Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lyme Disease Awareness

Dear Friends,

Whether you are hanging out in the backyard or camping in pristine wilderness, Lyme disease is a serious concern.

Do you know what Lyme disease is? That’s okay, most people don’t. But with summer coming and the great outdoors looking more and more tempting, you need to know the simple steps you can take to avoid contracting Lyme disease.

What is Lyme Disease? A CBC report around this time last year put it is way: “tiny tick, big problem.” First diagnosed in Lyme, Connecticut in the mid-1970s, the disease is spread by nymphal ticks no bigger than a speck of pepper . Ticks travel from animal to animal, feeding off blood. If a tick consumes infected blood and then bites you, symptoms begin appearing in as little as three days. The bites can be painless and leave only a tiny mark that doesn’t last very long.

What are the symptoms of Lyme Disease? According to the Public Health Agency of Canada:

The symptoms of Lyme disease usually happen in three stages, although not all patients have every symptom. The first sign of infection is usually a circular rash. This rash occurs in about 70-80 percent of infected people. It begins at the site of the tick bite after a delay of three days to one month.

Other common symptoms include:
  • fatigue
  • chills
  • fever
  • headache
  • muscle and joint pain
  • swollen lymph nodes
If untreated, the second stage of the disease can last up to several months and include:
  • central and peripheral nervous system disorders
  • multiple skin rashes
  • arthritis and arthritic symptoms
  • heart palpitations
  • extreme fatigue and general weakness
It sounds serious, and it is. But it is also easily preventable, and if promptly diagnosed, it is easily treatable, too.

Here are a few tips from the BC Centre for Disease Control:
  • Walk on cleared trails wherever possible when walking in tall grass or woods.
  • Wear light coloured clothing, tuck your top into your pants and tuck your pants into your boots or socks.
  • Put insect repellent containing DEET on all uncovered skin.
  • Check clothing and scalp (covered or not) when leaving an area where ticks may live.
Lyme disease is North America’s fastest rising infectious disease. It’s utterly debilitating if not detected and treated quickly with antibiotics – which happens rarely in B.C.

If detected early, Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics in a matter of weeks. When in doubt, see a doctor – and make sure she tests for Lyme disease if your symptoms fit the above profile.

I am close to several people who suffer from Lyme disease. I know how brutal this disease can be. Thank you for reading.


For more information:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Give this Woman a Job!

Betsy with Dried Salmon
Here is a letter from Alexander Morton with some great ideas... and an offer we'd be fools to pass up on.
March 22, 2011

British Columbia this is my job application
After watching DFO’s Director General of Science, Pacific Region on the stand at the Cohen Commission March 17 - this is my job application. If I was Director General of DFO Pacific Region, I could straighten this mess out and put our wild fish first. DFO policy has already driven one of earth’s most generous fish stocks to extinction (the east coast cod stocks) by ignoring their own scientist. They are doing exactly this again today. On March 17 we heard DFO did not inform the public that one of their scientists found what looks like a virus is killing the majority some runs of Fraser sockeye. DFO did not tell us that this virus has been epidemic in salmon farms on the Fraser migration route. I doubt DFO has any idea how widespread this virus is in farm salmon. I don't think they have a handle on the situation If we allow this type of mismanagement and secrecy we will lose wild salmon, one of our most valuable public resources
Number one DFO must recognize there are four types of salmon in BC; wild, enhanced, hatchery and farmed and there is no evidence they can co-exist. Fishery Managers have to give one type of salmon top priority. I would choose wild salmon because they are the least expensive, most likely to survive climate change, most prolific, greatest benefit to humanity and have a 10,000 year successful trackrecord.
Salmon wear spectacular regalia at spawning time to allow the females to make the best choice for their species. The males are saying, “hey, look at me I went to the North Pacific and back and have THIS much to show for it!” Female choice tunes each population, honing them into the best fish possible for the environment of the moment. When humans take that choice away from the salmon in hatcheries, we might as well cut off their tails as we release them. We destroy their most powerful survival mechanism. Enhanced salmon in spawning channels require expensive cleaning regularly and this costs more and more money as fuel costs rise. In 2010, I saw a spawning channel choked with carcasses. Any eggs under them were smothered by the massive rotting - it was a death trap!
Farm salmon break all the natural laws, are unsustainable with rapacious shareholders demanding continuous growth and they privately owned. If I were Director General of the DFO Pacific Region I would work for Canadians, not salmon farming corporations.
The wild salmon that swims all the way back from the open Pacific and chooses a site to spawn without our help – is THE most valuable salmon there is. I would honor the needs of this fish in every way possible - it is the only salmon with a future.
* I would establish the premise that wild fish manage themselves – we simply need to decide how much we are going to get out of their way and allow them to do what they do best - make more salmon.
* I would enact a Follow the Fish course of action using state of the art science to understand exactly where they are prospering and failing. This will equip us to debate what roadblocks we want to remove or keep.
* I would put a number of DFO people somewhere where that they can’t hurt anything further and I would hand the reins to others.
* I would meet with every First Nation Fisheries Manager and stream-keeper group to understand what needs to be done in each unique situation and then I would meet with those who disagree with them before making any decision.
* I would ensure every significant watershed has people trained in disease sampling and outfit them with the tools to immediately capture information on the epidemics that are flashing out of control killing BC wild salmon, so we can track and deal with this.
* I would form small, efficient roving teams combining dedicated First Nations, biologists and the people who know the area best to walk these watersheds continuously and task them to report on where the salmon are and how they are doing. In this way we would learn what is working, what is not and what we need to maximize the fish’s own potential to thrive.
* I would thread together the people spread across BC who are working for salmon. The people on the grounds and the leading scientists need to talk. The fishermen need to meet the Fishery Managers on the spawning grounds. Every meeting would be structured to produce or tune a plan of action. No wasted effort or bafflegab allowed.
* I would reinstate local DFO offices as much as I was able, populate them with local experts and make sure the folks on the grounds have clear channels of communication between themselves and head office, so when problems arise we would have an all hands on deck immediate response.
* I would offer opportunity and attention to the Canadians who think they can conduct aquaculture without soiling our province. I would promote farming at the bottom of the food chain, not the top. I would invite the open net industry to leave, suggesting the courts might offer leniency if they voluntarily removed themselves in the face of mounting evidence that they are the source of lethal fish diseases and thus enormous losses to Canadians.
* I would apply this approach to all fisheries. It is not that I know what needs to be done in all cases, but I can figure out who is sincere and knowledgeable and encourage these people to come forward to begin a new era where we work with our wild fish and not against, where policy is second to truth.
My personal goal is to return to the wilderness of the Broughton Archipelago, but I would be willing to do this in hopes that I could go home in a year or so and watch the wild salmon and all they feed return to us.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Dirt! The Movie

