It has been a very busy year for the Avalon Chapter. By mutual agreement, John Jacobs continued as Chapter Chair, Marilyn Reid as Treasurer, and Yvonne Earle as Chapter Contact Person. COVID-19 concerns necessitated that our meetings continue to be virtual via the Zoom online conferencing system. Despite the constraints, we managed to hold regular chapter meetings monthly, with the exception of August. The virtual meeting approach allowed us to have active participation by members from outside the St. John’s area, thus increasing the number of regular participants to ten.
Members have participated in regional and national Council of Canadians (virtual) meetings and webinars, including those related to Council renewal. We have been engaged in federal consultations for a Canada Water Agency and a Canadian Nuclear Waste Repository. Of course members were active in the 2021 federal election, through our campaign for electoral reform and through questions directed to candidates on issues of concern. Members also participated in distributing 1000 Fair Vote Canada door-hangers.
Following the provincial election in 2020, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador created several task forces. An external advisor, Moya Greene, was selected to lead the Provincial Economic Recovery Task Team (PERT). Ms. Greene’s past history of favouring privatization of public facilities was a cause for concern. There was little public consultation. Following a letter to PERT from the chapter, which was also published in The Telegram, the chapter received an invitation for some members to meet with the chair on February 15, 2021. After the publication of the Task Force report in May 2021, members made submissions to EngageNL and government ministers as follows:
Members of the chapter participated in the Peoples Recovery NL movement, a diverse group of individuals and organizations working in an open, collaborative process to develop a People’s Recovery. This is an alternative to the Premier’s Economic Task Force and to proposals to cut or privatize public services in our province https://peoplesrecoverynl.ca/ .
The Avalon Chapter is part of an effort by several groups working to have the province declare a climate emergency, with the process delayed by the provincial election and Covid restrictions.
We are also gathering signatures for the Council of Canadians petition to the Government of Canada to enact just transition legislation. Chapter members continue to monitor and react to expansion of offshore oil and gas development and proposals for further development of hydroelectric dams in Labrador. One of our members, Roberta Frampton Benefiel, attended the COP 26 global climate conference in Glasgow, as part of a delegation advocating against megadams being part of any climate change solution.
Currently, members are participating in the province-wide task force consultations on a new provincial Health Accord. Another round of Town hall meetings will be held in November to validate the plan and the final report is due at the end of December.