Election Manager at the City of Vancouver and communications coordinator for North Shore NOPE Jess Nelson, on civic engagement, the importance of travel, and fighting for the environment.


Tracy: Let's start with North Shore N.O.P.E. What does that stand for, and can you explain what the organization is aiming to do? 


Jesse: Yeah for sure. So North Shore NOPE stands for North Shore No Pipeline Expansion, and it's a residents’ group opposing the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion. It's one of the only Intervenors that are participating in the National Energy Board hearing process on the North Shore.. There are only six Intervenors (including the three municipalities) on the North Shore, so there are not very many people involved that got accepted as part of that process --


What's an Intervenor?


So there are two levels of participation that the public can have in a National Energy Board hearing process. One is Intervenor, so you get to ask questions to Kinder Morgan - to the proponent. And then there is also Commenter who can only submit written comments. So you submit a letter with your feelings about the project. For example, I was a resident of North Van for 25 years, so I applied to be an Intervenor to just say how it impacts things in my life, such as how my parents live there in Deep Cove, how I used the parks growing up, etc. But that wasn't deemed as being directly affected by this project. So the National Energy Board deems who is actually directly affected or not. This is a new process. Steven Harper put in this process for the NEB whereas before it was a lot more open so more people could participate in the process, and he sort of slimmed down the access and increased the restrictions on who can participate as Intervenor. It's quite narrow - I don't know the exact numbers but I think it was a few thousand people who applied to be an Intervenor and only 400 got accepted. So it's quite a small group who actually get to really participate in this process essentially. 


So NS NOPE is specifically fighting this one pipeline project? 


There are a lot of other pipeline and energy proposals but NS NOPE has focused on this particular project. The project is proposing to twin the current Trans Mountain Pipeline from the Alberta Tar Sands to the current location, which is the Westridge terminal in Burnaby. And then what they also want to do is increase the size of the berth,the area where all the boats dock.  I think triple it in size - it's quite an enlargement of the current docking area for ships. This would also mean eight times more tankers through Burrard Inlet and a doubling of the number of storage tanks in Burnaby from 13 to 26. And we want to stop that from being built. There are so many reasons why - mostly the environmental impact, but also the economic impact and your way of life. If there was ever an oil spill you may not be able to use the beaches. And the risk that BC takes as a province in terms of an oil spill is a lot more than Alberta which is benefitting far more from increasing Tar Sand development versus what BC will get. And personally I know how beautiful it is there around Deep Cove, so I don't want to see that kind of devastation. And you have to remember the wild life there too - the marine animals and all the different animals that are living in that area. It would just be total devastation. So I think there are a lot of reasons why North Shore residents don't want to see that happen and are so strongly opposed to it.


I often hear about the acidification of the ocean. Is that another reason why people oppose tar sands expansion projects?


I do think they're worried about that, but the direct impact of this particular project is an oil spill, in which case you can only retrieve I think about 15% of the oil. Kinder Morgan has done a bunch of modelling and they say, "If there was an oil spill, this is what we think we'll be able to recoup." You know, a stated amount of the spilled oil. But this is a different kind of oil than we saw with the recent Vancouver oil spill, it’s called bitumen which is a chemically diluted tar - so it's really thick; it's a dirty oil in every sense. And so reason for alarm is that they don't have an example of this ever occurring in a similarenvironment where this has actually happened. So they don't know what their own capabilities are actually going to be in order to remove a lot of this bitumen oil. There are so many things that can impact a spill like weather, how it happened, the tides. etc Another thing about this whole process is that Kinder Morgan is not required to disclose their emergency preparedness plan to the public, as part of the National Energy Board hearing process. So they can give it to the board but the public doesn't have the opportunity to examine, or cross-examine what's in that plan. It's interesting because in Washington they had a similar hearing process, and the company was required to produce this information on what happens in the event of an oil spill. And what we have seen is that for some reason in BC it's not a requirement. I think it has something to do with the apparent risk of being susceptible to terrorists or something - someone potentially attacking or doing something bad to their systems or whatever they're saying. 


So where someone will then know their clean-up plans and attack them for that? 


Well I think it's something about whatever their detailed plans are will include their locations, where they store things, or have safety equipment and I guess they're worried that with the public knowing that, it makes them susceptible to someone going out and damaging it.


I see. Yet studies show the opposite: that if you're kind toward your community, and listen to people's concerns, you're less likely to experience theft and damage. People tend to do those things more so out of contempt and marginalization. Want to tell me a bit about the demonstration on Burnaby Mountain which was against that same company, Kinder Morgan? 


