laurel l. russwurm's political musings

Posts Tagged ‘Canada

Mr. Harper Won’t Be Forming Government

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HarperThere is less chance Mr. Harper will form even a minority government than there was Tim Hudak would in Ontario.  The Harper Government’s heavy handed governance in combination with the proliferation of scandals has seen to that.  Even with the media soft pedalling the worst of it, even remaining Conservative supporters have an inkling.
The Harper Government has angered Canadians, including many of their own supporters across the board (from Rex Murphy to veterans). I could make a long list, but the internet is awash in such things.
There is no doubt in my mind we will have a new government tomorrow.

The only real question is: who will form government?


The polls tell us the three biggest parties are necjk in neck in neck, but as the election approaches, they all favor Mr. Trudeau.  Is this surprising?  Not when you consider the upholdersof the status quo … the corporatocracy, multinationals, the elite, the rich, the 1% … whoever they are —  will only support the two parties that can be trusted to uphold the status quo.  In other words, the Conservatives and Liberals.
When every Canadian on the street knows we are going to heave steve and stop harper, the two media giants that control the mainstream media have come out in favor of the Conservative Government.  Even they say we should Heave Steve… but keep his government.  Seriously.
The “political class” on the other hand, much prefer Liberal status quo defenders. They want to return to the Liberal glory days, and hope to reestablish the supremacy of the Liberal brand through the installation of Canada’s answer to George W. Bush, our own second generation political royalty, Justin Trudeau.  Never mind that justin Trudeau had no track record at all before being annointed.  Before he became Party leader, his only claim to fame was his name.  Whenever the media needed a mild mannered soundbite, they would go to the non-threatening MP who happened to be the son of Pierre Trudeau.  And while it is true Mr, Trudeau has knuckled down an shown his commitment to getting the job throughout the campaign, he has made some serious errors, the most egregious being his steadfast support for Bill C-51, a law that makes a mockery of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.   When you consider the Charter is probably the single most important thing the Liberal Party has ever done for Canada, the thing every Liberal could point to with pride, it is unsurprising so many life long Liberals chopped up their cards and abandoned ship.

Thomas Mulcair, federal NDP LeaderNDP?

The NDP will scrap the so-called Anti-Terror law (formerly known as Bill C-51) and restore the Charter.  The NDP has also firmly committed to Proportional Representation.    These two things are essential if Canada is to have any hope of being a free country.  Don’t vote for anyone who will not commit to both of these.

Not taxing big business and the rich has certainly contributed to the fact Canada is the only OECD country still in a recession.  (Mainstream media propaganda has tried to foster the idea this is the second recession on Harper’s watch, but the reality is that we never really got out of the first one.)

What has become apparent to those of us online is that most of the Liberal policies effectively continue the Conservative policies of the last decade.  The Modus Operandi if both the LPC and CPC is to “give big business everything.”   As Canada ha signed Trade Agreement after Trade Agreement, the lot of Canadians has increasingly plummetted.  Canada has yet to come out ahead on any of them.  And these secret agreements keep getting worse, with provisions that allow foreign corporations to overrule local governments on issues like protecting the environment.   Maybe a multinational doesn’t care about clean water, but we humans can’t live without it.   The China deal is set to run more than 30 years, and now the TPP doesn’t end, ever.
Both Liberals and Conservatives are on board with these agreements, but the NDP promises to scrap TPP.  Yay.
And while the NDP is offering some good social programs, they are tippy toeing.  $15 minimum wage sounds great, but if I’m not mistaken, that wouldn’t be applied across the board; but only for FEDERAL employees, and it will be phased in over time.  When $15 an hour isn’t a wage large enough to lift Canadians out of poverty today, that is just too little too late.
Then, too, those $15 a day day care sounds good, but it too is going to be phased in, and will only help a limited number of Canadians.

The Fear Factor

The problem is that Mr. Harper, (like Mr. Hudak), makes a good boogeymen.  It is easy to scare people into voting for *your* candidate when you can fan the flames of fear.  That’s how strategic voting works.  Has anyone selling strategic voting ever offered to support your candidate instead of their own?
Although strategic voting is always sold as the way you have to vote to make sure the boogeyman doesn’t win, if such strategies work, why is there always a worse boogeyman the next time?

Harper Government

There are plenty of good reasons to fear another Harper government, but there just isn’t going to be one.  And everyone knows it, including Mr. Harper.  When I was young, Brian Mulroney’s government was so reviled that after he passed the reins to Kim Campbell, the party was destroyed — reduced from a crushing majority to only TWO seats — by an election.  But compared to Mr. Harper, Brian Mulroney was loved.


