People’s Voice Editorial, July 31 2011 The horrifying news from Norway makes it clear again that the ideology of fascism remains a significant danger in every “developed” capitalist country. Any idea that the Anders Breiviks of the world are a “handful of disturbed individuals” is naive, to say the least. Far from being isolated, 21st century fascists thrive in the [...]
Good article in The Saturday Star (link below).
People’s Voice Editorial, July 1st 2011 Almost ten years after it began, Canada’s disastrous entry into Afghanistan is far from over. While the official combat mission in Kandahar is winding up, Canada remains a prominent player in the NATO occupation of the country, with no end in sight. And despite all the media hype about the accomplishments of “our brave troops”, Afghanistan remains [...]
Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada visits the Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership.
The Participants and Facilitators of PSYL welcome her with their rendition of “E May is in the House”
OTTAWA — Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada, met with the citizen engagement organization OpenMedia.ca to discuss growing concerns with out of control Internet and mobile phone fees. The meeting reinforced what Elizabeth has heard from many residents, small businesses, and innovators – Canadians are being crushed by excessive fees for Internet use.
And if that isn’t bad enough, big phone and cable companies now want to also put pay meters on Internet use. This means we could be looking at a future where these corporations charge per byte for Internet use, the way they do with smart phones.
Internet pricing is currently under review by the CRTC, Canada’s telecommunications regulator, and we have a unique opportunity to stop this price-gouging scheme. The Green Party will continue to take a strong stand for fairness, your family budget, and our digital economy.
Canadians are joining together to send the CRTC a clear message, that we refuse to be gouged by big phone and cable companies by signing the Stop The Meter petition. Elizabeth May encourages everyone to join her in signing the Stop The Meter petition at http://www.StopTheMeter.ca
Together we can ensure all Canadians have access to an open and affordable Internet.
Green Party of Canada
The deep partisanship that has marked the crisis in the United States Congress has some lessons for Canadians. Polarisation is not the “new normal,” as New Democrats and Conservatives are preaching. It corrodes the body politic and takes us away from the simple truth that most people want a moderate, intelligent politics that’s based on facts, evidence, good values and compromise.
One of the most
aggravating things about the current state of Canadian journalism
is the spotty
and fragmented way in which events are reported. When
my book detailing the crisis in Canadian
democracy was published very little of what I documented was
actually new. Still, readers told me
frequently that they
had had never heard of many of the shocking events included in
that book. The narrative arc of
accumulating power in
the Prime Minister’s Office was manifest in such random and
erratic news items,
that no one was connecting the dots.
It is happening again with the story of the
arguably brought down the Harper government for contempt in March
2011. While Bev Oda’s “NOT” played a role,
paramount in several rulings from the former Speaker was the
refusal of the
Harper government to release documentation of the treatment of
prisoners. Speaker Milliken’s ruling on
the matter was historic in confirming that the Prime Minister does
not have the
right to keep information from the House of Commons.
when the Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird, announced in
late June 2011
that the government was going to do just that, the issue appeared
to die with
nary a whimper.
memories, we go back to the brave diplomat Richard Colvin who
was subpoenaed to testify to a House of Commons committee back in
2009. His evidence was that, “Our
detainee practices (were) unCanadian, counterproductive and
He detailed that Canadian forces detained a much larger group of
our allies, (detaining six times more civilians than the British
times more than the Dutch) with no way to track where these
people went or how
they were treated. His evidence was that
Canadians would take into custody taxi drivers or street vendors
and hand them
over to Afghan forces for questioning.
It was his belief that the probability was high that many
detainees were subject to torture, or even death.
was subjected to personal attacks by the
government and lambasted as a Taliban dupe. The House of Commons
Liberal MP John MacKay) for the release of all documents so that
allegations could be examined. On the grounds of national
security, the prime
minister refused. The stand-off led to
clear ruling in April 2010 that, prima
facie, the government was in contempt.
Milliken gave both sides the opportunity to negotiate a
compromise. The result was the creation
of the Panel of
Arbiters, based on a Memorandum of Understanding (June 15, 2010)
signed by the
Prime Minister, the former Leader of the Official Opposition
Ignatieff) and the former head of the Bloc Quebecois (Gilles
Duceppe). The NDP refused to
participate. The panel was comprised of
judges, one of whom died in March 2011, and two who remained to
file a report,
Claire L’Heureux-Dubé and
Frank Iacobucci. The jurists were to
frequently consult with an Ad Hoc Committee of Parliamentarians
Liberal and Bloc MPs).