So Burnaby Mountain is publicly owned by the City of Burnaby but  under the federal statute the NEB can allow energy companies to drill and do different things in preparation for their projects. So what they were doing on Burnaby Mountain was drilling to see if putting the pipeline through the mountain was possible. And so they were doing some test drilling, and they cut down a bunch of trees. The City of Burnaby was arguing that they didn't have the right to do this; they needed to have a permit and whatever other licenses to actually undertake that. And the city was essentially saying, "We wont give those to you.". because Burnaby is quite against this project so there was a battle at that level with the government in the courts regarding Kinder Morgan's ability to actually even drill and do testing on the site. And then what it became was a movement in terms of people who cared about this project, who wanted to protect the area, and who didn't want to see it happen. So it gave them an opportunity to organize and be up there and officially protest the project. And I think it was a great opportunity to make it to the news in terms of what was going on.


Which is also what I wanted to ask you about: the importance of raising awareness, and then the challenges of getting the true information out to people.


Well there's a huge challenge primarily because Kinder Morgan is such a cohesive force. On the other side there are a ton of environmental organizations, municipalities, and private sectors trying to protest this activity and oppose these pipelines. And what happens is there isn't a central message, and there are no massive wells of resources to communicate information about what this project is. My mom and I were down in Cates Park talking to people about the project and the majority of them didn't know about what it actually included, or the timeline, or what was going to be involved in the project. So it's still so challenging to get that information out. And I think because there isn't a cohesive opposition relative to Kinder Morgan who are spending millions on newspaper ads, full-page magazine ads, TV ads, etc. And then you look at, for example our group, who has virtually no budget to communicate and to try and get the word out. So that's a challenge in terms of raising people's awareness for sure. And then people are busy; I mean look at apathy in general right? How do you get someone to care about it either way? I think a lot of people care when they hear about it, but who a). don't know much about it, and b) aren't willing to get involved necessarily. Especially when some people get afraid when they see protests where people are getting arrested, and so they get this idea of activists being these sort of wild, aggressive people.


While the other side is spending so much money on these peaceful seeming commercials saying how much they care about future generations. But these ads are put together by a team of marketers trying to promote that fictitious image: that they're benevolent, and the protestors are just crazy radicals. 


Exactly. And just look at the facts. Because you hear these things about the economy - these very generalized statements put out there. But if you hear these things in the Kinder Morgan ads and then you look at the details about the actual number of jobs that will be created, or the actual permanent positions that will be created, they're so low. The actual monetary value that we'll receive in BC from this project is so low compared to the risk. The amount of money that could potentially be spent on clean-up, or the permanent damage is far more. And the value of some of these things like the environment, water, marine animals. They can't be valued - no money could resuscitate them. So they're not properly assessed in this whole evaluation of the project. That's a huge component that's missing from economic assessments of projects. I'd like to know what is the price of an orca? There recently was an orca pod that went through the Burrard Inlet, and so what is the value of losing five orcas in the event of an oil spill? 


Isn't BC's marine life one of the most bio-diverse in the world? If it only takes a few drops of this chemically laden oil to harm so many species of microorganisms, should that not be a cause for concern? We all learned in grade 4 what an 'eco-system' means: it requires all the organisms - even the microscopic ones - in order for everything else to live. 


Yeah and look at our regional values: the City of Vancouver prides itself on being the "greenest" city. The localized goals of local municipalities is so different from what the federal government is after. There's a massive gap. You have these progressive local governments, and then you have this regressive federal government, and they're sort of always at odds. And it's interesting to look at what's more important? The interests of the Canadian government, or the local community interests? So that's a debate surfacing throughout this whole thing too. It's deemed that this so-called "Canadian" interest is better - the national economic interest is more important than the local communities that are actually living here. You have Stephen Harper sitting in Ottawa - an Albertan saying, "We're going to make sure this happens." But guess what? You don't live here, you're not the one who's going to have to deal with this. You're not the one in the community who is being affected. So it's such a disenfranchisement from local people. 


You can't have that kind of tyranny, because what you want for your own political interests is not at all what's right for the people you're taking from. I find myself agreeing more and more with the decentralization of politics. 


Yeah I think that's what's at the heart of the whole debate, because who decides on what's important? And look at the whole process of the National Energy Board for example; it's a panel made up of a few members, and they go through all this information. [The NEB] is consisted of various backgrounds, but the majority of them have a tie to the oil-industry; they've all got some touch point to that, so there's a conflict of interest there.. There isn't even a National Energy Board office in Vancouver, it's in Alberta. So you can see where the underlying issues are with this whole process in general; it's such a flawed system. 


