The Media Co-op

Local Independent News

More independent news:
Do you want free independent news delivered weekly? sign up now
Can you support independent journalists with $5? donate today!

May 18, 2012

The summer is heating up! What hot topics should we be covering?

What do you think Canadians need to know about? Post your story ideas and links below. We'll consider links for The Dominion's Month in Review, and we'll send journalists to this discussion for suggestions and story ideas.

If you like a story that someone else has suggested, add your support, and any additional feedback.

Thanks for adding to the dialogue!



scientists protest Harper's cuts

The Death of Evidence: interview on the Real News with Diane Orihel with U of Alberta:


slow dismantling of our public health system in canada

hi there,

i'm a family doctor based in vancouver who, among many others, is very worried about what is happening under the radar to health care in canada. i also sit on the board of the canadian doctors for medicare. this story of secretive undermining of the health system is complex but scary, and could benefit enormously from some media coverage. if people knew what was happening...

basic story:

  • people think our health system is in crisis because it's underfunded and no one wants to take hold and make the changes we need. also because of tax cuts amounting to 6% of the GDP over the last 10 years
  • before christmas, harper announces a funding plan until 2016 for the provinces. does not want to renew the health accord in 2014 (the 30th anniversary of medicare), giving $ with no strings attached. wants to take no leadership role in health care, which means not enforcing the canada health act
  • the premiers are worried. part of the announcement to move to per capita funding means some provinces will really lose out without equalization payments (ex. PEI doesn't have the tax revenue of alberta to support basic health infrastructure). the divide between have and have not provinces is more clear.
  • premiers form an innovation working group to replace the feds, but the priorities identified by this group are not the target issues that we need to make our health system sustain itself: national pharmacare plan, home care strategy, more primary care funding/innovation - none of these are being tackled, and not all provinces are on board. no groups except for the CMA are invited in the consultation process.
  • the lack of evidence based health reform makes the system further crumble and leaves big holes in the health system, increasingly being filled by growing numbers of for-profit clinics. no one cracks down because they think it's takes some pressure off the public system. this isn't true - it actually further undermines the public system - too many reasons to explain here. just look at the US. wealthy but unequal countries have worse health outcomes and most costly health systems.
  • as we set the precedent that for-profit clinics can fly in canada, US companies open shop here - satellite clinics by mayo clinic, etc. - we can't stop them because of NAFTA. more doctors and RNs poached from the public system which further suffers. the juggernaught of for-profit care can't be stopped - under NAFTA US companies can sue the cdn government if we don't allow them access once for-profit care is permitted.
  • and on and on.

i'd be happy to collaborate with you on this story.



Seedstock community currency

One hot emerging story is that Vancouver will be getting its first community currency this summer - Seedstock (! Seedstock will both strengthen the local economy by giving people a whole new reason to support local businesses, and giving local businesses and incentive to forge new links amongst themselves and with the rest of the community. It will also raise funds for non-profit community groups and projects working to promote local food and food security, local arts, health & wellness and a collaborative culture. Learn more on the website!


Here is a press release that just went out on Monday:



Seedstock Community Currency Project Announces First Non-Profit Beneficiaries

[Vancouver, BC, 7/09/2012] – On Sunday, the Seedstock Community Currency Project, Vancouver’s first community currency, officially announced its initial list of non-profit beneficiary partners. The initial non-profit beneficiary partners are: Fresh Roots Urban Farm SocietyPotluck Café’s DTES Kitchen Tables ProjectVillage Vancouver, the Lazarus Health Project, and RainCity Housing.


Seedstock organisers anticipate adding more non-profits to the project as beneficiaries in the coming weeks and project to officially launch the community currency in late summer with a list of ten non-profit beneficiaries.  Ultimately, organisers of Seedstock hope to build enough capacity to support hundreds of local with new sources of funding for their activities. You can learn more about Seedstock’s non-profit beneficiary partners at


Jordan Bober, one of the co-initiators of the Seedstock Community Currency Project, claims that, “Seedstock will attract additional resources for community-based non-profits working to promote local food and food security, local arts, health & wellness and a culture of collaboration in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.”  When asked about the importance of non-profits ability to secure sustainable funding Bober believes that,  “Non-profits are finding themselves squeezed from all directions these days, and yet the work that many of them do is essential if we are to have a livable, sustainable, and socially just future in this city. Seedstock will help close the gap between what these groups need to fulfill their missions and the resources available to them by tapping into the underutilised human and material wealth that already exists within our communities.”


