It seems that there are a differing opinions when it comes to snow clearance in Waterloo Region, particularly Kitchener. From an article in The Record to an article in the Kitchener Post, citizens have quite varied views as to where responsibility for snow clearance lies. Being a person with a physical disability or difference that influences my ability to navigate built environments as well as natural environments, I have felt a need to take a stand on the issue.
Each time I see posts regarding this topic lately on social media, a question comes to mind that I haven’t noticed anyone else discussing in their comments. I ponder what role a province that has legislation in place that suggests it will reach full accessibility in just 7 or 8 years time has in making it possible for a person with mobility issues to be able to go and get their groceries or to meet a friend for a warm beverage. The individual who has mobility issues may not be physically able to clear the snow properly and therefore should not be expected to do so themselves. They may not have the financial resources to hire someone to clear the snow for them either.
If they are using a service such as Mobility Plus for transportation which offers accessible door to accessible door service, one could argue that the fire department needs to be called if snow is not cleared well enough for a driver to safely assist an individual in reaching the entrance of their building that should be cleared by the owner of the property if not the municipality. The driver cannot lift the individual and their wheelchair out of the vehicle, nor should they be expected to do so. Providing accessibility services does not make one superhuman.
We do not have universal rules across the province for snow clearance. We have corporations that own some properties, home owners that have their own properties, and we have other situations such as co-operatives and businesses which are each unique. If there were universal snow clearance rules that allowed barrier free access to all in a fair and equal manner, all parties of ownership would be able to operate the same in each jurisdiction.
We honour and value equally the Earth’s biological and ecological diversity together with the context of individual responsibility toward all beings.
In Calgary this past week the Green Party of Canada took a principled stand for human rights, demonstrating our respect for people in Canada and around the world.
S16-P013 Measures to pressure the government of Israel to preserve the two-state solution: addendum to current Middle East policy
Canada’s friendship with Israel does not mean we should avert our eyes from the human rights abuses Israel continues to visit upon its captive indigenous population. The Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) has been under martial law for decades. The Government of Israel’s continuing policy of appropriating land for settlements from what little land is left in Palestinian hands has been deplored around the world, not only because it is an egregious violation of International Law, but, as the United States has pointed out, this active colonialism undermines any hope for peace.
If the Green Party of Canada is to live up to the promise of our core values of non-violence, diversity and social justice, we must hold every country — including and perhaps especially our friends — accountable to International Law. The sad truth is that Canada has failed to do what our government’s own policy says it will.
Thankfully the Green Party has stepped up to the plate, with the adoption of enhanced foreign policy that will give the growing number of Canadians who want peace in the Middle East a voice in Parliament. At the SGM, we revisited the Israel-Palestine policy adopted in August to address perceived problems in the original resolution. At the Calgary SGM, the new Consensus Resolution put forward by the GPC Shadow Cabinet was adopted by 84.35% of the plenary. GPC members who weren’t able to attend can watch the livestream on the Party Website.
You can also listen to Dimiti Lascaris (the original resolution’s mover) being interviewed on Vancouver’s Co-Op Radio. Dimitri explains this past weekend’s adoption of a suite of policies defending the rights of indigenous peoples in Canada and Palestine establishes the Green Party of Canada as the champion of human rights in Canada’s Parliament. (His interview begins at 19:52 of the podcast.)
Canada is not the only member of the International Community to be reconsidering Middle East policy. I found the following quotation from Australian MP Adam Bandt to be particularly apt.
“There is no point in being friends with governments if you do not use that supposed friendship to stand up to them when they do the wrong thing—to say, ‘You need to act on what is clearly an egregious abuse of human rights.’ Otherwise, if you do not stand up to governments when they do that, you become complicit in it. The standard that you walk past is the standard that you accept. That means that the Australian government has now been put on notice. It has taken action in the past, and it is time that it renewed that action so that we address what is clearly an unlawful but also immoral abuse of children.”
— The Honourable Adam Bandt, Australian MP, (Green) Nov. 21, 2016
Truth and Reconciliation
As Canada embarks upon our own road to Truth and Reconciliation, we need to do what we can to promote active solutions. For the GPC that process began with the adoption of this suite of Canadian Indigenous Peoples’ rights policy, including rejection of the odious “Doctrine of Discovery.”
S16-P001 Implement Recommendations from the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples Report, 1996
Policy Resolution Submitted by Lorraine Rekmans
BE IT RESOLVED That the Green Party of Canada urge the Government of Canada implement the recommendations made by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.
S16-P002 Rebuilding and Recognition of Original Indigenous Nations
Policy Resolution Submitted by Lorraine Rekmans
BE IT RESOLVED that the Green Party of Canada urge the Government of Canada to implement, support and resource measures to advance Indigenous nation building where Indigenous peoples develop and implement their own strategies for rebuilding Indigenous nations and measures to reclaim Indigenous nationhood, including;
(a) cultural revitalization and healing processes; and,
(b) political processes for building consensus on the basic composition of the Aboriginal nation and their political structures; and,
(c) processes undertaken by individual communities and by groups of communities that may share Indigenous nationhood.
