Archive for 2006 September

Breakfast with Anthony, musings on transportation

Anthony Perl, the Urban Studies Director at Simon Fraser University, is an old family friend who I met 24 years ago when he and Charlie lived at Massey College in the University of Toronto.  At the time, Anthony’s main claim to fame was that he had become the president of the National Association of Railroad Passengers by sending proxy ballots in pre-addressed envelopes to the entire membership, and therefore came into the convention with half the members in his pocket.  His main competitor was the love of his life, who at the time regarded him as childish and in need of much refinement, but was eventually persuaded to marry him.  He is very engaging.

His fascination with trains led him to focus on public transportation policy in his political science studies, while writing travel articles for train magazines.  In promoting trains, he started to research the environmental benefits of rail transportation and came to be concerned simultaneously about oil depletion and global warming.  And from there he moved onto sound urban planning.  A whole career built around trainwatching with his dad as a boy.     Read more »

Jim Harris and Green Party of Canada blogs

If you’re interested in starting a blog, but don’t know how to start, the Green Party of Canada has just made it a little easier.  They have a new blogging resource for members at:

Jim HarrisJim Harris, former GPC leader and one of our Toronto-Danforth members, just wrote to me earlier today (well, actually yesterday now, as the site was down so long it’s now the morning after) to announce the appearance of his blog there, which you can see at:

Count on Jim to write well. I think his blog should be one to watch for, and I’ve linked our EDA blog to his.

I’ve looked the blog area of the GPC site over and there is room for improvement.  For one thing, there’s no link from the main site.  For another the “new members” listing isn’t a link, and it should be.  But it’s a start and will surely improve.  I’m looking forward to watching it grow.

Surviving peak oil

Professor L.D.D. (Danny) HarveyOn Wednesday night, I went to a Post Carbon Toronto meetup, where Professor Danny Harvey made a presentation about how we are going to survive the perils of peak oil.  It’s nice to know that the technology to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels exists.

Now, for those of you whose eyes are glazing over as you read the words “post-carbon” and “peak oil”, let me explain.  Peak oil and post-carbon groups are basically interested in the time following the point where production of oil peaks.  Standard economics predicts that once supply can no longer keep up with demand, demand will be forced to drop through price increases.  It is clearly in the interest of oil and gas companies to keep telling people that they don’t need to prepare for the upcoming scarcity, which is many years away, because that way they can be sure to extract the highest prices once demand is forced to go down.  If, on the other hand, all world governments sensibly addressed climate change with effective conservation and efficiency programs, demand would go down through less painful measures, and fuel prices would remain low as production declined.     Read more »

Introducing Andrew and Ed

2010 update:  This post dates to 2007.  Andrew James, current President of the Toronto-Danforth Green Party of Ontario riding association, is running for Toronto City Council in Ward 30.

His campaign website is

Andrew JamesEd Chin This evening a very small group gathered at Riverdale Library to meet two candidates for City Council, Andrew James running in Ward 29, and Edward Chin, running in Ward 30. It was a calm and relaxing evening, with a lot of advice being offered about what to focus on and what to avoid.  I’ll be offering my endorsement to both of them, and lobbying the Green community to pitch in to help these guys.

One encouraging sign is that I ran into Robin Green of the Beaches EDA at the Big Carrot, where I was stocking up on organic snacks for tonight’s event.  He was prancing around in full bicycle wear, those lovely black skin-tight legging things, yellow jacket and helmet in hand, and offered financial support for anyone who opposed Case Ootes, the incumbent in Ward 29 who has declared he will eliminate bike lanes in his ward as part of his election platform.

I brought my camera for the first time, and Charlie took these pictures.  If I can remember to keep bringing it, perhaps we’ll liven up the blog.

Global Warming — St. Lawrence Centre Forum

Yesterday, I was distributing my energy plan at the St. Lawrence Forum before listening to Elizabeth May share her wisdom on global warming, alongside a panel that included Ralph Torrie, a very respected longtime energy expert who has been advising the city, Jose Etcheverry, a climate change researcher for the Suzuki Foundation, and a representative from Environment Canada.  Usually, the St. Lawrence Forum features hearty debates by experts on opposing sides of the issue, but in this case, everyone was on the same side.  The organizers had invited the federal environment minister, Rona Ambrose, to defend Prime Minister Harper’s sabotaging of what few programs existed to combat global warming, but she wisely chose to be unable to make it.

So it was a sobering evening, though Elizabeth was witty as usual, and Ralph Torrie had several dry remarks that caused an eruption of laughter sometime after he delivered them.  Once again, the point was driven home to me that things may be a whole lot worse than we think.     Read more »

2006 Sep 26: Meet City Council candidates

There are two candidates for City Council I’d like you to meet: Andrew James and Edward Chin.

Andrew (Ward 29, north of Danforth) and Ed (Ward 30, south of Danforth) are both seeking the support of Danforth Greens for their candidacies.  I’d be delighted to endorse both in the upcoming municipal election, but I’d like to hear your views before offering my endorsement as the CEO of Danforth Greens.  I’m asking everyone to come out to meet them and to consider offering them your support for their campaigns.

