Thursday, October 27, 2005

Guess I should make it official... after this I will no longer be posting to my blog for the foreseeable future. For one thing, there are too many other things happening in my life right now that need my attention, such that I cannot devote time to maintaining a good blog. For another thing, I don't think the quality of my blog was there compared to some of the other ones out there, and I'd rather not become "just another blog", falling into the trap of doing little more than linking to articles and offering little more than one-off comments about said articles. So it's best that I move on.

I thought about deleting the blog altogether... and I may still do that at some point... but I guess a little part of me holds out hope that one day I'll return to it and learn how to do it right. Plus there were some good things in there, I think, so it would be a shame to remove it forever.

So in short, thanks to anyone out there who did read this blog, I appreciate it. I will try to get my life in order, and while I do that I will continue to work, hope and pray for a conservative government to run this great country of ours, Canada.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Update

Yes, it's been a while since I've posted. Things have been happening that I have to take care of, and these things have taken away some of my free time that I'd otherwise use to keep up with my blogging.

It's nothing serious... don't want to alarm anyone unnecessarily.

So, for my readers (the few, yet loyal... at least I hope they are loyal), regularly scheduled blogging should resume in the day or two.

Thanks!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Green Party Platform, Part 4b: "My Community", continued

This post will focus on the last five policy areas of the "My Community" section, Industry, Agriculture, Waste Management, Arts, and Sports and Recreation. See here for the first part of my review of "My Community", which looked at Our Cities, Education, Social Justice and Human Resources.


5. Industry

The Green Party platform breaks the Industry area down into two parts, Profiting from Progress, and Meeting the Need for Change.

Under Industry - Profiting from Progress, the Green Party proposes to:

• Create tax breaks for companies that are certified ISO 9000 and ISO 14000.
• Accelerate the introduction of “green” industrial technologies.
• Bring a clear, step-by-step approach to creating new environmental and social
legislation.
• Create incentives for employee ownership plans and open book management.
For those who aren't aware of what ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 certification is about, this page gives a brief summary. I don't know exactly how much obtaining such certification(s) costs, since I've never worked for a company that has made such an attempt, and I do think that most companies choose to obtain these certifications because it will give them an edge in the marketplace... the fact that governments would give a tax break for being ISO 9000 and 14000 probably would not be high up on the list of reasons they would cite for making this decision. Still, I would not be opposed to the government giving tax breaks to the companies on the basis of their ISO 9000/14000 certification. Certainly it's better than the Liberals giving "corporate welfare" to companies for no apparent reason!

As for "green" industrial technologies and new environmental legislation, I'd prefer to comment on those when I see or learn of specifics the Green Party chooses to propose, but I would be in favour of clear, step-by-step approaches in introducing these things that gather the input of all impacted parties, and where the final legislation benefits all parties and Canadians as a whole. Finally, incentives for employee ownership plans where appropriate are fine, but I'd be more concerned with ensuring open book management and reporting is in place. When I was taking my undergraduate degree in business (which was 10 years ago... yikes!), a big topic of discussion in my accounting classes was improving disclosure of corporate results in all areas... financial, operational, environmental, and so on. Today, it's even more important given the failures of companies like Enron and WorldCom. Some progress has been made, but it's been limited, and there is a long way to go. So I would be in favour of any political party, be it Conservative, Green or whatever, that would continue to press for meaningful ways to achieve these improvements without having too much undue negative effect on businesses.

Now, under Industry - Meeting the Need for Change, the Green Party proposes to:

• Legislate a “National Emissions Trading System” that will cap, trade and reduce CO2 and other emissions.
• Act quickly to reduce the release of carcinogens, mutogens, neurotoxins and endocrine-disrupting chemicals into the food chain.
• Create jobs and reduce waste by taxing raw materials more and employees less.
The first item sounds kind of like a mini-Kyoto protocol, for Canada only (but I could be wrong). If so, then I have to admit I'm skeptical. Many scientists have spoken out and stated Kyoto is not the solution others have claimed it to be. One of my fellow Blogging Tories, Bill at Strong World, has consistently produced excellent posts with further detail on how Kyoto doesn't measure up.

