Authors, all Toronto Heliconian Club members

Posted by on 03 Dec 2016 | Tagged as: Uncategorized


All publications listed are by members of the club’s literature section. The Toronto Heliconian Club, more than a century old, gathers women in the arts. Info on upcoming events is often posted outside the club, 35 Hazelton Avenue, in Toronto’s Yorkville.
works listed:
Bacchanalia: short story
My Father’s Hands: poem
Icons: article
Beyond Blood, Christmas, Cook’s Temptation, Disability Matters, Envoys, Fireflies, Hivernante, Laundry Lines, Picnic, Sounding, Stone Woman: books available for purchase online, some also in public libraries
Point of Order: book published by Toronto’s Ruskin Literary and Debating Society
Electoral System: Science for Peace lecture, link about 5 posts below this one
Geography, Tom Thomson’s Fine Kettle: forthcoming books

Posts from December 2013 & before

Posted by on 03 Dec 2016 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

are below.

John Deverell – Democratic Reform Update

Posted by on 06 Dec 2013 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

John Deverell, the Green Party of Canada’s candidate in the November 25, 2013 Toronto Centre by-election, continues to respond to Canada’s crying need for democratic reform.

He has just drafted 4 resolutions on democratic voting for the upcoming Green Party of Canada convention. The Green Party’s grassroots-based policy process means all party members are encouraged to weigh in on resolution development.

John is an ideal spokesperson for democratic reform and its details. He has long served as a director of Fair Vote Canada. And he co-authored, with Greg Vezina, the book, Democracy, Eh? A Guide to Voter Action.

Interest in electoral reform is building. John’s strong voice can help make it happen.

The Green Party’s deadline for resolutions is April 30.
The party’s convention is in July, in Fredericton, N.B. – all party members are welcome.

Click for
John’s YouTube channel .

John Deverell, Green Party candidate, Toronto Centre

Posted by on 11 Sep 2013 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

John Deverell

John Deverell

Facebook: Deverell for Toronto Centre – community & public group pages
Twitter: @Dev4TOCentre
YouTube: Toronto Centre Greens
campaign office: 555 Parliament Street (north of Winchester)
campaign manager: Sharon Danley

Green Party of Canada media release:
John Deverell will be the Green Party’s Candidate for Toronto Centre By-Election
OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada’s Electoral District Association for Toronto Centre has announced that well-known former journalist John Deverell will be the Green candidate in the coming federal by-election.

“This by-election is a wonderful chance for Toronto voters, with the whole country watching, to tell all the parties in Ottawa that the political system is broken and we want it fixed – now. In a by-election Toronto can feel free to vote Green and put Parliament on notice: The People Want In,” said Green candidate John Deverell.

“Among those who still bother to vote, half are unable to elect a representative to Parliament. Half of us are required to pay taxes without having a democratic voice, and this is unacceptable,” said Deverell.

“I am thrilled that John Deverell has chosen to join us and work with the Green Party to rid this country of the perverse system of voting called First Past the Post (FPTP). Only FPTP would allow a minority of voters to create a majority government. We need to make sure every vote counts,” said Green Leader Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands.

John Deverell is a former president of the Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild and Founding Treasurer of Fair Vote Canada, the national multi-partisan campaign for equal effective votes and proportional representation.

Deverell joined the Liberal Party of Canada in 2011 hoping that it would be ready to rethink its traditional defense of FPTP voting systems. During the Liberal leadership campaign he worked for Vancouver MP Joyce Murray, among the candidates the only advocate of proportional representation.

John Deverell recently resigned from the Liberal Party to join the Green Party of Canada. “Under the leadership of Elizabeth May, the Green Party offers Canadian voters the most trustworthy instrument for democratic reform and new economic policy directions,” said Deverell.

Seeking Candidate for Toronto Centre By-Election

Posted by on 25 Aug 2013 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Here’s the Green Party of Canada’s notice about our candidate search. This time I will not be seeking nomination, am very much looking forward to being active in our upcoming campaign.

