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Pandemic podcasts emerge in Greater Victoria with policy, politics and punditry – Victoria News

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Death, innovation and a boon in podcasts might best mark 2020.

There have been dozens of startup podcasts on southern Vancouver Island since the digital format of on-demand radio became popular more than a decade ago. Students use them for school projects, while organization such as the Chamber of Commerce created Chamber Chats as a tool to connect with the community.

“I was missing conversations the I used to have all the time about community building and placemaking that were cut off by COVID-19,” said Dean Murdock, the former Saanich councillor whose new podcast Amazing Places focuses on urban placemaking. “My partner said, ‘do a podcast,’ I think, as a chance for her to get a break from me nattering about this stuff to her, but she’s right.”

Murdock’s dropped 22 Amazing Places podcasts since he started in July. His show takes a focus on placemaking, infill and density housing, the redesign of roads, and more. They come out weekly (usually on Fridays) and he’s topped 1,000 listeners.

His guests are predominantly Greater Victoria locals, such as Todd Litman of the Victoria Transit Policy Institute doing a deep dive on the real cost of free parking in urban planning, or Colwood Coun. Gordie Logan, who talked about how close the vote is in Colwood on the debate to prioritize Ocean Boulevard as a highway or close it to cars as a destination for pedestrians and cyclists. Murdock’s also had Cleveland-based road safety advocate and author Angie Schmitt on to promote her new book Right of Way. Schmitt’s profile brought an international audience with clicks coming from around the globe, as she is among the leaders in the movement to redesign roads to promote safe walking, biking and transit.

“Initially, it was about the changes in the community as a result of pandemic and it blossomed as I built a network of connections with people who I wanted to have on,” Murdock said. “When I started in July, at that point, major topics were pandemic patios, and creating public spaces, major changes during the pandemic.”

Murdock uses the Anchor software app to record and post the Amazing Places to Spotify, Google and Apple podcast apps. So do Dell and Caradonna, who have released four podcasts and have had more than 500 listeners.

Matt Dell and Jeremy Caradonna, a pair of government employees who are also musicians, missed out on the conversations they were having after evening jam sessions. To fill the gap, they started the Best Coast Political Podcast, and join the likes of the Out of Left Field as a local, politically-focused show that’s run independent of media.

What also makes them stand out is that they are completely non-profit, filling a niche for local politics and community building that all three want to hear more about. With the ongoing lockdown and the availability of the technology, it was only a matter of time, said Caradonna.

READ ALSO: Saanich Coun. Dean Murdock won’t run for re-election

“The response is way bigger and better than we thought it would be,” Caradonna said. “It’s way more than we thought we’d get, and we’re getting emails and social media messages from politicos, local politicians, that they’re listening.”

READ MORE: New book by UVic author tackles sustainable economics

Their first episode talked politics with veteran press gallery reporter Richard Zussman and their second looked at homelessness with Victoria Coun. Sarah Potts and local documentary filmmaker Krista Loughton.

“It’s meant to be the kind of conversation you would have at the pub with your friends, exploring issues and talking about things [in a safe way] you’re afraid to put on social media,” Dell said. “Jeremy and I had so many of those conversations, we would hang out and go at it, and after, we’d say, damn that was nice and cathartic.”

Online, you’re either in your own echo chamber of like-minded individuals or facing off with uncivil keyboard warriors acting without impunity, Caradonna said, but eye to eye, people will use some level of decorum and respect.

All three are actually employees of the provincial government though they don’t work together.

Murdock is a Gordon Head resident and was a three-term Saanich councillor and CRD director until 2018 and currently works in the Ministry of Health’s Healthy Communities engagement initiative. Dell is director of legislation in the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, and president of the South Jubilee Neighbourhood Association. Caradonna, who is a full-time senior policy-maker with the province, is an adjunct professor with Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria (and who was running for the City of Victoria council byelection pre-COVID).

Locally, there are plenty of podcasts to check out. Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps is part of a podcast called the Lisa, Gene and Eric podcast, with Gene Miller and Eric Bramble. Visit this story online for more.

The number of local podcasts is long. For more local podcast content try Skaana by author Mark Leiren Young, with a focus on orcas and the environment, Check the Program (a CFUV weekly show) on the upcoming arts and entertainment calendar, or the Creative Dive by Renee Leighann (former owner of the Copper Owl), which explores the hidden gems in the stories and experiences of artists and musicians from a Victoria perspective. There’s also a 2017 series called Monorail City from local transit planner Matthew Boyd that explored planning and other regional issues. A pair of Victoria Odd Fellows members have one called the Modern Goat Riders about their charity work, and the members of the Victoria Police union also have one.

