Canada’s Water Protectors: Chippewas of the Thames

Chippewas of the Thames marched at last years People’s Climate March in Waterloo ~ November 29th, 2016

If you can donate to only one thing this year, I hope you’ll make that a donation to the Chippewas of the Thames.

Supreme Court Grants Chippewas of the Thames First Nation Challenge to Line 9: Community Hopeful of Meaningful Consultation with the Crown

MUNCEY, March 10, 2016 – the Supreme Court of Canada has granted the Chippewas of the Thames leave to appeal a decision of the Federal Court of Appeal relating to an Application before the National Energy Board to repurpose the Line 9 Pipeline.

At issue is whether the Crown exercised its duty to meaningfully consult and accommodate the Chippewas on a project that may potentially impact their Aboriginal and Treaty rights. The Chippewas are challenging the Crown’s paternalistic policies based on denial and extinguishment of rights. Relying on s. 35 of the Constitution and previous Supreme Court rulings, the First Nation continues to urge negotiation and reconciliation.

Chief of the Chippewas of the Thames, Leslee White-Eye welcomed the decision, saying, “Our community is pleased by this forward step but the path before us is still long as we continue to seek protection of our Aboriginal and Treaty rights. We need to bring home that we are not acting alone in the action, nor that it is for our sole benefit but an attempt to seek protection of our water – these energy developments are one of many across the nation impacting our rights”.

According to Chief White-Eye, “Our members were very distressed by the Federal Court of Appeal’s dismissal of the appeal when they failed to acknowledge our Aboriginal and Treaty rights.  The Court did not consider previous decisions, which establish the Crown’s duty to meaningfully consult with and accommodate us on projects that may potentially impact those rights, such as Line 9.”

The Crown’s failure to consult has stalled negotiations, prevented Chippewas of the Thames from benefiting from their collective rights and has impeded economic development for all stakeholders. It has also undermined the Nation’s development as a government. Still, Chief White-Eye remains optimistic by stating that “a positive final decision from the Supreme Court will hopefully pave the way for reconciliation with the Crown.”

Supreme Court Grants Chippewas of the Thames First Nation Challenge to Line 9: Community Hopeful of Meaningful Consultation with the Crown

Myneengun Henry of Chippewas of the Thames
Myneengun Henry of Chippewas of the Thames discusses the issues after the 2016 People’s Climate March

The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation is headed to the Supreme Court of Canada this month for an appeal hearing on the change to the pipeline which travels through Chippewas land, a change which members — along with critics and environmentalists — warn could lead to an environmental catastrophe.

The reversal has been greenlighted by the National Energy Board, but, the Chippewas aruge, without the Crown first fulfilling its constitutional duty to consult the First Nation.

While the appeal takes place at the Supreme Court, supporters are organizing a “fill-the-Hill” demonstration in Ottawa that aims to get attention on Parliament Hill down the street.

“The immediate plan now is to bring attention to the Supreme Court,” said Chippewas of the Thames Chief Leslee White-Eye.

“If there is an opportunity to unify physically in support of water, future generations and a long-term plan, we can convey those messages and show that solidarity on the outside,” said White-Eye.

“We want to work together. We want to be working with all Canadians on . . . in terms of water protection and the fossil fuel industry and nation-to-nation relationships with First Nations in Canada.

“The decision is going to have considerable impacts either way. I’m calling on Canadians — all of us, as folks that are living in Canada, to reflect at their dinner tables about their make-up. This really does matter. . . How we raise our children to value water.”

—  Chippewas of the Thames is headed to Canada’s highest court to fight the Line 9 oil-flow reversal

People's Climate March
People’s Climate March

Chippewas of the Thames  are appealing the National Energy Board’s approval of Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline to the Supreme Court.

This project will carry tar sands diluted bitumen through southern Ontario and east for export.

Donate to the Chippewas Line 9 opposition GoFundMe campaign here.

Attend the Supreme Court Rally in Ottawa!

