Poli SAVVY: Is pushing for traditional values in a modern world the way to leadership?

BREAKING NEWS: There are still entitled men in politics.

On one side, we have potential Conservative candidate for the leadership, Richard Décarie who, during an interview with CTVs Power Play on Wednesday, said “LGBTQ” “is a Liberal term” and that being gay “is a choice.” He then said Canadians must encourage traditional values that have served us in the past, encouraging the defunding of abortion services and reinforcing the idea that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Then, on Friday, not too far from us, Trump became the first U.S. President to walk in the largest annual anti-abortion rally, the 47th March for Life in Washington.

I’m sorry, I didn’t know this was the 18th century?

While Trump’s decision might actually help him win the 2020 election, as a big part of his electoral voters are evangelical Christians who stand firmly against abortion, a Pew Research Centre survey conducted in the summer revealed that 61 per cent of Americans believe abortion should be legal and are concerned that some states are making it hard to access.

And over here, Décarie just gave a quick crash course on “how to lose an election in Canada.”

Federal elections have displayed over and over again that the Conservatives’ weak spots are their social values being out of tune with Canadian ones. More recently, Scheer’s stance on such topics hasn’t quite helped him win voters––au contraire.

A few Tories, such as frontrunner for leadership Peter Mackay, were quick to denounce the comments on Twitter. Still, Décarie’s reductive and ignorant remarks highlight exactly how replacing Scheer won’t necessarily erase the mentality that runs deep within the Conservative Party. Last October, in a post-election analysis, the co-founder of the anti-abortion group RightNow, Alissa Golob, proudly said they were able to elect at least 68 “pro-lifers” out of the 121 current members of the Conservative caucus.

What’s that expression again? Beware of who’s pulling the strings. 


Graphic by @sundaeghost


Poly Savvy: Old Rivalries in New Brunswick

Both the New Democratic Party and the Green Party have butted heads the past two weeks on what appears to be a controversial development in the eastern province.

Previously thought to be 14 defectors, eight former New Democratic candidates have switched over to the Greens, as reported by the CBC. One defector, former party executive Jonathan Richardson, even went so far as to blame the move on NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity’s effect on regional popularity.

Naturally, such a statement has led to accusations of racism against the Greens, accusations that the party has vehemently denied. Instead, it was pointed out that Singh had not once visited the Maritimes since assuming his position in 2017. Unsurprisingly, words have been thrown back and forth since the defections, reaching levels of passive-aggressiveness best reserved for thanksgiving.

But regardless of the political bickering, the real question remains; what will be the consequential effect of these disputes on the upcoming federal and provincial elections?

The answer is… probably nothing.

It’s no secret that the Green Party has never been one to gain more than two seats at the Federal level, so far. Nor have they established any sort of major political ground on the eastern seaboard. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that no riding was ever truly in sight for a Green takeover; as New Brunswick is primarily split between Conservative and Liberal MPs, with a slight lead for the Blues.

In fact, the Greens hold a mere three provincial seats out of the province’s total of 49. Zero on the Federal level.

But what about the NDP? Have they lost any potential advantage in future polls?

Again, not necessarily.

The “defectors” mentioned consisted of members of the Oranges, who ran in the 2018 provincial elections. Ran, not won, as the NDP had not gained a single seat. Most of these individuals had figured that their prospects would be better for joining the Greens, either through the assumption that following a Sikh leader would hurt their chances or genuinely believing that Singh had not done enough to remain popular in the area.

In the end, the Greens did not gain a single seat as the New Democrats did not have anything to lose. To find out if the former had gained any clear advantage, we will need to see the results of the upcoming elections.

Until then, the Green Party will just have to settle for brownie points.


Graphic by Victoria Blair


Climate injustice in Canada

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan.

Whether it be pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol, the gutting of federal environmental regulations or the muzzling of some of our top climate scientists, the Harper government has done irreparable damage to our international reputation and more importantly to our ecology.

That’s not to mention an unprecedented and secretive trade deal being negotiated with China that would all but ensure the unbridled expansion of the tar sands. This would also increase Canada’s direct role in the release of GHG emissions which threaten to push the global concentration of CO2 over the edge and into dangerous territory.

It’s no secret that Harper is a friend to big oil. After all, this government continues to hand out subsidies to the tune of $1.4 billion to the fossil fuel industry even as energy companies take in record profits.

If there was ever a time for Canadians to come together to stand up and tell this government that we oppose its policies and want an end to these subsidies, this is it.

It is true that climate change will most negatively impact the world’s poorest; but the regressive environmental policies of the current government will also be felt here at home. They will also be felt in communities most vulnerable to the effects of climate change; such as Indigenous communities who have lived and depended on the land for generations, ranches and farms which depend on streams and water tables, and yes, eventually the rest of us.

