National Day of Action for Electoral Reform

National Day of Action for Electoral Reform | Journée Nationale de Mobilisation pour la Réforme ÉlectoraleWaterloo Region joins the National Day of Action for Electoral Reform
[sponsored by Fair Vote Waterloo]

Download the poster: posterFINAL.pdf (.PDF, 4 MBytes)

TIME & LOCATION

1:00pm at Carl Zehr Square at Kitchener City Hall confirmed! Map 1

WHY?

Justin Trudeau promised that 2015 would be the last First-Past-The-Post election and that the Liberals would introduce electoral reform legislation within 18 months. He promised to Make Every Vote Count.

Justin Trudeau a promis que 2015 serait la dernière élection menée sous le mode de scrutin uninominal à un tour. Il promettait aussi de faire en sorte que Chaque Vote Compte et que le gouvernement libéral légiférerait la réforme électorale dans les premiers 18 mois de son mandat.

On Wednesday, February 1, 2017, the Liberals abandoned that pledge. We urgently need to band together and tell our parliamentarians that we expect them to be true to their word and we want ELECTORAL REFORM NOW!

Le 1 février 2017, le gouvernement libéral abandonnait cette promesse. Il est urgent que les citoyens et citoyennes se mobilisent pour dire à nos parlementaires que nous attendons d’eux qu’ils tiennent leur parole et que nous demandons LA RÉFORME ÉLECTORALE DÈS MAINTENANT!

Please join us on February 11, 2017 on Parliament Hill and across the country to show your support for Electoral Reform!

Joignez-vous à nous le 11 février sur la colline parlementaire et partout au pays pour manifester votre appui pour la réforme électorale.

If you’re on Facebook you can sign up for this event at WR Electoral Reform National Day of Action

Don’t Let Rookie Minister Bury #ProportionalRepresentation

Justin Trudeau's Liberal 2015 Campaign Promise: We will make every vote count
Shortly after the ERRE Committee submitted its report, the Honourable Maryam Monsef was relieved of her position as Minister of Democratic Institutions in a cabinet shuffle.  An even younger rookie MP was elevated to the Minister of Democratic Institutions position.

Our electoral system is foundational to our democracy. At its core, is a question of how we, as Canadians, govern ourselves.Our government believes that time was needed to consult Canadians about this complex issue.  Our view has always been clear.   Major reforms to the electoral system, changes of this magnitude, should not be made if they lack the broad support of Canadians.

Public consultations came in many forms.  Members of Parliament were encouraged to hold Town Halls, to hear the views of their constituents. My predecessor travelled throughout the country visiting every province and territory, to host similar Town Halls on behalf of the government.

An All Party Special Committee of the House of Commons worked long hours and in December produced a thorough report that documents the many complexities of electoral reform.

In recent weeks, more than 360,000 Canadians participated in mydemocracy.ca to provide their insight into our democratic values.

Now, following all of these consultations, it has become clear that Canadians have a range of views about whether to continue using the current First Past The Post system to elect MPs to the House of Commons.

We respect and thank all those who have come forward to participate in these discussions. It has informed our decision. And it has become evident that the broad support needed among
Canadians for a change of this magnitude does not exist.

[en francais]

Therefore, my mandate letter states a clear preference for a new electoral system, let alone a consensus, has not emerged.

Furthermore, without a clear preference or a clear question a referendum would not be in Canada’s Interest.

Changing the electoral system is not in my mandate.

We have listened to all Canadians in this debate.

To Canadians who cherish their democracy and who value the direct connection they have with their Member of Parliament.

Canadians want their Parliamentarians to work with each other and to cooperate on policy.

They want their government to be accountable.

They want their MPs to act in the interest of their constituents.

We agree.

My job is to strengthen and protect our democratic institutions and ensure they represent the values of Canadians. We are moving to accomplish that mandate.

CPAC: Karina Gould, the new Minister of Democratic Institutions, announcing government decision to break its campaign pledge to change Canada’s voting system. [begins at about 4 minute mark]

The New Minister Karina Gould Buries Proportional Representation

Can we afford not to implement electoral reform?  Long term planning doesn’t often happen in winner-take-all systems.  That’s part of why Canada is so far behind the curve in green tech, public transit, climate change, eliminating poverty etc.

Even when we do get good policy chances are good it won’t last through policy lurch.

What Can We Do?