There’s a Kitchener GoFundMe Campaign to help people get to Ottawa

On November 30th, on unceded Algonquin territory in Ottawa, Clyde River Inuit and the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation are heading to the Supreme Court to uphold the legal right of Indigenous People to be consulted on energy projects that will impact their communities. A win at the court could be a watershed for the future of Indigenous rights and environmental justice.

Bus Tickets: Supreme Court Rally – Clyde River and Chippewas of the Thames

For those wishing to attend (and/or help others attend) the Supreme Court Rally:

If you are unable to attend the court support rally, you can show support by signing this petition:

Demand the NEB respect Indigenous Rights! Sign to support Chippewas of the Thames First Nation!

The Chippewas of the Thames need to raise additional funds.  Please donate if you can:

Further reading:
The Star: The Chippewas of the Thames protest pipeline
Supreme Court of Canada Docket Page  
Chippewas of the Thames Factum for the Line 9 case before the Supreme Court of Canada:


Image Credits

Photos by Laurel L. Russwurm released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.  You’ll find more photos in my Flickr album.

Canada’s Score: Climate Change Performance Index 2016

ice storm

Whenever anyone tells you Canada doesn’t need to do anything about our carbon footprint direct them to the Climate Change Performance Index 2016

For starters, even though Canada has only 0.49% of the world population, we make the 10 Largest CO2 Emitters list.

Canada ranks 56th with only 5 countries (Korea, Japan, Australia, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia) ranking worse.

None of the countries have yet achieved any of the top 3 spots, because so far nobody is doing enough to prevent dangerous climate change.

1* – –
2* – –
3* – –
4 Denmark 71.19
5 United Kingdom 70.13
6 Sweden 69.91
7 Belgium 68.73
8 France 65.97
9 Cyprus 65.12
10 Morocco 63.76
11 Italy 62.98
12 Ireland 62.65
13 Luxembourg 62.47
14 Switzerland 62.09
15 Malta 61.82
16 Latvia 61.38
17 Hungary 60.76
18 Romania 60.39
19 Portugal 59.52
20 Lithuania 58.65
21 Croatia 58.43
22 Germany 58.39
23 Finland 58.27
24 Indonesia 58.21
25 India 58.19
26 Slovak Republic 57.83
27 Iceland 57.25
28 Mexico 57.04
29 Czech Republic 57.03
30 Egypt 56.96
31 Slovenia 56.87
32 Poland 56.09
33 Greece 55.06
34 United States 54.91
35 Netherlands 54.84
36 Norway 54.65
37 Bulgaria 53.85
38 South Africa 53.76
39 Malaysia 53.49
40 Algeria 53.30
41 Spain 52.63
42 New Zealand 52.41
43 Brazil 51.90
44 Belarus 51.18
45 Austria 50.69
46 Ukraine 49.81
47 China 48.60
48 Argentina 48.34
49 Thailand 48.16
50 Turkey 47.25
51 Estonia 47.24
52 Chinese Taipei 45.45
53 Russian Federation 44.34
54 Islamic Rep. of Iran 43.33
55 Singapore 42.81

56 Canada 38.74

57 Korea 37.64
58 Japan 37.23
59 Australia 36.56
60 Kazakhstan 32.97
61 Saudi Arabia 21.08

Canada needs to make some serious changes before we can be considered part of the solution.


Party Politics

Wellington—Halton Hills MP Michael Chong speaks at the 2016 International Plowing Match.
Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner and other dignitaries listen to
Wellington—Halton Hills MP Michael Chong speak at the 2016 International Plowing Match.

by Teresa Cornwell

Canadians, we need to double down on our work for inclusive progressive society.  We need to make sure we get electoral reform so the right wing can not split the progressive vote again.   We need to make sure our social safety nets are strong.  Please do not think our politicians are better. We need to continue to hold them accountable.

Conservative Leadership Candidate Kellie Leitch has received lots of media attention for her racist platform ideas.

I have been pondering and discussing what we can do to make sure Canada continues to be an inclusive society, and this is an idea. One thing alone won’t be enough, but many small things can have a very big impact.

