Update & Request from the Canadian Environmental Network

Note from the Chair:

Somehow it’s always surprising how much activity takes place in the fall. September hits, and suddenly it’s time to dive into new projects and catch up on existing ones.

These have been an exciting couple of months around here. Mike Simpson, an RCEN alumnus and Executive Director of the British Colombia Council for International Co-operation (BCCIC), joined the board in October. Mike has been doing excellent work in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals, and his experience with RCEN’s International Caucus will be incredibly valuable as we reclaim our role as a voice for Canadian ENGOs at home and abroad. He will be replacing Deborah Glaser, also of BCCIC, who joined the RCEN board for a brief period before making the decision to return to the United States with her family. So thank you Deborah, and welcome Mike!

In other news, a group of Ottawa-based RCEN-ers met this month for an in-depth conversation (sure to be the first of many) about where RCEN stands and where we want to go. Although technology expands our ability to communicate across large distances, there’s nothing like a face-to-face meeting to really get things done. We had some frank discussions about our hopes for the Network and the realities that we currently face, and we started to craft a vision of the RCEN we want to create.

One important point that emerged during this meeting was that the federal government has commitments that it will be trying to meet by summer 2019 (see the “Resources” section below for a link to summaries of relevant federal mandates). RCEN and its members have an opportunity to show that we have the expertise to support Canada in achieving those goals.

Although a small, localized approach has practical advantages for the early stages of this process, I want to make sure that your voices are heard at. In particular, I want to hear from you about:

1) how a national network of ENGOs and activists could best serve your organization and fill the existing gaps in Canada’s environmental community;

2) how your work could help advance the government’s environmental goals and mandates; and

3) your “wish list” of the collaboration and support that you’d like to find within the ENGO community.

And as always, if you want to strut your stuff or reach out to your fellow members, please get in touch. We would love to showcase your projects or accomplishments in our newsletter or on social media. This is your network – please use it!

 

Contact: Alex Keenan | RCEN  chair@rcen.ca

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2018 ACORN Conference – Building Bridges: Creating New Relationships in Agriculture

Are you passionate about organic and sustainable agriculture?

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The ACORN Conference a great opportunity for you to deepen your organic farming knowledge and network with people with similar interests. The conference is a three-day event that brings together farmers, researchers, processors, and businesses from across the region and beyond!

 

This year, you will have the opportunity to learn about sustainable livestock management, soil health, farming in changing climate, on-farm water security, seed to seed farming, and more!

 

Register before November 14 here: 2018acornconference.eventbrite.ca

 

We look forward to seeing you November 26-28, 2018 in Charlottetown, PEI.

A Short but Sweet Chapter in the Long Journal of a Climate Activist

This fall, in my seventh year as a volunteer climate change lobbyist of a “little power pony” called Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada, I asked myself: “Do I have the resources and energy to go to Ottawa for the third time to once again lobby MPs, Senators and aides for a revenue-neutral price on pollution? Back home three or four others and myself had spent hundreds of hours of the last seven years meeting with all but two of our Nova Scotian MPs and many MLAs, leaders of political parties, people in the faith, business and government policy bureaucrat communities, as well as hundreds of fellow citizens to get for Nova Scotians, especially low and middle income households, a fair shake if and when we would begin to price carbon pollution. That could only happen with a system where the revenue collected on a steadily increasing cost of fossil fuel products would be given back as rebate cheques to the citizens.

 

I looked at my bank account and said: “I just can’t do it.” Then I did something I’ve rarely done, I asked my fellow citizens for help to get to Ottawa and stay with a billet for four days. Donations of $250 from a city councillor, $210 from four fellow climate activists and $100 from a faith community came in over the next few days. I felt so supported in a government climate that had mostly ignored what we had been saying for so long. It was one of those times when you feel all warm and fuzzy like when you fall backwards into the interlocked arms of a group in one of those group dynamics’ trust exercises. I can’t thank those five individuals and one church body enough for catching and catapulting me to Ottawa.

 

I was about to face an intense four more days in the long journey of a citizen of a democracy where, despite evidence that we, the people, have little sway in the matters that affect us (compared with oil executives and those in their back pockets), we feel compelled to act tenaciously with patience and discipline (a motto a very smart businessman told me that is the creed he lives by ‘TPD,’ he calls it) to “be the change.”

