Spring Gillard

Mat Leaf

placematThis is my Halloween costume today. Two place mats joined together and draped over my shoulders with some decorative leaves attached here and there. A diaper pin dangling from one ear. I wonder how long it will take my work colleagues to guess that I am a “maternity leave” or mat leave for short. If they say, “That’s not scary.” I will say, “Knowing I’ll be out of a job again in a year is verrrry scarrrrry to me.

Canned Love

muffinsI change over the tinned food in my earthquake kit a couple times a year. So what to do with canned fruit? I pulled out one of my Granny’s recipes. She used to make these carrot pineapple muffins for me every time I came for a visit. She’s been gone for some time now, but it was so lovely to stir some memories by reading her neat handwriting and baking these delicious muffins. I cut down on the oil and sugar, and used a whole can of pineapple. I went a little heavier on the flour, and mixed in about half the quantity in whole wheat plus added a 1/2 cup of wheat germ. So you can play with the recipe. But the one below is direct from my dear Granny who I miss very much.

Pineapple Carrot Muffins

2 eggs

2/3 cup oil

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 can crushed pineapple with juice

1 cup grated carrot

1.5 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

Add ingredients in order given, beat/stir well for two minutes. Drop into greased muffin tins. Bake @ 350 degrees F. for 20 to 25 minutes.

Shut the Front Door?

Given the events of this week on Parliament Hill, Naomi Klein’s talk tonight seems even more critical. I’m reprinting Elizabeth May’s newsletter. Read the last two paragraphs in particular when the leader of Canada’s Green Party refers to how politicians will often use these moments of crisis to curb democracy, not advance it. It is already happening.

“Lock your office door and stay away from the windows…”

October 22, 2014

Wednesday October 22nd was set to be a typically busy day in the House. From my first meetings in Centre Block on Parliament Hill starting at 7 AM to heading to my Confederation Building office for staff meetings, reviewing our amendments to try to stop the legislation to dismantle harm reduction sites (like In-Site), improve legislation aimed at increasing hiring of veterans, and then on to meeting with the other MPs who fall into the category of representing small parties or independents. At 2 pm sharp I had been prepared to make a statement in the House honouring the Dalai Lama, whom I will be seeing on Friday in Vancouver, and calling for China to respect human rights in Tibet. By 4 pm I was to be testifying in the Senate committee studying my private members bill for a National Lyme Disease strategy. At 6:30 PM I was to be debating climate policy with the Parliamentary Secretary for the environment. The evening was a series of meetings including with former Parliamentarians at their annual meeting.

Well, that was what was supposed to happen.

Instead it has been a day of tragedies and shock. As I write this, I am still in lock-down. With seven of my staff in Confederation Building, our office door is locked and we are staying away from the windows. The security officers are still monitoring our hallways. We were told eight hours ago to lock the office door and stay away from the windows.

It doesn’t feel real and I wish it were not. Right now I feel we have more questions than answers.

What we do know is that a member of our Armed Forces has been killed at the War Memorial located a stone’s throw from Parliament Hill. We also know that the Sergeant at Arms, my friend Kevin Vickers, was responsible for shooting and killing the armed man inside Centre Block. There are reports of a second shooter, but that remains unconfirmed.

On Monday a soldier was killed in a small community in Quebec, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu south of Montreal. Martin Rouleau, the driver of the car, had deliberately taken aim at members of our armed forces who were off duty in a shopping centre parking lot. He was killed shortly afterward by police. Rouleau was known to the police because his parents became alarmed about his erratic behaviour and sudden conversion to radical beliefs. The description of his circumstances suggest mental health issues may have played a role. We know nothing right now about the assailant (or assailants) in Ottawa today.

So, while it is too early to jump to conclusions, I intend to hold fast to the following: we must ensure that this appalling act of violence is not used to justify a disproportionate response. We must not resort to hyperbolic rhetoric. We need to determine if these actions are coordinated to any larger group or are the actions of one or two deranged individuals. If it is the latter we must develop tools and a systematic approach to dissuade our youth from being attracted to violent extremist groups of any kind. We need to protect our rights and liberties in a democracy.

We do know that through history these kinds of events open the door to a loss of democracy. Naomi Klein details the elements of seizing the opportunity created by tragedy or tumult in Shock Doctrine. The title of her new and important book on climate, This Changes Everything, is correct – the threat of the climate crisis changes everything. The shootings on Parliament Hill do not change everything. It is up to all of us to ensure that, to the extent we encounter demands for change, we keep in the forefront of our minds that once we surrender any rights it is very difficult to restore them. Let’s demand answers, sensible policies and proportionate responses.

Learning is in our Hands

10449949_876718899014069_5170206269989721610_nMy research is focused on experiential learning and now I am also working in a place that is steeped in learning by doing. This image and text was floating around on Facebook this week. I tried to find the original source, but it has been touched by too many hands. If anyone does know who the originator is, let me know. I love that the image emphasizes the personal connections and the relationships that can be built on the teaching/learning continuum.

Naomi Klein

Thanks to a dear friend, who stood in a line-up in the rain yesterday, I am one of the lucky ones going to Naomi Klein’s event on Sunday night at UBC’s Chan Centre. She’s promoting her latest book. Good to see such a great response. Another friend, who wasn’t so lucky, took this photo.

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate

Canadian author and social activist Naomi Klein will be addressing the Vancouver Institute on Sunday, October 26, 2014 at 7:00 p.m., Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, University of British Columbia.

Naomi Klein is the author of the critically acclaimed #1 international bestsellers, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies which have each been translated into more than 30 languages. She is a contributing editor for Harper’s Magazine, a reporter for Rolling Stone, and a syndicated columnist for The Nation and The Guardian. Additionally, her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, The Globe and Mail, El Pais, L’Espresso and The New Statesman. Naomi is a member of the board of directors for, a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. She is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute and a former Miliband Fellow at the London School of Economics. She holds an honorary Doctor of Civil Laws from the University of King’s College, Nova Scotia. Her new book is This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (September, 2014).

A Sticky Issue

cuponbenchI participated in the Coffee Cup Revolution a couple weeks ago, an event put on by The Binners Project and community partners. I arrived at 8:45. The event didn’t officially start til 9:30, but there was already quite a line forming. Binners were eager to trade in their used coffee cups for some hard earned cash. I was assigned a job at the counting table set up with one other counter. We experimented by counting the cups from a couple of binners who were also working with us that day. It was soon clear that we would need more counters as the counting took quite awhile, even when the cups were stacked in tens or twenties. By the time I left, we had three tables with a pair of counters at each and we were still swamped.

Most of the binners were bringing in their maximum count of 400 cups and would receive five cents a piece for each. I wore protective gloves but it was sticky and intense work with a line-up that never seemed to end. I was conscious of people having to wait a long time – and realized that line-ups were probably standard in their life. I was aware of how much these cups signified – gentrification in the neighbourhood, people being displaced, high priced cafés moving in, and many of the locals not being able to afford the coffee at the new establishments. I was struck by how the wasteful habits of the rich could now potentially provide jobs for the poor. As I watched all the logos flashing through my hands, I wondered where the companies were in all of this – where was their responsibility? Many of the establishments even use the paper cups when customers are drinking in store.  And all the while, binners would plunk their bags on the table, smiles on their faces after picking up after us, proud of their haul. All through my shift, they were thanking us for putting on the event. I was horrified and humbled all at the same time.

After all the cups were collected, people created sculptures out of them. A Coffee Cup House would have really captured the irony of chopping down trees to make coffee cups when we can’t house many of the people who were collecting our garbage.

Learn more about The Binners Project here.

Free Movie Day

24b9c83c6730e91b8e330338b83ed8157c533a4fLooks like a great (rainy) day to sit in a Cineplex movie theatre. It’s community day and movies are free. Popcorn, candy and drinks go for two bucks a pop with 100% of the proceeds going to Free the Children.

Farm Truck

farmtruckLook what I found on one of my lunch time explorations. The Strathcona Truck Farm was inspired by a similar project in Brooklyn. You can read all about the truck and their urban seed project here.

Feast for All

pumpkinsThis seems like a good event to promote on a weekend when we are all feasting. Happy Thanksgiving!

The Feast Worldwide is a day of global dinner parties in 40+ cities across 6 continents. The goal? To spark collaboration that drives local entrepreneurs and social initiatives forward. More information here.

On October 18, we’re inviting Vancouver to explore the global theme of PROGRESSION through food and sharing. Join us in envisioning, “A world where growing and eating healthy food connects people.” RSVP here.

The idea is simple. Come for an interactive dinner that explores connections between food, community, technology, sustainability, business, health, design, and more! We’re inviting incredible entrepreneurs from Mealshare, Social Bites, City Beet Farm, and The Food Connection to share their work. Let’s sit together over dinner – and instead of talking about problems, talk about ways to support each other, collaborate, and make things work a tiny bit better.

This dinner is about connecting with each other over a simple meal and weighing into a global problem solving session. It’s a movement to get full on good.

Like our Facebook page for ongoing updates.

Magic in the Air

MECHANIC-MOBILE-BIKE-PROSHOP-Velofix-Ron-Sombilon-Photography-20-EditAs I rode to work yesterday morning, I was thinking that I needed to get some air in my tires. When and where could I do it? I wondered. It’s not as convenient anymore now that so many gas stations charge for their air. Then as I was approaching Science World I saw a cluster of people at a table. One of them called out to me, Do you need a tune-up? I stopped. No, but do you have any air? Sure enough, they did. They were Velofix, the Mobile Bike Proshop – with air and every bike fixing tool you could imagine in their van. They make house calls, or will come to you no matter where you are. When I arrived at work that morning and told my boss about my experience, he said I had magical powers and should buy a lottery ticket. Hmmm, then I could manifest a brand new bike.