The day started out windy and overshadowed by glowering clouds and a smattering of raindrops that ended around noon, but the forecast thunderstorm never materialized at UpTown Waterloo’s Open Streets.
Sadly the Artists Alley had to be cancelled (the alley is pretty much a wind tunnel) but Open Streets UpTown Waterloo carried on.
And you know what? It was a great day that was well enjoyed by all those who came out in spite of the scary looking clouds! Throughout the day the wind kept the weather shifting, so although it was hot, it wasn’t unbearably so, and sun and cloud alternated throughout the day.
Our side event, Michele Braniff’s storytelling segment “Tales of Green” was a lot of fun. The setting ~ beside Laurel Creek ~ was perfect for Michele’s feature story, “How Much Water Does The River Need?”
It started to rain a bit through the first story, but everyone stayed to find out how it came out.
Between tales some of the audience chose to retreat in the face of rain. Those who stayed felt the odd summer sprinkle but enjoyed Michele’s other two tales immensely.
After the storytelling was over, the rain started coming down more steadily and the OpenStreets organizers decided to end the festivities an hour early. While vendors were packing up, kids on bikes got some great fun riding through the emptying Square in the warm summer rain.
The weather sure kept everyone guessing, but what I can tell you is that a good time was had by all. And of course the rain actually stopped for the day at 4pm. 😉
[And if we’re really lucky, perhaps Ontario’s Monsoon Season will be over in time for the Multicultural Festival next weekend!]
The largest barrier to electing Greens has traditionally been our unfair winner-take-all electoral system that makes people feel they need to vote strategically for other parties because they are afraid Greens can’t get elected. It’s been an ongoing Catch-22 scenario: the reason Green candidates “can’t” get elected is because too many supporters don’t vote Green because they’re afraid Green candidates can’t get elected. Fortunately that is all changing as Canadians are finally starting to realize that not only can Canadian Greens get elected, even a single Green MP can make a huge difference.
One way to do that is by getting together to discuss the things we want to do and work out strategies to make that happen. Sometimes we have planning events, sometimes social events, and sometimes organizational events. Very often they are all of the above, like last week’s excellent monthly Regional Meeting at the Queen Street Commons Cafe where four of our five Waterloo Region ridings had representation.
Everyone from long time organizers to anyone curious about what Green means in Waterloo Region is welcome to attend WRGreens Regional meetings. Come out to find out what’s coming up, to volunteer or even just to share green thoughts. We had a report from the 2017 Green Party of Ontario AGM (Annual General Meeting) and discussed plans for upcoming events– like the one coming up this Sunday!
WRGreens will again be at Uptown Waterloo’s Open Streets. The @OSWaterloo organizers have been fantastically inventive in meeting the massive challenge of LRT roadworks and keeping the awesome summer festival vibrant. This year they’ve chosen to incorporate the Uptown Waterloo trails as the “street” venues, which will be seriously awesome.
They’ve also given each of the four festival dates a theme, and the first theme for Sunday June 18th (Father’s Day) the theme is “Word.”
9:00am—12 noon Cambridge Community Clean Up: City Green Booths Open
Pick up your supplies from the City Green Booth nearest you and do your clean up when it’s convenient for you.
Cambridge City Green booth locations : 1. Holiday Inn Drive Tim Hortons parking lot
2. Galt Arena Gardens
3. St. Benedicts/Clemens Mill Library Branch
4. Victoria Park (Salisbury Ave corner of the park just before Highland Public School)
5. Monsignor Doyle Secondary School https://www.meetup.com/Cambridge-City-Green/events/237639111/
* The event is free, purchase of beer is not neccessary, and the space is wheelchair accessible. No food available for purchase but feel free to bring your own. If you have any questions, please email the organizer, Julia Gogoleva, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday May 11th, 2017
The Case for Divesting from Fossil Fuels in Canada
67 Erb St W
Waterloo, ON N2L 6C2
Divest Waterloo/CIGI to host an evening with Jeff Rubin, a world-leading energy expert and former chief economist at CIBC World Markets. As a senior fellow CIGI, Jeff has written extensively on the future of the Canadian oil sands and the financial imperative to shift our economy away from fossil fuel dependence. Jeff will be speaking at CIGI to address pension fund managers, members of the finance and insurance industries, and the general public about the financial case for divesting from fuels.
If you are not a Canadian citizen but are resident in Canada you can sign.
