"well well well Mr. Howard"
- Xavier Rudd

Thanks for new PM Kevin Rudd, Australia is back on the map.

I wonder if American delegates - if the bureaucrats at these meetings realize that their countries marching orders will no longer be coming from Mr. Bush, could be in some position to show some forsight and push for serious international agreements?


I saw a show last night at the Registry Theatre in Kitchener.

My second time there in not long, after seeing the excellent and moving Exit Strategy recently.

The Anorak which played last night was written and acted completely by Adam Kelly from Montreal, who put on a Quebecois accent and had a memorized script for about an hour and a half.
I don't know how he did it. It was an incredible performance of who he thought Mark Lepine might have been, the killer of the Montreal massacre, telling his life story.

He reminds us that these shootings keep happening and there are similar characteristics to the murderers, so it would be foolish to label these people only as monsters and try to forget.
What I took out of the play is something to do with open mindedness, but I haven't quite figured it out yet.

He included a line about the University of Waterloo's excellent engineering program - spoke to him after briefly and he had noticed my UW sweater.
I forget to tell him that I had got the sweater at the 25th anniversary of our Women's Centre, a women's sweater that I was wearing.. somewhat coincidental.

Thankss to Adam for telling us this story.


"Prime Minister Stephen Harper has named a former university hockey star to stickhandle the terms of reference for a potentially explosive public inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber affair."

oh gee....
And look what University he comes from.


Since my last main post, I didn't realize that funding of faith-based schools would become the election issue.
Wish makes it even more important that we discuss other issues like energy.

I wanted to discuss Ontario coal plants, because it's a huge matter for Ontario. It was the McGuinty government who commissioned cost/benefit studies to show that our coal plants cause hundreds of premature deaths in Ontario and hundreds of millions to our health care system and other economic impacts. They then promptly broke their promise to close all plants by 2007, delaying, delaying, delaying.
The NDP, Liberals and Greens all committed to 2007 in the last election, with Conservatives promising 2014 I think.

Funny that I post this topic, as just yesterday, Dave Campanella wrote a significant opinion piece on nuclear, published in The Record: http://news.therecord.com/article/251871
It's an excellent summary of the concerns over nuclear power - and I'd encourage a read through for anyone who thinks that more nuclear plants are an option. The alternatives Dave propose are the same that I would.

But I have a better understanding of the other big supplier, which is coal - currently giving Ontario about 20-25% of our electricity. My understanding of this issue comes from proximity to Lambton Generating Station while growing up. As my first big environmental issue, I found out that air quality was a big issue in Sarnia (seemed to be worst in the province many days), and went on to research why. I found a big contributor was Lambton.

A report just released on Friday does a good job of going through the same numbers that I have always looked at, and pegs Sarnia's industry as the worst polluting of any city in Ontario (and most provinces and territories): http://www.ecojustice.ca/m_archive/pr07_10_04.html
Lambton tops the list of worse polluters.

I happened to take a tour of the plant, at the announcement of new scrubbers, back in summer of 2003. After my tour, I went back home, and the great blackout happened that afternoon, and the plant shut down. A few pages into that report shows what Sarnia looked like that evening, with the chemical plants losing energy and needing to flare.

The point is that McGuinty's studies are still accurate. And we have more than smog to worry about now. The carbon dioxide produced isn't cleaned by the scrubbers. We have to quickly shift away from coal. We have to be considerate of the jobs at these plants while we're doing it, and treat the workers well in the process. Ontario Clean Air Alliance reports show that the costs to switch won't be that high. And in the long-run, well, we know about that.
And here's the other video.


Follow-up from last post.
Go Green Party!

"According to results of the poll, opposition to taxpayer funding of religious schools is growing, with 68 per cent of Ontarians opposing the move — 51 per cent saying they “strongly” oppose it. Thirty percent say they support the move, but only 12 per cent “strongly” support it.

More telling is that half of Ontarians feel the best option is for the province to combine the current Catholic and Protestant system into one — the opposite of what the Conservatives are proposing."


Beginning to comment on this provincial election - this election and referendum are too important to ignore.

I just finished watching Green Party leader Frank de Jong on TVO. He did quite well, even better than last time I saw him on Studio 2 a few years ago. I actually remember he was once sort of stumped regarding his chief issue of tax shifting by Ruth Grier of the NDP. The next time I saw him, I challenged him with the same question, and he answered much better.
Frank has been leader of the Party since 1993. He actually posted on a blog on this site a few posts back.

Right now, local K-W candidate Catherine Fife is doing well with signage in my neighbourhood. She also lives in the area and is a credible community candidate.

I'll start by blogging on two issues in which I feel I have some background/credibility. And they are two issues which Brampton-West family doctor Sanjeev Goel has done videos on: coal power and religious funding for education.

I'll do education here.

now, if I was Sanjeev, I wouldn't lump Jedi with Atheist. But that was "Grey" anyway.

In the Harris years when my high school education was being messed up without even some consultation, we petitioned and advocated for several changes in curriculum and funding. The next thing brainy idea the new leader Ernie Eves (a moderate) wanted to implement was a private school tax credit. As I recall, that would have drawn out another $300 million from the education system. The Tories slid and lost the election.

