A made-in-Ontario Climate Change Plan

Liberal MPs Marwan Tabbara, Bardish Chagger, Raj Saini, Bryan May and Conservative MP Harold Albrecht
Liberal MPs Marwan Tabbara, Bardish Chagger, Raj Saini, Bryan May and Conservative MP Harold Albrecht  Waterloo Region Climate Change Consultation, Kitchener, 2016

When I attended the Kitchener Climate Change Consultation in 2016 it was incredible to see all 5 Waterloo Region MPs in attendance, not just the 4 new Liberal MPs, but my own Conservative MP Harold Albrecht was there too.

Facilitator David Weber

Unsurprisingly 3 of our WRGreen candidates were there helping facilitate the discussions.

I believe our Kitchener Climate Consultation was the biggest one held across Canada.  It had more than a full slate of MPs, there were hundreds of engaged citizens there to participate.

There was a lot of great discussion and valuable input as citizens brainstormed ways we could come together and bring Climate Change to heel.

Facilitator Stacey Danckert

It was a heady time.  Critical thinking and creativity came together as citizens from across the political spectrum contributed different pieces of the solution to Climate Change, the existential global crisis of our time.

But Waterloo Region was up for it. We were ready.

Each round table discussion yielded up a blueprint of action.  And at the end of the day, each table’s facilitators presented a verbal report of the high points to the entire assembly.

Although all 5 Waterloo Region MPs were there, its pretty clear none of them actually listened.

Former Progressive Conservative Party Leader Patrick Brown had had a fully costed moderate election platform complete with carbon tax.  But it seems the PC Party backroom boys weren’t ready for a carbon tax, so Mr Brown and his platform were replaced with Mr Ford and a series of off-the-cuff promises masquerading as a platform.

One of the huge costs associated with winner-take-all politics is the policy lurch that happens when a centrist party is replaced by a right wing party.  Which is exactly what we’re seeing here in Ontario.

But even before winning the leadership or the election, one thing Doug Ford was *always* clear about was his intention to get rid of the Liberal’s Cap & Trade carbon mitigation system.

CARBON PRICING

With Climate Change breathing down our necks, carbon pricing is intended to disincentivise Green House Gas emissions.  It does this by forcing polluters to take financial responsibility for the pollution they generate.

Cap and Trade revenue flowing into Government coffers is supposed to help government finance our necessary transition to a sustainable economy.

While it is clear that carbon pricing is imperative, personally, I am not at all unhappy to see the dismantling of the McGuinty-Wynne Cap and Trade system, although a more orderly change would have been nice.

One big problem with Ontario’s Cap and Trade was that its carbon targets simply weren’t anywhere close to being high enough.

Another was that as many as 100 of the worst corporate polluters were exempted.

From my perspective, the worst thing about Cap and Trade is that it creates a government revenue stream.   Governments get very attached to revenue streams.   And the Ontario Liberals had made good use of the Cap and Trade funds that flowed into government coffers.

What do schools have to do with Carbon Pricing?

Ontario schools have been struggling since the 1990’s when the Mike Harris Sr government diverted education tax funds from community school boards into the general government coffers.  Now, instead of dispensing all the funds collected for Ontario elementary and high school education through property tax directly to the schools, in the name of “efficiency” education funding was suddenly dependent on a “funding formula” that was more about redistributing education tax than educating our kids.

Government works in mysterious ways… instead of fixing this elementary school, they built a new one.

Suddenly there wasn’t enough money in the Education budget for elementary school music class and librarians.  In the rich province of Ontario, school budgets were reduced the bare minimum to function.  Chronic underfunding begun by the Mike Harris Sr PC government and carried on by the McGuinty-Wynne Liberals  over decades naturally meant there was never enough funding to properly maintain the infrastructure.

But when school buildings began to crumble across the province, the Liberals had to do something: and so some of the Cap and Trade revenue was earmarked to fix our schools.   (Although spun in the media as needed repairs, in truth these funds were supposed to be used to retrofit schools to make them more energy efficient.)     Sadly even that is gone now, and the folks at http://fixourschools.ca/ will tell you that Ontario schools still need a whole lot of fixing.

Federal Backstop Carbon Pricing

Canadians for Carbon Dividends Ontario Chart

But Ontario’s carbon pricing void will presently be filled with a different kind of carbon pricing, as the Federal Government implements a Carbon Fee and Dividend regime.

This is the carbon pricing policy advocated by both federal and Provincial Green Parties in Canada because it is a much more equitable system.

The fees collected from industry polluters don’t go to line government coffers, but are instead payed out directly to citizens to help us weather the transition.

The dividends counter the price increases industry will pass on to consumers.  The way it works out is that consumers with the smallest carbon footprint actually come out ahead.

Even so, it still is not enough.

The IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made it clear that we aren’t doing nearly enough to address Climate Change.  They’ve given us a timeline of 12 years, and time is running out.

While we need to get the new federal Carbon Pricing system up and running, it is only the start.

So it is a very good thing Ontario’s Doug Ford PC Government has stepped up and is conducting its own

Consultation: A made-in-Ontario climate change plan

We never know if our winner-take-all governments will listen, but when they ask us for input on important issues, it is well worth responding.  Even if they ignore what we have to say, at least we will be on the record.  And the record will be there for the next government.

It is very important for us to respond, to make sure our new PC Government understands Ontario expects serious climate change policy.

This consultation tells us they want our opinions, but they don’t want our names. The only way to participate is to do so anonymously on a web form.

Tips

Your submission does not need to be a scholarly work; you can write as much or as little as you’re comfortable with.  When filling in any kind of web form, it’s easiest to prepare your answer offline.  That way you won’t accidentally send it before you’re finished, and you can keep a copy of the submission you wrote.  It is always an excellent idea to make as much noise as we can publicly online.  If you have a blog, share it there and/or sharing on twitter or Facebook or whatever other social media you use.   Sharing online can inspire others to participate, and the greater the response the consultation gets, the better.  If you don’t have a place to share online, feel free to share your submission with us, and we’ll publish it here on the blog.

You might find inspiration in the  Rise For Climate Waterloo Region submission or suggestions made at the Federal Climate Change Consultation.  

About this consultation

Our quality of life depends on clean air to breathe, safe water to drink, and well-protected lands and parks.

Later this fall, Ontario will release a plan that will identify specific areas of focus to help us tackle and be more resilient to climate change.

This will be the first part of a broader approach that will protect clean air and water, encourage conservation and do more to address urban litter and waste.

This made-in-Ontario solution will strike the right balance between protecting our environment and responsibly supporting a prosperous economy.

Areas of focus

The plan will include several areas of focus, such as:

  • Creating an understanding of the effects that climate change is having on our households, businesses, communities and public infrastructure to better prepare and strengthen our resiliency.
  • Ensuring polluters are held accountable and creating dedicated measures that will efficiently reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Improving Ontario’s business climate by unlocking the power of the private sector to finance and drive innovative climate solutions. This will include an emissions-reduction fund to invest in technology-based and other solutions to reduce emissions in Ontario.
  • Finding a balanced solution that puts people first, makes life more affordable for families, and takes Ontario’s role in fighting climate change seriously.

These areas will help ensure our investments in climate action effectively balance greenhouse gas reductions while supporting economic prosperity and Ontario families.

https://www.ontario.ca/form/tell-us-your-ideas-climate-change?

⇒ Ontario Climate Consultation webform

Pharmacare Town Hall Wednesday!

Of all the countries that provides citizens with Universal Health Care, did you know Canada is the only country that doesn’t also have Universal Pharmacare?

In 2014, Dr. Eric Hoskins ~ Ontario’s Liberal Minister of Health and Long-Term Care ~ wrote an OpEd for the Globe and Mail explaining Why Canada needs a national pharmacare program

It has been estimated that Universal public drug coverage would:

  • reduce total spending on prescription drugs in Canada by $7.3 billion
  • save the Private Sector $8.2 billion
  • increase costs to government $1.0 billion

A Mowat Centre study published by  in in 2015 goes even further:

“Overall, it estimates a universal pharmacare plan would save up to $11.4 billion a year, with $1 billion of that saved just by no longer duplicating administrative costs in the current “patchwork” system.”

However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberal Government have more important things to worry about than the health of its citizens, so the Ontario Liberals Government has stepped up to the plate with an intention to add publicly funded pharmacare coverage for children and youth ~ adding to the patchwork system.

“Because Ontario is adding universal, comprehensive pharmacare coverage to the age group that uses medicines least often. Many working-age Ontarians, who are far more likely to require medicines than children, will still be uninsured.”

Why a universal pharmacare plan makes sense — now

Town Hall Meeting

This Wednesday, June 28th, the new KW Chapter of the Council of Canadians is hosting a Pharmacare Town Hall Meeting from 7 – 9pm at First United Church in Waterloo (map).  Kitchener Centre MP Raj Saini (a pharmacist before going into politics) will be representing the Liberal Party,  Kitchener-Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife will be representing the NDP, and our own Stacey Danckert will be there speaking for the Greens.

With a provincial election in the offing, this should be a lively event.  We hope to see you there!

Sign The Petition

Until July 13th you can sign Steve Morgan’s ePetition E-959 (HEALTH CARE SERVICES)

which calls upon the Government of Canada to:

1. Implement through a Federal law, a Pan-Canadian Universal Pharmacare Plan, in this 42nd Parliament; and
2. Implement a National Formulary for medically necessary drugs including a drug monitoring agency providing regulations and oversight to protect Canadians.
Even though the Trudeau government has demonstrated its unwillingness to do what Canadians ask in such petitions, it doesn’t hurt to try.

