Save the Basic Income Pilot Project


[republished from the KitCon Blog]

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."

—Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom

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.

Read more about the Conservative Argument For UBI in “Four Reasons Why Conservatives And Libertarians Should Support Basic Income|Those who support limited government and free markets should support fighting poverty by giving more money to the poor” and “The Libertarian Case for a Basic Income.

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.

More than 20,000 people have signed this change.org petition asking the Ford Government to Save the Ontario Basic Income Pilot Project.  But the Ford Government isn’t listening to the people.

But all doesn’t need to be lost.

The Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction has appealed to the federal Liberal Government:

“We already have the infrastructure. They should adopt the program.”
Tom Cooper, Director, Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction

The mayors of the municipalities that have been piloting the Ontario Basic Income have likewise asked feds to take over Ontario’s basic income pilot

Federal NDP  Leader Jagmeet Singh calls on Liberals to save Ontario’s axed basic income pilot.

It isn’t exactly such a crazy idea.

The Liberal Party of Canada has a long history with Basic Income, and in fact it was Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s Government  that co-authored the 5 year Mincome Pilot in Dauphin Manitoba in the 1970’s. Unfortunately, as often happens with long term projects under short sighted FPTP voting, Mr Trudeau’s Government fell and the data from the just completed pilot project was shelved and buried, only emerging for consideration many decades later.

And lately, the Federal Liberals have been flirting with the idea of Basic Income as well.

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.

Elizabeth May and Mike Schreiner, Schreiner and May ask Trudeau to rescue Basic Income pilot

Instead of starting their own Basic Income project from scratch, the Justin Trudeau Liberal Government need only spend $50 million dollars to complete the Ontario Basic Income Pilot project.  That would be an incredible bargain basement price for data that would prove invaluable for making federal economic policy.

What can we do to help?

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:

Petition: Call on the federal government to take over Ontario’s basic income pilot project.

Every little bit helps.

 

#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.

Answers to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation Petition

Canadian Taxpayers Federation ad in my Facebook feed says:

Justin Trudeau wants to tax carbon to impact climate change.
The Problem: Canada isn’t producing enough to make an impact.
Sign The Petition!
Click “Sign Up” to sign a petition to demand Trudeau Stop the Implementation of a carbon tax.

I was curious to see what the Petition actually said, so I did click on the link.

Canadian Taxpayers Federation Petition
But instead of a petition,
screenshot-2-facebook-opera
what popped up was an attempt to harvest my personal data.

astroturf

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised after reading the recent CBC article, “Canadian Taxpayers Federation has 5 members — why should we care what they think? that busts the Canadian Taxpayers Federation as astroturf (a fake “grass roots” organization).

Even so, lots of people are going to read this and be misled.
A look at the top of the comments gave me a couple of excellent rebuttals:

Dave Urquhart writes:

Canada is home to 0.56% of the population.

If you do the math, we’re emitting at a level 3 times greater than the average of the rest of the world.

If you take into consideration that emissions stay in our atmosphere for millennia, the 1.65% number isn’t even close to what our contribution has been toward climate change. It will take a world war mobilization type effort to avert runaway climate change.

I don’t agree with a cap and trade system, and believe that the generous subsidies that we provide for the fossil fuel industry should be eliminated as well, but a price on carbon will be required to get the masses out of their emissions comfort zones. The tax amounts to 2 cents a litre in the first year and only 11 cents in the last year. We seem to have been able to handle those kinds of increases in the past without substantial hardship. You will be affected far less if you reduce your emissions, that’s what the tax is intended to do. Or is it easier to throw others (who are geographically and financially more vulnerable) under the bus? The mindset that got us into this mess, certainly won’t get us out of it. It’s time to move away from the use of fossil fuels – if we do that – there will be no burden from the tax.

Like Dave Urquhart, my preference is not for Cap and Trade.

Michael Nabert writes:

When the largest collective scientific effort in human history tells us that we clearly need to be shifting away from fossil fuels as rapidly as possible, the best the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has to offer is the equivalent of my college roommates letting the dirty dishes pile up in hopes that someone else will wash them first.