S16-P003 Support Indigenous Women
Policy Resolution Submitted by Lorraine Rekmans
BE IT RESOLVED that the Green Party of Canada urges the Government of Canada to work in partnership with Indigenous women and fund such programs and services that ensure poverty amongst Indigenous women is eliminated.
S16-P004 Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery
Policy Resolution Submitted by Lorraine Rekmans
BE IT RESOLVED that the Green Party of Canada renounces and repudiates the Doctrine of Discovery and calls on the Government of Canada to repudiate and renounce the Doctrine of Discovery.
S16-P005 Indigenous Peoples’ Health Care in Canada
Policy Resolution Submitted by Lorraine Rekmans
BE IT RESOLVED that The Green Party calls upon the Government of Canada to engage Indigenous Peoples of Canada in the negotiation and implementation of the next federal/provincial /territorial Health Accord;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The Green Party calls upon the Government of Canada to establish measurable goals and identify and close gaps in health outcomes for Indigenous people by implementing the recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The Green Party calls upon the Government of Canada to ensure that Health Care services for Aboriginal people in Canada meet or exceed the standards set for all Canadians;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Green Party calls on the Government of Canada to provide federal funding to Indigenous healing centres.
Former Green Party Deputy Leader and current Councillor of the City of Vancouver, Adriane Carr submitted an emergency resolution to Green Party SGM regarding the recent ill advised Kinder Morgan decision.
The Green Party has been clear about pipelines: the only hope of effective climate change policy starts with keeping it in the ground. In spite of our new Liberal Government’s COP 21 commitment in Paris, Canadians have been seeing a disconnect between words and actions. Instead of the promised NEB reformation, the current government has left the flawed process in place, and insupportable pipelines are being approved same as always.
S16-P020 is the Husky Oil Spill resolution, intended to raise public awareness of the effects of the July 20 2016 oil spill in Saskatchewan, calling on Saskatchewan to review its environmental assessment rules and ensure there are adequate pipeline inspections
Elizabeth gave a report on the Electoral Reform process to the plenary on Saturday (I’m hoping to post video on the WRGreens YouTube channel).
In order to fulfil their mandate, the MPs representing four of the five parties in Parliament and on the ERRE Committee came together to form consensus. This required both Green and NDP Committee members to soften the stance of their respective parties and accept the notion of a referendum. (Incredibly, the Liberals who promised to make every vote count dissented, as the party is now frantically back pedalling on their own promise while the other four parties fight for it.) You can read/download the PDF the full final ERRE Committe report for yourself here.
On Sunday morning there was an Electoral Reform workshop, featuring PEI Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker, who has recently having his own adventures with Electoral Reform. The workshops resulted in three new resolutions that were adopted at the SGM (but still in need of ratification — don’t forget to vote!)
Members of the SGM Electoral Reform workshop decided to amend party policy as follows, with three new resolutions that frame the GPC policy to allow Elizabeth more leeway in Electoral Reform negotiations on our behalf.
Be it resolved that the Green Party of Canada’s position regarding referenda on electoral reform is:
That the Green Party of Canada supports conducting a referendum on electoral reform with options of proportional systems with a Gallagher index of 5 or less, as presented by the Special Parliamentary committee on Electoral Reform, but only
1) if the referendum presents only proportional voting options;
2) after at least two consecutive elections using a proportional voting system.
To more effectively lobby for meaningful electoral reform at this critical juncture, it was decided the Green Party should explicitly back a single specific form of Proportional Representation. Among other things it will make it easier to explain this important issue the majority of Canadians who are just now learning about PR when we only have one system to explain. Although the GPC has expressed a preference in this resolution, the language of the resolution was careful not to close the door to support of any other suitable Proportional System with a Gallagher Index of 5 or less.
S16-D018 Preferred Voting Model
BE IT RESOLVED that the Green Party of Canada supports mixed member proportional representation as its preferred method for achieving equal and effective votes.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Green Party of Canada will remain open to other proportional representation options with a Gallagher index of 5 or less, as presented by the Special Parliamentary committee on Electoral Reform
The third electoral reform resolution empowers the party to keep working hard for electoral reform at this critical juncture.
S16-D019 GPC Task Force
BE IT RESOLVED that the Green Party of Canada create a task force that will liaise and work with the Party Leader and the Shadow Cabinet to focus on promoting electoral reform within Canada.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Green Party of Canada will direct resources and funding toward educating the public on the GPC’s electoral reform priorities
Whose Democracy Is It?