Hello Toronto Centre GPC member:
We urgently need your help. The by-election to replace our current M.P., who has resigned, must be held by mid-February, and could now be called at any time. As result, on August 21, the Green Party of Canada’s Campaign Committee declared Electoral Urgency for Toronto Centre.
The Green Party in Toronto Centre is getting ready. That means staying connected with our network of supporters, and planning our election campaign. Green results in all of our most recent federal elections have been impressive, and we have great potential to do even better this time. Discussions in anticipation of this campaign already began at our AGM in June, and yielded volunteer commitments from attendees, both longstanding members and new.
Our candidates come via our members, so we need you to identify a candidate for your riding. Here’s how you can help now:
• consider being a candidate yourself
• think about people you already know in the riding who would make great Green MPs
• think about green people who are active in the riding – maybe you’ve seen their names in a community newspaper, or they’re visible through involvement in business, volunteer work, schools, churches, non-profit groups, women’s organizations. Retirees make great candidates – they have time, networks and life experience.
• forward the names of potential candidates, and their phone numbers if you have them.

Please see below for contact information. We can do the asking! This is what makes a good candidate:
• active in the community
• green-thinking and understands the issues
• wants to make a difference
• articulate and personable
• prepared to put in several months of campaigning, including evenings and weekends
• ideally lives in the riding

Nominations will close at midnight on Wednesday, August 28. Then, Green Party members in Toronto Centre will hear from me as to the resulting next steps. This promises to be an exciting and rewarding time for the Toronto Centre Greens!

Membership: You must be a member of the Green Party of Canada and a resident of Toronto Centre to vote in a nomination meeting for the riding. If your membership has lapsed or will expire soon, please consider renewing it online at, or phone at 1-866-868-3447.

Please contact me for more information, or to send names of potential candidates. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Kindest Regards,
Rebecca Harrison, Senior Organizer, Green Party of Canada
905-999-5479 (local call from Toronto)

Video – Fixing Canada’s Electoral System: Four Fallacies

Posted by on 05 Oct 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Thoughtful audience, worthwhile discussion for the talk described in the post below this one; here’s the video. 


Fixing Canada’s Electoral System: Four Fallacies

Posted by on 16 Sep 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Metta Spencer, President, Science for Peace and Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto, organizes a free lecture series every year, called Vital Discussions of Human Security. This year, I’m one of the speakers. Here are the details.

Topic – Fixing Canada’s Electoral System: Four Fallacies
Date & Time – Thursday, September 20, 7-9pm
Location – University College, University of Toronto, 15 King’s College Circle, Room 052 (east end of building, basement)

Topics I’ll explore include:

    – how our current majority government gained power,
    – options and implications for electoral reform,
    – political parties, and
    – grass-roots efforts.

Two hours means plenty of time for discussion – please join us.

For details on the full lecture series, which runs from September 13 through April 4, 2013, please click here.

The series is co-sponsored by University College Health Studies Programme, Canadian Pugwash Group, Voice of Women for Peace, and Science for Peace. The lectures are all free of charge, and promise much food for thought.

Democracy Day, Sat. Sep. 15, 2012

Posted by on 14 Sep 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

PR 101
Invitation from Fair Vote Canada, Toronto:
“PR 101: A Crash Course in Proportional Representation

As part of Democracy Day, we invite you to attend PR101.

We’ll explore the flaws of our current voting system, and introduce you to various forms of Proportional Representation. PR is the most common electoral system in the world, because it guarantees that all votes count, and that all voices are heard. We’ll look at models including Regional List, Mixed Member Proportional, and the Single Transferable Vote. We’ll also give you insight on how politicians adapt to a PR system. If you want to become an advocate for democratic renewal, this is the place to start.

Special guests: Wayne Smith, Executive Director of FairVote Canada and Ellen Michelson, Green Party Toronto Centre.”

7pm, 215 Spadina Avenue (Centre for Social Innovation)
All Welcome – Free of Charge

Toronto Ukrainian Festival

Posted by on 14 Sep 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

The Green Party will be in the parade, starting at 11am, from High Park, and among the speakers, I’ll be bringing greetings on behalf of Elizabeth.
Bloor West Village Toronto Ukrainian Festival 2012

Cabbagetown Festival

Posted by on 04 Sep 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

On Sunday, September 9, we’ll be at our Green Party table, looking forward to chatting with you – please stop by.
Cabbagetown Festival

Sunday In The Park, July 8, 2012

Posted by on 04 Jul 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Sunday in the Park, July 8, 2012-Lord Dufferin School, Parliament south of Gerrard, from noon
Please come by the Toronto Centre Greens’ table for a chat, a freeze-pop, a spider plantlet and more. Sunday in the Park is so enjoyable, every year.
Lord Dufferin School, west side of Parliament south of Gerrard, from noon, this Sunday, July 8

Pride Toronto Parade, Sun. July 1

Posted by on 28 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Join GPO Leader Mike Schreiner & Greens from across the province-meet before 1:45pm at Bloor/Ted Rogers Way (Parade Entry F20).