(Travis Paterson has been a guest on the Amazing Places and Best Coast Political podcasts).

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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Green Party in turmoil, leader resists calls to step down

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Canada‘s Green Party was increasingly mired in an internal dispute over its position on Israel on Tuesday, and a news report said the bloc would hold a vote next month on whether to oust its leader, Annamie Paul, who was elected just eight months ago.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp (CBC) reported that the Greens had triggered a process that could remove Paul, the first black person to head a mainstream Canadian party, beginning with a vote next month.

A Green Party spokesperson declined to comment on the report, but said the party’s “federal council” would meet later on Tuesday. Earlier in the day, Paul, 48, rejected calls from the Quebec wing of the party for her to resign after a member of parliament left the Greens due to the Israel controversy.

“I believe that I have been given a strong mandate. I believe that I have been given the instructions to work on behalf of Canadians for a green recovery,” Paul said at a news conference in Ottawa.

Paul herself is not a member of parliament. The Greens – who champion the environment and the fight against climate change – had only three legislators in the 338-seat House of Commons and one, Jenica Atwin, abandoned the party last week to join the governing Liberals.

Atwin has said that her exit was in large part due to a dispute over the party’s stance on Israel. Atwin on Twitter has criticized Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, while a senior adviser to Paul, Noah Zatzman, has posted on Facebook that some unspecified Green members of parliament are anti-Semitic.

The party’s executive committee voted last week not to renew Zatzman’s contract, local media reported. Paul converted to Judaism some two decades ago after she married a Jewish man.

While the Greens are the smallest faction in parliament, they perform well in British Colombia and hold two seats there. The current turmoil may favor their rivals ahead of a national election that senior Liberals say could be just a few months away.

The Greens would win about 6.7% of the vote nationally if a vote were held now, according to an average of recent polls aggregated by the CBC.

 

(Reporting by Steve Scherer and Julie Gordon; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Hope, anger and defiance greet birth of Israel’s new government

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Following are reactions to the new government in Israel, led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER

“We’ll be back, soon.”

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

“On behalf of the American people, I congratulate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and all the members of the new Israeli cabinet. I look forward to working with Prime Minister Bennett to strengthen all aspects of the close and enduring relationship between our two nations.”

NABIL ABU RUDEINEH, SPOKESMAN FOR PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT MAHMOUD ABBAS

“This is an internal Israeli affair. Our position has always been clear, what we want is a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.”

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER VIA TWITTER

“On behalf of the UK, I offer my congratulations to

@naftalibennett and @yairlapid on forming a new government in Israel. As we emerge from COVID-19, this is an exciting time for the UK and Israel to continue working together to advance peace and prosperity for all.”

TOR WENNESLAND, U.N. MIDDLE EAST PEACE ENVOY VIA TWITTER

“I look forward to working with the Government to advance the ultimate goal of a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

CHARLES MICHEL, EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT VIA TWITTER

“Congratulations to Prime Minister @naftalibennett and to Alternate PM & MFA @yairlapid for the swearing in of the new Israeli government. Looking forward to strengthen the partnership for common prosperity and towards lasting regional peace & stability.”

FAWZI BARHOUM, HAMAS SPOKESMAN

“Regardless of the shape of the government in Israel, it will not alter the way we look at the Zionist entity. It is an occupation and a colonial entity, which we should resist by force to get our rights back.”

BENNY GANTZ, ISRAELI DEFENCE MINISTER

“With all due respect, Israel is not a widower. Israel’s security was never dependent on one man. And it will never be dependent on one man.”

CHUCK SCHUMER, U.S. SENATE MAJORITY LEADER

“So, there’s a new Administration in Israel. And we are hopeful that we can now begin serious negotiations for a two-state solution. I am urging the Biden Administration to do all it can to bring the parties together and help achieve a two-state solution where each side can live side by side in peace.”

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA

“Congratulations on the formation of a new Israeli government, Prime Minister @NaftaliBennett and Alternate Prime Minister @YairLapid. Together, let’s explore ways to further strengthen the relationship between Canada and Israel.”