Use the Green Party of Canada tool to send a message:
A Broken Promise to Canada

EVENTS

Sunday February 5th, 2017
GUELPH Rally for Proportional Representation
Guelph City Hall   1PM

Rally organised by Fair Vote Guelph
https://www.facebook.com/events/1852627561618419/
MP Longfield acknowledges that recent poll results in Guelph in support of
Proportional Representation are valid.
We need visible support at the rally to show our government that we want PR.
Please come to the Rally for PR  on Sunday at Guelph City Hall at to support  a fair open and transparent Democratic process .

.



Wednesday February 8th, 2017
Call-Blitz and Tweet-Storm
* All Day *
Contact:

  • your local MP,
  • the Prime Minister’s Office and
  • Karina Gould

Respectfully express your opinion, tell them we’ll #seeyousaturday


Saturday February 11, 2017
NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION
Canada Wide Protest
Be LOUD ~ Be HEARD.

Cross Canada Protest Times

Atlantic           15:00
Eastern           14:00
Central           13:00
Mountain/SK 12:00
Pacific           11:00
@JustinTrudeau and the #LPC promised that 2015 would be our last #FPTP election. #PerformOnReform
https://www.facebook.com/events/885031191552272/



We can also call or write our Waterloo Region Liberal MPs

Bryan May
Bryan.May.P9@parl.gc.ca
+1-613-996-1307 – Ottawa Office
+1-519-624-7440 – Cambridge Office

Bardish Chagger
Bardish.Chagger.P9@parl.gc.ca
+1-613-996-5928 – Ottawa  Office
+1-519-746-1573 – Waterloo Office
Raj Saini
Raj.Saini.P9@parl.gc.ca
+1-613-995-8913 – Ottawa Office
+1-519-741-2001 – Kitchener Office
Marwan Tabbara
Marwan.Tabbara.P9@parl.gc.ca
+1-613-992-1063 – Ottawa Office
+1-519-571-5509 – Kitchener Office

Justin Trudeau
Justin.Trudeau.P9@parl.gc.ca
+1-613-995-0253 – Ottawa Office
+1-514-277-6020 – Montreal Office

The Waterloo Region Record
letters@therecord.com

Raj Saini
Raj Saini
Marwan Tabbara
Marwan Tabbara
bryanmay
Bryan May
bardishchagger
Bardish Chagger

 

Tragedy in Sainte-Foy, Québec

The MONTREAL GAZETTE reports:
6 dead, 8 injured in terrorist attack at Quebec City mosque
On January 29th, 2017
pq-flag-stainte-foy-flag

Our hearts go with Alex Tyrrell, leader of the Quebec Green Party who will attend the citizen’s initiative Vigile de solidarité avec les musulman-es de Québec #SalamQc.

Here in Waterloo Region we’re having our own Prayer and Solidarity Vigil organised by @KitchenerMasjid tonight from 6:00 – 7:00 pm at Kitchener City Hall


Elizabeth May tweeted:

Devastated to hear of murderous attack on Quebec City mosque. As Greens, we join Prime Minister in condemning attack. It is heartbreaking.
WRGreens are in full agreement with the sentiments expressed by Ms. May and Prime Minister Trudeau.

To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada

WRGreens stand with all Canadians who believe we must extend a safe haven to those newly denied by President Trump’s latest Executive Order.

We sincerely hope the Prime Minister follows up… and because things often get lost in the shiffle, it never hurts to remind our elected officials (especially in a winner-take-all democracy) that we really do expect them to see it through.   Just in case, supporting the Leadnow Petition to Tell Trudeau: Welcome Those Fleeing Violence and Deportation Under Trump may very well help.

Attacking innocents is not the Canadian Way.  Our strength is in our diversity.
wrgreens-blogo-bordered

Go Green on Social Media

social-media-iconsThe 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.
wrgreens-logo-banner
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.

Let’s work together to change the world.

WRGreens are on YouTube!

Introducing the WRGreens YouTube Channel. Until recently the only thing we’ve had are playlists, mostly of WRGreens video online from previous elections.

But in December I made WRGreens very first short video about the GPC SGM adoption of the Indigenous suite of policy.

And I’ve also just posted a video of Bob Jonkman (Kitchener-Conestoga) presenting the round table report at the Waterloo Region Basic Income Pilot Consultation in Waterloo Region.