Kim Campbell was an unfortunate first female Prime Minister, but we could make up for that by installing Ms. May.  Everyone likes Elizabeth May, even people who would never vote for her want to hear what she has to say.  They say 80% of Canadians wanted to see her in the debates.  But it was worth it to the “big boys” to keep her out anyway, because when Elizabeth may talks, people listen.  Not just because she’s smart, or the best parliamentarian.   People listen because what she says makes sense.  It is, after all, easier to pretend the Green Party only cares about the environment if people don’t ever get to hear from the Green Party.
But Elizabeth May is Lizhands down the best of the major party leaders, so you would thing that the Canadians who vote for the leader (which I am told is most of us) would be voting Green.
But people don’t vote Green.  Not because they don’t think she would make an excellent Prime Minister, but because they don’t think she could get elected.  And yet, the Green Party runs candidates across the country, so the possibility exists that she could become Prime Minister.  All it will take is for enough eligible voters to vote for enough Green Party Candidates.
This year my husband has been running as a Green party Candidate here in Kitchener-Conestoga.  Throughout the campaign I have had the opportunity to meet a great many Green party candidates, and I have been very impressed; the overall calibre of the Green Party Candidates I’ve met has been staggering.  It may be because so many Canadians are engaging in politics like never before, simply because it is starting to come home to us how fragile our democracy is.  Any of the Green Candidates I’ve met would be a credit to their constituents, and I believe many of them are exceptional.
Green Party policy is based on a solid bedrock of fiscal conservatism, even as it appears to be pie in the sky stuff.  After all, none of the other major parties even mention poverty as a rule, let along roll out a plan to eliminate it.  The problem isn’t so much that Canadians like poverty, but that people don’t believe eradicating it is possible.  Even though there was a successful Liberal pilot project decades ago that showed it can be done, and that it would make society stronger in many many ways.  But none of the other major parties believe it, so we think it can’t be possible.  But the truth is, Canada is a rich country that could easily afford to eliminate poverty by implementing a Guaranteed Livable Income.
If it was such a good idea, you might wonder why we didn’t adopt mincome in the 1970’s.  That’s easy: for the same reason so many good things don’t get done in Canada: our unstable uncooperative electoral system.  When your electoral system consists of alternating dictatorships, thinking tends to be very short term. In a winner-take-all electoral system the new king of the castle never implements the old king’s policies, so when the Liberals were voted out mincome was shelved.   And no subsequent Liberal Government even considered revisiting it.
What nobody tells us is that the cost of implementing the Guaranteed Livable Income would be a tiny fraction of what we spend waging war.  Maybe the cost of a single helicopter.  But we all have our priorities, right?
All it takes is the political will.  
So long as we believe we can’t vote for what we want, we will never get what we want.

The Real Way to Change

People have the idea that the only way to make sure we don’t elect Mr. Harper is by giving one party a majority government.  That is simply not true.  Although the NDP and Liberal Parties are happy we think this because people who might otherwise vote for what they want will be voting for the big party they think could win.  The truth is that majority government is always the worst possible result for Canadians.
But we don’t need to replace a majority government with another majority government.  All we have to do to move Mr. Harper out of 24 Sussex Frive is to unseat enough of the MPs in his party.  There is even much less chance the Marxist-Leninist Party will form even a minority government than the Greens will.  But if the Kitchener Centre ML Candidate defeats Stephen Woodworth, that’s one less Conservative seat in Parliament.  Vote for the person or party that offers what you think is most impirtant.


If you haven’t yet, please vote today. (And bring a friend.)  Only you can decide who will best represent you in parliament.  That’s who you should vote for.

Here’s hoping we all vote Green.

Green Party candidates

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Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

October 18, 2015 at 4:09 pm

Does this Canadian Election Matter?

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Tractor parade at the Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival, 2015. Coincidence? I think not.

Last week Canadian farmers drove their  tractors to Ottawa in a protest against the TPP. There are wide-spread fears this agreement will allow Multinationals to be able to dictate laws, suppress citizen rights and dispense with environmental protections if any of these things interfere with the pursuit of profit.

Much of the ground work has been laid for the unprecedented abdication of Canadian sovereignty through many of the laws pushed through by the Harper Government in previous years.

