All of us at WRGreens extend our warmest congratulations to our great friend and esteemed leader of the Green Party of Canada, Elizabeth May, on the occasion of her engagement to BCGreens’ John Kidder!
When I attended the Kitchener Climate Change Consultation in 2016 it was incredible to see all 5 Waterloo Region MPs in attendance, not just the 4 new Liberal MPs, but my own Conservative MP Harold Albrecht was there too.
Unsurprisingly 3 of our WRGreen candidates were there helping facilitate the discussions.
I believe our Kitchener Climate Consultation was the biggest one held across Canada. It had more than a full slate of MPs, there were hundreds of engaged citizens there to participate.
There was a lot of great discussion and valuable input as citizens brainstormed ways we could come together and bring Climate Change to heel.
It was a heady time. Critical thinking and creativity came together as citizens from across the political spectrum contributed different pieces of the solution to Climate Change, the existential global crisis of our time.
But Waterloo Region was up for it. We were ready.
Each round table discussion yielded up a blueprint of action. And at the end of the day, each table’s facilitators presented a verbal report of the high points to the entire assembly.
Although all 5 Waterloo Region MPs were there, its pretty clear none of them actually listened.
Former Progressive Conservative Party Leader Patrick Brown had had a fully costed moderate election platform complete with carbon tax. But it seems the PC Party backroom boys weren’t ready for a carbon tax, so Mr Brown and his platform were replaced with Mr Ford and a series of off-the-cuff promises masquerading as a platform.
One of the huge costs associated with winner-take-all politics is the policy lurch that happens when a centrist party is replaced by a right wing party. Which is exactly what we’re seeing here in Ontario.
But even before winning the leadership or the election, one thing Doug Ford was *always* clear about was his intention to get rid of the Liberal’s Cap & Trade carbon mitigation system.
With Climate Change breathing down our necks, carbon pricing is intended to disincentivise Green House Gas emissions. It does this by forcing polluters to take financial responsibility for the pollution they generate.
Cap and Trade revenue flowing into Government coffers is supposed to help government finance our necessary transition to a sustainable economy.
While it is clear that carbon pricing is imperative, personally, I am not at all unhappy to see the dismantling of the McGuinty-Wynne Cap and Trade system, although a more orderly change would have been nice.
One big problem with Ontario’s Cap and Trade was that its carbon targets simply weren’t anywhere close to being high enough.
From my perspective, the worst thing about Cap and Trade is that it creates a government revenue stream. Governments get very attached to revenue streams. And the Ontario Liberals had made good use of the Cap and Trade funds that flowed into government coffers.
What do schools have to do with Carbon Pricing?
Ontario schools have been struggling since the 1990’s when the Mike Harris Sr government diverted education tax funds from community school boards into the general government coffers. Now, instead of dispensing all the funds collected for Ontario elementary and high school education through property tax directly to the schools, in the name of “efficiency” education funding was suddenly dependent on a “funding formula” that was more about redistributing education tax than educating our kids.
Suddenly there wasn’t enough money in the Education budget for elementary school music class and librarians. In the rich province of Ontario, school budgets were reduced the bare minimum to function. Chronic underfunding begun by the Mike Harris Sr PC government and carried on by the McGuinty-Wynne Liberals over decades naturally meant there was never enough funding to properly maintain the infrastructure.
But when school buildings began to crumble across the province, the Liberals had to do something: and so some of the Cap and Trade revenue was earmarked to fix our schools. (Although spun in the media as needed repairs, in truth these funds were supposed to be used to retrofit schools to make them more energy efficient.) Sadly even that is gone now, and the folks at http://fixourschools.ca/ will tell you that Ontario schools still need a whole lot of fixing.
Federal Backstop Carbon Pricing
But Ontario’s carbon pricing void will presently be filled with a different kind of carbon pricing, as the Federal Government implements a Carbon Fee and Dividend regime.
This is the carbon pricing policy advocated by both federal and Provincial Green Parties in Canada because it is a much more equitable system.