The first thing I have come up with to do is let the Conservative Party leadership candidates know that we don’t want Trump style politics here. We want Canada to be an inviting country, we don’t need a Canada values test (whose values, since diversity is our strength), we don’t want people to have to hide from who they are or who they love, we want religious freedoms – that is for all religions.

There are currently 12 people running for leader of the Conservative Party, how many can you name?

We need to let these people know that we don’t want Leitch’s values. Can you call or email them to let them know you want a diverse, inclusive Canada. Tell them you won’t vote for an MP if their leader has racist ideals. If your current MP is Conservative call or email them as well.

I have looked up their phone and email addresses, some of these people already have racist things in their platform (banning the niqab during citizenship). Michael Chong called Leitch out on her Trump style politics. Let him know you want him to continue to push progressive ideals.

Lisa Raitt and Brad Trost shouldn’t be using MP resources for this but I couldn’t find any other contact info.

CPC Leadership Candidate Michael Chong called Leitch out on her Trump style politics.

Chris Alexander 905-626-7517
Maxime Bernier 819-205-3102
Steven Blaney 581-991-4983
Michael Chong 1-800-837-7075 or
Kellie Leitch 1-855-216-8095
Daniel Lindsay – no contact info found
Deepak Obhrai 403-991-6757
Erin O’Toole
Lisa Raitt 613-996-7046
Andrew Saxton
Andrew Scheer
Brad Trost 306-975-6133


An Enemy of the People ~ Tonight!

cast of "Enemy of the People"

Last night Bob Jonkman and I were pleased to attend Waterloo Green Richard Walsh’s production of “Enemy of the People.”

Richard adapted Henrik Ibsen’s classic 1882 play, setting it in contemporary Canada. This tale of environmental whistleblowing is especially poignant in a province that lived through the Walkerton Crisis, and even more so for those of us in the town of Elmira (Kitchener-Conestoga), where our aquifer was so badly compromised by industrial pollution, our municipal water supply must be piped in from Waterloo. Bob was struck by the similarity to our municipal environmental politics.

Tonight is your last chance to see this excellent production:

8pm November 12th, 2016
Christ Lutheran Church, 445 Anndale Road, Waterloo (Davenport & Lexington)
call for tickets 519-885-4050
General Admission | adults $15 | students $10

David Clayworth, Richard Walsh and Ken Noakes

[Note: more photos available in my Flickr Album ~ Laurel]

Proposed GPC Policy on Israel and Palestine

The Green Party of Canada statement to its members:

“Dear Members,

“As so many of you are aware, there was a disagreement on Green Party policy on Israel and Palestine after the Convention in August.

“Since that time, many of you have reached out with questions and concerns. There appeared to be growing division on this issue and as such, it was felt, for the good of the party, that we should work together to reach consensus on a slightly modified position.

“We are pleased to say that a resolution will be introduced in Calgary that has the full support of Dimitri Lascaris, who was the sponsor of the BDS motion in Ottawa in August, and our party leader, Elizabeth May. It also has the full support of Shadow Cabinet which was involved in creating this resolution.

“My overall objective is to ensure that pressure is brought to bear on the Israeli government to recognize the civil and political rights of Palestinians and put an end to the suffering of Palestinians in the illegally occupied territories and in refugee camps outside of those territories. I feel this resolution allows for this to happen in both practical and political ways” says Dimitri Lascaris.

“GPC Leader, Elizabeth May, says “This resolution is very specific about what we feel is illegal and unjust and calls for remedies and actions that are appropriate for a political party and a government. It also shows the Green Party’s ability to work with those with differing views and find common ground, a workable consensus.”

“Both May and Lascaris stress the importance of the Green Party to reach a position independent of outside organizations with strong positions on matters relating to the Middle East. Lascaris says, “This resolution will be too strong for some and not strong enough for others, but it has not given in to any one interest group. It is informed and balanced.”

“This is not the only resolution which will be on the floor at the Special General Meeting in Calgary on Dec. 3-4. However, due to the amount of conventional media attention and discussion on social media, we felt it was important to let you know ahead of time about the progress being made.