For more information download the PDFs of the Pharmacare studies:

CMAJ:  Estimated cost of universal public coverage of prescription drugs in Canada

Mowat Centre: Unfilled Prescriptions: the Drug Coverage Gap in Canada’s Health Care Systems



Postscript

I’ve just learned Kitchener—Centre Liberal MP Raj Saini has backed out.

Dr. Sherilyn Houle (UW School of Pharmacy) will also be joining the panel.

#KeepYourPromise Tour: Debate or Discourse?

We Greens know better than anyone just why we need electoral reform.  But we also know how important it is to work across party lines.  And this is one of those times.

This is the last full week for the five By-elections.

Perhaps the strongest message Canadians can send the Trudeau Government ~ especially the many Canadian Liberals waiting for the promised electoral reform ~ would be to keep the Liberal By-election candidates in contested ridings from going to Ottawa.

While such tactical voting wouldn’t topple the Liberal majority, when the dust settles Mr. Trudeau and his Caucus would know just how serious Canadians ~ including the Liberals who gave them their majority ~ are about Proportional Representation.

Unfortunately we do know how hard it is to make our wishes known at the ballot box with our inequitable winner-take-all system, so we can’t count on achieving that goal.  Which is why we need to help keep the pressure up any way we can.

That’s why Waterloo Region Greens are encouraged to come out to the Kitchener Public Library to catch the Waterloo Region visit of Elizabeth May’s #ERRE colleague Nathan Cullen.  The ERRE Committee’s NDP Co-Chair is crossing Canada to visit Liberal ridings to demonstrate how much support there actually is for electoral reform with his #KeepYourPromise Tour.

For this Waterloo Region event, Mr. Cullen has invited Kitchener—Centre Liberal MP Raj Saini to join him for discussion or debate.  We know Mr. Saini did an excellent job explaining the virtues of Proportional Representation (and outlining the process the Liberal Party would undertake to make it happen) at the #KitCen Electoral Reform debate held by Fair Vote Waterloo during the election.  Perhaps Mr. Saini can explain what went wrong, or why the Liberal Party failed to support the Electoral Reform promise as he assured us he would, or even why he’s changed his tune now that his party has its own phony majority.  Will MP Raj Saini be brave enough to face his constituents on this?

What we all need to remember is the reason Mr. Trudeau made his
Last First Past The Post promise (and repeated it in the Throne Speech, then launched the Electoral Reform Consultation) in the first place was because there is a lot of Liberal support for Proportional Representation.  Back in December of 2015, the majority of sitting LPC MPs voted with the NDP to adopt Proportional Representation.  Enough for Stéphane Dion to design his own Proportional system.  And, as Bardish Chagger told Waterloo voters during her Electoral Reform Debate in Waterloo, there was overwhelming support for the electoral reform policy resolution that Mr. Trudeau’s electoral reform promise was based on.  So please, bring along your Liberal friends too!

“There’s one last vote on electoral reform in Parliament before the May deadline. After that, it could be too late to set up a new voting system in time for the next election.

This spring, MPs will vote on whether to accept the recommendations of the Canada-wide consultation tour, including that the government hold a referendum where Canadians can choose between the current voting system and a proportional one.

We just need 20 Liberal MPs to keep their promise and vote YES to electoral reform.

Nathan Cullen

Send your friends and family in other parts of Canada to the NDP website [http://keepyourpromise.ndp.ca/] to learn when the Broken Promise Tour will be coming their way!

Help convince Liberal MPs to keep their promise and vote YES to electoral reform before the May vote.

Three Ways to Help Canada win this vote!

#1 Bring your family and friends ~ no matter what their politics are ~ along to hear what Nathan Cullen has to say.

#2 Circulate the Petition and ask your family, friends and neighbours to sign on.

Go door to door, or spend an hour or two with your clipboard outside City Hall, your grocery store, Speakers Corner etc.
Get signatures at family gatherings or local activities or events (ie after church, at PTA or service club meetings, fundraising events etc.)

Petition calling on the Government of Canada to keep its promise of electoral reform.

#3 Download & mail Nathan Cullen’s Postcard

Download the “Keep Your Promise” post card

Fair Vote Waterloo will surely have their lovely #KeepYourPromise postcards for Mr. Trudeau (and for Waterloo Region Greens in Kitchener Centre, they will likely have some Raj Saini a postcards).  You can even send your own letter to your Liberal MP (better yet, say it is an open letter and send a copy to the Record!)

Fair Vote Canada’s “Keep Your Promise” postcard, and our Waterloo Region Chapter’s postcard for Kitchener Centre MP Raj Saini quoting his own words from the 2015 Election campaign.

