For those of you who are members of the Green Party of Canada, I hope you are registered and participating in the Virtual General Meeting running through this weekend. It is a slog getting through the motions for changes in our process, but I think the volunteers have done a great job finding ways to adapt our in-person process to on-line. While the meeting started yesterday morning at 11:30 Eastern time, I was online at 6 AM in a Global Greens webinar involving the Greens of Ukraine. As I stayed in Ottawa this weekend, I did not have to be up at 3 AM for the webinar with Ukrainian Greens. Even getting up for 6 am, I had to remind myself that I was only losing sleep while my colleagues in Ukraine are under attack.
The ongoing human tragedy of the murderous assault on Ukraine happens as innocents are slaughtered in Yemen and Ethiopia. Devastating occupations continue in Palestine and Tibet. Still, the focus on Ukraine is appropriate. Defending Ukraine really is a pivotal global moment where democracy is head to head with dictatorship. It also brings to a head the imperative to go off oil. Off Russian oil. Off all oil.
I think we all feel the deep levels of disequilibrium – across multiple aspects of life on Earth. The pandemic. The escalating climate emergency. War. All suggest we are nearing tipping points. These critical points of disruption could go either way – toward chaos or equilibrium, toward a liveable world or to what Tad Homer Dixon calls the Mad Max world.
We have a choice. We exert it through political action. And we exert it through concerted positive energy, visualization and/or prayer. We need to ensure humanity and the biosphere survive.
Only the Greens are able to speak to all these dimensions. Greens are the only political party that understands this is one fight- a fight for survival, a fight for peace, a fight for democracy, a fight for fairness.
The deal between the Liberals and the NDP this week brought into sharp relief for me how very much we need to break out of political silos. While on one hand it looked positive and progressive, it is really politics as usual. I am sure many Canadians are thinking, “Finally! Like-minded parties are collaborating!” But in fact, the areas of collaboration are siloed and relatively small. This was brokering- not collaborating across dimensions. It does not break down old structures, but assumes the status quo works. While we join in celebrating that a policy we pioneered, dental care being included (over several stages and years) in our public health care system, and hope that eventually a national pharmacare plan will be part of our health care system, still we lament that the NDP have settled for so little. There was nothing new or significant to address the climate crisis. Canada remains the G-7 country with the weakest climate target, the only country in the world expressing our target as a range, with the worst record in the G-7. Without an election, the Liberals can cruise on the existing, inadequate plans to 2025. So, too with other ignored imperatives – democratic and electoral reform, the opioid crisis, meaningful reconciliation, eliminating poverty. Here is my take for Policy magazine.
One threat to democracy which is increasingly troubling is the promulgation of deliberate disinformation. It is driving schisms between parts of our society that would normally agree. One example occurred this week, so forgive me for digging into the weeds of the coverage of Justin Trudeau’s speech to the European Parliament.
The Green caucus in the European Parliament had contacted me for information of how much Canada lagged on climate action. That caucus represents more than ten percent of the EU Parliament. I was so proud to be Green as I watched the speech, delivered by such an impressive Member of the European Parliament, an MEP from Spain Ernest Urtasun. He was diplomatic, principled and balanced. He praised Trudeau’s commitment to Ukraine and to accepting Ukrainian refugees, but held him to account with a strong, but civil rebuke for building fossil fuel infrastructure, for producing dirty bitumen fuel, accepting that the EU must do more as well. Watch it here (it is short, starts in French and moves to English, with Spanish subtitles).
So I knew Trudeau had faced criticism – but not like this: “Trudeau was forced to sit and listen while he was labelled a ‘dictator,’ in front of the entire European Union, one who “trampled women with horses’ and ‘blocks the bank accounts of single parents.’ ”
That language came from an organization called “Counter Signal.” A constituent sent me a video and emails from that organization claiming Trudeau had been “humiliated.” Worrying to me, it was clear she subscribed to Counter Signal and thought it was a reliable news source.
I had never heard of “Counter Signal” nor its founder Keean Bixte. So I looked it up. Bixte used to work for Ezra Lavant at Rebel News. Most readers will know that Rebel News is a strong voice against climate action and for the promotion of fossil fuels. From this article, Bixte’s racist and misogynistic views are clear.
The article includes a lot of photos. I realized that I know Bixte as a particularly aggressive reporter. By which I mean, he gets too close, does not back away once I answer his question and pursues me yelling questions that are mocking and rude. When masks were required on Parliament Hill, he got too close, unmasked. I asked him to please back up. And then other reporters asked him to do the same. But he refused. I felt threatened and reported the incident to the Sergeant at Arms. He is now banned from the Hill.
The Croatian MEP in the video being promoted by Bixte is an Independent, already well known as a far right, climate denier, anti-masker, anti-vaxxer, anti-refugee supporter of Geert Wilders. His attack is unhinged. You would think Justin Trudeau launched daily assaults on women in order to trample them with horses. I regularly take the prime minister to task for multiple betrayals and broken promises. But he is not a dictator. He become prime minister through a democratic process. The Counter Signal website is propaganda vehicle to promote oil and gas, deny the climate crisis, and to promote a visceral personal hatred of Justin Trudeau. Of course, Counter Signal never mentioned the substantive criticism of Trudeau from the EU Greens.
As I dug into this, I was horrified to find that both CBC and the Globe and Mail had done exactly what Bixte had done. Both quoted from right wing MEPs and hyped the idea that Trudeau was attacked before the entire EU for being an autocratic abuser of human rights – with zero mention of the more substantive, and accurate critique of Canada’s climate hypocrisy from the much larger EU group of Green MEPs.
It appears the mainstream press is being influenced by the alt-right that repeatedly claims that CBC is “fake news.”
If it were true that the prime minister had received a hostile reception from the members of the European Parliament, Canadian media should report that. But Trudeau had an overwhelmingly positive reception, accompanied with the chiding by Greens for poor climate policy. Yet, Canadians only hear about the three MEPs representing nearly – or actually – fascist views.
So as we near the end of March, and war rages, spring is near. I am looking forward to seeing many of you in the series of upcoming April community meetings and a special meeting for Greens with leader Amita Kuttner at Shoal Centre in Sidney on April 19.
Thanks for all your support. Check out the PS for upcoming events!
Pray for peace,
Please join me March 30
Engage with the Canadian All Party Parliamentary Interfaith Caucus to explore the values that should inform federal climate policy.
Participate with: Prof. Ken Boessenkool (McGill University) Prof. Tzeporah Berman (York University); Indigenous Archbishop Mark MacDonald (Anglican Church of Canada); Levi Minderhoud (Association for Reform Political Action); and Bhaskar Goswami, along with Members of Parliament Daniel Blaikie, Garnett Genuis, Elizabeth May and Sameer Zuberi.The Moral Dimension of Climate Change6 – 7 pm EST, Wed Mar 30, online
Please register here.
Check out the list of upcoming SGI Community meetings:
Saanich-Gulf Islands Greens