While it’s good the Provincial Liberals have expressed the intention of piloting Basic Income, it is important to engage as much as possible.  Done right, the evidence shows Basic Income would actually save the government money, in both direct (less bureaucracy) and indirect (healthier, better educated and more productive citizens), there is a very real concern that instead of doing it right, they’ll try to amplify the direct savings by making the basic Income amount too low, or making other cuts, to public housing, say.

If you haven’t already, please complete the online Basic Income Pilot Consultation survey (and encourage others to do so as well) — and be sure to recommend Waterloo Region as a pilot site!   Basic Income Waterloo Region has some compelling reasons why Waterloo Region would be an excellent Pilot choice.

Find out more from Basic Income Waterloo Region!
Find out more from Basic Income Waterloo Region!

And if you have a You Tube account, don’t forget to follow WRGreens ~ and share our videos too!

Bob Jonkman looking through the Basic Income handout.

Welcome 2017

Dreaming of A Green New Year

There are several important events coming up in the new year that may be of interest to Waterloo Region Greens.  Our calendar will keep you up to date on any WRGreens events, as well as events put on by other organizations that may be of interest to local Greens.


Provincial Basic Income Consultation

GPOflag avatar smallFriday January 13th, 2016

6:30 – 9:00pm
Kitchener City Hall
200 King Street West
Kitchener, ON
N2G 4G7

Register for the Kitchener Consultation here.

You can make an online submission until January 31, 2017

Basic Income Waterloo meets with Richard Walsh and Bob Jonkman at the Waterloo Greens Office during the 2015 election
Basic Income Waterloo meets with Richard Walsh and Bob Jonkman at the Waterloo Greens Office during the 2015 election

“Basic income is an idea which provides a different approach to income security and reducing poverty,” the statement said. “It’s important we hear as many views as possible to ensure we get this right.”

The ministry says it’s particularly interested in thoughts about how the pilot program is designed, including who should be eligible, which communities to include, and how it will be evaluated.

“What they’re doing is trying to collect information in order to build a position. It’s very difficult (for us) to take a firm position at this point because we don’t actually know what the province is going to end up doing,” Bartholomew-Saunders said. “They’re collecting information to determine what they’re going to be doing.”

— Kitchener Post: Public invited to have say on basic guaranteed income

Guaranteed Livable Income was an important part of the 2015 GPC platform, and remains as party policy, so we are pleased to see the Ontario Liberals proceed with this program.   The danger is that it could actually make Ontario poverty conditions worse if implemented badly. 

Find out more about Basic Income from our own long time local advocacy group, Basic Income Waterloo Region.


GPC Federal Council Meeting

Sunday 22 January 22nd, 2017
6 to 8 pm EST

Any Green Party member (in good standing) is welcome to attend GPC Federal Council Meetings online. The next meeting will be on Sunday, January 22nd from 6 to 8 pm EST.

If you wish to attend, you can register here


Trusted Clothes Swap at KCI

Saturday, January 28th, 2017
10:30am – 1:00pm
Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate and Vocational School
787 King St W,
Kitchener, ON N2G 1E3

Bring your gently used, clean clothes that you don’t want any more and leave with new (to you) stuff!  We will be accepting donations beginning at 10:30am, event starts at 11. The event is COMPLETELY FREE and aims to raise awareness about textile waste and how our clothes affect the environment.  No under garments or lingerie accepted please!  There is free parking available at the KCI lot, just off King Street. Public transit also available via route 7 from Uptown Waterloo. You can swap men’s wear, women’s wear, kids clothes, jackets, shoes and accessories. Please share this invite with your family and friends. No tears or stains. Just bring items you would bring home. Our past clothing swaps have been featured on CBC, CTV, and various newspapers and magazines within the Waterloo Region.
If you or someone you know is interested in helping out at the event please send an email to events@trustedclothes.com.

There is free parking available at the KCI lot, just off King Street. Public transit is also available via route 7 from Uptown Waterloo.

[Note: the school was formerly Kitchener Collegiate Institute, and is still known locally as KCI]


GPC Online Ratification Vote

gpcflag-avatarFinally, there is the online vote to ratify the policy adopted at the December SGM in Calgary.  All GPC members can (and should) participate in the ratification vote until February 6th, 2017.

Don’t leave it until the last minute!


