Monthly Archives: November 2007

Letter Writing, To No Veil

I will begrudgingly admit that the Globe is under no obligation to publish everything I send them, but it’s unfortunate they didn’t print the following letter, sent yesterday, as a way of correcting their incorrect statement from yesterday’s editorial that “not one [party] has come out against the new bill.”

The Globe and Mail is absolutely correct to condemn the NDP for joining with the Conservatives in “pandering to fears of Islam” and targeting Muslim women, especially considering that MPs have no problem with Canadians who vote without showing their faces so long as they live abroad. This follows Jack Layton’s strange and disturbing pronouncement late last year that he “prefers” Canadians who aren’t dual citizens to lead political parties, as if Canadians who hold dual citizenships are somehow second class. His party, which should be the champion of social justice, human rights and equality, seems to have lost its way in the pursuit of power and a closer relationship with those who hold it. Readers should know that there is one party, the Green Party of Canada, that opposes this shameful piece of legislation.

When there’s only one party taking a position that a significant number of Canadians support, it’s critically important for the media to report that so that voters can make informed decisions. Scott’s roundup on how NDP bloggers are reacting is also quite informative:

The decision by the NDP and Jack Layton to support the Cons. motion on prohibiting veiled voters from casting ballots has enraged traditional NDP supporting bloggers, and unaffiliated blogs on the progressive left who are normally sympathetic to the NDP today, although with the NDP’s view on blogging regarding it as the black sheep of the family, one wonders what if any effect it will have, or if anyone in NDP HQ even notices the discomfiture this has caused amongst their normally very loyal supporters.

Greens denounce support of veiled voters bill

Crossposted from

For Immediate Release
November [28], 2007

OTTAWA – The Green Party today condemned the NDP for propping up the Conservative government by supporting the Conservative bill that will force Muslim women to show their faces at the polls.

“It is immensely disappointing that the NDP has joined with Prime Minister Harper in pandering to fears of Islam,” said Green Party leader Elizabeth May. “The Green Party stands alone in strongly opposing this shameful and cynical piece of legislation.”

Democratic Reform Advocate Chris Tindal said that the bill sets a double standard, as Canadians who live abroad are not required to provide visual identification to vote and will still be allowed to vote by mail-in ballot.

“This bill has nothing to do with voting security, as the parties claim,” said Mr. Tindal. “It is about exploiting xenophobia and grabbing votes at the expense of Canadian Muslims. The opposition parties should be ashamed that they have allowed themselves to be drawn into this needless hysteria.”

Mr. Tindal added that the true intent of the bill is to hurt the credibility of Elections Canada and distract voters from the alleged “in and out” Conservative election spending limits scandal.

“This attack on Elections Canada was clearly designed by the Conservatives to distract from the investigation into whether or not they broke election spending limits, and the law. Why the NDP would want to aid them in that effort is beyond me.”

The Green Party has consistently opposed any move to force Muslim women to remove their veils before voting and first issued a statement to this effect on September 11th, 2007.

Gross National Happiness

I heard on the radio this morning that the King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, is promoting GNH (Gross National Happiness) as that country’s key indicator of progress. (Heck, just try saying Jigme Singye Wangchuck’s name out loud without becoming a little bit happier.) This AFP story reports that a World Bank official subsequently said that more countries should follow that lead.

GNH is a variation on a Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) that I’ve argued for previously in some detail, and is an attempt to address the problem of our current worship utilization of the GDP as if it was an indicator of increased quality of life, which, after a certain point, it isn’t. Even one of the initial architects of the GDP warned against its use in that way. Just because the overall size of the economy has increased doesn’t mean we’re better off or getting more out of life.

Instead, a GPI takes into account all the things we value as a society—volunteerism, health, peace, meaningful employment, equal opportunity, economic strength, and yes, happiness—and quantifies them so that we can have an accurate measure of if we’re headed in the right direction or not. Implementing a national GPI would be one of the smartest things our government could do to help us all start to understand not only what’s good about what we’ve got, but how much better things could be.

Further Reading:
Reporting Back: Green Party of Canada Policy Conference, Halifax
Dr. Ron Colman – “A Sobering Place to Begin”
Dr. Peter Victor – Managing Without Growth
Our Economic Pyramid Scheme

Uranium Mining: No Can Du

Crossposted from 

For the last 50 days, Donna Dillman has been on a hunger strike to protest uranium mining in eastern Ontario. Tomorrow (Tuesday), she brings that fight to the steps of Queen’s Park, and she’d like you to join her.

Donna, a grandmother, is concerned about strong scientific evidence that particles released into the air and water during uranium mining and processing contribute to increased rates of cancer and organ damage, especially in children. The CBC recently reported that 4 out of 9 people screened had radioactive chemicals in their bones after living near a uranium processing facility.

On the other side of the argument is the very well-funded nuclear lobby, which spends immense amounts of money trying to convince citizens and government that nuclear is “safe, clean, and affordable,” an ironic set of keywords that seem to take nuclear’s biggest faults (it’s highly risky, produces extremely dangerous waste that lasts for a million years, and costs far more than any other kind of power generation) and sell them as strengths.

Complicating the scenario are recent moves to require exporting countries of uranium (a very small club of which Canada is a member) to take back radioactive nuclear waste once the fuel is spent. So not only would the health of Canadians be compromised during the initial mining process, we’d also be stuck living with the world’s supply of what is possibly the most dangerous substance we’ve ever created for a much longer timeline than we can possibly plan for.

Donna begins her march at 11:00 a.m. this Tuesday at the corner of Orde St. (one block south of College) and University Ave. From there her and her supporters will walk to the main legislative building at Queen’s Park to ask the Premier to hold an open public inquiry into the dangers and benefits of uranium. For more information on her hunger strike, visit the Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium or follow Donna’s blog.