Let’s look at the numbers to see how well the “we’re such a small part of the problem that we’re not worth bothering with” argument stands up to logic. Canada is the 8th largest emitter in the world, and has contributed more to combined historical emissions than all but seven other nations. With less than half of one percent of the global population, Canada emits 1.67% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

http://www.statista.com/statistics/271748/the-largest-emitters-of-co2-in-the-world/

Canada has 0.475% of the world’s population. That means that of total current global emissions, Canada takes up 3.52 times our fair share of a number that is collectively far too large to begin with. That number is also clearly artificially low because the way it is calculated leaves out a number of glaringly obvious considerations. In any honest assessment we also bear responsibility for emissions from factories that were offshored in order to slash wages but that are still producing products exclusively for sale in North American markets, because that’s our stuff and therefore clearly our responsibility. Canada is also responsible for the emissions resulting from burning the roughly 5% of global fossil fuel exports that come from us. So we’re emitting several times more than our fair share. Any argument that Canada should not act is, by definition, irresponsible.

If we look at a more honest per capita measurement, we can see that the average Canadian is causing more than twice as much harm to the planet than the average Chinese citizen (typically the first direction fingers are pointed). China has increased the strength of its climate commitments aggressively several times in recent years. China is also well on its way to meeting or even exceeding its targets. Canada, on the other hand, not only has spectacularly weak emissions targets compared to the other industrialized nations, we are in no way even going to come close to meeting those targets. Here’s another comparison: China is investing 1% of its per capita income into renewable energy. Canada is investing 0.19% instead, making less than one fifth as much effort to move away from fossil fuel use.

Finally, there is a level of absurdity about overseas finger pointing. I don’t have the opportunity to lobby the governments of Saudi Arabia or China to change their oil policies, but even if they do the right thing and stop producing oil, our continuing to do so willy nilly would still be roasting our loved ones. Canadians do have the ability as well as the responsibility to impact emissions here at home.

http://www.statista.com/statistics/271748/the-largest-emitters-of-co2-in-the-world/

And that takes care of that.

 


Image Credits:

Canadian Taxpayers federation images used under education/criticism Fair Dealing exemption

Astroturf graphic by @laurelrusswurm is a remix of “Skagerak Arena turf” © by Rune Mathisen [bitjungle on Flickr] is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 License.

Open Streets ~ July 24, 2016

OpenStreets June 2016-1

OpenStreets June 2016-2
Open Streets Table June 2016
Even with the LRT construction, OPEN STREETS Waterloo is going ahead! And we’re glad, too, because we had a great time at our first Open Streets in June!

AND we’re expecting an even better time tomorrow in July (July 24th, 2016).

Drop by and say “hi,” sign the petition, and talk to us about Green issues, including electoral reform!

It’s going to be a hot day so dress appropriately, wear sunscreen and bring a refillable water bottle!

Open Streets_2nd

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

49th K~W Multicultural Festival Weekend

join WRGreens @ K~W Multicultural Fest 2016
Visit the WRGreens info booth at the K~W Multicultural Festival  in Victoria Park
Saturday June 25th, 2016
Noon – 8pm
Sunday June 26th, 2016
Noon – 6pm

Sign Elizabeth May’s Electoral Reform Petition!

Pick up your own WRGreens sticker!

Cambridge Greens AvatarKitCenAvatarKitConAvatarKitSHAvatarWaterloo Green Party WRGREENS FINALavatar

Candidates Nick Wendler (#KitCen) and Bob Jonkman (#KitCon) at the 2015 WRGreens Booth
Candidates Nick Wendler (#KitCen) and Bob Jonkman (#KitCon) the K~W Multicultural Festival WRGreens Info Booth (2015)
Candidate Richard Walsh (#Waterloo)
Candidate Richard Walsh (#Waterloo) dispenses Green Party buttons at the 2015 K~W Multicultural Festival
Laurel & Laura "We Can Do It"
Laurel & Laura “We Can Do It”
Bob Jonkman (Kitchener-Conestoga)
Bob Jonkman (Kitchener-Conestoga)
WRGreens were selling Heritage Tomato seedlings last year.
WRGreens were selling Heritage Tomato seedlings last year.
WRGreens were selling Heritage Tomato seedlings last year.
WRGreens are always happy to talk about Green issues.
2015 #GPC Candidates Bob Jonkman and Richard Walsh
2015 #GPC Candidates Bob Jonkman and Richard Walsh

 

 

Why Isn’t Ontario Protecting Our Water?