Is Kinder Morgan an American company as well?


Yeah Texan. They're from Texas. I think the pipeline that was supposed to run from the Alberta tar sands down through the states - the Keystone XL - got axed. So that's a connection to the oil up here. I think Obama had the last say, he vetoed it, but it can go back through I think and possibly be approved. 


I think they were for the KXL as well and that's why Obama vetoed it. China would profit more than the US in that case. So then what's the Endbrigde project - the pipeline going to Kitimat, BC from Alberta? 


It's a similar thing, I think it's the same market but maybe the US as well. So it's for tankers to pick up there, so they can really go anywhere and it'll probably be that whole Pacific Rim zone, so a lot of those countries that are close by. The thing about it is that it's unrefined oil, so it's tar essentially. So a lot of the jobs that we could create by refining it here in Vancouver are being lost as well because we're shipping crude oil to be refined in China. [I thought it was going to Kitimat because there's a refinery there? Maybe double-check this sentence] And then we might even buy back that oil. So it's exactly what Canada does in a lot of other areas: we sell our raw wood, someone else manufactures it, does something with it, and then we end up buying those products back when they could have been manufactured here and not shipped around the world. So if you look at this whole policy that Canada's had for the last 60 or 70 years, it's been pretty absurd.. 


Also recently with Nestle - we're selling our spring water off to them for, what? $2.25 per million litres? Then they bottle it, truck it back, sell it to our stores, and we buy it for $2.25 per bottle. 


Yeah and I mean it's our own water and they're getting it for such a cheap cost. But again what is the actual value of our water staying in our streams? It's not valued properly in this case at all. I think the government - the provincial government in this case - hasn't been doing an adequate job in valuing our resources. What is that value to citizens of BC? And the government does make a profit so they don't want to turn that company away. I'm assuming because they're trying to keep that company here. I'm sure there are other developing countries that would sell their water for much cheaper. But when we sell off our natural resources to private companies, they're profiting the most. They're making millions of dollars off of public resources and I don’t think we're not getting a fair share. When you look at other countries like Norway for example, (I know that's an example that's always used) but they nationalized their oil. So instead of having another separate American company come in and take out all their oil, it's owned by the government. So all the profits that are made by selling that oil, go back into the public coffers.


That happened in Venezuela as well.


Venezuela has done that too yes. So if you look at their oil prices they're really affordable. When I was down there in 2010  it was ridiculously cheap, because it's sort of subsidized I guess you could say. Not saying that's the perfect idea because you don't necessarily want to drive people to consume more because it is so cheap. 


So then how would you prevent overconsumption while still maintaining control over your own resources?


So you would look at something like a carbon tax. We had one on our gasoline where [consumers] have to pay 7% or a similar percentage to that. And that's government's role - to deter certain destructive behaviour by implementing taxes. For example, when you look at smoking and alcohol, there are higher taxes on those items because they want to deter people from buying them right? 


Might deterrence also have to do with public awareness campaigns and the negative reputations they've come to have? Where 'health' is a better sell these days than chain smoking is? I find it difficult to believe that extra taxes deter an addict or an alcoholic. It just puts them in a worse off place, because they're going to buy it regardless.

That's definitely a huge component of it - the awareness. But when you look at money - the economic side - I personally think twice about driving now because I'm not going to just drive to Whistler for the fun of it if I have to spend that much, you know? So it does make an impact in my opinion, but yes public education is huge. Also right now we're paying for something that we're essentially forced to use because there is no major infrastructure for other energy alternatives. Infrastructure, taxes, and incentive programs play an important role. For example, the provincial government recently announced thatif you purchase an electric car you get a $5000 rebate,.And another example is how the City of Vancouver and other groups are trying to put in more electric car connections. So putting that infrastructure in place facilitates more people being able to use it and that is government's role; they play a huge role in that. When you look at a lot of things that we now have in place like recycling that decades ago people would never have done. And you look at the impact and the influence that the government has in terms of shaping people's values and shaping culture. So with smoking too - because they banned it, now it would seem gross if it was in hotel lobbies, or hospitals, or restaurants - so government plays a huge role in that. And when you look at their policy on energy (just to tie this back into Kinder Morgan and oil), this is a regressive policy. We know this oil is bad, we know that it's not the future; we can't continue producing this many carbon emissions, so we need to be heading in another direction. But this government is so short-sighted, it's all about the profit in the now. They've got their four-year term and they need to be able to show that they balanced their books at the end of the four years in order for re-election. So there's a gap in long term strategic energy policy. I mean look at what the federal government is investing in: they've spent millions of dollars on ads for these projects; they went to the US to push for the Keystone XL project. That money could have been invested in green energy, it could have been invested in all these other areas that are not related to oil, and to help us more forward to cleaner energy. Another piece of this as well is that when you look at reliance on one industry--Alberta right now for example who relies so heavily on oil, they don't have a provincial sales tax because they have relied so heavily on their profits from oil and are suffering economically from low oil prices.