In spite of the fact Canada is undergoing a federal election, the Harper Government has made the unprecedented decision to continue with business as usual   Under the Canadian political system, government is prorogued — stopped — when an election is called.  Any draft legislation which has not completed the process is thrown out. Instead of pursuing new business, the Government has always gone into “caretaker” mode.  After all, there will be a new government after the election; new decisions will be up to the them.   If anyone in the new government is still interested after the election, they have to start over then.

But not now.

This is why it is bizarre — and disturbing — that the Harper Government has continued  with its secret trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, (TPP).  Although we know this exists, whatever it is that is being negotiated is secret.   Still, there have been enough hints of what we might expect that many Canadians are very much concerned, and many are very much opposed.

Instead of behaving the way Canadians rightfully expect, Mr. Harper has chosen to act as though the election doesn’t matter.  As though he is Prime Minister for life.  And in spite of mounting protest against the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, they announce

Canada has successfully concluded negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Even now, the content of the agreement is secret, and the New York Times reports that

“Its full 30-chapter text will not be available for perhaps a month, but labor unions, environmentalists and liberal activists are poised to argue that the agreement favors big business over workers and environmental protection.”

Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal Is Reached, New York Times

So Canadians will have no facts — beyond the fact the Harper Government has signed it — until long after this election.

Over the years we’ve seen our democratic processes chipped away, but most Canadians have insisted that  because we hold elections (no matter how unfair), Canada is still a democracy.

But it seems Mr. Harper doesn’t think there is any reason to stop what he’s doing just because we are having an election.  [A election he himself called.]   Apparently elections are meaningless to Mr. Harper.  Perhaps he thinks it is in the bag.  After all, he has the money to outspend all the competition in TV ads.   Is that all it takes?

Is this what we have come to?

40% of Canadians didn’t vote last time.

Everyone has theories to explain why more people didn’t than voted conservative.  If we had a “non-of-the-above” option, it would have prevailed.  But we don’t.

I myself think there are many reason why so many eligible Canadian voters don’t vote.  Where I live, I know old order Mennonites don’t vote.  And I know there is a lot of conflict among First Nations about whether or not to vote.  And a lot of young people reject the idea of voting in a system that is so corrupt.  Personally I am inclined to think the biggest demographic are voters who gave up after they realized their vote would never count.  But like everyone else’s theories, that is just a guess.

Frankly, I don’t care why we don’t vote.  We all have our own reasons, and that’s fine.  What I do hope is that many of these Canadians can see their way to voting this time in spite of everything.  As someone whose vote has never counted, I know my vote isn’t likely to count again this time.  But that would change if my vote is joined by some of theirs.

If even half of the 40% who don’t customarily vote would vote, we will see change.

Does this Canadian election matter?

You betcha!  This one is the most important election of my life. Its outcome will have a profound impact on our world, and on our future.

I have spent my life being non-partisan.  Every election I have chosen who to vote for on the issues as I see them.  With a better system my vote might have counted once or twice.   But this year, I am partisan because my husband decided he had to run for the Green Party, and since he is one of the smartest and most honorable men I have ever known in my life, I am supporting him to the best of my ability.  And along the way I seem to agree with most of the Green platform, so that works out.  And while we very much hope you vote Green, what is most important is that you vote.  Vote for the candidate that will best represent your interests.

Vote. Vote for the candidate who will best represent your interests. I hope that's a Green, but vote regardless.

It may be pretty thin, but Canada is still a democracy.  We can still vote.  And if enough of us vote, it will make a difference.  But it’s time to use it, or lose it.


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Why Don’t Canadians Vote?

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Canada is a diverse nation; and there are many reasons for not voting.  This insightful article looks at one demographic.

Nothing lost when indigenous people vote

[guest post by James Wilson.
Originally published in the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 3, 2015

In 1960, when former prime minister John Diefenbaker successfully restored the right to vote for First Nations people, he earned the nickname “the man who made us people again” by elders in my northern reserve. That’s why it shocks me, over a half-century later, to still occasionally hear some of our leaders encouraging our people not to vote.

A few have argued for First Nations people to vote is for us to buy into the colonial, racist system that has done us so much harm over the years and removed us from our claims of sovereignty. Simultaneously, they argue the Canadian Constitution protects our rights as First Nations people.

I don’t buy into this confused response because, to me, you can’t denounce the obligations of citizenship without first denouncing the benefits.

My 14-year-old daughter responded to the “Why should First Nations people vote?” question in a straightforward manner. To her, it is about who makes decisions that affect her. “If you want to have no control over the decisions that affect your life, then don’t vote.” To her, conceding control is the furthest thing from sovereignty.