On April 24, 2007, Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller released a report in which he warned that “funding cuts spanning 15 years have left Ontario vulnerable to a catastrophe similar to the Walkerton tainted water tragedy.” (Guelph Mercury, April 25, 2007). The Mercury reported that Miller also told a press conference in Sudbury that, “Our present course puts our ecosystems, our biodiversity, our health and parts of our economy at serious risk of deterioration and catastrophic events.”

Missive on Nestle’s Water Taking in Aberfoyle

In 2007, residents were challenging Nestlé’s Water Taking in Aberfoyle, citing the disconnect between MPP Liz Sandalls claim the “The Clean Water Act focuses on source water protection” while effectively allowing Nestlé to take whatever water it likes absent independent data on the impact to local aquifers.

Bottling and selling our water is hugely profitable for Nestlé, and yet the multinational isn’t even paying its way as the result costs Ontario money.

Mike Schreiner, Leader of the Green Party of OntarioMike Schreiner writes:

“Several industries get a total free ride when it comes to taking our water, an explosive new report from Ontario’s Environment Commissioner revealed. Those who do pay for taking water — “phase one” industrial and commercial users that include bottled water producers; vegetable and fruit canning facilities; and certain types of chemical manufacturers — are charged a paltry $3.71 per million litres used.

This is not a typo.

This nominal fee works out to less than $10 for enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool. That works out to $0.00000371 per litre. After the ECO report I walked down to the basement in Queen’s Park to double check that a 500ml bottle of water was still selling for $2. That’s right, you can buy a litre of bottled water at Queen’s Park for more than it costs a company to take 1 million litres of our water.

This absurd system enables the provincial government to recover only 1.2 per cent of the money it spends on water quantity management programs. Since the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) receives less money today than it did in 1992, the budget it has for water management is not enough to make it an effective steward of our water resources. Yet, the province is essentially giving away our water.

HuffPo: “Companies Are Ripping Off Ontario’s Water Resources” by Mike Schreiner, Leader of the Green Party of Ontario

And yet it goes on. Nestlé continues to pump water out of Ontario Aquifers and sell it back to us, reaping enormous profits. Or worse, shipping it elsewhere, which has permanently lowers the supply of water available to us in our aquifers.

The water Nestle is taking comes from municipal water supply– the drinking water our municipal governments filter and treat to make sure is safe for us to drink.  To offset the costs of cleaning, storing and delivering water to our taps, Ontario citizens pay our local public utilities about $1.50 for 1,000 litres of water for our personal use. The reason we pay so little for the water we consume is because the taxes we pay subsidizes the cost. This is how public utilities work, and the reason they exist: by sharing the infrastructure investment, the costs can be kept down to ensure the public has equal and reasonably affordable access to a necessity.

But the Provincial Government gives Nestlé a sweetheart deal.

We pay $3.00 per 1,000 litres
Nestlé pays $3.70 per 1,000,000 litres

The multinational company pays pays a miniscule fraction of what we pay, which allows it to realize enormous profits when bottling our water and selling it back to us.  Do they employ some Canadians?  Sure thing. Does the company pay its fair share of taxes?  Truthfully, I don’t know.  What I do know is that this company is paying too little for the refined natural resource it sells at a profit.   Ontario taxpayers are subsidizing this rich and powerful multinational, so we know Nestlé is perfectly happy to not pay its fair share.  And companies are shameless: they exist to make as much profit as possible, so of course they take what they get.

But there is no reason the citizens of Ontario should let this go on.  The Green Party of Ontario has been opposing this for a long time.

Laura Lee Roberts shared a great Environmental Defense article: WHAT A DEPOSIT RETURN MIGHT LOOK LIKE IN ONTARIO.  From my perspective, since Ontario practically gives Nestle our drinking water for free, the least they could do is use glass bottles.

Nestlé Waters

Sign the petition:
Ontario: Deny Nestle Water-Taking Permit in Aberfoyle

Want Electoral Reform? Sign a Petition for Elizabeth May

Sign the Declaration of Voter's Rights

Canadian citizens demand the following basic democratic rights:
– To cast an equal and effective vote and to be represented fairly in Parliament, regardless of political belief or place of residence
– To be governed by a fairly elected Parliament where the share of seats held by each political party closely reflects the popular vote
– To live under legitimate laws approved by a majority of elected Parliamentarians representing a majority of voters
The need for reform is urgent, and Canadians need a Parliament that represents the political and social diversity of Canada.

