Non-Partisan Political Action
AGM 2016/17 Non Partisan Advocacy Working Group
The group was formed in the spring of 2016 and has since had three meetings as well as several issue analysis consultations with DSF staff. We have a process for discussing and approving external advocacy requests and this year we initiated our own work in several areas.
Site C: at the request of Elder member Roger Bryenton the group considered a response to the Site C dam construction project. We sought guidance from Peter Robinson, CEO of the Foundation on the Foundation’s view of this project. The DSF position is that the dam infringes on First Nations rights and that the project has not completed an adequate environmental assessment. Accordingly the group submitted letters to the Federal and Provincial governments supporting the DSF position and requesting a review and moratorium on the project. Replies were received from both areas of government but no substantive action is expected.
Coastal waters protection: We wrote Premier Clark, and others, regarding our concern over the lack of a “world leading spill response system” related to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion proposal.
Green/Sustainable travel: Work is in progress by Karl Perrin and Simon Wheeler. The intention is to produce a flyer explaining the environmental cost of various options plus suggestions on how to minimize those costs.
Alternate/Renewable Energy: Work in progress by Simon Wheeler. In March 2017 Simon met with Steve Kux of DSF who suggested that the most effective action will be at the local Community Energy level. We will examine ways to be effective in that sphere. Simon has recently given two well attended talks on Solar Energy on Salt Spring Island, where there is a high level of interest on the topic.
Building Infrastructure: Eva Wadolna brought this issue to the Elders and is taking the lead. The concern is the big carbon footprint in the construction and demolition of buildings and issues around the construction of sustainable buildings. The theme is “Yes to green infrastructure, No to ‘petro-chemical architecture.”
Salmon Farming: Inspired by a post by Stan Hirst on the SE website, we will examine ways to campaign on this issue.
Simon Wheeler, Chair
Members: Karl Perrin, Margo Elfert, Erlene Woollard, Eva Wadolna, Diana Ellis, Simon Wheeler. Conrad Guelke acts as a consultant to the group.
Previous Work Plans and Reports
Non Partisan Advocacy Working Group Report for 2016 AGM
Slowly but surely, as the ‘advocacy chill’ felt by most environmental organizations over the past half decade starts to recede, the Suzuki Elders are finding their way back into non partisan advocacy. In doing this we are mindful of our placement within the Foundation and recognize that political activities are still bound by CRA guidelines.
To that end we have found within us a chair, Simon Wheeler, for the about-to-be-formed Non Partisan Advocacy working group. The 2016/17 strategic work plan contains several advocacy initiatives, and we are in dialogue with Foundation staff about effective ways to align Suzuki Elder advocacy work with DSF issues and projects.
During 2015/16 the Elders undertook several non partisan activities.
- Last summer’s Suzuki Elder retreat included a full day of training in non partisan advocacy background and methods, led by DSF staff Steve Kux and Alvin Singh.
- During the fall 2015 federal election campaign we co-sponsored an all-candidate forum with the Environment and Social Justice Committees of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver. The well-advertised event attracted 75 people who, after listening to presentations from candidates, engaged in what one candidate later said was a “very civil and thoughtful dialogue” on the issues presented.
- The Elders made two submissions to the BC Climate Change Leadership Plan, both written by Simon Wheeler.
- Suzuki Elders were involved in forming an International Alliance of Grandparents for the Climate, which included co-writing letters to Heads of State attending the COP 21 meetings in Paris in November 2015.
- A letter of congratulation was written from the Suzuki Elders to the new Prime Minister in December 2015. This also allowed us to introduce ourselves and our work.
Materials prepared by Diana Ellis.
Over time, about 1/3 of members have indicated an interest in non-partisan advocacy. For various reasons, this advocacy work has been held in abeyance for several years but can now move forward, utilizing an agreed-upon process and overseen by the Council and its executive.