Second Democracy Salon, Wed. June 27, 2012

Posted by on 20 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

The Canadian Electoral Alliance is growing! Attendees at the first Democracy Salon decided to plan a public town hall panel discussion. Questions to be explored could include:
* what is the role of electoral reform in the 2015 election?
* how is cross-party cooperation different from merging political parties?
* where do social and environmental issues fit into this discussion?

Please come to the next meeting to help plan this panel.
Wednesday evening, June 27, 6:30-8:30 pm
Alterna Savings Meeting Room, 4th floor, Centre for Social Innovation,
215 Spadina Ave.

At our first meeting, some people had difficulty getting into the building. If the front door is locked, and no volunteer to guide you to the meeting is in view, please call 647-502-7322, and someone will come down and let you in.

more info on this meeting: Second Democracy Salon

Questions? Comments?

Democracy Salon, Wed. June 6, 2012

Posted by on 05 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

A number of groups have been forming across Canada, in response to the fact that only 39% of those who voted last spring elected a majority government. Some groups are focusing on electoral reform, some on cross-party cooperation, some on planning specifically for the 2015 election, while others see these strategies as means to the end of affecting government policies on environmental responsibility, social justice, arts and culture, and more.

In Toronto, a group started forming this past fall that decided to call itself the Canadian Electoral Alliance. I was invited to participate, to enable Green Party of Canada policies and concerns to be heard. I was mostly in Ottawa then, volunteering for Elizabeth in her parliamentary office; Elizabeth enthusiastically clarified policies she was pleased to have me convey, at the meetings I was able to attend on my weekend trips to Toronto. (Once, when I couldn’t be here, the group even enabled me to participate by telephone from Ottawa.)

The Alliance, here in Toronto, is keen to reach all who have concerns about the future of Canada. You can learn more about the Alliance at and reach the Alliance at .

The Alliance’s first Democracy Salon is this coming
Wednesday evening, June 6, 6:30-8:30 pm,
Alterna Savings Meeting Room, 4th floor, Centre for Social Innovation,
215 Spadina Ave.
If the front door of the building is locked, you can enter via the café at the south end of the building. The Alterna Room is on the right, once you pass the information desk on the fourth floor.

John Bessai, the alliance chair, will be leading the meeting’s programme. We’ll be sharing ideas, and also fresh iced mint tea, from the plants that have just about taken over my balcony.


Posted by on 04 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

“Right now, Parliament is pushing through a bill to weaken many of the country’s most important environmental protection measures and silence the voices of all Canadians who seek to defend nature.”
One way I can show concern is to darken this website today, June 4. As I don’t have the know-how to do that, I’m trying to publicize this issue here instead.
Click here for info.

Free Literary Pub Night tonight, May 23

Posted by on 23 May 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

This evening, at the NOW Lounge, 189 Church at Shuter, about a dozen readers, including me, will share our work. Please come.

The Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) Toronto Chapter and the Canadian Authors Association (CAA) are hosting a literary pub night this evening, starting at 7 p.m.

Food and drink will be available, at cost for attendees. The event itself is free, and open to the public. Here’s the link for more info. Registration is appreciated, not mandatory.

Toronto Centre Greens AGM Tues. April 3

Posted by on 27 Mar 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

7 p.m., 140 Carlton Street, party room (main floor)

Did you know? Toronto Centre is the name of our riding, both federally and provincially. EDA stands for Electoral District Association. That’s the term for the group of Green Party of Canada members who live in a specific riding. CA stands for Constituency Association, the term for the group of Green Party of Ontario members who live in a specific riding. Our meeting is efficiently Green – it’s combining our EDA & CA annual general meetings.

All are welcome. To vote, you need to be a member for at least 30 days before the meeting. EDA & CA memberships are separate – you can be a member of either or both. You can join or renew online. links: and
Memberships will be available at the meeting. Lapsed members (membership ended less than one year ago) can renew at the meeting and vote.