The fees collected from industry polluters don’t go to line government coffers, but are instead payed out directly to citizens to help us weather the transition.
The dividends counter the price increases industry will pass on to consumers. The way it works out is that consumers with the smallest carbon footprint actually come out ahead.
Even so, it still is not enough.
The IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made it clear that we aren’t doing nearly enough to address Climate Change. They’ve given us a timeline of 12 years, and time is running out.
While we need to get the new federal Carbon Pricing system up and running, it is only the start.
So it is a very good thing Ontario’s Doug Ford PC Government has stepped up and is conducting its own
Consultation: A made-in-Ontario climate change plan
We never know if our winner-take-all governments will listen, but when they ask us for input on important issues, it is well worth responding. Even if they ignore what we have to say, at least we will be on the record. And the record will be there for the next government.
It is very important for us to respond, to make sure our new PC Government understands Ontario expects serious climate change policy.
This consultation tells us they want our opinions, but they don’t want our names. The only way to participate is to do so anonymously on a web form.
Your submission does not need to be a scholarly work; you can write as much or as little as you’re comfortable with. When filling in any kind of web form, it’s easiest to prepare your answer offline. That way you won’t accidentally send it before you’re finished, and you can keep a copy of the submission you wrote. It is always an excellent idea to make as much noise as we can publicly online. If you have a blog, share it there and/or sharing on twitter or Facebook or whatever other social media you use. Sharing online can inspire others to participate, and the greater the response the consultation gets, the better. If you don’t have a place to share online, feel free to share your submission with us, and we’ll publish it here on the blog.
Our quality of life depends on clean air to breathe, safe water to drink, and well-protected lands and parks.
Later this fall, Ontario will release a plan that will identify specific areas of focus to help us tackle and be more resilient to climate change.
This will be the first part of a broader approach that will protect clean air and water, encourage conservation and do more to address urban litter and waste.
This made-in-Ontario solution will strike the right balance between protecting our environment and responsibly supporting a prosperous economy.
Areas of focus
The plan will include several areas of focus, such as:
Creating an understanding of the effects that climate change is having on our households, businesses, communities and public infrastructure to better prepare and strengthen our resiliency.
Ensuring polluters are held accountable and creating dedicated measures that will efficiently reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Improving Ontario’s business climate by unlocking the power of the private sector to finance and drive innovative climate solutions. This will include an emissions-reduction fund to invest in technology-based and other solutions to reduce emissions in Ontario.
Finding a balanced solution that puts people first, makes life more affordable for families, and takes Ontario’s role in fighting climate change seriously.
These areas will help ensure our investments in climate action effectively balance greenhouse gas reductions while supporting economic prosperity and Ontario families.
If you’re not exactly sure what you want to tell the Ontario government’s Climate Consultation, resources follow. (We will update this page with any additional submissions people share with us.
DEMAND the Ontario Government keeps the independent Environmental watchdog, Ontario Environmental Commissioner Dianne Saxe, who has just released “her 2018 Environmental Protection Report, Back to Basics, to the Ontario Legislature.
Delivered as four individual volumes, the report calls on the provincial government to limit water pollution, commit funding towards programs that protect municipal drinking water sources, as well as increase the protection of wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife across the province.
“The environmental commissioner has a mandate to monitor the government’s compliance with provincial environmental laws, including Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights, and to report annually on the government’s progress toward its greenhouse gas reduction targets. The current commissioner is Dianne Saxe, a former environmental lawyer, appointed in 2015.”
— CBC Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli delivers the fall economic statement
Ontario needs the independent office of Ontario Environmental Commissioner for our own protection.
Rise For Climate Waterloo Region submission
I offer the following balanced solution to hold polluters accountable to ensure that GHG are reduced and to unlock the power of Ontario’s businesses to finance and drive innovative climate solutions.
