Good Sunday Morning,
Chatelaine asked recently if Canada is heading into a nasty election year. It interviewed the four national party leaders, recognizing that over the past three years, the political landscape has been completely reshaped. The article introduces Elizabeth May this way: "Gone are the days when casting a ballot for the Green Party might have felt like wasting a vote. Early polls show that the Greens have record-level support among Canadians, and the party’s environmentalist lens resonates particularly with millennials, who are now the single largest voting block in the country. Provincially, the Greens have made significant advances, holding the balance of power in B.C. and nabbing three seats in New Brunswick."
Two questions jumped out at me, mostly because of the thoughtful answers that Elizabeth, true to form, provided.
The Green Party’s opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline has been echoed in the Federal Court of Appeal. But what do you say to voters who argue that jobs are worth the environmental risk?
"There is no economic case for the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Shipping out raw bitumen to refineries in other countries means shipping out jobs with the raw bitumen. Why don’t we create more jobs for every barrel of bitumen produced by upgrading it and refining it in Alberta? If so, we could use it across Canada and stop importing foreign oil to the East Coast. There are solutions and compromises here, but we are in this binary winner-loser gladiatorial contest. What’s the energy policy that meets the needs of all Canadians, all provinces, all parts and regions of this country? Is there a solution at hand? I submit there is, but we’ve never had a serious conversation about it."
What’s the most important issue facing women voters in this election?
"I think it’s important to recognize that citizens have power and to re-establish the link between citizens and government — and this is true for men and women voters alike. MPs like me are public servants. We are not elevated celebrities; we are workers. The voter is the boss. Citizens need to believe it and live it so that our government once again becomes an extension of our citizen power doing what we need and want. That means running balanced budgets and doing the sorts of things we expect of our own households. Government is not external to us; government is us. We need to reclaim it."
"It is anger and fear that drive us to the polls." David Frum quotes his opponent in his opening remarks of the Munk debate. "This is not the first time that democracy has faced thugs and bullies and would be dictators and those who seek to build themselves up by tearing others down," he continues. "This is not the first time that they have puffed themselves as the wave of the future. They were wrong then and they are wrong now." The protesters outside where appalled that Steve Bannon was given such airtime but what unfolded inside is worth watching.
Frum continues: "It's strange for me, a lifelong conservative, to be here on the liberal side of this debate. I'm not a liberal. What I and other conservatives are trying to conserve is a state that does not steal, a media that does not lie, courts that respect the rights of all and voting that is available to everybody even if the people counting the votes are afraid that those who are voting may vote against them."
Wise words if they would only reach the ears of those who are busy structuring campaigns around the model of Trumpism. The Star headline reads: "Conservatives preparing to battle with reporters as they go ‘for the jugular’ in the 2019 federal election campaign." The piece points out that at a rally in downtown Ottawa last Sunday, Scheer said he would stand up to “the media” and accused journalists of siding with the Liberals in the carbon tax debate.
In his recent TED talk, David Moscrop reminds us that the cure for the ills of democracy is more democracy. We need to move back to a citizen centered model where we think of people as part of a community, a society of decision makers that come together, and take the time we need to form good decisions... together.
Writing in McLean's he points out that we don't just need to find new answers. We need to ask new questions. He quotes Ronald Wright who he interviewed in 2017: “Our institutions and the frameworks in which our political and economic system works are predicated on very short-term thinking—and they are very good at dealing with short-term, immediate problems. They are quite incapable of dealing, so it seems, with long-term problems.”
That tendency to focus on the short term, the immediate, poses an existential threat. And many feel that threat on a very personal level. Eric Holthaus assures us in this recent Grist piece that if you’re suffering from climate grief, you’re not alone. The U.N. climate report told us what was needed and the horrors that awaited if we failed to mobilize. But it didn’t tell us how to process, cope, and adapt our lives to the grief of that overwhelming knowledge.
He quotes a short essay written by Scott Williams of Climate-KIC: “Do we need an IPCC special report for humans?” Williams explores what it would take to act on the U.N. report and asks provocative questions, like: “What does it mean when every coal mine town has no jobs in five years’ time? What does it mean when in ten years’ time if no airlines can fly over Europe? How do we feed our families if there’s an extended drought which causes mass crop failure? What is the point of putting away money into a pension fund if that fund is investing in a way that just makes things worse? And what are we going to do about it?”
