Wednesday, December 30, 2009

63 percent of Canadians support banning battery cages for egg-laying chickens, poll shows

By Stephen Hui, Dec 28, 2009
Almost two-thirds of Canadians support banning the use of battery cages to house egg-laying chickens, a new poll shows.

Across the country, 63 percent of Canadians would back a legislative ban on battery cages in their province, according to the telephone survey, conducted by Harris/Decima for the Vancouver Humane Society.

Twenty-six percent of respondents said they would oppose such a ban, while 11 percent didn’t know where they stood or refused to offer an opinion.

“British Columbians and women continue to be more strongly opposed to the use of battery cages, with 69% (respectively) indicating they would support their provinces making battery cages illegal,” the executive summary of the poll results, released today (December 28), states.

The survey defines a battery cage as a wire cage used to house five to seven egg-laying chickens. It notes that battery cages are stacked two to eight cages high and are found on more than 90 percent of Canada’s egg farms. These farms hold an average of 17,000 hens each.

Even more Canadians would agree with requiring cartons of battery-cage eggs to be labelled “eggs from caged hens”.
The poll found 77-percent support nationally for mandatory labeling. Sixteen percent of Canadians would oppose “eggs from caged hens” labels. In terms of how Canadians feel about battery cages, 58 percent are against their use, 17 percent are in favour, and 24 percent have no opinion. Seventy-two percent of Canadians said they are willing to pay more for animal products “certified to humane standards of care” by a third-party group.

When it comes to cage-free eggs, 54 percent of Canadians are willing to pay a higher price.

The poll also found that 62 percent of Canadians believe farm animals are treated humanely in the process of producing food and other products.

Harris/Decima surveyed 2,012 Canadians from December 3 to December 13. The poll’s national results are considered accurate plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The Vancouver Humane Society is an animal-welfare organization that runs a campaign to improve the quality of life for egg-laying hens.

In response to a request from the society, the Metro Vancouver board of directors in February voted to send a letter to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency expressing opposition to the use of battery cages due to the “inherent cruelty of confining egg-laying hens” in them.

Original article:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Nicole Bottles

For Immediate Release
December 16, 2009

Lyme Disease Victims Forced Back to USA To Buy Healthcare

Forcing Nicole Bottles and other B.C. Lyme disease victims to pay for treatment in the U.S. is a grievous harm that contravenes the Canada Health Act, said David Cubberley, past MLA and a Director of the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation.

“Nicole and her mom, Chris Powell, are back in California paying $3900 U.S. to have Nicole's IV antibiotic port replaced,” said Cubberley. “Last week they were refused placement at an ER ward on the grounds that Nicole hasn’t tested positive on Canadian soil for Lyme.”

“This is costing the Bottles thousands of dollars – money they don’t have – to buy care they’re entitled to under Medicare,” said Cubberley “ Nicole has chronic Lyme that tested positive at a registered U.S. lab, but she’s being denied antibiotics and home services here despite being wheel-chair bound.”

Nicole is like many hundreds of British Columbians whose Lyme disease is never diagnosed in B.C. because of faulty guidelines and flawed testing. Lyme-literate physicians from Seattle to Los Angeles provide the bulk of care to B.C. lyme victims.

“I’m concerned that Nicole is being denied the treatment she needs here in B.C.,” said Lana Popham, MLA for Saanich South. “The family is living in extreme hardship, paying $1100 U.S. a month for Nicole’s meds alone.”
Popham and Cubberley are making a plea for donations to help cover Nicole's recent medical expenses which will total well over $7000. "This situation has all but bankrupted the Bottles family," Cubberley said.
"We have begun a fundraising drive this week to help them with this financial emergency,” Lana Popham said. “David Cubberley started the drive by donating $500. So far, over $1000 has been donated directly to Nicole Bottles and we hope to have at least $7000 by the end of the month".
A cheque, payable to Nicole Bottles, can be mailed to: Nicole Bottles, 622 Agnes St., Victoria, B.C. V9Z 2E6.
17-year-old Nicole showed symptoms of Lyme two years ago but saw 12 specialists in B.C. without a diagnosis. The B.C. Healthguide suggests B.C. doctors will clinically diagnose Lyme from symptoms and promptly treat it without tests. In reality, many doctors don’t recognize Lyme and depend entirely on a flawed diagnostic and testing protocol that misses most Lyme infections.
Media Contact:
David Cubberley 250-818-1129
Lana Popham 250-507-4222
Chris Powell 778 433 1047

Friday, December 11, 2009

One step removed from 'dream job'

MLA loves her role as agriculture critic, but thinks she'll love it more when she's the agriculture minister

During an all-night session of the legislature, Lana Popham slept on a cot in her small office.

