Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Can the Green Party "break-through" in Canada?

 Why are Canadians giving the Green Party a second, third and final look in their search for a political party in 2019?

We all know that the human assault on the fragile eco-systems that provide life for plants, animals and humans endanger all of us, and not in the distant future.

We also know that the tug-off-war (vacillation) between continued exploitation of fossil fuels and clean, accessible land, air and water, the essential ingredients of life has been tilted for centuries in favour of the fossil fuels….and that the field has to tilt in the opposite direction, and now.

We also know that any turbulence in the “comfort” of major corporations dependent on fossil fuels sends tidal waves of lobbyists, campaign cash and resistance to any miniscule move to make the shift in direction the shared climate requires.

We also know that political parties, like churches, are by far the most resistant to change, the most vociferous and animated when confronted with their complicity in historic cultural norms that are demonstrating their lethal impact on life in all of its forms. Power, by definition, seeks power; it seeks to acquire power, it exists to acquire power; it then seeks and strategizes to hold onto that power, and the longer it has power, the more tenacious is its grip on power. In order to acquire power, power needs the support of other “resources” of power: cash, cash, cash and endorsements.

Paradoxically, too, ordinary people who mostly live from pay-cheque-to-pay-cheque, do not have stashes of cash to pour into the coffers of agents of change who have seen, integrated and even adopted a visionary and idealistic perspective on the need for change. Read: huge corporations have those vaults of cash, especially in an economy that has been developed by their clones, their sycophants and their puppets and they traditionally funnel those cheques into the traditional political parties, in the U.S. that means the Republican and Democratic parties, in Canada, that means the Liberal and Conservative parties.

“Fringe” parties, like “fringe” (read: new, unconventional, threatening, radical, socialistic, scholarly) ideas and the people who espouse them, by definition, try to gather the “crumbs” that fall from the board tables of the mega-corporations onto the social, cultural, political “floors” of their campaign offices.

Tobacco companies, for decades, secured the complicity of their political puppets, by denying the causal relationship between cigarettes and cancer; the political class in Michigan, so far, has mostly escaped jail, following their fatal and tragic irresponsibility in poising the water supply in Flint; the Ontario conservatives under Michael Harris, similarly, faced public outrage in the water contamination at Walkerton, following the budget cuts to oversight of the system; similarly, Ontario roads have never recovered following their “trashing” under the budgetary cuts by that same Harris government. Politicians too often escape the tragedies and the follies they inflict, given their short life “on the hog” while in office. The current Ford government in Ontario, too, is imitating the Harris gang, by cutting cash for such programs as autism support, while puffing their own shifts by offering beer in corner stores. Pandering to the masses, like the Romans with their bread and circuses, comprises a cornerstone of short-term, narcissistic, political electoral success. And that pandering often includes massive commitments to deception, diversion, exaggeration, dissembling and denying real facts and responsibilities.

Acknowledging the “science” of the climate dangers has climbed the totem of public discourse so far that CBC’s The National is, this week, dedicating a series of mini-documentaries on the evidence facing us today, not even pondering the impacts of another dozen years of this inaction, under both Liberals and Conservatives in Canada, and also under the Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Impact Insurance CEO tells us that homes are literally in danger of becoming “uninsurable” given the threats of increased intensity, frequency and predictability of floods, even in North Toronto.

Reporter Susan Ormiston documents the visible impact on northern towns of the melting of perma-frost, the rising oceans and the need to move houses back from the eroding shoreline. The scientific prognosis says that eastern Canada will see a 20% rise in rainfall, while western Canada will see a 20% rise in drought, according to Ormiston’s report earlier this week.

Today, the Trudeau government will likely announce the commitment to build the Trans-mountain pipeline, in order to transport Alberta crude to the west coast, and then to off-shore markets. And in their decision they will enrage environmentalists, and mollify their energy-sector corporate funders.

The Toronto Star reports on the Green Party climate plan, dubbed “Mission  Possible”:

·        Double Canada’s emissions reduction target to 60 percent below 2005 levels by 2030
·        Halt all new fossil fuel development in the country,
·        pursue a nationwide shift toward non-nuclear renewable energy
·        create millions of jobs by retrofitting all buildings in Canada so they are carbon neutral over the next 11 years
·        create a “survival cabinet” of members of all parties to direct climate action of the government
·        maintain the Liberal government’s carbon-price plan, which imposes a minimum levy on fuel equivalent to $20 per tonne this year, rising to $50 per tonne in 2022, and hike it each year beyond that
·        cancel all new fossil-fuel development, including already approved projects like the $40-billion LNG Canada export terminal set for construction on the coast of B.C.
·        ban fracking, a method of extracting natural gas from the ground that many environmentalists oppose as destructive and too emissions-intensive
·        improve upon a cross-country electrical grid so renewable energy can be transmitted from one province to the other. This parallels Canada’s stopping the import of fossil fuels like oil and gas, and builds new refineries to consume the fuels the country needs as it transitions completely to renewable energy.
·        Pledges to expand rail service and ensure all internal combustion vehicle engines are replaced with electric models by 2040
·        Install a “cross-country vehicle charging system”

That seems like a mouthful of policy proposals too large for a semi-interested, marginally-engaged, electorate suffering from both information and anxiety over-load. Is it to large and too complicated?

That really depends on how serious each of us considers the threat of environmental catastrophe. Into this North American context we have to insert the climate deniers, corporate cultists on the fossil-fuel side of the equation, people like the president of the U.S. who has systematically dismantled the Environmental Protection Agency, sold huge amounts of polluting coal to developing economies like China and India, and made it far easier for corporate polluters to continue to spew toxic gases into the atmosphere. Also in the political equation are people like Michael Bloomberg who has donated millions to the counter-push against the “official” U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord. American town and city mayors, too, have taken significant steps toward ameliorating environmental erosion. Cities around the world have joined the “Blue Communities” project initiative by the Council of Canadians, banning plastic water bottles, as another initiative to help stave off the ravages of climate crisis. Jay Inslee, the Governor of Washington State, has declared his candidacy for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party and focused his campaign almost exclusively on protection of the environment because he argues, if we do not do that, the rest of the issues wont really matter that much.

For the Green Party of Canada to break through the ceiling of public consciousness, and fly into the “stratosphere” of the polling booth, where the next government’ profile will be determined, people like the CEO of Impact Insurance will have to acknowledge that his company’s survival, like that of the country and the Green Party itself, are inextricably joined, and offer sizeable cash to mount a national advertising campaign for the Green Party. Similarly, environmentally-committed artists, musicians, dancers, film-makers and thought leaders will have to be recruited to host public events, concerts, films, art exhibitions, and “gift” the revenues to the Green Party. Similarly, all of those environmental scientists, like the one from Carleton University who appeared on CBC this week, will need to speak out from whatever platforms they have available, in order to mount a tidal-wave of public information, reliable, credible, authentic and life-sustaining information.

Bill McKibben, one of the prophets who have been speaking and writing about these issues for years, would be another public “figure” to invite to Canada to paint a picture of the future we face if we continue to do as little as we have been doing to leave a safe and healthy environmental legacy for our grandchildren.

And none of these initiatives will be enough without the emotional, intellectual and political awakening of the Canadian public, from our perspective, on behalf of the Green Party of Canada. This week’s two-million-strong celebratory parade in support of the NBA championship won by the Toronto Raptors could be duplicated for another national shared “cause”: the legacy of clean and fresh land, air and water for our grandchildren and their kids. Another pipe dream? Probably.


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