Call to Action by Persons Concerned about MS

I receive many emails from local voters who ask me about specific issues that are important to them. Often, there is a pattern because a non-profit or advocacy organization has provided a well-drafted format and many concerned citizens follow the format and send me an email. This is the first in a series of blogs. I try to send a reply to each person but, in case things get busy, I am blogging my response.

The Green Party of Canada has a bold and innovative plan to re-imagine the future of Canadians.  The Plan has ten main areas of focus.  I have copied four headings from the standardized email (in bold) and included my comments. 

The emails usually ask about reform to EI Sickness Benefits and to the Canada Disability Benefit.  There have been recommendations in Canada since the March Report in the 1940’s and the Macdonald Commission in the 1960’s to avoid Canadians falling through the gaps of our social safety net.  The solution is to ensure a livable income or Guaranteed Livable Income, as it is now called.   

Make work…work

The Green Party of Canada supports moving to a Guaranteed Living Income.  Practical recommendations are at the GPC web-site at: https://www.greenparty.ca/en/reimagining-our-future/renegotiate-our-social-contract.  In addition, as part of the GPC’s focus on Re-Imagining a Safer, Fairer World, we have a strategy for a different kind of economic policy, specifically one which guarantees a good job for anyone who can work.  Rather than an economic system which always seeks unlimited growth, our goal is to maximize human (and environmental) health and well-being).  Check this out on the same web-page.

I was a self-employment advisor for Lutherwood in a program for entrepreneurship for persons with disability.  Through this experience, I am well aware of the disincentives to employment or self-employment by the current system which seems less about offering opportunities than preserving an unjust system built on stigma and barriers. 

Make ends meet

The Guaranteed Living Income would more equitably and efficiently allow for support for episodic disability.

Make access a reality

At the GPC web-site we Re-imagine Our Future. One of the ten areas reminds Canadians that “we are all in this together” with emphasis on taking care of each other.  An essential way to take care of each other is through a National Pharmacare system.  The Green Party sees enormous financial benefits in bulk buying through such a national system thereby lowering the over-all cost of health care while improving accessibility to important treatment.  Check this out at: https://www.greenparty.ca/en/reimagining-our-future/remember-we-are-all-in-this-together

The Green Party also advocates for National Standards and quality for long-term care with national guidelines for staffing and high quality of care and for more options for housing.  This is outlined at the remember-we-are-all-in-this-together link, noted above.

In addition, the Green Party has strategies for safe and affordable housing, with more funding for co-op, supportive and community-developed local housing.  This is part of our focus on Local and on Resilience. 

Check it out at: https://www.greenparty.ca/en/reimagining-our-future/resilience-is-local-and-made-in-canada

Make MS research a priority

One of the basic priorities for the Green Party is Evidence-Based Decision Making and the development of evidence-based policy making and increased socio-demographic data collection.  Greens advocate for government funded research to be available to all Canadians.  This is outlined at:  https://www.greenparty.ca/en/reimagining-our-future/require-evidence-based-decision-making

I believe an over-riding aspect of the emails like this one is the desire for consultation with respect to policy reform.  The Green Party is committed to grass roots democracy with our platform based on input from members and based on science, research and the lived experience of Canadians.  As an elected member of Parliament, I would consult with the community of self-advocates living with MS. 

I hope this blog helps voters who are concerned about MS. 

In Defence of Minority Government in a Democracy

Michele Braniff
Michele Braniff

I am running with the Green Party of Canada to initiate government policies to protect the planet and to create conditions for resilient people, families and communities. For me, it is all about environmental and social justice and democratic rights, responsibilities and values. As I have been campaigning and speaking to voters, many have questioned the safety of calling an election during a pandemic and expressed concern about how this fits with our Canadian democratic values.

The 43rd Parliament was the result of democracy at work: in 2019, Canadians voted so that no one party had a majority of the seats in Parliament. The Liberals won only 157 seats. The Samara Centre for Democracy explained in their December 2019 blog:

Minority governments often compel parties to work together, as the leading party must cooperate with Members of opposing parties in order to push forth their legislative agenda. Contrary to popular beliefs, some of the most productive governments in history have been minority governments. For example, the Canadian healthcare system was brought into place by a minority government.

Before and through the challenges of the COVID19 pandemic, the parties all worked together: there was compromise and collaboration. The 43rd Parliament was a functioning minority government with non-partisan support during a pandemic. Perhaps, history will regard this success as another example among “some of the most productive governments in history”. I would have liked to see: more leadership on the climate crisis; stronger reconciliation with Indigenous people; and a Green Recovery plan from the pandemic. Nevertheless, the government was functioning, as well as could be expected with Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister and a Liberal caucus.
Usually, a minority government ends because the governing party is not able to maintain the confidence of the House of Parliament. That is not what happened in August, 2021. The Liberals did not lose the confidence of Parliament on any policy, new laws or a budget. Parliament was functioning. Arguably, it was functioning extremely well in difficult conditions and because of shared concern for the safety of Canadians. In my view, it was functioning better as a minority government than the previous majority 2015 Liberal government.

