Friday, January 22, 2010

Prorogue-ies (great with a sharp sauce)

There will be a protest Jan 23 in front of the Colonial Building to protest Harper's Proroguing of Parliament. (I wish I had the luxury of deciding if and when I wanted to work.)

Colonial Building
St. John's, NL
1pm Jan 23, 2010

Speakers, Mary Walsh, Pete Soucy, Lana Payne

all the best,
Community Linkages

Sunday, January 17, 2010

EMF Education No Small Task

Gerry Higgins of Norris Arm is pushing a stone up a hill. His battle to educate and inform about the dangers of exposure to Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) has been at times a lonely one.

There are a couple of big hurdles that faces Mr. Higgins on his quest, not the least of which is our society's complete acceptance of the tech world. If you think about it how often throughout the day are you within a few yards of electronics? How close is the transformers outside your house? How much of the day is your ear connected to a cordless or cellular phone? The modern world bathes us in EMF radiation on a daily basis. There lies Mr. Higgins biggest hurdle in his public appeal. No one is prepared to do without the conveniences of our connected world.

It was with that reservation that I and some of my collegues from Community Linkages met with Mr. Higgins to talk EMF. After speaking with him I have a new perspective. My change of heart comes from a couple of primary factors, not the least of which is the personality and experience of Mr. Higgins himself. Mr. Higgins is very polite and softspoken, his debate backed by the credibility of scientific experts the world over, and he is no longer alone in his crusade. The issue of the negetative effects of EMF exposure on human physiology gaining validity in the scientific community and his campaign, it is discovered, has a far wider reach than one man from Norris Arm asking questions.

The true eye-opener for me though in speaking with Mr. Higgins is that he is not a man preaching a doomsday senario. With an assortment of documents, EMF readers and gauges he shows how small changes can reduce our EMF exposure. Proximity affects EMF, our "quality" of electricity affects EMF, the amount of wireless devices, types and intensity of audio visual equipment and lighting... an audit of your home and workplace could tag all of these potential hazards.

What Mr. Higgins is advocating is simple. An independent study of the effects of EMF in our lives. This would be a tremendous start. Recognizing the extent of EMF radiation we can then take the necessary steps to reduce that exposure. In that effort Mr. Higgins has not been without some success. He tells the CLC that Light and Power in his hometown of Norris Arm has already moved 23 poles and transformers up to 1/4 mile from his house. He shows with pride letters from mayors proclaiming EMF awareness month. They are signed by Norris Arm Major Fred Budgell, David Saunders mayor of Colwood BC and the mayor of the capital city Doc O'Keefe amoung others. The certificate proclaims in part "whereas EM Sensitivity is recognized by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Canadian government... and the Americans with Disabilities Act... and the illness may be preventable...[the undersigned] proclaims Electromagnetic Sensitivy Month.

When we consider how in a short lifetime we have gotten rid of Asbestos insulation, lead paint on children's toys, and leaded gasoline it is not a stretch to anticipate a world where building codes, municipal planners, and government energy policy is built around reducing our EMF exposure. We live in a world which is far more knowledgeable of the environmental factors that can negatively impact our children's growth and development; peanut-free snack foods and fragrence free buildings where onheard of in my youth. As a boy I sat in the back of a pick-up truck where there was no seatbelt, and tried as best I could to keep the ashes from my uncle's cigarettes from landing on my peanut butter cookies. Times change.

Given the momentum of Mr. Higgins' campaign I suspect that before too long he will have made the crest of the hill with the stone he is pushing. We can only hope that as an educated society we are prepared for the momentum on the downward roll.

DJ Fancey for Community Linkages

Note: Stay tuned for further developments from Community Linkages and Gerry Higgins on EMF education.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Help Haiti - Quick and Easy

Texting the word HAITI to 45678 from any Rogers Wireless or Bell Mobility phone donates $5. See the Salvation Army site here for this initiative.

Your CLC

Friday, January 1, 2010

Hearn Fires off at Newfoundlanders and Labradorians Fighting for our Fisheries

Letter from Loyola Hearn reprinted with permission from the Telegram, Dec 12 2009 - Response from Community Linkages' Secretary follows.

Firing Back on the NAFO deal
The Telegram

I would like to respond to a letter in your paper on Dec. 19 by Ray Johnson, entitled "Taking a stand." While the whole article is filled with misinformation and untruths, I would like to concentrate on one paragraph.

Mr. Johnson states that the recent decision by the Government of Canada to ratify the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) convention "goes against scientific evidence, industry experts, former fisheries management officials, industry watchdogs and the people who are dependent on this multi-billion-dollar marine habitat and coastal environments."

Nothing could be further from the truth. While some former bureaucrats have spoken out against the new measures, independent, Canadian legal experts are supportive. The new changes respect scientific evidence as it was the basis that necessitated change. Industry experts and the people dependent on the resource are not only supportive but played an integral part in achieving change. It is passing strange that we pay a lot more attention to former bureaucrats and not nearly enough to the current experts who have a direct stake in the future fishery. The changes to the convention were not imposed upon us from afar.

