is the “variability” of renewable resources such as wind and solar: power generation depends on factors like the time of day, cloud cover, and wind patterns. Such variability can be reduced greatly by harnessing renewable resources from both different areas as well as different energy sources. In the Dominican Republic, for example, wind resources in the north are strongest in the early evening and peak in the winter months, whereas wind resources in the south are strongest in the morning and peak in the summer. Integrating wind power from both areas into the electricity system can provide a relatively consistent level of wind power throughout the day and year. Similarly, wind and solar power can be integrated with the burning of combustible renewable fuels such as biomass and biogas, which can provide reliable generation on short notice during periods of particularly high energy demand, or at times of low generation from other renewable sources.
  • Promote strong and feasible policy solutions. Identifying both energy efficiency measures and strong renewable resource potentials are important steps to making smart energy planning decisions, but effective policies are vital to ensure that the benefits of sustainable energy are fully realized. A long-term vision for sustainable energy, concrete policy tools and incentives, and a streamlined and transparent governance structure are all important to creating a stable and profitable investment environment for scaled-up investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Analyzing the regulatory environment in a country or region is an important first step to understanding what policy tools are most effective and politically acceptable. A toolbox full of proven effective and affordable mechanisms exists, and best practices from around the world provide important guidance for action. But ultimately, policymakers must decide which concrete tools to apply.
  • Identify lifecycle costs and financing opportunities. Around the world, renewable energy is already cost-competitive with fossil fuels—-if the long-term economic and societal costs are taken into account. But fossil fuels benefit from decades of subsidies and the support of powerful interests. It is therefore essential that energy developers seeking to pursue energy efficiency and renewable energy projects gain access to appropriate financing tools. Because the renewable energy industry is still relatively new, there is a general lack of knowledge on the part of investors and banks about how to effectively fund such projects. Capacity building within the financial sector is necessary to develop long-term loans for renewable energy development and to minimize the perceived riskiness of sustainable energy investment. Options within domestic public funds, multilateral lending agencies, and bilateral financing must be explored, and networks between the key finance actors must be actively promoted.

In October 2011, Worldwatch released the first detailed country study implementing its roadmap approach, a wind and solar roadmap for the Dominican Republic entitled Roadmap to a Sustainable Energy System: Harnessing the Dominican Republic’s Wind and Solar Resources. The Institute is currently developing national Sustainable Energy Roadmaps for the governments of the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica. Worldwatch recently embarked on its first project at the regional level, providing advice to the seven member countries of the Central American Integration System (SICA). The Institute is actively exploring opportunities elsewhere to help decision makers pursue a strategy for transitioning to domestic sustainable energy solutions.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 29, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Elizabeth May at the Green Party AGM

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LIVE BLOG Burnaby May 8, 2011  12:21pm

Started her day in Halifax – most of her time was in media interviews – where were they during the election?

We have to break down the notion that we are different parties federally, provincially and locally. Carolyn Lucas made the breakthrough in the UK in a fpp system. We cheer for the Green Movement all around the world. We undermine our effectiveness – bottom up grass roots movement to use the energies of a bunch of really bright people. I will help you in a BC provincial elections.

What helped in Saanich Gulf Islands – some things only Jane can do – we did run a national campaign it was air brushed out of the media. Most sophisticated tv ads – rely on social media – young people – start early. We do not know when the provincial election will be. If it was not for the HST …

Face to face contact is really important – the number one thing is that they get to know you and the platform, and policies that are different to themparties. House parties – meet and greets. Average Canadian does not want anything to do with a political party – and who can blame them. “I don’t like politics – I don’t want to get involved” – not what they want to do. Resources and investment should go into friendships not party political stuff.

Waving at people at busy intersections – make eye contact. Doesn’t sound like us does it? It got me at least one vote.

I am sure we can run a campaign on our social networks – Canada needs Greens. We are not likely to see an election until November 2015.  In that time we can make such a huge difference that next time we get twelve MPs and offical party status. Most of the actions of politicians have very short horizons. We need to get as many MPs as possible to be educated about rising greenhouse gas emissions – and Canada is the worst performer – we lag behind Ethiopia – and China – Brazil – where Greens do so well – 19m Green voters. Issues that the other parties ignore. Parties chose to ignore that for their own selfish interests. Use the seat we have to infiltrate – to change the minds all through the House fo Commons. We don’t have tome to wait until we have a Green majority

All Canadians will say thank you – whether they voted Green or not. Sea change in the House and not be solely at the mercy of the party system. The virtue of staying on message means that they are not thinking. We can make a dramatic change in the House.