What occurred on June 22, 2011
made it to the next day’s front
page of the Globe and Mail, but died
in the dog-days of summer. The panel
released its report, clearly indicating they did not believe
their work was
wrapped up. Their covering letter made
it clear that there had been communication and disputes with the
government throughout April and into May. They acknowledged
that, with the end
of the 40th Parliament and the election, the
“ceased to exist.” The judges wrote, “We
considered that it would not be appropriate to cease our work
what the Panel undertook…” Nevertheless,
their letter closed “We understand that no further work is now
expected of the
With that, 4,000 pages of
heavily censored documents were given
to every Member of Parliament, leaving an estimated 40,000 more
un-reviewed and in the government’s files.
of Foreign Affairs John Baird announced that
he had no intention of releasing the rest of the documents. Twelve million dollars had been spent and
was quite enough. “I suspect,” he said, “that if we went on for
12 years and
spent $120 million that some would say that wasn’t enough.” Certainly Stéphane Dion, who had been a
member of the Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee, said it had not
been enough, as
did Bob Rae, and NDP MP Jack Harris, who called the whole
process a “farce.”
Most disturbing to me was
Baird’s framing of the issue as the
handling of “Taliban prisoners.”
Colvin’s testimony had put it clearly in my mind that
these were not
enemy combatants. They were randomly
snatched; men in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then I learned that if Canada had thought
the prisoners were Taliban, there was an
different detention process. Those
detainees identified as possible Taliban were not turned over to
authorities at all; they were delivered to the US
forces in Afghanistan. By definition,
handing Afghan detainees over
to the local authorities for questioning meant we did not think
So after more than 18 months of
allegations, an historic finding of contempt, the slate has been
wiped clean by
the election. The order for the
production of documents passed by the House has ceased to exist.
order is null and void, and while historic, is history.
As one journalist said to me
“Who will care now? No one is going to
request the production of
the remaining documents now.”
To which, I replied, “I do and I
will.” I hope the constituents of
OTTAWA– After years of advocating for increased monitoring of water pollution in the oil sands, Liberal Water Critic Francis Scarpaleggia today expressed doubts about the Conservative government’s ability to provide timely implementation of the oil-sands monitoring plan unveiled by independent scientists.
OTTAWA — The Green Party of Canada is calling on the Minister of Fisheries, Keith Ashfield to un-muzzle scientists in the wake of fisheries scientist Kristi Miller being prevented from speaking to the press. “We have a world-class scientist in Kristi Miller and her research is incredibly important to our salmon populations and yet she is unable to grant interviews to the press,” said Green Leader and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands Elizabeth May. “This is totally unacceptable. Miller’s work has been published in Science, one of the world’s most prestigious journals, and yet the public is being blocked from learning about her research.”
“As a nation, we should be terribly concerned about crashing salmon populations and we should have access to the research of our own government scientists that can help us to fix this problem,” said Green Fisheries Critic Janice Harvey. “The entire convoluted process that government scientists have to jump through to access media is completely ridiculous.”
Kristi Miller leads a salmon genetics project at the federal Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island, operated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. She has been researching possible genetic factors associated with increased death rates of sockeye salmon. After her research started to gain worldwide attention, the Privy Council Office ordered her not to speak publicly and prevented any interviews by journalists.
“Muzzling Kristi Miller is unfortunately part of a larger pattern of the Harper government silencing scientists from all departments, preventing any information from reaching the public. Any information that does emerge is carefully screened and scripted by political communications officers in Ottawa,” said May.
Elizabeth May has pledged her support to the Canadian Science Writers’ Association who are working to end the muzzling of Canadian government scientists.
Green Party of Canada
OTTAWA — The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs John Duncan must immediately confirm that the federal government has not been engaged in bad faith bargaining, says the Green Party of Canada. “Allegations of bad faith negotiating are very serious,” said Green Leader and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands Elizabeth May. “We call on John Duncan to pledge to allow land claims resolution to continue fairly.”
The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, the Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council and the Alliance of Tribal Nations have accused the federal government of taking a ‘take it or leave it’ approach to specific land claim negotiations, including imposing an arbitrary cut-off time for negotiations. More than half of all specific claims in Canada are with First Nations in British Columbia.
“The heart of land claims negotiations must be a willingness to talk for as long as it takes,” says Green Aboriginal Affairs Critic Lorraine Rekmans. “There must be trust in the process if we will achieve any resolutions. This failure to address fundamental issues fairly and with respect for good faith and human rights is a blight on all Canadians. The United Nations has already criticized Canada for its failures. We must show the world that Canada is fair and just.”
The federal government is apparently attempting to expedite settlements by imposing a three year time limit on some negotiations.
“Our First Nations are simply asking for fair, transparent and timely negotiations. I think that is more than fair,” said Rekmans.
“What we are hearing from our First Nations is that they are finding the specific claims policy to be adversarial, in appropriate, and unreasonable,” said May. “Obviously the federal government must develop a process that is collaborative and leads to positive outcomes.”
Green Party of Canada
“We extend our deepest sympathies to the people of South Korea affected by the record floods and landslides in the area around Seoul. We commend the [...]
It has been an interesting day. While doing my work on constituency matters,
I tried to keep at bay a growing furor over why I had tweeted about the safety
of electromagnetic radiation and Wi-Fi. I
haven’t been attacked with such nastiness in ages. (I used to be used to it. It was almost
refreshing.) The easiest thing to do on
twitter, would, I suppose, be to wave a white flag and say “just kidding.” Instead, I think the controversy has created
a good teaching moment.
When I was first attacked and lambasted for
expressing concern about various forms of pollution and human health, I was
young and the attackers were brutal. I
was worried about things like Agent Orange.
wasn’t. I was concerned about lead in
gas, but it was hard to get the government to act. I worked to get certain pesticides banned,
but they were “safe” right up to the day they were banned.
So, for friends and foes alike on Twitter,
I think a fuller explanation for my views than can fit in a tweet is required.
First, a few clear caveats to keep the
issue in proportion:
- The health risks of electromagnetic radiation from cell phones,
cell phone towers and Wi-Fi have not become the Green Party’s top priority.
- For those who tweeted that other issues are more important, no
- Poverty is a more important determinant of health.
- Active lifestyle and nutrition are also more important.
- The pharmaceutical industry and our lax testing is more
- Climate change is a more important priority for all of us.
Nevertheless, I was not speaking without a
careful review of the background on this issue which I would like to share
(please forgive the length of this blog as I will be posting links to important
The Green Party has passed the following members-based resolution:
BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE GREEN PARTY OF CANADA DEMAND THAT HEALTH
CANADA CREATE ENFORCEABLE, BIOLOGICALLY- BASED REGULATIONS, THAT WOULD
LIMIT HUMAN EXPOSURE TO RADIO FREQUENCY RADIATION TO A PRECAUTIONARY LIMIT OF
0.1 uW/cm2 (or 0.614 V/m ) FOR CUMULATIVE OUTDOOR EXPOSURE, AS RECOMMENDED IN
THE “BIOINITIATIVE REPORT” OF 2007. (www.bioinitiative.org/report/index.htm)
This is not to say the science is
essentially “settled,” as it is on climate change. There is no scientific consensus on EMF and
health. But, it is equally not possible to make the claims many of Twitter have
made today that Wi-Fi and cell phones are all proven “safe.”
There are studies on both sides of the
issue. They fall into two general
categories – epidemiological studies on humans and animal studies.
Epidemiological studies (studying the human
population exposed to a substance or activity and then working to assess
whether a health impact is linked to that substance or behaviour) are inherently fraught with difficulties in
proof. There are always issues of bias
(not the same as suggesting researchers are biased, but that the patient’s
recall may be flawed), and there are confounding factors (such as other things
in the subjects’ environment that could have caused the health problem). Causal links come slowly and over decades in
some cases to build up a weight of evidence.
One study, either way is never conclusive.
Animal studies have their own limitations. Rats and humans are different. Exposure rates used in animal studies will
exceed (often substantially) an approximation of what humans may be exposed to.
I have been paying close attention to the
issue since the first peer-reviewed medical study of Dr. Lennart Hardell in Sweden. He found an association between cell phone
use and brain cancer. I paid attention
because I knew Dr. Hardell’s name, his reputation and his work. He was one of the first researchers to find
an association between phenoxy herbicides (Agent Orange) and cancer.
I paid attention to an editorial in The Lancet, the Journal of the British
Medical Society, over ten years ago (which I cannot now find on Google, but
which I have hard copy in files back in Ottawa). It warned that, under the precautionary
principle, children and adolescents should not be exposed to cell phones and
that exposure to EMF should be kept to a minimum. It said young people were more vulnerable — not only to cancer but to mental confusion
after being exposed to EMF.
