Activist in a pandemic (July 19, 2020)

Good Sunday Morning!

By my COVID timeline, we are just heading into week 19 of our new existence.

News from south of the border makes us want to seal the border ever tighter. My constituency office is deluged with calls of concern about foreign license plates. I raised the so-called “Alaska loophole” again in parliament last week. Meanwhile, our local tourism businesses – from iconic Butchart Gardens to Wilsons bus line – are wondering how they can hold on without those tourists.

Starting a sentence, “the worst thing I have seen from the US this week…” invites a fierce competition of possible contenders. But this week, I was chilled to the bone by the news out of Portland, Oregon. Peaceful protesters were nabbed by armed men in camouflage, thrown into unidentified, unmarked cars. It turned out the abductors were federal agents. The head of Homeland Security Chad Wolf described the protesters as violent mobs, laying siege to the city. “The city of Portland has been under siege for 47 straight days,” he wrote. “Each night the violent anarchists destroy and desecrate property, including the federal courthouse, and attack the brave law enforcement officers protecting it.”

The mayor and governor said they had not been consulted and wanted federal officers out of their city and state. The Oregon Attorney General has announced a law suit against the federal government’s unjustified use of force and unlawful detention “without probable cause.” Nancy Pelosi called the federal officers “storm troopers.” There is speculation Trump is using Portland as a test case for using federal troops to shut down on-going anti-racist protests.

Trump’s America is more dangerous by the day as Trump himself becomes increasingly erratic. Again, a sentence that can be re-used and repeated as with each day the previously unimaginable becomes a headline.

On a more positive note, I have been enjoying the many gatherings by zoom from all manner of groups promoting a Green Recovery. This week, I did a webinar with Green leadership candidate Dr. Courtney Howard about the report she co-authored from Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

Her team asked me to adapt my activist training manual, “How to save the world in your spare time” (Key Porter 2006) to a “top ten list” for how to be an activist in a pandemic.

I found it a fun challenge and thought it would be good to share with Good Sunday Morning readers. The philosophy underpinning the book came from my grandmother who raised my mother on it, and my mother raised me with the same mantra: “Thought without constructive action is demoralizing.”

Staying focused on making progress on key issues in the COVID19 pandemic that advice is more important than ever. We must not become demoralized.

My top ten list is guided to these times and the tools that work best to confront the emotional and mental toll of isolation and thousands of deaths.

1) Take action every day. No action — no matter how small – is unimportant.

2) In pandemic, more people are relying on their local newspapers and more conventional news sources. Letters to the editor are more effective now than pre-COVID. Letters to individual MPs- less so.

3) Take action in education- far too few people understand the nature of “tipping points” and the risk of unstoppable self-accelerating global warming. Set the respect for science on climate in the context of respect for COVID public health science.

4) Consider writing opinion pieces for local and national newspapers, focusing on how the climate emergency is not paused during the COVID emergency.

5) Build relationships – expand your network working remotely.

6) Join on line rallies and webinars.

7) Send donations to climate action groups- in COVID revenues are down, but staff still needs to be paid.

8) Expand your impact on social media – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

9) Respond constructively on social media and comment pages adding links that educate others.

10) Share and promote those post-pandemic plans that meet the goals of a climate stable world, such as the CAPE report “A Healthy Recovery,” the Green Party of Canada’s “Reimagining our Future”, “Green strings” the report from a coalition of groups, LeadNow’s Just recovery.


With all that is going on in the world, positive action for a better world is essential.

The range of work of your Green caucus is wide-ranging. This week we took stands on how to help students in the wake of the WE debacle, what to do about Meng Wanzhou and how to get parliament fully functional with remote voting. (links to releases below).


This week coming Parliament will be sitting in person and in hybrid fashion. Our heroic Jenica Atwin will be driving through the night from Fredericton to reach Ottawa. What a world!

Stay safe and well!



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