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From My Desk On The Hill – Committee Meetings Intro

Posted by on 11 Oct 2011 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

This little metal view of The Hill and environs stands on the north side of Wellington Street, east of Albert Street, a few streets west of Centre Block. The Confederation Building, which houses Elizabeth May's office, where I'm based, is just west of West Block.

The closeup shows, starting on the right, Centre Block with the Peace Tower, then West Block, then the Confederation Building's three wings.

Although she’s a Member of Parliament, Elizabeth can’t be a member of any House of Commons committees. Under current rules, only once there are a dozen Green M.P.s, will Greens be able to sit on committees. That means Elizabeth can be in the House all the time, whenever it’s in session. She quickly became very active there. Details of some of what she’s said and done in the House are on the Green Party of Canada website, greenparty.ca.

Learning about committee business is one task for her staff and volunteers. We’ve all been doing our best to attend as many committee meetings as possible.

Committees meet in various locations. Meetings I’ve attended have been in La Promenade, a government building on the Sparks Street Mall. The main Parliament buildings are on the north side of Wellington Street. Sparks is parallel to Wellington, one south; most of its length is pedestrians-only. (Gotta watch out for delivery vehicles, though.)

The Confederation Building is on the northwest corner of Wellington and Bank Streets. La Promenade is one block south and one block east, at the corner of Sparks and O’Connor Streets. Its location can be seen in the closeup above.

To be admitted to La Promenade, I show my i.d. card to the security staff in the large glass enclosure just past the entry. At least three people are usually working there, and one activates the control that opens the clear, shoulder-height doors so I can walk through. Eschewing the elevator, I climb the wide central staircase, to the second or third floor.

On the wall outside each of the three large committee rooms I’ve been in is a monitor screen, showing some details about what’s scheduled. So far, I’ve not had complete success in interpreting what I’ve read. The screen has not shown “in camera” when a meeting turned out to be so, and the three of us who’d come from Elizabeth’s office had to leave. The screen has shown “in camera” when only part of the session was such, so I’ve been able to attend the public part. Or it’s shown a meeting later in the day, rather than the one I’ve come for. More experience will help, I think.

Inside the doors is a hallway, with places to sit. The committee room is beyond more doors.

The committee chair, vice-chairs and the committee clerk sit across the front of the room, facing the others present. On their right sit the government M.P.s who are committee members; M.P.s not in the governing party sit on their left. These three groups form three sides of a rectangle. On the fourth side, facing the chair, are the visiting speakers, often government staff members.

On the table in front of each person in the rectangle is a microphone. Earphones within reach of everyone in the room amplify what’s said, but that’s not really necessary. Simultaneous translation is provided via the sound system. And those responsible for producing the report of the committee’s proceedings also rely on it; once, when it wasn’t working and all of us present could nonetheless hear just fine, the meeting had to pause for a few minutes, so the system could be fixed.

There are two rows of chairs for staff, one behind each row of M.P.s. Behind the witnesses are two tables reserved for the media. Once, there were more reporters than chairs, and one person at the front was running a camera, facing the witnesses. Other times, no media have attended.

Behind the media tables are several rows of chairs for the public. So far, at least a few of those chairs have been occupied, but there’s always been plenty of room for more visitors.

Topic examples: at a Natural Resources committee meeting, resource development in Canada’s north was discussed. And one Foreign Affairs committee meeting was a briefing update on Libya.

Witnesses make opening statements, and then respond to questions M.P.s ask. All who talk are focused and respectful – no Question Period-style antics. Every member has the chance to speak, within rigid time constraints. The chair is responsible for keeping the meeting on track. Occasionally, an M.P. takes too long. When this has happened, chairs I’ve heard so far have been polite and gentle while succeeding in being extremely firm – they are experienced politicians.

So far, I’ve taken notes by hand, on my lap, although outlets for computers are in the floor. There’s always water in pitchers, with glasses – nice not to see bottled water. Once, there were a couple of kinds of juice. And once, coffee, tea, a variety of cut-up fruit, and big, chewy cookies were available – yum.

Please keep the comments coming; more blogposts soon.

The Confederation Building

From My Desk On The Hill – 1

Posted by on 01 Oct 2011 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

first day at my desk

House of Commons passes – VIA Rail round trips – Elizabeth’s office – Spunky …
On September 15, I arrived in Ottawa, to be a volunteer for Canada’s first Green M.P., Elizabeth May. Since then, I’ve seen – and heard – Question Period, been asked to leave a committee meeting, tasted some of The Hill’s comestibles, struggled with connectivity, and experienced a lot more.