Now we're back with an idea to fund all private religious schools, somehow within the public system. I give the Conservatives credit for attempting to introduce fairness into the system. The Liberals and NDP maintain the position of the status quo, which has long been criticized by the United Nations. It's awkward and unjust to fund one religion and not others. De Jong said that on the show, as a former Catholic graduate. He turned out alright of course, since social justice can be a core teaching in Catholic schools. But even Catholics should know that there isn't justification for this.
One public system has been the Green position for years. It's nice to see that consistency. It's great that young people can get religious education, and I always work for religious acceptance in schools and would make that a priority. But I don't think it's the public's responsibility to fund religious education. We should have diverse schools where we can educate young people with other students and educators who reflect the whole community. Not split them up based on religious and cultural/ethnic lines which would happen.

It's nice to hear an update of Green Party policy, that they'd do away with standardized testing, and implement a mandatory world religions course - one of my favourite subjects in my (Catholic) high school.

Here's Tory's gaffe. Whatever he meant..


This fall, Feds will be re-launching something we bureaucratically refer to as the "Arts Commission".

This sounds like a good guiding quote for the initiatives - Andrew, what do you think?

from playwright Bertolt Brecht: "Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it."


Recycling is still a late-stage 'solution'

and we thought Toronto shipping their waste to Michigan was bad...

We in Waterloo Region recently learned that some of our recycling plastics are being shipped to China for who knows what. I'm going to comment with my own thoughts first - I just saw that our esteemed prof Jennifer Clapp commented in the local paper today regarding the issue. She knows what she's talking about, so I'll post the link at the bottom here and see if I share a similar opinion.

So it was a surprise to read the articles, but I guess I knew in the back of my mind that something like this was happening. Other Ontario communities are just burying their non-profitable "recyclables". The Waterloo area, for being a founder of the blue-box program, has been working to present a top-notch recycling program, and I've promoted this for other cities and universities - collecting all these plastics possible. But a lot of them - and I don't know specifically which - are not profitable to recycle, and that's the bottom line for the current waste management paradigm. So I along with other eco-activists should take some responsibility in the push for these products to be recycled, when that political pressure pushes regional or city staff to make silly choices with the waste. Of course, not entirely our fault, staff should be completely open about what choices are being made. Claiming to have a recycling program and then burrying collected plastics is not acceptable. And shipping them half way across the world to a land with poor environmental standards, without even asking what is done, it not something that should continue.

So what does the average Joe public do with this new information? I don't really know. I think the best approach would be to advocate for a waste diversion system with transparency, and recycle everything that makes sense. What's more, we have to count more on the other three R's. Littering is not an environmental issue, but an aesthetic one. Recycling everything you can is very helpful. But we have to remember that even things that can be recycled, are really "downcycled", in that they become less and less useful, and eventually become waste anyway.

That leaves us to Reuse, Reduce and Rethink. We can actually save money and mature as a society by buying less and spending more time on fun things that are less consuming of our resources, water, climate and personal salaries. But also, this is a way to save money on campus and in the community. The way to reduce litter, waste and cost is by buying less stuff with packaging, and buying less stuff.

(That's when environmentalism becomes a greater challenge on our broader culture.)



The UN Secruity Council finally secured China's support (possibly with the help of a looming Olympic boycott) to send peacekeeping forces to Sudan.

thank gosh.



Community-building is so important to environmental goals, and visa versa.

Yesterday I walked down my street, and this neighbourhood that borders Kitchener and Waterloo was having a little block party, with this small portion of the street closed. Children were out playing, painting and having fun, and the adults had a table setup on the street to chat.

I really like this sort of thing. It takes effort to meet your neighbours these days. And we could do a lot more of these types of events, especially in Waterloo.

Just coming back from the Hillside Festival at Guelph Lake - I usually go for the weekend, but just went Sunday night this year, for Dya Singh, Vieux Farka Toure, Ron Sexsmith and Ani DiFranco - the whole thing is a bastion of sustainable planning, community-building and the spread of social values. The big push this year was a push against bottled water. As Ani remarked, it's free and should stay that way. They avoided about 7,000 water bottled by providing a water re-fill station.

But the big sell to me is the kindness of all the people there, the spirit of sharing and such - almost like a mini-Woodstock, where things can go wrong but all the big stuff stays right.

And when I was leaving, in a long line to take a bus to get to another late night bus, a couple of people walked along this line, asking (near pleading) for anyone who wanted wanted a ride to Waterloo. How convenient! But it shows what was on their mind - at the marriage of environmentalism and community, they really wanted to fit more people into the van.

Even if it wasn't immediately convenient.

I'm just reminded now of another instance of someone who offered to help me a few months back, without knowing me well - and now being able to mutually support each other and achieve a lot.

Good things often come out when the attempt is made.


(thanks atuw.ca for the pic)

Having survived a month of Vice-President, Internal… I’m typing away on a train right now on my way home to Sarnia for Artwalk, an arts festival with an ecology focus this year, celebrated annually downtown. Many events are having a green focus this year, such as Open Doors Toronto, which last weekend featured around 150 historic and green buildings. Green roofs a plenty. Well, really just a few still exist in the City. But the display of their feasibility at a large scale can do much more than a simple report by an Environmental Studies student. The interest in green buildings in Toronto (which Open Doors Waterloo will also feature this September, including a neighbour of mine), has demonstrated itself in various media I picked up today.

