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!" 

But Donnamae is not alone. People across this country, like so many around the world, have been compelled to step up and build bridges over Trump's walls. Community groups, NGOs, environmental organizations and even political parties are activating the citizenry to join hands and work towards a more democratic, more viable, more inclusive future for all Canadians. This week I heard from a group in Ontario that is determined not to give up on Electoral Reform, challenging Justin Trudeau to regain his credibility by not turning his back on Real-Change. I heard about events being planned to showcase the job opportunities of a carbon free economy in BC. And I heard about a book tour that is championing a paradigm shift back to active peacekeeping by the Canadian military. 

Many here in BC are doing double duty. Like the CEO of a Vancouver EDA who has also taken on the responsibility of campaign manager for the local Green candidate in the provincial election. People are engaging, building alliances and seeking to support each other. The spectacle south of the border is motivating them to take action. More and more people are realizing that if we continue to stand on the sidelines we do so at our own peril. Democracy is not a spectator sport. If we believe in it, we need to participate.

Howe_Sound02.jpgThat's why turning his back on the people's desire for Real-Change is such a lost opportunity for Justin Trudeau. “Those of us who voted strategically in the last election gave our votes to Trudeau in trust. He gave his promise that it would be the last vote under first-past-the-post. Then he walked away from his words." David Suzuki is quoted in this IPolitics piece. "Trudeau broke his word.”

Justin didn't just turn his back on Electoral Reform, he turned his back on the west coast. As Michael Harris writes: Wade Davis received an Honorary Degree from McGill University where Gerald Butts, now the PM’s principal secretary, is a governor and member of the executive committee. He told Butts that he would do anything to get Trudeau elected. Like a lot of Canadians, Davis was seized with a sense of an urgent need to get rid of Harper. Butts eventually took him up on the offer.

“I was asked by Gerry to introduce Justin and his campaign here in B.C. I agreed. I totally believed in their vision. I didn’t expect a political regime to ignore the national economy, or agree with everything I said. But I believed what Trudeau said about social licence. I believed they would act justly with First Nations peoples. What shocked me … one by one, every mega-development that the B.C. people took issue with, they endorsed.”

It feeds the cynicism of those who have written off our political process and cry out for an authentic alternative to the endless cycle of broken campaign promises. The future belongs to those who offer that credible alternative. But in the machinations of traditional partisan opportunism, that alternative is exceedingly difficult to find. Main stream parties repeatedly promise to break out of their historic mold only to govern from their old ideological paradigm. Maybe that's why this seems to be the age of the underdog. Maybe that's why Greens are making such incredible inroads in the BC campaign currently underway.

swim_team.jpgThe underdog is not beholden to an entrenched ideological base that stifles innovation. The underdog can explore opportunities across the political spectrum and develop solutions that work for everyone. The underdog can champion policies that actually address the growing income disparity. And as Elizabeth has shown us again and again, that's what building bridges is all about. Whether her participation with the parliamentary swim team, her insistence on a revenue neutral, nation wide, carbon tax, or speaking at next weekend's TEDx in Vancouver about our unfair voting system, Elizabeth champions the paradigm that seeks to close the gaps between us.

No doubt it's an impulse rooted in her environmental awareness, a deep understanding that in a finite ecosphere everything is linked. All of us on this 'pale blue dot' are hurtling through space together. As every space traveler knows, dividing ourselves into winners and losers is a perilous game. To survive we have to find ways of working together for the benefit of everyone.

"It seems that the people who are willing to get off the couch and do something about issues are always the minority, Elizabeth concluded in this Zoomer article from last summer. "That was true of the boomers, and it's true of the generations that followed. But there's a tipping point that when you get just enough people off the couch, you can make a difference." So however you choose to engage; in your community, in your organization, in your party, in your neighbourhood, thank you! Your voice matters. Your dedication to working together is an inspiration. Your vision gives others hope.

Have a wonderful week,

PS: If you live in Elizabeth's riding mark Friday, March 17th on your calendar as we are hoping to host a St Patrick's Day celebration to thank our volunteers and supporters. Details will follow.

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