In the midst of a pandemic, while the country is at risk of a fourth wave, Justin Trudeau decided to dissolve Parliament and call for an election. Canadians voted in 2019 so that no one party had a clear majority.

In the current “first-past-the-post system”, there are often “false majorities”, by which a minority of votes generates sufficient seats in the legislature for a majority government. In 2019, although the voting results were skewed, Canadians nevertheless did not agree to give any one party a majority of seats. If Canadians are not in agreement about leadership, the responsibility of the elected representatives is to work together, across party lines to develop consensus.

The Green Party advocates for electoral reform, including proportional representation; increased respect in Parliamentary debate; and greater non-partisan collaboration. A minority government requires non-partisan collaboration.

If politics in Canada were based on values, leaders would prioritize keeping Canadians safe during a pandemic. If politics were value-based, leaders would respect the decision of the 2019 election. If Canadians elect a minority government, there is a responsibility on the members of Parliament and especially the Prime Minister to work with the mandate from the electorate and resist the temptation to “shop” for a preferred mandate.
Vote for democracy: vote Braniff and the Green Party of Canada! Vote for a healthy planet, a resilient green economy and for social justice in Canada!

Green Drinks Cambridge

The gang attending Cambridge Green Drinks

Green drinks is not a partisan event: it is an opportunity for anyone to come out to discuss green issues and network.  That said, there are often Green party members in attendance.

Please come and join us for casual conversation.

February 7th, 2020

When:          Every 1st Friday

Time:          7:00 to 9:00 PM

Where:       Grand River Brewery, 295 Ainslie St S, Cambridge, ON N1R 3L3

Cambridge Green Drinks is a great way to meet new people and enjoy the company of good friends. So bring a friend and look forward to meeting new friends. It’s an engaging evening of green thinking, sharing, and networking at its best!

Check out what’s on tap.  Non-alcoholic beverages are available as well.  Please note, food is not available at this location, however, you may bring or order your own if you wish.

For more information:  i.douglas@rogers.com

Please feel free to forward this email and extend the invitation to other green minded folks you know!

Kitchener-Centre Annual General Meeting

Come out and join us as we begin a new year, and choose a new Executive Team. If you are a member (join here), you can vote in the election. We will have back-to-back AGMs to select the Provincial and Federal local teams.

Following the short meeting, stay for a Social during which time we’ll discuss how to move forward toward the next election.

January 23, 2020 7 pm

Old Boehmer Box Factory, 283 Duke St W, Kitchener, ON N2H 3X7, Canada

 

RSVP here

Still time to get a sign!

https://www.greenparty.ca/en/get-a-sign

It is October 1st, in less than 3 weeks a new parliament will have been elected.

There is lots you can do to help ensure Greens are elected in Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo and beyond!

  1. Volunteer to help your local candidate
  2. Donate money to your local candidate
  3. Get a Green sign for your lawn
  4. Tell 5 people you are Voting Green and Why
  5. All of the Above

https://www.greenparty.ca/en/get-a-sign

Braniff’s Blog

Mission Possible: A 20-Step Answer to a Truly Wicked Question 

How can Canada meet international commitments to respond to the current climate emergency while maintaining fiscal responsibility and a strong economy?

 Canada has declared a Climate Emergency; yet there is an ever-widening gap between Canada’s greenhouse gas reduction commitments and projected results of current government policy.  Recently, I talked to a young gentleman who identified himself as a “climate denier”; yet he agreed that Canada needs clean air, pure water and solid government leadership in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  The downside of ignoring man-made climate change is catastrophic but few people would argue that cleaning up to establish better stewardship of the planet is an unsafe or wasted effort. Nevertheless, we remain paralyzed in our policy response to the climate problem.   

The counter-argument seems to be that jobs, the economy and fiscal restraint are the focus of Canadian voters.  This approach is more a product of unhealthy politics than reality or logic. Yes, there are Canadians who are employed and heavily invested in the fossil-fuel energy sector.  Yes, there is heated regional conflict about investing in pipelines. Yes, current political debate has polarized the question into a false choice between the environment and the economy.  We need government leadership to mediate and negotiate through the conflicting interests to reach a satisfactory collaborative solution. What we need is social innovation in government.

Social Innovation has been successful in the business and non-profit sectors in Canada to develop creative, collaborative and brilliantly designed solutions to seemingly intractable challenges in resource management, delivery and other high-conflict disputes.   Social Innovation has been compared to improv-theatre or the improvisation of jazz musicians. Social Innovation puts away adversarial fighting and invites all stakeholders to collaborate based on shared values and goals. As I discussed in a previous blog, Social Innovation starts with a Wicked Question which juxtaposes opposing values or goals in creative tension.  It is like navigating downstream between a rock and a whirlpool. I have included an example of a Wicked Question in italics at the beginning of this blog. A wicked question is demanding and relentless with respect to the problem yet has room to be gentle and protective of the people involved. “How can Canada get fully on track for its GHG Emission Targets while also providing a transition plan and social safety net for the workers and families currently reliant on the fossil fuel economy as we develop a Greener Economy?”

Mission Possible is a very specific, measurable and attainable response to the wicked problem of climate change.  It is probably not the only answer to this truly wicked question, but a better strategy than the no-win competition that has been paralyzing our Parliament.  We need not choose between the economy and the environment. We need collaboration so we can do both! #socialinnovation  #wickedquestion #missionpossible #chooseboth

Braniff’s Blog

Mission Possible: 20 Steps for SMART Climate Action 

On May 8, 2019, the Green Party of Canada announced Mission Possible, a 20 step climate action plan that starts with declaring a climate emergency.  The second step is for an inner cabinet of all parties to provide government leadership to deal with the declared emergency.   A non-partisan cabinet was successful in both Canada and England during the Second World War. Climate change is an enduring and complex problem which requires long term planning and full collaboration across party lines.

Meanwhile, in Ottawa, that same month, the Liberal majority defeated an NDP motion to declare a climate emergency.  The next day, the Liberals brought forward their own motion to declare a climate emergency. Within hours, the Liberals also approved the Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion.   Andrew Scheer has not yet announced a policy on climate change but has been quoted by Maclean’s magazine: “It is bad, and we’ll find a way to do our part.”   There appears to be potential for consensus but no concerted, collaborative effort….yet.

Mission Possible: 20 Steps

As I write this blog, the election has not yet officially begun.  Yet, there seems to be plenty of jostling for votes. The traditional parties are making promises as usual:  promises that are vague and conditional upon getting a majority in the House of Commons. The Green Party, true to our commitment to do politics differently, has built Mission Possible on a platform of collaboration.  The promise is attainable and accountable.  If sufficient Green Party members are elected to the House of Commons to form or influence a minority government, the Green Party Mission Possible is ready for all-party collaboration to achieve Canadian non-partisan government leadership so that Canada can meet our commitments from the Paris Accord.   Remember that Mike Schreiner (Green MPP facing a Conservative majority government) was successful in securing unanimous support at Queen’s Park for Bill 71, Paris Galt Morraine Conservation Act.

There are 20 steps and each step meets the criteria of a SMART goal:  specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-limited. The Action Plan will be fully costed.  What this means is that Mission Possible is an action plan which Canadians can afford that provides a comprehensive blueprint for government leadership on an international crisis.  And, the plan offers complete and comprehensive accountability so that it will be easy to know if the goals for the 20 steps are achieved on schedule.   Mission Possible meets or exceeds the standards set by the “people’s platform” of the Canadian Green New Deal.  When it comes to climate action, we need to be SMART.   

#MissionPossible  #climateactionplan   #SMARTgoals #Braniffsblog

Braniff’s Blog

The Wicked Question of Right and Left

How can the Canadian Parliament provide progressive social policies which safeguard the environment, provide a social safety net for our most vulnerable citizens and keep Canadians healthy and safer while maintaining sound fiscal policies and a resilient economy?

Politics often slips into labels about left and right and this approach can be divisive and polarizing.  It is also not particularly helpful or useful when it comes to governance and leadership. If we think of movement, such as walking (whether by two or four legs or using a cane, crutches or wheelchair), balance and momentum require effort and coordination of both the left and the right.   The Green Party call to action is “Not left. Not right.  Forward Together”.

Canada faces complex, seemingly intractable social problems, that is, wicked problems.   There is a tendency to try and solve wicked problems with simple remedies (like a recipe) or to hire a team of experts (which is more appropriate for complicated problems).   Wicked Problems require collaboration, creativity and social innovation.   (If you want a practical and quick read on changing the world through social innovation, check out Getting to Maybe: How the World Is Changed by Frances R. Westley).    Social Innovation approaches complex social problems with “design thinking”, that is, the kind of creativity and teamwork for art, architecture or high-function, ergonomic tools and furniture. 

The Wicked Question: Courageous and Demanding in its Expectations

It begins with a wicked question.  A wicked question is not a riddle or a trick question.  This is an investigative question full of curiosity. A wicked question is designed to focus on the dilemma of holding opposites in creative tension.  For example, faced with the challenge of heating a room for people with varying comfort-levels, the wicked question would try to figure out how to make the room warm enough for Aunt Carol (who wears long pants all summer) without being too hot for Uncle Ray (who has been known to wear a spring jacket in a snowstorm).   The wicked question is courageous and demanding in its expectations. It is about navigating the course downstream between the rocks and the whirlpool. The wicked question is what you need to find your way when you are “between a rock and a hard place”.  

The question at the start of this blog (in italics) is an example of a wicked question about balancing concerns and values of the left and of the right.   We live together here in Canada; we share the same communities and the same wicked problems. We need to apply some design thinking to use social innovation and work better…. together.   

#wickedquestions #wickedproblems #forwardtogether #socialinnovation #braniffsblog