Wednesday, 9 June 2021

It's Time for a Green Democracy

 

Recently I had a conversation with an old friend who is now working with the group of people who are concerned about climate change.  Recently, there was a call for all greens to form a new organization to push on this issue.  There were over 1000 Groups Contacted in Canada.  How could they form a new political movement.  It seems to me that we need a new movement calling for radical change.  This new new Green – alternative could be based on certain truths.  

First:

The liberal model of everyone pursuing their own self-interest and scale there must be a return to promoting the alternative principles of democracy and equality.

Second:

There must be an endorsement for the leap manifesto.  Replacing fossil fuel energy with electrical energy has to be a primary goal.  


Third:

The new green alternative must endorse the green new deal for Canada.  This would include high-speed rail system from coast-to-coast. There would be a public bus system which would be free to users.

         
Fourth:

There would have to be a strong commitment to reconciliation beginning with implementation of the process and how it is a vital role to human rights. The implementation of the United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples.  


Fifth:

There would have to be a democratic commitment to housing as a basic human right. This would require a major commitment to building appropriate and affordable housing for all.
 

Sixth:

There would have to be in a new income progressive corporate tax structure based on ability to pay.  No corporation could avoid paying taxes in Canada.  The universal basic income could become a part of this structure.

Seventh:

There would have to be a shift from support for corporate agribusiness to ecological farming.  The vacant agricultural communities would have to be reestablished.

Eighth:

There would have to be a strong commitment to the international green principle of nonviolence.  There is no need for fighter-bombers if we are not going to bomb anyone. We would also reject the US policy of using drones for assassinations.  Canada would have to withdraw from the defence production agreement with the United States.  These policies might require Canada to withdrawal from NATO.


Programs around these principles would obviously create a great many good jobs.  There is no need to to continue to accept high rates of unemployment in any community or jobs that don't pay a living wage.


Saturday, 14 November 2020

Greens Choose Paul


 


Green Party of Canada recently chose a new leader
. I was not impressed by the campaign or the outcome.


There was some excitement when the Green party revealed that the membership had grown to 35,000.Thus it was difficult to understand why only 23,000 had actually Voted. How could this be explained. For one thing during most of the campaign there were 10 candidates running., it was difficult to tell the difference between them. This could have been easily clarified by the party itself.. But they refused to do so.

There was another reason. Elizabeth May went on a fund raising tour of Ontario with one candidate.She refused to go with any other. Many people felt that the fix was in.

  There have also been suggestions that the party establishment failed to send ballots  to known supporters of Dimitri Lascaris. In my own case I bought a membership in the party in early July. I also sent in a contribution which be directed to Dimitri . This was done. But when I never received info: on how to vote in the mail in or on my email I went to the party webpage and sent a message.I still did not get any response from the Green Party office.I never voted.


Where do we go from here?
 




 
Dimitri  has indicated that he wants to build an ecosocialist movement within the Green Party.' In my opinion this is the wrong way to go. This has been tried a number of times in Canada and without fail they had all collapsed. I think this view underestimates the power of the political party. If you show a possibility of success like the Waffle movement in the NDP in 1971,it is simply expelled.We tend to forget that in parliamentary democracy it is the norm for all parties to allow leader to set policy and to demand conformity. This is also always been the case for social Democratic Parties. We cannot expect the Green party of Canada to be any different.

It seems to me that the coalitions for social justice and the anti-free-trade coalitions were more successful. They were alliances of organizations with only volunteer participation. This limited  their impact. They were also unable to create an alternative vision.
 

But times change. We have seen a young people with the school strikes over over government  inaction on the climste crisis Then there was a broad support for justice for First Nations. Canadians joined in the mass protests in the United States led by Black Lives Matter.
.
Canada, today needs a political party that is committed to the Leap Manifesto and the Green New Deal Canada. .it would be foundedupon a strong commitment for Reconciliation.and UNDRIP

 But this will not happen until there is a broad popular movement for real change.
 it seems to me that we need a new type of political movement where anyone can join. All that would be necessary is a personal commitment to certain democratic principles and goals. This would include  a commitment to the begin with the United Nations social justice principles which were signed by the Canadian government but never implemented. It would generally endorse the principles of ecosoialism. There woud need to be strong commitment to ending militarism.

 

 

Tuesday, 10 November 2020






Green Party of Canada recently chose a new leader
. I was not impressed by the campaign or the outcome.


There was some excitement with the Green party revealed that the membership had grown to 35,000.Thus it was difficult to understand why only 23,000 had actually Voted. How could this be explained. For one thing during most of the campaign there were 10 candidates running., it was difficult to tell the difference between them. This could have been easily clarified by the party itself.. But they refused to do so.