In the Oct. 19 election, there are 45 indigenous candidates running for the federal parties who, like all other candidates, make choices in terms of whom they are going to communicate with. They ask themselves, “Should I door-knock in community A with a population of 1,000 and a voter turnout of 80 per cent or visit community B with 1,000 people and a 40 per cent voter turnout?”

If door-knocking and voter identification are the bread and butter of politics, then the choice to visit community A is easy, as they’ll encounter an engaged voter at almost every door. And, from the perspective of a voter, the community will have a significant advantage, as their concerns will be heard over and over again by candidates.

When my 11-year-old son was asked the same question, his answer was strikingly different than his sister’s. He said we all need to vote because, “It’s part of being treaty.” He’s not far off from the views of his grandfather who, when asked one day why he was wearing a military jacket, said: “I do it to acknowledge and honour those aboriginal people who put their lives on the line to help the British monarchy, as a symbol of the sacred treaty relationship between the Crown and First Nations.”

Sure, there are probably other less important reasons why so many young people have and continue to respond to the call, across so many conflicts, but I believe the base is to honour the treaties. Even when the monarch, according to the late Jacob Bignell, told indigenous soldiers the First World War was not their war and they could be excused from participating, aboriginal soldiers kept their oath.

We need to continue that commitment.

Through the generations, we’ve had many First Nations veterans who have served and fought and died for Canada and for our collective rights, including the right to vote. In my father’s view and mine, we fully plan to honour this sacrifice, as an important part of defending the treaties the Crown and First Nations came together to make.

Political scientist Kiera Ladner, who holds the Canada Research Chair in indigenous politics and governance, says voting can be an expression of your nationhood, not contrition. If we as First Nations are “nations within,” then voting in a federal, provincial or band election would not dissolve your citizenship but enhance it. If someone gave you the opportunity to vote in the upcoming U.S. election, would you vote? Most of us would say, “Yes, what happens in the U.S. has a great influence on me. I won’t stop being Canadian, so why not?”

Also worth noting is if a person has ever voted in a First Nations band election, they have already voted in a Canadian system. In fact, it would be rare to find an individual who felt less Cree or less Ojibwa by voting for their chief and council.

The bottom line in the ground game of politics is this: First Nations people have tremendous power as the fastest-growing segment of Canada’s population. It’s time for mainstream parties to woo our people as voters, candidates and as part of their long-range plan. Equally, now’s the time for First Nations voters to fully exercise the right restored to them some 75 years ago… or risk becoming irrelevant on the political landscape.


James Wilson is commissioner of the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba, a neutral body mandated to encourage discussion, facilitate public understanding and enhance mutual respect between all peoples in Manitoba.

Follow @JamesBWilson_ on Twitter

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

October 4, 2015 at 9:16 pm

#DébatDesChefs Tonight!

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[Full disclosure: I have become Green for #elxn42]
French Debate

This evening’s french Language debate in Montreal might be the last real leadership debate of the 49th Federal Election. The five major federal party leaders will be taking part in a French-language debate on Radio-Canada.

Greens will be live-tweeting the action with both French and English graphics on topics relevant to the debate, as they come up in real-time.

Please make sure you are following the French Twitter accounts @MayElizabeth and @LesVertsCanada and are retweeting during the debate.

Please use the following hashtags when adding commentary of your own:
Primary: #DébatDesChefs
Secondary: #VotezVert #Partivert #vert

You can watch the debate in French from 8 to 10 p.m. on ICI Radio-Canada Télé, ICI RDI, ICI Radio-Canada.ca, facebook.com/ICIRadioCanada, Télé-Québec, and lapresse.ca.

The debate will also air in English via simultaneous translation on CBC News Network, CTV News Channel, CPAC – as well as their respective websites – Globalnews.ca, and on YouTube Canada: Election 2015.


Ce soir à Montréal les cinq chefs des parties principales s’affronteront dans le débat des chefs.

Nous serons en direct sur Twitter pour commenter et diffuser des graphiques sur les sujets abordés.

Suivez les comptes @MayElizabeth et @LesVertsCanada et retweetez durant tout le débat.

Utilisez les mots-clic suivants pour faire vos propres commentaires :
Principal : #DébatDesChefs
Secondaire: #VotezVert #Partivert #vert

Regardez le débat de 20h à 22h sur ICI Radio-Canada Télé, ICI RDI,ICI Radio-Canada.ca, facebook.com/ICIRadioCanada, Télé-Québec ou lapresse.ca.

