Once again, the results of yesterday’s federal election demonstrate the unrepresentative nature of our Parliament. It also illustrates why the Liberals, who came second in votes but first in seats, were so willing to backtrack on their 2015 promise to bring in a system of proportional representation. The chart further illustrates how ludicrously unfair the first-past-the-post system is when the Bloc Quebecois, with 7.7 per cent of the popular vote can elect 32 MPs while the Greens, with 6.5 per cent, seated only three.

You can get all the numbers at Elections Canada. After that, you may want to check out Fair Vote Canada.

Advertisements

Winnipeg, July 20, 2019: Professor Bryan Palmer at the 14th annual forum of the World Association for Political Economy. Photo: Paul S. Graham

The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike was followed with great interest by people around the world, says Dr. Bryan Palmer, Professor Emeritus at Trent University. Professor Palmer was speaking at the 14th Forum of the World Association for Political Economy entitled Class, State and Nation in the 21st Century, held in Winnipeg July 19-21, 2019. Here is my video report.

Winnipeg, Oct. 3, 2019 – Arnold August, speaking at the University of Manitoba about US and Canadian foreign policy regarding Cuba and Venezuela. Photo: Paul S. Graham

There is no doubt that Canadian foreign policy has taken a hard turn to the right, especially with regard to Latin America. Arnold August provides the context and details the US led attacks on Cuba and Venezuela that Canada has been supporting so vigorously.

August is a Montreal-based Canadian journalist and lecturer, the author of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 Elections, Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion and Cuba–U.S. Relations: Obama and Beyond.

He was a member of the Canadian Delegation invited to the Sao Paulo Forum in Caracas last July. His articles are published regularly on many web sites in Latin America, Cuba, Europe, North America and the Middle East. He collaborates with television and radio broadcasts based in Cuba, Ecuador, Venezuela, Canada and U.S. He is a member of the Québec Chapter of the Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements in Defence of Humanity.

He gives conferences in Cuba, Canada, the UK and until recently the U.S., from which he was barred on March 16, 2019 for his political views and specifically his support for the Bolivarian Revolution.

Arnold August’s visit to Winnipeg was hosted by the Winnipeg Venezuela Peace Committee.

Most Canadians imagine Canada to be a force for good on the world stage. Polite, reasonable, peace-loving and progressive. At least, that is how we like to imagine ourselves.

Winnipeg, July 20, 2019: Dr. Maria Páez Victor at the 14th Forum, World Association of Political Economy. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Sadly, it’s a myth. We helped oust the democratically elected Haitian government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. We helped turn Libya into a failed state. We helped invade Afghanistan and occupied part of it for over a decade. And these are just a few examples of Canada’s backwards foreign policy in this century.

And now, we’re meddling in Venezuela, where our government has joined with the United States to destabilize, undermine and crush the democratically elected, socialist government of Nicholas Maduro and the popular movement that supports it. Yves Engler has written several well researched articles on Canada’s attacks on Venezuela that I recommend you read. Yves’ articles are an effective antidote to the bullshit being passed of as news and analysis in our mainstream media, as is a recent speech by Dr. Maria Páez Victor.

Dr. Páez Victor is a Toronto-based, Venezuelan-born sociologist and activist on the board of the Canadian, Latin American and Caribbean Policy Centre. She speaks with authority and passion about what is at stake in the country of her birth. I recorded her presentation at the 14th Forum of the World Association for Political Economy, held at the University of Manitoba in July.

Returning to the title of this post, why should you care? Simply put, if you want Canada to be a force for good on the world stage, our government’s policies and actions must change. And if you allow our government to continue along its reactionary path without challenging it, you are complicit.

It’s election time in Canada. Ask your candidates where they stand on issues such as this. Make your support for them conditional on their support for a foreign policy that is peaceful, cooperative and supportive of international law. It’s not too much to ask.

Aug. 6, 2019: Winnipeggers gather in the shadow of the Manitoba Legislative Building to commemorate the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and 9, 1945. Lanterns for Peace is a ceremony that is held annually in Winnipeg and hundreds of cities worldwide. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Picking fights with Russia and China, backing fascists in Ukraine, arming murderers in Saudi Arabia, undermining democracy in Latin America — the Trudeau junta has a lot to answer for in the foreign policy realm. Trudeau the younger is not any worse than his predecessors (Liberal and Conservative) in this regard, but he appears to have given up trying to conform to that image of Canada the peacemaker and honest broker on the world stage. (It is a reputation Canada does not deserve, as my friend Yves Engler has demonstrated in many books and articles on the topic. I highly recommend a visit to his website.)

While I fully support the Green Party of Canada in its campaign to make climate change the defining issue of this election, there is another existential threat to human existence that deserves equal attention and that is the threat of nuclear war. Yes, global warming has the capacity to bring our civilization to an end, but so does the nuclear winter that would devastate world food production in the aftermath of a nuclear war.