The other items, however, I agree with. All due care must be taken to reduce those harmful chemicals from the food chain. And as an employee, I sure can't complain about any policy that would tax me less! :-) But it makes sense too... companies have their own reasons to reduce waste, but being taxed on raw materials is just one more incentive for companies to continue and improve their waste-reducing efforts.


6. Agriculture

For agriculture, the Green Party proposes to:

• Reform our agricultural markets to provide farmers with a fair share of the consumer food dollar.
• Protect supply management agencies that provide stable markets, viable pricing and easier access for smaller family farms.
• Create policies that halt the spread of genetically modified foods and encourage a transition to organic agriculture.
• Stop subsidizing and start taxing pesticide use in agriculture.
• Shift government-supported research away from biotechnology and toward sustainable food production.
It seems to me that in the last ten to fifteen years, there hasn't been a lot done by our political leaders for local farmers. It's almost as if agriculture were an afterthought. Now maybe I'm wrong (I have never exactly lived in a rural, agricultural setting), but these are my impressions. So policies that protect smaller family farms and encourage them to prosper are ones i would support. I would just add the caveat that supporting research for biotechnology is not bad per se, and in fact can provide benefits for Canadians. But surely we can also support research, whether privately or publicly funded, to improve and develop sustainable food production.

I would encourage anyone reading this with more background knowledge in the field of agriculture to add your comments, as this is admittedly an area I don't have a lot of expertise in.

7. Waste Management

In the area of waste management, the Green Party proposes to:

• Require accurate reporting and measurement, as well as a set timeline to achieve national extended producer responsibility programs.
• Promote technologies that use sewage as an alternate energy source.
• Support public education programs that inform consumers about waste, recycling and conservation.
• Establish dedicated funding to support municipal wastewater management and safe water supplies.
I've heard of incinerating garbage as an alternate energy source (although many people protested against this and felt it created its own set of problems), but I've never heard of using sewage as an alternate energy source. But if it can be done safely and be an effective and reliable source of energy, why not? Also, as the country in the world with the largest percentage of freshwater supply within its borders, water management and safe water supplies are essential to Canada, and must therefore be protected. Finally, public education programs are important, but they must be done in such a way that people have to conclude it is in their best interests to reduce waste and recycle and conserve more... not just that it will be better for the planet, but that it will be better for the individual. These programs must be very clear and far-reaching.

As a personal aside, my younger brother is not politically affiliated, but he is very (VERY) passionate about environmental issues. He knows a lot about environmental issues, having finished his third year in a biochemical engineering degree at the University of Western Ontario. However he gets frustrated that people don't act to reduce waste or make their own efforts to improve the environment. We've tried to impress on him that people don't have the knowledge that he does. I use this personal example to show why public education programs must be clear, committed, and must reach as many Canadians as possible... so people can gain the same knowledge as my brother (albeit without as much of the high-level scientific detail) and react in the way that he does, to the benefit of our environment.


8. Arts

The Green Party propses the following policies for the Arts:

• Increase support for community arts programs and facilities to encourage participation.
• Revise funding programs to expand peer review and include audience feedback.
• Sponsor regional arts festivals that bring new Canadian art to a wider audience.
Canada has a vibrant arts community. Some of our country's finest entertainers are known the world over. Visual art, music, dance, theatre and other media of art are enjoyed by many Canadians. Art is important in entertaining people and helping them to escape the day-to-day problems of their lives. So funding to worthy arts projects should be supported and encouraged. And... that's all I really have to say here, but I would like to include a quote that is included in the Greens' platform, just because i think it's kind of neat.
“When the cannons have stopped firing, and the great victories of finance are reduced to surmise and are long forgotten, it is the art of the people that will confront future generations.” - Arthur Miller

9. Sports and Recreation

In the area of sports and recreation, the Green Party proposes:

• Set targets to increase the number of Canadians who are physically active by ten percentage points over the next five years.
• Bring back a national fitness challenge for our primary and secondary schools.
• Empower municipalities to plan neighborhoods that support walking, cycling and
recreational sports.
The platform includes a statistic that states "a 10% reduction in the prevalence of physical inactivity has the potential to reduce direct health care expenditures by $150 million per year." If that is true, then what better way to help ease the burden on our broken public health system, and what better reason to have meaningful policies to promote sports and recreation among all Canadians. Sport policy does not mean just supporting the elite athlete... although I do think we should be doing more to support our elite athletes... a country of our size, wealth and talent should really be doing better in producing athletes than consistently win at the highest levels. Sport and recreation policy must be for all Canadians, and the policies listed above would appear to be just that... for all Canadians.