You can sign the petition online

or

You can download and print your own copies of the petition that you can mail to Elizabeth May when you’re done. I know it will be nice to have paper copies of the petition at the WRGreens information tables we’ll have in the upcoming summer festival season.

Leap Now

Leap for the WorldThese are the 15 Leap Manifesto Demands:

  1. The leap must begin by respecting the inherent rights and title of the original caretakers of this land, starting by fully implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

  2. The latest research shows we could get 100% of our electricity from renewable resources within two decades; by 2050 we could have a 100% clean economy. We demand that this shift begin now.

  3. No new infrastructure projects that lock us into increased extraction decades into the future. The new iron law of energy development must be: if you wouldn’t want it in your backyard, then it doesn’t belong in anyone’s backyard.

  4. The time for energy democracy has come: wherever possible, communities should collectively control new clean energy systems. Indigenous Peoples and others on the frontlines of polluting industrial activity should be first to receive public support for their own clean energy projects.

  5. We want a universal program to build and retrofit energy efficient housing, ensuring that the lowest income communities will benefit first.

  6. We want high-speed rail powered by just renewables and affordable public transit to unite every community in this country – in place of more cars, pipelines and exploding trains that endanger and divide us.

  7. We want training and resources for workers in carbon-intensive jobs, ensuring they are fully able to participate in the clean energy economy.

  8. We need to invest in our decaying public infrastructure so that it can withstand increasingly frequent extreme weather events.

  9. We must develop a more localized and ecologically-based agricultural system to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, absorb shocks in the global supply – and produce healthier and more affordable food for everyone.

  10. We call for an end to all trade deals that interfere with our attempts to rebuild local economies, regulate corporations and stop damaging extractive projects.

  11. We demand immigration status and full protection for all workers. Canadians can begin to rebalance the scales of climate justice by welcoming refugees and migrants seeking safety and a better life.

  12. We must expand those sectors that are already low-carbon: caregiving, teaching, social work, the arts and public-interest media. A national childcare program is long past due.

  13. Since so much of the labour of caretaking – whether of people or the planet – is currently unpaid and often performed by women, we call for a vigorous debate about the introduction of a universal basic annual income.

  14. We declare that “austerity” is a fossilized form of thinking that has become a threat to life on earth. The money we need to pay for this great transformation is available — we just need the right policies to release it. An end to fossil fuel subsidies. Financial transaction taxes. Increased resource royalties. Higher income taxes on corporations and wealthy people. A progressive carbon tax. Cuts to military spending.

  15. We must work swiftly towards a system in which every vote counts and corporate money is removed from political campaigns.

    The Leap Manifesto Petition

Leap banner_0573

The idea that going green is going to cost us jobs is purely a myth.  Alberta’s lost  jobs are directly attributable to the fact the fossil fuel companies bailed when they failed to get the profit they wanted.  There’s plenty of evidence the reverse is true.  There is good information available on the Leap site, including downloadable info, a paper sign up sheet so people can get added to the petition &tc..  Best of all, there is an online list of signatories, so we know which of our family and friends are missing  😀

And the Fossil Fuel companies want pipelines, and now they are driving the political process with fear.  That’s why, in spite of everything we know, there is talk the Liberals want to fast track the Energy East Pipeline!  We must make sure the Paris Accord isn’t just window dressing and now they can get back to business as usual.  That’s why it is important.

Please sign, share, and talk to your family and friends about this.

wind turbine

Sign the Leap Manifesto

The Green Party has been on board with the Leap Manifesto from the start. Unfortunately Canada’s political will needs a bit of a push, what with the Alberta NDP pushing pipelines…

You can help by signing the Leap Manifesto petition online and you can also download it as a printable pdf file here.

WRGREENS FINALavatarI missed it when the CBC aired the “This Changes Everything” documentary this past Sunday
night, but I understand you can still watch it online at CBC (unfortunately not available for Free Software users). I think that’s the ink (but I can’t check.)

The Waterloo Region Greens are planning a local screening. Check back for details (or subscribe to the blog for updates).