Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Who am I and why would I want to run in an election?

How to describe myself when sometimes I feel that I am an entirely different person every day? Sometimes two or three different people in one day - a concerned citizen, a caring mom, an angry driver. 

I'm a relatively healthy woman in my 70's. I am a widow; my marriage of 47 years ended abruptly and unexpectedly four years ago. I still practice medicine as a doctor - mostly as a locum in Nunavut serving Inuit communities. I have three grown daughters who live in Winnipeg and Calgary and while I'm glad they are on the prairies, it would be nice to have them closer. Fortunately there are younger friends in my life as well.

I am blessed to live in the Touchwood Hills, probably the only hills and woodlands between Regina and Prince Albert. My passive solar house (built in the mid-1980's) uses a small wood heater for back-up warmth. I live on a property managed by the New Roots Community Land Trust whose goals include pesticide and herbicide-free gardening and farming.

My federal riding is Regina-Qu'Appelle; the incumbent is Andrew Scheer, leader of the Conservative party. His platform is the antithesis of a progressive environmentally responsive and collaborative government. His past behaviour and pronouncements suggest repressive responses to crime, health care, Indigenous peoples and immigrants. I could not watch him win without putting up a fight.

The rising climate crisis is less apparent on the prairies than it is on any of Canada's three coasts - the rising warming seas and resultant extreme weather patterns affect us less, protected as we are by the land mass around us. We have noticed the increasing risks of fires - and increasing numbers of tornadoes (the only tornado I had ever heard of as a child was the one in Kansas that propelled Dorothy into the Wizard of Oz). Our weather is less predictable - but any individual can remember unpredictable events in the past.

But environment is not the only attraction that the Green Party has to offer. The Green Party has two documents, Vision Green and Mission: Possible that tackle employment including green jobs, transportation, healthcare, education, and economic transformation. The Green Party is neither right nor left - it's justice, Indigenous Rights, good government, and inclusive government.

My own interests include but are not limited to:

1. Environmental reparations for extractive industries - and developing protocols into the future that no longer ignores what happens when the industry folds; 
2. A national fresh water audit and plans for protections - includes placing a value on wetlands so that the burden of maintenance doesn't rest with reserves, farmers or landowners;
3. A guaranteed liveable income for poverty reduction and possible elimination;
4. An improved health care system with more depth to respond to mental illness with sufficient support systems;
5. Fulfillment of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (which are not unlike those of the Royal Commission of 1996);
6. A social and educational system that places the rights of children first;
7. A justice system with increased interest in remediation and restorative justice for both victim and offender;
8. Since farmers are mentioned as some of the biggest offenders in carbon production by the UNIPCC, I would like to work with farmers and farming communities on approaches to climate crisis while still retaining production. What would it look like?

I am tired of seeing governments act as though they understand the wealth of scientific research on social, spiritual and environmental issues instead of acting as though they were run by polling agencies, based on popularity contests. It is reprehensible that our government can be made up of elected individuals with blinders to all but their pocketbooks and those of the company they keep.

We know what needs to be done - I believe in the potential of human beings to work together. Let's start doing it!

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Water. Keep it. Conserve it. Protect it.

Green Vision 3.2  Water protection and conservation

I grew up beside a stream - we referred to it as a “creek”; it ran continuously through the summer but was not large enough to rank as even a small “river”. It was shallow enough that our parents let us - indeed encouraged us - play in it all summer. We caught minnows with baited hooks on strings. We had mud slides and raced sticks through the current. 

Such idyllic summers occur for fewer and fewer children. Children downstream from the tar sands are told to stay out of the water. There are lakes that are too contaminated with fertilizer run-off and turn green in early July, some that are contaminated with pesticides; Premier Moe gave a mining company permission to pollute a lake with radioactive mining tailings.

The Green Party principle 3.2 recognizes the threat to water and rolls out three principles: Keep it. Conserve it. Protect it. 

Keep it. Canada has within its boundaries the world’s largest supply of fresh water. Multinationals see the potential to rake in trillions of dollars when Canada’s trade agreements make it possible to trade bulk water. Without a national water policy, the very aquifers beneath the Western provinces could be siphoned South. As a Green, I would press for a national audit of Canada’s water resources, surface and subsurface, and an audit of instream and downstream needs and potential demands.  

Conserve it. We are the second most wasteful people in the world after the United States. The Canadian government must strive to provide safe drinking water to all Canadians including First Nations communities. Greens believe that combinations of research, regulations and appropriate infrastructure should ensure safe water for future generations.

Protect it. Not only should the federal government use its powers via the Fisheries Act and its role in interjurisdictional sharing to protect water supplies in the present but anticipate changes (such as decreasing glacial run-off)  to ensure that a safe water supply reaches people before industry, small scale market gardening, mining and fishing operations. 

Based upon these principles, the Green Party promises to increase research into less water-intensive agriculture, shift research from dams and diversions to source water protection, watershed restorations and towards locally-based water conservation and efficiency planning and programs.

The Regina-Qu’Appelle riding has conflicting interests within its relatively small piece of Canada. Water is a complicated issue.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

May Day - m'aidez

"Help Me" was translated as a universal call to help
but written in English as "May Day"

Does labour need help? Too many jobs are being turned into part time without enough hours for benefits - two part time jobs may provide a full time income but they won't provide benefits including a retirement plan. Meanwhile the foreign worker program recruits workers from elsewhere where, in many cases, they work under abusive conditions and everywhere skew the labour market. 