And when the oil goes down like we're seeing right now..

Yeah, look what happens. So again it's just these really short-sighted, ludicrous policies that's aren't sustainable. They're so focused on profit and are not looking at what's outside the box; seeing what else is out there. When if you look at governments like Germany, which I think has been amazing in terms of turning around what they're reliant on for certain energy sources, they're moving towards all these other green energies and benefitting hugely. 

So why are we so focused on profit and not considering other options? 

I think it's culture - people's culture here. There are a lot of Canadians who live rurally and depend on natural resources for jobs. People wantwhat they already know, what they're comfortable with. And of course that's a huge generalization but if you look at how we've elected a conservative government so many times in a row, obviously that's a tell-tale sign of where people are at in terms of their thinking.

A lot of it goes into media too - as you said with advertising. People in these rural areas have their big trucks and their big screen TVs. So they're getting exposed to a very narrow perspective. There aren't any justice forums, film festivals, or panel discussions for them to learn about these things. Jobs are how you get your big truck and because of that TV, they only know that jobs come from oil.

Yeah, and I think its governments role too to counteract that. They're supposed to be having our interests in mind. I think people's mentality in Canada is different obviously based on where you live and you can see that by all the different levels of government. It's interesting how municipal, provincial, and federal are all very different in terms of how Canadians vote at each level. We're sparsely populated and a lot of Canada is quite rural - not to say that rural equates to right-wing mentality or conservativeness but I think a lack of exposure to different ideas or education or other things doesn’t allow people to see or think of other opportunities out there. And it's easy to see that when you are employed by a certain industry like a lot of Canadians are, that is your reliance for income, that would want to support that industry. Government should be shifting away from further developing natural resource industries and focus on developing high-tech, digital industries that aren’t as exposed to booms and busts, such as the oil industry, and provide high paying jobs for Canadians.

So personally, you work for the City. You mentioned to me one day how aside from going out and voting, there are other ways to make your voice heard. You said how the letters the city receives are very much considered; that if there are enough on one issue, they'll form policy around that. How do you get the message out to disenfranchised youth that they do have a say?

Well first of all I think that on the municipal level they're so much more connected to their communities because when you look at council meetings, we actually have the public come in and speak. When you look at the BC Legislature, you don't have the public coming in. They're not hearing from people from the public, so there's a gap. At the municipal level there's more connection to the community. But I think in terms of how to reach out to youth? [Laughs] Our generation? They're such a hard group to get to. But the ones who do care already, I think that in general people tend to think that with any form of government, they're going to send something in and will never hear back. But one thing that's really cool about the City of Vancouver is they've got a 311 Contact Centre, so if you call or email in, you actually get a ticket number so that you can follow up on requests if you don't hear back. You can ask for a call back, you can ask for all these different options. And things get escalated as well - so there's something we call a service delivery statement, where you'll be told either, "The service will be delivered within 5 days." or, "You'll get a call-back within 5 days." And then there's an escalation process if that doesn't happen. Personally I've had the experience with other levels of government where you send something in and you never hear from them again. It just goes into the abyss.  I think communicating to people that there is that kind of service may help. But I mean I just don't think that a lot of people understand who does what for them in terms of services, and that's a challenge. There are limited resources to communicate to the public - we've got a communications department, but there aren't unlimited funds to constantly be getting these messages out to people. On the other side however, there are a lot of things going on like Talk Vancouver which offers surveys they send out, open houses for topic discussions, and then again the council meetings. But if you're not an engaged citizen already, it's pretty challenging to get people more involved. If you get people more engaged in their communities and what's going on, then they become aware of the tools like talking to your local government or your local representatives, that type of thing. So yes it's important for the city to do that, but how you get people caring about their communities is a whole other ballgame. How do you make people want to be engaged citizens? 