“We trust you will give this your thoughtful consideration.”

Elizabeth May and Dimitri Lascaris
Elizabeth May and Dimitri Lascaris

[PLEASE NOTE: When originally posted I inadvertently cut and pasted the incomplete text below.  This has now been rectified. ~ LLR]

The full text of the resolution follows:

Resolution Type

Submitter Name

Shadow Cabinet

WHEREAS Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits an occupying power from transferring parts of its own civilian population to territory it occupies, and

WHEREAS Israel has continued to construct new settlements and to expand existing settlements in the OPT, to demolish Palestinian homes and other civilian infrastructure in the OPT and condones actions which deprive Palestinians’ rights to security and self determination, and

WHEREAS U.N. General Assembly resolution 273(111), which Canada co-sponsored, admitted Israel as a state to the United Nations and was based on the condition that Israel honour both the Partition Plan of November 28, 1947 and U.N. General Assembly Resolution
194 of December 11, 1948, which provided for the right of return of Palestinian refugees, and

WHEREAS Israel has failed to respect these commitments and has not complied with other relevant U.N. resolutions, and

WHEREAS the Global Greens Charter acknowledges the “[u]nderstanding that many of the world’s peoples and nations have been impoverished by the long centuries of colonization and exploitation,” AND

WHEREAS the Global Greens Charter recognizes “the rights of indigenous people and their contribution to the common heritage, as well as the right of all minorities and oppressed peoples to their culture, religion, economic and cultural life,” AND

WHEREAS the Palestinian people are among the indigenous people of the geographic region now designated as Israel and the OPT, and

WHEREAS Canada is a high contracting party to the Fourth Geneva Convention, and the Fourth Geneva Convention obliges all parties thereto, including Canada, to ensure respect for the Convention by other parties thereto, including Israel, “in all circumstances”, and

WHEREAS the Green Party of Canada opposes all forms of racism and discrimination, does not allow any Islamophobic or anti-Semitic elements in the party, and is concerned that Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are on the rise;


BE IT RESOLVED that the Green Party of Canada (GPC) calls on the legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people and the State of Israel to accord mutually recognized statehood.

BE IT RESOLVED that Green Party of Canada denounces violence in all of its forms, recognizes that it can only lead to failure in conflict resolution, and supports only non-violent responses to violence and oppression, including economic measures such as government sanctions, consumer boycotts, institutional divestment, economic sanctions and arms embargoes; and

BE IT RESOLVED the GPC calls on the Government of Israel to: respect the intent of UN Resolution 194, the implementation of which is to be negotiated in good faith with the legitimate representatives of the Palestinians, accord to the Arab-Palestinian population of Israel equal political and civil rights, and end Israel’s illegal occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and the Golan Heights, and Israel’s siege of Gaza;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Green Party of Canada reconfirms its policy of condemning illegal settlement construction in the OPT, and calls for an immediate end to further settlement construction and expansion, and the dismantling of current settlements in the OPT, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Canada take strong diplomatic action, including economic pressure, in order to ensure the attainment of the three objectives identified in the preceding paragraph and to encourage Israel to enter into good faith negotiations with legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people for the purpose of establishing a viable, contiguous and truly sovereign Palestinian state. Such economic pressure should include, but not be limited to:

  • A ban on the importation into Canada of products produced wholly or partly within or by illegal Israeli settlements, or by Israeli businesses directly benefiting from the illegal occupation;
  • Renegotiation of the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA) such that it explicitly excludes products produced wholly or partly within or by illegal Israeli settlements, or by Israeli businesses operating within the OPT;
  • The strengthening of CIFTA compliance/audit provisions in such ways and clauses as to ensure that imported products labeled “Made in Israel” are actually produced, entirely and exclusively, within Israel’s internationally recognized borders;
  • The termination and indefinite suspension of all military and surveillance trade and cooperation between, on the one hand, the Government of Canada and Canadian corporations or residents of Canada and, on the other hand, the State of Israel, Israeli corporations or residents of Israel’s illegal settlements;
  • The repeal the House of Commons resolution condemning the BDS movement (Vote #14, 42nd Parliament, 1st Session; 22 February 2016.)

