Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands, today tabled Private Members Bill C-436, the Canada Genuine Progress Measurement Act.
This Bill will require the Government of Canada, through the offices of the Chief Statistician and Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, to develop a set of indicators to measure the real health and well-being of people, communities and ecosystems in Canada, to be made accessible to Canadians and reviewed regularly by the Environment Committee.
“While not costing Canadian taxpayers a dime, this Bill will borrow the best practices from groups that are already doing great work in this area, and incorporate considerations such as impacts on literacy rates, income inequality, and the health of our environment into decisions made by the Government of Canada”, explained May.
Although Canada is struggling to play catch-up, initiatives similar to this are gaining momentum and beginning to influence the decisions made by politicians and business leaders around the world. Prominent recent examples include the OECD’s Better Life Index, the United Nations Gross National Happiness Index, and our own Canadian Index of Wellbeing, headed by Roy Romanow and housed at the University of Waterloo.
“At its core, Bill C-436 represents an understanding that the economy and the environment are inextricably linked. While the Harper Conservatives cling to outdated notions of progress, pushing pipelines and oil tankers at the expense of our clean air and water, we need better tools to understand why such a narrow-minded and short-term focus on GDP will ultimately cost Canadians much more over the long term.”
As she introduced the Bill in the House of Commons today, Elizabeth May quoted the late US Senator Robert Kennedy at length:
“Too much and too long we seem to have surrendered community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising and ambulance to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead and armoured cars and police who fight riots in our streets. It counts the knife and the rifle and television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet, the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry, the intelligence of our public debate, the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning. It measures everything in short except that which makes life worthwhile.”