Five anti-fracking activists speak at CV forum

Five anti-fracking activists speak at CV forum

Forum speakers, from left, Bernadette Wyton, Keith Wyton, Michael Sawyer, Damien Gillis, and Richard Wright  /  Pat Carl Photo

By Pat Carl

The environmental and cultural dangers posed by LNG, fracking, and gas pipelines and the direct effect they may soon have on the Salish Sea, the Comox Valley, and Barkley Sound were discussed at a recent public forum at the Florence Filberg Centre. More than 100 people heard the dire warnings from five anti-fracking activists.

The Watershed Sentinel magazine, the Council of Canadians, and the Glasswaters Foundation co-sponsored the forum.

Damien Gillis, a journalist and the director/producer of the award-winning documentary, Fractured Land, described fracking’s by-products, including methane, as more environmentally damaging than CO2 when LNG’s full life cycle is taken in account. LNG is worse than coal “cradle to grave,” said Gillis, who also said that economically LNG is “hanging on by a thread” with the help of the provincial government’s tax subsidies.

Following Gillis, Michael Sawyer, a self-described lone-wolf lawyer, described how he appealed the National Energy Board’s decision that opened the way for the Prince Rupert LNG pipeline. His appeal hinged on the fact that the Prince Rupert pipeline attached to a significant section of federal pipeline, which brought the pipeline’s ultimate approval under federal, not provincial, jurisdiction.

Despite the limits of both provincial and federal environmental guidelines, federal guidelines are more rigorous than provincial. Although Sawyer’s appeal of the Prince Rupert LNG pipeline occurred in 1998, it provides the framework for his current appeal to the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

Third on the forum’s agenda was Richard Wright, a spokesperson for hereditary chiefs of the Gitxsan Nation. Following the direction of hereditary chiefs in the Luutkudziiwus Territory, Wright and other band members closed their territory to LNG development by constructing Madii Lii, a camp that establishes the Nation’s control over their territory.

Part of the tactics used by provincial and federal governments is to ignore the hereditary chief system, a system of oversight in place for thousands of years, and, instead, seek permission for industrial development, such as LNG, from those not in a position to give it. This pits band members against band members. The Gitxsan Nation is also collaborating with the Wet’suwet’in in that band’s struggle with LNG.

The team of Bernadette and Keith Wyton, members of the Barkley Sound Alliance, provided background on the proposed Kwispaa site at Sarita Bay in the Port Alberni Inlet which is the endpoint of the gas pipeline which begins in Northern BC. Even though the Kwispaa project is currently on pause, the Wytons warned the project, in the future, may raise its ugly head under new management.

Negative environmental impacts of the project include the destruction of fish, fish habitats, marine vegetation, and the compromising of critical killer whale habitat, as well as gas flaring, light and noise pollution. These environmental impacts are compounded by traumatic social blowbacks, such as the construction of 2,000-bed man-camps along the pipeline route, which have been linked to spikes in local crime, such as violence against women, and drug and alcohol abuse.

A question period followed the individual presentations during which audience members were reminded that LNG gas is not extracted for the use of BC residents, but is intended strictly for export. Looking ahead, the current profitable LNG market in China may not even exist in a very few years as China extracts its own fracked gas.

Additionally, fracked gas wells have a shelf life of approximately three years, which means that many more wells will be drilled in Northern BC to meet export demands and many wells will be orphaned without remediation required of LNG.

Pat Carl lives in Comox and contributes to the Comox Valley Civic Journalism Project.

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Five anti-fracking activists speak at CV forum

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Decision time looming for North Island Green Party

Decision time looming for North Island Green Party

From left, Blair Cusack and Mark de Bruijn  /  Pat Carl photo

By Pat Carl

North Island-Powell River (NIPR) Greens, Voters-all: The time has come. Drum roll, please.

On March 10, between the hours of 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., Greens will file into the party’s nomination meetings to cast their votes for the candidate who will represent the NIPR riding in the 2019 federal election to be held some time in October.