Le débat sera également diffusé avec traduction simultanée en anglais à CBC News Network, CTV News Channel, CPAC(et leurs sites), Globalnews.ca, et sur YouTube Canada: Election 2015.


Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

September 24, 2015 at 6:42 pm

Let May Speak

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Although you’d never know it from the attack ads, most Canadians are fair minded people. Even people who would never in a million years vote Green want to hear what Elizabeth May brings to the table.

Personally, in over 30 years of voting, I have never elected anyone to Parliament.  Not once.  So was never represented– until Elizabeth May was elected MP, waaaay over there on the other side of the country.   At that time, I had never considered voting Green.  And yet, even though I live in Southern Ontario, suddenly I felt I was represented in Parliament for the very first time by Elizabeth May.

Elizabeth May speaks for me.

Please join me in signing this Avaz petition:
The Globe and Mail, TVA, and the Munk Debates: We call on you to include Elizabeth May in your debate.

Elizabeth May Speaks For me

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

September 14, 2015 at 11:20 am

Posted in Canada

Tagged with , , , ,

42nd Canadian Election #elxn42

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X marks the ballotThe long awaited 2015 federal election has been called, so Canadians are now being treated to one of the longest Federal Elections in Canadian History.  Because of strict spending caps, the standard election period has traditionally been half as long as the one we are having now.  Since the passage of the Harper Government’s Orwellianly titled “Fair Elections Act,” any party with an absurdly large budget (like, say, the Conservative Party of Canada) has an even better chance to outspend the other parties.  Will they be able to effectively “buy” an election win in this way?  I hope not.

Right now all the parties are scrambling to put on their game faces, but I have no doubt election fever will slow down a good bit until we get closer to the election.  We have time to catch our breath.  More important, we have time to start conversations about the Canada we want to have.  About the future we want for ourselves, and for our kids.

British SuffragetteThey call it “voter apathy” but I believe that’s a misnomer: we ought to call it “Voter Disillusionment.”  Although our electoral system is not only antiquated but unfair, a great many Canadians — on the order of 40% in 2011 — have become disillusioned or have other reasons for not getting out to vote.  The fewer Canadians who vote, the weaker our representation in Parliament, as we can see from much of the legislation pushed through with little or no scrutiny by our current majority government.

Originally, our First Past The Post electoral system was designed to serve rich white men.  It was only well into the 20th century that all Canadian citizens of legal age finally achieved the right to vote, but still, the system adopted before confederation wasn’t never intended to serve all Canadians.   No one knows better than I — after 30+ years of voting in every election without ever sending a representative to Parliament — just how unfair our winner-take-all electoral system actually is.  However, this year, meaningful electoral reform to Proportional Representation is indeed on the table.  The Harper Government has a majority government– and 100% of the power — based on less than 40% of the vote.  In the last election, more eligible Canadian voters did not vote than those who voted for the Harper Government’s majority.   If all the disillusioned Canadian voters were to vote this year, things would indeed change.

Canada’s fortunes will certainly improve with a switch to a better form of representative democracy, so I encourage everyone reading this to do your best to engage any other eligible voters you know who might ordinarily not vote to go to the polls this fall.  We see enough attack ads on tv… it is time for civil discussion about politics in our real lives.  My own strong hope is that the disillusioned voters will cast their votes for candidates who support Proportional Representation, but just voting for what you want is just as important.  Please consider: it is the Canadians who don’t vote who have the least representation in Ottawa.

It may help to direct any such potential voters to the many valuable online resources (here’s a borrowed list) to help them get informed, but please try not to influence their decision.  People who don’t believe they can vote for what they want are much less likely to vote at all, so please try to encourage them to vote for the candidate they believe will best represent them in Ottawa. Canada Flag Banner





Could the Senate actually stop Bill C-51?

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Canadian FlagBill C-51 passed through the House of Commons after a mere two days of debate (if you can call it that.)

Currently the law that will effectively remove our civil rights that are supposed to be guaranteed by the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is before the Senate, where it seems to be getting better presented than it was in the House of Commons Parliamentary committee.

It appears that Liberal Senators are planning to vote against it, so there may yet be hope for Canadian Civil Rights.  You can follow the progress of the bill (as you can any Canadian legislation) at LegisInfo.

Leadnow has a nifty online tool to make it easy to write to your senator to let them know where you stand on Bill C-51.

The Senate has served as a rubber stamp for the house of Commons for so long that it’s hard to even imagine that it might provide sober second thought.   But maybe it will.

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Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

May 14, 2015 at 2:05 pm


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