Consider standing for an executive position to help build our riding associations and promote Green Party policies. Positions are elected at every AGM & include the following.
EDA (federal): Chief Executive Officer; Financial Agent; Secretary; Membership, Fundraising, Organizing & Communication Chairs; Member-at-large (up to 4)
CA (provincial): President; Chief Financial Officer; Secretary; Membership, Communications, Fundraising & Youth Chairs
more info:

Our meeting will feature snacks by chef par excellence Mark Daye, our candidate in the recent provincial election and now GPO Shadow Cabinet critic for Community & Social Services. While munching, you’ll be able to learn a little more about my Ottawa experiences than you can read on my blogs below – there’ll be a brief slide/sound show. A short chat about Ottawa was part of the original meeting plans, but then a new grandchild arrived early, so I’ll be out of town, with him and his parents.

Please come – there just might be some baby photos …

From My Desk On The Hill-Views from Centre Block

Posted by on 17 Mar 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

All are from the front steps – facing straight ahead (south), toward West Block, and toward East Block.

Regular meetings of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development’s Subcommittee on International Human Rights brought me to Centre Block, as did two luncheons Elizabeth hosted in the dining room, the press conference for the bill on establishing a Canadian Department of Peace … and Question Period.

The nuclear disarmament forum described below took place in East Block, where Sir John A.’s office is still maintained. His desk, as seen these days, is laden!

The little bus in the Centre Block photo is one of a fleet, circulating constantly around the federal government buildings on and near The Hill. The wait for one is never long. The buses are mostly green – nice to learn that green is the traditional colour for the House of Commons. Everyone’s so companionable, the short rides are a pleasure, but I almost always walked. My quick jaunts in the brisk air were invigorating.

looking south from Centre Block, showing green bus & city view

Behind the green bus is the path up to Centre Block from Wellington Street.

Just beyond West Block, across Bank Street, is the Confederation Building, where Elizabeth's office is located.

Some of the elaborate figures on the Centre Block building are visible on both this photo and the one above.

From My Desk On The Hill – GPC Newsletter

Posted by on 26 Dec 2011 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Green Party leader and MP Elizabeth May, the Young Greens, and several Green Shadow Cabinet members are among the contributors to the latest Green Party of Canada newsletter. Here’s my contribution.

19 December 2011
Furthering GPC peace and security efforts has, for a few months, been combined with my volunteering full-time for Elizabeth in her parliamentary office. I joined Elizabeth’s Ottawa team when Parliament resumed in mid-September.

Elizabeth was one of the originators of the effort by more than 550 Order of Canada recipients that succeeded in having unanimous motions for nuclear arms control and disarmament passed in the Senate and in the House last year. Because Elizabeth was attending COP 17 in Durban, I represented her at a forum on Monday, December 5, in East Block, on how to further this effort. The organizers were Order of Canada recipients, and the other speakers were M.P.s. I delivered Elizabeth’s message that she’s keen to work with as many other parliamentarians as possible to re-activate the Canadian section of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament.

The week before, I joined Elizabeth for one of the many press conferences at which she’s spoken. This one was on M.P. Alex Atamanenko’s Private Member’s bill to establish a Canadian Department of Peace, for which she was a seconder.

A less formal activity: the Green Shadow Cabinet was represented well at the traditional All-Party Party, hosted by M.P.s and senators. On November 30, it was at the former railway station just down the street from Parliament Hill, now the Government Conference Centre. Everyone who works on The Hill was invited, and could bring one guest. I brought two: our Human Rights advocate, Joe Foster, and his guide dog, Fabray. Fabray made more new friends for the Green Party than did either Joe or I, and she dined extremely well!

Because Elizabeth spends so much time in the House, her team enables her to keep up with other parliamentary business. On her behalf, I’ve been attending meetings of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, its Subcommittee on International Human Rights, and the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. Two examples of the many issues explored, relevant to positions the Green Party has taken, are the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Canada’s role in international development.

In Ottawa, I’ve been able to meet with a number of people active in NGOs. As well, I’ve been able to stay in touch with Green volunteers in Toronto who continue their valuable efforts on our Green Shadow Cabinet’s behalf. What I perforce could not do was continue my various volunteer commitments in Toronto. Before I left, when I contacted the folks in each group to explain, absolutely everyone responded with extraordinary enthusiasm about Elizabeth’s election and my opportunity to help her.

Volunteering for Elizabeth on The Hill has been extremely rewarding. I’ve blogged a bit on my website. I’m keen to add more. The pace is so hectic, that will be after Parliament rises for the winter holidays, and I return to my home in Toronto.