You do not have to be resident in Canada to sign. My Australian electoral reform friends can’t sign, but Canadian citizens resident in Australia can.
You do not have to be old enough to vote to sign.
Young people who sign this now may be lucky enough to have their votes count when they are old enough.
But signing is not enough: you need is to confirm your valid email address before your signature will be added.
Our hope is to get the petition signature number as high as possible. 300,000 (about what the mydemocracy survey got) would be amazing.
I understand 240,000 would be fabulous, as that is 1% of Canadian voters.
The 122,981 signatures we have already are amazing.
This is the very first Parliamentary e-petition to top 100,000 signatures. That is the magic number that is supposed to trigger a Parliamentary debate.
The e-411 (Islam) petition only managed 69,742 signatures, and it resulted in Mr. Mulcair’s unanimously accepted Parliamentary Motion on October 6, 2016 as well as Ms. Khalid’s Motion 103 which resulted in HoC debate.
The higher we can get this number, the better. Read more about the petition here:
If you can share with your social network, that would be awesome.
And Green voters should sign, because we need Proportional Representation to have any hope of properly addressing Climate Change. The reason this issue is so important is that this is the foundation that must be laid for pretty much every issue Canadians face. Without fair representation we might as well not have democracy at all.
If every Canadian who voted Green in 2015 signed this petition, Greens alone could generate upwards of 600,000 signatures.
The Green Party doesn’t have a massive “war chest.” We don’t have corporate or union donors and the big advertising budgets they bring.
Our strength is in our grass roots… ordinary Canadians who think green thoughts. People who want a greener future. Not just for us, but for our kids. And posterity.
What we do have is ideas. Ideas worked out by members. Ideas expressed in policy, blogs, and multimedia. Because the Green Party doesn’t have big advertising budgets, it is very hard to get green ideas reported in Main Stream Media (MSM).
But we can get our ideas out there— if we work together.
You can help these ideas take root and grow by sharing them with your social media network.
Some people hesitate about sharing links to articles & videos. We worry that talking about politics online will alienate our family and friends. Let’s face it: we all have family and friends with different ideas. Some support other parties, and certainly many — probably even most — don’t support any party or even consider themselves political.
The Internet is still new enough that it’s easy to forget the reason it exists is to make it easy to exchange information.
Social Media is for sharing our interests with our family and friends. Maybe you’re a Green Party member, supporter, or even voter. But maybe you’re not, maybe you don’t like the Green Party candidate in your riding, maybe you don’t agree with everything in Green Party policy. But chances are good that anyone reading this is interested in at least some green ideas.
If we each share one green idea, article, or video on social media each day, we aren’t likely to alienate anyone. Especially as Facebook and Twitter have taken to limiting which of our posts our friends and family actually see. The beauty of social media sharing is that there is no need to argue or try to convert anyone. By sharing articles that resonate with us, we’re giving our friends and family an opportunity to learn what’s important to us — very often information they won’t see in the MSM. If they aren’t interested, they won’t read that article or watch that video. But maybe they will.
Even if they just skip over that Tweet or Facebook post, the fact you’ve shared it increases how far Twitter or Facebook will share. Even if our family and friends don’t read our blog articles, or look at our videos, or look at our graphics, you’ll help WRGreens increase our “Google juice” just by sharing.
Especially in a world where the first official act of the new American president was to take down the American Government Climate Change page, it becomes more and more evident we can no longer afford a way of life that puts corporate interests ahead of the public interest. We can’t put profits ahead of clean air and fresh water. So please, help us make social media work for us.
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.
“I am opposed to electronic voting and online voting. I am a computer consultant by profession, and nothing I see in my work shows that people’s home computers or even the computers in most businesses have the security capable of upholding the Integrity requirement, ensuring reliable and verifiable results.
“The main issue with online voting is not computer security, but a fundamental incompatibility between voter identity and the secret ballot.
“When voting takes place outside of a polling station it is important that voter identity is established to prevent fraud. It must be provable that the ballot filled in online was actually filled in by a registered voter, and not by someone impersonating that voter. To achieve this, voters need to be issued a ballot with a serial number or barcode to ensure that only that one ballot is filled in for that registered voter. But if every ballot cast has a serial number, then the completed ballot with the voter’s choices is identifiable with the voter’s name and registration information. The secret ballot is impossible, and the Integrity criterion cannot be met.
“When voting does not take place in a polling station then it is possible that a voter will be coerced into voting according to the demands of the “head” of the household, or voting at the workplace according to the employer’s demands. Without the scrutiny of Elections Canada, voting integrity cannot be ensured.