The Green Party's Principle 1.8, which I read before taking part in the Regina May Day parade with several other Greens, has an extensive preamble of which several points stand out:

·      The National Work-Life Conflict Study (quoted in the Green Vision) was done in 2001 and showed that all working Canadians were spending longer hours at work, doing more overtime and experiencing more stress in their lives. Work-life stress adds an estimated $5 billion to Canada's health care costs[i]. I don’t think that the environment has changed much since it was published.

·      The Harper administration removed the office of the Status of Women Canada AND a stipulation for pay equity within the federal civil service.

·      By following the USA to the bottom, Canada falls behind progressive labour standards in Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Finland where higher average pay and longer holidays produce lower rates of unemployment and less petty crime.

·      While acknowledging that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) might fill the need for some replacement workers especially in professional and highly skilled areas, the Green Party believes that it is essentially flawed and open to much abuse. 

Growing up as a farmer’s daughter and becoming a professional, I spent little time personally as a labourer – I don’t think a stint as a cocktail waitress qualifies. But as a doctor, I’ve cared for many. When I first went to work in Wynyard, I was stunned to discover that people working long hours at hard work in the chicken plant had only one week of holidays plus their birthday for the first year, two weeks of holidays thereafter.

What does the Green Party support? 

Raising the minimum wage to $15 and ending the current Temporary Foreign Worker Program both make sense. The TFWP funding would be converted into a domestic recruitment program – where, since the minimum wage would now be a liveable wage, youth and other willing Canadians would more likely be enticed to the market.

Since research shows that people are healthier and more productive with four weeks of holiday per year, the Green Party wimped out stating that it supports three weeks. I don’t think that we should stop at three when we know that four is needed!

No doubt that we should establish in law the rights to equal pay for work of equal value. To the point about offering tax incentives for companies providing on-site daycare, healthy food and bike or public transport commutes, I would add having on-site health advisors.

Workers should know their rights. To that end, all places of employment are supposed to display a flyer outlining workers’ rights. Unfortunately, we need a law that imposes the same for federally-regulated work sites.

In the Green Party’s list of principles are many that require new regulations or new regulatory bodies. Both industry and labour already feel “regulated to death”. As we move into a future with more sustainable and conversion-to-green employment, we need to look at ways in which workers can be more involved in setting the safety standards – health, equity, hours, etc - of their work places.

One sign in the May Day march said, “The world is run by workers; workers should run the world.” As the Occupy Wall Street movement showed, uniting intellectuals, professionals, workers and farmers would not be easy but it would be necessary to shift the "running of the world" away from Wall Street and billionaires. 

It is my belief that we can unite around a greater threat - climate chaos.

[i][i]A long but enlightening read found at

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Intertemporal Choice - Eliminating Poverty

 Intertemporal Choice

The act of choosing to accept $20 dollars today
instead of $100 dollars a week from now.

Difficult to do, isn't it? Depends a lot upon who is offering the deal, how much trust is involved and where you think that you will be in one week. Even then studies have shown that an overwhelming number of us would still choose $20, accepting the old truism that "a bird in hand is worth two in the bush". This thinking with respect to the world we live in is what got us to an economic system of short-term gains and unfettered resource extraction. 

Whether or not you agree with the connection, it was my thought when I examined Vision Green Principle 4.12. "Eliminating Poverty". (No particular reason that I chose that as the first one into which to delve - just where the book opened.)

Ever since Bill brought a booklet into our home about a guaranteed minimum wage, I believed in it. I was hooked on the "child allowance" cheques of the 1950's when they meant something; mom gave "my" allowance to me as my "clothing allowance". I was delighted to have the independence to manage my own purchases. (Outerwear and underwear were exempt - Mom looked after the costs there.) A guaranteed minimum wage just seemed to be an extension of the child allowance.            

Many leaders talk about reducing or eliminating poverty; several "experiments" have been held in various countries and various parts of Canada with guaranteed minimum wages - and the findings have been positive. When guaranteed a minimum liveable income, people recycle the money in the community, local businesses benefit, petty crime goes down, domestic violence goes down, child hunger goes down and people become healthier. 

We know what to do, someone has to have the guts to do it.

How would it work?

Everyone would all get the bi-monthly or monthly cheque. Many of us will be fortunate enough to never need it. Accessing the program would require only citizenship. A large part of the "poverty-industry" especially government programs would disappear - various programs of welfare, disability pensions, seniors benefits, and unemployment insurance would no longer be needed. Social workers, doctors, and health care workers would be freed of the endless paperwork to provide the care that is needed for mental health, addictions and healthy family relations.

There would be built-in incentives to be gainfully employed as well - when there are jobs to be had. Of course, there would be a few who would figure out how to abuse it somehow - but there are those that do so with every existing program!

The National Council of Welfare has estimated that 15% of Canadians live in poverty and we know many who manage to escape poverty by two or even three jobs.  From where I live, many escape hunger by subsistence farming and gardening. From my experience as a doctor in rural, remote or inner city, I believe that a Guaranteed Liveable Income would enormously change health care needs - anxiety and mental health issues that underlie so much of the demand upon our time.

The actual steps listed by the Green Party to eventually eliminate poverty stop short of research leading to implementation of a Guaranteed Liveable Income. Certainly it will be my duty to press for bolder steps.

I consider the program another way of "paying forward" for a brighter future for many.