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."
This 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.
One of the biggest winners in that field was the Green Left party lead by Jesse (we can!) Klever who boosted his party's seats by 350%, from 4 to 14, potentially placing them in the role of kingmaker. "This year is not only about the election in the Netherlands, but elections in the whole of Europe," he said. "In the Netherlands, we have to show that populism can be stopped and there is an alternative. That alternative is us."
Two weeks from now Jesse will likely join Elizabeth and our Green Party of Canada delegation in Liverpool for the 2017 Global/European Green Congress. This video shows the excitement of Greens all over the world who are committed to "rebuilding the link between people and politics."
Here in Canada that commitment seems to be spreading too, even to other political parties. In a one-two punch we touched on last week, the Liberal machine was dealt a blow by the general caucus when they decided to flex their democratic muscle. The pressure of the insurance lobby caused all cabinet ministers — and most parliamentary secretaries — in attendance, to vote against a bill to enact a genetic discrimination law. However, the Liberal back-benchers joined the opposition to pass it anyway with 222 votes.
But the stunning upset of the federal Liberal nomination in St-Laurent, by a political unknown, was perhaps an even stronger rebuke to party brass after a local mayor was shut out of the contest. “The message from the Liberals in St-Laurent was that they don’t appreciate having a parachuted candidate dropped into our community,” said Alan DeSousa, who was denied the chance to run for the nomination in the April 3 by-election when party officials rejected his candidacy. It seems this riding is serious about finding an appropriate replacement for Stephane Dion who held the seat for 21 years and in many peoples' eyes was never offered the respect he deserved.
The Right Honourable Stephane Dion fought to keep Canada united through the Quebec Referendum and chaired COP11 in Montreal, mostly as a private citizen. At the time he was serving as Environment Minister in the Martin government which was defeated by a Conservative/NDP non-confidence motion at the start of that conference. Still, COP11 was a major victory, producing the Montreal Protocol. Some of you might also remember him as the former leader of the Liberal Party who spoke about the need for Electoral Reform at our Green Party of Canada Bi-annual General Meeting here in Sidney BC, back in 2012.
"The speech I am about to deliver here today is the same speech I would give, word for word, whether I were speaking before the Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party or before my dear Liberal friends. But it is the Green Party that has invited me, and I thank you for being so open-minded – although knowing Elizabeth May as I do, this comes as no surprise."
Whoever wins his seat has big shoes to fill. Good thing we just happen to have a candidate that's up to the task. Daniel Green has been a champion for the environment for his entire career and as our Deputy Leader has been promoting proportional representation to build a stronger democracy for Canada. Well known in Montreal, he is one of a slate of fabulous Candidates running in the April 4th by-elections and you can help them succeed. Just click on the link and then their image or email email@example.com for details.
Greens offer a rock solid alternative to the establishment. And unlike candidates from the traditional parties, they are not restricted by the fettering of party brass beholden to wealthy donors, corporate lobbyists or their anachronistic base. Greens are committed to represent their constituents and work collaboratively, across traditional boundaries to build a sustainable future for us all.
Here on the west coast we of course have another opportunity to make history. Although not quite as urgent as the April 3rd federal by-election, the May 9th BC provincial election is rapidly approaching. And if you think Greens are still a long-shot, take a look at this impromptu CHECK news poll and the fantastic slate of candidates that are running for the BC Greens.
Andrew Weaver, like all elected Green Party leaders across this country, has already had a significant legislative impact. By standing up for what is right, not necessarily for what is politically expedient, Andrew has championed the issues that matter to the people of British Columbia. And in that commitment he is joined by people like Sonia Furstenau who has fought for and won the protection of the Shawnigan Lake watershed. Sonia joins the rest of these candidates in their dedication to economic, social, environmental and fiscal sustainability.
Real people representing real people. That's what it felt like on Friday night as we heard from Elizabeth (and her puppy), Adam Olsen and Mark Neufeld during our fabulous St. Patrick's Day Celebration. They spoke of their deep personal connection with the community and the land for which we must all be stewards. They spoke of future generations and our responsibility to leave them with a legacy of hope. And they spoke of the love that we share, for democracy, for our home, and for each other. Over 130 people danced, laughed and enjoyed the fabulous bounty of food that our community brought forth. It's magical what we can do when we do it together, a magic that will surprise many on April 3rd and May 9th, a magic that we can all be part of.
Have a great Sunday,
P.S. A bottle opener, a ramekin, a small bowl and a small plate were left behind at the party. If they belong to you please email me so we can return them to you.