The Liberal Government has sent postcards to every Canadian household (at great expense), completely ignoring the work of its own ERRE Process in which Canadians are asked to complete a deeply problematic survey which requires participants to sacrifice an unreasonable amount of personal privacy in order to have our input included. The Government’s own website gives a little background, and then redirects us to the corporate website of the marketing firm we are expected to share such personal information as our household income. This is supposed to be okay, because we are not required to tell them our name. Except the personally identifiable information we are required to share is sufficient for Vox Pop Labs to ensure the answers made by multiple people completing the survey at the same address are distinct individuals (indicating the personal data we are required to surrender is far more invasive than simply giving our names would be.
At the GPC SGM there was talk of Operation Postcard parties throughout the festive season, and to make the process easier, Bonnie North was instrumental in helping develop the tools to make participation easier.
Fair Vote Canada had also set up a website intended to help Canadians navigate the convoluted survey at mycanadiandemocracy.ca/
The negatives attached to the mydemocracy.ca online survey make it difficult to recommend that Canadians engage in the Government’s dubious exercise, particularly in light of concern the aim of the survey is to provide justification to back away from meaningful reform.
Which is why I was ecstatic to discover there are other ingenious ways to send an emphatic message. I was particularly taken with this clever idea of what we can do with our government postcards:
There are many variations on this theme, some of which can be found under the Twitter #OperationPostcard hashtag. But since only a single postcard is being sent to each Canadian household, those of in homes with more than one citizen are limited to a single opportunity to express a preference with the postcard. But fear not! If there are more people in your household who would like to offer an opinion, or even if you haven’t received your postcard yet in the mail, the Green Party provides an opportunity to print your own copy of the postcard at home here.
The Real Questions
Because the government survey fails on so many levels, the Green Party has put together its own straight forward survey to allow Canadians to answer The Real Questions. It’s packaged in an online tool so we can send to our own responses ~ along with am optional personalized message ~ direct to Maryam Monsef, The Minister of Democratic Institutions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. I sincerely hope every Canadian takes this opportunity to make our preferences known to the government. You don’t even have to be a GPC member or even a supporter to fill this survey out… it’s being offered as a public service.
The most fun to come out of the electoral reform workshop was this parody song, “All I Want For Chrisrtmas Is PR,” performed here by the GPC SGM Plenary.
In the past, all Green Party Policy resolutions passed at Convention were ratified by the entire membership in an online vote. SGM 2016 has restored this practice, and so all GPC members should be in receipt of email instructions on how to vote to ratify the resolutions. All GPC members across Canada should have received an email on December 7th, 2017 which contains information and our voting credentials.
If you haven’t received your, please contact the GPC immediately. Don’t forget to vote!
The above links only work if you sign into the GPC website (they’re in the secure members area). I’ve included them as I found it helpful to be able to refer to the texts to know what I was voting on. There didn’t seem to be a way to do that from within the voting app.
“I am very happy that all the motions being sent out for ratification were the products of a consensus-seeking process. Many were unanimous. Those that moved to a vote were passed overwhelmingly. I support all of them.”
— Elizabeth May, “What happened in our Calgary meeting”
All GPC members can (and should) participate in the ratification vote. You can vote until February 6th, 2017. Don’t leave it until the last minute! Remember your membership must be in good standing at least 30 days prior to the end of voting, so if you’ve allowed yours to lapse, get it caught up before January 6th, 2017.
(And while you’re at it, this would be a good time to make a donation to the GPC ~ and don’t forget the GPO 🙂
Do you know a $400 GPC donation will give you a $300 tax refund? Money spent on membership and at least some of the cost associated with AGM and SGM attendance is eligible. Remember to stay within annual donation limits for political donations. Hmm…sounds like we should have a dedicated article about these rules for federal and provincial parties here.
The Green Party of Canada has a lot to be proud of on this International Human Rights Day, having just adopted groundbreaking Indigenous Rights policies ~ including Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery ~ as well as a robust addendum to existing GPC policy on Israel and Palestine to stand up for human rights for Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories ~ in its Special General Meeting in Calgary last weekend.
“International Day for Human Rights is a time to stop and reflect on the rights our predecessors have fought so hard for us to enjoy today. Good governance is key to promoting human rights. Unfortunately, few of us consider our right to have representatives in government who truly reflect the values that each of us cherish. Our current voting system denies a majority of Canadians representation because of our antiquated winner-take-call voting system,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands).
“After country-wide consultations, the all-party Special Committee on Electoral Reform recommended that we get rid of First Past the Post and move to a system of proportional representation. In a country as diverse as Canada, our growth as a democracy depends on all communities being integrated into our national fabric. Ignoring the cries of our indigenous peoples has blotched our international reputation and led to wounds that will take generations to heal. The hyper-partisan attacks and lack of dialogue, created by a Parliament which vetoes rather than encourages collaboration among Parties, has resulted in growing political apathy,” Ms. May said.
Joe Foster, GPC Human Rights Critic, said: “If our democracy is to flourish in the 21st Century, Canada’s electoral system must be more accountable to the citizens it represents. Politics is the tool we use to design a social and economic framework that allows us to have the freedoms expressed in the Canadian Human Rights Charter and its sister, the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Electoral reform is an issue of human rights.”