Tributes to Anne Mitchell

On the occasion of my leaving my position as Executive Director at CIELAP, June 30 2009.

It has been an honour working with you.  You single handedly reintroduced me to my environmental roots.  I look foward to collaborating with you far into the future.  Nicole Geneau, CIELAP Board member.

Erosion of participatory democracy in Canada

We are seeing an erosion of many public institutions and programs which Canadians have grown to rely on interms of promoting the public interest.   The office of the science advisor was eliminated - as was the position of science advisor - and now we are learning more about how government scientists are not free to speak out on the science on issues such as climate change.    Are we like the frog in the slowly boiling water - we do not notice until it is too late?

Canada's Sustainable Development Act

The Canadian Government has released its consultation document on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Act passed in the summer of 2008.    The document can be accessed from Environment Canada's website - - and you have till July 12 to make comments.   I would like to convene a small group of people from different sectors to see if we can prepare comments together.

Scrupling - Next Step

I hope to convene a working group of people interested in convening a scrupling session in their community.   We held one at Quaker Meeting in February.   50 people and two sitting MPs seeking new ways of addressing structural problems such as why is it that our MPs do not seem to listen to what we are saying.   If you google the word scrupling or look it up in a dictionary you will see that it is a coming together to search for a way forward on a particular problem.   It is not a panel discussi0n, or a debate.  We are trying to figure out who is

Emotion and Reason

Spent a couple of hours on Thursday evening at Massey College lecture co-sponsored by the new U of T school of public policy.   Heard from a psychologist and a political scientist - and Bob Rae - on the role of emotion in policy making.   Bob Rae had many good comments.  One of them was that you can't make good policy without emotion.    The discussion marked the beginning of a two day workshop on emotion and public policy.   I hope they got more into discussion about the need to develop new ways of making policy - beyoond the usual argument

Genetically Modified agriculture

Proponents say that genetically modified agriculture has been around for thousands of years - and mention bread, beer and corn. Critics say but these technologies were not splicing genes from one species into another. And in any case, there are other issues to consider: the longterm risks and benefits. Who benefits? Who bears the risks? And how are the decisions made? The Biotechnology Reference Group of the Canadian Council of Churches recently held a symposium on this and other emerging technologies. These technologies are not going to go away.

20th anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela from jail in South Africa

20 years ago I was executive director of the International Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa - IDAFSA (Canada). We were winding up an organization that had provided legal defence and humanitarian aid to the victims of apartheid in Southern Africa since the 1960s. Nelson Mandela had been released from prison! It was a privilege to have been part of this struggle in the 1970's and 1980s.

Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy (CIELAP)

CIELAP's 39th AGM was held on February 10 at the National Film Board in Toronto. I resigned as CIELAP;s Executive Director at the end of June 2009 and it was interesting being back at the AGM - this time as Senior Advisor, Sustainability. The organization is moving more firmly in the direction of policy research through a sustainability lens. New members were nominated to the Board of Directors and more resources are being put into the youth and interns program with an emphasis on social networking and working with students on university campuses.

Scrupling on the Erosion of Democracy in Canada

Scrupling is an old Quaker practice when faced with a difficult issue or problem early Quakers would sit with their friends and neighbours and scruple till they came to a way forward. Scrupling is not an argument, a debate or a panel discussion - but a serious conversation to seek a way forward. On February 7 50 Toronto Quakers scrupled the erosion of democracy in Canada with two sitting Members of Parliament.

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