October 2015 was an action packed month for our GE Free Purchase Policy.If you were following it in the newspapers you would be wondering how come we got so much press?
Our progressive councilors have helped to keep this proposal alive in City Hall. GE Free watchers have been actively promoting this idea in the community the whole summer. I would encourage you to attend Council meetings on this Policy and be a witness.
In the meantime please write to the Mayor and Councilors, always cc to everyone , to counter what the Mayor feels “some ‘ nasty emails’ he has received indicating the pressure council will feel if such a policy is implemented.”(the Record Oct 22)
April 2015, GE Free CV presented Courtenay Council the motion for a GE Free Purchase Policy within City Hall: That any purchases that the City Makes, be it trees, plants ,flowers and any food that is purchased for City Council events be free of genetically engineered material.
Council voted to ask it’s staff to look at the economic impact of such a proposal on City’s budget.
Oct 5th, Staff report recommended not to change it’s buying policy as a GE free policy will add another layer to its purchasing process. Their recommendation for the status quo was defeated.
Oct 19th (Federal Election) Councilor Frisch put forward a motion to direct staff to investigate options to pursue both GMO free preferential and social procurement. This motion was passed after a lengthy debate. The newspapers were fair and reflected the emotions and concerns of each of the politicians .
Here are 2 quotes from the Echo Oct 23.2015
Frisch: I would like to point out we’re not banning GMO food in the valley by any stretch. In fact we are talking about purchasing policies for the city so it’s quite contained and beyond that, we’re asking for possibly a preferential purchasing policy. So we’re not asking that every thing the city buys be none GMO.
Mayor:He has met members of the Comox Valley Farmers Institute.”They are terrified at the very thoughts of this. It will make the dairy farms and other farms impractical to operate.
This will create a ripple effect as it will impact other businesses and force the community to buy their food elsewhere.
Visit the City archive videos of the Oct 19th 2015 meeting, you will find the whole debate….
“The Mayor told council Robert Wager, a VIU professor and staunch supporter of GMO products, who attended council meeting on Oct 5, but was not allowed to speak to council, was unfairly harassed, ridiculed and swore at outside the building by some anti-GMO individuals.” CV Echo Oct 23,
3 points in this report needs to be clarified:
* To say that Mr Wager ‘was not allowed to speak’ seems to give a wrong impression of what really happened.
City Council meetings have procedural requirements. Mr Wager was not on the Oct 5th agenda which means he did not have the right to speak. The meeting was running behind schedule. The Councilors all said please ask Mr Wager to come another day. (Preferably using normal Council procedures !)
* I only wished City Hall had video cameras outside of Council Chambers so that Mr Wager’s encounter on Oct 5th were documented and not misrepresented.
Outside the Chambers,people in groups of 2 or 3 were all hurrying to Sid Williams to listen to the federal debate.Only one small lady approached Mr Wager to ask for his qualifications and his business card. The whole conversation took less than 3 mins and Mr Wager generously gave the lady his card. Using words like ‘harassed,ridiculed and swore at’ to describe this encounter does not do justice to the tone and content of that conversation.
* The card shows Mr Wager as a Laboratory Demonstrator,Biology Dept at the VIU with a Master degree and not a Professor, as some sources would have us believe.
Setting the record straight is important when it is in the public domain.