Campaign Blog E-Day Minus 17

When I started attacking the "Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act" in the House this spring, I knew it was a campaign tactic masquerading as legislation.  I knew it had nothing to do with public policy or any form of legitimate response to a real threat.  It is the most manipulative, cynical legislation imaginable.  It makes illegal things that are already illegal.  Like honour killings  ­̶   otherwise known as murder.  Or forced marriage  ­̶   otherwise known as kidnapping.  Or polygamy  ­̶   actually known as polygamy.  All illegal. 

At first I thought it was so pointless that I might vote for it.  What is the harm in a law that makes things illegal that are already illegal.  But then I read the briefs from criminal lawyers pointing out that removing access to the defense of provocation could actually undermine criminal law. 

I debated Chris Alexander in the House.  He used the PMO talking points to attack opposition MPs for failing to support women by failing to condemn honour killings  (huh?).  And I asked him why, if he was concerned about violence against women, there was no inquiry into the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.  I went across the floor after the exchange to ask how he could be supporting such absurd legislation.  At which point he told me I was listening to the wrong people.  "What people?" I asked.  "Lawyers," he said.  

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Campaign Blog E-Day Minus 20

The news broke today that there are now more Canadians over the age of 65 than there are under the age of 15. It was appropriate that I spoke at a local debate in Saanich Gulf Islands hosted by the Canadian Association of Retired People this afternoon—one of three debates in my riding today!

The Greens want to support our elders and strengthen the opportunities for young people at the same time. Seniors issues, like youth issues, have many components and are the responsibility of different levels of government.

This is why it is so important to change our federal decision making so that all levels of government, including First Nations, can work toward common goals. I think all parties in the election can embrace our proposal for the Council of Canadian Governments. It is not 1867 anymore, and we need to update our way of making national decisions. 

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Campaign Blog E-Day Minus 22

I had a full day of campaigning Duncan and the Cowichan Valley.

Along the way, news reached me of the NDP climate announcement. It underscores again why I want to run as a Green rather than with a more mainstream party. 

I figured we would hear what the NDP carbon price would be, but it wasn't announced.  The price will be created by market forces in an auction.  The targets are good.  Same as ours by 2050, 80% below 1990 levels.  Those targets were set by the act introduced by Bruce Hyer that passed the House in May 2010 and was killed by the Senate. The act was re-introduced by the NDP and the targets were announced as the NDP plan some time ago.  The commitment to end fossil fuel subsidies was also previously announced, as was a delegation to the Paris climate talks.

The standards in Canada should be higher for serious action on climate change. I welcome the NDP plan as a solid recognition of the scale of work we have to do, but I think we should have some more concrete specifics to look at before we go to the polls. That's why I see a place in Canada for the Green Party. We can call for stronger action in elections and in parliament.

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Campaign Blog - E-Day minus 23

Counting the number of days of a very long campaign now seems less relevant than reversing to a count-down to Election Day. 23 days to go!

It is such a relief to be back home in British Columbia.  I was in two all-candidates meetings today (“All Candidates” being a more theoretical concept, as the Conservative candidate did not show up for either and the Liberal candidate only came to one).  One was on Pender Island, the other was closer to the boundary with Victoria on the Saanich Peninsula. And in between I went to a farmer’s market and  canvassed in Victoria with Jo-Ann Roberts. 

I was asked about the niqab at the farmer’s market.  People who were upset about a woman covering her face turned around on the issue.  IF only we could have a sensible conversation nationally the way we can in  a farmer’s market.

Explaining the facts helps:

1)     There is no power under the Citizenship Act for a minister to dictate what clothing people wear,

2)     The Citizenship Act encourages people to wear national traditional costumes,

3)     Any woman wearing a niqab must uncover her face to another woman to verify her identity before taking the oath,  

4)     The ministerial order demanding no one take the oath with a face covering has been struck down by two levels of court decisions.  The Conservatives appealing again is just a huge waste of public funds with the goal of distracting people from real issues.

It is not hard to encourage a respectful discussion.  So sad how many politicians prefer to fan the flames of fear and prejudice.   

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Day 53 of the Campaign

Sorry blog readers. I am just coming up for air after a solid 2 days of Montreal media and prep for the leaders debate. I had to keep my head in french. I didn't even want to write a blog. And I was also doing a lot of media.

The french debate was a success. I feel good about a few things --. I wish I hadn't been the only leader to raise First Nations issues, but at least because I was in the debate, they were raised. I wish I wasn't the only leader aware of how dangerous the Canada-China Investment Treaty really is, but at least I got it on the table. And I was the only one to raise student debt and the need to rebuild all our environmental laws, and to mention the pressing need for real climate action. 

