WRGreens at Kultrún World Music Festival


This year we’re looking forward to having our very first Waterloo Region Greens information booth at KULTRÚN.

The local World Music festival created by Neruda Arts began in Waterloo Square but quickly outgrew the space so they moved to Victoria Park.  Kultrún always has a stunning mix of great music from around the world.  (That’s where I became a fan of the Jerry Cans last year).  Victoria Park has room for two full size stages, one by the Clocktower and the other down by the water. This lets them squeeze in even more music, with stage crews setting up one stage while the music flows on the other. It also keeps the audience moving back and forth, handy for an event dubbed “KW’s largest outdoor dance party.”

The Festival actually begins with a special Friday Afternoon event at 2:00pm
The Conversation: The Condor and The Eagle Prophecy at Open Sesame
Although this event is free, space is limited, so you must register.

The 8pm, Friday July 13th, 2018
GALA: Morena Son from Cuba, Aurora & Mateo and Dj Fosforita
at The MUSEUM on Friday Night.
[The only Kultrún event with an admission fee.  Advance tickets: $45.00; Table of 10 $400.00]

Saturday July 14th

  • 12:00pm DJ Fosforita (Toronto/Ecuador)
  •   2:00pm Grupo Yautepec (Mexico)
  •   3:00pm Subhira Quartet (Chile)
  •   4:00pm Briga (Montreal/Poland)
  •   5:00pm Maracatu Mar Abeto (Toronto/Brazil)
  •   6:00pm Jeong ga ak hoe (Korea)
  •   7:00pm Eliana Cuevas (Venezuela)
  •   8:00pm Morena Son (Cuba)
  •   9:00pm Four Corners of the World
  •   9:45pm Afrikana Soul Sister (Montreal/Mali)

Sunday July 15th, 2018

  • 1:00pm Cara Loft (First Nations)
  • 2:00pm White Pine Dancers (First Nations)
  • 3:00pm Beatriz Pichi Malen (Indigenous Mapuche)
  • 4:00pm Cascabel (Toronto/Cuba/Mexico/Venezuela)
  • 5:00pm OKAN (Toronto/Cuba)
  • 6:00pm Aurora (Spain)
  • 7:00pm Alysha Brilla (Canada/Tanzania)
  • 8:00pm Colectro  (Colombia)

Victoria Park, Kitchener (MAP)

Pictured on my mini poster are Eliana Cuevas from the 2014 Jazz Festival and Alysha Brilla performing at this year’s Multicultural Festival.  If you haven’t yet been, here’s a taste of what’s in store for you this year:

Hope to see you at Kultrún!


For more information visit the Kultrún website

[republished from the KitConGreens blog]

Lower The Voting Age!

Young People in Discussion

We know that people who start voting young tend to become voters for life. By including youth in the democratic process earlier, we can take a giant step towards a healthier democracy.

It flies in the face of fairness that 16 and 17-year olds are old enough to work — and pay taxes — while not being allowed to vote for the government those taxes are funding.

Elizabeth May and the Green Party strongly believe that our youth deserve better.

click to Support Elizabeth May’s bill to lower the voting age to 16

[Reprinted from the KitConGreens blog]

Pardon Canadians Convicted for Possessing Marijuana!

Cannabis should never have been made illegal, but since it was, the Green Party supports good public policy to rectify the mistakes of the past.

GPO Leader Mike Schreiner talks about Cannabis in Kitchener

The Green Party is pleased that Canadians will soon be able to access marijuana openly and safely — free from the threat of being criminally charged.

However, many thousands of Canadians who previously smoked or possessed cannabis, but were caught by police, will remain criminals in the eyes of the law. A disproportionate number of racialized Canadians have been charged, and all those convicted face serious obstacles applying for jobs and travelling abroad.