2008, the European Parliament took action to bring in stricter limits for cell
phone and Wi-Fi use for children. The following is from The Independent (Geoffrey
Lean, “Mobile phone use ‘raises children’s risk of brain cancer fivefold’,”
September 21, 2008.):
“Last week the European Parliament voted by 522 to 16 to urge ministers
across Europe to bring in stricter limits for exposure to radiation from mobile
and cordless phones, Wi-fi and other devices, partly because children are
especially vulnerable to them. They are more at risk because their brains and
nervous systems are still developing and because – since their heads are
smaller and their skulls are thinner – the radiation penetrates deeper into
David Carpenter, dean of the School
of Public Health at the
State University of NewYork – who also attended the conference – said:
“Children are spending significant time on mobile phones. We may be facing
a public health crisis in an epidemic of brain cancers as a result of mobile
2000 and 2005, two official inquiries under Sir William Stewart, a former government chief scientist,
recommended the use of mobile phones by children should be
“discouraged” and “minimised”.”
did I say the evidence is mounting?
Because of two recent and important reviews
One is the May 6, 2011 Resolution passed by
the Council of Europe. http://assembly.coe.int/Documents/WorkingDocs/Doc11/EDOC12608.pdf
The Council of Europe Resolution bemoans
the fact that earlier calls for the use of the precautionary principle in
relation to exposure to EMF (such as the 2008 resolution cited above) have been
ignored and that children and young people, in particular, are being exposed to
increasing levels of EMF. The children
and young people are described as a “particularly vulnerable group.”
Please go to the
text of the full resolution to review the Council’s detailed call to restrict
The second major
event was the recent decision which I posted earlier on Twitter by the World Health Organization to list EMF
as a Class 2B human carcinogen. The
immediate twitter reaction was to latch onto the fact that it was not
conclusive. I know it is not conclusive,
but you have to read the study that was conducted by the International Agency
for Research on Cancer. Thirty
scientists from 14 countries reviewed a large number of human and animal
studies. It was published in The Lancet on line on June 22, 2011.
(see this link for the full study http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045(11)70147-4/fulltext)
Here is an excerpt
to give you the feeling of the weighing of competing studies. This was a rigorous review:
the INTERPHONE study and the Swedish pooled analysis are susceptible to
bias—due to recall error and selection for participation—the Working Group
concluded that the findings could not be dismissed as reflecting bias alone,
and that a causal interpretation between mobile phone RF-EMF exposure and
glioma is possible. A similar conclusion was drawn from these two studies for
acoustic neuroma, although the case numbers were substantially smaller than for
glioma. Additionally, a study from Japan11
found some evidence of an increased risk for acoustic neuroma associated with
ipsilateral mobile phone use.”
(Glioma is a form of brain cancer.
The INTERPHONE study has been controversial as it was industry funded,
but it needs to be considered. The
debate has been from two primary cancer research groups — Hardell’s work and INTERPHONE’s)
I will attach an older review from the
European Environment Agency in 2007, but it is useful due to a list of citations
and references. Not all of the
references say there is a problem. As I
hope is now clear, I am not saying we know for sure that Wi-Fi, cell phones and
cell phone towers are health hazards.
What is important to appreciate is that a significant number of serious
medical researchers, none of them wearing tinfoil hats, are concerned that the
human population is being subjected to an enormous biological experiment.
As for the
theory re pollinators, going back to review the current state of information,
the evidence is weaker. There is one
study from India
and a presentation from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, briefing to Congress
expressing concerns, May 10, 2007.
Our stance is simple and responsible. Exercise the precautionary principle. A risk of a health problem requires a
cautious approach until the science is settled.
For me personally, that translates into
using my blackberry, but not carrying it in my pocket. I do not hold it up against my head. I prefer land lines. Do I occasionally use cell phones? Sure.
Do I want high speed internet in my house? Yes, and I have a cable. Am I happy to latch onto a signal in the
airport by Wi-Fi? You bet.
It is a matter of knowing there are
unanswered questions and taking reasonable precautions. If you have Wi-Fi in your home, turn it off
when you are sleeping. Locate the router
away from where your kids are sleeping.
Urge your kids to text more than talk with the phone to their head.
The place where those reasonable
precautions are most important is related to our children. That is why the European Union and Council
for Europe urge much stricter standards than in Canada. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable
position. So tweet away!
European Environment Agency
Radiation risk from everyday
Published: 17 Sep
A new report
raising concerns about the effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) on human
health calls for tougher safety standards to regulate radiation from mobile
phones, power lines and many other sources of exposure in daily life. The
report, ‘Bioinitiative: A Rationale for a Biologically-Based Public Exposure
Standard for Electromagnetic Fields’ was compiled by the BioInitiative Working
Group, an international group of scientists, researchers and public health
policy professionals. The EEA has contributed to this new report with a chapter
drawn from the EEA study ‘Late lessons from early warnings: the precautionary
principle 1896–2000′ published in 2001.
The EEA study reviews the
histories of a selection of public and environmental hazards, such as asbestos,
benzene and PCBs, from the first scientifically based early warnings about potential
harm, to subsequent precautionary and preventive measures. Cases on tobacco
smoking and lead in petrol are forthcoming.
the EEA does not have specific expertise in EMF, the case studies of public hazards analysed in the ‘ Late
lessons‘ publication show that harmful exposures can be widespread before
there is both ‘convincing’ evidence of harm from long-term exposures, and
biological understanding of how that harm is caused.
‘There are many examples of the
failure to use the precautionary principle in the past, which have resulted in
serious and often irreversible damage to health and environments. Appropriate,
precautionary and proportionate actions taken now to avoid plausible and
potentially serious threats to health from EMF are likely to be seen as prudent
and wise from future perspectives. We must remember that precaution is one of
the principles of EU environmental policy,’ says Professor Jacqueline McGlade,
Executive Director of the EEA.
Current evidence, although
limited, is strong enough to question the scientific basis for the present EMF
exposure limits, according to the BioInitiative Working Group.
For more information:
Telecommunications Research Programme, United
Kingdom, September 2007
(World Health Organisation — International Agency for Research on Cancer)
on-going project on mobile phones.
Report, August 2007
- BioInitiative Report: A Rationale for a Biologically-based Public
Exposure Standard for Electromagnetic fields (ELF and RF): http://www.bioinitiative.org/report/docs/report.pdf
advice on WIFI exposures July 2007
Health Organisation review on Extremely Low Frequency Electric and Magnetic
fields and Health, June 2007:
- Electromagnetic fields and public health. Fact sheet N322, June 2007.
- Extremely Low Frequency Fields
Environmental Health Criteria Monograph No. 238
- Electromagnetic fields and public health. Fact sheet N322, June 2007.
(Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers,
Inc.) microwave magazine, Editorial, Volume 8, Issue 3, June 2007. Cellular Mobile Radiation and Intercranial Tumours. Lin J.C.
Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR), Opinion on
Possible Effects of Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) on Human Health, March, 2007
Related web sites:
research study, DG Research, 2000–2004
See also ‘EU Research on Environment and Health — Results from projects funded
by the 5th Work frame programme, pages 176–177 on REFLEX and EMF projects,
et al., ‘Mechanisms of short term ERK activation by electromagnetic
fields at mobile phone frequencies’, Biochem Journal, 405, 559–568, 2007
- Mobile Phones and Health: Reports by
Radiological Protection Board, United Kingdom, 2002, 2004
- Mobile Phones and Health 2004. NRPB. Volume 15, No. 5.
- A summary of recent reports on Mobile Phones and Health (2000–
2004). NRPB. W65.
- Mobile Phones and Health 2004. NRPB. Volume 15, No. 5.
Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Non-ionizing
radiation, Part 1: Static and Extremely Low Frequency Electric and Magnetic
Fields. World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer,
Health Organization ‘Principles for evaluating health risks in children
associated with exposure to chemicals’, Environmental Health Criteria, 237,
Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection, Guidelines for Limiting
Exposure to Time-Varying Electric, Magnetic, and Electromagnetic Fields (Up to
300GHz), International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection, Health
Physics, Vol 74, No 4, p 494–522, 1998.
‘Late lessons from early warnings: the precautionary principle 1896–2000’,
European Environment Agency, Copenhagen,
KINGSTON – Liberal Science and Technology Critic and former research physicist, Ted Hsu, made the following statement today where he expressed his great disappointment with the [...]
With only six days left to find a solution to the ideological impasse between United States Congress and the White House, Liberal Finance Critic Scott Brison and Deputy Liberal Leader Ralph Goodale and are calling on the Conservative government to take immediate action to mitigate the effects of the impending US debt crisis on Canadian families, beginning with an extraordinary meeting of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance to ensure a contingency plan is in place should the worst happen.
VICTORIA, BC –– All jurisdictions imposing blanket implementation of wireless
Smart Meters face citizen backlash.