You are invited to a FREE screening of Dirt the Movie! 

An award-winning documentary and an Official Selection at Sundance Film Festival, Dirt! the Movie tells an amazing and little known story of the relationship between humans and living dirt

Watch this trailer and you'll see why this movie has gotten rave reviews!

Co-hosted by MLA and Ag Critic Lana Popham and City Councillor Philippe Lucas. After the film we'll have tea and snacks and a presentation by farmer and local-food advocate Bob Maxwell.

Narrated by Jaime Lee Curtis, Dirt! the Movie brings to life the environmental, economic, social and political impact of soil. It tells the story of Earth's most valuable and under-appreciated source of fertility--from its miraculous beginning to its crippling degradation.

Donations are welcome - all proceeds to Victoria Downtown Public Market Society!

For more info: or

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Four Remarkable Women

Organic farming on Southern Vancouver Island owes a great debt to four remarkable women: Mary Alice Johnson, Tina Fraser Baynes, Marti Martin-wood and Rebecca Jehn.

Today - in honour of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day - it is my pleasure to re-release a documentary about their early efforts.

It was directed and filmed in 1995 by Helen Rezanowich of the Media Network Society. I know that it inspired a number of women to begin farming… including myself!

The film captures the challenges that women face if they want to farm. But it is also about the joy and value that comes from growing food for yourself and others. I know many women farming today will relate to the feelings and ideas expressed in this film.

Many of the projects these women helped start – such as Moss Street Market – remain vibrant and successful to this day. I’m also very happy to report that all four women are still actively farming.  

Mary-Alice Johnson, for example, has transformed land in Sooke into a highly-productive and successful farm, ALM Farm. She and her business partner Marika Nagasaki grow a full range of vegetables, including fifty types of heritage tomatoes, and coveted salad greens. They also have poultry and pigs, run a busy seed company (Full Circle Seeds) and protect wild natural spaces on the edge of the farm. The whole operation is certified organic, employs several people and grosses over $100 000 a year!

Tina Fraser Baynes also continues to farm organically at Corner Farm in North Saanich. She has a busy farm-gate stand, and has helped start the North Saanich Farm Market. She also teaches a popular course at Camosun College about how to start a farm.

Marti Martin-Wood runs Two Wings Farm in Metchosin with her husband Bernie. Their seed company was founded in 2000 and continues to provide high-quality, certified organic and open-pollinated seeds.

Rebecca Jehn operates Rebecca’s Garden, a certified organic market garden in Saanich. She is also well known for her preserves and seeds. She continues to hold workshops on seed saving, plant propagation, harvesting and marketing produce, as well as canning and preserving the harvest.

I asked Mary Alice if she had a word of advice for young women considering farming. Her answer? “Well, I worry about people being too idealistic about it. It is very hard work. But it can be done – there is a huge demand for local and organic. People will thank you and value your efforts. It’s an extremely rewarding way to make a living.”

I hope you will enjoy this video and join me in celebrating four remarkable farmers for this year’s International Women’s Day.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Today is a sad day for many - it is a day to remember fallen firefighters.

Here is a Statement I gave in the Legislature last year on this date.

L. Popham: People love firefighters. That's a fact. An Angus Reid public opinion poll showed that firefighters are one of the most trusted professions in the world. Firefighters are our heroes. They put their own lives at risk to save ours. They see us at the most painful and terrifying moments in our lives, and they give us comfort, respect and care.

Fire departments are like families — families protecting our families. I'm married to Jon, a firefighter from Oak Bay who has been there for 18 years. My brother Guy is a firefighter in Delta and has worked there for 16 years. When you have a firefighter or two in the family, you feel like part of the greater fire department family of British Columbia. Yes, I have a soft spot for firefighters.

I am proud to be the MLA for the Saanich fire department. The Saanich fire department has been around since 1948 and has 108 full-time firefighters. The Saanich fire department is not only protecting our community, but they're helping us build a better community with the Saanich Fire Fighters Charitable Foundation. This foundation is a registered non-profit charity that was established in 2001 and has raised over $200,000.

They give and they give. Whether they are on shift or on days off, they are contributing to our quality of life. When they come to us as elected officials and ask for support for cancer presumption legislation, when they come to us and ask for support for the right-to-know legislation, and when they come and ask for the right to be licensed to practise at the emergency medical responder level, both sides of the House need to listen.

Firefighters would break down doors, walk into fire and risk everything to save us. Let our legislation not be the barrier that stops them.