I wish I wasn't the only leader trying not to interrupt when it turned out (once again) that is the best way to get air time, but c'est la vie.

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Day 49 of the Campaign

Canvassing on a Sunday afternoon on Salt Spring Island is as good as a day at the gym. Lot of healthy jogs up and down long driveways. Thanks to a wonderful team of volunteers we managed to cover a lot of ground. And I had such a great time at the Salt Spring Fall Fair. It was the 120th year of the fair with its sheep dog trials, poultry and livestock displays, prizes for quilting, photography, cake decorating (you name it, there was a prize)... One adorable little girl, Sabrina, was so proud to show me her trophy - "Best Pet - Not Cat or Dog.". Her hamster won first place. 

We also had music and two of my favourite musician-friend-supporters - Bill Henderson ‎(of Chilliwack fame) and Valdy - performed our unofficial campaign theme song "Take back this country."

And we will. We feel momentum and optimism as Harper support plummets on the west coast. Off to Ottawa to see how Deborah Coyne is doing in her brilliant offer to voters of Carlton to replace Pierre Poilievre.

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Day 48 of the Campaign

A fabulous Saturday campaigning in and around my own riding.  A unique moment in the campaign – my daughter “pied” me at a fundraiser for a wonderful local charity.  The Mustard Seed in Victoria has an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to the food bank model.  They have farms where marginalized and homeless can grow fresh vegetables then provided through the store. They provide other services for customers. Like a tiny mustard seed, their efforts grow.  The #YYJPIEOFF is an online campaign. 

Speaking of charities, for the last nine years, Stephen Harper has increasingly muzzled charities from saying almost anything that could be seen as critical of his policies.  The effort really ramped up in 2012 when the Conservative budget included $8 million to audit and harass environmental groups.  That amount has grown to $13 million.  

So I began to wonder how the Munk Debates, run by a charity started by Barrick Gold’s Peter Munk, was able to insert itself in the election campaign.  By holding a debate that excludes two of the parties with MPs elected under the party banner (the usual threshold for inclusion in debates) this charity is interfering in the election. We checked with a law firm that does a lot of work in this area, and they agreed.  We have filed a letter of complaint with the CRA. But perhaps the CRA only objects when environmental groups oppose the fossil fuel lobby, not when they are on this lobby's corner.

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Day 47 of the Campaign

What on earth was that word Stephen Harper slipped in to the Globe debate last night?  “Old stock Canadians”?  It became a theme on the campaign trail today.  Knocking on doors, people asked me if I had heard it and what I thought it meant. 

The incredible thing is how Harper has evaded what should be significant anger over his insistence on appealing the niqab decision. Traditional Conservatives should be outraged that our outgoing Prime Minister is using public funds to ask the Supreme Court of Canada to allow an appeal. The ill-considered, politically motivated decision to challenge a woman’s right to wear a niqab to her citizenship ceremony is untenable because the citizenship act specifically says new Canadians can wear cultural costumes of their land of birth and does not give a Minister of Citizenship and Immigration the right to issue orders. This appeal has not a snow ball’s chance in hell.

Politics of division. Let it end October 19.   


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Day 44 of the Campaign

Well, that was fun.  We had a busy day -- our press conference on economy and jobs, a fun filled time with students at UVic club days, an interview with Don Martin and CTV Power Play and then the #glibandmale debate via Twitter.

It was quite a technological challenge to follow a debate in Calgary, respond quickly on video and then have that video uploaded to Twitter.  A challenge that proved worthwhile. We added thousands of new Twitter followers today.  And the crowd watching in Victoria was amazing.  From the backroom where we were making 30 second videos and uploading them to twitter, we could hear hundreds of supporters break into raucous cheers whenever they watched one of our responses.

I would have been able to hold all the leaders to account even more by being present at the debate. Let's make sure we do everything we can to hold them to account at the National English-language Debate.  If you want this debate that includes the Greens' perspective, make sure you tell Thomas Mulcair and Stephen Harper to stop running away.

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Day 43 of the Campaign

A great day in Guelph as we campaigned with one of our strongest candidates in Canada -  former Commissioner of Environment for the Province of Ontario, Gord Miller. After a long flight and the drive to Guelph we were swept up in a frenzy of activity.  Over 100 volunteers showed up for an afternoon wave at the university.  And we had an overflow crowd of hundreds at the Opus Lounge at our evening rally.  We were shut down by a fire alarm.  We poured out on the street. (i take fire alarms seriously.)  When the firefighters showed up and checked the building, they concluded the alarm had gone off by accident.  But they did stop to chat and remarked that we must have had a very good event due to the crowd milling about on the street.

I was so happy that our Niagara candidates embraced our position to end the practice of taking whales from the wild and placing them in pools in captivity.  What a strong commitment.

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