The Imprint featured a full spread in the University of Waterloo Sustainability Project’s (UWSP) working groups. Green Roofs Over Waterloo (GROW) formed a couple years ago, when my colleagues and I were working on a green roof project proposal in UW’s Greening the Campus class. At the same time we were research the feasibility and benefits of a potential green roof over ES2, a student named Emma Halsall with several others were looking at green roofs at other locations on campus. Although the ventures didn’t turn out the way all of us we had wanted, all the activity may have contributed to the interest in green buildings on a couple new buildings being constructed on our campus, and now GROW is focusing on suggestions for specific energy retrofits that would save UW energy, pollution and money. Despite a few factual errors, the Imprint spread takes a very good look at what’s happening on campus. Zimride, mentioned in a previous blog, is the next great UWSP group. Take a look at the rest of the working groups in the article and contact UWSP to let them know what you’re most interested in helping with: uwspmail@gmail.com

Hanging out with the Alternatives crew at lunch today, I got to pick up the fresh issue, hot off the press (has that new-mag-smell). This is your place to go for more in-depth environmental education with a focus on solutions. The theme of green buildings continues in this double issue, with Building Heritage containing several articles related to urban and suburban ideas for a different kind of growth (sustainability?) The other section called Measuring Progress lends to another great interest of mine. Many interesting ideas for doing things differently in society – not just “counting the money,” as Raffi would say.

Working at Alternatives last summer, I worked a lot on these issues with submissions/editing. I recall getting the piece by Bill Rees for Measuring Progress – a very different theme than the rest of the articles. Rees - the founder of the “ecological footprint’ idea of assessing our environmental impact – paints a very depressing picture of our environmental situation, though he would use the term, “realism.” Rees lists and described several popular modern tools (like green buildings) and says they won’t be effective in reaching where we need to go. Unfortunately he doesn’t present any ideas that he feels to be solutions.

You can stop by the Alternatives office on the lower floor of ES1 to purchase a copy of the issue. Or go to www.alternativesjournal.ca and order a subscription. I’m particularly interested in reading the article with a debate on incineration – something I wish to know much more about. The letters section of the magazine has been greatly expanded this issue, with several eco-intellectuals, young students, and “we’ve got to change our ways!” folks writing in. Even Frank de Jong, Ontario Green leader – who posted a comment here a couple blogs back – checked out the last Alternatives and commented.

The issue also contains a review of M’Gonigle and Starke’s Planet U, a book which I’ve also reviewed in Imprint and The Understory.

I must starting posting results from my thesis on campus sustainability! That will come soon.

The Understory is the online mag of the Young Greens of Canada which I help edit. Our latest issue is about the future – and I have to get it online… so it will be up right away.


Congratulations to the City of Waterloo on being named the world's most "intelligent city"! It's quite an outstanding achievement, announced today in New York City.
See the Record article
According to a news broadcast, one of the reasons they cited as a critical element in winning is that they ranked high in the sustainable leadership category.
Also in the news today is what large American cities are doing on climate change with the Clinton Green Cities Initiative.
Waterloo has the potential to position itself as a leader in sustainability for mid-size cities. The ability to combine Waterloo's current technological innovation with sustainability leadership has been noted recently by various individuals.
A practical example of how this is being done right new is a new initiative starting partly from students at the University of Waterloo - a ridesharing program called Zimride.com
The program is tied in directly with facebook, to allow individuals to share rides, at the same time being able to know about the person you're sharing with. You can post ride offers on the site, and even connect with facebook events to share rides.
How this site is setup, I can see it taking off incredibly. I want to be the first to predict great things for zimride. Good ideas, implemented well like this one have amazing potential - and just like facebook itself, zimride may soon find itself with similar success.
As someone in the Feds, providing services to students is very important to me. I think this will a different and useful (free) service to most students.
Speed up the process to promote this culture of ridesharing, by sending it to your friends - sharing this blog or the website or the facebook group.

p.s. Gas prices??
Recent articles are showing an increase in transit use in Canada that is being attributed to high gas prices. People are starting to do it.
Ride less, share more.


"This is a historic day for Ontario," de Jong says.
Today's final report from the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform promises a great improvement in the quality of Ontario's democracy, according to Green Party of Ontario Leader Frank de Jong.

The Mixed Member Proportional voting system recommended by the Citizen's Assembly was thoroughly researched, debated, and voted on not by politicians, but by 103 ordinary citizens from across the province. The fact that our politicians entrusted the people of Ontario with this important task shows a whole new way of thinking about the democratic process in our province.
As I said in a previous post, I accept the decision of the Ontario Citizen's Assembly and now encourage a significant push on accepting MMP.
Educate now. October 10th, act.
Here's more info (try the audio version of the article!)



Statement by the Hon. Stéphane Dion, Leader, Liberal Party of Canada and Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party of Canada

Statement by the Hon. Stéphane Dion, Leader, Liberal Party of Canada and Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party of Canada

The planet has reached its limit. The human-caused damage to our natural environment is devastating.

The most urgent issue facing our society and our government, indeed humanity as a whole, is the climate crisis. It has the characteristic of being irreversible, with every single year’s emissions constituting damage that will not dissipate for a century. We are, essentially, stoking the furnace for ongoing climate instability that threatens our children and grandchildren.

Currently, our two parties agree that urgent action is needed. So, too, do the vast majority of Canadians. Yet our electoral system could return to government the only political party that does not believe action is required urgently. In fact, its “climate action plans” will allow for increasing greenhouse gases, missing our Kyoto target by ever higher amounts of emissions, and stalling international progress to meet the challenge of this global threat.