Polluters are held accountable by putting a price on carbon pollution. In order to protect Ontarian families from the associated price increase, monies collected from the pollution price can be returned to citizens on a per-capita basis, through a dividend or “climate action incentive”. Canadians for Clean Prosperity has shown that 80% of Ontario’s households will actually get more in climate action incentives than they pay in carbon pollution fees. By having the Ontario Government cancel cap-and-trade, it has opened the door to a transparent price on carbon pollution, with climate action incentives to protect Ontario’s families from price increases.
Rather than entering a expensive court battle over putting a price on carbon (which increases both Federal and Provincial expenditures and therefore, taxes), the Ontario government could drop the lawsuit. Experts indicate that the Federal government will win the lawsuit, as it is critical for Canadian governments to take action on climate change.
In order for the price on carbon pollution to work effectively to reduce emissions, the price needs to be substantially higher than the $50 per tonne that it is scheduled to reach in 2022. Ontario should work with the Federal government to ramp-up of the price for the five years after 2022 to reach the emission reductions needed to meet Canada’s fair-share contribution to our international commitments under the United Nations Conference of the Parties.
As the carbon price increases, it impacts behaviour. In the short term, it will reduce consumption of carbon-intensive energy. In the medium term, it will affect purchasing decisions, as people will want to make purchases that create less carbon pollution. Over the long term, businesses will innovate and offer customers more choice and newer products to help them avoid creating and paying for carbon pollution.
To help Ontarians to assist in this transition, we call on the Provincial government to partner with Municipalities to implement a broad-based education program to educate regarding the causes, effects, and solutions on climate change. This will not only create the political will for bold changes that are necessary, but it will also prepare and strengthen our collective resiliency.
The Green Party of Ontario has an excellent plan of #ClimateAction (you’re not really surprised at this, are you?)
Science-based commitments: Ontario should do its part to limit global average temperature increase to no more than 2C above pre-industrial levels, aiming for 1.5C
Legislated emission targets: Ontario should adopt binding emission targets that respect our share of Canada’s obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement.
15% reduction below 1990 levels by 2020
37% reduction below 1990 levels by 2030
Net Carbon Neutral by 2050
Pollution pricing: Ontario should accept the global consensus from academics, economists, and Nobel Prize winning experts who agree that a price on pollution is the most effective and efficient way to reduce emissions. It is the foundation upon which a credible climate plan is built.
Job creation in the clean economy: Ontario should leap into the $26 trillion global clean economy, supporting jobs and investment in the fastest growing sectors in the world.
Energy efficiency and conservation: Ontario should prioritize energy efficiency and conservation as the first-step solutions for lowering our carbon footprint, while helping people and businesses to save money by saving energy.
Often when we talk about Climate Action the topic is about how to slow or stop Greenhouse Gas Emissions. But part of the problem is that we already have a ridiculous amount of carbon in our atmosphere now that needs to be dealt with. The comprehensive book “Drawdown” looks at a whole host of strategies — 100, in fact — for fighting climate change across the board. You’ll find even more ideas to include in your consultation submission on the Drawdown website’s solutions page
Suggestions from the Waterloo Region Federal Climate Change Consultation:
Remembrance Day is supposed to be about remembering our war dead. Although Canadians are told the red poppy sold by the Royal Canadian Legion is supposed to symbolize all war dead, in truth the red poppy symbol has become synonymous with Canadian military veterans and their families in Canada.
Whenever Remembrance Day rolls around, the focus is always on the two World Wars of the 20th Century. Yet World War I wasn’t called World War until there was a second World War. The war that inspired Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s famous poem was originally known as “The War to End All Wars.”
But as often happens, the haunting words of Dr McCrae’s poem, “In Flanders Fields,” were used almost from the start as a war promotion.