Now, I am someone who has to be considered rather, uh, physically inactive, although I plan to change that soon because I want to be in better physical shape and health. One solution that is often mentioned to improve and promote physical health is to reinstate phys. ed. classes as mandatory at all levels of high school. When I was in high school I had to take Grade 9 phys. ed., and nothing more... and that's all I took. Making it mandatory throughout high school is a good idea, BUT there has to be a different approach in teaching phys. ed. to students who are not athletically gifted or inclined. I definitely fell in the category of not athletically inclined as a kid, yet when I took Grade 9 phys. ed. my teacher was also the football coach. Guess what... that was NOT a recipe for maximizing my enjoyment of that class. With that, plus being targeted for ridicule by the "cool jocks" (and occasionally even the teacher himself!), and phys. ed. was pretty much hell on earth. And I know I'm not alone in this type of experience. Now I don't expect sympathy (I've gotten over that part of my life, thank you very much), however I present that personal insight to help explain why there must be different streams of phys. ed. classes if we are to reinstate mandatory classes throughout high school.


As always, I welcome any and all comments on my analysis.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Green Party Platform, Part 4a: "My Community"

Before I carry on with the meat of this post, I'd like to go back to a couple of comments left on my last post. First of all, a hat tip to James Calder at The Progressive Right, who provided this useful answer to my question, "What does pay equity have to do with childcare?"
The argument would go something like this. If I am a single woman raising a child on my own then because, on average as is argued, I make less than a man in the same position, child care costs are a bigger burden on my take home pay than an equivalent man. I think they're trying to draw attention to the idea that gender inequality in the workplace impacts child care choice.
Secondly, a welcome to "Lex Luthor" (if that IS your real name, ha ha!) at Going Green in Alberta. Lex, I am certainly glad you are reading my blog and are enjoying my posts on the Green Party's platform. It is encouraging to me... because if I'm getting noticed by a Green supporter, then maybe I am doing something right! :-D

Anyway, back to the platform we go...

I have called this post Part 4a because the My Community section has 9 different policy areas, and instead of cramming them all into one post, I will address the first four areas ("Our Cities", "Education", "Social Justice" and "Human Resources") now, and then I will pick up the other five ("Industry", "Agriculture", "Waste Management", "Arts" and "Sports & Recreation") next time.

As with the My Home and Family section, the My Community section starts with some general comments, some of which read as follows:
The Green Party believes that the people who build a community are the same people who live and work there. The government should assist, not replace, the efforts and services offered by local organizations and volunteers.

What determines the “quality” in our quality of life? If you have ever built a fence, coached a junior baseball team, planted a garden or made a meal for your friends and family, you know the answer. It’s about doing something well, together.

Our “do less and help more” strategy means that we plan to empower the people who are already making a difference locally.
I definitely see some "smaller government" leanings in these comments. Stating that the government should assist local organizations and volunteers and not replace their efforts will be seen as a positive by all people who want to see less of a "big government" (i.e. Liberal or NDP) approach to things. Certainly the Conservatives offer that sort of vision as well, and to a greater extent, but the Greens do seem to offer another possible choice that Canadians can look at.

Now let's review the first four policy areas of My Community.


1. Our Cities

The Green Party plans to give municipalities, the level of democracy closest to the people, more power and resources to act to solve their problems. In particular, the Green Party proposes to:
• Support a grassroots movement to create municipal charters.
• Create new funding networks for more locally-run housing, childcare and health programs.
• Negotiate an agreement to redirect a share of federal tax revenues toward municipal issues.
I'd be curious to hear more details behind the municipal charter idea. What will be in the charters? How much teeth will they have? What sort of powers and enforcement mechanisms will they contain? Also, I wonder in what form(s) the new funding networks and share of federal tax revenues would be delivered to cities. Would the Greens propose to change the tax laws to allow cities to collect taxes in a different manner besides property taxes to cover the proposed programs? If not, I assume they would simply transfer more money to the cities to accomplish these goals... but would they go directly to the cities or would it be done through the provinces? Obviously there are lots of questions here... but these are some novel ideas, and if they were to be done properly they could really help local governments get things done and improve the lives of their constituents. It's clear that issues with cities affect many people, as nearly 80% of Canadians live in urban areas (according to the 2001 census). In order for these proposed policies to work as real selling points to urban Canadians, it is imperative for the Greens to really flesh the policies out and consider the best ways to implement them. Then they need to spell out very clearly how the policies will work and how they will benefit the lives of urban Canadians.


