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