As leaders of political parties, we realize that leadership implies responsibility. We each have a major responsibility to ensure that our respective parties do well in the next election no matter when it comes. Each of our parties will expect us, as Leaders, to fight for our beliefs and for our respective candidates from coast to coast

We also have a responsibility to future generations. To protect our environment, to reduce emissions effectively while strengthening our economy, the composition of Canada’s parliament must change to a House of Commons full of MPs who recognize the serious threat of climate change and who are willing to work together to lessen it.

We have agreed that the country needs a strong signal that puts progress ahead of partisanship. To achieve Kyoto, Canada needs MPs and a government that actually understand the threat of climate change and the need for urgent action. This reality has impelled us to seek limited cooperation. While the need for cooperation may be obvious to the average Canadian, within political parties, one is not supposed to allow even limited cooperation.

We admit we are different from most adversarial, political leaders. We respect each other. We will always put the country and the planet first.

Out of respect for each other and out of our shared commitment to a greener Canada, we are not running candidates in each other’s ridings.

We recognize that a government in which Stéphane Dion served as Prime Minister could work well with a Green Caucus of MPs, led by Elizabeth May, committed to action on climate. On many issues, we would have policy disagreements; on others cooperation would be possible. No matter what the issue, we recognize that, although opponents in the political sphere, we are committed to doing politics differently. That means open and transparent, fair-minded communication. Another issue where we believe progress could be made is in the potential for electoral reform.

Today there are larger issues at stake than the petty partisanship of politics. We are confident that Canadians will appreciate this shared commitment and our efforts to protect our children’s future.



Decision on electoral reform by the citizens assembly!

In case you understand this stuff.. I'm posting a message I got from Larry Gordon of Fair Vote Canada.
The real work starts now - to get people supporting this option for a fall referendum. Check the news this week and make yourself aware, and get understanding the recommended system.

The Ontario Constituency Assembly picked its MMP model (90 constituency seats, 39 listseats, closed prov. list) as its preferred alternative. The vote was 75 for the MMP model, 25 for the STV model, 1 spoiled ballot, 2 people absent. The final step for the CA is the April 14-15 session when they decide whether to recommend the alternative over the status quo...not a lot of suspense on that decision.
Impacts of climate change are going to be unimaginable if we don't act soon.

My guess is that the next UN report from the International Panel will release data that begins to stir people up - information about global heating that most people have not yet heard from the scientific community unless you've been researching.
The third world will suffer extraordinarily, but not us, at least for a while.

Check the latest with what other campuses have done recently:


What a great event in the SLC last night. The Human Rights Conference Panel was delayed because of a snow day - but was such a good way to get people discussing big issues and how students can activate for change. I had the good fortune to get to speak with really interesting activists on the panel, and shared a common vision for social/sustainable change with solidarity - how to support each others movements and causes, especially at times of crisis.

We've actually achieved so much good as a collective social movement - banned CFCs in countries all around the world, so the ozone layer is moving into self-repair - we've stopped Canada's partiicpation in Iraq - we've built strong labour laws...
There's every reason to keep feeling hopeful and getting involved.
Join up here and keep posting and checking and thinking:

Now, the U-Pass...

I'm looking at a "No" poster for the U-Pass referendum.

"When Laurier got a U-Pass, bus service did not improve."
- WHAT? Of course service improved, and UW student indirectly benefitted and we're mooching off the service improvements gained.

"Traffic and pollution increased when Guelph got one."
- How does that make sense? A unviersal bus pass is generally known as one of the single best initiatives a university can adopt to make a positive change in emission reductions. And how very important this is right now! It is difficult to quantify a prediction of traffic reductions and health benefits that will result without significant studies, but all indicators show improvements. We need a cultural shift at this point where we build communities based on walking, transit and other alternatives to the car. As students come to a UW with a U-Pass, they will learn that a bus is feasible when living in the city, and take that attitude away once they graduate.
Guelph is moving ahead, where their University President juat announced they want to partner with the City in sustainability. Universities in the US (you know, that country that's supposed to be environmental lagging on us), aleady have bus passes and are moving on to approve green energy student fees by margins of 80-90%, even in the most conservative states like Tenessee.

Here's what a student from Guelph said:
"Here at Guelph, we have had a u-pass for quite a while, at a cost of $54 per semester. I am delighted to hear that I will be enjoying the benefits of this referendum (assuming it passes)." - Denis Agar - transferring to Waterloo

"Only 15% of students take the bus."
...is misleading. I overheard a couple students reading the poster and saying, but what would it be like it we had a pass?

A recent 84% approval of a U-Pass at the University of Alberta in Edmonton said otherwise. It looks more like 15% don't support the bus. And their pass was $75. What a deal we got.
University of Victoria, a much smaller municipality than ours has benefitted tremendously as cited in a Canadian Government report. Pollution/health, growth management, campus greenspace and parking issues are cited.



Back to my personal blog...