2. Education

The Green Party, in the policy area of Education, proposes to:
• Increase funding for early childhood education.
• Establish a Canadian mentorship network that will enable our nation’s seniors to connect with younger generations, to share the benefit of their experiences and to pass on their skills for an educated and enriched future.
• Ensure tuition-free access to college and university programs for retired people.
• Reduce the up-front costs of post-secondary tuition, making higher education more accessible.
• Boost participation in cooperative education programs and apprenticeships.
First, the good... I love the idea of a mentorship network. In addition to what the platform says this will achieve, it will also promote more respect for seniors among the youth of today. Now I'm not saying that today's youth don't respect their elders, in fact I'm sure most of them do. But a mentorship network will add to this respect, which can only be a good thing. I also think increasing participation in coop programs and apprenticeships is a terrific idea... it gives people who participate in these programs greater skills and experience and prepares them for the working world, and it is an excellent learning opportunity for young people. Finally, funding for early childhood education and tuition-free access to college and university for retired people seem like reasonable ideas to me.

Now, the bad... even though it may sound paradoxical, reducing tuition costs for post-secondary students is actually a bad idea. Higher tuition fees actually can make more sense... the idea is that if the more affluent people who can afford higher tuition pay for it, then some of the extra money collected would go to an improved student aid system, and more of the poorer students would receive bursaries and grants which will lessen their overall financial burden and debt load after graduation. These posts by Paul Wells explain this point in greater detail and clarity, so check them out. In summary... in my opinion, the Greens' proposed policy of reducing tuition fees is a definite weak point in their platform.


3. Social Justice

In the area of Social Justice, the Greens propose to:

• Provide Canadians with a simple, easy-to-use social support network to provide help that makes a difference.
• Reform our political institutions to be more open and democratic.
• Ensure that everyone has access to quality education.
• Restart a national housing program.
• Ensure — within five years — that no Canadian will suffer from hunger or malnutrition.
• Reform our measurement of economic progress to include measures of social progress.
Certainly making the social support network simple and easy to use sounds good in theory, but I wonder how that would be achieved. I do agree with making the political institutions of this country more open and democratic, and I sincerely hope whoever wins the next election really makes this a priority. The rest of the policies are pretty much no-brainers... they represent minimum standards of care that governments should provide to their citizens. At least, I think so, anyway.


4. Human Resources

The Green Party platform states that "the more advanced our economy becomes, the more we rely on the skills, education, creativity and leadership of our people for wealth creation. As a result, our economic future depends on our ongoing commitment to educating and enabling the most talented workforce in the world." In particular, the Green Party, in the area of Human Resources, proposes to:

• Support child-focused programs that boost self-confidence and foster a love of learning.
• Give students and job seekers up-to-date, no-nonsense information about the Canadian job market.
• Encourage more “hands on” learning in our post-secondary education system.
• Redesign the National Job Bank to automatically match jobs with job seekers.
• Reform outdated labour regulations to fit 21st century realities.
I'm not sure of all the areas where the current labour regulations have become outdated (anybody out there willing to add their two cents here?). I like the idea to give students and job-seekers better information on the Canadian job market because it should allow people to make better and more informed decisions about their careers, which hopefully will lead to a more productive society as well as a happier population who take pride in what they do. As for the idea to redesign the National Job Bank... maybe they can take some tips from sites like Monster.ca?! :-D

My review of the other five policy areas, as well as my overall thoughts on the My Community section, will be covered in my next post.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Green Party Platform, Part 3: "My Home and Family"

There are four sections of the Green Party's platform covering policy on a more in-depth basis. They are called, "My Home and Family", "My Community", "My Country" and "My World". Today's post will focus on the first section, "My Home and Family".

