Good Sunday Morning,
What does it mean to find new solutions? How committed are we to the trajectory of the past? Will our future be shaped by inertia or by innovation?
Andrew Coyne started his monologue with the insight that: "Anyone who ever proposes to change anything runs up against the unanswerable objection that this would mean, well, changing things." Real change is what Canada needs to stay ahead of the technological curve that is sweeping the globe. Yesterday thousands of Canadians from coast to coast took to the streets to express their disappointment and outrage about what history may well record as Justin's biggest miscalculation. Elizabeth spoke in Victoria.
As a child whenever I would exclaim: "I can't do it!" I was always challenged: "So you tried once, with your little finger of your left hand, without looking, and you couldn't do it?" Justin Trudeau could have done better. He promised to do better. Remember when he asked his father: "If you want to do the right thing but (they) push back at you..."? He should have listened more carefully. Because the disillusionment with Prime Minister Trudeau is not that he broke the Liberal Party promise to make 2015 the last election using First-Past-The-Post. The betrayal is that he didn't try hard enough.
The opportunity was there for this Prime Minister to perhaps redeem himself for the bad calls his government made on pipelines and carbon targets. He could have added to the Trudeau legacy. Pierre Elliot brought home the Constitution. Justin could have ensured that the way we elect our MPs not only respects that constitution but honours the sense of fairness that is the essence of what it is to be Canadian. In one fatal move he traded a legacy of Real-Change for the calculated politics of the power brokers.
After rising in the House and reviewing the incredible work of all the members on the electoral Reform Committee, Elizabeth was still searching for a way to help this government to not break its promise and build the kind of parliament that reflects how Canadians actually voted. She pointed out that the Liberals are able to stay committed on other promises that require heavy lifting like the carbon tax. Some would argue that the carbon tax is a broad reaching, game changing policy that affects Canadians most profoundly and yet there was no prerequisite to build broad consensus for a particular form of carbon pricing. Being the parliamentarian that she is, Elizabeth gave voice to the higher calling that our Prime Minister might indeed have been sincere in making his promise and called upon everyone, including the liberal back-benchers, some of whom were elected by the slimmest of margins, to seek a solution.
The Parliamentary Secretary for Democratic Institutions (or perhaps a holographic facsimile) carefully read his response from a prepared text not even acknowledging the content of Elizabeth's challenge. Echoing the over 100,000 voices that have signed the petition calling on the government to get back on track, Elizabeth concludes: "It's not too late for the Liberal Government to listen to Canadians."
However, as Prime Minister Trudeau wraps himself in the new talking points around Electoral Reform the doublespeak is intensifying. Going soft on pipelines and carbon targets looks to have been an omen as this most dramatic betrayal is turning Real Change into Real Cynicism. The suggestion that Proportional Representation would lead to instability and uncertainty is not supported by the volumes of testimony we heard over the summer. Quite the contrary. First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) systems favour a migration to a two party state. And we are witnessing in graphic detail the incredible level of stability that this brings to the United States.
Somewhat ironically, in this clip where the Prime Minister admits to turning his back on Real Change he waxes eloquently about how we as Canadians want to improve our democracy and continuously strive to represent our diversity in the House of Commons. And yet he concludes that precisely because it would augment individual voices without them being subjected to the machination of big political parties, PR is too risky.
He claims that Proportional Representation introduces fringe elements that control our agenda by possibly holding the balance of power, while at the same time acknowledging that forces of nationalism and populism are whipsawing governments and countries around the world. Trust us, he seems to say, we will make sure that your voice is heard inside our big tent party. Trust us that we will represent your interests and keep our promises. Trust us.
Well trust is earned. So maybe the question comes down to this: Do we want to debate our ideological differences in the open forum of our House of Commons or do we trust that the backroom boys of two or three big political parties are able to melt our views into a power-base that rules the day? If 5% of Canadians are racist, should they have the opportunity to win a leadership race or work themselves into cabinet posts of a main stream political party, or should their values and beliefs be aired in the scrutiny of our House of Commons? Should our Parliamentarians be encouraged to explore compromise and build consensus or should, as this outrageous opinion piece suggests, the voter be asked to do all the compromising.
Yes, Electoral Reform goes to the core of our democracy. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it needs the Canadian public to be engaged. Yes, it requires consensus AND compromise. But precisely because it sets the stage for who elects whom to the House of Commons it is now more important than ever. Is it reckless, or just pompous, to gamble that the next false majority government (or more accurately an all powerful government elected by a minority that rules over the majority) will build on the halting progress we are making towards a more open society and more responsible attitudes toward climate change?
On Monday Trudeau will meet with President Trump to seek common ground. "We both were elected on a promise of strengthening the middle class," he told reporters during a press conference in Iqaluit. Are we going to adapt and follow the lead of this president? Are we going to hold back our country's shift into the 21st century's sustainable economy just to stay in lockstep with this plutocrat? Do we really have to align ourselves with this retrograde administration? Or can we build alliances with states like California, and the majority of Americans who want to keep moving forward?
Trump not withstanding, this week China has announced that it is investing $361 Billion dollars in solar and wind over the next three years. That's almost twice what was invested in the oil sands between 1999 and 2013. They expect that this investment means 13 million jobs and increases the share of renewables in China's energy mix from around 5% to 20% by 2020. Almost a year ago, China’s State Grid Corp Chairman Liu Zhenya (the head of the world’s largest power provider) said: "It’s better to move on to the next generation of energy technologies and that China believes it might as well start now.”
It might as well start now. The future is here. And here in British Columbia, in less than 90 days, we can employ our most powerful tool to affect change. BC Greens are attracting an impressive slate of candidates that offer a real alternative. Including this one, running right here in Elizabeth's riding. His campaign office is now open to welcome you. Drop in and say Hi!
Have a wonderful Sunday,
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