It is one of the most quoted poems from the war. As a result of its immediate popularity, parts of the poem were used in efforts and appeals to recruit soldiers and raise money selling war bonds. Its references to the red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers resulted in the remembrance poppy becoming one of the world’s most recognized memorial symbols for soldiers who have died in conflict. The poem and poppy are prominent Remembrance Day symbols throughout the Commonwealth of Nations, particularly in Canada, where “In Flanders Fields” is one of the nation’s best-known literary works. The poem is also widely known in the United States, where it is associated with Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
Although we are admonished “lest we forget,” war is still very much with us. And perhaps the most frightening thing about it is that Canada has been at war for most of the 21st Century, but we are barely aware of this fact. Think of any WWI war movie; no matter where it’s set, everyone everywhere, whether or not they supported the war, everyone was acutely aware it was going on.
Viet Nam changed all that.
When the people at home were faced with the unromanticized horrors of war, up close and personal at their dinner tables, an anti war movement of epic proportions arose, making it near impossible to keep the war going.
Governments learned from this mistake, and so the news coverage shared with the populace in the Main Stream Media is carefully managed.
Here in Canada, those of us at home are barely aware we’re at war at all. Many still bask in the outdated notion that the Canadian military is engaged in Peacekeeping. To get a real look at what the situation actually is, we need to know the facts. Fortunately, the Internet allows us to discover what the MSM fails to tell us.
I’ve heard it said one reason the Canadian Government (whether run by Conservatives or Liberals) insists it can’t afford to adequately compensate our war veterans is because advances in medical technology means 21st Century veterans are much more likely to survive than WWI vets. It used to be that most casualties in war were sustained by the military, but these days that is no longer anywhere close to being true: civilian casualties vastly surpass those of the military.
What Colour is your Poppy?
Even though funds raised through red poppy sales are ostensibly to help our veterans, the symbol is so entwined with the mythos of war that I personally can no longer bear to wear one.
Back in 2015, 122 Ontario doctors pressed then Ontario Liberal Minister of Health Eric Hoskins to adopt Basic Income because income (or lack thereof) is a serious health issue. The Wynne Government took its sweet time about it, and I have no doubt at all their Basic Income Pilot was intended to result in re-election. Still, WRGreens own Stacey Danckert pointed out the last Liberal Budget provided no funding to do anything after the pilot would have ended.
During our recent provincial election campaign, the Liberal, NDP, Green, and Doug Ford’s PC Party all indicated they they would continue the Ontario Basic Income Pilot after the election.
Universal Basic Income
The idea of Universal Basic Income is actually an old one, dating back to the Fourteen Hundreds. Far from being a left wing, socialist or communist idea, the concept spans the political spectrum, no doubt in part because poverty does too. There are left (human dignity) and right (stop theft) arguments for such a system, particularly in capitalist nations like Canada that are already investing vast sums in a piecemeal social safety net that has not managed to make a dent in citizen poverty. In Canada politicians of every political stripe have agreed we need to eliminate child poverty, and yet poverty is still with us.
Even American Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman advocated for a basic income alleviation of poverty.
"Suppose one accepts, as I do, this line of reasoning as justifying
governmental action to alleviate poverty; to set, as it were, a floor under the
standard of life of every person in the community."
In his role of economic adviser to Republican President Richard Nixon, Friedman supported a negative income tax as a means of creating that floor and eliminating poverty. Had Nixon’s government not fallen in scandal, such a regime may have even been implemented in the US.
The international resurgence of interest in the idea of a Universal Basic Income gathering steam in the early 21st Century is growing fast for a host of reasons, including the collapse of manufacturing due to so called “free trade” agreements combined with the rapidly approaching decimation of the job market by ever increasing loss of human jobs through automation.
All of this is why it was reasonable to take Premier Ford’s promise to continue the OLP’s Basic Income Pilot Project if his party came to power. Whether for or against the idea, it only makes sense for any government to complete a project that has already cost the taxpayers of Ontario so much to get the data at the end of the rainbow. Any decision to take the matter further or toss it out could then be made based on facts rather than partisan rhetoric.
Sadly it seems Mr Ford prefers rhetoric. Rather than forging sound public policy in order to govern “for the people,” his new Government has opted to cancel Ontario’s Basic Income Pilot.