Join us in demanding the Liberal government provide amnesty for all Canadians convicted solely on charges of marijuana possession.

click to send a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Wilson-Raybould

[Reprinted from the KitConGreens blog]

Waterloo Region Greens support #DoneWaiting campaign

The Green Party is committed to being honest about the problems we face and always acting with integrity. We work across party lines and with advocacy groups to achieve common goals.

Screen Shot 2018-03-13 at 09.03.23
Screenshot of the #DoneWaiting campaign’s website, donewaiting.ca

In this spirit, Waterloo Region Greens fully supports the goals of the #DoneWaiting campaign. We commend the Canadian Labour Congress for pushing for an end to wage discrimination, sexual harassment and violence, and the chronic underfunding of child care.

Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner has called for a reform of our justice system to better serve survivors of sexual violence.

“Our party is committed to amplifying the voices of women and pressing for progress on these critical issues in the upcoming provincial election,” said Schreiner.

The Ontario Green Party has committed to running a full and gender-balanced slate of candidates in the 2018 election.

Greens are also calling for additional funding for reproductive health and women’s shelters.

Our plan for a provincial child care strategy in Ontario builds on the 2015 federal Green platform for high-quality affordable child care for all Canadians.

Greens understand that we need strong legislation to shrink the inexcusable wage gap, and to deliver a living wage for all workers. At the same time, we will help small businesses shoulder these costs by doubling the Employer Health Tax exemption limit.

Greens support a basic income guarantee that will provide stability for workers who are moving between jobs or starting a family.

These policies are not only a response to current events; they have been part of our platform in election after election.

Greens have always been committed to doing politics differently, and we’re happy to re-affirm that we’re done waiting, too.

Waterloo Region Greens represents the provincial and federal Green Party riding associations for Waterloo, Kitchener Centre, Kitchener South-Hespeler, Kitchener-Conestoga, and Cambridge.

A Bad Day for Canada

École Polytechnique ~ 6 DÉCEMBRE, 1989 ~ Geneviève Bergeron 1968-1989 civil engineering student Hélène Colgan 1966-1989 mechanical engineering student Nathalie Croteau 1966-1989 mechanical engineering student Barbara Daigneault 1967-1989 mechanical engineering student Anne-Marie Edward 1968-1989 chemical engineering student Maud Haviernick 1960-1989 materials engineering student Maryse Laganière 1964-1989 budget clerk at École Polytechnique Maryse Leclair 1966-1989 materials engineering student Anne-Marie Lemay 1967-1989 mechanical engineering student Sonia Pelletier 1961-1989 mechanical engineering student Michèle Richard 1968-1989 materials engineering student Annie St-Arneault 1966-1989 mechanical engineering student Annie Turcotte 1969-1989 materials engineering student Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz 1958-1989 nursing student

December 6th, 1917 was the day thousands of people died, and thousands more were injured in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  The Halifax Explosion was the largest explosion the world had ever seen before the nuclear age.  Today is the hundredth anniversary of that horrific event. But bad as it was, it was an accident.

The same can not be said for the tragic event of December 6th, 1989.

A disturbed young man deliberately murdered Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz at the École Polytechnique.

Because they were women.

I chose to use the roses because they were part of a candlelight vigil in on December 6th, 2016 in Chilliwack, BC.  People across Canada continue to share in this sorrow.

In response to our collective mourning of the Montreal Massacre, in 1991, the Canadian Government designated the 6th of December as the “National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women in Canada.”

Decades later, Canadians continue to mourn, but the sad fact is that violence against women in Canada shows no sign of abating.  Perhaps we need more than a day.

 


Image Credit

Roses [Dec 6 vigil 5 Corners-1]” cc by University of the Fraser Valley have been released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

The Road to Legalization

Cannabis is believed to be one of the oldest domesticated crops. Throughout history, humans have grown different varieties of cannabis for industrial and medical uses.

Tall, sturdy plants were grown by early civilizations to make a variety of foods, oils and textiles, such as rope and fabrics. These plants were bred with other plants with the same characteristics, leading to the type of cannabis we now know as hemp.

Other plants were recognized for being psychoactive and were bred selectively for medical and religious purposes. This led to unique varieties of cannabis that we now know as marijuana.

— Indica vs. Sativa: What’s The Difference?

Queen Victoria (photo by Bassano 1882)The active ingredient in many 19th century patent medicines was cannabis.

There’s even an urban legend that Queen Victoria was a user.

(Or maybe it was true.)

The war on drugs put an end to medicinal cannabis in Canada..

But pain management has always been critically important for the quality of life of many who have suffered injury or chronic illness.

Although Canadians can access a wide variety of drugs through a doctor’s prescription, there are many variables.  When it comes to medicine, one size does not fit all:

  • what works for some patients doesn’t work for others.
  • long term use can decrease the effectiveness of pain killers, and
  • addiction and other side effects can reduce a patient’s quality of life.

Even as the emerging 20th Century pharmaceutical industry exploded into a rainbow of pain killers, anti-inflammatories, anti-depressants, analgesics and the like, not every patient or disease is adequately served by prescription medicines.

And so, illegal or not, in the latter part of the 20th Century, growing numbers of Canadians sought pain relief from cannabis.

Civil Disobedience

Compassion clubs came to Canada in the late 1990s, based on similar medicinal marijuana clubs in the United States. The goal of compassion clubs is to provide safe access to medicinal, or medical, marijuana when there is no government-sanctioned program, or when such a program is not effectively meeting the need.


Compassion clubs exist to provide medical marijuana to people in need, but not all their members are licensed by Health Canada. While the clubs usually have their own strict guidelines for membership and providing cannabis—for chronic conditions, most clubs require a doctor’s note confirming a patient’s condition; for some conditions, a doctor’s prescription may be required—this does not make unlicensed members’ use legal. So, fear of prosecution is still a concern.

Compassion club operations, in fact, are illegal under Canadian law.

Compassion Clubs: Working for health and liberty

TIincture of Cannabis IndicaAfter nearly a century of total Cannabis prohibition, on December 10th, 1997, Ontario Judge Patrick Sheppard ruled that the law prohibiting 42 year old Terry Parker’s use of marijuana to treat his epilepsy was unconstitutional.

The Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the ruling and gave the federal government 12 months to make it right..

One day before the expiration of the court ordered time limit (July 30, 2001) the government implemented the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) (PDF). The MMAR created a framework that allowed (only) patients suffering from designated severe and extreme conditions to go through a lengthy and complicated application process that might result in a government license allowing them to possess and use marijuana legally.

Worse, the regulations failed to provide patients with any way to actually obtain a legal cannabis supply.  This serious deficiency resulted in a succession of court challenges that eventually resulted in amendments that allowed patients to:

  • purchase dried marijuana from a single government supplier, or
  • grow their own, or
  • select a grower to grow cannabis for them

Many patients found the quality of the Health Canada’s cannabis to be inferior to cannabis available through Compassion Clubs or even the black market.  The nonprofit BC Compassion Club (BCCCS)  was founded in 1997, and has built a good reputation using knowledge and expertise to help patients find the best strain to address their health needs.

“Most of the harm associated with cannabis is actually due to the act of combusting,” notes [Jay Leung,communications coordinator for the BCCCS]. He adds that BCCCS has vaporizers for their clients to use, which produce the same effects as smoking without the health risks. The club also provides non-smoking options such as cannabis-infused oils and butter, tinctures (cannabinoids are extracted into an alcohol or glycerine base, then dropped or sprayed orally) and a variety of baked goods. And the dispensary sells items such as the vaporizers, forest-friendly rolling papers, glass pipes and more, which help members consume cannabis safely and effectively.”

Compassion Clubs: Working for health and liberty

Although these clubs or dispensaries operate outside the law, they have provided medical marijuana in the form chosen by patients.  Medical evidence demonstrates the connection between smoking and cancer, so it’s not surprising patients might prefer not to smoke their medicine.

Her Majesty the Queen v. Owen Edward Smith


When police found large amounts of cannabis-infused olive oil and cookies in the apartment of Owen Smith, former head baker for the Cannabis Buyers Club of Canada, Smith was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and possession for the purpose of trafficking under the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations.  At the time, Canadian Law only allowed patients to consume Medical Marijuana by smoking it in dried form in spite of numerous studies about the health risks associated with smoking.

Smith was acquitted in 2013  because  Mr. Justice Johnston found the Regulations that denied medical marijuana users any way to consume their medicine besides smoking to be arbitrary, unjustified and a breach of section 7 of the Charter.  The Province of BC appealed, and lost, and the Court of Appeal for BC ordered the federal Government to correct the law within a year.  The Harper Government chose instead to appeal Mr Smith’s successful constitutional challenge all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada in January 2015.  In March the SCC upheld the ruling.

In 2014 the Harper Government changed the regulations, replacing the MMAR with Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) on April 1st, 2014.  The new regulations prohibited patients from growing their own, instead, they were required to purchase their supply of medicine from licensed commercial growers.

Legalization?

The 2015 federal election gave the Justin Trudeau Liberals a “majority” government with a mandate to legalize cannabis in Canada.  The new government placed the legalization file in the hands of rookie MP Bill Blair, better known as Toronto’s top cop during the infamous Toronto G20.  Understandably cannabis activists have not been reassured by this choice.

While there has been plenty of talk about the government commitment to legalization, more than 2 years into the government’s term, Canadians continue to be arrested for cannabis possession at alarming rates.

Since the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the R v Smith decision on edibles in 2015, it wasn’t surprising to see extensive consideration of cannabis edibles in the Government’s own Final Report of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation. The surprise was that the first draft of the legislation that will eventually legalize cannabis for all Canadians originally excluded edibles from the 2018 legalization plans.

There was enough public pushback to convince the Standing Committee on Health to amend the draft legislation in October, 2017.  BILL C-45the Cannabis Act or, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts, now intends to include edibles no later than 12 months after the law is enacted.  The frivolous 100-cm height limit on the four plants Canadians will be allowed to grow at home was also removed.

Edibles: Brownies and Caramel corn

Misinformation is dangerous.

Given that Cannabis was criminalized here without anything resembling scientific evidence, debate, or even any need for such a policy in 1923, Canada has undertaken little or no legitimate scientific study of the prohibited plant.  As a result, the scarcity of official empirical evidence frees opponents of legalization to make unfounded and often ridiculous claims in support of their own preconceived notions.

A a racist brochure created by Trellis Mental Health and Developmental Services somehow made its way to the information desk at the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Tweet by Melia Robinson: This is how much marijuana it would take to kill you — from @davidschmader's excellent book, Frightening tales without any basis in fact repeated over and over during the decades of Cannabis Prohibition are blindly accepted by some.  Sometimes even counsellors tell “friend-of-a-friend” stories— urban legends— about people dying from eating pot brownies.

There have even been cases like the one where a professional pathologist imagined someone died from smoking a joint. The reality is that there’s no evidence cannabis use has ever killed anyone.  On the contrary, the evidence we do have indicates such a thing is not possible.

“7. Drugs used in medicine are routinely given what is called an LD-50. The LD-50 rating indicates at what dosage fifty percent of test animals receiving a drug will die as a result of drug induced toxicity. A number of researchers have attempted to determine marijuana’s LD-50 rating in test animals, without success. Simply stated, researchers have been unable to give animals enough marijuana to induce death.

“8. At present it is estimated that marijuana’s LD-50 is around 1:20,000 or 1:40,000. In layman terms this means that in order to induce death a marijuana smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times as much marijuana as is contained in one marijuana cigarette. NIDA-supplied marijuana cigarettes weigh approximately .9 grams. A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about fifteen minutes to induce a lethal response.

