Bill C-436 – Canada Genuine Progress Measurement Act

Elizabeth May, seconded by the member for Thunder Bay—Superior North, moved for leave to introduce Bill C-436, An Act to develop and provide for the publication of indicators to inform Canadians about the health and well-being of people, communities and ecosystems in Canada.


She said: Mr. Speaker, I rise with great pleasure today to introduce a bill that had come before this House in previous incarnations by previous members of Parliament. I have updated it. It is looking to provide indicators of the measurements that really matter.

There has been a lot of work done on the issue of genuine progress indicators in contradistinction to simply measuring the health of our society through the gross domestic product and other indicators which are simply measurements of the exchange of cash in transactions.

I draw particular attention to the recent work that was performed by Professor Joseph Stiglitz, in conjunction with Professor Amartya Sen and Professor Fitoussi. It was done at the behest of the French government, but has now picked up general support through the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

I would like not to use my own words, but to briefly quote the late Senator Robert Kennedy, who said just weeks before his death in 1968:

Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product…counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances 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 armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts [the] rifle and [the] knife, 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 or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning….

In fact, Senator Kennedy concluded:

–it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

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