“The Conservatives very much want a majority, more or less to change the whole nature of the country,” he said. “They want to dismantle what they see as a small ‘l’ liberal state and replace it with something in their own image – something I don’t think most Canadians would appreciate.”
- political scientist Keith Brownsey

and big announcement:


I'm excited about how many of you are telling me you've been checking out my blog, and looking at my vision for campus, and for the world in general. Thanks for coming to the forums, thanks for reading our scrutinizing our platform and for so much of your help. I thought I'd share with you
I've been incredibly inspired by the diversity on the UW campus that I haven't seen until now, and the Thank you to the volunteers and supporters - thanks for caring in this campaign and believing in me. Honestly, I could not have done any of this without you.
I've been talking a lot about three main things I've done which show my competence for this job I'm applying for: active in a my student association, President of a club and Coordinator of a Service. What might you not know about me? I'm on the Senate Undergraduate Council and I have a meeting tomorrow, I've been in the UW Stage Band and Chamber Ensemble, playing trumpet at Grebel. When I was in grade 12 I started an ensemble of the experience musicians in our band, I started the Environment Club - and then joined Sarnia Environmental Activists, the Sarnia Urban Wildlife Committee and the Green Party. I started a group called PeaceWorks with a group of older residents to protest war and increase peace advoacy. Grade 11 was when my friends and I started a group called Teens for Our Education and the Ontario Student Federatives to advocated across the province for fixes to our education and tuitions. I also was editor for a short time of a newsletter called The Cucumber, and am now Submissions editor for a national online mag called The Understory. I'm so glad my program considered extra-curriculars and not just marks. But my marks were high and a scholarship from UW would have been nice! haha.
I have written for almost every section of Imprint, including Arts, News, Science, Opinion and Features. I was also a columnist over the summer for The Observer in Sarnia, while having a main summer job writing for Alternatives Journal.

Let me share some random volunteer photos below.
Some interesting links:
Imprint cover - Sept 22, 06
Chelsea Prescod's latest blog note on facebook
Keith Chan's campaign site
ERS 250 report on the UW Environment Network, interview myself
Record article one year ago, before the climate issue exploded
Diversity campign: One Waterloo

Just wanted to point out some errors on Faraz and Team Yellow posters in ES - their "open letter".
It says, lobby for the "reinstitution" of a Sustainability Office, however we never had one at UW. This is a new and exciting initiative, where we as a campus are need to catch up. We did however have a waste management program and a cross-faculty committee on greening.
They also say "new environmental ideas" such as a cross-campus Feds lug-a-mug, yet this is not new either and was done by Food Services and UWSP:

I do practice what I preach on the environment. I don't eat animal products and try to eat organic and local. I conserve energy at home and take appropriate transportation or walk/bike where possible. Furthermore, I've worked to encourage countless numbers of people to adopt more sustainable lifestyles, and am now doing that at the campus level.

What we need now is not a Feds council motion favouring an Office of Sustainability (we sent a letter to David Johnston with nine student groups and the Feds President in 2005), but we just have to encourage the remainder of the Faculties that this is in UW's best interest - and I have been working with many at this level. Clearing a Path is the group suppoting these efforts, and is currently discussing best strategies, coming out of the discussions with M'Gongile.

Enjoy tonight's snow!


So the mayor of Waterloo today left me with the task of advising her on how to make the City of Waterloo a world leader in environmental innovation.
We can do it.
I'm just glad I'll have something to do as an extra-curricular if I win VP I.


Platform plank: Student Service

Check for new videos: http://www.2007ex.com

A few minutes after Sai Kit's resignation on Wednesday, the Imprint reporter at the campus media forum asked the candidates for VP Internal if we would commit to serving all the students and not put our personal biases up front. The VP's role must be just this. While I should state my own biases: to work on social justice and environmental issues, I am interested and excited every time I learn about the actions of another club, and I will work for everyone. To do this, the VP Internal must be competent and accessible to all groups and students. For example, I am vegan and so I have certain dietary restrictions for various reasons. Does this mean I place value judgments and undermine the Cheese Club? Of course not. I may have a bias towards the Campus Response Team, because I've been a member of Red Cross first aid and disaster response teams in the past. But does this mean I don't put equal time to helping the Food Bank? No, obviously I care about this service just as much.

With so many Society forums, I don't feel I've had enough chance to talk about the Services. As the only candidate with real experience in one of the seven Feds services (I was Co-coordinator of UWSP), I understand the problems that Services face and will come into the position with competence and the ability to work together to make the necessary changes.

My team will implement a Services Director to provide much needed support. We also need a stronger 'thank you' to those service coordinators who do so much for our students - these individuals need more support, which can be given in a small honourarium, but also in simply being treated well by Feds. Sai Kit was just investigating a clubs reward program. When I was Coordinator of UWSP, we wanted to thank our long-time Board members and our volunteer of the year, but didn't have support to provide even a framed certificate.

Service executives feel they are led around to different people when dealing with planning an event with the help of Feds. I will be efficient, and work to investigate, then solve these problems. Not all problems are too difficult to solve. International Student Connection told me they want to know other Service leaders better - this will help students be able to go to each other for questions and solutions. We need a Feds website with simple forms to recruit volunteers and a better coordinator handbook for volunteers. While my opponents and I all commit to more COPs meetings for Societies, I commit to more join Services meetings. If Service volunteers notice any problems or issues while I am Internal, I want them to bring them to me right away.

GLOW, CRT and UWSP all have internal or structural challenges that can be looked at and solved with some hard work by many individuals. When I Coordinated UWSP, Michelle Zakrison was my Internal Communications Director and she came up better communication plans to deal with the organization's problems, after having private interviews with each of the key stakeholders. It's an exciting time for the Women's Centre, with several upcoming events and partnerships. It's now time to eliminate conflicts with Council, and provide the right support that the service may flourish.

The University also offers services which we all pay for, such as athletics, libraries, the Safety Office, and Office for Persons with Disabilities. When I was in first year, because of a lung problem I required the service of the Student Access Van for a few months. It opened my eyes to the needs of some students. That's why I say in my platform that we'll have forums for students and groups to see what's going well and what isn't. We must know that UW and Feds services are working for you. Administrators will come to these forums because they're primarily here for students and they care about your issues.

I've realized through the campaign that people don't know how to get involved in ay part of Feds, but many will with the right information. People need Feds explained, and I will speak directly to groups of students in my term to inspire them to act and get involved.

Vote for eXpertise.
Vote Higgins.


Do you agree with Andy? ...let me know

I'm sitting in the SLC, readying for Imprint interviews, while Engineers Without Borders is setting up their booth for International Development Week. The theme is Gender Equality, and so they have the Women's Centre and the new PACs Collective setting up with them. It's great!

So winter has set in, and it's terrible outside. Campaigning is a real committment, especially with the constant moving around and the long days. My walk to school yesterday, through blustery -30 windchill and snow drifts only left me thinking about getting this U-pass and increased service so I could have used the bus.

Thanks to everyone who taught me card games on the weekend! I had some great food with the Bangladeshi Students Association, in an amazing cultural event for the community. The mayor was there, encouraging the undergrads to all vote. She enjoyed herself, and it was wonderful for me to be invited and share the excellent dinner and chats. Michelle even snapped a picture of me serving the students ;)


"Waterloo doesn't have a bus pass? Are you serious? Oh my God, that's good to know," he says. "They should have bus passes. They should have a sustainability office and a sustainability co-ordinator."
- Michael M'Gonigle.

He's helped activate movements before.
M'Gonigle isn't coming... He's here!

Everyone please join in the movement on Tuesday to talk about how we can have a more accountable university and sustainable community. I met Michael at Arizona State University, and we had a chat on the lawn over lunch with a few others from across Canada in how we can make a change in campuses across this country. They change we'll need to move to a campus that actually deals with issues like climate change.

He'll be hosting a student colloquium at 2:30pm in the ES Courtyard (ES1 by living walls) and a public lecture at 7:00pm in the Festival Room, South Campus Hall.

from Saturday's Record...Greenpeace founder speaks at UW Tuesday
M'Gonigle's lecture will draw on his book, Planet U


Michael M'Gonigle rolls into the University of Waterloo next week on an unprecedented wave of concern for the environment.

As a founder of Greenpeace International and a front-line environmentalist for more than 30 years, M'Gonigle is ecstatic to see the environment and climate-change as top-of-mind issues for Canadians.

But that's not enough, he says in a telephone interview from Victoria, where he practises law and teaches at the University of Victoria.

"My big concern is that there is a kind of issue-attention cycle, and it's really important that real leadership comes out of this and people seize the opportunity to do much more than just band-aid solutions," M'Gonigle says.

The environment has not been as big an issue since the acid-rain debates of the mid-1980s.

"The problem, though, is there is a correlation between how well the economy is doing and people's willingness to put the environment on top, but when the economy starts to slide, concern for the environment slides," M'Gonigle says.

"So it's a contradiction, a big contradiction. So being able to take advantage of this particular important window to start some pretty major re-thinking is a big challenge," M'Gonigle says.

During the past two months the environment has moved to the front burner in Canadian politics. Stephane Dion was elected Liberal leader in Montreal in early December, and the environment was the major theme of his leadership campaign.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper responded by appointing a new environment minister, and reinstating environmental programs his government had cancelled earlier.

While M'Gonigle is heartened by all this, he is far from satisfied.

"When you read the papers it's all talk, talk, talk, talk. Not solutions really. Not enough really thoughtful discussion of what do we have to do?" M'Gonigle says.

M'Gonigle has an extensive background in environmental activism.

He was co-founder of Greenpeace International in the mid-1970s. The group's work led to an international moratorium on commercial whaling. M'Gonigle was also a founding co-director of the Sierra Legal Defence Fund.

While he was chair of Greenpeace Canada, M'Gonigle started the Greenpeace forest campaign in 1990.

These days he teaches political ecology and green legal theory at the Project on Ecological Governance at the University of Victoria, a program he recently founded. He has under-grad and graduate degrees in economics and law from the University of British Columbia, the London School of Economics, the University of Toronto and Yale.

When he comes to the University of Waterloo next week for a public lecture, M'Gonigle will draw heavily on a book he published last summer called Planet U: Sustaining the World, Reinventing the University.

All universities can play a much larger role in moving their local regions to more sustainable strategies in transportation, energy and planning, M'Gonigle says.

"The university can be a catalyst for local change. We haven't explored that nearly as much as we could," he says.

In March the University of Waterloo will hold a referendum on whether a bus pass for all students will be provided automatically. That would add $41 per semester to their student fees, plus an administrative fee tacked on by the students' union. All involved can expect a rebuke from M'Gonigle, who can't believe the issue is even up for a vote.

"Waterloo doesn't have a bus pass? Are you serious? Oh my God, that's good to know," he says. "They should have bus passes. They should have a sustainability office and a sustainability co-ordinator."

There is a continentwide movement for sustainable universities, and M'Gonigle holds up Yale as an example. M'Gonigle knows that school well, having earned two law degrees there -- a master's and a doctorate.

"Every university should have a vice-president of planning, innovation and sustainability. A vice-president who basically takes direction from the community and brings it into the university. That's the radical type of change I am talking about," M'Gonigle says.

Higher education is the most important industry on the planet, but it is also one of the most unaccountable.
The movement for a sustainable university intends to change that, he says.