You’ll find these — and more as we hear about them—  in the WRGreens Calendar you can always find in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Be sure to keep an eye on this calendar  for future Green events and outings (movie nights, learning communities, etc.) in Waterloo Region.

Subscribe to the blog (click the green “follow blog” button at the top of the sidebar) for regular updates.

This is going to be a very good year!

 

Responsibility & Snow Clearance

It seems that there are a differing opinions when it comes to snow clearance in Waterloo Region, particularly Kitchener. From an article in The Record to an article in the Kitchener Post, citizens have quite varied views as to where responsibility for snow clearance lies. Being a person with a physical disability or difference that influences my ability to navigate built environments as well as natural environments, I have felt a need to take a stand on the issue.

Each time I see posts regarding this topic lately on social media, a question comes to mind that I haven’t noticed anyone else discussing in their comments. I ponder what role a province that has legislation in place that suggests it will reach full accessibility in just 7 or 8 years time has in making it possible for a person with mobility issues to be able to go and get their groceries or to meet a friend for a warm beverage. The individual who has mobility issues may not be physically able to clear the snow properly and therefore should not be expected to do so themselves. They may not have the financial resources to hire someone to clear the snow for them either.

If they are using a service such as Mobility Plus for transportation which offers accessible door to accessible door service, one could argue that the fire department needs to be called if snow is not cleared well enough for a driver to safely assist an individual in reaching the entrance of their building that should be cleared by the owner of the property if not the municipality. The driver cannot lift the individual and their wheelchair out of the vehicle, nor should they be expected to do so. Providing accessibility services does not make one superhuman.

We do not have universal rules across the province for snow clearance. We have corporations that own some properties, home owners that have their own properties, and we have other situations such as co-operatives and businesses which are each unique. If there were universal snow clearance rules that allowed barrier free access to all in a fair and equal manner, all parties of ownership would be able to operate the same in each jurisdiction.

snow

#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.

Happy Human Rights Day!

The Green Party of Canada has a lot to be proud of on this International Human Rights Day, having just adopted groundbreaking Indigenous Rights policies ~ including Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery ~ as well as a robust addendum to existing GPC policy on Israel and Palestine to stand up for human rights for Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories ~ in its Special General Meeting in Calgary last weekend.

Elizabeth May ~ SGM 2016 CC-by laurelrusswurm
Elizabeth May at the Calgary SGM

International Day for Human Rights is a time to stop and reflect on the rights our predecessors have fought so hard for us to enjoy today.  Good governance is key to promoting human rights. Unfortunately, few of us consider our right to have representatives in government who truly reflect the values that each of us cherish. Our current voting system denies a majority of Canadians representation because of our antiquated winner-take-call voting system,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands).

“After country-wide consultations, the all-party Special Committee on Electoral Reform recommended that we get rid of First Past the Post and move to a system of proportional representation. In a country as diverse as Canada, our growth as a democracy depends on all communities being integrated into our national fabric. Ignoring the cries of our indigenous peoples has blotched our international reputation and led to wounds that will take generations to heal. The hyper-partisan attacks and lack of dialogue, created by a Parliament which vetoes rather than encourages collaboration among Parties, has resulted in growing political apathy,” Ms. May said.

Joe Foster, GPC Human Rights Critic, said: “If our democracy is to flourish in the 21st Century, Canada’s electoral system must be more accountable to the citizens it represents. Politics is the tool we use to design a social and economic framework that allows us to have the freedoms expressed in the Canadian Human Rights Charter and its sister, the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Electoral reform is an issue of human rights.”

Canada’s Water Protectors: Chippewas of the Thames

Chippewas of the Thames marched at last years People’s Climate March in Waterloo ~ November 29th, 2016

If you can donate to only one thing this year, I hope you’ll make that a donation to the Chippewas of the Thames.

Supreme Court Grants Chippewas of the Thames First Nation Challenge to Line 9: Community Hopeful of Meaningful Consultation with the Crown

MUNCEY, March 10, 2016 – the Supreme Court of Canada has granted the Chippewas of the Thames leave to appeal a decision of the Federal Court of Appeal relating to an Application before the National Energy Board to repurpose the Line 9 Pipeline.