And city planning for starters. Designing cities for walkability rather than for cars and divisive roads. Could we plan for more cul-de-sacs where houses face each other, for more park space, and for more outdoor patios?

Yeah certainly, I do think that the way your city is planned out really does impact your feelings of community and your feelings of engagement. And as you mentioned, if you look at Europe, there are tons of public squares. You see these massive central squares where people can meet and gather, and chat about their cities and their politics. We don't necessarily have that in Canadian cities, and yet those places are really, really important. But also just getting to the point where we have more parks; making sure people have public space to communicate and get together comfortably. Just having been in the US recently myself, you go to some of these cities and it's just these mega highways and you feel like that: just suburb after suburb and there's no connection between these neighbours, everyone's seems just about their own independent spaces and being indoors. So yes, I think you're right in that regard.

Perhaps people prefer to exist isolated in their own homes because in a capitalist, individualist-focused world, others are seen mostly as competition. Maybe it's less stressful to care about characters on TV shows than to engage face to face with your neighbours.

Yeah that's definitely part of the picture.

You've travelled quite extensively around Europe, South America, the US. You also did your Masters [degree] in Victoria and did a year at McGill in Montreal - Canada's more culturally dynamic city. Does it compliment your studies to have those experiences and to help put theories into place?

I mean I'm very fortunate for sure. And I'm sure that it obviously impacted why I feel and that maybe I'm more of an engaged citizen than others. My parents were also involved in politics and helping out civically - they were kind of hippies, you know, NDP'ers putting up signs and the like [Laughs]. I also did my Masters in public policy, so I understand government and how it works largely because of that. And then Sociology was my undergrad[uate degree] so I understand the world through that lens. But yes, with travelling you really do get to see the way different cultures work, and you see what real poverty is; I think all of that gives you unparalleled context. Also living in Montreal, Quebecers, they're feisty, they've got a fire about them. I mean, you look at any protest there and the energy there and the numbers that turn out, it's much more. And that's a cultural thing. So there are a lot of different factors that have influenced my particular interest in this but definitely if you see different cultures, that will impact your perspective as well. I also think a lot of people in different cultures actually have real injustices. We do have injustices here in Canada, but if I look back to when I was in South America, they have real discrepancies of income.And if you look at South-East Asia, there is really severe poverty and gaps in how people are treated in the labour force. When I was there last year, in Cambodia, there were massive garment worker strikes; these workers were looking for basic worker rights that we often take for granted here in Canada. 

So why are some more united in their plights? There's a lot of injustice here in Canada - we just watched Secret Trial 5 which was an example of grotesque injustice here, but the streets of Vancouver don't explode in solidarity with those men. Is it because people are closer to one another in the less affluent parts of the world, so you see more viscerally what happens to your neighbours?

Yes, I think so because the lower, more marginalized communities have a sense of class or group, particularly when a large number of people work within a similar industry, such as in Cambodia and the garment industry, to bring it back to Marxism. We don't have that as much here, we are much more individualistic. The thing that's frustrating about this whole experience is that in Canada we have so many more opportunities to be heard and to participate - to really participate. But people don't take advantage of it. And you have these developing countries where they've got leaders who are dictators and they don't actually have the means to have their voices heard. We have so much opportunity here (I mean sometimes it's not meaningful, and sometimes it's just sort of this facade of looking like it's engagement) but it's frustrating because we don't take advantage of it here. And maybe because we're generally appeased by our relatively comfortable lives. We're sort of 'drugged' a little bit in our lives - we've got our social media that creates the illusion of being connected, and our TVs and everything else, that we just don't feel an imminent threat to our most basic needs of shelter, food, and safety to some degree.

Let's talk about Capitalism. Corporations are becoming more inclined toward social responsibility, because customers are willing to pay more when companies move their products in a more conscious direction. Unfortunately government hands are becoming more and more tied up, because their election campaigns were funded by people who expect policies to be made a certain way in return. Federal governments seem to be acting more in favour of Wall Street and Bay Street, while local businesses seem to be acting more in favour of the progressive social culture. Anyone in the non-profit sector knows that it's a struggle to get government to release a penny for social programs, whereas corporations like Patagonia willingly and freely spend on wilderness conservation and activism. So do you see one more effective than the other in propelling us into a better future?

