What would a campaign be without the obligatory "head" shots and "action" shots! Thanks to Jason and Light and Lens for the great work (especially in trying to get me to smile) and to John, Fred, and Melinda for helping out. Below area few samples from the shoot.
Thanks to everyone who came out to the combined social / fundraiser at my house on August 10. Judging by the number of people in attendance, the money raised, and the amount of wine imbued and food eaten, it was a success! A special thanks to Mick, Dave, and Joanne for catering the event. The food was delicious!
Our caterers and great NDP supporters: Joanne, Mick and Dave
On July 30, I participated in a forum on the climate crisis sponsored by the local chapter of Extinction Rebellion. The forum was held at the Windsor Community Centre. While it was for all candidates running for federal office in Kings-Hants, only myself and the Green Party candidate were in attendance. Thanks to everyone who came to the meeting (on a very sweltering summer evening) and who peppered both candidates with questions for almost two hours! The candidates were also given the opportunity to lay out their party's platform on combating the most serious issue facing Canada and the world. I discussed the NDP's plan to combat climate change - entitled Power to Change: A New Deal for Climate Action and Green Jobs - which begins by declaring a climate emergency & then pledges to implement specific measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).
Our goal is a 38% reduction in GHG emissions below 2005 levels by 2030 and to reach this target an NDP government will:
Me speaking at the XR Forum next to the moderator, David Mangle
It was with great pride(!) and honour that I attended the Pride Flag Raising ceremony at Waterfront Park in Wolfville on July 10. The event was hosted by the always-entertaining Mike Butler, and featured speakers Elder Lorraine Whitman of Glooscap First Nation, Captain Michelle Backhouse the Positive Spaces Coordinator from the Canadian Air Force 14 Wing Greenwood, Tessa Janes, and the Rainbow Chorus. Thanks again to my neighbour Chris who helped organize what turned out to be a well-attended event for all those who support the LGBTQ2SQIA + community!
The week beginning June 16 was a busy one for me. On Sunday, the NDP released its election platform with the party leader Jagmeet Singh appearing before a raucous crowd in Hamilton. The platform - called a New Deal for People ("NDP" - isn't that clever ;-) - is a bold vision that centres around better health care including pharmacare, more federal funding for affordable housing, a $1 billion investment in a universal child care program, the elimination of interest on Canada Student Loans, and a plan to ensure Canada moves toward a carbon-free environment. To help pay for these promises, the party would raise taxes on those with wealth over $20 million annually. It also would raise corporate taxes, end fossil fuel subsidies, close tax loopholes and levy a foreign home buyers tax. As the CBC News notes, "the NDP will be the first Canadian federal party to unveil an election platform that promises to drastically expand Canada's health care system to include, not just pharmacare, but mental, dental, eye and hearing coverage for all citizens."
Click on this link for more information on the NDP's commitments can be found here
That week I also found time to canvass a few streets in Hants County where my focus was on finding out what issues were on the minds of voters. Without surprise the health care crisis was most frequently mentioned.
I also attended the New Green Deal Town Hall meeting at Acadia University on Wednesday June 19. Sponsored by Acadia's Department of Community Development there was at least 200 people in attendance, which once again shows how serious many people in the area take the climate change emergency. The meeting consisted mostly of people breaking into groups and discussing the priorities for a New Green Deal in Canada and locally.
On June 20, I attended a public information session on planning for growth in Port Williams. I had been invited by Meg Hodges, a member of council for the Municipality of the County of Kings, who also talked about the many issues facing communities like Port Williams that continue to grow, but must do so in a sustainable way while not encroaching on agricultral land.
Finally, on Saturday, I attended the Teddy Bear Jamboree in Falmouth, an annual event with a parade and a fair. I was attending as the father of the child attendent (Eve) of Queen Annapolisa (Chantel Peng) - but of course was also after the stuffed bear vote. Chantel, Eve, and the other leadership candidates bravely weathered the cold and misty morning atop an old pick-up truck in the parade (ahhh, the duties of royalty). I give these young women a lot of credit for making sure they fulfill what appears to be a really busy schedule!
Top: My group and me at the New Green Deal town hall meeting at Acadia University.
Bottom: Leadership candidates and child attendants at the Teddy Bear Jamboree; Eve with a couple of the parade mascots!
On the evening of June 13 I attended a presentation hosted by Extinction Rebellion frighteningly (but accurately) entitled "Climate Talk: Heading for Extinction and What to Do..." The two speakers were Gar MacDonald (on "heading for extinction") and David Mangle (on "What to do").
The presentation was held at the West Hants Community Centre in Windsor and it was well attended (although frustratingly devoid of young people - which is pretty typical for local meetings and events I have attended around climate change).
As the title of the presentation (and the name of the group sponsoring it) avows, there has been credible arguments made that unrelenting rise in the earth's temperature could lead to Earth's sixth major extinction, often called the Anthropocene or Holocene extinction.
Gar cited the 2014 Inter-Governmental Panel on Cimate Change report which concludes, "A large fraction of both terrestrial and freshwater species faces increased extinction risk under projected climate change during and beyond the 21st century, especially as climate change interacts with other stressors, such as habitat modification, over-exploitation, pollution, and invasive species (high confidence)."
Despite the immense challenges facing the planet on addressing climate change, David provided some hope. He talked about the scope of the global movement to fight climate change and emphasized how active and well-organized social movements and civil disobedience (even by a some number of people) can lead to fundamental change. He cited the civil rights movement in the U.S. as just one example.
Green Criminology and Green Crimes!
When the forum invited discussion on other solutions that could contribute to fighting climate change, I (as a criminologist) touched on the emergent field of "green criminology," which is concerned with harms against the environment and when such harms should be considered crimes.
One of green criminology's contribution to fighting the climate change crisis is that it lowers the threshold as to when an environmental harm becomes a "green crime. "
For example, the clear-cutting of forests for profit is currently considered an environmental harm. (Clear-cutting serves no purpose other than maximizing the revenues of logging companies). Given the importance of forests in acting as "sinks" to absorb carbon in the earth's atmosphere some believe that clear-cutting should be considered a green crime.
I argued at the meeting that the crisis we are facing at least requires amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act that include the inclusion of new offences ("green crimes"), increased penalties for such offences (to punish and deter), and ensuring greater accountability of corporations responsible for green crimes (which would mean jail time and fines for executives and directors).
I concluded my little speech with the following pledge: If I am elected M.P., one of my priorities would be to examine how the Criminal Code of Canada can be amended to help lower greenhouse gas emissions (such as criminalizing certain environmental harms, such as fracking, clearcutting, oil spills, indiscriminate release of methane gases, etc.). I would also advocate that the natural environment and wildlife be designated as victims under the Criminal Code. In short, as an M.P. I would look seriously at introducing a bill that creates a whole new part of the Criminal Code dedicated to environmental crimes.
In addition to clear-cutting, other new offences would include fracking (and perhaps even the corporate extraction of water for bottling purposes). These offences would be enforced through stiff penalties with the goal of deterring harmful acts and practices.
I would even consider introducing legislation to amend the Criminal Code of Canada to create a new part dealing with crimes against the environment (and to bring the force of criminal laws to the fight against polluters).
The part would establish the environment and non-human species as potential victims of criminal offences.
In short, green criminology can contribute to the protection of the environment by advocating that certain environmental harms should be treated as offences against the Environmental Protection Act and even criminal offences.
Filling this void may be my unique contribution.
This is why you may see me increasingly using #greencrime in some of my social media postings.
More to come on this...
On June 8, I was invited to a BBQ to Dykeland Lodge, a long-term care facility in Windsor. The theme was the roaring twenties and some of the staff were dressed as flappers (see picture below). In addition to chowing down on a hamburger, there was live music and I was able to speak with some of the residents.
Thanks so much to Kathy Sanford, one of the nurses at the Lodge who invited me.
I also had a chance to speak to with Krista Beeler who was very gracious in telling me more about the home. She also shared with me a copy of the recommendations from the "Minister's Expert Advisory Panel on Long Term Care" in Nova Scotia, which came out in 2018. One of the conclusions of the report is that care for residents of long-term care facilities is suffering because the nurses and others regularly work short staffed, which leads to additional work responsibilities and high rates of stress and illness. Unfilled vacancies and difficulties attracting new talent are areas the panel said need to be addressed in the short term.
Perhaps even more alarming, in the last five years not one new single nursing home bed has been created in this province. NDP leader Gary Burrill has accused the McNeil government of "a general failure" to understand the urgent need for more long-term care beds in the province.
Of course, the shortages of staff and long-term care beds is part-and-parcel of the ongoing health care crisis Nova Scotians have had to endure under the McNeil government.
And while health care is a provincial responsibility, the challenges plaguing our long-term care facilities must also be seen in light of the explosion in Canada's senior population. This is a national issue and more must be done at the federal level to help the provinces cope with the increase demand for health care and long-term care for the rapidly-expanding number of seniors needing care at home and in facilities like Dykleland Lodge.
Kathy Sanford, Me, Carlene Cole Beaver (the Dietitian) and
Gabrielle Trillis (Director of Nursing) at the Dykland Lodge on June 8
On June 6, I attended a fundraiser for the West Hants Sports Complex (held at the Schoolhouse Brewery, which was a bonus!). The $15 million project has been partially funded through contributions from the municipality, the federal government and the province, but they are still in need of funds to see the project through. Construction is supposed to begin in late summer of 2019, with the completion date set for the summer of 2020. To help see the project to fruition, the municipality is undertaking a major fundraising campaign. If you have not seen the plans, the sportsplex is a beautiful and functional facility, with multiple purposes (although the ice rink will be the star attraction). So do what you can to support this great initiative! Below is a video of the West Hants' Warden Abraham Zebian (introduced by the Town Cryer) discussing the various ways you can donate to this great cause. See also the Kings County News for more coverage of the event.
Artistic renderings showing Lindsay Construction’s proposal for the West Hants Sports Complex. Source: Hants Journal
It was an event-filled Apple Blossom weekend! My daughter Eve was the child attendant for the Wolfville Leadership Candidate Chantel Peng, so she was busy with rehearsals and finding the right gown for the coronation ceremony at Acadia on Friday. Below is a picture of Eve with her new gown, sash, gloves and tiara posing under our one-and-only apple tree. She was part of the procession at the ceremony and even got to go on stage during the introductions and when Chantel was crowned Queen Annapolisa. Chantel was crowned by a former Queen (and former NDP candidate in Kings-Hants) Carol Harris (pictured with us in one of the photos below). At the Apple Blossom parade on Saturday, Eve rode in the lead float with Chantel while I walked in the parade with fellow New Democrats (including Nova Scotia NDP leader Gary Burrill). Following the parade I took Eve to the amusement rides in New Minas (and almost lost my lunch on the "Orbiter" ride!). The next day I volunteered at the charity chicken BBQ in Woodville where they served over 3,800 dinners (I personally did not serve that many, but I must have handed out at least 500 glasses of apple cider - my hands are still sticky). All-in-all a great way to kick off the summer in the valley!
On Monday, May 27 I met with the Annapolis Valley Labour Council, one of five regional councils in the province that is affiliated with the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour.
After being introduced by Council President Wayne Kelly, I spoke about my commitment to the labour movement and collective bargaining rights. I talked about how I grew up in a union household - my father was in the Operating Engineers for 35 years, and was the shop steward for many of those years. It wasn't until I was a little older that I realized that whatever middle class prosperity we enjoyed it was due to a combination of my father's hard work (and long hours) and his union wage. After being retired for more than 20 years, my father still collects a generous union pension.
I have also been involved in the union movement; when I worked in the fishing industry on the west coast during my teenage years and now as a university professor. Indeed, I am a member of two unions: the Saint Mary's Faculty Union (where i have served on the executive) and the Acadia University Faculty Association.
My meeting with the Labour Council was the first step in building whatever ties I can between my campaign and organized labour in Kings Hants and to use the campaign to highlight the importance of unions in Canada (and how critical they are to helping ensure a prosperous middle class). Of course, being in campaign mode I made a plea for volunteers, donations and sign locations.
Ultimately, one of the goals of my campaign is to build a coalition of and solidarity with like-minded progressive groups and individuals in the riding, including organized labour, environmental groups, anti-poverty groups, women's groups, the LGBTQ2+ community, etc.