It was not close in SGI

Take the energy and momentum – BC is the strongest home of Greens and green values. This is where we make our next breakthrough.

Q & A

Petra Kelly German Greens – we are the anti-party party.

Everybody has some good ideas

My concern about the getting rid of taxpayer support for political parties – they get a much more generous tax deal than charities. Why are they focussing on voter support. Because they want to get rid of the other provisions that got rid of corporate and labor donations – the per vote was put in for Charter reasons. $28m is not a big deal. $5m for the Grey Cup celbrations, war of 1812 celebrations bicentennial. There was more of that in the Conservative platform on that than on climate change. Per vote is cheap at stopping corporate influence.

My ten year old grandson wrote his own message to the CBC website: “I know that Elizabeth May is the Leader of the Green Party of Canada not an independent. I am ten years old Mr Mansbridge, and I know that, why don’t you?”

People my age feel very guilty that we did not leave the planet a better place than we found it.

Severin Suzuki (13 year old)  speech at the UN on you tube

Elizabeth May MP

Elizabeth May MP talking to the media after the AGM - my photo

Written by Stephen Rees

May 8, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Posted in Green Party, politics

Adriane Carr at the Green Party of BC AGM

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Burnaby May 8, 2011

This is not exactly live blogging – I am not a good enough typist for that. But these are my notes from the keynote speech Adriane Carr made this morning. I will also try to get up a similar account of what Elizabeth May says later.

Mother’s Day is a day to think about mother earth

I want to celebrate that we have elected first Green Party MP in Canada. Phenomenal victory – raising the issues and we act with integrity and raise issues that other parties don’t raise – capture the imagination of voters “You are so nice… but I didn’t vote for you.”

Bitter sweet – Harper majority runs chills through me – hopefully he’ll be tempered. Fast tracking crime bills, making us a war mongering nation, taking away the only fair thing we have vote directed subsidy – social agenda he says he will not pursue. The clock has already been turned back.

Elizabeth has her work cut out – but she has a party and people who are bright and committed – for civic as well as provincial and federal levels.

There will be an election in BC sooner rather than later.

Why the tides turned? There would have been an entirely different outcome if she had been allowed in the tv debate. They knew she would raise issues that would make them uncomfortable. Climate change, the economy – no other party leader questioned our path – they did not say that Canada of all the developed countries least amount in the direction the rest of the world is going of fossil fuels and onto renewables, less waste, local productivity, local resilience, not just global trade. You will be the only one talking about that too

They just talk about who will control the economy and how the wealth is spread. We are the only party that works with nature not against

We need to be very clear about how we as Greens are different from the other parties. An election is about choice. Differences between parties is crucial. Could go a whole hour on that.

I want to identify the green failings of the Glen Clark NDP – Adrian Dix was his backroom boy. Who created the war in the woods – fish farms could expand and move to wherever they want

social issues – closure of Riverview Hospital – problems of the DTES exacerbated.

What pushed me over the brink was my work with the WCWC in the Elaho Valley. The Squamish mill shut down. The NDP negotiated a “jobs in the woods” deal which included raw log exports and much expanded logging. A peaceful nonviolent protest on a road into the valley lead to violence from loggers. I went to the Premier and pleaded for moratorium to discuss a better deal. Ujjal Dosanjh said he understood the frustration of the loggers. By that he condoned violence. Not on Liberal or one NDP MLA said that was wrong.

In the last federal election the voters were confused. They did not feel the need for it. The Liberals made the main plank the Conservative government being in contempt of parliament. The problem was the Liberals had not acted much better when in power. And that was not just the sponsorship scandal. The conservative attack ads created the feeling that Ignatieff was “not there for view”. We should ban attack ads. The driving force was not really liking either of these parties: they did not believe Liberals, they did not like the Conservatives. The only other party getting attention at the debate was the NDP. If Elizabeth had been there – the public did not have a chance to hear what we stand for – had she been there it would have been a green and orange surge. It cost us votes across the country. The decrease in vote hit us hard.

In terms of your strategy – work hard to get Jane into debate – they could not invited the conservatives and not Jane. We had made the assumption that Elizabeth would get in – hard to make up for lack of coverage


Three things for Mother’s Day. MOM – Money, Organisation and Motivation


Really important to run a campaign enough money. GPBC is debt free. The other parties count on their members. Members donate – I will help fund raise – will do several events. MoU sharing of names and info. Identified voters. A lot of people voted for Elizabeth – not GPC.

Determine your strategy and spend pre-writ. We would never have won SGI without that. Our number one goal was electing our leader. The resources of the party moved there first. We ran nearly a full slate 303/308 – increase our vote (did not accomplish that) target to win 6 ridings. It is worth concentrating. We had an on the ground campaign – out in the community – intensively present. That had impact. Every had to buy into that.

During the writ spend sensibly. Canvassing the most important thing. Spring by election in Vancouver Quadra – trained up canvassers to identify the vote – tested out techniques. Divide riding up to where we could the best. Did tests two SEG areas – door to door canvassing alone can achieve 10% increase in vote. UBC and Kits – not just 14% overall – got 25% – best parts of the riding to focus on. They are going to try and get your best votes.

I believe in hiring youth in last week.

Call the people, make sure they vote

There were candidates who did not show up – and this is working for Clark now. If elections were won on being best people we would have a majority govt.


GPC had a plan – we have to be a team. Congenial working together. Get behind the plan – it will be hard to get consensus as other places did not get the resources. Greens are really fair and equitable, so buying in to that was not easy. Many ridings sent cheques and sent people. Real sense of joint purpose.

Things we could do to prepare candidates – I love your web site – having good policy in pocket of every candidates. Download the templates, joint printing – you inspired us – anything you can do to get

platform out – getting Green Books into voters hands. Morning email to all candidates on what is happening today – tweets and hashtags. Candidates loved and campaign managers work load reduce. Social media critical as we do not get ms media

We borrowed nationally – we borrowed Target to Win from UK. Poll by poll results really critical. Will help you determine priorities. Only 8 got over 10% – four in BC. Victoria, SGI, Vancouver Centre, Okanagan Shuswap,

Strategy – working across levels – agreement should make it very clear – GPBC can be training ground for GPC. Desire to have something – training for us will be free. Fall election local in BC municipalities – GO FOR IT. Raise your profile.


I get very frustrated when I see that the GP has the hardest time in holding on to their 55% are the only ones who always vote Green. The vote strategically – all fear based, all based on highly inaccurate. Polls are really inaccurate these. They don’t do proper random samples. On line – skewed samples – do not allow the don’t know category exist. The numbers that well meaning strategically based votes is flawed. The option called green is left out. Rally our own voters away from strategically voting. There is no other party that deals with limits to growth, local economies, real social justice, peace not war

The others are tinkering with a plan that has gone awry. We have the solution and vision – so they must vote green.

What keeps me going – I want to win – I want to be elected – but I want to effect change – I want sustainability and healthy, I love this planet, I want a future for our children. Brutal as it is to keep losing by being involved is the right way to spend my time.

I stand as a very proud green.


Fear based politics – none of us are afraid of winning. They don’t want a Conservative majority or a Christy willing to give up the integrity of their own vote. The NDP vote went up but we still got a Conservative majority. We will never get better politics until we get rid of strategic voting – ban polls, ban attack ads – see Eu – bans all ads! It is beyond your control – you cannot determine how everyone else votes

We do have the resources to put $30k into very riding

Reasonable goal – building election – get someone elected – and more next time. Engage with those people who voted and grow that number.

Youth vote

EM won with 46% of the vote and a 75% turnout. Who were the people who would have stayed home. We have not yet seen results from Elections Canada – will give us votes by age. 9 youth coordinators across the Canada. We need to make it fun.

Challenge the idea that Cons/BC Libs are good econ managers

We can champion the idea of a smart economy – Green economy does not work – sustainable does – champion of an economy is smarter

Written by Stephen Rees

May 8, 2011 at 10:14 am

Posted in Green Party, politics

Vancouver Airport Fuel Delivery Project

with 6 comments

I went to an open house last night, run by the provincial Environmental Assessment Office. The project has been around for a while (the Green Party tried to get people to pay attention to it at the last election). The idea actually goes back  much further and has already been rejected by Richmond twice, according to Harold Steves. The proponents are the consortium of airlines who make up the Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation who have set up a website to promote the idea. The boards around the conference room, and the slides used by the presenter at the meeting, go into more detail than the brochure provided at the meeting. Probably the most informative document is the Project Description. On page 14 it describes the screening of fourteen different options from which this proposal emerged.

I think it is fair to say that this gave rise to many of the concerns expressed at the meeting. Most people wanted to point out that there are better ways of protecting the environment than trying to clean it up after there has been an oil spill. The general preference I think is that we don’t put the sensitive habitats at risk needlessly. So the assumptions and methodology used to select this project from the other alternatives are critical. But that will not be the subject of this EA. Both provincial and federal representatives present spent the first 40 minutes of the meeting explaining how their EAs work. And then the proponent got to do his dog and pony show – with questions limited and restricted – and the only answer ever given was “put your concerns in writing and we will answer after the EA is finished”.

I was surprised that the officials even decided to go for a public meeting format. An open house is usually preferred since opponents do not get a microphone, and cannot this let everyone else know what they are talking about. The meeting ran over time. The tactic of the officials and proponent to be be as dull as possible and bore people did not work. Most people stayed to get their word in. The project manager for the project spoke in a soporific monotone and avoided talking about any specific figures that might get quoted back at him.  Yet is was the claims that are made to justify the project where he was weakest. For instance, it was repeatedly said – and is also in the project description – that the current system is “at capacity”. As a number of people pointed out that is not true: the pipeline pumps are only used intermittently, as there is not enough tank storage at the airport (it already being expanded). But any questions about the existing system were deflected by trotting out a lawyer who said that as the current system is owned by Trans Mountain and not VAFFC, they do not have to answer questions about it.

The other obvious option – the use of the existing rail facility at Cherry Point refinery to load trains that could get to the existing rail sidings along River Road where a transfer to a much shorter pipe connection would need to be built – was dismissed out of hand. It is not even specifically addressed among the 14 options (only rail from Alberta was considered) but the project manager asserted it would be “too expensive”. There are, of course, no specific cost figures for any of the options, and when pinned on that point he waffled saying that the final cost of the preferred option could not be determined until its exact configuration was finalized (i.e. the route of the pipe within Richmond). VAFFC have already bought the property on the South Arm in expectation of proceeding.

The other assumptions – about constant growth of traffic at YVR and improvements in aircraft fuel efficiency not being enough to reduce the need for the project – were also not defended. They just came from “other sources” (YVR and Transport Canada) and thus could not be questioned.

Much was made of the fact that the project is not big enough to trigger a provincial EA but the proponent volunteered for one due to local concerns. Well, while technically true, a federal EA is triggered by the proposals use of navigable waterways and federal land (owned by the Port) so one was inevitable, so they might as well go for a combined EA. Fortunately for them, they do not put themselves in much hazard by so doing, since (despite the claims made by provincial officials) BC’s EA process is largely toothless. Some projects just give up, but very few are ever denied a certificate. It’s all about mitigation. The great strength of the opponents is that if fuel delivery were done some other way, mitigation might be much less. The problem is that the EA process does not have to test this assertion. It’s this project or nothing. No other option gets looked at.

Map showing terminal and proposed alternate routes

VAFFC Proposal

For the proponents, their major concern is that they have the ability to go to as many suppliers as possible. They do not want to be in thrall to any one supplier – or delivery system. To some extent, since they are the only customer for the existing pipe, they are using the proposal to put leverage on their suppliers. That concern is actually missing from the matrix used to select the final option but clearly weighs heaviest with the airlines. And it far outweighs all the other concerns.

If we had a truly rigorous EA process each option would be evaluated properly – not just screened out by the proponent before the process actually starts. It is this use of a coarse, and unverifiable “sieve” that gives rise to most of the concerns. Involving the public late, and declining to go into details about how this project is justified, is simply inflammatory. Unfortunately for the proponent – who has been diligently working with governments and first nations – the public has to be consulted. And they can detect very easily when they are being fobbed off.

My prediction is that as more people realize what their homes are going to be exposed to – and memories of that pipeline rupture in Burnaby are fresh in their minds – opposition is bound to grow. As those people realize that the options are not open to discussion, they will get angrier. Richmond is quite clear in its opposition to the project. The EA process will probably certify it, but I doubt that it can mollify those who feel that their interests have been protected. And, of course, for those concerned with the ecology of the Fraser delta, they have been disregarded for so many projects for so long, I am surprised that they still come out to such meetings.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 15, 2010 at 8:11 am

Beyond Copenhagen: The Harsh Realities of Canadian Politics

with 3 comments

A guest post from Andy Shadrack


Saturday December 5

Love her or hate her consistent polling shows that a majority of Canadians think that Elizabeth May would be a welcome addition to the House of Commons. Recently a group of NDP MPs approached their Leader to request the Party not run a candidate in Sannich-Gulf Islands. Jack Layton declined to act on their request because Provincial NDP Leader Carole James wants no accommodation with the Green Party in BC.

The fact that the NDP placed a distant fourth to the Green Party candidate’s 3rd place finish in 2008 and that polls have consistently showed the Green Party could actually beat Conservative Gary Lunn in a two way fight is never acknowledged by the NDP leadership. So Elizabeth May is finally running in a seat she could actually win and the NDP want to act as spoiler, just like Jack opposed the Green Party being in the tv debates in 2008.

In Guelph the Green party obtained one in five votes and came 3rd and in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, Ontario, more than one in four and came second. In contrast in Australia the Green Party recently won a by-election in Fremantle, Western Australia, when the second placed Liberals (read conservatives) stepped back and chose not to run a candidate. The same policy was recently undertaken again in the seat of Willagee by the Liberals where the Green Party is expected to achieve 39.5% of the final vote count.

At a federal level two Australian by-elections were held today in New South Wales and Victoria States where this time the Labour Party stood down so that the Green Party could take on the Liberals and again they are achieving a healthy 36% and 42% respectively. Imagine a Canadian politics where the desire for diversity and public discourse is so healthy that both the federal Conservatives and Liberals would step aside to try and assist the Green Party to get into the House of Commons.

In Germany and Austria the Green Party is now so respected for its contributions in government that both the christian centre- right and social democratic centre-left offer them coalition status in cabinet. In France the main social democratic party, running in a two round majoritarian system, goes so far as to back Green candidates in the first round in certain seats and then persuades the communists to back the Greens if they make it to the second round run-off.

Why? In New Zealand under a multi-member proportional system the Green Party has obtained from 6 to 9 seats in parliament since the mid-1990s. On one occasion the minority Labour government introduced a health bill that Green Party MPs wanted to amend, but Labour refused to bend. So the Greens went to the opposition National Party (read conservatives) and obtained their support, not to defeat the bill but to amend it. At that point the Labour Party Prime Minister directed the Minister of Health to strike an all party committee to see if parties in the house could write a bill that every MP could support.

Imagine a Canadian Parliament in which an all party committee sat down and wrote an effective climate change bill!! For that to happen activists on this list would have to make common cause with some pretty strange bedfellows and accept some unpalatable compromises, on road that would lead us back from the brink of climate change disaster.

It could happen under the right leadership. During WWII both Chinese and First Nations people volunteered to fight for Canada, even though they had no real citizenship rights. Those who did this argued that by fighting for democracy, they in turn would persuade the Canadian people to grant them democratic rights. In 1949 Asian Canadians won back the right to vote and First Nations the right in 1960.

On the Murmansk run to supply war material to the Soviet Union many of the merchant seaman who volunteered to serve were card carrying communists and other sympathetic leftists. In other words, even though they felt little allegiance to the Canadian State, the parties in power, and in some instances were actually let out of jail or internment camps to fight, a very broad majority of the Canadian population found a way to make common cause with those they had often seen as political enemies and oppressors in peace time.

New Democrats in British Columbia and Canada should be writing to their Leaders, Jack Layton and Carole James, outraged and demanding that they reverse this self-interested policy in Saanich-Gulf Islands. Just like federal Liberals should be hanging their heads in shame over the fact that their Leader Michael Ignatief refuses to return Jack Layton’s requests to discuss policies and options they have in common.