We believe there is tremendous national value in finishing this project. Every province is grappling with how to provide a strong social safety net that allows people to lead dignified lives without creating excessive administration. We are in desperate need of preventative approaches that will reduce the burden of poverty on our health care, education, and criminal justice systems.
We can write our own letters to the Prime Minister and our own MP (and remember– physical letters travel postage free to the federal government.) But we can also sign every petition… like the one just begun by our friends at The Council of Canadians:
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a special report today on the impacts of global warming of 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels.
The report outlines the considerable challenges of meeting the Paris Agreement’s more ambitious goal of limiting warming to 1.5℃, the global effort needed to achieve the target, and the consequences of not.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the Australian Labor Party had a goal of reaching 50% renewable energy by 2050. But the ALP hope to achieve the 50% target via an emissions intensity scheme by 2030.
Although I have issues with the colonial origins of our “Thanksgiving” tradition, the idea of expressing public thanks for that for which we are truly thankful is a good one. It is especially easy to forget such things when so many negative things are ongoing, but to be able to continue to work for a sustainable workable future, it is important not to allow despair to prevail. We can draw strength from reminding ourselves that there is still plenty of good in the world, and by harnessing that good, we can build the future we need for our children, and generations to follow.
In 2018 Canada, I am thankful so many of us have come to understand the necessity of adopting a proportional representation voting system, in spite of Mr. Trudeaus’s attempt to shut the idea of a truly representative democracy back in the closet, as his predecessors have done throughout Canadian history.
So I am very thankful that, instead of allowing this to happen:
the Provinces of BC and PEI are holding electoral reform referenda
the Yukon Territory has undertaken a study of electoral reform
a new government has been elected in Quebec after all opposition parties made a public pact to enact Proportional Representation no matter which formed new government
Ontario struggles under an FPTP extremist government which strips its most populous city in the country of almost half its (already) inadequate municipal representation
New Brunswick again suffers an electoral outcome like that which triggered its previous electoral reform process
Alberta looks down the barrel at the prospect of right wing populism in its already toxic atmosphere of polarization
Canadian provinces are pitted against each other by the federal government
PEI political polling suggests the PEI Greens may form the first Green led government in Canada
As an Ontarian, I don’t care who’s first but we can’t afford not to change. Defenders Of The Status Quo fight so hard because once any jurisdiction in Canada adopts Proportional Representation and the sky doesn’t fall, the rest of us will be able to see with our own eyes that the myths they’ve frightened generations of Canadians with have always been pure misinformation. Once that happens, the rest of the country will fall into Proportional Representation like dominoes. We are surely at a Proportional Representation tipping point.
Even in the unlikely event PR is staved off a little longer, at least Canadians are beginning to understand that even with our existing grotesquely inequitable voting system, we need to stop being bullied into voting ‘strategically’ for lesser evils but instead vote for what we want.
I am thankful that all five Waterloo Region Greens ranked in the top 20% of Ontario Green Party candidates in the 2018 provincial election.
I am thankful that, in spite of staggering odds against, and in the face of the Broadcast Consortium’s exclusion from the Ontario Leadership debates, Mike Schreiner made history this year by winning election as our first Ontario Greens Member of Provincial Parliament.
And so I would like to wish us all a Happy Thanksgiving from everyone at WRgreens!
During the 2018 Election the WRGreens were able to host a conversation in our Downtown Kitchener Office with Green Party of Canada Deputy Leader Jo-Ann Roberts. It wasn’t just an election pep talk, it was also a terrific opportunity to discuss all manner of things Green, including the way forward.
In this era of knee-jerk partisanship and decision-based evidence making, the currency of actual ideas has become sadly devalued in Canadian politics. Veteran broadcaster (and Green Party Deputy Leader) Jo-Ann Roberts is changing all that with the new podcast *People, Politics and Planet*, a wide-ranging audio journey through some fascinating political terrain where you’ll meet some of the country’s most thought-provoking policy innovators.
Sure, they mostly lean towards Green — but, as Jo-Ann finds out, that’s where the all interesting stuff is happening.