During an all-night session of the legislature, Lana Popham slept on a cot in her small office.

Photograph by: Bruce Stotesbury, Times Colonist, Times Colonist

Lana Popham likes to walk around the stuffy old legislature and open all the windows. The blast of fresh air reminds the NDP MLA from Saanich South about her pre-political life, when she spent all day outside working in her organic vineyard.

As her first session as a provincial politician comes to a close, her farming life is but a distant memory. It has been replaced by a daily routine of early-morning lobbying breakfasts, committee work, house duty, caucus meetings, question period, lobbying dinners and late-night arrivals back home where her 11-year-old son is asleep without a goodnight from his mother.

There's a cot in her office where she recently slept during an all-night session. She had to speak in opposition to a government bill that forced ambulance paramedics back to work.
Her speaking time was 2:30 a.m.

"The pace of the session is excruciating," she said. "We've prepared ourselves pretty well but I have been away a lot and that's probably the hardest part. You don't realize how much you miss. Your family sacrifices for your dream."

Popham, 41, is riding the rookie MLA rollercoaster, a journey that begins with the joy of election, morphs into panic at voter expectations and concludes with humility when you walk into the legislature for your first day.

"Coming into this building you get a really amazing sense that you better take this job seriously because there's a sense of responsibly that hits you very hard."

The NDP appointed Popham its agriculture critic, and she admits she's "very lucky" to get a topic so close to her heart. Still, there's been a steep learning curve for unfamiliar parts of the industry, such as meat regulation disputes that have required tours of slaughter houses.

"I'm the queen of the abattoir now," she joked. "But it's my dream. Well, actually minister of agriculture is my dream, but that's next time."

As critic, Popham keeps a watchful eye on Liberal agriculture minister Steve Thomson. She's responsible for questioning his budget in the house, line by line, in a nerve-wracking process called estimates.
In theory, she's also the one to verbally eviscerate him in question period -- the 30 minutes of the day when political theatre and rhetoric overtake constructive discourse.

It's not a part of the job Popham enjoys. "I'm finding that although there's an artificial hatred that starts to build up, it doesn't really mean anything outside of that chamber and you can get a lot of work done just by having a conversation."

With all its catcalls and heckling, question period "is just not my personality," she said. "And I really do think that it's out of control. I don't know of many people who appreciate how it works in there."

People might be surprised to know she has "a great rapport" with Thomson, who is also a rookie MLA.
"We may not agree on some of the issues, but we both have an agriculture background, so we're both generally on the same page for things, which helps."

She said she hopes to continue to raise environmental concerns in the house in other ministries, such as environment and the climate secretariat. But she admits to still battling her nerves on occasion.

"Before you do anything in this place you are a nervous wreck and that's the honest truth. Anyone who doesn't want to admit that is lying. But I absolutely love it. I've always been an activist and I guess I've always had a big mouth. So now I have a place to use it.

"Even though I'm exhausted and pretty worn out, I'm thinking about the next session and starting to get excited."

Original article is here:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

12 ways to a green Christmas

Make it yourself or buy it locally -- just make sure your gifts won't add unnecessarily to the landfill site

Purse made from salvaged material, available at

purse made from salvaged material, available at

Photograph by:,

It seems an increasing number of people are interested in a green holiday season. Numerous books are on the shelves, such as Green Christmas: How to Have a Joyous, Eco-Friendly Holiday Season and A Greener Christmas, if that's any indication. But it's tough to know what's green and what's "green washed," products that masquerade as environmentally friendly, but aren't really. It's an important time of the year to read labels, ask questions and do your research on products you're interested in purchasing.

It's still early enough to put some thought into your gifts. Know why you're getting a gift for the person you're buying it for. There's nothing worse than giving someone a gift they don't want or can't use; those are destined to collect dust on a shelf -- or worse, get tossed.

