Participants, including Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns, right, cheer at Char’s Landing after concluding a two-hour town hall meeting to offer local input into a Green New Deal for Canada, an initiative led by a coalition of 15 organizations. MIKE YOUDS PHOTO

Alberni town hall hashes out input on Green New Deal

Localizing resources, food security prominent among suggestion

BY MIKE YOUDS

About 40 people gathered at Char’s Landing May 23 to consider a monumental task: pooling their ideas as local input into a proposed Green New Deal for Canada.

Drawing on the example of the U.S. Green New Deal — inspired by the 1933 New Deal that helped pull America out of the Great Depression — a coalition of groups is drafting a Canadian pact of principles and objectives. Town halls were held in communities across the country last week.

Alberni Valley Transition Town Society and Young Professionals of the Alberni Valley co-hosted the two-hour session.

The goal is a shared vision, a “transformative policy platform” for addressing the climate crisis, implementing the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations as well as the right to free, prior and informed consent.

“I think it’s a kind of Grand Unified Plan for survival,” said John Mayba, noting developments in the worldwide movement over the last few years. “It’s to share in the development of a vision and broad principles of a Green New Deal.” A similar vision, the Leaf Manifesto, gained only limited traction in the 2015 election, he noted.

Participants worked in small groups to come up with a set of policy proposals labelled as “green line” for inclusion and “red line” for exclusion from the pact.

Chris Alemany, president of AVTTS, said they were pleased with the group effort, which focused on local issues relating to sustainability, economy and food security.

“It all sort of revolved around the notion of trying to re-localize and get more out of our resources, and ensuring those are clean resources,” he said. “Transitioning to clean and green energy.”

There were proposals for building mass transit and transitioning to a low-carbon economy, vital to reducing hydrocarbon emissions. Participants endorsed the principle of holding corporations to account for environmental degradation.

“People really wanted to take it to the local level and things that we could accomplish,” Alemany said.

AVTTS will submit the proposals to the coalition (greennewdealcanada.ca).

“It will be interesting to see, and it’s not attached to any political party,” Alemany said. “It’s hopefully something that everyone can get behind.”

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