Connectivity difficulties have delayed starting this blog. Smart ‘phones are used non-stop on The Hill, and M.P.s have Blackberries, so as soon as I arrived in Ottawa, I got one. And netbook, lighter in weight than a full-strength notebook, was my choice. I thought emailing and blogging would be easy. I was wrong.

Setting up one of my email accounts took the Fido folks several days, and I managed to do the second in just minutes. But my email disappeared on my first weekend trip back to Toronto, and restoring it, once I returned to Ottawa, was a real challenge for Fido. (It vanished again this weekend, re-appeared of itself after 24 hours – phew!)

In general, non-Hill computers can’t be online in Parliament buildings. My office desk has a cable on it, waiting for its Hill-system computer to be delivered – soon, we think. And so far, I’ve not been successful in connecting at home in Ottawa, and I’m not sure yet whether this will be an easy problem to solve or a hard one. My first trip back to Toronto, my netbook connected to the VIA system, but not this time.

Elizabeth’s office already has three computers online. Now that I’ve got my security pass, I can come in early and stay late, so I’m able to use one of those. Security passes are credit-card-sized plastic, on lanyards. A letter from Elizabeth’s office to the security office gets the process started. A security check follows – I don’t know exactly what that entails. My pass admits me to any of the Parliament buildings. Before that, photo i.d. from me, and a telephone call up to the office by the building’s security staff let me, and my backpack, through the scanners, and resulted in a visitor’s pass good for one day at a time.

The Confederation Building, on the northwest corner of Wellington and Bank Streets, houses a number of M.P.s’ offices, including Elizabeth’s. Her office consists of three bright rooms. One, with Elizabeth’s desk, and her chief of staff’s, has just enough space for a small sofa, too. A picture of Petra Kelly, who helped start the Green Party in Germany, is now over the sofa. My desk is in a room that comfortably holds three other desks, but could not hold more. Staffers and volunteers all watch our screens avidly, whenever Elizabeth speaks, in and out of Parliament, which she has been doing, amazingly often, to impressive effect. (Elizabeth’s blog, on the Green Party of Canada website, explains some of what she does.)

I’m honoured to be staying in Elizabeth’s apartment, in a historic building half an hour’s walk from the office. As soon as I arrived, I met Spunky. She’s a shih tzu, and has happily achieved the advanced age of twelve. For the first time in my life, I’m walking a dog. Dog people, I’ve learned, exchange the names of their charges when meeting on the street. But one lovely warm morning, at 3 a.m., when Spunky took me for a long brisk stroll, we had the whole block to ourselves.

Please check here for upcoming blogposts: Question Period and committee meeting(s), as mentioned above; food on and around The Hill; my OC Transpo and walking adventures – I’ll try to include whatever I see and do in Ottawa. And I’ll look forward to comments.

Spunky, before we brought Petra Kelly's picture to the office

Cabbagetown Parade & Festival, World Wide Walk for Peace & Children

Posted by on 13 Sep 2011 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Sunday, September 11, 2011

With Jean Béliveau, as he heads off from Friends House, Toronto, on his World Wide Walk for Peace and Children: he left his home in Montréal more than a decade ago, has walked through North & South America, Africa and Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and is now heading to Ottawa and then home.


Some of our great Green group in the Cabbagetown Festival Parade on Sat. Sep. 10, 2011

Photo Show/Provincial Campaign Launch

Posted by on 04 Aug 2011 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Photo Show,Java Jive,Church/Isabella,month of August 2011

photo by Mark Daye

Tuesday, August 9, 7-9pm, show opening/campaign launch for Mark Daye, Green Party of Ontario candidate for Toronto Centre

Come sign Mark’s nomination paper and meet and join his campaign team.

Java Jive has long supported Adopt a Village in Laos, which brings water filters to rural areas there. At the show opening, you can also meet Roland Drake, who will be providing an update on this effort.

Java Jive, s.e. corner, Church/Isabella

The show will be up for the whole month of August. Photographers are Mark Daye and Bill and Ellen Michelson.

All funds from all photos sold will be donated to the LGBT Youth Line.

It’s time for Sunday in the Park again.

Posted by on 08 Jul 2011 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Pride Toronto

Posted by on 01 Jul 2011 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Toronto Greens at Pride 2011: Please stop by our booth, and please join Elizabeth and Mike in the parade.

St. James Town Festival

Posted by on 03 Jun 2011 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

It’s that time again: the festival is tomorrow,
Saturday, June 4, 10am-5pm,
behind the Wellesley Community Centre,
on Bleecker Street (one block east of Sherbourne Street),
just north of Wellesley Street.
Please stop by our table for a chat.

Federal Election!

