October 11, 2015

8 ways to get informed and involved in Canada’s 2015 federal election

Men spray-painting Vote all over wall

The last nine years of Harper rule have seen a strategic dismantling of environmental protections, an increase in surveillance, muzzling of scientists, laws designed to limit our ability to protest our government, and contempt for democracy itself. (It doesn’t end there: see The Tyee’s compilation of “70 Harper government assaults on democracy and the law”.)

It’s time to fix that in what may be the most important election Canada has ever seen. Let’s not just get Canada back — let’s make it better (as my friend Faisal Moola says). I believe the most important thing we Canadians can do is get out and vote en masse. With 61.1% of eligible voters casting a ballot in 2011 and the Conservatives winning a majority with the support of only about a quarter of eligible voters, we have major room for improvement. Less than 40% of 18- to 24-year-olds voted. If you have friends, neighbours or family who don’t vote, especially if they’re between 18 and 30, please encourage them (gently, non-judgementally, and non-partisanally) to vote on October 19th. Let’s vote in a government that can restore our Canadian pride!

Here are some great organizations and some sources of data to help you get out the vote, get informed and help others find reliable information.


Victoria, BC-based Dogwood Initiative has a great resource to help British Columbians identify candidates in their riding who share their values. Candidates in all ridings were sent a ten-question survey around issues like oil pipeline expansion, Bill C-51 and the current state of democracy in our country. Responses from candidates who obliged are online. VoteBC.ca also includes current polling data.

Want to get involved? Calling Dogwood supporters is key to getting voters to the polls. You can help out by joining a phone banking party or canvassing. (I’ve been volunteering with Dogwood Initiative since summer 2014.)


“Leadnow’s Vote Together campaign connects the millions of people who want change on October 19th with the information and tools they need to defeat the Harper Conservatives.” The Vote Together website offers at-a-glance information about party policies on issues Leadnow’s community cares about, including democratic reform, a fair economy and a clean environment. Enter your postal code to see how your candidates are performing in local polls. Don’t forget to sign the pledge to Vote Together.

Want to get involved? There are plenty of ways to volunteer until the election.


OpenMedia.ca created a crowd-sourced platform for digital rights in Canada, covering privacy, access and free expression. Pledge to vote for “affordable access, free expression, and a surveillance-free Internet” and encourage your candidate to sign up to be a pro-Internet candidate. OpenMedia’s policies, informed by real Canadians, is also outlined on the website.

Promote the Vote

Promote the Vote encourages and empowers Canadians to increase voter turnout and engagement by having conversations with their friends and family about voting. Promote the Vote offers resources and engagement leadership workshops on dialogue. Check out the website for upcoming events in the Metro Vancouver area. (Workshops ahead of the election have now finished.)

Join Promote the Vote and Reel Causes for a screening of The Price We Pay on October 14th in Vancouver. By donation, with proceeds to Promote the Vote (non-partisan, not-for-profit).

David Suzuki Foundation’s election pledge

Tell our federal leaders you’re voting for bold leadership on the environment and climate change. Take the pledge.

Vote Compass

Vote Compass shows you how your views align with those of the candidates running for election.” It is “an educational tool developed by political scientists designed to help you explore how you fit in Canada’s political landscape.” I found the results of this one really interesting when I used it before the previous election. (May require some patience loading.)

Polling data

threehundredeight.com polling data is visualized on the poll tracker at CBC.ca.

Make a social media profile photo

Use this easy tool at VoteNation.ca to let your friends know you’re voting.

Are you registered to vote? Make sure you are: visit Elections Canada’s website or call 1-800-463-6868.

April 30, 2011

Stand up for democracy. Vote on May 2nd!


“More than 60 percent of Canadians do not support Harper and his government’s contempt for democracy. Yet, he could win a majority with as little as 35 percent of the popular vote.” — Project Democracy

I think it’s telling of our citizens that we have three left-wing or centre-left national parties and only one right-wing since the merger of the PC and Reform parties back in 1990-something. (Quebecers of course have an extra choice.) It appears to make sense, then, that 62.4% of voters voted for these parties in the last election. Unfortunately, as we’re all aware, this doesn’t translate to 62% of the House of Commons, and a candidate can be elected with under 30% support in their riding. Our abysmal voter turnout (58.8% in 2008) should be a clear signal that our system needs to change.