Seedstock is a community currency that is backed by local businesses in the Lower Mainland. Businesses who agree to accept Seedstock as full or partial payment become the issuers of a certain amount of Seedstock that they can donate to any eligible local non-profit.


Non-profits who receive Seedstock donations can either spend it at participating businesses, use it to reward their volunteers, or exchange it with the public for Canadian Dollars as a fundraiser. In doing so, non-profits kickstart the circulation of Seedstock in the economy by getting it into the hands of the wider public. The organisers project being able to help local non-profits raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in this way within the first few months of Seedstock’s launch, planned for mid-August 2012.


Local business owners that issue and accept Seedstock will also benefit by generating new business either directly from the beneficiary non-profits or customers who have obtained Seedstock through local community organizations.  Seedstock is designed to be spent alongside traditional cash, and unlike discount coupons, businesses can also spend the Seedstock that they earn. This encourages businesses to seek out local suppliers who will also accept Seedstock whenever possible.


“It’s the only kind of money that comes back to the businesses that issue it, and that keeps going around in the community once its spent. By buying Seedstock from non-profits and spending it at local businesses, people not only get to support great causes without losing spending power, but they are helping to build a stronger and more resilient local economy as well,” says Bober.


Seedstock will be launching in Vancouver this summer, and is making a call for submissions (deadline July 20) to its “Art as Money as Art” event to be held in early August, where designs for the currency will be selected. To learn more about Seedstock, please visit their website,


For other instances of media coverage of the Seedstock Project, please see


Jordan Bober

Co-initiator, Seedstock Community Currency Project

(778) 866-4451



Community & alternative currencies


I think this is a really interesting topic and initiative. Thanks for suggesting it and also for posting the press release on the VMC!

When I lived in Montreal just over a decade ago, there was an interesting community currency model there. I have no idea if it's still around. The currency was hours and the exchange didn't have to be direct. So X could work for 4 hours repairing Y's bicycle and then use those 4 hours towards getting some food at Z. I know that some individuals used the currency for totally non-cash trade and that at least one business (local vegan restaurant) accepted the currency (hours) for up to 50% of food.

There are really powerful models and experiences of community currencies and alternative trade throughout Latin America, and I'm sure elsewhere as well.

I think a look at these projects - different models and successes/not as well as some recent/upcoming local examples like the Vancouver one - could definitely make for a great article!

~ sandra

Government whistleblower watchdog fails to deliver after 5 years

News Release

Government whistleblower watchdog fails to deliver after five years
and $30 million spent.

Major reforms are required, but government is stalling.

Thursday June 28, 2012

OTTAWA – Today, following the release of the fifth annual report by
the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, civil society groups are
calling the federal Conservatives’ 5-year old whistleblower regime a
failure and calling for major reforms to ensure protection of
Canadian whistleblowers.

“After five years of bureaucratic charades, taxpayers have
essentially nothing to show for more than 30 million dollars spent
on the Integrity Commissioner’s office and the associated Tribunal”
said David Hutton, executive director of FAIR, the whistleblower
charity. “Not a single wrongdoer has been sanctioned and not a
single whistleblower has been protected. It is time for a root and
branch reform of this law.”

Integrity Commissioner Mario Dion has thus far uncovered only one
case of wrongdoing out of more than 320 complaints submitted over
the past 5 years.  Due to loopholes in the law, the manager found to
have misspent taxpayer’s money could not be disciplined because she
had left her job for another outside the public service.  Dion
declined to use the only remaining sanction available – to name her.

The government has also failed to initiate the five-year review of
the Whistleblower Act, as legally required. “More than two months
after it was supposed to begin, Minister Clement has still not
announced the review or provided information on the format or
timing.  The earliest date for a review is now the fall, well after
it was to begin according to the Act” said Tyler Sommers of
Democracy Watch. “If this government wants to protect honest public
servants it will launch a comprehensive, open, and transparent
review process immediately – and invite experts from other
jurisdictions such as the UK, USA, and Australia, that are decades
ahead of Canada in protecting truth-tellers.”

“This government rode into town on a white horse of transparency and
accountability, with whistleblower protection the centerpiece of its
election campaign” said Mr. Hutton. “It’s time to deliver on the
‘ironclad’ protection promised in 2006.”

