2018 Activities Report for the Edmonton Chapter

Activities Report for 2018 for the Edmonton Chapter of the Council of Canadians

Presented at Council of Canadians Edmonton Chapter AGM.  Dec. 2, 2018

This past yearthe Edmonton Chapter operated largely with the understanding that we are effective identifying and working with  our allies and promoting the Council of Canadians as affiliated with a small range of  civil society organizations.   This has been a fairly successful approach. 

  • In association with Pesticide Free Edmonton, we helped to stop the use of chlorpyrifos used to control mosquitos in Edmonton.  According to Spray Sheets obtained through FOIP by Pesticide Free Edmonton, the City of Edmonton did not use chlorpyrifos to control mosquitos this past year, using instead other biological methods including vectobac.  We remain concerned that the City maintains stocks of both Dursban and Pyrate to be used in the case of a medical emergency such a serious outbreak of West Nile or other mosquito born illness.  This is in spite of evidence that these chlorpyrifos based compounds may make such situations worse by killing natural mosquito predators and by weakening the immune systems of possible disease vectors such as birds.  Let alone the fact that chlorpyrifos is a highly potent and persistent neurotoxin that no other municipality in North America uses to control mosquitos.  See:  https://www.facebook.com/PesticideFreeEdmonton/
  • In collaboration with CPAWS-Northern Alberta, we helped to build support for the protection of the Big Horn.   See:  https://cpawsnab.org/applaud-bighorn-designation/ and  https://talkaep.alberta.ca/bighorn-country.  See especially the maps, etc. on the lower right hand side of this linked web site.  Especially https://www.albertaparks.ca/media/6495885/site-profiles-consolidated.pdf  
  • Edmonton Chapter members also contributed to the efforts of the Alberta Pharmacare Working Group, the Alberta Environmental Network’s Methane Working Group, Alberta Green Energy Network, Edmonton Climate HUB, and the Association of United Ukrainians of Canada-Edmonton Branch, 

In Dec. 2017, just after our last AGM, Edmonton Chapter members Rod Olstad and Robert Wilde co-produced  a podcast on Edmonton’s use of chlorpyrifos to control mosquitos.  Our guests were  Edmonton based paediatrician and U of A associate clinical professor Dr. Isabelle Chapados and Pesticide Free Edmonton’s coordinator (and Edmonton Chapter member) Sheryl McCumsey.  It appears that well over 1000 people listened to this podcast. See:  https://edmontoncouncilofcanadians.ca/2017/12/09/edmonton-risks-serious-health-environmental-consequences-with-continued-use-of-persistent-and-potent-neurotoxin-chlorpyrifos-to-control-mosquitos/  
In June of 2018,  The Edmonton Chapter supported David Suzuki’s Honorary Doctorate granted at the U of A Convocation.  There was a special request directly from Council of Canadians honorary Chair Maude Barlow who emailed the Edmonton Chapter to ask for help to provide support for this award. A letter of thanks was sent to the U of A Senate for this brave choice.  Also, a number of Edmonton Chapter members bolstered a counter-protest at the Jubilee Auditorium on convocation day to contrast the group of primarily oil and gas workers who were protesting against Dr. Suzuki’s Honorary Degree.    

This past year or so, Edmonton Chapter members attended four meetings with Alberta Environment, Alberta Health and/or the City of Edmonton concerning pesticide use in Edmonton and Alberta.  Two chapter members also attended as guests of a  Press Conference with the Alberta Liberal Caucus where the Alberta Government was asked to initiate an independent review of Alberta’s Pesticide Use and Regulatory compliance monitoring, reporting and enforcement.  

Chapter members also contributed to the successful efforts of Pesticide Free Edmonton to cause the initiation of a City of Edmonton Audit into the City’s pesticide use.  Earlier in 2018, Chapter members attended the presentation of the Audit to the City of Edmonton Audit Committee.  At this meeting, evidence of apparent fraud was presented to Council members in attendance.  It appears that a memo was sent to all City of Edmonton Councillors and the mayor in 2016 falsely claiming that chlorpyrifos was not sprayed in Edmonton in 2016 (or 2017).  The City ’s Pesticide Audit and Spray Sheets obtained through FOIP by PFE prove otherwise.   See:  https://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/council-questions-use-of-neurotoxin-in-fight-against-mosquitoes

Chapter members were also very much engaged with the internal discussions going on across the country regarding the Council of Canadians governance concerns and proposed solutions. 

Efforts were also made this past year to make the Edmonton Chapter a more effective partner/ally: 

  • The Chapter’s web page was updated a number of times.
    • We’ve purchased a premium WordPress plan and also purchased a new, searchable url:  www.edmontoncounilofcanadians.ca
    • We’re able now to make blog postings and to make press releases on our web site.  

There’s still lots to do with our web page.  We need to:  

  • set up a mailchimp account so that we can more effectively identify and stay in touch with our supporters.  
    • a mail chimp account would also make it easier for us to promote targeted events of our allies.  
  • More effectively identify and link to our allies. 

If you’ve read this much of our Activity Report, you might be interested to know that the Edmonton Chapter could really use some help!  We could benefit from a few more active members on our Steering Committee and/or more active volunteers:  Help us to build the community of well informed, engaged and effective civil society.  We could use your help to: 

  • research and/or otherwise be well informed about our chosen campaign issues.   
  • To prepare and release an articulate, well reasoned press release on occasion and on a limited number of issues.
  • to successfully hold fund raiser events to help support our allies. 
  • build connections in the community: 
    • with other civil society organizations
    • with the media
    • with student researchers/academia
  • continue to upgrade and update our web page.  Is there anyone out there who is conversant with WordPress?  
  • Help us to write content for our web page/blog.  
  •  Research and produce a monthly podcast.  

Whether you’re able to be an active volunteer with the Edmonton Chapter or not, we certainly encourage you in your efforts to understand some, or even one of the complicated issues we’re facing and to participate in the democratic process to the best of your abilities:  

  • to call into a radio program to make a comment and/or ask a question.
  • to write a letter to the editor
  • to participate on social media
  • to talk to your friends, neighbours, relatives, acquaintances about some of these issues.  
  • to talk to a political candidate about these issues.

 Respectfully Submitted by Rod Olstad

Chair, Edmonton Chapter, Council of Canadians