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Monday, December 28, 2009

Official Statement on the 2010 Olympics

Written by Council of Canadians
Click here for full statement. Exerpt:
"As an organization focused on global justice we are especially concerned that the 2010 Olympics are providing a prime 'green‐washing' opportunity for corporations involved in the most egregious threats to the survival of humanity and the earth through their active participation in the privatization and commodification of water and massive environmental degradation exemplified by the exploitation of the tar sands... At a time of economic crisis when federal, provincial and municipal governments should focus on public projects that create a lasting positive social and economic foundation the 2010 Games appear set to leave a legacy of social and environmental destruction and massive debt that will hobble our ability to make positive change and respond to the serious challenges facing communities across the province and the country."

Water Watch Meeting

GREATER VICTORIA WATER WATCH COALITION MEETING: Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010, 7:30-9:30 p.m. Garry Oak Room, 1335 Thurlow (behind Sir James Douglas School)

Update on the campaign for "public" sewage treatment. Also, help us to plan our annual World Water Day event! For updates visit:
Come to meet and work with others who care about our public water systems! If you would like to volunteer your time working on water and waste water issues, please let us know.

Next Monthly Board Meeting

Board Meeting: Wed. Jan. 27, 2010, 5:30-6:30 pm BCGEU Building, 2994 Douglas St.

All members of the Council of Canadians are welcome. If you are not a board member, and you wish to attend, and/or if you have items you would like to have added to the agenda, please contact us at least a week in advance of the meeting.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Stand up! Speak out!

On October, 29, while most of us were going about our daily business, the BC legislature approved Bill 13, which amends the city charters of Vancouver, Richmond and Whistler. This new law makes it legal for police to enter a home, seize “anti-Olympics” signs, and arrest the occupants.

On November 25, while her audience waited patiently at the Vancouver Library, Amy Goodman, a respected American journalist , author, and commentator for Democracy Now, was held up for an hour and a half at the Canadian border. (“Journalist to speak at UVic held at border”, Nov. 27 Times Colonist.) Border guards demanded her speech notes, her new book, and access to her computer. Was she carrying drugs? Was her passport out of date? Did she have a violent criminal record? Or, worst yet, was she going to talk about the Olympics? The answer is no to all counts, even the Olympics.

What we are experiencing here in BC is intimidation and harassment, low level terrorist tactics used in Europe in the 1930s to scare people into compliance with the party line. The party is VANOC and the party line is written by the sponsoring corporations. We all know from history that fear leads to paralysis. Public outrage leads to action.

Roberta Cory

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Torch Relay Protest

Above: Snakes in the Grass protesters wait for the Olympic torch at the Blue Bridge in Victoria, taking the opportunity to educate RCMP Constable Ross Wallace on the finer points of corporate bad behaviour.

On Friday, October 30, 2009, at the start of the Torch Relay in Victoria, staged two demonstrations against some of the worst sponsors of the Olympics and the overall outrageous spending on the relay at the expense of social services cuts. Early in the morning five hardy souls braved the cold and damp to be at the Blue Bridge when the torch was passed from one runner to the next and carried over the bridge. We were actually personally escorted to the other side of the entrance by Constable Wallace of the RCMP so that we would be better positioned when the torch arrived. (The above photo shows four of us just before we moved across the road.) The torch was an hour or two late in arriving, so we had lots of time to educate the RCMP and the media about our objections to various sponsors of the Olympics and our outrage at the $30 million cost of the torch relay, of which $20 million is taxpayer funded and the rest by mainly Coca Cola, notorious for unethical and criminal acts around the world, and RBC, the major financier of the Alberta tar sands, the most environmentally destructive mega-project on the planet.

Two vans full of cheerleaders passed by, the first loudly touting the virtues of Coke and the second singing the praises of RBC. Shouts of “SHAME!” and “BOO!” drowned them out as we waved and bobbed our protest signs right next to the vans. Here are some shots of a few of our signs.

As the torch carrier finally approached, the next runner engaged us in conversation, objecting to our negative view of many aspects of the Olympics. Naturally, he was completely oblivious to them and totally hyped about his role in the relay. At the passing of the flame from one torch to the next, we made a lot of noise and bobbed our signs up and down, attracting media attention and making it impossible for them to photograph the event without including us. All of this took place just a few feet away from the two relay runners.

In spite of a great deal of media attention, including multiple photographs, videos and interviews, our demonstration at the Blue Bridge was not reported on anywhere in the mainstream media, except for a few seconds of fame in a few of the local TV news reports.

In the afternoon we joined No2010 in “Five Ring Circus”, an anti-Olympics festival in Centennial Square at Victoria City Hall (see above). More of our protest signs are shown below.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Words to Live By

'Cowardice asks the question-is it safe? Expediency asks the question-is it politic? Vanity asks the question-is it popular? But conscience asks the question-IS IT RIGHT? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it BECAUSE it is RIGHT.' - Martin Luther King

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Social Networking Lesson

Alex Batko (left) and Robert Cory gave a lesson on Facebook, Twitter and Google Docs at the Greater Victoria Public Library last night, hosted by the Victoria Chapter of the Council of Canadians. We had around a dozen people, which allowed time for all the questions. Everyone learned a lot about how social networking can be used by activists, including the presenters!

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Victoria Chapter is now on Facebook and Twitter!

We now have a Facebook group, "Council of Canadians, Victoria, BC Chapter" and a Twitter account, "cocvic". To access these features, go to our website:
and click on the "f" button on the left side of the home page for Facebook or the "t" button for Twitter.

