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
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.
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.
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.
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.
On June 11th we are hosting a volunteer info night in Cambridge at Nature’s Vibe, 38 Grand Ave. South. We are hoping to build a campaign team for the Michele Braniff Campaign and eventually an EDA in Cambridge.
Back in 2015, Peter Bevan-Baker was the first Green ever elected in PEI. It was only the second time any third party had ever won a seat in PEI.
Then, in a 2017 by-election, Hannah Bell won a second Green seat.
I’m not a big believer in Opinion Polls in politics. Parties used to do them as research, to get a feel for how voters felt, and to get an idea which way they might vote (and what they could change to get voters to vote for their party). Largely because I think they’re misused. But it’s a good bet the only Opinion Polls we see today are only the ones whoever paid for them wants us to see. They are used as advertising. Propaganda to convince us how to vote. And in these days of decimated news rooms, main stream media outlets have taken to writing entire articles about Opinion Poll results: they’re treated as news by the main stream media.
The only Opinion Poll that counts is the one on Election Day. Even so, for the last year or so, the third party Greens have been consistently polling ahead of PEI’s Liberal Government. That’s not a single Opinion Poll, it’s a trend— and in a traditionally 2 party province. Clearly such a trend is a strong indication that voters are looking for change.
This trend made people start thinking and talking about the unthinkable… what if the upstart Greens, going into the election with only 2 MLAs — were to come out the other side with enough support to form government? Pretty wild idea, right?
Last night, PEI Greens MLA’s Peter Bevan-Baker and Hannah Bell were both re-elected to the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island. That was the first time any third party MLA had ever been re-elected in PEI.
It was also the first time a third party became a second party in PEI. The Greens are likely to form the Official Opposition (at minimum).
Although the Greens didn’t win enough seats (14) to claim a majority, they did win 8 seats. Clearly a Green record for Canada.
A clear majority— five of the eight elected Greens— are women. I understand no PEI party has ever managed anything like this before.
Added to the single female PC candidate, that makes six: a record number women sitting MLAs in PEI. Another First.
The ruling Liberals dropped to third place. The PEI Progressive Conservative Party had gone through 5 leaders in 5 years, but 2 months before this election, they chose a new leader. Under Dennis King’s leadership, the PC’s won 12 seats, two shy of a majority, but certainly enough for a minority government if he can get the Confidence of the House. The CBC commentators talked about how Mr King’s leadership style had contributed to the civility of the election. Listening to his own post election speech, peppered with words like collaboration and sustainability, he seems to be an old style PC, and it sounds as though the reimagined PC party will actually be both progressive and conservative under his leadership.
But its early days; we will need to see how it unfolds.
Under Westminster rules, Liberal Premier Wade MacLauchlan will be given an opportunity to win the confidence of the house. This seems unlikely as the outgoing Premier was unable to retain his own seat, and his party is down to 6 MLAs.
More likely possibilities are that Dennis King’s PCs could form an actual minority government on their own. Or his PCs could forge a Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Greens. Or the Liberals to ensure electoral stability for the next 4 years. Or the PCs could join with another party to form a ruling coalition.
Just as the Greens and Liberals could form a majority ruling coalition. My best guess is the PEI Greens won’t join a coalition with anyone; they’ve worked too hard to build a viable third party to turn PEI back into a 2 party province.
Is it really a Green wave sweeping the country? It sure looks like it. But if we had some form of Proportional Representation, there would be many more Green MPs in Parliament. Nearly a million voters voted Green federally in 2008. And not a single Green was elected that year. The GPC hasn’t earned that many votes since. That doesn’t mean those Green voter stopped being Green, they just stopped voting Green because voting Green wasn’t effective. So maybe it isn’t a “Green Wave” … maybe it’s just a case of the people who want to vote Green actually voting Green. Because they believe in the policy that’s been formed out of Green values. And they believe in the candidates who would best represent them.
However it plays out, it will be interesting. Go Greens!
WRGreens second nomination meeting has filled our slate of 2019 WRGreens candidates. Congratualations!
Cambridge GPC Candidate
Kitchener—Conestoga GPC Candidate
Kitchener South—Hespeler GPC Candidate
With all our candidates chosen, our 2019 candidates first official outing was the following Saturday’s pancake flipping team at the 2019 Elmira Maple Syrup Festival.
In 2015 WRGreens only female candidate was Michele Braniff in Cambridge. In 2018 we got closer to gender balance when Stacey Danckert ran in Kitchener Centre provincially. But now, in 2019, we are especially pleased to note the WRGreens gender imbalance now swings the other way, with 3 of our 5 (60%) candidates being women.
Come vote for your riding’s Green Party candidate for the 2019 Federal Election!
Whether you’re a GPC member or just considering green, you’re welcome to come along and hear from the candidate nominees and find out about the Green Wave growing in Waterloo Region and across Canada.
Returning Cambridge Candidate Michele Braniff was unable to attend the WRGreens preNomination meeting so there is no available video. Instead, you may listen to the tail end of the speech she gave at the Cambridge Greens launch last year.
Unfortunately Mr Henderson wasn’t at the prenomination event, so you’ll have to come out to the event to hear from him!
There will still be a contest for districts with only one nominee; the ballot also has a choice for “None Of The Above”.
In order to vote for a candidate your membership must have been activated by 6 March 2019, or if you have an expired membership you can renew it before or at the event.
6:30pm Doors open (hear the music)
7:15pm Official business gets underway: Introductions, hear from the candidate nominees and voting will ensue!
Musical performances will be scattered through the night and we’ll end with an opportunity to socialize. There’ll be light refreshments and additional food and beverage service will be available. Come early for a pre-event dinner!
What: Joint Nomination Contest for Cambridge, Kitchener—Conestoga, Kitchener South—Hespeler When: Thursday, 4 April 2019 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm Where: Edelweiss Tavern Location: 600 Doon Village Road, Kitchener, Ontario Map 1