Graphic: Submitted Photo; "When the economy starts to slide, concern for the environment slides," Michael M'Gonigle says.

Greenpeace International founder Michael M'Gonigle will speak at the University of Waterloo.
Tuesday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m.
At the Festival Room, South Campus Hall.
He'll give a lecture called The Planetary University as a Catalyst for Local/Regional Sustainability.
For more information -- Call 519-888-4567, ext. 32440.


Well then. Bowling with the Planners Thursday night was a blast. I haven't done it for a year. The bus ride home was a little more subdued than last time I must admit.

Forums have been great, keeping the candidates on their toes.

The FASS play was a lot of fun last night. Michelle had a cameo and I'll post photos soon.
It's the kind of thing we need to see more of - a great idea!
Getting faculty, alumni, sstaff and students together on one project? If we can do that with other things to, we'll be rockin!

We're beginning to post short videos on youtube and linking them right on our site (thanks Aaron!) Look for some blogs in video from now on. It's so easy to share them with your friends too!


Endorsement from the next Prime Minister of Canada
- Globe and Mail, January 31

"I have had the enormous pleasure of working with Darcy Higgins for the last few years through youth environmental initiatives. Darcy played a key role in the youth team in my leadership campaign. His demonstrated ability to build strong teams, achieve consensus and move from the abstract to action should serve University of Waterloostudents extremely well."
- Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada


My promise to Muslim students at UW
Practicing Muslim students face major barriers on campus. This has been evident to those students who follow the Qur'an. But until recently, it has been less know by student leaders and the broader campus. Sparked by issues of vandalism and other incidents at Ryerson, the Canadian Federation of Students has set out to look at the needs of Muslim students and document concerns from across the province. Homophobic and Islamophobic vandalism occured one year ago at UW as well. This issue is something we must deal with, though day-to-day concerns are also very relevant.
I didn't realize the pressure that some students feel, and how many missed opportunities occur because of an often difficult system, where Muslims must miss meetings or events for prayer (including transit time to prayer rooms) - and this is often compounded at times such as Ramadan. Conflicting societal rules can make it difficult for Muslim students to write exams, participate in sports, attend holidays and finance their education, while maintaining moral obligations.
It is obvious to me that concerns are being raised, and being unmet. On the other hand, much progress has been made, for example, in the timing and accessibility of halal food.
And it appears that our MSA is providing more of a service than just what a club can handle. I bet there are several clubs like that if we look deeper.
So what will I do?
If elected, I will maintain support for events that increase awareness of Islam - with awareness comes tolerance, acceptance...
Of course Muslim students should also come out to other educational events and mingle with students who participate in various clubs and services as much as possible. Making athletic facilities appropriate and increasing the number of multi-faith prayer/meditation rooms is important. Perhaps before these actions are lobbied for, however, I see the need for student leadership positions to be accessible to Muslim students. Suggestions were given to allow for specific conditions when applying for positions such as in Feds, that would excempt dealing with alcohol or interest. Great idea.
Aside from education and interaction, specific changes can be implemented. Most of these involve changes in the university, so working with staff, faculty and administration at some level. I will look into how to increase the availability of Halal meats and vegetarian dishes at Food Services, and work with my VP Admin & Finance for the same at Aussies and Bomber.
I would also advise my Vice President Education to investigate (in collaboration with other campuses and the Human Right Comission) a different system to pay off OSAP fees that would not involve paying interest, and increasing grants in general over loans. I would also direct the VP-Ed to work on getting a directive from upper-administrators, down to professors and teaching assistants, to allow exemption without penalty for prayer during exams.
It is true that a real leader looks ahead how to solve issues before a crisis hits. I heard this in the meeting, and learned this as well from a lecture by Romeo Dallaire last year.
This is not by any means a comprehensive plan, and I can't pretend that we can achieve perfect conditions within a year. Perhaps it could involve making a long-term plan with the Feds. The prioritizing should be determined by Muslims students, so we can work together on these, sharing the task of advocacy. Halal food appears as a top concern in a small MSA website poll. But more discussion on the specific question of immediate prioty is needed.
I look forward to reading through the recommendations of the task force on the needs of Muslim students.
Barriers to student service at UW however don't only include Islam. There are other cultural-religious issues that can and should be raised - let's keep the discussion going. I believe I can come closest to achievements working with you, because that's what I've done at UW already when working on change with students and administration. Below is a comment from the Director of Food Services at the University of Waterloo.
“In the initial development stages of the UW Farmers Market, Darcy and I worked on getting the concept and support teams in place to get the Market of the ground. His marketing strategies and influence with student volunteers, staff and faculty helped make the UW Market the success it turned out to be. Darcy works well with others and has gained the respect within his faculty and beyond…it would be a refreshing change to have someone like Darcy Higgins involved with the Federation of Students who can work with the entire university community in a positive way.”
- Lee Elkas, Director
For those of you who are tired of receiving invites to facebook groups related to the Feds campaign, and think it's a little like kids in a sand box competing for their number of friends.
Bare with us for a couple weeks... we're politicians. we don't know any better!
So the Feds campaign begins.

I'm running for Vice President Internal of the Federation of Students. I've got some great ideas based in making things better for students - I think my background in advocacy, communications, organizing and effective strategy can make things come a long way at UW.
Also important is to get make things fun. Feds should be exciting. People don't know about what it does because of a lack of connections and communications.
But so much is going on at this campus!

