Monthly Archives: October 2007

Conservatives Attack Vision Green

The Conservative party actually bothered to pay people to go through Vision Green (our 160 page policy document released on Monday) to find stuff they could pick out in an attempt to make us look as crazy as possible. (I’m going to file this under “you know you’ve made it when.”) Today, they’ve posted a large image on their homepage (wait, that means they had to pay a designer too…that’s not cheap) that links to what they consider to be the “highlights” (their word) of our document. Of the hundreds of ideas and solutions contained within, there are four specific points they’ve decided are worthy of more attention, seemingly because they all start with the letter “P:”

PEACE – In addition to their policy of changing the “Department of Defense” [sic], to the “Department of Peace”, the Green Party is calling a “notice of withdrawal” from the NATO mission in Southern Afghanistan, and a review of our participation in NATO and other military alliances (Vision Green, p. 133, 141).

Uh…wait, sorry, was there a non-spelling-related criticism coming there? No, that’s it? You’re just mocking us for our commitment to work towards peace? Ok then. Moving on.

POT – The Green Party will “legalize marijuana” by removing it from the schedule of regulated drugs (Vision Green, p. 107).

Correct. You know what other group of hippies recommends legalizing (and regulating, taxing) marijuana? The Canadian senate. Anyone who’s studied this issue knows that prohibition on pot has failed, and only serves to criminalize a huge number of Canadians while simultaneously financing organized crime and contributing to gang violence.

PROTECTIONISM – The Green Party wants to “immediately provide the required six months’ notice of withdrawal from NAFTA”, and to scrap the Security and Prosperity Partnership with the United States (Vision Green, p. 146, 148).

The six months notice is to trigger much needed re-negotiations of NAFTA, particularly the parts that say it’s ok for American companies to poison our drinking water, so long as they’re making money while doing so. That’s not trade protectionism, that’s protecting Canadians. Besides, it’s not like the US is respecting NAFTA anyway.

AND BELIEVE IT OR NOT…PARKING TICKETS – Attention shoppers, the Green Party wants to force malls and “megastore retail outlets” to charge customers for parking (Vision Green, p. 67).

Believe it or not folks, the Green party wants to discourage out-of-control sprawl and a debilitating dependence on cars. Shocking news indeed. (Attention shoppers, we cannot shop our way out of this problem.)

Look Stephen, last week we found out that concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have already reached critically high levels that we previously believed would take ten years to accumulate. Meanwhile, the arctic is melting more rapidly than even the most pessimistic climatologists predicted. In other words, we should now be in crisis mode, and must take emergency measures. Given our situation, taking action to discourage the most “mega” aspects of our car culture is the least we should do.

Of course, I don’t expect the Conservative party to understand that. It’s clear they still don’t have any understanding of the extremely serious situation we’re in. That makes Harper and the rest of this government Dangerous with a capital D and that rhymes with E and that stands for Election. Canadians, I know you don’t want one right now (at least, that’s what my TV tells me), but you may need one. Soon, at least.

Two Questions…

…for my friends in the media. First, for The Toronto Star. In your report of this morning’s release of Vision Green, you wrote the following:

The party, which also advocates investments in pedestrian and bicycle “infrastructure,” says good transit and high-density housing is the key to making Canadian cities livable.

Say, um, why the quotation marks? Does the journalist consider pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure to be less “real” than other kinds of infrastructure?

Second, for Craig Oliver at CTV. At the end of an interview with my Liberal opponent Bob Rae, Mr. Oliver said “we look forward to seeing you in Parliament,” to which Bob Rae laughed and replied “me too.” Now, I recognize that Rae’s election is highly likely, but just to clarify, it’s still up to the voters of Toronto Centre, right?

Death Of A One-Issue Party

For at least one or two elections, it hasn’t really been fair or accurate to call the Greens a “one-issue party,” since our platforms have been much broader than that. It’s also been a frustrating claim for candidates to have to defend against, since in our assessment our platforms have done a much better job of offering integrated, holistic solutions to economic, social, and environmental problems than those of any other party. Regardless, we remained susceptible to the criticism, some would argue, because of a lack of detail (perceived or real) regarding what policies we would implement in areas other than the environment. As of 11:30 this morning, however, with the release of Vision Green, no one will ever be able to credibly make that accusation again.

Vision Green is a hefty 160-page document that outlines our vision for the kind of Canada we want in 2020 and how we can get there. It contains hundreds of specific policy innovations relating to all spheres of federal governance, divided into six parts: The Green Economy, Averting Climate Catastrophe, Preserving and Restoring the Environment, People, The Planet Needs Canada (And Vice Versa), and Good Government (which I was most directly involved with).

Elizabeth May articulated quite well what we’re trying to accomplish today:

“It’s time for visionary leadership and for policies that focus on our future, not more of the same tired old ideas designed to achieve some fleeting political advantage. I respectfully urge the Prime Minister to study what the Green Party is proposing because I believe that it will give him new insight into what real solutions look like… The truth is that the days of politics dominated by short-term band-aid fixes are over, that the old battles between left and right are irrelevant, that what we need is a fundamental shift of direction towards a stable, fair and sustainable future. Vision Green is the detailed, practical expression of that change of direction.”

When you read it (or, more likely, skim through the sections that are of interest to you), I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that we offer a unique set of ideas whose time has come. We have incorporated established best practices from around the world and customized them for the Canadian context. Instead of asking “is this a left-wing idea,” “is this a right-wing idea,” or even “is this an idea that will get us votes,” we simply, repeatedly asked, “is this a good idea? Is it consistent with our values? Will it accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish?” The result is unlike anything else on tap from any other political party (which was, like, kinda the point).

As one of the 31 Shadow Cabinet members who worked on this document, I’m very proud to be associated with it. I believe it is exactly the kind of vision and leadership that Canadians are thirsting for. I also honestly believe it is the best set of solutions to deal with the crises before us, realign our public policy with what Canadians most value, and make us proud of our country’s place in the world once more. Vision Green offers hope, achieved through pragmatism and realism. (And not a moment too soon.)

ps. It’s also a nice touch that we’ve released Vision Green on blog action day, when over 15,000 bloggers around the world are talking about environmental issues. It’s past time the debate turned to focusing on specific solutions.