Good Sunday Morning:
"With Green Party leader Elizabeth May leading the charge, there will be no lack of Canadians disappointed by the Liberal decision to stick with Stephen Harper’s targets for reducing carbon emissions," Chantal Hébert wrote in the Toronto Star. Just the other day Elizabeth reminded us again that Greens were perhaps the only voice pushing Catherine McKenna to act quickly (if symbolically) to move our carbon targets beyond the low bar Harper set just before the election. It seems many environmental organizations lobbied the minister to undergo an extensive (and time consuming) consultation process in the hopes of setting much more stringent targets before any changes are made.
Symbolically? Indeed, symbolism matters. We saw that at COP21. When that body adopted 1.5 degrees as the new target the markets in New York blinked and analysts started reclassifying oil reserves as stranded assets, effectively moving them to the liabilities side of the ledger. Investments shifted. Still it will be a major challenge to meet even the paltry targets set by Harper as long as we cling to his paradigm of exporting jobs and shipping raw bitumen to foreign lands. So when Minister McKenna tweeted that for almost a decade there was no commitment to policies that would make it possible, progressives and conservatives pounced.
With the exception of perhaps the Electoral Reform Committee, hyper partisanship seems to be alive and well. In the face of a repeated commitment by McKenna that we will have a national carbon tax in place by the end of the year, Conservatives remain steadfast in their opposition. "...when the left, defying stereotype, adopted carbon pricing as the solution, Conservatives let their oppositional instincts get the better of them. If the left were for prices, they would be against them." Andrew Coyne wrote in the National Post. "This isn’t just economic madness. It’s dumb politics. It makes the Conservatives look unserious on an issue that for many voters is an entrance exam."
"Keeping Harper’s targets is not the same as sticking with the Conservatives’ climate change plan. By maintaining the existing targets, Trudeau’s Liberals maximize the chances that the transition to a national price on carbon (complete with an escalator clause) is relatively seamless." Chantal points out. She goes on to suggest that "...putting in place the conditions for meeting more ambitious ones on a consensual federal-provincial basis over time" would make sense. Of course it would make even more sense if they used fee and dividend to level the playing field and incentivise the shift to alternatives.
The conversation is shifting. Not fast enough for those of us who recognize the urgency of climate change but it is shifting nonetheless. And therein lies the opportunity. Canada needs Greens to keep raising the bar as we move from the dark years of single minded neglect to a desire for action strengthened by a commitment to consensus based solutions. Solutions that involve more people and more points of influence. Yes consensus takes longer and doesn't give us everything we want exactly when we want it. But it makes for stronger, more secure policies that are not as vulnerable to ideologically driven vandalism. Once again the Green Party has led the way. For decades we have championed the idea of consensus based governance. We even came up with our very own Green Rules to help us build consensus around the most complex issues facing our society.
But even Greens are not immune to the lure of expediency. At the August convention, with no doubt the best of intentions, less than 1% of our membership voted to abandon Green Rules and instead entrench Roberts Rules of Order in our constitution. Although this will not take effect unless it is ratified by an on-line vote in early October, it was decided to give these 'rules of order' a try during that convention. The results were divisive and confrontational. Discussion was truncated, votes were forced prematurely and compromising amendments were disqualified. Expeditious for sure, but a far cry from our tradition of consensus building.
As Elizabeth put it in her press conference after she returned from vacation: "It was as if I had been dropped into a foreign land." A foreign land indeed. At a time when Canada is preparing to embrace consensus based governance and replace the old majoritarian oppositional system of First Past the Post, the Green Party is reconsidering its foray into winner take all decision making. That's why returning to our core values of bringing people together, even on the toughest issues, is the focus of a Special General Meeting (SGM) now scheduled for December. If you can, why not join Elizabeth in Calgary and help her return our party to it's tradition of building consensus.
In the meantime when she is not seen chatting with the Royal Couple or attending constituency events on weekends, Elizabeth is on the road with her colleagues on the all party #ERRE committee as they work through their grueling schedule.
On Tuesday September 27th you can be part of history. Come join us for some, or all, of this special day for Canadian Democracy!
9:35 am - Victoria International Airport
- welcome members of the committee in the Arrivals Area.
- make your own welcome sign or print one off here.
The #ERRE committee wants to hear from you! Harbour Towers Hotel and Suites, Mackenzie Room (2nd floor), 345 Quebec Street, Victoria
Be sure to arrive at least 30 minutes early to get your name on the waiting list if you wish to speak (2 minute limit) during open mic session. It is critical that the committee hear from you.
4:00 pm to 5:15 pm - Committee hears from expert witnesses - open to the public
5:15 pm - 6:30 pm - break (for dinner or rally)
5:15 pm - Fair Vote Canada RALLY - one block away at Quadra Park (Oswego and Belleville)
- speakers include committee members and MPs Nathan Cullen and Elizabeth May (See Facebook Link for full details)
6:30 pm to 7:45 pm - return to Hotel - Committee hears from expert witnesses - open to the public
7:45 pm to 9:30 pm - open mic to the public
If you can't make it in person, be sure to join us on twitter and spread the word.
See you on Tuesday!