If ever we are going to bring the people together to reverse our industrial policies that impact the climate, it will only come about when politicians from all parties exercise due diligence in showing how they can work together for the common good.

Respectfully submitted
Andy Shadrack

Written by Stephen Rees

December 6, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Posted in Green Party, politics

B.C. budget bites into green programs

with one comment

CBC, Globe % Mail and the Wilderness Committee press release

Whatever credibility this government thought it had as a result of its carbon tax and its program to expand “run of the river” power projects has now been completely lost. The impact on Translink is important to us regionally, as the current provincial sales tax on parking fees provides $15m each year for the agency – and they were expecting to be able to increase that significantly. The Live Smart program has already been cancelled – because it was “too popular” – and now HST is going to be applied to all appliances and retrofits that consumers could have used to reduce their energy consumption.

Actually the credibility is strained far beyond the environment since many people now think that the Liberals knew – or ought to have known – that their claims to be able to hold a budget deficit to around $500m  were being undermined by much poorer economic performance than they had assumed

“I think that the environment is off the table,” Green Party of B.C. Leader Jane Sterk said. “It’s not unusual when the economy goes down.”

Sterk also took the opportunity to point out that her party had predicted a $1.5-billion deficit in February, much closer than the B.C. Liberals’ $5-million prediction.

“Wonder why it is that the Green Party is able to see something that a minister, with all of his staff, was not able to see.

The waffling last night on the tv news from both Campbell and Hansen was I though quite unconvincing – but equally they hve no real need to worry since, as Ian Hanomansing pointed out, they have more than three years to ride this one out. They clearly think that by the time they get to the polls again, the economy will have turned around.

$15m may not seem a lot of money when compared to the overall size of Translink’s budget, but once again they are threatening service cuts and fewer buses on the road. Whether or not that particular sum is found from other sources, those will be happening anyway as there is simply not enough money in the system now to keep it going at its present level, and legislation already caps the existing funding sources at levels below those envisaged by the transit plan – whether that is the region’s or the province’s.  One third of this region’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, and arguments about whether or not the seldom used Burrard Thermal generating station is decommissioned or not really are beside the point. The current direction is to expand freeways and the port. Add to that the strong probability of energy from burning garbage – as it cannot now be shipped to the south either – and the claims that the government likes to make about being green are hollow. Indeed, in its recent response to the BC Utilities Commission, the government finally admitted that the real intention of its private sector power expansion is simply for export. We do not actually need this new power at all.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 2, 2009 at 10:21 am

Posted in energy, Environment, Green Party, politics, transit

Tagged with

Green Party AGM

with 3 comments

Victoria Edelweiss Club

On Saturday, The Green Party of BC held its Annual General Meeting in Victoria. You can read a short bit about that in the Tyee’s political blog, but as far as a Google news search shows there is no other coverage. Of course the party put out a Press Release, but as usual it is widely ignored.


UPDATE:  Tuesday May 26

The Globe and Mail decided to actually print something about the Green Party!


I was making notes mostly about stuff that might be useful next time. I had decided early on to travel light, so no laptop accompanied me and I spent no time wondering if I could find free wifi. That in itself was a liberating experience. This is not a report – more reflection on the impressions I took away with me – perhaps not quite the “insights” someone asked me to post.

More than 100 people turned out – which for a party our size is pretty good. This was the first election where we had a “full slate” of candidates – and about half of them came. Considering that nearly everything a Green Party candidate does has to be on their own dime this in itself is remarkable. And being Green also meant that many car pooled and were billeted on local members – as I was. This gave us much of the weekend to talk to other candidates and compare experiences.

Lisa GirbavOne immediate thought struck me when I encountered the candidate for the North Coast was that some people make a very favourable first impression – which works exceptionally well when door knocking. And before you castigate me for being superficial you need to know that Lisa Girbav was also the youngest candidate  (at 19), from a First Nation, highly intelligent and articulate (and she took this picture of herself). I did experience a distinct chill when I went around knocking on doors – and I think that some of that can be fairly attributed to me being an old white guy. And at one stage in the AGM I was at a circular table which was somehow peopled almost exclusively by old white guys – most with English accents. The NDP has a policy of only selecting new candidates who are women or visible ethnic minorities: I think that probably did not help them at all in Richmond (none were Chinese). Stronger candidates however would not likely be willing to run in Liberal safe seats.

