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DEADLINE June 8, 2018!  
Make sure your voice is heard!  

The Government of Canada believes all Canadians deserve access to housing that meets their needs and that they can afford. A human rights-based approach to housing focuses on ensuring that every Canadian has access to a safe and affordable place to call home. It is grounded in the core principles of accountability, participation, non-discrimination and inclusion.

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So much clamor about taxing those who don't want to pay tax, even though they have won a big prize in our BC Real Estate Lottery.  Indeed, the added tax on higher valued homes is fair and the best way to fund schools and social services. Two excellent pieces appear in the Vancouver Sun this past week.  One by two UBC academics is concise and on point.  Another by Alex Hemingway of the CCPA is also great.

The federal government is government is parading the idea of HOUSING AS A HUMAN RIGHT.  Their consultation has been extended to close June 8th. You can contribute your thoughts.  While the text of their appeal seems heavy on rhetoric and light on action, those of us with a voice should chip in.  Unfortunately, the much hyped National Housing Strategy promises no more federal funds for community housing.  Funding is frozen at the level it has been for almost two decades (@$2B).  Meanwhile, CMHC is extracting fees from middle income Canadians and paying a 'dividend' to government of some two or three times that much.  They boast, "In 2017, we also declared dividends totalling $4.7 billion to our shareholder, the Government of Canada. An additional dividend of $1 billion was approved by CMHC’s Board of Directors on March 22, 2018."

 

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The struggle for a low carbon economy is political and economic.  Last month, Kinder Morgan stopped all non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project and said it wants assurances by the end of May in order to proceed.  They are demanding that two conditions be met by May 31.  The two conditions are: final clarity on its ability to construct the project through B.C. and adequate protection of KML shareholders.

On May 16, Bill Morneau, Canada’s Minister of Finance, announced that the Federal Government will give a ‘taxpayer bailout’ to any company that wants to build Kinder Morgan’s tar sands pipeline.  The Premier of Alberta says that it is vital to the Alberta economy, and outrageously threatens to ‘turn off the tap’ for shipping oil to BC.  You may recall that in February, the Alberta Premier had boycotted imports of BC wines in response to BC's call for further review of the oil-spill risk from this pipeline expansion.  ‚Äč

There is a lot of opposition in BC from politicians, environmental groups and the average citizen.  There are many reasons. For example:

·        The current NDP BC Government of Premier Horgan ran on a promise to stop the project arguing it is not in the public interest.

·        Aboriginal people hold the underlying title to land that the pipeline expansion will be crossing — so many feel their approval is needed, not the federal or provincial governments'. The Aboriginal people’s opposition is backed by the recognition of Aboriginal title by the Canadian constitution and over 150 court decisions.

·        The City of Vancouver is against the increased tanker traffic and oil spill danger in Burrard Inlet; and the City of Burnaby is against the hazard to residents and community of more than doubling the tank farms on Burnaby Mountain. 

·        We need to focus on renewable energy and move off fossil fuel dependency.  Even Saudi Arabia has invested in the largest global solar energy project.  Carbon, if released into the atmosphere, will heat the planet.  We cannot afford more global warming. There are more long-term jobs based on a green economy than would be gained by the pipeline expansion.

There are many articles and editorials on the Kinder Morgan May 31 deadline.  Here are a few that are noteworthy.

April 30 http://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/robyn-allan-government-aid-key-to-trans-mountain-pipeline-expansion

May 15 National Observer https://www.nationalobserver.com/2018/05/15/opinion/whats-behind-kinder-morgans-may-31-ultimatum-follow-money

What do you think?  Please comment. 

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Our 'housing crisis' is not a local issue, it is the result of global capital flows and the rich pursuing their interests.  That is the argument outlined in The Tyee; William Rees puts the case forward - referencing economics and ecological logic. This is a very good analysis.

Rees also also builds links to the growing foreign investment in agricultural land all around the world. The free flow of capital alters local markets and undermines local communities; putting democratic institutions at risk.

 

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Meet CCEC Member Tani Tupechka

Accessing good food during illness and the leg hold trap of poverty is the hardest thing I’ve ever faced.  In 2009, I was forced off work and onto disability because of a chronic muscle illness. Food took on a whole new meaning for me.

At the recent Vancouver Food Summit, a Coast Salish elder said, “food is life.” So true.  And food is also love and fueled by communities working together.

Each of us has an important role to play in food security - including community organizations like CCEC. I’ve done a good deal of food activism at the community level; in gardens, kitchens and educational initiatives.  I saw how access to good, affordable food is a huge barrier for many people – as it was for me.  NGOs and organizations need to receive the support to put even more energy and resources towards this key issue.

Accessing local food programs became key for my survival.  I had support from people in my community, but if it wasn’t for the financial help that CCEC provided, I would have gone hungry many times.  On top of that, in the spirit of community, the workers at CCEC always treated me with respect when I needed help, especially Atilio Alvarez.  He never once treated me like I was poor or untrustworthy, instead he was always kind, supportive and caring.  I am super grateful to him and the many people in our communities that helped me when I needed it most. 