“But computer security is an issue too. People’s personal computers are constantly being attacked by computer viruses, malicious web sites, and denial of service attacks from compromised Webcams. And spam. The difficulty of ensuring online voting integrity is at least as great as is the difficulty of eliminating spam (unsolicited, unwanted e‑mail, sometimes commercial in nature, sent in bulk). If you haven’t experienced problems with spam then it is likely your E‑mail Service Provider is filtering your e‑mail for you – but how many good messages are being filtered accidentally? You’ll never know, because you’ll never see them.
“There are actually very few large-scale spammers on the Internet, maybe a couple of dozen at most. But they’re responsible for almost all the unwanted e‑mail that clogs up billions of e‑mail accounts in the world. It shows how a few bad actors on the Internet can completely overwhelm an e‑mail system. Similarly, a few bad actors on the Internet can completely compromise an online voting system. If we can’t secure our mail systems to solve the spam problem, it is unlikely that we’ll be able to secure everyone’s computer to guarantee online voting integrity.
“It is unfortunate that there were so few computer security experts providing witness testimony to the Committee. Almost every computer security expert who has commented on electronic voting since the U.S. “hanging chad” elections in 2000 has decried the use of voting machines, and, more recently, online voting. Voting machines are regularly compromised, are not auditable by design (they have proprietary source code), and are prone to failure when needed most. Computer security lecturers delight their audiences with tales of voting machine touch screens that dodge the target when the “wrong” vote is selected, or that play marching band music after they’ve been compromised by a prankish hacker.
“Voting is very much different from buying a product from an online store. If the wrong product is delivered, the store will ship the right product the next day to ensure customer satisfaction. But if the wrong candidate is elected, there is no recourse the next day. It is unlikely that fraud will be detected until the voting machines are audited many weeks after the election, and even when fraud is detected the outcome will be hotly contested by the affected candidates. In fact, if voting machines don’t use publicly published open source code then it is likely election outcomes will be hotly contested because proving that no fraud was committed is impossible.
“However, vote tabulation by machine is perfectly acceptable, although there must be a requirement that vote tabulators are also audited and their source code is made public. Ballots designed for vote tabulators (optical mark cards) can always be counted manually if the electronic tabulation is in dispute.”
[Note: the CPC MP attended and spoke at the LPC event, and of course Greens were there by invitation as well. Where was the NDP I wonder?]
Temara Brown described the six different electoral systems, a fairly difficult task, particularly when being challenged by unruly audience members at every turn. But she carried it off.
The event followed the usual Library of Parliament script for Community Dialogue suggested by ERRE.
Unfortunately there are some errors in the Expositor article. For instance, Michele Braniff was the 2015 GPC candidate. As well as being a GPO Candidate, Temara Brown is the GPO’s Shadow Cabinet member for the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.
The article gives a capsule rundown of the 6 electoral Systems discussed, where the worst error in the article mischaracterizes the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system as “A variation of the preferential vote”. Electoral systems are complex, which is one of the many reasons why a referendum would be a bad idea at the best of times.
Historically, STV predates AV by a few decades, so it would be more correct to say AV is a variation of STV. But that’s just semantics. The real problem is that STV is perhaps the best system of Proportional Representation, while AV is a winner-take-all system much like our First Past The Post.
Even so, it was nice to see some balanced coverage of the ERRE event. For the most part, Canada’s Main Stream Media is making no bones about it’s desire to retain the status quo. That is perhaps the biggest reason Canadians are so woefully uninformed about electoral reform options. Instead of informing Canadians of our options, or even actually reporting on the ERRE consultation process, the media tables at ERRE consultation events are standing empty. So kudos to the Expositor for reporting the news!
In spite of the Main Stream Media obstructionism, the process marches quietly on.
Waterloo Region Greens own Bob Jonkman will be presenting “Make every Vote Count” at the Elmira Branch of the Region of Waterloo Library, starting at 6:30pm, tomorrow night, Wednesday, September 21st, 2016. In his capacity as co-Chair, Bob helped develop the Fair Vote Waterloo presentation, which starts with our existing electoral system as well as Canada’s electoral reform options. There will be a question and answer session after the presentation.
Hope to see you there!
Next week there will be two more Information Sessions at the Region of Waterloo Libraries in New Hamburg and Ayr.
Wednesday, September 28th, 2016 ~ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm