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]

No Pipelines, Please #StopKM

If Canada is to be a Climate Leader, we need to reduce our fossil fuel production, not triple it.  #KeepItInTheGround

When Texas-based Kinder Morgan threatened to walk away from their disastrous pipeline and tanker project, the Trudeau government jumped in to buy them out with $4.5 billion of taxpayer dollars.

Canada is being sold a lemon by a bunch of billionaires from Texas, who are laughing all the way to the bank. Instead of investing in renewable energy, clean water for Indigenous peoples, and strong social programs, we’re buying a failing and risky dirty oil project.

Tell Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Bill Morneau to cancel the buyout of Trans Mountain now!

click to send a letter to PM Justin Trudeau & Minister Bill Morneau

[reprinted from the KitConGreens blog]

Earth Day was a Blast!

[republished from the KitCon blog]

David Weber (Kitchener South—Hespeler), Stacey Danckert (Kitchener-Centre) and Bob Jonkman (Kitchener—Conestoga)
David Weber (Kitchener South—Hespeler), Stacey Danckert (Kitchener-Centre) and Bob Jonkman (Kitchener—Conestoga)

This year three of our WRGreens Candidates joined GPO leader Mike Schreiner in Guelph for a spectacular Earth Day Celebration.

Joni NehRita performed on acoustic guitar

Joni NehRita opened the Earth Day Event with some of her sustainable music.


2018 Juno Award Nominated singer/songwriter Alysha Brilla

Kevin Sutton’s spoken word performance.

Mike Schreiner

David Suzuki

Listening to David Suzuki

Elizabeth May

Bob Jonkman, David Weber and Mike Schreiner


As the event drew to a close we had more music, this time from singer-songwriters Sara Harmer

…culminating in a good old fashioned sing-along.

[More photographs available on Flickr]

Elizabeth May’s midterm report for the Trudeau Administration

Unsurprisingly the big one was Mr Trudeau’s badly broken Electoral Reform promise.

Democratic deficit, the failure to restore protections to “navigable waters,” Environment policy direction, Climate Change policy, failure to live up to Reconciliation, ignoring evidence given by experts and citizens to Parliamentary Committees and National Consultations… there is much need for improvement.

“…the intangibles are re-engaging Canadians in having faith and hope and trust in a government — if you squander that you encourage cynicism and you hurt democracy in a fundamental way.”

— Elizabeth May

Mike Schreiner gets ready to turn #Guelph Green in 2018!

Elizabeth May and Mike Schreiner arrive

On Tuesday October 6th, 2017 #KitCon Greens Laurel and Bob joined the Guelph Greens to celebrate the Grand Opening of their new Office.

Deputy Leader Bonnie North (Barrie—Innisfil) joins Mike at the opening.
Kitchener Conestoga’s Bob Jonkman networks with Greens from around Ontario.
Elizabeth May joined the Guelph Greens for the Grand Opening celebration.
Elizabeth introduces Mike Schreiner
Mike says a few words (video coming)

When Greens get together there’s always plenty to talk about
Discussing Green Issues
Mike Schreiner is great to talk to
Bob (Kitchener—Conestoga), Pat (Halton), Elizabeth (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
Ingrid and Ken (Brantford—Brant)

 

Mike leads!
panorama: getting ready for the group photo  [link to official GPO Group Photo]
Photographers at Work
Green Leadership in Ontario
Mike Schreiner (Green Party of Ontario Leader) and Elizabeth May (Green Party of Canada Leader)
Next time you’re in Guelph, stop by the office at 163 Suffolk and say “hi”
Those of us who navigate by landmarks can look for the
Mike For Guelph banner hanging above the storefront 🙂

[Reblogged from Kitchener Conestoga Greens]

Photo Credit
All photos © by Laurel Russwurm and released under a
Creative Commons Attribution License.

Find more photos from the Opening in the KitConGreens Flickr Album

Fair Vote Guelph: Turning Parliament Inside Out

Fair Vote Guelph presents

Turning Parliament Inside Out

based on the book edited by Michael Chong, Scott Simms, and Kennedy Stewart

Practical Ideas for Reforming Canada’s Democracy

featuring

Michael Chong
Michael Chong
on Parliamentary Reform
Elizabeth May
Elizabeth May
on Electoral Reform



Tuesday, October 10, 2017 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Harcourt United Church, 87 Dean Avenue, Guelph Map

Liberal and NDP representatives from the local riding associations have been invited to reflect on the main presentations

This event is free and accessible (through the back door to the church around the corner from the parking lot). All welcome. Audience participation encouraged. Donations accepted.

#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.”

GPC Proportional Representation Toolbox

GPC Proportional Representation Toolbox graphic 39% vote = 55% seats = 100% power

If you’ve read the previous article, Why the Green Party Supports Proportional Representation, you’ll have a pretty good understanding of why adopting a fair voting system is so important.

"The vast majority of modern democracies   —including the five most prosperous countries in the world— use one form or another of  Proportional Representation.   PR gets higher voter turnout,  higher levels of women in political office,  more diverse ethnicity within Parliaments. "  — Elizabeth May  Green Party Leader MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands

In order for this to happen, we need to be sure that the Special Committee on Electoral Reform hears us, and that the Government knows Canadians really want this change. And not just the government: MPs from every political party need to hear us.  This is why the Green Party has an excellent array of tools you can use to help encourage the adoption of Proportional Representation!

One of reasons New Zealand was able to replace its First Past The Post system with Mixed Member Proportional Representation was that their main stream media properly informed voters. That is not happening here. Instead, one of our biggest obstacles is that our mainstream media doesn’t really want this change because it benefits from the status quo. This is why it is so important that we understand the issue so we can help others understand it.

And because we don’t have fair representation in Parliament, we will need to be as loud as we can, both online and off.

The GPC Toolbox includes examples of the kind of letter you might send to your local newspaper. If you’re looking for additional examples, our Fair Vote Waterloo Chapter (co-chaired by our own Bob Jonkman) has been keeping track of all the letters they have had published and posted them online.

There are also tips for using social media effectively, and graphics you can use. Since I’ve been learning and writing about the importance of Proportional Representation I’ve been creating graphics you can use as well.

There are plenty of things we can do to pitch in, check them out at the GPC Toolbox
Proportional Representation in 5 points