- 30 -

For more information, contact:
David Hutton, Executive Director, FAIR (Federal Accountability
Initiative for Reform)
Tel: +44-798-104-6958 OR 01144-798-104-6958

Tyler Sommers, Coordinator of Democracy Watch and Chair of the Open
Government Coalition Tel: (613) 241-5179

IWC launches Women’s Press website

Press release sent to the Media Co-op. If you would like the PDF of the press release, contact me viat the site and I will send it to you.



IWC launches Women’s Press website

The Immigrant Women’s Centre is pleased to announce the launch of a new interactive website for The Women’s Press. 

The Women’s Press focuses on a variety of current social issues through a gender perspective, with topics ranging from economy and labour, to settlement and the arts. Each issue includes stories highlighting newcomer women’s experiences and the topics that impact their lives. The website will enhance accessibility for the greater Hamilton community, so that the information and stories presented can reach a wider Hamilton audience. It is a bi-monthly twelve page publication that was started in 2009.

“We want the stories of marginalized women in society to be more available to the community, so the stories can be heard. Stories have the power to transform communities. We are proud of the women in Hamilton and the Women’s Press is a platform for their voices to be heard,” said Ines Rios, Executive Director.

The Women’s Press:
- is a collaborative advocacy news source

- is a platform for local voices to be heard; contributions are welcome
- raises awareness about issues impacting women and newcomer community in Hamilton
- provides accessible relevant, women-focused reading material for the wider community

- adheres to a basic English policy to ensure its accessibility to those learning English
- offers advertising space for local businesses, non-profits and elected politicians

See attached PDF for full news release.

We invite you to visit the new Women’s Press website at:

From: Sarah Smellie Re:

From: Sarah Smellie

  • Re: which stories should the media co-op be covering?

    I don;t know if you've already covered it, but the government of Newfoundland and Labrador just passed a horrible amendment to our Access to Information Laws, calls Bill 29, that will really restrict what information is available to the media, the public and even the auditor general (very not cool for a province with a history of political spending scandals uncovered by the auditor general). It's a frigging nightmare.


I'd second this one

Sounds like an interesting story!

~ sandra

From Mark Nolan on F

From Mark Nolan on FB:
Northeast Regional Convergence Resist the Conference of New England Go...See More
Page: 27 like this
machine expresso

From Sasha M. Dyck:  Feds

From Sasha M. Dyck:

 Feds cutting the Interim Federal Health Program, resistance to Canadian mining violence in Guatemala (, and the rise of Autonomous Assemblies in casserole-heavy neighbourhoods (such as Villeray). Phew! Busy summer indeed.

From Farmer Direct

From Farmer Direct Co-op:

Non-GMO and GMO labelling Campaigns

Domestic Fair Trade producers and supporters!

From Mark Nolan on FB:

From Mark Nolan on FB:

Northeast Regional Convergence Resist the Conference of New England Go...See More
Page: 27 like this


Think it would be great to

Think it would be great to have a piece putting EI changes into broader context of wage depression, looking at whether there are actual arguments that this will save $$, improve employment, etc.

Consider Featuring Bloggers

There is a growing list of problems in the modern world. Events are changing so fast, it is hard to nail down just a few hot topics. Disparity, institutional corruption and the need for drastic, political reform are topics close to me; however, I have a bias due to being ashamed of the mess baby boomers are leaving the world for today's youth to deal with.

I am in my late 40's w/ two teeneagers and have few, if any local contemporaries who agree with me that the "boomers" may consider themselves "the greatest generation" but should reconsider what they have done and begin using the modified description - "the most selfish generation". They have become "Muppets" to the banksters, votes to the politicians and "little blue pill" consumers to the pharmaceutical industry - to me, they have sold out their kid's future by being too self absorbed to realize they were being fleeced.

Also, I am personally learning a lot about reactor #4 in Japan lately. This house of cards has spent fuel rods sitting on top of a building that is breaking down and slowly falling apart as the weeks tick by. Alaskan airline employees are showing signs of radiation sickness, nuclear experts are claiming they will move to Australia (the southern hemisphere) if this reactor melts down, even main stream media are starting to talk about this waiting disaster (


Best Regards,


John Harvey


Thanks John

I'll check your blog. Thanks for the tip.