This section starts by asking three questions...

Health care costs are rising rapidly. What is making people sick?

Most of a child’s intellectual development happens before the age of six. Why are we spending most of our education dollars only after they turn eighteen?

Families are increasingly dealing with both parents working outside of the home. What are the long-term consequences if mothers and fathers don’t have enough time to spend with their children?
While it may seem a little curious that the Greens as a federal party would ask about education (since it is a provincial jurisdiction), the focus on the second question is early childhood education, which I think the federal government does play a role in. In any case these are very interesting questions that I'm sure most Canadians want our government to help answer.

The "My Home and Family" section is further broken down into six policy areas, Childcare and Early Learning, Food and Nutrition, Health (Not Just Health Care), Mental Health, Housing and Empowering Canadian Women.


1. Childcare and Early Learning.

The Green Party, in the area of Childcare and Early Learning, proposes to:

• Raise the benefit levels for parental leave under the Employment Insurance Act.
• Create tax-incentives for businesses to implement flexible schedules and on-site childcare.
• Create a national network that links childcare services across all three levels of government and funds local childcare initiatives and facilities.
• Enforce pay equity for women in the workplace.
For the life of me, I can't figure out what enforcing pay equity has to do with childcare and early learning... wouldn't it make more sense to include it under the Empowering Canadian Women section? Regardless, there are some interesting ideas here... I do like the plan to give tax incentives to businesses to implement flexible schedules and on-site childcare, this helps encourage free-market solutions to parents' childcare needs. The more choices parents have, the better able they will be to determine what is best for their children. For that reason I also think government should provide more tax incentives and tax relief for parents to give more of them the opportunity to be stay-at-home parents, but I don't see that addressed in this section. On the whole, there are some good ideas here to provide a good start to improve childcare for Canadians.


2. Food and Nutrition

The Green Party, in the area of Food and Nutrition, proposes to:

• Provide more education on nutrition, healthy diets and lifestyles in schools and community centers.
• Enhance pre-natal and early-years nutrition support programs in all communities.
• Support a nation-wide “healthy lunch and snacks” program from Kindergarten, through to Grade 12.
As long as this is all done in conjunction with, and with the support of, parents, then I don't have a problem with these ideas... they seem reasonable to me. Reasonable ideas that promote healthy eating (which will reduce health problems later that put a strain on the healthcare system) sound good to me.


3. Health (Not Just Health Care)

The Green Party's Health policies are of two types, which they call Better and More and Reducing Preventable Illness.

The Green Party, in the area of Health, Better and More (or as they call it, their "Better Health Strategy"), proposes to:

• Reinforce our publicly run, publicly financed, universal health care system.
• Create opportunities for more outdoor physical activities.
• Work to include coverage for proven, effective complementary health care, such as
chiropractic treatments and herbal medicines.
• Provide incentives for companies to reduce stress in the workplace and promote emotional health.
The Greens also state in this section that "our health care system is breaking down — not because we are spending too little, but because our lack of foresight is costing too much." Which makes sense... but then again perhaps the Green Party also lack foresight by not contemplating how private health care options can reinforce the public system. Now perhaps they have thought about this and would consider it... but I haven't heard if this is the case. Not specifically including it in the policy platform makes me think they are not considering private options... which would be a real shame.

I'd also wonder how the Greens would "create opportunities for more outdoor physical activities". How, exactly, would one go about doing that? Also, I'm sure some people would debate whether chiropractic treatments can be considered effective complementary health care... although I can't really say since I've never had occasion to require or consider chiropractic treatments. However, there are good ideas in the last two points (include coverage for complementary treatments and incentives to reduce stress, etc.) that can be built upon into solid policies which the current and future governments should consider.

As for Reducing Preventable Illness, the Green Party proposes to establish a "Better Health Task Force", which will enact policies such as:

• Reduce obesity by 15%, thereby reducing the incidence of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks.
• Reduce the prevalence of breast, colon, lung and prostate cancers by 15%.
• Encourage the full-cost pricing of tobacco products and junk food.
• Ensure that Health Canada has enough funding to continue Aboriginal and population-health initiatives.
I am curious as to what steps they would take to meet their reduction targets as laid out above... although to be fair it is an easy criticism to make, saying a platform is not specific enough. Still, I think it is clear that governments in the past have not been doing enough to encourage Canadians to do what they can to reduce preventable illnesses. Any serious policy and/or discussion in this area is therefore welcome.