This is why now, perhaps more than ever, we need a new generation of climate leaders to converge and create meaningful opposition movements. Climate injustice is another form of oppression, inextricably linked to all other battles in social justice. Whether it’s the destruction of the environment, access to education or vast economic inequality we must hold our leaders accountable and ensure equity and justice for all of our citizens. Ending the fossil fuel subsidies and re-committing to the protection of our climate and environment more generally could be a first step.

This week saw historic action taken against the future of oil pipelines, and the prospect of more tankers on the B.C. coast shipping tar sands bitumen to global markets. The movement, aptly called “Defend Our Coast”, has rallied thousands of concerned citizens across British Columbia to mobilize and take action against the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. As I write this, citizens all across the province are linking arms in front of their Member of Legislative Assembly offices to show they are united in opposition to this pipeline.

This has left me thinking. After a year that saw an incredible mobilization of students in Quebec to defeat the tuition increases and ultimately the Liberal government, why not learn from that success? Let us link our common struggles from coast to coast. Radical grassroots activism has proven to work. It’s time to take direct action against the environmental record, or lack thereof, of our federal government.

This weekend I will be attending a conference called Powershift in Ottawa. There, 1500 youth from across the country will meet to discuss the future of climate change activism and how Canadians can mobilize practically to fight for our country to start taking it seriously. Speakers such as Naomi Klein, Bill Mckibben and Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois will be making key note addresses throughout the weekend. Participants will be actively lobbying MP’s, taking it to the streets and getting out their message to end big polluter handouts in every way we can. After all, Harper did promise at the G20 to do so. It stands to be one of the most important convergences of young activists and environmentalists that we’ve seen in the past decade.

We now have a chance to come together and show the Harper government we will no longer let them tarnish our reputation internationally, nor will we let them trample the ecological rights of our most at risk communities while providing subsidies to companies with soaring profits.

As Naomi Klein aptly put it, “ We are part of a groundswell, a global movement against all forms of dirty energy. It is a movement on a roll. The beautiful truth is that we have fossil fuel companies surrounded, and they’re running scared.”


Make way for the omnibus

Next up in the fall political schedule for the federal government: a new omnibus bill put forward by the Conservatives. An omnibus bill is one which includes a number of different issues within it and tends to act as a method by which unpopular legislation is passed along with the bulk of the good.

The bill, which primarily contains budget policy, is set to touch other sectors not traditionally found in budget bills including new crime legislation, the most important being new police measures to combat terrorism.

This past spring, some members of Parliament complained about the 400-page bill, which provided sweeping measures across many different disciplines, including environmental procedures, labour rights, security and pensions. The time allotted for debate on this colossal juggernaut: seven days.

This repeated move has once again bothered Canadians on all sides of the political spectrum for its violation of democratic principles. However, this is nothing new in Canadian politics, with even the revered Trudeau doing the same in the late ’60s.

Still, the move, however common, remains a stain on the democratic process. If we elect individuals to represent a collective society in order to bring together different viewpoints and share in the common journey forward as a nation, how can we pretend to have a democratic process when those individuals aren’t concerned about such key issues.

One of the simplest solutions to this omnibus problem is to split up the bills, forcing only monetary and financial policy to be dictated in the legislation. However, as many Conservative pundits have asserted, this would delay the process, as every little policy would have to be debated. What they don’t realize is that this is what is mandated in their jobs.

While Harper and his administration are not well-liked, he is an exceptionally shrewd and cunning politician. By moving forward with this form of governing early on in his mandate, the collective memory will ebb and fade away much more easily. When the time comes to actually harvest the votes, Conservatives can push forward popular legislation in order to garner another majority.

Plus, there is the obvious added benefit of not having Canadians looking too closely at the bills their legislators are passing. They can tell everyone that they are helping the economy, but they are also quietly pushing reforms to civil liberties like privacy.

The problem keeps compounding on the myriad of issues with Canadian politics. The first-past-the-post system, which entails an election that is won by the candidate with more votes than the other, does not work in this day and age.

Politicians are clinging to the old vanguard, and some Canadians are in a general disheartened state by empty promises and looming crises worldwide.

In the early ’90s, then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and his Liberal caucus pushed through an omnibus bill. There were many politicians who complained about this governance, including a little known Reform MP.

He said: “In the interest of democracy I ask: How can members represent their constituents on these various areas when they are forced to vote in a block on such legislation and on such concerns? We can agree with some of the measures but oppose others.

“How do we express our views and the views of our constituents,” he continued, “when the matters are so diverse? Dividing the bill into several components would allow members to represent views of their constituents on each of the different components in the bill.”

The name of that MP: Stephen Harper.

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