It's about the economy

Good Sunday Morning

suzuki.jpgGreens often feel misunderstood when we are perceived as being a one issue party. Fact is Green policy platforms have repeatedly demonstrated that we offer a comprehensive approach and that we seek complete solutions to the challenges of our time. But all those solutions are, in the end, intrinsically linked to the environment. When David Suzuki wants journalists to forget about the Dow Jones and report on climate change every day, it's because he understands that our civilization (which includes the Dow Jones) depends on it.
Except for the nuclear option, all our energy is generated by the sun. Plants capture that energy through photosynthesis and power the food chain. Ancient plants used photosynthesis to capture carbon and sequester it underground over millions of years. Eventually this made it possible to have a 10,000 year sweet spot of climate stability that allowed us to invent agriculture. We all depend on the natural processes powered by the sun. As we have exploded our human numbers, we depend on our ability to grow food reliably for our survival. And when we feel all powerful and in control, it's good to remind ourselves that the industrial revolution has not yielded a single new staple in our food supply.

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A time for renewal

Good Sunday Morning,

For so many of us, this weekend represents a time of renewal. Blossoms budding from a lifeless branch, resurrection from the tomb, liberation from oppression, no matter the tradition, in our celebration we move past what was and embrace what will be. And sometimes to embrace what will be, we are called upon to relinquish old patterns. That's not usually easy. But it is inevitable. Opportunities don't lie in the past, they are the promise of the future.

highway.jpgThe traditional approach to predicting the future is to analyze the past. There is an interesting story that's told about that. It seems that about 150 years ago a group of experts were invited to discuss the future of the city of New York. These experts came together in 1860 and speculated about what would happen to the city of New York in 100 years. And the conclusion was unanimous, the city would not exist in 100 years. Why? Because they looked at the curves on a graph and concluded that if the population kept growing at the prevailing rate, to move the population of New York around would take six million horses. And the manure created by six million horses would be impossible to deal with, since they were already drowning in manure.

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Change We Can Count On

Good Sunday Morning,

When Elizabeth May released A Green Approach to Reforming the Standing Orders of the House of Commons I scanned the five pages of fine print and thought to myself, "this is great but no one is ever going to read it." I was wrong. Not only did it get read but it caught the attention of prominent journalists including Susan Delacourt and Kady O'Malley. Following on the heels of the release of her 2017 TEDx talk, where Elizabeth inspired a standing ovation with a humorous exploration of Canada's 150 years of 'Electoral Dysfunction', it once again demonstrated her unwavering dedication to improving Canada's democracy by calling a spade a spade.

Elizabeth_fixed_democracy.jpg"One of her more eye-catching suggestions is to have the Commons sit six days a week for three weeks at a time," writes Susan in this IPolitics piece. "But the really intriguing suggestions in May’s paper are all about dialing down the partisanship in the Commons — by, among other things, breaking up caucus-based seating and placing MPs in the Commons alphabetically, or by the geography of their home ridings." She recounts talking with Elizabeth about how we’ve gotten accustomed to the idea that the Commons is supposed to be partisan theatre — "a place to bray and bellow, and test out talking points and strategies for some future election."

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people who believe what we believe

Good Sunday Morning

Wglobal_02.jpge find comfort in being surrounded by people who believe what we believe. We are attracted to our friends, join service clubs, and participate in most group activities because we seek to connect with people who believe what we believe. The excitement of sitting in the stands to watch a sporting event stems not from the notion that we can see the action better or the seats are more comfortable, but from the fact that we are surrounded by many others who pay good money to cheer the same team that we have put our faith in. It even extends to our relatives. To the extent that we are sometimes disappointed with our biological family, it is often because they fail to fulfill a natural expectation: They were raised in the same environment and come from the same background, why don’t they believe what we believe?

Surrounding ourselves with people who share our world view gives us strength and courage and hope. This year’s Global Greens Congress in Liverpool was no exception. Just having wrapped up, it was an incredible meeting of minds from around the world who addressed themselves to the challenges of building a bright, new future. Elizabeth was in England, accompanied by her Executive Assistant Elysia Glover, our GPC President Ken Melamed, our Vice President (French) Jean Rousseau and two delegates representing Canada’s Young Greens; Cherie Wong and Ian Soutar.

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The budget and our place in the world

Good Sunday Morning,

A federal budget is a complex document. Much of it is locked up in non-discretionary spending, maintaining services, programs and policies that have been entrenched over many decades. This year's 280 page budget is no different. It really is very much a political document, signalling the priorities of this government. Many considerations go into setting these priorities. They include the voting public's expectation to fulfill campaign promises, the changing global political and economic climate, the current and projected resilience of our Canadian economy, and the public's appetite for change. Some would argue that they also include the persuasive arguments of lobbyists, bureaucrats and consultants that make a full time living influencing government policies to suit their own agenda.

eonpp.jpg Since a budget is by it's very nature a forward looking document, it signals intent and so tells only part of the story. Sometimes programs are announced and moneys are allocated but funds are never actually spent. Budgets are a primary tool for governments to project their vision for the country and indicate the trajectory they would like us all to be on. That's why a budget vote is recognized very much as a confidence vote and in minority or coalition governments serves as the linchpin for parliament's approval of the government as a whole.