Tuesday, 2006 September 26, 6 pm
Riverdale Public Library, Broadview & Gerrard

Edward Chin, Ward 30 City Council candidate

Edward Chin is [was, in 2006] running for City Council in Ward 30 (the bottom half of our Toronto-Danforth riding), and looking for help from environmentally-minded residents…

I met Ed Chin through the Toronto Energy Coalition, when he came to a Steering Committee meeting.  He struck me as quiet and knowledgeable, and committed to the idea of reducing harm.  I soon discovered that he had an incredible array of experience, from biochemical research to paralegal to many positions in the theatre industry.  Now retired, he gives a great deal to the community, working in tax clinics, setting up computer centres, teaching ESL, and sitting on the Board of the Ralph Thornton Centre.

Last week, he sat down with me to tell me more about himself. He is a fascinating man.  Born of Chinese parents in Boston, Ed grew up in what he calls “Boston’s Chinese ghetto”, where he was painfully aware of the exclusion suffered by racial minorities.  Ed studied chemistry and math as a young man at Columbia University before spending a year in Germany and Denmark.  He speaks a version of Cantonese, English, German, and some French, some Danish and some Russian that he is learning for fun.  He returned from Germany to register for the Vietnam draft, but was prepared to face military jail if ordered to fight.  Instead, he was assigned to working in biomedical laboratories.  When his service ended, he went on to work at Columbia’s medical school, while simultaneously returning to study molecular biology at the University.  Nearing the end of his studies, he was recruited by the University of Pennsylvania to a teaching position.

The Columbia riots intervened.  Sympathizing with the students who opposed the Vietnam draft, Ed made the difficult decision that he needed to devote his life to helping people.  He spent the next years working as a paralegal focusing on housing for the poor.  He organized rent strikes for people living in substandard housing and offered other legal services.

Eventually, a friend arranged for Ed to get a job as a projectionist, which Ed thought was an easy way to make some money, while still leaving time to do other things.  He ended up spending 20 years in the theatre industry, both in film and on Broadway, working in production, post-production and backstage tech.

He came to Canada in 1980 on a work visa, married a Canadian in 1983, immigrated in 1984 and became a citizen in 1989.  He has one son and one grandson.  As a retiree, he dabbles in many interests.  He sits on the Board of the Ralph Thornton Centre and on 3 committees of the Riverdale Co-op, where he has lived for 13 years.  He enjoys computers, and helped incorporate the GTA Linux Users Group, a public freeware advocacy group.  He is setting up the Computer Learning Centre at Banglatown, a Bangladeshi community centre, and helped them incorporate.  He studied to become a financial investment advisor, and has been in charge of the tax clinics at Woodgreen for 8 years.  He is also a qualified ESL teacher and taught at Woodgreen.

He is the only candidate who opposes the construction of any power plant on the Portlands, and was one of the first signatories of my plan.  He would like, through legislation or incentives, to encourage greater energy efficiency in new construction.  He is particularly annoyed by the inefficiency of all-glass exterior construction.

Ed is interested in reaching out to immigrant communities and addressing their needs for improved access to services and employment.  He feels that our community has become a dumping ground for unwanted development because it has traditionally had the highest new immigrant population in the city.  He feels that new development should be integrated with new communities and planned in consultation with existing residents.

2006 Oct 14: Pledge TO Green

Pledge TO Green environmental event logo.Adriana is one of the organizers of the Pledge TO Green coming soon to City Hall.  And, big surprise, Elizabeth May is one of the speakers. The purpose of the event is to bring to the attention of both the general public and the candidates for Toronto’s municipal election the importance of implementing the recommendations in Toronto’s Environmental Plan.     Read more »

2006 Sep 27: Toronto peak oil discussion group September meetup

The Toronto Peak Oil Discussion Group September Meetup will feature Professor Danny Harvey from the Geography Department of the University of Toronto.  Professor Harvey describes his topic as “Peak Oil is Not the End of the World (although it might seem like it for some)”.

Wednesday, 2006 September 27 at 6:45pm.
Frankland Community School, 816 Logan Ave.

2006 Sep 24: The Big Picture

Elizabeth May is one of the invited guests on The Big Picture this Sunday (with Bob Mills, MP, conservative chair of Environment Committee, Terry Glavin, BC author, and Mark Nantais, Canadian Automobile Association).

Sunday, 2006 September 24 at 6:15pm.
CBC, 205 Wellington St West. Free.

To attend the studio taping you must reserve a seat. Please call the producer, Rosa Kim at 416 205-2551 or email her at

CBC notice:

Please join The Big Picture with Avi Lewis, as we tackle global warming: the single biggest challenge of our time. The two-hour program starts by gathering a large studio audience to watch a provocative documentary exploring climate change and its potential impact on human civilization. Lewis then leads a spirited town hall debate with knowledgeable and passionate activists from the environmental movement, industry and politics.

The Documentary: The Truth About Global Warming: Can We Save The Planet In the blink of an eye human civilization as we know it could be gone. Some or all of our coastal communities could be under water. Millions of plant and animal species gone and never to return. All because of global warming. All because of the choices we make every day. Legendary UK broadcaster Sir David Attenborough shows us the terrifying consequences of global warming.  He says we’ve reached a tipping point and that we must act now to save our planet. Through sensible, manageable, and meaningful changes he says we can save planet earth without returning to the days without air conditioning and with horse drawn carriages.

Canada is at a crossroads when it comes to a national policy about global warming.  We have a new government that isn’t enamored of the Kyoto Protocol and as our country begins to debate what needs to be done about this serious threat to our civilization, you should make your voice heard.

If you can’t attend the taping, you can watch it on Wednesday, September 27 at 10pm on CBC Newsworld, as part two of The Truth About Global Warming.  Part one airs Sunday, September 24 at 10pm.