They were achieved by the hard work and dedication of the Canadian delegation to NAFO, a delegation made up mainly of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, led by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and directed by a Newfoundland and Labrador team.

The delegation was comprised of industry leaders, representatives of the harvesters and processors (including Earle McCurdy, FFAW and Ray Andrews our Newfoundland and Labrador NAFO commissioner), agencies working for the whole offshore groundfish industry and offshore shrimp industry, the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and other current, tuned-in experts. They are Newfoundlanders and Labradorians fighting for changes that protect our industry, protect the fish stocks and yes, protect the coastal communities that depend so much on these resources.

It might also be pointed out that these changes, made over the past three years, were achieved by the Harper government in full consultation with, and active participation by the total industry, provincial governments and supported openly and publicly by Atlantic-wide and Nunavut industry interests, the Fisheries Council of Canada and major environmental groups, including the World Wildlife Fund.

Improvements in surveillance, monitoring and control, mainly as a result of Canadian leadership internationally and major capital investments in our coast guard, have cemented these gains which are first steps in rebuilding this industry. The beneficiaries are all those who depend on the resource, Canadians generally, but more specifically Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Finally, let me say to Mr. Johnson, to suggest that foreigners can enter, fish or manage the resources within our 200-mile limit is being devious and is completely untrue.

If Mr. Johnson is really interested in protecting coastal communities, I suggest, rather than trying to prevent progress towards this goal, he should support those of us who not only care, but are doing something about it.

Loyola Hearn


Response to Mr. Hearn:

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians,

Loyola Hearn's response on Dec 27 to Ray Johnson's article reads like copy from the Ottawa boardrooms. What is a little surprising is Mr. Hearn's insistence on toeing this line. To say that Mr. Johnson's article is filled with "misinformation and untruths" is the talk of the politician, unsubstantiated spin.

In particular Mr. Hearn felt the need to discredit Mr. Johnson in his saying that the NAFO Amendments "goes against scientific evidence, industry experts, former fisheries management officials, industry watchdogs and the people who are dependent on this multi-billion-dollar marine habitat and coastal environments." The Community Linkages group of which Mr. Johnson is chair has letters of opposition to NAFO from all seven Newfoundland and Labrador MPs, community fisheries advocates, the Fisheries Forum with Gus Etchegary and Dr. Phil Earle, Individual Municipalities in NL as well as Municipalities NL, Musicians, and concerned citizens from all over Newfoundland and Labrador. Indeed even the majority of MP's in Ottawa opposed it as does the coalition of Bill Rowat, Scott Parsons, Bob Applebaum and Earle Wiseman et al, the "former bureaucrats" that Mr. Hearn refers to.

Mr. Hearn is of course correct that there was a delegation of industry professionals including Newfoundland and Labradorians, the World Wildlife Fund and Earle McCurdy of the FFAW. It is misleading the public however to suggest that all of the members of the delegation to NAFO were instrumental in wording these final NAFO amendments and it is in fact misleading to suggest that this same delegation is now strongly supportive of the NAFO amendments. Where are the letters of support from Mr. McCurdy who has in fact said "I think (former fisheries minister) Loyola Hearn really did a disservice when he claimed that the proposed amendments to the NAFO convention amounted to custodial management, because that is absolute hogwash"?

And does Mr. Hearn think that the WWF is on his side? The WWF who just recently said "that NAFO undermines the recovery of the cod fishery." Lets hear the WWF's stance on the brand new allocation of 1070 tonnes of Cod for 13 Portuguese vessels on the Flemish Cap. Don't try to pretend that the WWF had a role in crafting this NAFO atrocity. There are headlines in Europe with smiley faced fisheries ministers applauding how great it is to once again have access to "Canadian Cod." Apparently there are tonnes of Cod, just not for us.

Mr. Hearn also suggests that Ray Johnson is "devious" and "untrue" to suggest that foreigners can enter, fish or manage the resources within our 200-miles. Let's read directly from the news release of Minister Shea
"[The amendments protect Canadians by] ensuring that Canada’s sovereign rights are fully protected and that NAFO has no mandate to take management decisions within Canada’s EEZ, unless Canada specifically requests a measure and specifically votes in favour of it." Unless! Unless! Mr. Hearn there can be no stipulation on Canadian Sovereignty, there can be no "unless"! To suggest that a "vote" in the house of commons is a degree of protection is nothing short of utter hypocrisy given that this government has overruled a parliamentary majority of 147 to 142 in order to pass these same NAFO amendments! Truth is our sovereignty is not shielded by the strength of a majority of MPs but is instead an open door at the whim of a select few who hold that power. This has been demonstrated clearly.

Loyola Hearn's puppet strings were all too visible in this rebuttal. The best that Mr. Hearn can truthfully say is that "we tried". The outcome of the effort though is a major backwards leap in the history of our fight for the fishery.

DJ Fancey
Secretary Community Linkages

NAFO contridicts Terms of Union M. Adams in the Telegram