Facebook is much more interactive than our relatively static website, and Facebook also allows sharing of information among a large group of Facebook users, as well as online discussions between group members.

Twitter is a service that provides a way to produce fast and concise "microblogs", very short statements about things that are happening, for example.

One big advantage of both Facebook and Twitter is that they have a huge number of subscribers, allowing us to reach a vast audience of people, both Council of Canadians members who are on Facebook and potential members, as well.

In addition, since other chapters, as well as the national organization, have Facebook groups themselves, Facebook provides an easy way for all of these to communicate rapidly across Canada and thus learn about all of the activities that all of the chapters and the Council as a whole are doing.

In addition, hundreds of organizations related to the Council and working on the same issues are also on Facebook, generating a huge network of activists all in touch with one another.

Welcome to the age of social networking!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Annual General Meeting, April 8, 2009

We began the evening with a delicious supper that we shared with about 21 people who attended the AGM. Following the supper, we began the meeting. First, our president Fran Thoburn gave the President's Report (see blog below).

The following reports were presented by members of the Board:
Financial - Trudy Aldridge
Water - Dorothy Clippingdale
Health - Meg Sylvester
Coffee Nights - John Pope
Snakes in the Grass - Joan Russow
Website - Robert Cory
Membership - Roberta Cory
Outreach - Barbara Mitchell-Pollock

The election was then facilitated by Freda Knott. The following changes to the existing Board have occured:
Fran Thoburn stepped down as president but will remain on the Board.
Joan Russow stepped down from the Board.
John Pope and Nana Sakamoto stepped down from the Board.
Michael Aldridge and Alex Batko joined the Board.

The 2009-10 Board of Directors consist of:
Trudy Aldridge
Mike Aldridge
Alex Batko
Roberta Cory
Robert Cory
Jess Gunnarson
Neil Mlussell
Barbara Mitchell Pollock
Linda Siegel
Meg Sylvester
Fran Thoburn

Finally, there was a timely talk by Harjap Grewal, the Council’s regional organizer for BC-Yukon, about the current financial meltdown that we have experienced in the last few months which was brought about by the failure of capitalism. The US crisis became the World crisis because of deregulations of corporations and the financial system. Corporations are not democratic and our governments have acted as a social administrator for corporations. Harjap stressed that we are at a critical juncture and we need to empower municipalities and communities in order to achieve a just society. He summed up by pointing out that we are told "there is no alternative". However, THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE and it is up to all of us to make it happen by starting in our communities.

Trudy Aldridge

Thursday, April 9, 2009

President's Report, Victoria AGM, April 8, 2009

The year has been busy with many major thrusts. We have enjoyed cooperating with other organizations with similar goals. For instance, groups like the South Island Health Coalition and our Health committee have cosponsored events. The water committee has been a vital part of the Water Watch group. The coffee committee has been stalwartly presenting almost monthly evenings of education and discussion for the general public as well as members. New members are now receiving welcoming outreach from the membership committee. Outreach has made sure there is a CoC presence at many events, such as Moss Street Market and Seedy Saturday. During the year we created a new entity, Snakes in the Grass, which researches the greenwashing activities of corporations.

Our chapter has appreciated the back up help and guidance from the regional office. We are happy to be working with Harjap Grewal, our regional organizer. Both he and his assistant Ava Waxman came to Victoria during the year to bring us programs of vital interest: Ava gave us a presentation about genetic modified foods, and Harjap, together with three experts, toured BC presenting a potent tar sands panel.

Two other events are worth mentioning. The first is the evening with Holly Dressel, who wrote "Who Killed the Queen". This book is about our national health system and how the IMF, the International Money Fund, forced the Canadian government to pull the plug on our national health care funding in 1996, which is when the line ups for medical care first became a part of our everyday life. We had a dynamic discussion, with a rich exchange of ideas.

In May the Canadian Environment Awards announced that: "The program's top honour, the Citation of Lifetime Achievement, will be presented to Maude Barlow who for 25 years has been a fierce advocate for the rights of Canadians and for Canadian sovereignty... Maude Barlow will deliver the keynote address at the annual Awards Gala... on June 2 in Toronto." When our very active member, Joan Russow, came across this information, she emailed the Ottawa CoC office to alert Maude that this award is sponsored by Shell and other major global polluters. Maude did make that keynote speech; she delivered a blistering exposure of Shell for its ecologically disastrous coal bed methane project in BC and donated her award money to the campaign of those being intimately affected by Shell's criminal activities, the Sacred Headwaters nation, saying "your struggle is our struggle". She received a standing ovation; in the audience, the Shell Vice President initially remained seated, standing only after he became aware that cameras were on him. (This information came from the Tyee's write up of the event.)

I want to emphasize that Joan Russow is the person who alerted Maude to this situation, giving Maude an unexpected opportunity to speak strongly to the issues of corporate crimes. Sadly, Joan is leaving our board after many years of helping us with her strong ability to do piercing research. We will miss you Joan, and you deserve a huge thanks. Fortunately Joan will continue to be active with Snakes in the Grass which allows us to continue to use the results of her widespread researches.

Our web site, by the way, has an active role in keeping us up to date. One of its features is a list of alternative media, such as the Tyee.

Over the year there have been many other events, which you can find mentioned on our web site. Barbara Hay, one of our active and hard working board members resigned in May; she and all her many contributions are missed.

I wish to thank all of you who have given me support and understanding as we have worked together during the past two years to keep Council of Canadians issues in the forefront of the minds of Victoria area residents.

Fran Thoburn