Sunday, December 21, 2008

$25 Bullfrog Power Discount
The past couple of times I've bought laptops, I've purchased Wind Power certificates from to offset the energy usage of the computer. Recently, Pembina has essentially outsourced their wind power business to Bullfrog Power. Bullfrog Power sells EcoLogo certified renewable electricity.

Anyway, I recently signed up to offset the power usage of my home, and once I'd logged in, on the referral page, I found that anyone whom I refer gets $25 off their first bill. (As far as I know, I don't get anything for referrals.) So I figured I'd pass it along... when signing up at, enter promo code MARK2001. The code is good till December 8th, 2010.

Update: Even better, I just discovered that if you join the Bruce Trail Conservancy, you can get the same $25 off your first Bullfrog Power bill! So, spend $50 to join, and you'll support a great cause, get an immediate $25 back with the Bullfrog discount, and get a tax receipt too. That's what I call money well spent!

United Steelworkers' Expand EI Campaign

The United Steelworkers have launched an "Expand EI" campaign encouraging the federal government to expand the benefits afforded through Employment Insurance as one of the measures used in any financial package designed to help Canada weather a recession.

Specifically, they're asking that the government:

- Eliminate the waiting period before EI benefits begin. Many families have little or no savings. Even a couple of weeks without income is too long.

- Increase the level of EI benefits and increase the maximum level of earnings before triggering a clawback. The current benefits are not enough for a family to live on. Plus, putting money into the hands of families will help the economy overall.

- Extend EI benefits for up to two years. Finding a job will take longer than ever due to the current economic crisis.

- Allow workers who receive severance pay to also receive EI benefits right away. Workers should not be forced to exhaust their severance pay before receiving benefits.

- Eliminate cumbersome eligibility rules. Too many people are unfairly excluded from the EI benefits they've paid into. Part-time workers, the majority of whom are women, are often unable to collect EI when they lose their jobs.

On there's an "E-mail Ottawa" link that asks for your name and e-mail, and will send a pre-written e-mail to the four party leaders. I encourage you all to send that e-mail, and forward the web site to everyone you know.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

About my causes...

The causes which I've settled on as those which receive my limited budget for donations reflect a bit of an evolution of my philosophy. When I was a teenager, I supported organizations which operated on a global or national scale. However, in my advancing age I've settled on organizations that basically operate in my own backyard.

The reasons for this shift from global to local are varied. First, I can actually see what the organizations I support do, since they operate locally. It's easier to stay engaged with (and participate in) an organization that takes concrete, observable local action, rather than organizations that essentially are just abstract expressions of my beliefs. Also, we can't expect other parts of the world to respect a "do as I say, not as I do" country. We need to lead by example, and that means taking care of our own backyards. Finally, while we need organizations which lobby the big picture issues, I personally have an affinity for organizations which take direct action to actually realize their goals and make a difference.

So, for the past few years, I've been supporting the Bruce Trail Conservancy, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Taoist Tai Chi Society.
The Bruce Trail Conservancy maintains the ~800km conservation corridor that comprises the Bruce Trail in Ontario. They purchase land to preserve the Niagara Escarpment and secure optimum route for the trail. The Bruce Trail passes through some of the most densely developed areas of Canada, and 52% of the trail is still vulnerable to development. By supporting the Bruce Trail Conservancy, I support the preservation of dwindling natural areas in my part of the world.
The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) is the agency charged with investigating and enforcing animal cruelty laws in Ontario. Despite having the power to enforce laws, the OSPCA receives precious little funding for their activities. They also operate animal adoption and shelter programs, wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, and are the chief advocate for animals in Ontario.
Another organization which I enthusiastically support is the International Taoist Tai Chi Society. The Taoist Tai Chi Society is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to making tai chi available to all people, to promoting the health-improving benefits of tai chi, to encouraging cultural exchange, and to helping others. It is volunteer driven, operates world wide, and has a depth which continues to surprise me. Taoist Tai Chi is very beneficial to one's health, and the society operates health recovery programs as one of its central activities. Because the Taoist Tai Chi Society was founded here in Ontario, I have the good fortune of living only two hours away from the International Taoist Tai Chi Centre, which is a wonderful place.

Of course, I support a variety of other causes and projects, but in terms of who receives donations from me, the above organizations are a good expression of my beliefs and philosophy.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Canadian Political Action How-To Blog

I've always been the type of guy who writes letters to the editor and to politicians. Lately I've become involved in encouraging others to lobby their politicians.

My geographical location, and political context, is Ontario, Canada. So initially the resources I post here will be for my part of the world. I expect I'll expand to provide info for other jurisdictions of Canada.

Here's the quick and dirty list of people to contact if you've got a cause to promote:

Prime Minister of Canada
Contacting your MP
Government of Canada A-Z

Premier of Ontario
Contacting your MPP
Government of Ontario A-Z

Anyway, as I learn more and become more sophisticated at the political action thing, I'll share tips, methods, info on my favourite causes, and so on.