“9. In practical terms, marijuana cannot induce a lethal response as a result of drug-related toxicity.”

Judge Francis L. Young Ruling: Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law & Decision re: Medical Marijuana | USA DOJ DEA (1988)

Former sources of information once considered to be an authority in substance use are being questioned with good reason: “Reefer Madness” has taken on new forms to serve corporate special interests.  As legalization approaches, the need for credible education is desperate.

And still government sends mixed messages.

“If you operate one of these facilities, consider yourself on notice.”
Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi

In spite of promises of legalization by July 2018, heavy handed law enforcement crack downs on grey market dispensaries are justified by the government because Cannabis is still illegal.

But the “offense of compassion” committed by medical marijuana dispensaries’ clearly has public support.  Justices tasked with sentencing the owners of these facilities are giving absolute discharges.

Producers Licensed under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations have been recalling product mailed to patients.  It’s the users who are suffering most.  Unsurprisingly people seeking access through medical marijuana dispensaries are being pushed back into the black market.  What is the point of that?

Grey market dispensaries, like the Toronto Compassion Club, have been managing physician prescribed access to medical marijuana since 1997. The majority of public safety concerns stem from a lack of understanding of the values which created these grey markets in the first place.

Last summer, The Globe and Mail investigated products being supplied to patients at 9 dispensaries in Toronto. The results were not what most would expect from dispensaries denied access to professional quality testing. Fully two thirds (6 of 9) of the medical marijuana the Globe tested showed “contaminants were either not present or tested below the allowable limits set by Health Canada.”

Lisa Campbell, chairwoman of Women Grow Toronto, told VICE she’s hoping there will be a constructive conversation about regulating recreational versus medical dispensaries instead of having knee-jerk policies put in place. Norml Canada declares that the criminal prohibition of the cultivation and use of cannabis is no longer the most suitable measure for protecting public health and welfare and preventing the diversion of drugs into illicit traffic.

Waterloo Region

The City of Kitchener has not been very responsive to those seeking permits to offer safe access to cannabis, or lounges for consumption. Dispensaries that had been operating within the region were threatened with fines. Some closed their doors, while others continued to supply patients until they were raided.

Alternative Cannabis Consumption Awareness (ACCA)

About five or six months ago, Cory Orr and Tony Millar, founders of Alternative Cannabis Consumption Awareness (ACCA), sparked some interest at 44 Gaukel. The two were referred to the Waterloo Region Small Business Center. They connected with small business advisor Rob Clement, who advocated on their behalf.  ACCA has been the first cannabis related business approved for a WRSBC grant.

ACCA believes that craft cannabis, like craft beer, has a place in the market; their primary goal is to educate the public, which includes the acknowledgement there is good and bad everywhere.

“Everyone wants it (a lounge), but no one wants their name on it.”
— Tony Millar

Court decisions continue to uphold patient rights, while the the Minister of Health claims the government needs more time to work on designing an appropriate regulatory system to develop and implement regulations. ACCA acknowledges information provided by Health Canada is updated regularly, and cite current publications in order to maintain credibility.

Professor David Hammond at the University of Waterloo, has been a great resource for ACCA, with his graduate and student supervision. Hammond, CIHR-PHAC Chair in Applied Public Health, focuses his research on chronic disease prevention and global health in the areas of tobacco control policy, health diets and obesity prevention, as well as harm reduction and drug policy. Professor Hammond is studying the effects of vaporizing cannabis, to better support students with related research interests in cannabis and harm reduction related research interests.

ACCA began hosting information sessions at UC Vape September 15th 2017.

Edible Awareness

The first information night was inspired by Lisa Campbell’s presentation to the Toronto Business Licensing Committee and R v Smith.

ACCA hosted guest speakers from Magical Butter and the Green Market, as well as Charlene Freedom, who discussed the topical application of cannabis products.