MANSOUR ABBAS, ARAB MEMBER OF NEW ISRAELI GOVERNMENT

“We are aware that this step has a lot of risks and hardships that we cannot deny, but the opportunity for us is also big: to change the equation and the balance of power in the Knesset and in the upcoming government.”

DAPHNA KILION, ISRAELI IN JERUSALEM

“I think it’s very exciting for Israel to have a new beginning and I’m hopeful that the new government will take them in the right direction.”

EREZ GOLDMAN, ISRAELI IN JERUSALEM

“It’s a sad day today, it’s not a legitimate government. It’s pretty sad that almost 86 (out of 120 seats) in the parliament, the Knesset, belong to the right-wing and they sold their soul and ideology and their beliefs to the extreme left-wing just for one purpose – hatred of Netanyahu and to become a prime minister.”

SEBASTIAN KURZ, CHANCELLOR OF AUSTRIA, VIA TWITTER

“Congratulations to PM @naftalibennett and alternate PM @yairlapid for forming a government. I look forward to working with you. Austria is committed to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and will continue to stand by Israel’s side.”

(Reporting by Stephen Farrell; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Daniel Wallis and Lisa Shumaker)

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Boris Johnson hails Biden as ‘a big breath of fresh air’

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday as “a big breath of fresh air”, and praised his determination to work with allies on important global issues ranging from climate change and COVID-19 to security.

Johnson did not draw an explicit parallel between Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump after talks with the Democratic president in the English seaside resort of Carbis Bay on the eve of a summit of the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies.

But his comments made clear Biden had taken a much more multilateral approach to talks than Trump, whose vision of the world at times shocked, angered and bewildered many of Washington’s European allies.

“It’s a big breath of fresh air,” Johnson said of a meeting that lasted about an hour and 20 minutes.

“It was a long, long, good session. We covered a huge range of subjects,” he said. “It’s new, it’s interesting and we’re working very hard together.”

The two leaders appeared relaxed as they admired the view across the Atlantic alongside their wives, with Jill Biden wearing a jacket embroidered with the word “LOVE”.

“It’s a beautiful beginning,” she said.

Though Johnson said the talks were “great”, Biden brought grave concerns about a row between Britain and the European Union which he said could threaten peace in the British region of Northern Ireland, which following Britain’s departure from the EU is on the United Kingdom’s frontier with the bloc as it borders EU member state Ireland.

The two leaders did not have a joint briefing after the meeting: Johnson spoke to British media while Biden made a speech about a U.S. plan to donate half a billion vaccines to poorer countries.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Biden, who is proud of his Irish heritage, was keen to prevent difficult negotiations between Brussels and London undermining a 1998 U.S.-brokered peace deal known as the Good Friday Agreement that ended three decades of bloodshed in Northern Ireland.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One on the way to Britain that Biden had a “rock-solid belief” in the peace deal and that any steps that imperilled the accord would not be welcomed.

Yael Lempert, the top U.S. diplomat in Britain, issued London with a demarche – a formal diplomatic reprimand – for “inflaming” tensions, the Times newspaper reported.

Johnson sought to play down the differences with Washington.

“There’s complete harmony on the need to keep going, find solutions, and make sure we uphold the Belfast Good Friday Agreement,” said Johnson, one of the leaders of the 2016 campaign to leave the EU.

Asked if Biden had made his alarm about the situation in Northern Ireland very clear, he said: “No he didn’t.

“America, the United States, Washington, the UK, plus the European Union have one thing we absolutely all want to do,” Johnson said. “And that is to uphold the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, and make sure we keep the balance of the peace process going. That is absolutely common ground.”

The 1998 peace deal largely brought an end to the “Troubles” – three decades of conflict between Irish Catholic nationalist militants and pro-British Protestant “loyalist” paramilitaries in which 3,600 people were killed.

Britain’s exit from the EU has strained the peace in Northern Ireland. The 27-nation bloc wants to protect its markets but a border in the Irish Sea cuts off the British province from the rest of the United Kingdom.

Although Britain formally left the EU in 2020, the two sides are still trading threats over the Brexit deal after London unilaterally delayed the implementation of the Northern Irish clauses of the deal.

Johnson’s Downing Street office said he and Biden agreed that both Britain and the EU “had a responsibility to work together and to find pragmatic solutions to allow unencumbered trade” between Northern Ireland, Britain and Ireland.”

(Reporting by Steve Holland, Andrea Shalal, Padraic Halpin, John Chalmers; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Giles Elgood, Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Mark Potter and Timothy Heritage)

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