4. Mental Health

The Green Party, in the area of Mental Health, proposes to:

• Support community based self-help groups, social service agencies, independent living centres and advocacy projects.
• Re-examine the effectiveness and safety of the increasing use of pharmaceutical treatments for mental health problems, especially for children.
• Involve mental health clients and psychiatric survivors in research planning, policy development, program evaluation and other decisions that affect their lives.
The document states that "stress and mental illness are now the number one cause for lost work time and income" and "mental and emotional health problems are the most neglected components of our health care system". I think these statements have a lot of merit, even if they are not quite 100% accurate. At the very least, more discussion and debate should be taking place as to the government's role in addressing mental health issues, so the Greens' ideas here are welcome starting points.


5. Housing

The Green Party, in the area of Housing, proposes to:

• Revive a social housing program that will provide credit and loan guarantees to non-profit housing organizations and cooperatives for the building and restoration of quality, energy-efficient housing for seniors, families and single people with special-needs.
• Expand R-2000 housing programs and ensure that all new housing meets the standard.
• Offer support to owners who are willing to renovate existing housing to meet the standard.

I'm not sure what to make of this, myself, so I'll leave this section for my readers to comment on. Of course your are welcome to comment on anything in this post, but I'd be especially interested to hear what you have to say about housing since I have no strong opinions either way regarding these ideas.


6. Empowering Canadian Women

The Green Party states in its platform that it believes in supporting equality for men and women, and then makes this interesting argument:

The Green Party believes that proportional representation is a necessary step toward political equality. In all countries that have a proportional system of electing representatives, women have a greater voice in government. No political party — given a choice — wants to under-represent women, but the “winner take all” system that we use today favors aggressive tactics and negative campaigning. It is not the kind of system that most women want to participate in. The system needs to be changed. To achieve something much closer to a 50-50 balance, the Green Party recommends that we switch to a proportional system of voting.
I have to be honest, that's the first time I've EVER heard anyone use that argument to support proportional representation. I'm not sure how valid it even is... for example, isn't it sort of discriminatory to say that most women don't want to participate in the "winner take all" voting system we have now? I'm all in favour of exploring other ideas for electing MPs besides first-past-the-post... but let's leave gender politics out of that discussion because I don't believe it belongs.

The other policies the Green Party proposes for Empowering Canadian Women are:

• Raise the benefit levels for parental leave under the Employment Insurance Act and extend compassionate care leave to those who are caring for a gravely ill family member.
• Create tax incentives for companies to meet the highest standards of gender equity and pay equity.
• Provide student loan forgiveness to working graduates of childhood education programs.
• Increase funding for women’s crisis centres and shelters, as well as educational programs that build healthy attitudes toward women among young people.
• Support the UN’s global initiative for the elimination of discrimination and violence
against women.
These policies make much more sense, and I'm sure Canadians of all stripes would support them. I would, however, again make the point that the educational programs to address healthy attitudes toward women among young people should be done in conjunction with parents giving the same positive messages about women to their children.


Overall, while there are some policies in the "My Home and Family" section that I question (not to mention other ideas I flat out disagree with), there are some very interesting policies as well which all parties and Canadians of all political persuasions should think about and debate.

Thanks for reading this admittedly very long post. Any and all constructive comments are welcome. The next post in this series will look at the "My Community" section of the Green Party policy platform.

This story was crossposted to Colbert's Comment's Friday Open Trackback Party

Sunday, August 07, 2005

"Harper makes a convert of detractor"

I know I mentioned to some people I would post part 3 of my review of the Green Party platform this weekend. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, that didn't happen. I now expect to have this post finished in the next day or two, Monday or Tuesday.

In the meantime, check out this positive article on Stephen Harper. Assuming his efforts this summer have made as much of a difference as this article suggests, then this can only mean good things for the Conservative Party and its supporters.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Green Party Platform, Part 2: "The Ten Key Values"

What are the values of the Green Party? What do they really believe in? Can Canadians identify with these values?