Extract Awareness

The second information night included live demonstrations with a hydraulic rosin press by Rosin Arts and a live ice water extraction using Bubble Bags. These presses and bags will potentially be made available for rental in the near future. Another partner, Blue River will be the supplier of terpenes. According to their website, Blue River “offers the widest selection of award winning full spectrum essential oils naturally derived from whole plant cultivars. Our prices are based on grade, yield, and availability. Our pure essential oil products are designed to be used as a diluent for aromatherapy and vaporization.”

Cannabis Lounges and Activism

Jodie EmeryACCA’S third installment of their ongoing mission to educate the public, drew some media attention. Jodie Emery went into detail about her tireless legalization efforts within political circles, while keeping Cannabis Culture Magazine alive following husband Marc Emery’s extradition.

Abi Roach reminisced about when she started renting out a vaporizer back in 2003, to people looking for a place to consume their cannabis. The Hotbox Cafe in Toronto is celebrating it’s 14th year in operation. In the evenings “Hot Box Afterdark” hosts music and special events after 7pm. The Afterdark promotes itself as a great alternative to the bar scene. Abi spoke about how people need to consider what they’re advocating against, and that people shouldn’t have to get their pot from bikers.

Canna Relief, a product that will soon to be on shelves at your local Shoppers Drug Mart, was available for sample. The CBD drink is a specially formulated supplement containing a synergistic blend of vitamins, herbs, amino acids, and 20mg of pure CO2 extracted CBD derived from hemp stalk and seed. CannaSafety are confident that CannaRelief will help you control and manage THC anxiety so that you can safely and therapeutically benefit from your personal medicine.

CannaRelief supplement bottle

Patients First “Action Plan for Heath Care” [download PDF] aims to bridge the gap for patients to Access, Connect, Inform, Protect.

“Although dispensaries were not a focus of the parties’ submissions, I find Ms. Shaw’s evidence [as a representative of the dispensaries] to be extremely important as dispensaries are at the heart of cannabis access,”
—Justice Michael Phelan, Reasons for Judgment (February 2016) Allard decision [download PDF]

“Municipalities seem to want to help, but don’t want to put themselves at risk” said Millar.  Provinces are going to have to manage the regulatory aspects, but the proposed framework for new legislation does not leave room for the current market. On their website, the Liberal Party says “We will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.”

New penalties would range from a simple police citation to 14 years behind bars, along with a “zero-tolerance approach” to drug-impaired driving, and a “robust” public awareness campaign.

Perspectives on Canadian Drug Policy (Volume 1) John Howard SocietyBecause there were no advocates for the treatment of drug users prior to the late 1950s, it was easy for enforcement-related interests to implement harsh anti-drug legislation. This also meant that although drug users were often thought of as “sick,” imprisonment was a priority over treatment (Blackwell 1988:163).

“In addition, because habitual drug use was associated mostly with Chinese immigrants, many Canadians felt they were “immune from the effects of harsh drug legislation” (Alexander 1990:32).”

PERSPECTIVES ON CANADIAN DRUG POLICY Volume 1 The John Howard Society of Canada [Download PDF]

Canadians deserve evidence based harm reduction strategies. Alternative Cannabis Consumption Awareness is working with front runners in the early stages of a legal market, to provide the most up to date information, and in the near future, a place where the culture can thrive. Safe consumption sites will help integrate the shift in consciousness, as stigma is replaced by awareness.

Part II of WRGreens Cannabis Legalization Series

Back To Part I: “Why is Cannabis Illegal?”