Ellen Michelson serves as Peace and Security Advocate on Green Shadow Cabinet. She is the Green Party of Canada’s candidate of record for Toronto Centre in the 2008 and 2011 general elections, and is a member-at-large on her EDA executive

Pictured at the All-Party Party are Joshua McNeil, on the left, and Joe Foster, under the clock, in the former railway station, now the Government Conference Centre. Joe's giving his attention to Fabray, who couldn't fit into the photo.

From My Desk On The Hill – Nuclear Disarmament

Posted by on 07 Dec 2011 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, a group of more than 550 Order of Canada recipients, sponsored a forum on Monday, December 5, to examine next steps after last year’s unanimous Senate and House of Commons resolutions on nuclear disarmament. Elizabeth, one of the Order of Canada recipients who led this initiative, could not participate in the forum, as she is now attending the COP 17 climate change talks. It was my honour to represent her, and a big challenge for me – most people there were Order of Canada recipients, and the other three speakers were M.P.s.

The forum was in East Block. The guards there are friendly; if they aren’t too busy, they can sometimes be prevailed upon to open the door to Sir John A.’s office.

Here’s what I said at the forum.

Merci beaucoup – thank you all very much for welcoming me. It’s a great honour for me to be representing Elizabeth May, Canada’s first Green M.P., in this illustrious and important group.

You all know I’m here because Elizabeth is in Durban. And you know how proud she is to have been, from the beginning, part of the group of Order of Canada recipients who worked so hard for the unanimous motions we are talking about this evening.

The Green Party of Canada’s firm focus on nuclear arms control and disarmament comes from our 6 Green values. We share them with members of Green Parties around the world.
They are:
sagesse écologique et développement durable – ecological wisdom & sustainability
justice sociale et respect de la diversité – social justice & respect for diversity
démocratie participative et non-violence – participatory democracy & non-violence.

Elizabeth is the main author of our Green Party of Canada’s major policy document. It’s called Vision Green. It’s full of details on our policies for healthy children, clean air and water, efficient public transportation, electoral reform, and much more. It’s available on our website.

There’s a section called ‘Press for the elimination of all nuclear weapons’. That section begins by citing the expertise of the Hon. Douglas Roche, and some of the good company he is in. Our specific policies, in Vision Green and in our media releases (also available on our website), are congruent with the background brief circulated in preparation for this forum.

We see the principles and particulars of the brief as absolutely fundamental, absolutely essential for all our other policies, just as our other policies are crucial for achieving disarmament.
We believe fair treatment for all, and an end to poverty, are linked inextricably to – if I may say so at this season – peace on earth.

I have two specific messages.

Elizabeth, and all of us who work with her, are eager to help enable Canada to host preparatory meetings to generate political will for a nuclear weapons convention process.

And of course Elizabeth is keen to work with as many other Parliamentarians as possible to re-activate the Canadian section of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament.

You are all, I hope, fully aware of her constant willingness to cooperate on common goals. I heard her emphasize that just a few days ago, to the group in the ‘green room’ for the press theatre in Centre Block, right before the press conference on the bill to establish a Canadian Department of Peace, for which she was a seconder. In Parliamentary nuclear disarmament initiatives, she’s happy to play whatever role is desirable.

Thank you. Merci.

Order of Canada Disarmament Poster

The photo doesn't show all the signatories' names that appear on the poster. You can see Elizabeth pictured - second from the top, second from the left.

From My Desk On The Hill – OC Transpo

Posted by on 13 Nov 2011 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

That’s what Ottawa’s public transit system is called. So far, I’ve been on lots of buses.

Buses from the VIA Rail station closest to downtown run extremely frequently. The ones just after trains arrive can be crowded. They hurtle along bus-only “transitways” till they reach downtown. The transitways sometimes curve sharply, so if I’m not part of a crowd, mutually propping one another up, it’s nice to sit down.

My walk to the office takes less than half an hour. It’s through the University of Ottawa campus, dense with buildings, then onto a bridge over the Rideau Canal, finally past a few downtown blocks to reach The Hill. There are lots of busy students, whatever the time. Shorts and sandals were not unusual till just a short while ago: the Ottawa winters must make these young people hardy!

Under the Laurier Street bridge, the terrain slopes very steeply down to the canal, and the roads next to it. The narrow, straight waterway makes a lovely contrast now with the fall foliage on either side. Ottawa is known for its ubiquitous sumac. These low shrubs’ branches are often airily-spaced; they have multiple long, narrow leaves that have turned spectacular shades of red by this time of year.