Continue reading Stand up for democracy. Vote on May 2nd! »

April 25, 2011

Joining 80% of BC residents, three North Vancouver candidates support oil tanker ban on BC’s north coast

Burrard Inlet(Photo by Gord McKenna via Flickr)

Every summer I swim in the waters of Burrard Inlet and English Bay. My favourite spot is Cates Park (Whey-ah-Wichen, Faces the Wind), which is nearly opposite a Chevron oil refinery that is responsible for a slow leak discovered a year ago. This refinery is east of the Second Narrows bridge which, as the name suggests, spans a narrow crossing — and it’s a shallow one as well. The number, size and capacity of oil tankers passing through here is growing, with no decline in sight as our thirst for oil continues to increase. This worries me because it leaves us ever more vulnerable to a spill that would ruin a coastline inhabited by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation long before this place had a name, and enjoyed by Metro Vancouver residents and tourists alike. The beaches and waters are home to starfish, crabs, jellyfish, geoducks and many varieties of birds. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot some other fish, a seal or even a whale. Eagles are frequent visitors.

We can’t afford an oil spill in Burrard Inlet, nor can we afford one anywhere along our beautiful coast. The consequences of the Exxon Valdez spill off Alaska are still felt there. A spill of that magnitude hasn’t yet happened to us — neither in BC nor in the Saint Lawrence — and on Monday, May 2 we have the opportunity to uphold the decision the Liberals made in 1972 by voting for candidates who support this ban.

Continue reading Joining 80% of BC residents, three North Vancouver candidates support oil tanker ban on BC’s north coast »

April 21, 2011

Join the Earth Day Parade and then get your vote on

Friday, April 22nd isn’t just Good Friday. It’s also Earth Day, and in celebration, Vancouver’s youth have organized a parade and festival! I’ll be there with my bicycle and as many dorky treehugging pins as I can dig up. (Find me if you’d like a Vote Environment button with Suzuki’s retro face on it!)

Earth Day Parade posterCoincidentally, this is the 41st Earth Day and, on May 2nd, Canada has its 41st federal election. Before you head to the polls as early as this weekend — because you ARE voting (or if you’re a minor, telling your parents to vote), right? — think about how important it is to you to have clean air, clean water and healthy food to eat. Think about what kind of world today’s youth will be facing in the future if climate change isn’t mitigated today, if oil spills continue, and if our precious salmon fail to thrive. If you’re a youth yourself, what do you want the world to look like? We can take many actions ourselves, but Canadians understand the government wields the biggest power to make sweeping changes in the areas where consumers have little influence. And the Canadian government needs to know that we care about our environment.

Continue reading Join the Earth Day Parade and then get your vote on »

February 9, 2011

Still waiting for the Environment Minister to protect the environment

Fort McMurray Photo by sbamueller via Flickr

The Minister of the Environment oversees the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, which states on its website: “Our role is to provide Canadians with high-quality environmental assessments that contribute to informed decision making, in support of sustainable development.”

The Agency’s commitment to sustainable development (SD) is ensconced in the preamble to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (the Act), established in 1995:

…The Government of Canada seeks to achieve sustainable development by conserving and enhancing environmental quality and by encouraging and promoting economic development that conserves and enhances environmental quality. …Environmental assessment provides an effective means of integrating environmental factors into planning and decision-making processes in a manner that promotes sustainable development.

Sounds great! To BC citizens’ delight, they blocked the Prosperity Mine development in BC (Jim Prentice’s parting gift). But since new Environment Minister Peter Kent’s appointment, all I have heard him do is defend and spew lies about the oil sands.

“I have a feel for the sensibilities of the people, of the environment,” Mr. Kent says, yet he seems clueless that the majority of Canadians are concerned about climate change, something about which his government is clearly not. Otherwise the Conservatives would be taking leadership on greenhouse gas reductions and fighting climate change. Instead, they block international consensus in order to preserve the economy — an economy that cannot function without the environment. And why is the environment the last item on Kent’s website’s quicklinks list?

Does the Minister not know his own ministry’s mandate? Minister Kent is spending more time protecting the economy than the environment, though if he did his homework, he’d understand they aren’t mutually exclusive.

Well, at least there’s some good news, from the United States.

Related post: Alberta’s tar sands a humanitarian issue, too

75th graphicThis daily green blog challenge is in celebration of David Suzuki’s 75th birthday, supporting the David Suzuki Foundation. Please help me out by sponsoring me online now.

Note: I am writing solely on my own behalf, and do not claim to represent the David Suzuki Foundation or its views here.

April 11, 2009

UBC Farm Trek: a huge, fantastic, musical success!

Save the Farm banner

Imagine, if you will, your favourite summer street festival or an indie parade. Add a joyous rallying cry, one amazing cause and 24 beautiful hectares of farmland in a wild corner of Vancouver. This mix of music festival and protest march made Tuesday’s Great Farm Trek to UBC Farm the highlight of my year so far, on the most gorgeous spring afternoon we could possibly hope for.

When I got off the bus at UBC, finding the Student Union Building wasn’t too difficult: I followed the drumming noises (percussion ensemble Sambata) and the hum of a thousand voices gathered in the square. I was pleasantly stunned to see how many people turned out.

The opening speaker began soon after I arrived. Ben recorded a video of the inspirational speech by Shane Pointe (Musqueam Nation). I recorded some of it but his view was better. The crowd exploded in cheers when he encouraged us. I fell into awe and silence during his song.

The gathering outside the SUB

Continue reading UBC Farm Trek: a huge, fantastic, musical success! »

January 19, 2009

Changing the course of the city and country: green jobs and transit now!

Anti-Gateway demonstration

Last Monday’s anti-Gateway demonstration in Surrey; I’m in there somewhere! Photo from GatewaySucks.org

Stephen Rees’s blog has been bursting with exciting news lately, nearly every single post. When I say exciting, I don’t necessarily mean good, but the headlines do indicate multiple turning points in a potentially positive direction in what has so far been a steadfast plot on the part of our provincial and even federal government to proceed with Gateway.* At a time when gas prices have begun to increase once more, international shipping is declining, and peak oil is on the horizon, our provincial and federal governments are teaming up to build more roads and expand the port on the premise that it will create jobs. While I agree that creating jobs in British Columbia is of utmost importance, the economic benefits of redirecting funding toward building transit would more than double the number of jobs — and they would be local. That keeps BC money in BC. In fact, a study by the Canadian Urban Transit Association found that three times as many jobs are created in public transit as highways. Public transit encourages smart growth, reduces congestion and pollution (thereby making a grand step toward the Province’s 33% reduction in GHG goal), and has minimal environmental impacts.

Want to help steer the government away from highway jobs and construction to green jobs and transit, all across Canada? Here are some petitions and events happening right now:


Halt the Gateway Project

Rail for the Valley: bring back passenger rail now


A Green Economy Makes Cents:

“On January 27, our federal government will introduce a new budget and invest billions of your tax dollars on stimulating the Canadian economy. Let’s make sure that as much of the stimulus package as possible is green.” Send a message to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty asking the government to invest in green jobs and green infrastructure. (David Suzuki Foundation)

A Green Economy Makes Cents

Read my letter. (Americans can use the Wilderness Society’s page to send a letter to Congress on the same issue.)

Continue reading Changing the course of the city and country: green jobs and transit now! »

November 3, 2008

Plan released for rail transit across Surrey

Transit for Tomorrow planSURREY – Surrey City Council candidate Paul Hillsdon announced today the centrepiece of his campaign — the Transit for Tomorrow plan. The plan, designed specifically to meet the growing transport demands of the South Fraser area (Surrey, Langley, Delta, and White Rock), would vastly expand the rapid transit system, with no need for local property tax increases or fare hikes.

“The Transit for Tomorrow plan begins to fix our woefully inadequate transit with fiscal prudence during these times of economic hardship. Construction of the lines will boost the local economy and create jobs, while addressing our transport, health and environment issues all at the same time,” said Hillsdon.

Continue reading Plan released for rail transit across Surrey »

April 1, 2008

Great design facilitates another climate action campaign


Via No Impact Man, thanks to my mother for the great link

Today Al Gore launched the We Can Solve It campaign, “a $300 million, 3-year campaign to educate the public about global warming and urge action from political leaders.”

Continue reading Great design facilitates another climate action campaign »

January 15, 2008

It takes too many TransLink staff to change a lightbulb

A follow up on yesterday’s post about the damn lightbulb. Read that one first if you haven’t already, or you’ll spoil the fun!

I received this reply this morning…

Continue reading It takes too many TransLink staff to change a lightbulb »