Ahead to Part III: “The Politics of Cannabis Legalization”


Credits

Cannabis Indica Marijuana graphic modified from Cannabis indica – young plant by Nikodem Nijaki released under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License via Wikipedia

Queen Victoria photograph by Alexander Bassano is a Public Domain Image via Wikimedia Commons

H. K. Mulford Co. Tincture of Cannabis Indica bottle (Digitally enhanced image by Laurel Russwurm) based on a photograph of an exhibit at The Herb Museum, Vancouver (fair use)

Smoking by Yurton released with a CC0 dedication to the Public Domain via Pixabay

Edibles: Brownies and Caramel Corn by Cannabis Culture released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License on Flickr

 tweeted image from David Schmader‘s book, “Weed“(Fair Dealing/Fair Use)

Cory Orr and Tony Millar portraits via LinkedIn (Fair Dealing/Fair Use)

Marijuana Cookies by Eli Christman released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License on Flickr

Cannabis Oil publicity photo by PeaceNaturals  (Fair Dealing/Fair Use)

Jodie Emery (cropped) Photo by Jeremiah Vandermeer released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License on Flickr

CannaRelief publicity photo via CannaSafety (Fair Dealing/Fair Use)

PERSPECTIVES ON CANADIAN DRUG POLICY Volume 1 The John Howard Society of Canada [Download PDF] (Fair Dealing/Fair Use)

Canadian Cannabis graphic created from Cannabis Chemistry art by Kyrnos with a CC0 dedication to the Public Domain on Pixabay

[edited by Laurel L. Russwurm]

 

 

Painting By-Elections #Green!

Elections Canada is holding 5 By-Elections across Canada on April 3rd, 2017.

An excellent way for small parties to break through the disproportional elections barrier is by making a splash in a by-election.  During a general federal election, everyone has their own riding to think about.  But when there are By-elections, a grass root party like the Greens can build itself a major advantage by strengthening our network by beefing up our numbers with cross border cooperation.

Here’s the thing: if you can help get a neighbouring Green candidate elected during a by-election, it will be that much easier to get more Greens elected in 2019 ~ perhaps even the candidate in your own riding!.

There’s less than a week left!!!


QUÉBEC


Daniel Green

Daniel Green's GPC web page

@DanielGreen_PVC on Twitter

 Daniel Green - Parti vert du Canada

 

Saint-Laurent

 

email: daniel.green@partivert.ca


ONTARIO


Caryn Bergmann

Caryn Bergmann's Green Party web page

@carynbergmann

Markham—Thornhill

email: caryn.bergmann@greenparty.ca

“We need change, we need action, and we need strong leaders to help make it happen. There is only so much one person can do, but one person can do so much.”
— Caryn Bergmann


Nira Dookeran

Nira Dookeran's GPC web page

@OttVanierGreens (Nira Dookeran)

Nira Dookeran on Facebook page

 

Ottawa—Vanier

 

email: ottvan@greenparty.ca


ALBERTA


Ryan Zedic

Ryan Zedic GPC web pageRyan Zedic on Facebook

Calgary Midnapore

 

 

email: ryan.zedic@greenparty.ca


Taryn Knorren

Taryn KnorrenTaryn Knorren GPC Webpage@TarynKnorren on Twittertknorren on Instagram

Calgary Heritage

Elections Canada Riding Map

 

email: taryn.knorren@greenparty.ca


How To Help

For those living close by, volunteering your time, whether to:

  • organize,
  • help out at events,
  • hand out flyers,
  • knock on doors (canvass),
  • stuff envelopes,
  • put up signs,
  • to answer phones
  • or whatever …

…even just a few hours here and there could make all the difference.

Attend events & debates to cheer them on!

No matter where you live, donations will help any of these candidates.

The one thing Greens are not using to the fullest is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal: social media.

Many of us are frugal about sharing things to our social media feeds because we are concerned about annoying our friends.  What people don’t realize is that Facebook, Twitter etc. don’t show everything we post to all of our friends and followers.

Even if you live on the other side of the country and don’t know a soul in the candidate’s riding, liking, retweeting and sharing will help them … because the more people engage, the more the candidate’s Social Media platform will spread their posts to more of their own followers!

Do you want to see Green videos go viral?  Share them!

Do you want to build a meme?  Share it!

Twitter tip: a ❤ isn't as good as a Retweet.