But I think that when you look at the underlying goal - the key goal of a corporation is to make money. That is their bottom line. So the only reason they are doing business--don't get me wrong, I'm sure there are very socially conscious and green people behind some of these companies -but when you look at their fundamental goal, it is to make money. And maybe this is a bit jaded, but I think that the majority of these corporations are trying to look good in the sense of the public and their customers looking at them. And yes, there are certainly companies that are doing great things, that make products that are green, and thank goodness they makes these products over others that are not environmentally friendly out there. So I'm glad that they are conscious of all these things, but ultimately they might cut costs in areas and  screw over workers or buy cheaper,  less environmentally friendly products; they'll do these things because they need to make money and that's their bottom line. So I think it's naive to think that a corporation can really be green and benevolent.I don't know if you can make a comparison with government. 

Also considering corporations that are simply doing certain 'good' things just to get a tax break. Donating to charities and the like.

Yeah for sure. Their marketing strategy may be that they care about human rights, that they are green and all these other good things. And yet that might just be their advertising departments. Are the yactually acting on their claims? Who’s monitoring this? As I said, there are generally some good people in corporations - corporation are people right? They're not this block of whatever, but I think ultimately they have to make decisions about profit and other things, and there's always a threshold where they're not going to do something that's going to cost them more money than they're bringing in. So there are certain decisions that are made - whether it's how they pay their staff, or whatever chemicals or products that they use, there's always going to be some sort of department thinking about what the overhead cost is going to be. A lot of companies do use a lot of words like "green", or "natural", or "enviro" - all these terms on their products that a lot of people might not necessarily read into. You really have to look at something to see if it's approved by whichever organization or actually has whichever certification. And to go back into what I was just saying before, there are companies that are truly making something greener. And I'm definitely going to have to buy certain products regardless, so I'm going to choose the ones that are focusing on something that's sustainable. But it's important to point out that there is a lot of greenwashing - which is a term that's come up to describe this - to make companies seem and look better. 

Unfortunately you have to be aware of that as a consumer - that sometimes you can't just blindly trust a label. 

Yeah you do have to do a lot of research. I think I told you about that book, There's Lead in your Lipstick which gives really great insight into this issue, because you read about all these different products that talk about being green and chemical free, but she [the author] has done an analysis on the actual contents of each product and you think, "Woah, this is not what I thought." And so I think a lot of people assume that they're buying products that aren't what they say they are. And a lot of products nowadays too are owned by other companies. Like Burt's Bees products are owned now by Clorox. And so what these large corporations are doing now is buying something that was originally very natural, smaller, and accountable. Kashi cereals are now owned by Kellogg's I think? So these smaller companies had a bit more morals, a bit more transparency, and that's why they were so beloved. But larger corporations buy them and people still think that they're supporting this small, family-sized company.

A great example of this is I was talking to a man who worked at a cheddar factory for one of these huge cheese corporations. He said that because of the nature of the production line, people were so cut-off from the buyers that he'd see workers spit in the cheese just for fun. It was just going to go down the conveyor belt and shipped off to some supermarket on the other side of the country. They didn't personally hand the cheese to the consumer, they weren't taking pride in the artisan craft of their cheese, and they weren't making more share of the profit if the company faired well with consumers - so they didn't care.

Yeah I could see that. The same thing even with government; if there's more touch - more being in touch with your citizens, your clients, your customers, whatever you want to call them, I think either way if there's more connection, there's more accountability. And personally, I don't feel a huge connection to our federal government. I don't feel that they represent my point of view, or where I would like Canada to go and so many different policies. And so since I don't feel that connection because I don't have that day-to-day interaction--how often do you interact with your federal government? Very rarely right? So, you know, I think this is an interesting dynamic that we need to consider more deeply. I know so much more about local government - I mean obviously working in local government impacts it too - but even through my experience of what we do with North Shore NOPE, our group has worked with the Mayors and even staff, of every one of the local municipalities, on the North Shore -  the District of West Van, North Van District, and City of North Van, .and you just feel more of that connection and access versus the provincial or federal level where you have one MLA or one MP who is supposed to be your representative, or your contact. And if you don't get along with them, or they don't represent your values, you feel like they're not there for you essentially.

When that's their job - we pay them to represent our concerns. So we can't climb that fortress so to speak. 

Yeah exactly. That's a great way to say it - a fortress. The Ivory Tower in Ottawa where they're making decisions for the whole country, while they're thousands of miles away. 

I'd love to get into another hour entirely on your opinions of how to fix this problem - ways we could go about holding power accountable to our concerns, but we're out of time. Thanks so much for all this insight into government and environmentalism Jess!

[Laughter] Yeah for sure - Thank you!

Capture Queue is a one woman team, so it's always greatly appreciated if readers feel inclined to bring my attention to any typos or corrections.