Posted by on 26 Mar 2011 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

New short video – I take you on a quick tour that showcases some of our riding’s wonderful variety, while highlighting some Green Party platform points; the video ends with an overview of my Community Democracy Ambassadors plan for Toronto Centre – please view it.
Watch this space, and see voteellen on Facebook and Twitter, and Ellen Michelson for Toronto Centre (Green Party of Canada) on Facebook, for updates.
events, meetings, debates scheduled so far:
Sun. May 1, Forsythia Festival parade, Cabbagetown, 10:30am

Sat. April 30, www.ckln.fm, The Kolter Bouchard Show, 8am

Wed. April 27, Council Fire Native Cultural Centre, 439 Dundas St. E., 6pm, watch webcast of Assembly of First Nations Town Hall, starting at 7pm

Wed. April 27, Kamalayan Konsciousness, Café Pamenar, 307 Augusta St., 7pm

Tues. April 26, Rosedale United Church, Glen Rd./Roxborough Dr.,7pm

Mon. April 25, Goldhawk Live, 8pm

Sat. April 23, Engineers Without Borders, University of Toronto, Northrop Frye Hall, Rm.003, 73 Queen’s Park Cresc. E., 7pm

Thurs. April 21, Central Neighbourhood House, 349 Ontario St., 8pm

Wed. April 20, Fair Vote Canada, St. Paul’s Church, 227 Bloor St. E., 7pm

Fri. April 15, The 519 Church Street Community Centre, 7pm
Debate photos are posted on my Facebook Candidate page, Ellen Michelson for Toronto Centre (Green Party of Canada).
740 Right On The Money: I was interviewed on Sunday morning, April 24, at 8:30 a.m.

Goldhawk Live, 8pm, Monday, April 25
Our office is open! Please stop by – 125 Lower Jarvis Street,
11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sundays.

To contact our campaign, and to volunteer, email voteellen@greenparty.ca, call 416-703-3827.

To donate, click on Contact Us, Get Involved in the links above.

A smart economy, strong communities, true democracy – it’s time – vote Green!

Ellen with Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu, Green Party of Canada candidate, Toronto-Danforth, and Mark Daye, nominated candidate, Green Party of Ontario, Toronto Centre

Ellen with Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu, Green Party of Canada candidate, Toronto-Danforth, and Mark Daye, nominated candidate, Green Party of Ontario, Toronto Centre

Sinfonia Toronto Green Gala, Sat. March 26

Posted by on 22 Mar 2011 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Opera star/radio personality Jean Stilwell and Ellen are co-emcees.

Co-emcee Ellen with Maestro Nurhan Arman, Sinfonia Toronto Green Gala, March 26, 2011

Co-emcee Ellen with Maestro Nurhan Arman, Sinfonia Toronto Green Gala, March 26, 2011

Photo Show to Benefit the 160 Girls Project: February and March at Java Jive, Church/Isabella

Posted by on 26 Jan 2011 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

UPDATE: We’ve been asked to leave the show up till the end of March. We’re so pleased – people have said they like the quality and variety of the photos, and the reasonable prices. We’ve sold 9 photos so far. There are still about two dozen on display. Please stop by to see which might enhance your walls.

The show opening was Tuesday, February 1, 6 p.m.

Here’s information about the project’s parent organization:
The Equality Effect.

At the opening, we learned a little about The Equality Effect from Flora Terah, here from Kenya.

And we heard from our special guest, Glenys Babcock, founder of Pragmora, working to build peace around the world.

We had some free and delicious nibbles; as well, Eugene Johnson of Java Jive generously offered his coffees, teas, and juices for only $1 each.

Eugene supports Adopt A Village in Laos. There’s a donation box on his counter.

Our photographers:
Mark Daye is an executive member of both the Green Party of Canada and the Green Party of Ontario for Toronto Centre. Photos by Mark of Ontario nature, and of Paris, are featured in the show.

Bill Michelson is our Toronto Centre EDA’s financial agent. An urban sociologist, he has had many of his photos published. This show features his photos of Africa and India.

Ellen Michelson is proud to be included, pleased and emboldened by the sale of her work to benefit Elizabeth May’s campaign in B.C. Some of her photos are of places she’s worked abroad.

The full price of all photos will be donated to The Equality Effect.


Posted by on 16 Nov 2010 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

2011 Toronto Centre EDA exec

Toronto Centre's new executive, elected at our March 2, 2011 AGM (l to r): Mike Singer, , Ellen Michelson, Mark Daye, Bill Michelson

Toronto Centre Federal Green Party AGM
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
The 519 Community Centre, 519 Church Street
6:30-8 p.m.

Please plan to attend.

We will be presenting a new constitution for membership approval,
electing our executive for the coming year.

Click Continue Reading to see our constitution draft. Please post comments. Continue Reading »

Human Books, available for borrowing, Sat. Nov. 6

Posted by on 31 Oct 2010 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Ellen will be one of the ‘human books’ available at five Toronto Public Library branches on Saturday, November 6, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. More than 50 ‘human books’ will be available. You can reserve a half-hour, on-the-spot chat with one in advance, by contacting the library by telephone or on line. You can come to a participating branch on Saturday to sign out others for dialogues. And through the TPL website, you can apply to be a 2011 human book.

Ellen will be at the Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street, a block north of Bloor. The library has chosen to focus on her membership in the Raging Grannies, her time working in Greenland, and her participation in the first Canada Corps mission to Ukraine’s Orange Revolution presidential election in 2004. She’ll talk about any of that with you, or just about anything else you’d like to discuss.

Please join Ellen on Sun. Oct. 31.

Posted by on 27 Oct 2010 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

United Mothers Opposing Violence Everywhere
Walk to Dundas Square begins at Queen’s Park, 1pm.
This year’s theme is “Who will fill these shoes?” so please bring along a pair of running shoes to honour loved ones lost to violence. (You may donate the shoes or take them home again.)

UMOVE rally, Oct. 31, 2010, Yonge-Dundas Square, Toronto

UMOVE rally, Oct. 31, 2010, Yonge-Dundas Square, Toronto

Cabbagetown Parade & Festival :-)

Posted by on 30 Aug 2010 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

The parade is Saturday morning, Sep. 11.
All are welcome to come walk with us.
Meet on Parliament, between Howard (1 s. of Bloor) & Wellesley, in Section C (look for the sign/ask a marshall), 9:15/9:30 a.m. If you wish, you can pedal your bicycle in the parade.
We’ll have a booth in front of #548 Parliament Street, Saturday & Sunday afternoons, Sep. 11 & 12.
Come early for your own personalized made-while-you-wait Green Party button.
We’ll have Green Party info to share. There’ll be plenty of time for good conversation.
Memberships will be available: $10/year, $25 for 3 years.
We’re eager to meet you and learn what’s on your mind.

GreatGreenGroup, Cabbagetown Parade, Sep. 11, 2010

GreatGreenGroup, Cabbagetown Parade, Sep. 11, 2010

Cabbagetown Festival Parade, Sep. 12, 2009

Cabbagetown Festival Parade, Sep. 12, 2009

It’s the Green Party, and you’re invited!

Posted by on 12 Jul 2010 | Tagged as: Uncategorized


Green Party of Canada
National Convention and Pre-Convention Events, Toronto

Everyone is welcome.

August 20-22, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front Street West

Welcome opening: First Nations Elder Ernie Sandy

Featuring: Elizabeth May, national leader, Green Party of Canada
Ilona Dougherty, co-founder, Apathy is Boring
Don Drummond, TD Bank: the green economy
Community outreach panelists from around the world
Rob Faust, Faustwork Mask Theatre
Green Lifestyle Show
Young Greens
Ralph Benmergui, MC, and Adriane Carr, Green Party of Canada Deputy Leader: fundraiser

Pre-convention events, Hart House, University of Toronto
Climate Change Green Summit, August 13-15
International Affairs/Peacekeeping, August 16
Democracy & Women Leaders, August 18
Green Economy with Frank De Jong, August 19

More info: greenparty.ca
Group rate reduction available.

Sunday in the Park

Posted by on 05 Jul 2010 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Pride Toronto 2010

Posted by on 27 Jun 2010 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Forsythia & St. James Town Festivals

Posted by on 26 May 2010 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Forsythia Festival, Wellesley Park, May 2, 2010

St. James Town Parade, Saturday, June 5, starts at 10 a.m.!
See you there!

Black History Month Event: Sunday, February 28

Posted by on 21 Feb 2010 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Black Daddies Club is hosting The Importance of Fathers Parenting
(open to the public and free)
at the Onyx Barbershop, 219A Yonge St. (near Shuter), noon to 3:30 p.m.

screening of 2 films: Forgotten and More Than A Haircut

Brandon Hay, Executive Director, Black Daddies Club, notes,
“BDC feels the community needs to start knowing what our constituents stand for and also for these constituents to find out the needs of the community. Ellen has told BDC that the Green Party of Canada has some interesting developments that she would like to share with the community in terms of parenting. BDC does not endorse the Green Party; however, BDC believes in the power of voting. Unfortunately not enough of the black community is exercising their right to vote and BDC wants to change that.”

Ellen with Brandon Hay, E.D., Black Daddies Club, & Nigel Barriffe, Green Party of Canada nominated candidate, Etobicoke North, Feb. 28, 2010

Ellen with Brandon Hay, E.D., Black Daddies Club, & Nigel Barriffe, Green Party of Canada nominated candidate, Etobicoke North, Feb. 28, 2010

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