Remember:  
EVERY time you share anything on Twitter or Facebook etc. you will be helping help increase the candidate’s social media reach ~ and increasing her odds of being elected!  .

Do you want to elect Green candidates?  Help make NOISE!

Help make HISTORY!

Tragedy in Sainte-Foy, Québec

The MONTREAL GAZETTE reports:
6 dead, 8 injured in terrorist attack at Quebec City mosque
On January 29th, 2017
pq-flag-stainte-foy-flag

Our hearts go with Alex Tyrrell, leader of the Quebec Green Party who will attend the citizen’s initiative Vigile de solidarité avec les musulman-es de Québec #SalamQc.

Here in Waterloo Region we’re having our own Prayer and Solidarity Vigil organised by @KitchenerMasjid tonight from 6:00 – 7:00 pm at Kitchener City Hall


Elizabeth May tweeted:

Devastated to hear of murderous attack on Quebec City mosque. As Greens, we join Prime Minister in condemning attack. It is heartbreaking.
WRGreens are in full agreement with the sentiments expressed by Ms. May and Prime Minister Trudeau.

To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada

WRGreens stand with all Canadians who believe we must extend a safe haven to those newly denied by President Trump’s latest Executive Order.

We sincerely hope the Prime Minister follows up… and because things often get lost in the shiffle, it never hurts to remind our elected officials (especially in a winner-take-all democracy) that we really do expect them to see it through.   Just in case, supporting the Leadnow Petition to Tell Trudeau: Welcome Those Fleeing Violence and Deportation Under Trump may very well help.

Attacking innocents is not the Canadian Way.  Our strength is in our diversity.
wrgreens-blogo-bordered

#GPC SGM 2016

Glimpse of the Rockies from Calgary

As most readers will be aware, the Green Party of Canada just conducted a Special General Meeting in Calgary to deal with some urgent business, namely human rights, pipelines and electoral reform.

Canada is signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (and indeed was instrumental in bringing this important document into existence).  As well, Canada is a high contracting member of the Geneva Conventions.

Green Party Core Values

Green Parties around the world share common values as expressed in the Charter of the Global Greens. The policies of the Green Party of Canada are based on six fundamental principles

Non-Violence

Richard Walsh, Waterloo
Richard Walsh, Waterloo

We declare our commitment to non-violence and strive for a culture of peace and cooper
ation between states.

Sustainability

We recognize the scope for the material expansion of society within the biosphere, and the need to maintain biodiversity through the use of renewable resources.

Social Justice

We assert that the key to social justice is the equitable distribution of resources to ensure that all have full opportunities for personal and social development.

Ecological Wisdom

We acknowledge that human beings are part of the natural world and we respect the specific value of all forms of life, including non-human species.

Participatory Democracy

We strive for a democracy in which all citizens have the right to express their views, and are able to directly participate in decisions which affect their lives.

Respect for Diversity

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

Lorraine Rekmans at the SGM
Lorraine Rekmans, GPC Indigenous Affairs Critic

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.

Pipelines

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 motion basically calls on the Green Party of Canada to embark on a robust nationwide campaign to educate the public about accelerating climate change, and the impacts of decision that the Prime Minister and the cabinet just made around Kinder Morgan and the fact that kind of decision really does have a huge impact on our climate.”
— CKNW: Adriane Carr submits emergency resolution to Green Party, seeks reversal of Kinder Morgan decision

Former GPC Deputy Leader and current Vancouver Councillor, Adriane Carr spoke about Kinder Morgan at the SGM plenary
Adriane Carr addresses the SGM plenary

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

Electoral Reform

Peter Bevan-Baker, PEI
Peter Bevan-Baker, PEI

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.

S16-D017 Referendum

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;

or

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.

Postcards

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.

Ratification

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.

Happy Human Rights Day!

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.

Elizabeth May ~ SGM 2016 CC-by laurelrusswurm
Elizabeth May at the Calgary SGM

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.”