Just over the bridge is the city hall, where I stopped by in September to buy my OC Transpo photo i.d., for $8.50. The cost to ride is different from what I’m used to in Toronto. Adult cash fare is $3.25. (Children under 12 pay $1.60.) I’ve never paid cash. Bus tickets are readily available, at convenience stores and many other outlets. Each costs $1.30; a set of six costs $7.80, so it’s no savings to buy in bulk. The savings comes in using them – a child uses one to ride, and an adult, two. There are no reduced-price tickets for seniors or students. However, seniors ride free on Monday and Friday afternoons, and all day Wednesdays! A monthly adult pass costs $94, but a senior monthly pass is only $37. Students can buy monthly or semester passes. I bought a senior pass for October and one for November, must show my photo i.d. when I use it. Confirming that I’m on the right bus is easy – drivers are very helpful. One dark and stormy night, I hopped a suburban bus for a short way. Either my monthly pass extends to those or the driver was generous. I believe the pass works for the commuter O-Trains, but I’ve not tried them yet – something to look forward to.

The first day I hoped to ride free, I hadn’t yet gotten my i.d. card. I asked someone else waiting at the stop what sort of i.d. was necessary. “Just get on as though you own the bus,” he said. “The drivers rarely ask.” And he added that the sometimes-free system has made a huge difference for the many Ottawa seniors who otherwise can’t often afford the bus. This must keep older people healthier, as they can travel to needed medical appointments, and more active; it probably also increases visits to local attractions and stores.

Several different bus routes take me more or less near ‘Confed’, as locals call the Confederation Building, where Elizabeth’s office is. I can ride through the campus, or walk half a dozen blocks to Rideau Street, for one of the numerous buses there. West across the canal, Rideau becomes Wellington, and the bus promptly reaches Parliament Hill.

September brought major service cuts. During peak travel times, buses get too full to stop. Sometimes extras (marked X) are added; their routes are truncated. As most routes are very long, passengers now need to transfer more frequently. Transfer points are usually called stations. Some stations are street corners, and some are along sidewalks at significant locations. Many are concrete with glass walls and red tubing around them and around the stepped, curved glass roofs – a characteristic look around town. Buses are infrequent in the evenings, so I’ve learned not to stay too late at the office. The new system means some split shifts for drivers, disrupting their personal lives.

On early evenings, I sometimes catch a bus just south of the National Arts Centre. Passers-by can hear the Oscar Peterson recording. Maybe I should have asked a fellow pedestrian to take my photo, sitting on the piano bench next to the sculpture of him.

Oscar Peterson sculpture by Ruth Abernethy, 2010, National Arts Centre, Elgin and Albert Streets, Ottaawa

Oscar Peterson sculpture by Ruth Abernethy, 2010, National Arts Centre, Elgin and Albert Streets, Ottawa

From My Desk On The Hill – short intro to how to find the latest briefing on Libya, and much more

Posted by on 12 Oct 2011 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

On the welcome page, I often start by clicking on English. (A vision-impaired person explained to me that nothing on a website is accessible unless its welcome page is. Because those who can’t see their screens can’t scroll effectively to click, an up-to-date site provides alternatives for those who would like them. I don’t know whether people with disabilities can use this site efficiently – I hope so.)

Now there are lots of choices. Under House of Commons (in the middle), look down a bit and click on Webcasts. Then click on Month. For Tuesday, October 4, scroll down and click on FAAE Meeting No. 4, then View this Clip, then Floor Audio, to hear the Libya briefing I attended. Floor Audio contains both French and English, whatever language whoever was speaking chose to use. Many who speak switch back and forth frequently.

Another useful choice, on the page after the Welcome page, is Parliamentary Business (at the top). Click, then click on House of Commons Committees, then, on the left, click on Committee List. Clicking on the name of any committee will bring up a list of some recent events (if any), in reverse chronological order. In the summer, I clicked on Subscribe, for one committee, then registered. Almost every day, I receive an automated email; most say nothing is scheduled for that committee, but some have been very helpful in alerting me to planned meetings.

Also, on the first page with details for any committee, on the left, clicking on Membership will bring up a list of all members (below the calendar – scroll down). Clicking an M.P.’s name will provide links to her/his photo (M.P. Profile), and more.

There’s a wealth of data on this huge site. Much is linked in several ways, making it easier to find.

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,

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,, 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, 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

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