Good Sunday Morning,
Political conventions can be predictable; hyper-partisan talking points to whip up the base and strive desperately to appear united in solidarity behind a common ideology. Seldom do they dare to explore the realities of our time or unpack the complexity of the issues that face us as a society. Instead they tend to be mired in the perceived safety of the status quo, guided only by the desire of political strategists to strengthen the party brand.
But not all political conventions are created equal. Every once in a while there is a moment in history that compels people to step outside the political norm and face the challenges of our time head on. These moments compel us to reach beyond mere policy proposals, that may or may not ever reach the floor of the House, and embrace opportunity to question our trajectory and speak truth to power.
Over the last few years we have seen New Democratic governments support the expansion of the petroleum industry, we have seen Conservative governments boldly dismantle climate action and we have seen our current Liberal government not only break one promise after another but actively invest billions of taxpayer dollars in aging and obsolete fossil fuel infrastructure after promising the world that Canada would be a climate leader.
So when Elizabeth says it's time to tell the truth, she doesn't mean it's time that we as Greens start speaking candidly about the crisis of survival. We've been doing that all along. What she means is that it's time Canadians engage in a dialogue that dares to challenge the broken promises, the misinformation, the blatant lies, and the utterly pervasive corporate capture of our democratic institutions that Kevin Taft talked about on his highly successful tour last week.
We find ourselves standing at a crossroad. And Caroline Lucas put it squarely to her audience in this talk she gave in London last spring to the Royal Society of Arts: "Humanity has never before, faced such an all consuming and imminent threat to our future. We do know in great detail, what we are doing. And we will not be forgiven, especially by our children, if we fail to act, and to act in time." Looking into the future she quotes a phrase from a book set in 2050 that touched her deeply: "Why is it that, knowing what we knew then, we didn't act when we still had time?"
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, in response to the recent ruling that shut down pipeline construction, said the courts got it right. "We've said as far back as the Harper days, the dark Harper days, that the process was fundamentally flawed, we all recall the omnibus legislation, bill C-38 and C-45 that completely gutted environmental oversight in this country. And the Trudeau government, in spite of promises to redo the NEB approval process, has simply continued on with the Harper framework."
Speaking about Canada's energy security, Gordan Laxer reminds us that whether it's Liberal or Conservative governments, Ottawa keeps promising that we're going to reduce greenhouse gasses and then when we get close to the deadline that they set for themselves, they move the goalposts.
Almost a year ago, Chlöe Swarbrick delivered a commanding speech just after being elected to New Zealand's parliament: "Mr. Speaker, if I can accomplish just one thing in my time here. I want to change people's awareness of what politics really is. Because if we can change that, everything else can change. I want to start that work here, today, by asking people to look critically at the world around them. Look at our culture, our society and our economy and ask if it is fair and just. If it's not; who profits from that injustice? who pays the price for that unfairness? ...we in this room get to choose the rules. Those who are falling through the gaps are either there by systemic neglect or by design. It means that we as the Green Party... have an opportunity, a duty to try and fix things. Democracy doesn't have to feel broken."
Through his many books including The Carbon Shift and The Upside of Down, Thomas Homer-Dixon has explored the linkages between the various challenges that face our modern society. Although he does not hold back, and faces the cold reality of our time squarely, he never releases his grip on the idea that in the midst of global climate breakdown there is hope. "People rarely acknowledge that an accustomed way of life is unsustainable. At least until there is a shock of some kind that causes them to change their lives in a dramatic way. Somehow we have to design our social systems so that they are more resilient. The one thing we can say about the future is that it will be marked by an enormous amount of surprise."
And in that surprise there is opportunity. Opportunity to change how we do politics. Opportunity to fix our unfair electoral system. Opportunity to elect governments that reject the shackles of corporate capture and hear the silent voices of future generations. On September 28 through 30th, these amazing people and Greens from across the country are going to join Elizabeth in Vancouver to embrace that opportunity. And you can too.
Regular registration is now closed, but for one day only you can still sign up at regular rates! Register before 11:59pm PDT on September 16th to save $50 on this incredible experience.
Please share the link or this email with friends, family and other Greens across the country.
And if you are not yet convinced this will be an amazing event, here is why Elizabeth is so excited about this year's convention:
"For each of those themes, we have speakers who will deliver the message of: First we face facts, then we come forward with the solutions, and then we inspire and mobilize for those solutions.
"Time for the Truth on democracy is ALL about getting rid of FPTP -- Caroline Lucas's keynote will link FPTP and Brexit and the calamities of British politics. And the full plenary panel on Sunday is all about PR - with New Zealand MP Gareth Hughes and our own Sonia Furstenau.
"Time for the Truth about global corporate rule we have a plenary of Paul Manly's new doc on the Bilcon case with climate and featuring guest speaker and nationally acknowledged expert Gordon Laxer. That plenary will continue in a workshop as well as table talks to ensure a deeper understanding among Greens of the threats of ISDS and NAFTA.
"On climate, we have Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and Thomas Homer-Dixon....with a strong dose of reconciliation. Grand Chief Stewart Philip has never spoken to a political party convention before. I am overwhelmed he accepted.
"Speaking of reconciliation, we will have two MC's... and they are both Indigenous women - Racelle Kooy and Lorraine Rekmans. Adam Olsen's keynote on wild salmon will also stress the indigenous world view - I think it will wake people up from other provinces to why wild salmon resonates so strongly in BC, but it will also inject an important message of respect for other species.
You can attend the entire convention or drop in to participate in two evening events open to the public.
The Opening Gala will feature keynote speeches from special guests Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and Thomas Homer-Dixon on Friday night. It starts at 7pm and tickets are just $20.
And the Green Banquet on Saturday also starts at 7pm (doors open at 6:45) and features the keynote address from Green Party Leader Elizabeth May! Tickets for this fabulous public event are $65.
To find suitable accommodations to suit your budget you can visit this page on the website which includes a link to a Facebook group to help arrange billets and room sharing.
So join us September 28th - 30th
and help us make the world a better place
Until next week,
"It is our job to work tirelessly for justice, for peace, and for a planet that can survive with a human civilization that thrives. This is the challenge that we take on as Greens." Elizabeth May, October 19th, 2015
This weekly missive is authored by Thomas Teuwen, our SGI EDA coordinator. Opinions expressed are his own. We welcome your comments and feedback. If you were sent here by a friend and would like to subscribe to our weekly email simply click here. You can also go to the archives section of our SGI website to read back issues. And if you are on twitter please join in on this hashtag.