 

Off I went, yes, using a lot of fossil fuels to get there. Please spare me the fallacious ‘ad hominem’ ‘You’re a hypocrite!’ attack. Until we have hemp biofuel and high-speed trains, I am forced to use what I have depended on and squandered in my misguided, brainwashed practise of focusing on my wants, rather than my needs.  I am told my generation was the worst offender. I wear it. I own it. But anyone from my generation can counteract what we didn’t realize we shouldn’t have been doing. In the late 1970s, most revoked our commitment to clean energy under the avalanche of the Reaganomics-led corporate takeover that killed the electric car and manufactured the self-centred materialist “yuppified” 1980s. 

Back in the future present, for four days, from October 13-16, I paid my penance as a gas and oil chugging baby boomer as one of 55 volunteers of at least four generations, who met with 54 Parliamentarians (talk about jet fuel junkies!), including cabinet ministers, both opposition critics for the environment and most members of the All-Party Climate Caucus.

Prior to lobbying, we spent 16 hours learning from a stellar line-up of climate change and communication experts including Mark Cameron from Canadians for Clean Prosperity – which produced a groundbreaking report in late September showing that the vast majority of Canadians would come out ahead with carbon fee and dividend. At the end of the weekend, three new Citizens’ Climate Lobby chapters were activated in the Niagara Region of Ontario, Oro-Medonte, ON, and Saskatoon, SK.

It turns out seven (years lobbying) and thirteen (national meetings) are my lucky numbers. This time, we heard a rumour on the hill that implementation of our preferred plan (carbon fee and dividend) was going to be announced as the official backstop policy for pricing carbon pollution. Independent Senator for Alberta, Grant Mitchell (who CCL’s former national director, Cathy Orlando and team have been lobbying since 2011) (since November 2011) announced (in her meeting with him), “You are one of the most successful lobbying groups I have worked with because you are about to get what you lobbied for.”

 

So it came to pass. On Tuesday, October 23, 2018, Prime Minister Trudeau announced (announced) “It is free to pollute, so we have too much pollution.” He presented the solution simply: “Starting next year, it will no longer be free to pollute anywhere in Canada. We are going to place a price on the pollution that causes climate change from coast to coast to coast. We’re also going to help Canadians adjust to this new reality” in response to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which released a report on October 8th of this year. Its heartbreaking bottom line is that we have just twelve years left to reign in the climate crisis with severe consequences of inaction being felt by as early as 2040. That urgent message was brought to parliamentarians. On Monday, October 15, while on Parliament Hill, an emergency debate on the IPCC’s 1.5C report happened.  Many CCLers watched in the House of Commons Gallery including eleven-year-old Sophia, who concluded afterward, “I wish they would cooperate.”

 

Using one province as an example, the PM stated that a family of four would receive $307 with their tax return this spring, more than doubling to $718 by 2022. Eight in ten families will get back more than they pay.  The policy also includes extra support for small, rural and remote Canadian communities. Trudeau emphasized that every nickel of this revenue (Climate Action Incentive)would be returned to Canadians.
And so it was that Canada became the first country in the world to enact a carbon fee and dividend policy. The story is far from an “…and they all lived happily ever after” ending. With a national election coming up next year, political attacks on the policy are already coming fast and furiously, so the job of generating political will for carbon fee and dividend is by no means finished in Canada for the sitting government. Success will hinge on their continued approach of persistent and respectful engagement that eschews partisanship.
As one Conservative MP told the group, “We like you because you are nonpartisan.” As another MP said, “We need you volunteers to tell the public far and wide about this.”  I say, how about this government restoring the funding for the Canada-wide provincial Environmental Networks, like the NSEN, which former PM Harper eliminated and PM Trudeau hasn’t reinstated.  Now would be a good time to do so because those networks would get the word out in theri climate change caucuses if they had a little money to catch them.”  
I told you it was a long journey. 
by Joanne Light

 

 

Corporate staff to get hands dirty for nature

Natural health product maker Nature’s Way is changing the way companies support charities

September 28, 2018 [Halifax, NS] – As well as making a significant corporate donation, staff from Nature’s Way Canada are picking up grinders, shovels, clippers and brushes today in support of the Nova Scotia Nature Trust. What’s new is that this is not your typical “corporate sponsorship.”

Along with the donation, which will be $75,000 over three years, Nature’s Way staff will provide volunteer support. Starting today, 30 staff will rise from their desks to hit the woods at the Nature Trust’s Purcells Cove property to help with the stewardship needs of the land. They will work in two shifts; the first arriving at 11:30AM, the second at 1:30PM. Each group will get a vigorous 90-minute workout helping to care for irreplaceable urban wildlands in Purcells Cove.

A new way of corporate giving?

This generous corporate donation is also “undesignated,” which means the charity, and not the company, will decide how it will be used.

“A donation that is undesignated means the company knows and trusts us to use their gift in the best possible way,” says Nature Trust director of conservation Ross Firth. “Nature’s Way is letting us do our job of protecting Nova Scotia’s outstanding natural legacy through land conservation; they just want to help. Companies can add stipulations that can be complex. Instead, Nature’s Way is saying, ‘Just go and do what you do best.’ It’s the ideal way to support a cause.”

A spin-off benefit

Nature Trust executive director Bonnie Sutherland sees yet another benefit from an undesignated gift. It can be used for stewardship, which, for the Nature Trust, tends to be “less sexy” than acquiring a new piece of property. While Sutherland sees people respond with excitement (and donations) to help acquire land, she says it’s more of a challenge to get people excited about all the work that needs to be done on those lands—and for years to come.

“While a new land acquisition by the Nature Trust gets lots of headlines,” says Sutherland, “the ongoing stewardship and care of these properties tends to be less splashy, less sexy, but it is vitally important to the overall conservation effort—and it’s an ongoing process. It doesn’t stop.”

A perfect fit for Corporate Canada

According to Sutherland, corporate leaders tend to “get” stewardship and its importance, with its elements of investing now for the future, seeing the big picture, being in it for the long haul; they get it because “that’s the kind of vision you need for success in business.”

“Any astute business person understands there is no point in acquiring something unless you plan to take care of it, tend to it, grow it, so it will yield the desired benefits,” says Sutherland. “So while the behind-the-scenes work of land stewardship may seem less exciting in the public sphere, corporate leaders get it because it makes good business sense. I’ve always seen our stewardship work as being a great fit for corporate giving. Hopefully there’s a trend here.”

Supporting the community you live and work in

“We’re looking forward to being out in nature today, helping steward this land,” says Pam McEwing, Vice President of Operations for Nature’s Way Canada. “Nature’s Way is committed to helping people and the planet through our products and how they are manufactured. Companies have an obligation to give back to the community. As a Nova Scotia-based company, this is a perfect way for us to support the community that our staff and their families live in.”

Nature’s Way of Canada (formerly Ascenta Health) has supported the Nature Trust since 2006.

A pioneer in herbal supplements, Nature’s Way® is one of the most recognized and trusted consumer brands of nutritional supplements and will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2019.  Nature’s Way is known for its expansive line of omega-3 supplements, herbs, probiotics, vitamins & minerals, and other natural health products.  Nature’s Way® products include brands such as NutraSea® omega-3 oils, Alive!® multi-vitamins, Umcka® Cold Care, Sambucus® elderberry extracts, and Fortify® probiotics. They offer over 250 premium nutritional and natural products.  For more information visit www.natureswaycanada.ca.

The Nature Trust is dedicated to protecting habitats that provide a home for Nova Scotia’s endangered species such as Blanding’s Turtles, Plymouth Gentian, Canada Warbler and Eastern Ribbon snake. In order to ensure the ecological integrity of the places they protect so imperilled species can recover and thrive, the Nature Trust undertakes active stewardship of their protected lands. Stewardship involves monitoring, cleanups, trail maintenance and restoration (in cases of invasive species).

Companies wanting to learn more about supporting conservation work are encouraged to contact the Nova Scotia Nature Trust at www.nsnt.ca. Individual donations are also welcome.

Workshop: Developing a Fundraising Progam

Oyler Consulting Workshops

DEVELOPING A FUNDRAISING PROGRAM

COST:  $75 per person (for additional attendees from the same organization fees are reduced to $60)

CRA POLICY PRESENTATIONS

COST:  $35 per person per presentation, $60 for both presentations (for additional attendees from the same organization fees are reduced to $30 for one presentation, $50 for both)

DATES & LOCATIONS 

Berwick – Thursday, November 1, Berwick Town Hall, 236 Commerical Street
Bridgewater – Wednesday, November 7, Meeting Room, Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre, 135 North Park Street
Truro – Tuesday, November 13, Willows Room – 2nd Floor, Colchester East Hants Health Centre, 600 Abenaki Road

For more information or to register please contact: David Oyler: david@oylerconsulting.ca , (902) 476-4755