Recently, I’ve been able to return to the community work I love and my own struggles have focused my energies on food justice.  Food security is at the heart of social and environmental justice. It ensures that people not only survive, but begin to thrive.  

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October 19th is International Credit Union Day, a day to celebrate the positive 'self-help' story of citizen based financial institutions. In many ways the story in BC is a very good one, but the consolidation trend of the last 25 years has a less optimistic face.

Ross Gentleman's OpEd piece in today's Vancouver Sun sets that out for all BC credit union members to consider. http://vancouversun.com/opinion/opinion-small-credit-unions-threatened-by-consolidation

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A research project is underway to consult Canadians about how human rights are to be incorporated into trade agreements.  Towards a Socially Responsible Trade Policy is organized by a team from the University of Montreal and the project is seeking input from all Canadians on how we see NAFTA and other trade deals.  There is an online survey, and a day of hearings on Sept 22nd in Vancouver.  

This is an independent, non-government project.  It uses a social justice framework, in a way similar to the approach of all community developers, and the Solidarity Economy activists in Montreal. Community level organizing always features human rights, this research pushes us to apply the same principles more effectively in the realm of international trade. 

Take part!

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"There is no Secwepemc consent for Kinder Morgan" say the Secwepemcul'ecw Assembly.

Secwepemc elders, youth, children and families are calling for an immediate shutdown of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline in light of the forest fires raging through their territory. They fear the pipeline poses a serious safety hazard. They also say the unprecedented increase in fires is evidence of global warming created, in part, by Alberta tar sands oil transported by Kinder Morgan.

"We are in a critical state of emergency dealing with the impacts of climate change,” said Secwepemc teacher Dawn Morrison, adding “this includes catastrophic flooding and fires, as well as social issues such as poverty, increased violence against our women and high rates of death from substance abuse in our communities.”  

Morrison, founder of the Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty, says “the health of our families and communities relies heavily on our ability to harvest wild salmon and access clean drinking water, both of which are at risk if the Kinder Morgan pipeline was ruptured or impacted by the fires.”

The Secwepemc’ulecw Assembly is demanding a moratorium on any pipeline proposing to transport crude or diluted bitumen through their vast traditional territory where they are stewards of the forests, fields and waterways that flow from the Rockies on their way to the ocean.

The Assembly met last month to reaffirm its territorial title and authority saying, “We have never provided and will never provide our collective free, prior and informed consent - the minimal international standard - to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Project.

We explicitly and irrevocably refuse its passage through our territory. Investors take note, there is no Secwepemc consent for Kinder Morgan. Kinder Morgan will not pass through Secwepemc Territory.”

To view the Secwepemcul'ecw Assembly Declaration visit: secwepemculecw.org

For interviews contact:

Jeffrey McNeil – 416.720.4358

Kanahus Manuel – 250.852.9002 or 323.804.5106

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The big issue facing our province, and Canada, is inequality - of incomes and wealth.  The past three decades have been very good for BC's elites, but others have stagnated or drifted downwards. Averages and aggregate numbers disguise the truth.  

A feature in today's Globe and Mail provides a vivid overview of the precarious situations confronting many people.  Young families, renters, seniors and many others are being stressed.  It is clear that measures like an increased minimum wage, higher social assistance payments, housing subsidies, and more effective taxation of wealth are needed.  Even a local business economist has endorsed the latter. Jock Finlayson of the BC Business Council is quoted in the Globe.  “In the business community, we are worried about it, it’s forcing people to look at living elsewhere. It’s forcing people with children to live in accommodations that are not really designed for families,” he said. “Those who are established in the market have all enjoyed an unearned windfall in wealth. It’s also tax free. How equitable is that, from the perspective of the 30 per cent of renters, or those who bought at top-dollar prices?”

The Vanishing Middle Class is a big issue in BC and in the US.  A recently published book from MIT academic Peter Temin paints the graphic picture. There is a good review and summary available at Evonomics.  As Temin observes, and Lynn Parramore emphasizes, these diverging populations are at the heart of political discontent and will demand attention.

Recent analysis has also shown that job growth in BC (and Ontario) has been in positions where wages are mostly below the average level, essentially low-paid work.  This is in stark contrast to elsewhere in Canada.   

Indeed, the system is rigged to benefit those who are at the top of the pile currently. And as government policy has caused the problem, government policy is also the way to correct it.

 

 

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This recently completed poll of British Columbians provides insight into what is aggravating us. The Centre for Policy Alternatives commissioned the poll of more than 1000 residents and it confirms that affordability and inequality are troubling many of us. The poll also finds substantial support for carbon taxes and climate change mitigation, and overall support for fairer taxation. For more information click here.   
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