Greens can attend the meeting either in the Powell River Public Library located at 100 – 6975 Alberni Street in Powell River or in the Black Creek Community Centre located at 2001 Black Creek Road in Black Creek.

Yes, through the miracle of modern technology, voting for the GPC NIPR riding candidate will be conducted simultaneously from two different locations as befits a riding that encompasses nearly 58,000 square kilometres. Greens have their fingers crossed that electronic wizardry is sufficient enough to pull this off without a hitch.

While non-Green observers are welcome, voters will need to verify their Green Party membership, snap up a ballot, and check the name of their preferred candidate.

If your GPC membership has expired within the last 12 months and you have the exorbitant $10.00 membership fee in one of your pockets or buried deep in your purse and you’re willing to part with such a lavish sum, then you can vote. Such an opportunity. Let your voice be heard.

And, here, direct from attending three separate meet-and-greets, are the two candidates:

Blair Cusack believes environmental half-measures are no longer feasible. “There was a time when it was possible for me and you to do green things and help our community on the one hand, but, on the other hand, vote for a party that appealed to other aspects of what we wanted or what we believed in. Those times are past.” Read more about Blair.

Mark de Bruijn believes the environmental and social issues affecting the NIPR riding are growing. “I want to work with the many concerned, motivated and inspired people in our communities to find fresh and innovative solutions to these challenges. It is work we can do together; everyone can play a part.” Read more about Mark.

Unlike other parties, GPC has opened its doors at three meet-and greets and allowed party members and the general public to observe, question, and provide feedback to the two candidates. And here’s a shocker: Although only one of the fine candidates can win the nomination, they have both pledged to actively work on the campaign of whichever candidate is chosen to run in the election.

Following the decision made by Greens at the nomination meeting, the Campaign Launch is set for March 23 with time and location to be announced. Joining the launch will be NIPR’s special guest, Green Party MP Elizabeth May. Watch the NIPR Facebook page and website for more information as it becomes available.

Pat Carl lives in Comox and contributes to the Comox Valley Civic Journalism Project

 

More News | Politics

Five anti-fracking activists speak at CV forum

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Courtenay urged to send climate accountability letter

Courtenay urged to send climate accountability letter

Illustration courtesy of Easy Science for Kids

By Pat Carl

The most recent Courtenay City Council meeting, held on Jan. 28, found
Andrew Gage, an attorney with West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL), on the agenda.

Introduced to the Council by Kelly Matthews, representing the Dogwood BC, Gage suggested that Courtenay join with other municipalities in sending a Climate Accountability Letter to the 20 fossil fuel companies most responsible for global warming. Such a letter sent by Courtenay “would start an important conversation” which serves as a preamble to possible litigation in the future, according to Gage.

Gage noted that climate costs, such as those related to fires, fire suppression, droughts, and coastal erosion due to sea level rise, as well as the building of climate resilient communities are chiefly borne by local taxpayers and municipalities. WCEL believes that it’s time that climate adaptation and damage costs are shared by the companies that have made money hand-over-fist while helping to create a global climate catastrophe.

After Gage’s brief presentation, he fielded questions from City Councillors. Doug Hillian cited concern about oil company push-back. Gage responded that the WCEL’s focus is on large global oil producers which do not include smaller local players such as most of those active in Canada.

Will Cole-Hamilton wondered what kind of response other municipalities had received from oil companies which had been sent the letter. According to Gage, only about three or four of the oil companies have responded by citing their acceptance of the science demonstrating global warming, but everyone had also managed to “duck their responsibility.” However, Gage noted that Chevron had disclosed to its shareholders the “realistic risk” fossil fuel extraction presents and that Shell had pointed out in its response that the company has made a $2 billion-dollar commitment to green renewables.

Action on Gage’s suggestion that Courtenay write its own Accountability Letter is deferred pending staff research until the next Council meeting.

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER

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More News

Five anti-fracking activists speak at CV forum

Anti-fracking activists tell Comox Valley audience that the LNG life cycle is worse for the environment than coal, and that BC project serve only export markets that soon may not exist

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Mack Laing Heritage Society archive photo By George Le Masurier he Mack Laing Heritage Society this morning issued an open letter to the Town of Comox mayor and council. Here is their letter: We, the Mack Laing...

DFO allows herring fishery, despite wide protest

Conservancy Hornby Island has criticized a decision by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to allow the March herring fishery to go ahead. It undercuts efforts to protect Killer Whales and chinook salmon stocks.

Strathcona groundwater motion headed to AVICC vote

The Strathcona Regional District has asked the province to cease licensing groundwater for commercial water bottling and bulk water exports. It hopes all municipalities in BC will join the movement.

MAiD: A passing … but not gently into that good night

MAiD: A passing … but not gently into that good night

Lorraine “Lani” Hudelson | Born March 13, 1941, Died December 13, 2018 | Arriving Honolulu International Airport June 1961

By Pat Carl

I still don’t know why she wants me present at her passing. I’m not a particular friend nor even a steady acquaintance.

When I asked her, “why me?” Lorraine — Lani to those who know her best — says, “You’ve always been honest with me.”

So, honest at her end, I can say:

She’s angry.
She’s difficult.
She’s needy.
She rages.

She’s insistent.
She’s determined.
She’s intelligent.
She’s driven.

Her life’s been difficult from the beginning and, at her end of days, even more so.

The kindnesses of caregivers can’t help. The absence of close family doesn’t matter to her.

No home care, no hospice care, no drugs, can alleviate it.

Only the pain, the terrible, terrible pain.

Her brain injury affects all the primitive areas of her brain.

She suffers from:

Insistent fatigue.
Unbearable headaches.
Visual challenges.
Personality flux and confusion.
Lack of coordination.

She can’t:

Concentrate.
Remember.
Sleep consistently or well.
Process information.
Control impulsivity.

She has difficulty with:

Loud noises.
Controlling her emotions.

But the worst of the pain comes from her inoperable spinal stenosis that is progressively damaging her nerves.

Affected are her:

Gait.
Balance.
Dexterity.
Grip.
Bladder and bowel functions.

She believes her earliest doctors were not thorough enough with their investigations into her symptoms, but she feels cared for and comforted by her later ones.

***

Today, a rainy, windy, stormy December 13, she is dying with the help of those doctors and with the support of a few witnesses.

One of those witnesses, my partner, Megan, has truly befriended Lani in her darkest hours. She has run errands to the grocery store and the pharmacy and she has sat patiently with Lani and absorbed her angry outbursts for hours at a time.

She and I arrive at Lani’s home at 1 o’clock. We are greeted at the door by her sister, Pat, who flew into Comox a few days ago and has helped Lani get her house in order. They’ve talked with her lawyer, and her banker, retrieved her will from a safety deposit box, gone to the post office and filled out a change of address card.

When I hear this, I smile a bit, wondering what forwarding address they used for Lani.

Lani is sitting in her recliner eating Poppycock, a Christmas sweet made with nuts and popcorn all covered in caramel.

“Why not?” she says. “I don’t have to worry about diabetes anymore. I should have a treat before I die.”

Gallows humour, so typical of Lani.

Next to arrive is Lani’s primary physician, Dr. Usmani. He brings with him a silver case, the size of a small piece of luggage.

Ah, the instruments of death, I speculate.

I know Dr. Usmani has completed whatever course work is required to be certified to assist a patient who wants to die, but this is the first time he’s actually completing the procedure himself.

That’s why Dr. Reggler, the next person to come through the front door, is with us. He’ll make sure that everything goes as it should this day, that no steps are inadvertently forgotten.

A sort of certification process, that thought jumps to my mind, as the doorbell rings again and an intern, whose name I never did catch, walks into the living room. He immediately goes to Lani and shakes her hand.

“Thanks for letting me observe.”

Seems uncomfortable, I observe, but what else is there to say?