Electoral reform is not dead, the movement is growing.
Because every vote should count.



Photo Credit: Nathan Cullen portrait by Jonathan Allard released under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike License.

Canada’s Voting System Is Changing

Stanley Park Community Centre - Maryam Monsef's National Electoral Reform Community Dialogue Tour

Maryam Monsef, Minister of Democratic Institutions“For the past month I’ve been traveling across Canada hearing from Canadians directly on the values and expectations they feel should be reflected in Canada’s electoral system.

At every stop, it is clear; Canadians expect greater inclusion, transparency, engagement and modernization from their public institutions.”

— The Hon. Maryam Monsef,
Minister of Democratic Institutions ~ Ottawa, ON, Sept. 15, 2016

Hundreds of Waterloo Region residents crowded into the Stanley Park Community Centre on Wednesday night for a chance to participate in the Federal Electoral Reform Consultation with the the Honourable Maryam Monsef, the Minister of Democratic Institutions.  Ms. Monsef shared the stage with local LPC Mps, the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Bryan May, Marwan Tabbara and Kitchener Centre host, Raj Saini,  But the evening’s main course was the small group dialogues where participants considered issues and shared their views.  Each group came up with a series of conclusions, all of which were duly passed along for consideration in Ottawa.  The Record‘s Luisa D’amato reports:

As I felt the unmistakable sense of optimism that comes when a powerful person asks your opinion, it occurred to me that we might have got it wrong all this time.

We’ve asked young people to vote, and shook our heads when they didn’t. “Don’t complain if you don’t vote,” we said.

Yet the rules by which we held the elections seemed designed to silence their choices.

D’Amato: It’s heartwarming to see a packed room for electoral reform discussion

Julia and SamJulia and Sam (Kitchener Centre Greens) are passionate about meaningful electoral reform.  The shape of their future depends on it.  They’re the driving force behind our Canada’s Voting System Is Changing event at Kitchener City Hall tomorrow.

Canada's Voting System Is Changing poster
Canada’s Voting System Is Changing poster ~ click to download larger size

The main goal of tomorrow’s event is to provide public information about our options.

Every MP in Canada has been asked to consult with their constituents about what they would like to see in terms of electoral reform.  Although our evening with Ms. Monsef was excellent, it would have been nice to see 4 Liberal Town Halls.  Knowing how long it took me to get my head around electoral reform, more events might make it easier for many citizens.

Sadly Kitchener-Conestoga residents don’t get any Town Hall at all.  Our Conservative MP Harold Albrecht has declined to conduct a consultation.  Fair Vote Waterloo will be putting on 3 more Library Information nights at Elmira Library, New Hamburg and the Ayr Public Libraries.

Earlier in the year the Waterloo NDP put on an information event with Fair Vote Waterloo, but now it’s our turn.

Proportional Representation is not a partisan issue; it is simply a way to better represent citizens in Parliament.  This isn’t about parties, but about what is best for all of us, the voters.  That’s why each of these events have worked hard to put partisanship aside in order to both inform and converse with the public.

the Hon. Maryam Monsef, Minister of Democratic Institutions speaks to a packed house in Waterloo Region, Wednesday Night.
The Hon. Maryam Monsef, Minister of Democratic Institutions speaks to a packed house in Waterloo Region. September  14th, 2016

So many other countries have adopted meaningful electoral reform that there’s a lot of information out there. And yet, Canadians have heard almost nothing about the alternatives before us.

That’s why Fair Vote Waterloo co-chair Sharon Sommerville will give an introductory talk about Proportional Representation. Then we’ll break into small group discussions, much like Maryam Monsef’s National Electoral Reform Community Dialogue Tour the other night.   We have decided to have two kinds of groups; one to help those of us just beginning to learn about Proportional Representation, and another for those who have an idea of what kind of reform they would like to see.  The latter will be able to discuss the issue as a group in order to make a group submission we can forward on to the ERRE Committee.

Even if you have a pretty good handle on Electoral Reform, we look forward to seeing you in Carl Zehr Square.  It is always a lot more fun to work on a submission together, and it is amazing how much discussion can help clarify the things we’re fuzzy on.  The more Canadians participate in this electoral reform process, the better the outcome will be.

This is a perfect opportunity to help your friends and neighbors get the facts about electoral reform.  We hope to see you there!

Canada’s Voting System Is Changing: Community Dialogue
Saturday September 17th, 2016
3:00pm – 4:30pm

Carl Zehr Square, in front of Kitchener City Hall
200 King St W, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada map

RSVP on the Facebook Event:
Community Dialogue: Proportional Representation

Bob Jonkman & Maryam Monsef
After the consultation, Ms. Monsef was available & approachable
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