My, Michelle and Del's volunteers were up late tonight putting up our rad posters. I want to thank you guys very much. I look forward to keeping up this blog and responding to your posts here and on facebook when I get a moment. Come out to the forums, read the Imprint, and stay involved.
We're gonna rock this place.


I know I may be criticized or critiques with this quote - feel free to. But look at this and think about how it may affect your own life... what are you driving towards?
It was written by educator David Orr back in 1995:
"The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as our culture has defined it."

It really centres things back away from ourselves, and onto "all that really matters most", as Raffi said in his song about the genuine progress indicator.

Is it to fluffy for you. What really matters in your world? comment here.


U-Pass referendum looks set for March!


I got a little bit of Fresh Air two weeks ago, and just found this post-air commentary: "I love interviewing university students early on Sunday mornings. They manage to be both sleepy and articulate. Good on them."
Thank you Jeff - it was an excellent show idea. Keep up those New Year's Resolutions all!

My Imprint Pick of the Week:

There are so many great articles this week on transit issues, housing, food and even urban camping. So I gotta go with Valerie's photo on the cover of the party people with the hula's. As an avid fan of "hula-la", I can do a thing or two, but for a real treat, you should see my roomates! Heck they're probably at it right now. My roomate just taught me to get it up high.
Pickup an Imprint to see the pic, and follow their adventures at CUP at: http://imprint.uwaterloo.ca/cup/
I've just been tipped off to the presence of a show that you just might be interested in. It's called the O'Fishbein Factor, and it features this young school-involved Irishman doing his part to promote the upcoming Feds elections. And unbeknownst - yet not unwelcome - to me, was his discussion of a certain group in the first In Your Facebook feature. Listen to the first podcast for his commentary at: http://jonathanfishbein.com/factor/Podcast/Podcast.html
Heck, listen to the second and keep tuned in.
I must issue a response: though I have been of course consulting with the greater student body who don't know me as well, you're right, I haven't. You'll have to listen some to get the context of what I'm saying. So turn on, tune in, drop out to O'Fishbein.
And Fish, I am more than willing and able to make an appearance. I'd love to be a first guest once January 30 rolls around. Look forward to hearing from you.


Please leave a comment after you read this post!

Campus news update:
Feds Council has voted to defer the debate on a universal bus pass. They have instructed the Feds Executive to investigate the possibility of a *refundable U-pass. Is it possible? I can't say.
Apparently the University of Utah has one.
As was said at the meeting, in our UW slogan, the spririt of Why Not? I wish that slogan applied to other areas, where UW could become a leader.
It would be highly unconventional, but perhaps highly popular. Some benefits would be lost due to a higher cost and fewer participants.
Councillor Drew Adams will be starting a pass the pass petition which could force a vote.

I'm not afraid to say that we need a U-pass. Safety from less drinking & driving, benefits to air quality and CO2 and popularity among students make this a winning idea. Everyone who has said 'finally' will have to wait a little bit more.

Though I'm not communist, I believe in community and the greater good, so I value this quote: "part of being human is subordinating your own day-to-day desires and wants to the good of others."


I attended the Citizens' Assembly forum for KW on electoral reform on Wednesday night. I also made a presentation to the delegation there.
If you don't know much about it, there was a citizen (regular Joe/Sally) selected from each riding in Ontario. They have been given the task to research, gather input, and select an electoral system for Ontario that works - to recommend change if they find necessary.
I wanted to represent the voices there who aren't normally heard: (disenfranchised) young people.
Everyone at the meeting knew that the current system didn't work. Furthermore, most people went on to recommend a particular system they believed to be more fair: mixed member proprotional. An overflowing room of interested individuals really got me excited - there was so much passion from all kinds of people for what you might have thought is a dull topic.
It's pretty clear to me that the Assembly will recommend change. I'm quite willing to accept whatever they recommend. I believe in this process. But it will be up to the people it looks like to educate the public and get this passed. Their recommendation goes to a referendum this October, and must be passed by 60%. This threshold is too high. Consider the government has a majority mandate with well under 50% of the vote.
I got to recognize our federal MP for K-W, who came in towards the end of our presentation and I stated that I hoped he brought the Assembly's findings to a federal level. He spoke after me, the last speaker, and recognized what I had said about young people & voting.
Billy Ballot has a cheesey little video for you if you want to learn about different voting systems: http://www.citizensassembly.gov.on.ca/en-CA/The%20Classroom/Billy%20Ballot.aspx


My Imprint pick of the week:

Journalistic writing first 2 sentences of an article pick of the month:

WASHINGTON- President Bush once said he was determined to stick with the Iraq war even if his wife and his dog were the only ones left at his side.
It’s moving in that direction.

Best solid smooth icey fun street in Waterloo of the night: Alexandra Ave.


Change doesn't happen.It's made. Act.


this is just icky...

Strip club's tuition offer riles university, feminists
Guelph Mercury, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2007 FRONT; Pg. 1
By GREG MERCER, Guelph Mercury
GUELPH -- Guelph's only strip club is offering to help one needy student pay for school next year.
The catch? That student will have to win a wet T-shirt contest, determined by the hoots and hollers of audience reaction at the club. The prize? A year's university tuition, up to $5,000.


Here's my latest Imprint article: "UW helps meet international campus climate challenge". It's pretty popular!

And here's my Imprint pick of the week:

If you're interested in writing or doing photography, proofreading, web help, or anything else..
Especially if you complain about Imprint - I want to challenge you to make it better. Submit something!