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Green Party of Canada calls on the Government of Canada to assess the investments it has under its control and to divest from any companies which are directly benefiting from activity within Israel’s illegal settlements or its occupation of the OPT; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the GPC calls on the Government of Canada to warn of the legal consequences of trade and investment in the illegal settlements;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Green Party of Canada, and if elected, a Green government, as part of a policy on ethical purchases, will not purchase or use products produced by companies which are profiting from activity within Israel’s illegal settlements or
its occupation of the OPT; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Green Party of Canada calls on the Canadian Government to recognize the State of Palestine, and, should Canada gain a seat on the UN Security Council, the Green Party of Canada calls on the Canadian Government to pursue aggressively all possible diplomatic pressure on Israel, as well as on the United States to use its massive military aid to Israel as a lever to push for peace; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Green Party of Canada calls on the Government of Canada to ask the International Criminal Court to prioritize its investigation into charges of potential war crimes by members of the Israeli forces, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that; Policy G16-P006-A Palestinian Self-Determination and the Movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions as voted on at the August 2016 BGM be repealed and replaced by this policy.


Jo-Ann Roberts, Lorraine Rekmans, Lora Teuschler, Lynne Quarmby Bob Warwick, Wes Regan, Erich Jacoby Hawkins, Jim Manly, Elizabeth May, Debra Eindiguer, Richard Walsh, Jonathan Dickie, Jeff Wheeldon, Glenn Sollitt, Joe Foster, Kate Storey, Ilan Goldenblatt, Brian Smallshaw, Jean-Luc Cooke, Richard Zurawski, Laurie Macmillan


The Green Party of Canada is firmly committed to human rights, peaceful resolutions of conflict and international law. Of all the political parties in Canada, the GPC has the most thoughtful, detailed and balanced policy on the Israeli-Palestinian position of any party.

This resolution and review of our Middle East policies is an effort to update Green Party policies through consensus-decision-making. The following is proposed for adoption at the Calgary meeting December 3-4, 2016:

The Green Party of Canada reconfirms the following policies, passed between 1988 and 2014, which have been decided on through the consensus-decision-making process:


G08-p030: Palestinian Right to Statehood

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Green Party of Canada endorse the recognition of a Palestinian right to statehood within the internationally recognized borders as described in United Nations Security Council Resolution 242.

G08-p042: Israel/Palestine Conflict

BE IT RESOLVED that the Green Party of Canada:
1. Support a two-state solution to the Israel- Palestine conflict that adheres to pre-1967 borders and also seeks to incorporate an international plan for stimulating economic prosperity in both nations.
2. Call on both sides to immediately stop the killing of civilians and adhere to international law.
3. Encourage the Canadian government to press for a mutually agreed upon honest broker to engage in bi-literal and multi-lateral peace talks involving Palestinians and Israelis.
4. Call on Arab countries to use their influence to broker an agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian National Authority to facilitate the promotion of peace amongst the competing Palestinian interests.
5. Call for an end to the collective siege of Gaza so that medical and humanitarian aid can be provided.
6. Actively support the efforts of civil society groups working for peace, human rights, and justice in the region.

G10-p09 Recognizing Palestinian Products as Palestinian

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Green Party of Canada would seek to introduce legislation that would amend the Canada Israel free trade agreement. This change would require Israel to label as Palestinian, products and services from lands recognized under international law as Palestinian territory.

G14-P22 Condemning Illegal Israeli Settlement Expansions

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Green Party of Canada fully condemn all illegal Israeli settlement expansions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as undeniable obstacles to the Israel-Palestine peace-process.

G14-P58 Israel – Palestine Conflict

BE IT RESOLVED that the GPC urges the immediate cessation of hostilities between Israel and Palestine. The GPC will adopt a posture of engaged neutrality, opening all available diplomatic avenues in both Palestine and Israel to press for a peaceful resolution to the conflict consistent with the GPC’s commitment to justice and custom of speaking truth to power.