Most of the world’s nations recognize this and two years ago approved the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the July 7, 2017 meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

Canada’s position is shameful. According to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), “Canada did not participate in the negotiation of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It voted against the UN General Assembly resolution in 2016 that established the mandate for nations to negotiate the treaty. It claims that US nuclear weapons are essential for its security.”

While 122 nations voted for the treaty, countries with nuclear weapons either abstained, voted against or declined to participate in the negotiation of the treaty, as did Canada’s fellow members of NATO.

So, if you share this concern, perhaps you can ask the candidates who want your vote if they would join with the saner members of the human race in adopting this treaty and work for world peace.

All of this is a longish introduction to a video I recorded this August 6th of the Winnipeg Lanterns for Peace Ceremony. We do this every year — gather somewhere close to water, construct floating lanterns that we launch as the sun goes down, and commemorate the first victims of the nuclear age — the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — who were either incinerated or permanently scarred by the atomic bombings of their cities on August 6 and 9, 1945. This commemoration never fails to move me.

paul and dave

Winnipeg, Sept. 2, 2019 – (l-r) Paul Graham and David Nickarz at the annual Labour Day March. Photo: David Nickarz

Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May has said that this year’s federal election is the most important election in Canadian history. It’s a critically important election because time is running out in the race to transition to a post carbon economy and mitigate the worst features of the climate change that is thundering down on us.

Elizabeth was in town recently and I recorded her speaking at an event held, in part, to promote the candidacy of David Nickarz, who is running in the Manitoba provincial election that ends on September 10th. You can watch the video here.

who sezIf you believe that climate change presents humanity with an imminent existential threat, then the Manitoba provincial election is the most important election in our provincial history, as well. The choices electors make, provincially and nationally, will determine how well or poorly Canada responds to the climate crisis in the decade or so in which we must act decisively to reduce carbon emissions.

I’m voting Green federally because none of the other parties in the contest have demonstrated that they have a clue about what must be done and our Liberal and Tory overlords in the “natural ruling parties” have proven time and again that they are uninterested in solving this problem.

buttonsIn the provincial election I have already voted in the advance poll. I voted for David Nickarz, the Green candidate in my community (Wolseley constituency), and I am hopeful that enough of my neighbours will feel as I do and elect the first Green MLA in the history of Manitoba.

A few words about Dave are in order. He is not only the local standard bearer of the party that has the best grasp of the climate change dilemma, he is an admirable human being, one who I trust to represent my community in a thoughtful, creative and responsible fashion.

I got to know Dave while volunteering on his team during the 2016 provincial election and the work we did subsequently to build the Green presence in the riding. I am struck by his capacity for hard work as well as the quiet, thoughtful way he works with people in our community.

Dave is, first and foremost, an environmental activist. He’s been at it for three decades, and his dedication has placed him on the front lines in defending old growth forests in BC (he was arrested at Clayoquot Sound) and whales in the Antarctic, as a crew member on several Sea Shepherd Society missions.

Laura, Dave and Maggie

Dave and Laura with their dog, Maggie. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Dave has guts and I respect that. A vegan who lives modestly, Dave “walks the talk.” He and his wife Laura have worked hard to contribute to the West Broadway community in which they live, and his candidacy in this election is a logical extension of that commitment.

David Nickarz

David Nickarz renovates homes and makes them energy efficient. Photo: Paul S. Graham

I’m also impressed by Dave the Worker and Dave the Small Business Guy. For the past 20 years he’s made his living repairing and renovating homes in the Wolseley area. He describes himself as a handyman, but in reality he has a wide range of skills and a great reputation for getting the job done right. He makes a point of employing and training women because he likes to help women succeed in nontraditional trades. Dave’s choice to perform socially useful work in a socially progressive manner, his willingness to roll up his sleeves and use his muscles and his brain, and his ability to operate a small business successfully instill confidence.

Finally, I like the way Dave is with people. He listens. He’s respectful towards everyone he meets, without exception. He’s humble about his own abilities and accomplishments and patient and encouraging with others.

For all of these reasons I believe that Dave will make a fine MLA. You can learn more about his candidacy here, and the Green Party of Manitoba, here.

As we like to say on the campaign trail, “Be brave. Vote Green. On September 10th, elect David Nickarz, MLA for Wolseley.”

 

Winnipeg, Aug. 15, 2019: “We need people to vote as if their life depended on it, because it just might.” — Elizabeth May. Photo: Paul S. Graham

 

Elizabeth May came to Winnipeg yesterday to lend her voice in support of Manitoba Greens contesting the Sept. 10th provincial election. She had a message for the people of Canada — that the coming federal election, to be decided this October, is the most important election in Canadian history.

Climate change confronts the world’s peoples with an existential threat — reduce greenhouse gas emissions or face ecological collapse and unimaginable global suffering. Time is running out and the decisions Canadians make at the polls will determine whether Canada can make a timely contribution to meeting this global challenge.

The video focuses on May’s address. For video of the entire evening, including a lively Q & A session with Elizabeth May and Wolseley Green candidate Dave Nickarz, go here.