What else can you do in addition to looking for ethical and sustainable gifts? Recycle your old holiday lights and replace them with low-power LED versions. With a bit of planning, you can take your holiday parties and gatherings toward zero waste: Just set out a few bins for recycling, compost and waste, and direct people appropriately. Take it a step further by removing the trash can entirely, and watch your uncle's hesitation as he tries to determine which bin his used paper plate goes into. That should make for interesting conversation around the dinner table.

A few days ago someone told me that "it takes green to go green." Not so, especially during the holidays. It's the thought that counts, and, in the case of a green and sustainable Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, using your noggin and skills will help you find -- or make -- the perfect gifts while staying true to your ethics and sustainable leanings, all while keeping within your budget.

I've assembled a list of 12 holiday gift ideas to help you have a green holiday season. Hopefully, we'll all be green and still have some snow.

1. Make a card: It's estimated that there are more than 1.9 billion cards sent each holiday season in the United States alone. This year, why not give something more personal: buy some hemp or recycled paper card stock and some art supplies, and add your own creative flair to the business of card-making. Keep the supplies and use them year after year.

2. Bake a gift: Ever wonder why you should save cookie tins? Now you know: It's for the holidays. Sweets such as peanut brittle can be made in advance and store well. Preserves, such as jellies and jams, are always appreciated, as are baked goods, such as cookies. Plus, the tins and jars can be reused. Some people are wary about homemade goods, so for those folks, try another option.

3. Give consumables: A lot of people -- students, retirees, newspaper columnists -- live in the tight confines of condos, apartments, or basement suites and physically don't have enough space for more "stuff." Instead, give those people consumables, such as grocery gift certificates.

4. Buy services: Gifts don't always have to be material. Give gift certificates to local services, such as a trip to a massage therapist or spa, a trial membership at a yoga studio or gym, or a gift certificate to a hair salon. This keeps waste out of landfills and provides worthwhile local employment.

5. Give ethical products: Buying a fair-trade product -- such as organic chocolate -- is another good way to go green for the holidays. Fair-trade products ensure the farmers and craftspeople who produce the product are remunerated fairly. It might not be the right shade of green you're looking for, but it does provide a better quality of life for farmers and craftspeople who may be at risk of being exploited.

6. Buy vintage and second-hand goods: Buying second-hand furniture, books or other used products is another great way to go green for the holidays. Know the tastes of the person you're buying for, though: One person's sweet find is another's old junk. But with all the great second-hand and vintage stores in town, there's a gift available for everyone.

7. Give a gift that gives twice by donating to charity: If there's a group that the person you're buying for really loves, donate some money to it on their behalf. For example, you can adopt a cougar or a grizzly bear through The Land Conservancy ( Give to the University of Victoria's Environmental Law Centre ( Donate to the Dogwood Initiative, which wants to make British Columbia the global model for sustainable land reform ( Give to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, which last year assisted more than 2,300 households in need ( Through an organization such as World Vision (, you can buy livestock for a family in need or donate school supplies to Canadian families that could use some help.

8. Pick organic for babies: There are so many options for babies, from unpainted, unfinished wood toys to cosy organic cotton jumpers. Local crafter Dress Me Up ( makes organic cotton stuffed rabbits for teething, while Good Planet Baby Store on Broad Street ( also sells all kinds of green baby products.

9. Buy organic clothing: Clothing is always a popular gift for Christmas. Look for organic cotton, which uses less water and no pesticides, unlike traditional cotton. Ditch your mental image of a pony-tailed hippie wearing an itchy hemp hooded sweater. Nowadays, hemp, which uses less water to grow than cotton and grows faster, can be made into comfortable and nice-looking duds.

10. Look for up-cycled materials. Products made from salvaged materials are becoming increasingly available. Simple Shoes ( are sneakers soled with old tire treads, while messenger bags made from recycled seatbelts and bicycle tires, such as those from Alchemy Goods (, are also available. Some local crafters make items out of salvaged fabric, such as handbags sewn from old leather jackets (

11. Re-gift: Do you have an item or collectable that your friend or family member has been eyeing for some time? Are you not using it? Are you particularly attached to it? If not, let it go. It might come back to you next year.

12. Buy local: If you can buy something locally made, do it. The environment isn't just about hemp toilet paper and leafy vegetables: it's also about community. Local businesses create industry and employment, and are vital to building healthy communities.

Reprinted from:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sustainable BC

Here is a vision document that inspires me!

For more information, please visit: