Mother Nature leaves Green candidate in the dark
Last Updated Tue, 17 Jan 2006 15:13:12 EST
Long hours on the campaign trail are exhausting many federal election candidates, but one Green Party candidate in southwestern Manitoba has literally run out of energy.
Janine Gibson lives in an energy-efficient home that's "off the grid" - that is, it's powered by only solar and wind energy. However, an extended period of cloudy skies and calm winds left the Provencher candidate without electricity for a 22-day stretch in December.
During the days of no sun or wind, Gibson functioned with tiny, energy-friendly LED lights, candles, and oil lamps. She says she turned off her electrical phone, didn't touch her computer, kept wood burning in the fireplace, and climbed into bed earlier than usual.
"You enter a slightly more meditative place. Like all fishers and farmers and people who work close with nature know, you just sort of ride out what nature gives you," says Gibson.[....sounds like a rather selfish attitude, considering the thousands of deaths that resulted from the heat wave that nature gave Europe a couple of years ago -- not everyone "just sort of rode it out"]
Campaigning in the dark
Thanks to a few gusts of wind over the past few days, Gibson says the power is back on in her 65 square metre house. But she says the extended power outage didn't affect her campaigning strategy.
"It was over the Christmas holidays, so it was a quieter time in the campaign. I was just glad that most of the candidates decided to take a bit of time off."
Gibson says her environmentally friendly campaign strategy doesn't rely a lot on signs, handing out leaflets, and driving around to visit constituents. Rather she prefers a "word of mouth" approach, something she could manage with her old-fashioned, non-electrical phone.
Gibson, a member of the Northern Sun Farm Co-op near Steinbach, says she has no desire to hook up with Manitoba Hydro.
She says her house has five solar panels on the roof, which each generate 50 watts of power. A wind generator on a 24-metre tower also produces 200 to 1000 watts of energy, depending on the strength of the wind.[...or should that be "zero to 1000 watts," depending on the wind ?] The energy produced is then stored in four deep-cycle batteries.
Gibson blames traditional hydroelectric generating processes for a lot of environmental and socio-economic damage, saying water dams create flooding, which creates more greenhouse gases. She also says the flooding has forced the relocation of Native communities.[ ....those deep-cycle batteries in her house must have been made in some non-damaging way, I guess]
"When people pay their relatively cheap Manitoba Hydro bill they don't realize that," says Gibson. "I think for a fair price, they should include a lot of the community development and healing work that so many of our Native communities need."
Gibson, who currently serves as national president of the Canadian Organic Growers group, is facing off against three other candidates in the Provencher riding in southwestern Manitoba: Conservative incumbent Vic Toews, the Liberals' Wes Penner, and NDP Patrick O'Connor.