Author: The Activist

Growlers are Great; reuse trumps recycle—big time!

While beer drinkers are celebrating the fine new craft brews available in the valley’s three recently opened craft breweries, sustainability advocates are also celebrating the fact the local brew is now sold over the counter in reusable brown jugs the industry calls Growlers. So instead of brewing industry grade beer in distant places, bottling it in “recyclable” containers manufactured from energy intensive aluminum or silica and consuming more energy to ship it to distant markets, local craft breweries cater to the many nuances of individual batches of custom brews. The returnable containers of industrial beer are “Recyclable” but the environmental value of such recycling is largely an illusion as returned bottles are simply ground into small pieces and used mostly for sand blasting and aggregate for asphalt roads. A small amount is melted down and spun into insulating bats. All the energy that went into gathering the silica and manufacturing and transporting the bottles is lost. Rather than being recycled into glass chips, the new brown jugs of craft breweries are reused—brought back time after time for refilling. Could this be the beginning of a paradigm shift away from the throwaway society to a new environmentally friendly standard where containers of all kinds are not thrown away under the pretext of a term like “recycling” and are, instead refilled. Imagine the impact that would have on energy use, on...

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How balanced budgets created an electoral deficit

Can someone help me understand the overweening reliance on deficit/balanced budget explanations for the dramatic fall of the NDP and rise of the Liberal Party? Did voters really turn away from the NDP because it promised to balance the budget three years earlier than the Liberals? This whole deficit thing has me scratching my head and wondering in bewilderment: If voters were looking for a deficit budget per se, how did they miss the six straight deficit budgets—going on seven– of the Conservative government? Sagacious commentators whose insights have intrigued me over the years, are, today, nonchalantly running the inference that deficit budget is the acid test for progressive policy(??) Again, that would leave one with the oxymoronic association of the word “progressive” with the Harper government that so eagerly stripped “progressive”—in word and deed– from Progressive Conservative at the earliest opportunity and immediately began running significant deficits. Granted there seems to be some—note the word “some”– justification for associating balanced budget with “austerity” budget where those who contribute least to a financial crisis end up paying the greatest toll for the associated draconian budget cuts. But slashing the incomes of those who can least afford it to subsidize the iniquitous salaries of CEOs, economic vandalism of the big banks and pay outs to those wallowing in the luxury of unearned income is not inexorably about a deficit/balanced budget....

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Election perspective you won’t hear anywhere else

In my next post to The Activist I will examine the subtle impacts of the more obvious influences on the 2015 federal election, but for this post I want to share a story few have heard about one of the most powerful, behind the scenes influences on the dramatic October 19 outcome. Did the Liberals have an astonishingly clever campaign? Did Mulcair stumble when he should of been dashing? Did the Conservatives pull down the pillars of their own governance structure with the sudden and devastating foray into the realm of hate literature? All of the above? There is no end to the stories you will hear from pundits about the vagarities of this gruelling 78 day election campaign, and much of it with its own valid perspective, but here is a story you will likely not hear about what may well be the most pervasive impact on the stunning defeat for the New Democrat and Conservative parties and the sweeping victory for the Liberals. A little over half way through the campaign I was out canvassing for Gord Johns in Courtenay when I ran into another Gord Johns canvasser pounding the pavement in the district adjacent to mine. He had an interesting tale to tell about being harassed by a belligerent supporter of another party. But the really fascinating thing he had to tell me was about his...

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Welcome Home Canada!

My first inkling that big change in Canadian politics was afoot came Thanksgiving day, Oct 12 around 4 o’clock in the afternoon. My wife and I had trundled off to the advance poll at the Lewis Centre assuming that very few people would line up at the polls when the turkey was just about to come out of the oven. Big mistake! We waited in line for an hour and a half to vote amid rumours that we were lucky—in Atlantic Canada voters were waiting –in a patient Canadian kind of way—three hours and more to cast their ballot. It seemed that something big was happening. I was longing for change, but– having been wrong before– I was hesitant about believing that all this meant the change I so desired was underway. Then, October 19 I showed up at the Royston polling station to act as an NDP volunteer to find that the line up to vote had begun before the polling station opened at 7 am. Inside the line up went on and on—not so much at the ballot box but at the new voter registration desk. Big change was, indeed, afoot! By the time the polling stations closed a record 17,559,353 Canadians had voted—a record number; the highest percentage since 1993; three million more ballots than in the 2011 election that had given Harper his opportunity to...

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Cycling lanes in Lilliput-or was it Courtenay?

Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels eerily reminds us of what our human activities might look like to someone not intimately embedded in affairs human. For instance, first of all read over the bickering at Courtenay Council about whether there should be a bike lane on Willemar Avenue, Piercy Avenue, or Tull Avenue. And should this lane be painted or raised? No one seems to get around to asking what is the bike path for? Where are cyclists to get on? Or get off? How will anyone be served by a bike lane that begins nowhere and ends a few blocks down from nowhere? Sort of like the shortest bike lane in the world that runs for a block and a half along 5th St. by the Apple Tree Market Then read the section in Gulliver’s Travels about the raging conflict between Lilliput and Blefuscu over whether one should break the large end or the small end of an egg first. Eleven thousand people chose death rather than submit to a law requiring the untraditional breaking of an egg from the small end first. It seems every where Gulliver goes in this land of tiny would be giants, he finds activities that remind him painfully of home. When I read Gulliver’s travels I can’t help relating the chicanery of Lilliputians to the bombast at Courtenay Council these days. As someone who...

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Upcoming Events

Jun
24
Sat
9:00 am Comox Valley Farmers’ Market
Comox Valley Farmers’ Market
Jun 24 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Each Saturday features a delicious recipe from the North Island Chefs Association – and of course all of the wonderful local producers of vegetables, meats, baking, preserves, fish and more! See you at the Native[...]
Jun
28
Wed
12:00 pm Power Lunch for LIFTVIPS
Power Lunch for LIFTVIPS
Jun 28 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Topic: How to get the most out of your LIFT Champion membership! Cost: $10 / $5 cash back (light lunch included) To register see http://liftcomoxvalley.ca/events/ Limit: 6 Must be a LIFT member. Not yet getting[...]
Jul
1
Sat
9:00 am Comox Valley Farmers’ Market
Comox Valley Farmers’ Market
Jul 1 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Each Saturday features a delicious recipe from the North Island Chefs Association – and of course all of the wonderful local producers of vegetables, meats, baking, preserves, fish and more! See you at the Native[...]

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