As Jane Sterk said “I think we need to recognize that we can’t just be nice people with good policy.” 

Unfortunately not all Greens are, necessarily, nice people all the time. Especially when they are looking for reasons why the Green vote share went down. Perhaps the worst example – and this was a faux pas committed by a radio journalist as well as one of those at that table – was to single out Jane’s fashion choice and hair style. Yes, I know that the media did that to Gordon Campbell when he wore a plaid shirt once, but that is still no excuse.

The greeting for the meeting came from Tom Bradfield (who ran in North Saanich and who also calls himself an Indian) who reminded people of the need to be respectful. Once again a table full of old white guys arguing tactics – and having to “self moderate” – quickly forgot that. And there was plenty of blame to throw around.

Part of the reason of course is that we keep comparing ourselves to other political parties and trying to draw lessons from the experience of other parties that started small and had to break through in a system designed to protect established parties. This made me feel distinctly uncomfortable. Trevor Loke – another of our younger candidates who ran in Surrey – gave a presentation based on his extensive experience with the Progressive Conservatives, BC Liberals and Conservatives. He cited the Reform Party as a good example. (And, by the way he polled less than I did)   I did not want to join the Conservative Party – but of course Greens draw on experience from across the spectrum. The dimensions of which have now been recognised to be more than two. The word “progressive”gets thrown around more than “left” these days, but that is just code. Equally while the Green Party was born from the environmental movement – and thinks it needs to paint itself as being “more than just than the environment” (especially when that issue seems not to be top of minds with people who vote) – that means the mode of thinking is rather different to other parties. 

For ease of reference in the campaign I said “both capitalism and socialism have demonstrably failed”. But neither of the two big parties are especially ideological. Both like to present themselves as pragmatic. The unions have a strong influence on the NDP, and their emphasis is very much on jobs and economic growth. On the other hand Carol James tried hard (even if unconvincingly) to project herself as friendly to small business. The well spring of the BC Liberals is both neoconservative and anti-union. But both parties seem to want to inherit the mantle of W C Bennett, while  at the same time both are trying hard to recruit green supporters. The NDP likes to think it has some right of ownership of green voters – but as many said on Saturday, that is a grave error. Most Green activists would not be involved in party politics at all if there was not a Green Party. What I kept trying to drag the conversation back to was how we reach out to the majority – who do not vote at all! I do not think we increase our appeal if we simply emulate the other parties. At least some abstention arises from distaste of the current political process. This is especially true in BC where politics is a highly partisan blood sport.

The NDP campaign was also relentlessly negative, something the Greens were at pains to avoid. BUT the Liberal record on the environment is shockingly bad and was largely ignored – because most of the attention was focussed on the carbon tax and the fact that run of the river power is a private sector “gold rush”. Elections are no place for policy arguments (I heard that from Trevor Loke too) but it was not the “green” value of either of these initiatives which was front and centre in the public debate (unlike the online wrangling on list serves and blogs).

It is also apparent that one negative campaign was hugely successful – the one that defeated electoral reform. This was the subject of the after dinner speaker, Dennis Pilon, who did a good job of making what is at best an esoteric and rather dry subject quite entertaining. He does not speak in academic but rather demotic language “How’s that first past the post workin’ for ya?” Question period – after he had been thanked by the leader but given nothing – went on for quite a while, with a long line up for the microphone. Debating this issue was clearly nearer the hearts of those attending than socializing – for after he stopped answering questions the crowd melted away. A small gang hung around in the car park but they seemed to be simply discussing where to go onto next. 

I missed a section of the agenda in the afternoon as I also had to attend the AGM of the foundation. There was an unexpected cross pollination from that too. At the Green Party meeting the chairs were in rows facing front for the morning but needed to be rearranged around tables for lunch. That happened quickly and easily – but with no one giving any orders or directions. Everyone knew what had to be done and just got on with it.  That is what is called “chaordic” organization – which is something we at ICO are very keen on. Now if the Green Party could only think of a way to engage its members and supporters in a self organizing process to a simple, clear objective, perhaps the abilities demonstrated at the AGM might be more effectively utilized. I happen to think that the discussion process – facilitated or not – did not do very much to galvanize us into activity. I think most people are now looking forward to a break from politics, and despite the rhetoric I do not expect very much to happen now that will propel us into the next election.