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Real People representing Real People

Good Sunday Morning,

Real people, representing real people. Whether or not we agree with their view of the world, this basic premise underscores the populist movement sweeping the globe. Rule by the elites, no matter how variant the criteria we use to define them, is no longer acceptable. So our first impulse is to upset the apple-cart and send a clear message to those in power: "We're not going to take this anymore."

Jesse_we_can.pngThis kind of reactionary politics is nothing new. As Preston Manning recounts in this piece, we have been here before; many times. In fact it's the hallmark of the majoritarian oppositional voting system we call First-Past-The-Post. And while it has presented us all with the reality show of a Trump presidency, it does not have to inevitably result in right-wing populism. A closer look at last week's election in the Netherlands, which has been widely reported as a defeat of populism, makes that clear. While the Liberals will likely lead a coalition to hold onto power, both they and the Labour party took a hit. To the benefit of the ultra right yes, but also to the benefit of every other major party on the ballot except the socialists.

Unlike the US, which offered only one alternative to the status quo, Holland's electoral system offers many. To get on that country's unusually complex preferential ballot, new parties simply have to pay a deposit of €11,250 and gather a total of 580 signatures spread over the 19 electoral districts. The result, which left all of Europe breathing a sigh of relief, was that the ultra-right Freedom Party had to compete with a wide field for that protest vote.

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Can you see the difference?

Good Sunday Morning,

Trudeau_in_Texas.jpgMy initial response to this address by Trudeau during CERAweek in Texas was "what a total sellout he has turned out to be." And then as I stuck with the speech I had flashbacks to the heady days of the 2008 US presidential election and then 2009, when Barack Obama failed his progressive base with the compromises of governing. The parallels are mind boggling. Like a sitcom rerun with a new cast of characters. Bush/Harper, Obama/Trudeau, Trump/O'Leary.

It is of course argued that Canada is different. Currently we have three official parties in the House and, with just one stellar MP, a much stronger Green Voice on the national stage. There are two leadership races under way that could change our trajectory. But in the general election we have the same 'winner takes all' voting system that breeds an US versus THEM mindset. In order to impact change 'WE' have to win and 'THEY' have to lose. Winners rule. Losers languish.

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choosing a hopeful future

Good Sunday Morning,

coalsolar.jpgBefore the industrial age, almost everyone engaged in some form of activity that would contribute to the wealth of society. Farmers and farriers, miners and flour mill workers, shoemakers and fishermen, all combined their skill with a natural resource to create something that offered value to their families, neighbours and communities.

Then the industrial age made it easy to to redistribute that wealth. We pulled it out of the ground and out of the oceans with ever increasing efficiency, processed it in factories and shared it mostly through blue collar jobs. Henry Ford showed us how the economic benefits of primary production and resource extraction could ripple through society as a result of the multiplier effect. I remember an old coal miner coming into my computer store and peeling off 25 one hundred dollar bills. He could barely talk, for talking aggravated his black lungs and induced coughing fits, but he wanted to buy a better future for his daughter.

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people who get off the couch

Good Sunday Morning,

E16.jpgAs I walked into the office supply store I recognized the person intently focused on the photocopier. I was there to mail out the 2016 Tax Receipts. (Thanks to all of you who sent us your unsolicited donations last year.) Immediately a smile spread over my face. You see, Donnamae is sort of a legend around here. In her bashful, unassuming demeanor she has earned a reputation as a star canvasser, networker, volunteer, and all round fun person to be around. When Donnamae sees a street corner she recognizes an opportunity to hand out flyers. And that was precisely what she was doing on Friday.

After we shared our usual hug, her excitement about the petition that has exceeded 125,000 signatures just bubbled over. Moving from the photocopier to the paper cutter, she handed me one of the little flyers she was distributing. "There are only a few days left until the deadline," she explained. "And it's the biggest parliamentary petition ever!" Donnamae is quintessentially Canadian. Her deep modesty (she will be embarrassed when she reads this, sorry Donnamae) underlies a devotion and commitment to making our world a better place. It goes to the core of her being and inspires so many of us: "I can't just sit there. I have to do something!" 

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Two visions of our world

Good Sunday Morning,

Stuart_McLean.jpgStuart McLean has died. Like so many iconic Canadians, the legacy he leaves behind is larger than life. It's larger than Stuart himself because it spoke to so many at the deepest level. As Jess Milton shared in this As-It-Happens interview, "He never let facts get in the way of the truth... His stories connected us, to our country, to each other and to ourselves. He swam in our oceans, he rode our railways, he skated on our ice, and he told us our story over and over and over again until we could really hear it, until it felt really true." We will miss him.

Stuart McLean told us our story. Our story. Not the factual one that we all live day to day but the one we aspire to when we take the time to reach out to a neighbor, help a friend or touch a perfect stranger with our kindness. Stuart gave us permission to believe in a world of love, forgiveness and acceptance. It's a world that so many of us long for, especially in these troubling times when others use their pulpit to legitimize hate and bigotry.

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