Monday, January 29, 2007
Hot enough for you?
Greenpeace mascot P. Bear soaks up the sun on Parliament Hill.
Members of Greenpeace gathered on the front lawn of Parliament Hill Monday to remind the Conservative government that Canada has obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.
“The Kyoto Protocol is the foundation for the climate change plans of Canada and the rest of the world,” said Dave Martin, Greenpeace energy co-ordinator. “The Harper government must decide if it wants to be part of the global solution, or remain a part of the problem.”
Greenpeace chose Monday because it marks the start of a new session in Parliament and also because it is the first major meeting of the legislative committee on Bill C-30, the government’s Clean Air Act.
“We want all Members of Parliament to roll up their sleeves and do something about climate change,” Mr. Martin said. “We are facing a crisis that needs to be resolved and resolved quickly.”
Greenpeace wants to see major changes to the Clean Air Act within 30 days.
John Godfrey, (Liberal-Don Valley West) also wants changes to the legislation, but cautions it will take time.
“We are going to take the necessary time to make sure we get the bill right,” said Mr. Godfrey. “We are not going to rush it through. Canadians expect us to honour the Kyoto Protocol. If we do not do that, then we have nothing to talk about for this bill. As it currently exists, Bill C-30 makes no reference to Kyoto, no reference to short term targets and no reference to even trying to reach the targets," said Mr. Godfrey.
He believes all parties are going to have to work hard to reach a consensus that Canadians can live with. He also cautioned the Conservatives that with a minority government, they cannot proceed in a business-as-usual fashion.
“They will have to tell us what points they are willing to concede on because we had a total rejection of the bill in its current form,” said Mr. Godfrey.
Mr. Martin also wants Prime Minister Stephen Harper to acknowledge that Canada can meet its Kyoto commitments.
The previous Liberal government ratified Kyoto, committing Canada to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to a level six per cent below 1990 levels. Currently, Canada is more than 30 per cent higher than those required levels.
Canada is not the only country struggling to meet its Kyoto targets. According to statistics released by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), more than a dozen countries are on the wrong side of the balance sheet.
Greenpeace does not agree with the government’s argument that they would have to practically shut down the economy in order to make the targets.
“It is a complete red herring to say that,” said Mr. Martin. “Mr. Harper has raised the boogeyman of economic collapse through greenhouse gas controls, but in fact, it is the opposite. We can build a vibrant, sustainable economy based on the development of green technologies. It is important to note that energy use does not have to go in lockstep with economic development,” Mr. Martin said.
Greenpeace also used the occasion to release a new report entitled - Energy Revolution: A Sustainable World Energy Outlook.
Mr. Martin describes it as a roadmap to tackle the dilemma of meeting energy needs without contributing to further climate change. The report calls for the phasing out of energy sources such as coal and nuclear and replacing these with safer, renewable energy.
“Canada is not lacking the technology. What Canada is lacking is the political will,” said Mr. Martin.
To counter the opposition attacks, the Conservatives launched a series of attack ads against Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion, describing him as weak.
The government also recently announced funding for new programs including: $1.5 billion for the ecoEnergy Renewable Initiative and $230 million for the ecoEnergy Technology Initiative.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
The Independent Filmmaker’s Co-operative of Ottawa (IFCO) celebrated its 15th Anniversary recently with a fundraising party at Barrymore’s.
Besides film - live music, dance and good food were part of the evening.
Originally the brainchild of five founding members, IFCO (which became a non-profit co-operative in January 1992) has since grown to be home to more than 200 members.
IFCO members have produced more than 150 films, ranging from two-minute animated shorts, to live-action feature-length films. While many of the films have never been widely shown, others have been exhibited at major film festivals in Cannes, Toronto and Montreal. IFCO films have also been shown on network and cable television.
Scott Galley, one of IFCO’s founding members and a former member of the Board of Directors, is quite proud of the co-operative’s accomplishments and encourages young people to join.
“Just get involved,” said Mr. Galley in a telephone interview. "It is really daunting for a lot of people at first. They are not sure what to do, or if they will be accepted, or whether they will be good enough. IFCO gives the opportunity for people to see whether filmmaking is cut out for them or not.”
Mr. Galley never went to film school. He learned the craft on his own, and, after receiving a grant from an independent jury, made his first film at IFCO.
“It’s called Silent Storm and it is locked in a vault never to be seen again,” Mr. Galley joked.
Like most independent filmmakers and visual artists in Canada, Mr. Galley has another job – he works as a manager for a film-financing program in the federal government.
The reality is that many people make short films for love, not money.
Such is the case for Pixie Cram.
After studying theatre in Montreal, Ms. Cram returned to her native Ottawa, took a crash course in filmmaking at IFCO and started making films. In the last six years she has made 10 – some on Super 8, some on 16mm. It all depends on financing.
“I have made films for $200 and others for $10,000 – depending on the type of grant I get,” said Ms. Cram. “I cannot work in 16mm unless I get a grant.”
When she is not making a film, Ms. Cram writes music and directs music videos. Her most recent video is for the Montreal band, Flotilla. In addition, she works part-time at Herb & Spice on Bank Street.
Ms. Cram credits IFCO with launching her film career.
“I don’t think I would be a filmmaker if IFCO did not exist,” she said. “I learned from other filmmakers there. IFCO has been a real point of stability in my career.”
For Ms. Cram (and 14 other IFCO members), the next big date marked on her calendar is Feb. 10. That is when IFCO will hold its annual Winter Gala Screening at the Library and Archives Canada auditorium on Wellington Street.
Pascal Aka, the vice president of IFCO, will be showing his first film – a two-minute live action short entitled Weed Commercial.
The native of Ghana is currently taking Film Studies at Carleton University.
After he graduates, he hopes to find work in the film industry. Although he would like to stay in Ottawa, he is prepared to go anywhere.
“As an artist, the world is my home,” said Mr. Aka.
Like other filmmakers, Mr. Aka is quick to praise the co-op.
“IFCO is not too formal. It’s more like family,” he said.
IFCO receives funding from the City of Ottawa, the Canada Council and the Ontario Arts Council. IFCO’s current budget is about $220,000. The Board of Directors will be watching the city’s upcoming budget announcements carefully, for evidence of rumoured cuts.
“I think there is always a worry in the arts community when we hear talk like that,” said Patrice James, IFCO’s executive director. “It has been proven time and time again (when cutbacks are announced) that the arts community is one of the first to be targeted.”
Ms. Cram, too, is hopeful IFCO will spared.
“Culture is really important to everyone in the country for our development as a nation and our sense of who we are and where we are going,” she said.
Can IFCO survive without public funding?
“It would have to be run very differently,” said Mr. Galley. “We would have to have better equipment that we could rent out for profit. We would have to charge much more for workshops. I think the opportunity would be there to continue without public funding, but it would look very different,” he said.
In the meantime, IFCO marches on. Members who did not have a film ready for the Feb. 10 screening, will have time to prepare for next summer’s showing at the Bytowne Cinema.
Others will begin the arduous task of getting their productions shown at film festivals, on television or by way of non-theatrical distribution.
Many IFCO members have their films listed with the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre and Vtape.
For more information about IFCO contact their office at 613.569.1789 or check out their website: www.ifco.ca.