BGM 2016 Policies

There are two policies directly related to Israel and Palestine, which passed at the August 2016 BGM. The first policy was split out from the original resolution and passed by consensus. The second policy was passed by majority but not by consensus and will be repealed and replaced by this resolution if passed by consensus.

G16-P006-1 Opposing Prohibition of BDS (passed by consensus)
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the GPC opposes all efforts to prohibit, punish or otherwise deter expressions of support for BDS.

G16-P006-2 Palestinian Self-Determination and the Movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
(passed by majority but not by consensus – this policy will be replaced by the new policy being proposed)

BE IT RESOLVED that the GPC supports the use of divestment, boycott and sanctions (“BDS”) that are targeted to those sectors of Israel’s economy and society which profit from the ongoing occupation of the OPT;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the GPC will support such a form of BDS until such time as Israel implements a permanent ban on further settlement construction in the OPT, and enters into good faith negotiations with representatives of the Palestinian people for the purpose of establishing a viable, contiguous and truly sovereign Palestinian state.

Background on the Policy Update

In the years since the GPC adopted this policy, to which we are still committed, the situation has worsened. The possibility of a two-state solution is diminishing directly due to the Netanyahu government’s support for illegal expansion and increasingly brutal military occupation. Even over 200 former members of Israeli Defense Forces (“Security First”) have decried the worsening security situation for Israelis and Palestinians – and laid the blame directly on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policies. The former Israeli military officers have raised the alarm of a “humanitarian crisis in Gaza” and the diminishing chances for a two-state solution.

Clearly, Canada needs to do more to register with the Israeli government that flouting international law and threatening the security of its own people while violating the human rights of Palestinians is not acceptable. In doing so, Canada must continue to condemn violence from the militant elements of Palestinian society.

Post script:

For Thomas Teuwen’s comparison of the two resolutions and explanation why Elizabeth May felt unable to support the resolution passed in August, but felt confident in sponsoring this new resolution check out

PEI is a Proportional Representation Beacon #CDNpoli

[reblogged from Whoa!Canada Proportional Representation SeriesPEI picks Proportional Representation]

Electoral System with Majority Support
Mixed Member Proportional Representation
# of Votes 19,418
% of Votes 52.42
Total Valid Votes 37,040
Total number of votes required to achieve threshold 18,521

Eligible Electors 102,464

Voter Turnout 36.46%

Elections Prince Edward Island Plebiscite Results

PEI picks PR (Brigitte Werner's photo dedicated to the Public Domain with CC0)

I have no doubt that good media coverage helped the process along. The PEI Guardian endorsed Dual Member Proportional, the made in Canada system proposed by Sean Graham. I was able to include Sean’s system in my Electoral System Roundup.  I was able to include Sean’s system in my Electoral System Roundup, and  I know Sean made a presentation to the federal ERRE Committee.  His system may be a real solution for the wide open spaces problem faced when looking at Federal Electoral Reform.

Unlike previous electoral reform referenda in Canada, the PEI process did a pretty good job of informing voters. If you watch the video below and those that follow, you’ll see the array of very nice explainer videos put out by Elections PEI

The tiny province of Prince Edward Island has taken the first step in leading Canada toward better democracy.  Bravo!

Ontario’s Basic Income Pilot: public survey

One of the most important Green Party of Canada campaign issues was the Guaranteed Livable Income.  The idea was piloted in Canada under the name “Mincome” under the first Prime Minister Trudeau.   What happened then is what happens all to often… the government fell and its successors had no interest in implementing policy based on their predecessor’s pilot project.   Here in Waterloo Region, we have our own Basic Income Waterloo Region advocacy group that’s part of a Canada-wide grassroots movement to make a basic income guarantee the next great innovation in social policy.

Basic Income Waterloo meets with Richard Walsh and Bob Jonkman at the Waterloo Greens Office during the 2015 election
Basic Income Waterloo meets with Richard Walsh and Bob Jonkman at the WRGreens 2015 campaign office.