Abacus Data shows that 74% of Canadians see climate change as a big problem. The data also shows that we have political cleavages around climate change, law and order and to some degree cultural diversity/immigration. The next election promises to be an important test of what agenda is chosen by the most voters, and what solutions they favour to the issues they care about. Solutions that will be hotly debated during the upcoming national campaign.
In a piece of good news this week we learned that Elizabeth will qualify to be in the national leadership debate under the new guidelines announced by the Minister. By appointing a debates commissioner it seems the Liberals are intent on making this a citizen right with transparent criteria. But I can't help recalling that Elizabeth was also accepted to be in the national debate in 2015. This so threatened Stephen Harper and Tom Mulcair that they boycotted the event, forcing it to be canceled.
These debates matter. As the recent IPCC report warned us, we have just 12 years before we will reach 1.5 degrees average global warming. This means we have to change direction drastically in the next two years, during this election cycle, if we are to avert calamity. And there is plenty of evidence to support the urgency. The Guardian reports that glaciers in the Yukon are shrinking faster than expected. The rate of warming in the north is double that of the average global temperature increase, bringing dramatic changes to the region.
Urging government to increase our climate targets ahead of COP in December, is just one of the many issues Elizabeth is championing. Her "Week in Review" gives a staggering account of her activities and how Elizabeth serves not only her constituents but all Canadians.
While Canada's targets are but half of what they should be, the world is embracing a new future. India and China are racing to become the worlds largest producers of solar energy. At MIT they are working on a new battery technology that aims to power electric airplanes and this Turkish inventor has decided to take a fun new approach to flying by breaking away from traditional winged flight and conceptually exploring what amounts to an elevated train.
Meanwhile Bloomberg is reporting that it took more than seven years for automakers to sell 4 million passenger electric vehicles. It’ll take about six months to sell the next million. "That surging demand is transforming the lithium-ion battery business, with more power packs expected to be installed in EVs this year than in consumer electronics, according to Bloomberg NEF. China, where subsidy-toting drivers own a third of the world’s passenger EVs, is doing the most to fuel the boom."
But everything has consequences and as we've been reminded by people like David Suzuki over and over, there are no externalities. We need to pay attention as we scale up our solutions to climate change. While this lecture sponsored by the CCPA (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) at Simon Fraser University talks about the viability of powering our world with 100% renewable energy, we need to learn from our mistakes and get it right. That requires thoughtful, open, and honest government that administers science based regulations.
“We can continue down our current path until the impacts are felt by the public ... or we can start to implement the numerous changes that we now know need to be made,” Alberta Energy Regulator vice-president Robert Wadsworth said in February. And yet his recommendation went unheeded and the true cost of cleaning up the Tar Sands remained hidden - until now. The cost? $260 billion, according to internal regulatory documents. The government meanwhile has only collected $1.6 billion in liability security from companies.
Who we elect matters. And it also matters that we stop electing false majorities who can rule with practical impunity. Everyone who sees the Federal Government paying lip service to climate action while apparently ignoring the court ruling to halt construction on Trans Mountain, and continuing to aggressively pursue charges against those who stood up for what was right, gets it. Students at U-Vic get it. They are holding a Pro Rep debate watching party on Thursday.
And there are other efforts to make sure people vote for democracy in this referendum. People are canvassing, handing out leaflets, phoning and texting to make sure voters participate in the process. And a good thing it is. A recent filing report covered by Press Progress lays out who is funding the NO side to spread misinformation and confusion.
In the end it's pretty straight forward. If we think that it's ok to elect someone to hold 100% of the power with only 40% of the vote then we don't need to fix a thing. If we are ok with Alt-Right champions like Bannon infiltrating the back rooms of mainstream political parties instead of being out in the open, then we have nothing to worry about. But if we want to have our governments represent the will of the majority and be responsible to all Canadians and not just their ideological base, then we need to take this opportunity to fix what is broken and vote for ProRep.
Have a great weekend,
"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.