Former MP and prominent environmentalist to speak at AWARE AGM 

When Stephane Perron steps down from his three-year term as Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE) president at the annual general meeting on Jan. 19, he wants his concession speech to focus mainly on the positives.

"It is somewhat of an emotional time for me, and when I make my speech I want to put a very positive view on things – try to raise the profile of the good things that are happening and the positive directions we’re taking."

However, he also wants to use the opportunity to remind people that there’s still a lot of work ahead.

"There are a lot of things that are still not moving in the right direction, or fast enough. We shouldn’t think that just because everyone is talking about sustainability that it’s all going to fix itself on its own and assume everything is going to be great from here on. Wetlands are still being filled in."

On a recent walk through the landfill, Perron says he found a bag full of jackets and shoes, with price tags still attached, that had been systematically slashed. "So if anyone found them they would be unusable," says Perron. "I was shocked. I mean there are still a lot of things to work on in our community, lots of education to get out there, and a lot of people who have to start thinking in a different way."

Perron says he went to the store to talk to the manager, and most of the staff seemed just as surprised as he was. "I gave them the benefit of the doubt. They may have had a legitimate reason for this, like it was all defective or they were all left shoes or something. But when you’re talking about The Natural Step (sustainability), talk about easy picking."

The AWARE AGM, which will start at 6 p.m. at the Delta Whistler Resort, will include a review of the year’s achievements and campaigns, a financial report, election of the board of directors, an awards presentation, and the election of a new president. After the business side is wrapped up, the group will break until 8 p.m. for the main speaker, former MP and current David Suzuki Foundation executive director Jim Fulton.

"It’s a good way to start the year," says Perron. "It’s great to get the interest of someone like that to come and speak to the community. I think it reflects well on what we’re trying to do here, that Fulton would have an interest in coming to the meeting."

Fulton was a Member of Parliament for the Skeena riding from 1979 to 1993, serving four terms before stepping down. During his 15 years in federal politics, he was the national spokesman for the New Democratic Party on the environment. He has also held shadow cabinet portfolios in Aboriginal Affairs, Constitution, Energy, Mining, Small Business and Forestry.

He was vice-chair for the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Association from 1980 to 1993, and represented Canada on the Environment, Fisheries and International Affairs at meetings with members of the U.S. Senate.

Since he joined the David Suzuki Foundation in 1993, Fulton has made it his mandate to develop projects which advance viable alternatives to environmentally destructive growth and development patterns.

The Mission of the David Suzuki Foundation is to "develop projects which find solutions to the root causes of our most threatening environmental problems, then, to work with supporters and their communities to implement those solutions for a sustainable future."

Perron says: "I think people should get up and get out to the meeting. Our guest speaker is a must to see and hear, but I’d like to see people come out to the AGM as well. It should be interesting and a good opportunity for old members to renew their memberships and touch base, and for people who are thinking about becoming members to sign up and be counted."

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