I have heard a number of people in my social circle and amongst my patients/clients say they will be voting for the Green candidate, Donald Galloway, and I initially thought that might be something I could get onboard with. If one supports, as I do, the outspoken and importantly visible way in which Elizabeth May has publicised and generated public support to speak against the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) it would seem reasonable to show that Victoria supports that line of thinking. Like so many of the people I have talked to, I am very happy that Elizabeth May was elected, and that we have her voice in Ottawa – to speak alongside others who have brought this, and other important issues to public consciousness. Having said that, Elizabeth May is not on the slate in Victoria’s coming by-election, Donald Galloway is.
A recent video that Elisabeth May put out in support of Galloway as a candidate was, I think, rather skewed. May contends in the video that this by-election really doesn’t matter in the numbers of NDP or Conservative candidates elected across the country. I couldn’t disagree more. If we are to unseat Harper and his Conservative destruction machine in 2015 we will need all the NDP seats it is possible to generate. Whether there are one, two – or, by 2015, three or four(?) – Green candidates, will only serve to split the numbers that could produce an historic change in Canadian government – the first NDP federal government, ever. While that prospect have some people concerned I personally believe that more of the same from the Harper Conservatives is a much scarier eventuality. If you are considering voting Green I am assuming that you already see that we will have to change the course of this ‘ship of state’ or we will flounder on the rocks. So what May is saying about voting Green ‘can only be a win’, and ‘how it is important to send her reinforcements’, as it were, are both inaccurate in my view.
Now if we had electoral system of proportional representation (something a Federal NDP government is committed to putting before the Canadian electorate) then the contributions of a small number of Green party MPs could really count for something powerful and important. But as it presently is, Donald Galloway is simply a very smart and likeable man; who, though a friend of many years to Elizabeth May, has no real depth of experience nor knowledge of the politics or environmental issues facing BC at this time. Murray Rankin, on the other hand, has been a passionate, out-spoken and highly effective voice for the environment throughout his adult life. Both Galloway and Rankin are professors who have taught at UVic’s law school. But Murray Rankin has also been the environmental advisor to the BC NDP party leaders, Carol James and Adrian Dix. He is a really seasoned expert on the dangers of the Enbridge pipeline, for example.
I also heard yesterday from a friend of mine that what Elizabeth May did in response to the FIPA was to call for an Emergency Debate. That sounds great – until you realise that Harper could then concede to that, and appear all conciliatory. But after hearing an afternoon or full day’s comments about why Canada should not proceed with this agreement, give his usual filibuster about why his government has deemed it a good idea, and pass it into law. In the end, Harper didn’t even have to do that much, since when the Opposition asked for an emergency debate (as a last resort, you will see below) the Speaker simply denied the motion.
Thus when 21 sitting days have passed in Canada’s parliament, and this agreement is ratified, we are due to be locked into a huge liability toward Chinese investors who could sue Canadian and provincial governments for billions, over the next 31 years. All this has apparently been in the draft stage for 8 years, and yet the Canadian public have only known about it for 5 weeks before it passed on November 1st. [ Information from here: http://www.cbc.ca/daybreaksouth/2012/10/26/china-trade-agreement-what-you-need-to-know/ ]
How did Thomas Mulcair and the NDP respond to the FIPA? Here are a couple of excerpts from a Montreal Gazette newspaper article, which can be seen in its entirety by clicking on the “Read more” link, below.
Mulcair said the NDP has “tried every technique at our disposal” to convince the Conservatives that Parliament ought to examine the deal before it’s approved. The NDP has sought to delay its ratification so that it can be studied by a Commons committee, and on Tuesday the Opposition requested a “take note” debate in the House of Commons, both of which were denied.
Now at the “11th hour,” the NDP asked for an emergency debate but that too was denied by House Speaker Andrew Scheer.
Incidentally, Mulcair is quoted in the same newspaper article as saying that if elected in 2015, the NDP government would pull out of FIPA if its effects were deleterious to the Canadian tax-payers.
“The same way the Conservatives were able to withdraw Canada from the Kyoto accord, we will keep that option open if on close analysis on what will then be three years’ experience, it confirms our feeling that there are lots of things in there that will be problematic, not just for Canada as a nation-state, but indeed for our system of government because there’s a lot in there that interferes with the provinces and the provinces have never been consulted on this either,” Mulcair said.
So anyway, I hope that any and all of you who are eligible to vote on Monday, November 26th will do so – for whomever you decide is the best candidate. I just wanted you to know a few things I only found out myself in the last couple of days.
Here’s to Democracy!