Archive for 2006 August

Call for language skills or community links

We are embarking on community outreach projects, and hope to participate in community events. We welcome any suggestions. If you speak any community languages or have links to communities in our riding, please contact Adriana at 416-462-3993 or maryann@danforthgreens.ca.

Your events and contributions

We welcome event listings and other contributed items from community members. If you know of an event have an item or you think would be of interest to other Toronto-Danforth Greens, please forward it to michela@danforthgreens.ca.

Upcoming events can be found, surprise, on the Upcoming events page.  All events, past and future can be found under the Events category archive.

Indigenous rights

I’ve been involved with Amnesty International all of my adult life. In fact, my interest in environmental issues sprang from a realization that global warming may well be the most monumental threat to human rights worldwide that the world has ever seen. A few months ago, about the same time I joined the Green Party, I also volunteered to help start up an AI co-parliamentarian group in Toronto to lobby our MPs for improvements in our human rights record in Canada. We are currently working to lobby our MPs on two issues – complicity in torture of Canadians detained abroad and indigenous rights in Canada.

The issue of indigenous rights came up in Elizabeth May’s victory speech, where she pointed out that Canada is one of only 2 nations to vote against the International Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She didn’t reveal the full scope of the tragedy. Canada was one of the nations that had played an active role in the negotiation of the draft text under the Martin government. This year, the Harper government turned its back on that work, stating that the declaration is “incompatible” with Canadian laws and policies, including land rights policies that have been repeatedly condemned by UN and other human rights bodies. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the UN and other human rights groups have also specifically and repeatedly condemned Canadian policy toward the Lubicon Cree and toward the Innu. In 1990 , the UN Human Rights Committee ruled that the failure to resolve the dispute with the Lubicon Cree was a serious violation of the human rights of the Lubicon people. Sixteen years later, logging and large scale oil and gas extraction have transformed the land of the Lubicon, who have astronomical rates of alcoholism and suicide, and no resolution to the land dispute is in site.

The reason this comes up today is that I’ve just received a call from Amnesty International’s Toronto office, because Maria Minna (who is the MP for Beaches-East York) is very interested in discussing this issue further and they urgently needed a delegate to speak to her. She had not realized that Canada and Russia were the only two countries on the UN Human Rights Council to oppose the declaration, nor that her own government had been instrumental in crafting it. Outraged, she promised to bring it up in the house. I’m meeting with her tomorrow morning.

It’s nice to know that someone takes human rights seriously.  All too often, the issue gets ignored.

Our convention delegation

We had one of the largest delegations to the Green Party of Canada convention in Ottawa. Ten of our members registered to go, though one was unable to make it, and two spouses tagged along. I’ve made all delegates who are not members of our executive guest authors for the next month, so they can contribute their thoughts on the convention.

The delegates from our executive were me, Andrew James, Doug Wright, and Joseph Cunko. Non-executive delegates were Mary Ann Grainger, Anthony Lucic, Chris Lea, Jim Harris and Lee Anne McAlear.     Read more »

Perception vs. Green Politics (or My First Political Convention)

I will now remember the summer and fall of 2006 as book-ends around an indescribable weekend in Ottawa, August 24th to 27th. As a newbie to political conventions, I was happy to find so much diversity, yet, so much cohesion in our green family. How could we possibly be a one issue party? How can Canadians ignore the breadth of ideas and solutions within this party? How do we change the perception of Canadians? We are talking about concrete policy, but we are also talking about changing people’s attitudes and about the party, the environment and their place in all of it (how else will they vote Green?). No small task.

All of this fermented in my mind with the election of Elizabeth May as leader of the party. She is in a unique postion to change the perception of our party at a national level which is critical to getting MPs in Parliament. Something tells me she’s up to the job.

What about you and me? When I arrived in Ottawa on Thursday I was unsure. I had doubts about the party itself; about its level of organization — its sophistication of policy. I even had concerns about my perception to family, friends and co-workers — how do you explain a “green epiphany” to them? How do you convince them that you haven’t joined a small-time, go-nowhere movement?

The inclusiveness of debate at the convention and the pervasive feeling that I was constantly participating in something solidified an answer for me:

Being Green means Acting Green — be it a protest, a petition, a simple discussion, a sign or a vote. I think the cycle may work like this: Acting Green = Changing Peoples Perception and Attitudes = Building Concrete Support = Acting Green, and so on.

Acting Green means participating in change, not watching it, waiting for it, or even debating it. Find your niche (I wrote this over my lunch break — 45 min. of political action) and start acting. We need to destroy the false perceptions that have been applied to this movement. Others will notice. They’ll see results. Eventually they will follow and we’ll have Green MPs and Green Policy in this country.