The Ontario Liberal Government is considering running its own pilot program, and it would be enormously helpful to fill out their

Basic Income Pilot: public survey

While on the surface it may seem that such a program would be prohibitively expensive, ironically research shows the effect of a properly managed basic income guarantee is actually a savings to government, as well as a boost to small business and innovation.  Check out Basic Income Waterloo Region’s Frequently Asked Questions page.


The #WRGreens want some #ERRE

WRGreens Community Dialogue poster

In Waterloo Region, as in most of Canada, although there is support for the Green Party, there are no elected Green MPs.  This does not mean there is no support for the Greens, it just means there isn’t enough support to elect many Greens when votes cast for Green Party Candidates aren’t as powerful as votes cast for bigger parties.  That’s what’s wrong with Canada’s electoral system in a nutshell:

Some votes count more than others,
but most votes don’t count at all.

In spite of the grievous unfairness of Canada’s winner-take-all electoral system, there are Green supporters all across Canada.  And while the dropping vote share for Green candidates seems to suggest the party is losing support, the reverse is true.  Unfortunately all too often, too many would be Green voters chose to vote strategically for a candidate they don’t actually want to elect, to prevent one they really hate from winning the seat.  This isn’t just bad for the Green Party, it’s bad for all Canadians, because the parliament that results fails to reflect the intentions of most voters.

Even though we have no Green MP in Waterloo Region (or even Ontario), we held our own Community Dialogue.  Ours was not a partisan event, and we did attract non-Greens, but it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that an overwhelming majority of those in attendance supported adopting some form of Proportional Representation.

One young woman in my small group dialogue told us that her 2015 vote had actually elected someone for the very first time.  But instead of making her feel good, it left her feeling hollow because now she has an MP she didn’t want that she helped elect.  When our votes don’t count, how can anyone count on getting the government policy we want?

Temara Brown explains electoral systems

A group of Liberals in the Conservative Brantford-Brant held their own multipartisan Community Dialogue Event, inviting our own Temara Brown to participate.  And the sitting Conservative MP attended as well.

One good thing is that a majority of Canadian voters (that is to say, those sixty-something % of eligible voters who voted) voted for candidates and parties that supported electoral reform.  Since the Liberals promised an end to First Past The Post elections, and Mr. Trudeau promised to make every vote count, we’ve had a whirl wind Parliamentary electoral reform Consultation.  Thousands of Canadians have participated across Canada, and everything we hear suggests predominent support for Proportional Representation.

And now the all party ERRÉ (Electoral Reform Reforme Électorale) Special Committee on Electoral Reform has begun deliberating over everything they’ve heard, from the experts as well as public input.  The problem is that comments made by Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Monsef sound as though the Government is beginning get cold feet.  It is, after all, hard to get a government that won majority power with a minority of votes under a First Past The Post system to adopt a system of Proportional Representation that will limit their power to what they earn in votes.

Justin Trudeau's Liberal 2015 Campaign Promise: We will make every vote count

We need to encourage the ERRÉ Committee to work toward a truly fair system ~ and that can only mean some form of Proportional Representation.  We can let the ERRÉ Committee what we want by writing to them ourselves.  The folks at Fair Vote Canada have made this easier for us with their automated tool that will send a letter urging the committee to recommend PR.

NOTES:  Although it may look like it, you do *not* have to make a donation to Fair Vote unless you wish to.  After your message is sent just close the browser tab.  If you choose to use the FVC tool, bear in mind doing so will give Fair Vote Canada your contact info.  [Every time you give anyone your contact info online there is always a chance they will keep it so they can contact you in future.  If you are concerned about these things, you can still borrow useful bits from their letter and make your own that you send directly to:

Postal Mail:
Special Committee on Electoral Reform
Sixth Floor, 131 Queen Street
House of Commons
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6

Fax: 613-947-3089

The best part is we don’t have to send Fair Vote’s letter.  You can start with it, or edit it to say whatever you like, or start completely from scratch.  No matter how you choose to get it done, it certainly can’t hurt to remind the Committee and the Government that we are still watching, and, more importantly waiting to see what Canadian Proportional Representation will look like.