The Green Party platform contains a section that addresses the first two questions... their "Ten Key Values". Interestingly enough, it is placed in the middle of the document, neatly at the halfway point of their policy sections. Not sure whether this indicates any hidden meaning or if it is just a coincidence, but it's different, I'll grant you that much.

Anyway, here are the Green Party's Ten Key Values:
Social Justice — Without justice there can be no liberty, no stability and no lasting progress. We must act locally and globally to secure human rights and achieve a just society.

Nonviolence — Every act of violence delays our progress toward a just society. Anger closes the open mind. Fear hinders constructive change.

Sustainability — Activities are sustainable if they can be continued without diminishing the opportunities and resources available to future generations. We have only one planet to live on.

Decentralization — The people most affected by a problem must have the authority to solve it. Distant administrations cannot be responsive. We must empower individuals and municipalities to shape their own destinies.

Grassroots Democracy — True democracy exists when citizens meet as equals to resolve problems. Citizens must be able to participate in the political, economic and environmental decisions that affect them.

Personal and Global Responsibility — We must learn to take responsibility for ourselves, our families, our communities and our planet. As we learn to be responsible, we can inspire others to do the same.

Diversity — We honour the diversity of life on our planet. Cultural and spiritual diversity has intrinsic value. Every plant and animal has the right to exist, independent of human needs.

Community-Based Economics — Healthy economies help people grow stronger. Our economy must build communities, rather than extract profits.

Gender Balance — Our goal is the full and equal participation of women and men in all spheres of activity. Cooperation and understanding must replace domination and control.

Ecological Wisdom — Human beings are a part of nature, not separate from it. We cannot endanger whole ecosystems and remain unaffected. Whatever we do to the web of life, we do to ourselves.
Here are some of my thoughts and reactions to this list of values.

  • I'd be curious to find out how Green Party members would carry out the Social Justice value in reality. To be more specific, what I mean is, would rights be "created", as many people say happened with the Liberals and same-sex marriage? I suspect this would not be the case, especially at first... when you are part of a new political party taking on the establishment, it certainly would do no good to start acting like some parties in the establishment would, now would it?
  • I would like to assume that Green Party members believe that the Nonviolence value would not preclude Canada from being a part of any foreign war that was necessary and justified. Hard to tell from the statement itself. This could potentially be an interesting one to monitor in the future.
  • Certainly the Sustainability and Ecological Wisdom values (as well as parts of the Personal & Global Reponsibility and Diversity value statements) are in keeping with the strong environmental focus of the Green Party... no surprise there.
  • Decentralization... now here's a key difference between the Green Party and the traditional federal parties. This difference is especially noticeable when looking at the Liberals, who can't seem to avoid getting involved in areas dangerously close to being out of federal, and into provincial, jurisdiction (some of their health and education polices being good examples of this). Giving people most affected by a problem the authority to solve it... quite a radical concept by Canadian political standards!
  • Grassroots Democracy is another differentiating value. Sure, the Conservatives did merge with the former Reform party and still have many of the Reformers in the tent, but the Conservatives don't quite have the same emphasis on empowering the grassroots as Reform did. Not sure if all of the polices of the Green Party are appealing to former Reformers looking at their options beyond the CPC, but the emphasis on the grassroots must appeal to them and give them something to think about. In any case, this is likely a key selling point the Greens will use with people cynical with the traditional federal parties and with Canadian politics in general.
  • Personal and Global Responsibility... seems to be different from what the traditional leftist parties offer, isn't it? Considering the left, in a lot of areas, often want the government or someone/something else to take responsibility...
  • One of the most intriguing sentences, to me, in this section comes from the Diversity value statement... "Cultural and spiritual diversity has intrinsic value." It seems to me that spiritual diversity has taken a hit what with the anti-Catholic sentiment on the rise after the SSM debate and passage of the law. I'd be VERY interested to hear the Greens expand on their views of cultural and spiritual diversity.
  • Gender balance... sounds fine to me.

On the whole, these are nice motherhood statements, but they do provide a pretty good general answer to the first two questions I asked at the beginning of this post. As for the third question, "Can Canadians identify with these values?", I think they can... but that will largely depend on what the policies themselves are.

More on those, later.