At issue is whether the Crown exercised its duty to meaningfully consult and accommodate the Chippewas on a project that may potentially impact their Aboriginal and Treaty rights. The Chippewas are challenging the Crown’s paternalistic policies based on denial and extinguishment of rights. Relying on s. 35 of the Constitution and previous Supreme Court rulings, the First Nation continues to urge negotiation and reconciliation.

Chief of the Chippewas of the Thames, Leslee White-Eye welcomed the decision, saying, “Our community is pleased by this forward step but the path before us is still long as we continue to seek protection of our Aboriginal and Treaty rights. We need to bring home that we are not acting alone in the action, nor that it is for our sole benefit but an attempt to seek protection of our water – these energy developments are one of many across the nation impacting our rights”.

According to Chief White-Eye, “Our members were very distressed by the Federal Court of Appeal’s dismissal of the appeal when they failed to acknowledge our Aboriginal and Treaty rights.  The Court did not consider previous decisions, which establish the Crown’s duty to meaningfully consult with and accommodate us on projects that may potentially impact those rights, such as Line 9.”

The Crown’s failure to consult has stalled negotiations, prevented Chippewas of the Thames from benefiting from their collective rights and has impeded economic development for all stakeholders. It has also undermined the Nation’s development as a government. Still, Chief White-Eye remains optimistic by stating that “a positive final decision from the Supreme Court will hopefully pave the way for reconciliation with the Crown.”

Supreme Court Grants Chippewas of the Thames First Nation Challenge to Line 9: Community Hopeful of Meaningful Consultation with the Crown

Myneengun Henry of Chippewas of the Thames
Myneengun Henry of Chippewas of the Thames discusses the issues after the 2016 People’s Climate March

The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation is headed to the Supreme Court of Canada this month for an appeal hearing on the change to the pipeline which travels through Chippewas land, a change which members — along with critics and environmentalists — warn could lead to an environmental catastrophe.

The reversal has been greenlighted by the National Energy Board, but, the Chippewas aruge, without the Crown first fulfilling its constitutional duty to consult the First Nation.

While the appeal takes place at the Supreme Court, supporters are organizing a “fill-the-Hill” demonstration in Ottawa that aims to get attention on Parliament Hill down the street.

“The immediate plan now is to bring attention to the Supreme Court,” said Chippewas of the Thames Chief Leslee White-Eye.

“If there is an opportunity to unify physically in support of water, future generations and a long-term plan, we can convey those messages and show that solidarity on the outside,” said White-Eye.

“We want to work together. We want to be working with all Canadians on . . . in terms of water protection and the fossil fuel industry and nation-to-nation relationships with First Nations in Canada.

“The decision is going to have considerable impacts either way. I’m calling on Canadians — all of us, as folks that are living in Canada, to reflect at their dinner tables about their make-up. This really does matter. . . How we raise our children to value water.”

—  Chippewas of the Thames is headed to Canada’s highest court to fight the Line 9 oil-flow reversal

People's Climate March
People’s Climate March

Chippewas of the Thames  are appealing the National Energy Board’s approval of Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline to the Supreme Court.

This project will carry tar sands diluted bitumen through southern Ontario and east for export.

Donate to the Chippewas Line 9 opposition GoFundMe campaign here.

Attend the Supreme Court Rally in Ottawa!

There’s a Kitchener GoFundMe Campaign to help people get to Ottawa

On November 30th, on unceded Algonquin territory in Ottawa, Clyde River Inuit and the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation are heading to the Supreme Court to uphold the legal right of Indigenous People to be consulted on energy projects that will impact their communities. A win at the court could be a watershed for the future of Indigenous rights and environmental justice.

Bus Tickets: Supreme Court Rally – Clyde River and Chippewas of the Thames

For those wishing to attend (and/or help others attend) the Supreme Court Rally: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/bus-tickets-supreme-court-rally-clyde-river-and-chippewas-of-the-thames-tickets-2855632975

If you are unable to attend the court support rally, you can show support by signing this petition:

Demand the NEB respect Indigenous Rights! Sign to support Chippewas of the Thames First Nation!

The Chippewas of the Thames need to raise additional funds.  Please donate if you can: https://chippewassolidarity.org/en

Further reading:
The Star: The Chippewas of the Thames protest pipeline
Supreme Court of Canada Docket Page  
Chippewas of the Thames Factum for the Line 9 case before the Supreme Court of Canada:

 


Image Credits

Photos by Laurel L. Russwurm released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.  You’ll find more photos in my Flickr album.