The final person to arrive is Wendy. At first, I think she’s a friend of Lani’s and I’m a little relieved that Lani has more people in her life than just doctors.

But no. Wendy’s the nurse who’ll assist Dr. Usmani.

What has happened to Lani’s friends? Where is the rest of her family? I’m disconsolate, but understand more fully why I am here, a mere acquaintance.

Her pain has hollowed out her life, has reduced it to the bare essentials, to the doctors who can alleviate her pain.

We’re all here now. Dr. Usmani asks Lani to sign some documents.

“I’ve practiced my signature,” she says.

Spinal stenosis affects fine motor function, I recall.

With that done, Lani gets up from her recliner, not without trouble, and says, “Let’s get on with it, then.” She reaches for her crutches, her crucking futches according to Lani, and moves slowly, but independently, down the hall to her bedroom.

Once there, she climbs into her hospital bed, a relatively new purchase. It can be raised and lowered at the head and knees.

I note the impressions in the carpet that mark the foot of her original bed, and ponder, A memory not quite disappeared.

As Lani lies back on a stack of pillows and raises the head of the bed a bit, her sister climbs into the bed with her, sits next to her, and holds her hand.

We are finally all settled and Dr. Usmani explains the procedure. “There will be four injections,” he says. “The first one will put Lani to sleep; the second will eliminate any pain that the other injections may cause; the third will deepen Lani’s sleep; the final one will paralyze her muscles.”

Stop her heart muscle, I think.

Lani doesn’t seem disturbed by this list at all. She’s heard it many times by now.

Dr. Usmani asks for her verbal consent to proceed. He does this three times. Each time she responds in the affirmative.

The last time she says, “Yes,” and turns to her sister and says, “I’m scared.”

This is the first crack I’ve seen in Lani’s resolve.

“Of course, you are,” her sister says. “But this is what you want.”

“Yes, it is, “Lani visibly swallows, her teeth grit, her face settles determinately. “It’s way past time for this.”

Dr. Usmani begins the series of injections. Megan walks to the foot of Lani’s bed and holds onto Lani’s legs, supporting Lani one last time as she leaves us. Lani falls asleep.

Fifteen minutes later, after listening to her heart through his stethoscope, Dr. Usmani says, “She’s gone.”

Pat, a religious person, tells us how she justified witnessing Lani’s death. “God would want us to help her come home to Him.”

I think how this comforts Pat, though it’s a perspective I’m sure Lani doesn’t share.

For me, the years-ago Catholic, I silently repeat the beginning of Psalm 23:

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Later, Dr. Reggler straightens out Lani’s legs, Wendy lifts Lani’s head and removes the pillows propped behind her. They both straighten the comforter covering Lani.

The doctors and nurse leave soon after. “Stay with me,” Pat asks, “until the funeral home comes?”

We agree. We reminisce about Lani.

I remember what Lani said, “I am not choosing to die…I am dying anyway. What I’m choosing is how and when and where to die.”

The funeral attendants arrive bringing a stretcher with them. I’m startled: They’re both women. Why do I think that unusual?

Moments later, they wheel Lani out of the bedroom and down the outside ramp Lani had built when she could no longer manage the porch steps.

Lani’s favourite plaid blanket drapes her body.

Salut to you, you most uncompromising woman. You have not gone gentle into that good night.

Pat Carl is a writer and a participant in the Comox Valley Civic Journalism Project. She may be reached at pat.carl0808@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT MAiD

Patients and their families have many decisions to make when faced with end-of-life care or intolerable suffering.

Legislation governing Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) was passed by the Federal Parliament on June 17, 2016. This means medical assistance in dying is now legal in Canada when provided within the purview of the legislation. 

Under the new law, doctors may provide medical assistance in dying to capable, consenting adults who have a grievous and irremediable medical condition that causes enduring, intolerable suffering and who are at a point where natural death is reasonably foreseeable.

British Columbians seeking medical assistance in dying should speak with their physician or other primary care provider or their local health authority.

For more information, click here

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