And as I think is probably clear from the foregoing, I really hope that we do not seek to emulate the other parties but rather celebrate and capitalize upon our difference from them.

Written by Stephen Rees

May 25, 2009 at 11:37 am

Posted in Green Party, politics

Tagged with

The real threat is Cul de Sacs

with 14 comments

Timely – this short video sums up why we have to be concerned about the plan to expand the freeway. Both the BC Liberals and the NDP are determined to replace the Port Mann Bridge and widen the freeway. Some foolish NDP supporters have even suggested that this is OK since the NDP membership – or public pressure – will be able somehow to stop the juggernaut if the NDP are elected – even though that has not happened so far when over 70% of people south of the Fraser have said they want transit expansion. It is not just the freeway – it is the mindset that sees universal car ownership and cheap gas as some sort of birthright. Only the Green Party has taken a contrary position and proposed a new way of organising ourselves. That is what this election is about. Is it one of two versions of business as usual or real change? 

Winner of The Congress for New Urbanism CNU 17 video contest.
This short film explores the connection between New Urbanism and environmental issues.
Created by independent filmmaker John Paget ( with First+Main Media (Drew Ward, Chris Elisara and John Paget).

Written by Stephen Rees

May 11, 2009 at 10:24 am

B.C.’s NDP sell out on carbon tax

with 19 comments

The Globe and Mail’s Gary Mason has a trenchant piece on the NDP’s election platform. Specifically on its commitment to end the carbon tax – which Carol James prefers to call “the gas tax”. Mason’s take on this is that the NDP has come with a policy that is “shortsighted and uninspiring”.

The problem that I have with the BC government’s carbon tax is it is not nearly enough. It is better than nothing, but I do not see it achieving a reduction of CO2 emissions by 33 per cent from current levels by 2020 – which is the government’s overall goal. That target in itself is modest in terms of the pressing need to get CO2 down to 350 ppm which is what would be needed to hold the advance of global warming. But then Canada is not yet on track to even cut its current emissions. It is also doubtful if BC’s current programmes of mainly hyrdo P3s and carbon offsets by tree planting will actually do very much. It seems to me that the main thrust of the Liberal’s approach is to do what seems to be best for their big business paymasters. 

Already, previously NDP-friendly environmental organizations such as the David Suzuki Foundation and the Pembina Institute have denounced the NDP’s plan to axe the tax. And their criticisms are just the beginning of hostilities the policy has ignited.

But is this going to translate into votes? It is certainly not enough to swing NDP supporters to the Liberals – for the reasons already cited. I suspect it may well help to get a few Green Protest votes in Liberal safe seats. But I am not convinced that it will get enough people to change their strategic voting intentions in marginal seats. 

But combined with other NDP missteps, it may have local effects. The one issue that I think could have such an effect is South of the Fraser, where both the idea of expanding the freeway – and the significant burden this will not add to provincial indebtedness – will be very unpopular with both green leaning voters and fiscal conservatives. The sort of people who want transit instead of freeways are also likely to view the carbon tax as a necessary device to get people to change their ways. At the same time there are plenty of people who have been so inculcated with hatred of public debt that they cannot convince themselves of the value of its economic stimulus. So there could be gains for both Greens and the Conservatives.

If there were STV now, this would certainly effect the outcome – and may even shift a few votes in favour of STV in the referendum. That got a majority last time – just not enough – and it needs to be more convincing this time. Though I would not be at all surprised if once again the government finds a way to ensure its own political advantage by somehow applying its usual approach of spin and mendacity.

But Mason concentrates on the much less interesting (to me anyway) calculation of how effective the NDP approach might be. Which is simply choosing between the lesser of two evils. I hope does return with a follow up on “the potential political fallout from the measure” which he seems to promise. I suspect he is waiting for the pollsters to pronounce.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 12, 2009 at 6:34 am