There was another reason. Elizabeth May went on a fund raising tour of Ontario with one candidate,Aminne Paul. She refused to go with any other. Many people felt that the fix was in.

  There have also been suggestions that the party establishment failed to send ballots  to known supporters of Dimitri Lascaris. In my own case I bought a membership in the pary in early July. I also sent in a contribution which be directed to Dimitri . This was done. But when I never received info: on how to vote in the mail in or on my email I went to the party webpage and sent a message.I still did not get any response from the Green Party office.I never voted.


Where do we go from here?
 



 
Dimitri  has indicated that he wants to build an ecosocialist movement within the Green Party.' In my opinion this is the wrong way to go. This has been tried a number of times in Canada and without fail they had all collapsed. I think this view underestimates the power of the political party. If you show a possibility of success like the Waffle movement in the NDP in 1971,it is simply expelled.We tend to forget that in parliamentary democracy it is the norm for all parties to allow leader to set policy and to demand conformity. This is also always been the case for social Democratic Parties. We cannot expect the Green party of Canada to be any different.

It seems to me that the coalitions for social justice and the anti-free-trade coalitions were more successful. They were alliances of organizations with only volunteer participation. This limited  their impact. They were also unable to create an alternative vision.
 

But times change. We have seen a young people with the school strikes over over government  inaction on the climste crisis Then there was a broad support for justice for First Nations. Canadians joined in the mass protests in the United States led by Black Lives Matter.
.
Canada, today needs a political party that is committed to the Leap Manifesto and the Green New Deal Canada. .it would be foundedupon a strong commitment for Reconciliation.and UNDRIP

 But this will not happen until there is a broad popular movement for real change.
 it seems to me that we need a new type of political movement where anyone can join. All that would be necessary is a personal commitment to certain democratic principles and goals. This would include  a commitment to the begin with the United Nations social justice principles which were signed by the Canadian government but never implemented. It would generally endorse the principles of ecosoialism. There woud need to be strong commitment to ending militarism.

 

Sunday, 27 September 2020

Long Term care for Seniors; a view from the inside

 

Warnock home in Victoria
by john w warnock

 
An old friend called me a few weeks ago and suggested that I write a piece on what it is like to be in a long term care all during the pandemic shut down.  I am 87 years old and in one of the long term care units for seniors run by the British Columbia Government. I am in this unit because I have ALS and I cannot live without full time support.  Living with ALS and being in an institution is challenging enough at the best of times.   This lockdown presents an added level of difficulty which has had a major impact on me.  Issues that were already major challenges have now become insurmountable ; and that has had a cumulative, negative effect on my overall health and well being.
First of all, I am unable to either leave the building for necessary appointments or to have a doctor or other practitioners come into the building.  My hearing is deteriorating and understanding the spoken word becomes even more difficult when virtually everyone I come in contact with, understandably, has a mask on.   My hearing aids are provided by an organization which supports low income people.  However, due to the lockdown, I am unable to get to their office to have these aids adjusted to suit my hearing needs, so I go without for the time being.   I also need new glasses as it  is very difficult for me to read small print. My daughter was seeking a specialist who had wheelchair accessibility, but that had to be postponed indefinitely.   
Scheduled meetings with my physician have also been cancelled, the most important of which are appointments for Botox shots in my arm and neck.  These shots help with some of the symptoms of ALS, since my left arm and hand do not function.  I had already had two such shots and was awaiting a third when the lockdown occurred.  That third shot has been cancelled because the doctors do not enter the building to perform their work.
I have been on large doses of vitamin C every day, following a program advocated by Dr. Gifford Jones.   Jones is a Canadian gynecologist who trained a Harvard Medical School.  He was 78 years old when he performed his last surgery at University of Toronto Hospital.He has been critical of prescription drugs as often being useless, at best.  He advocates taking all your drugs and throwing them out. I haven’t done so here because that would create a major conflict with the bureaucracy.   I have, however, found this Vitamin C regime to be beneficial in relation to ALS symptoms.  Movement and feeling in my left leg and foot is almost back to normal.  I am able to direct my brain to move my left leg and foot now.  
ALS destroys the nerve cells that control voluntary muscle movement so that ,eventually, a person with the disease will be virtually unable to move.  Anything that helps lessen or slow the progression of this disease represents an extension on one’s life and a better quality of life.  Except for the vitamin C regime, I am now largely unable to slow the symptoms down.  Not only do I need botox shots, but I also need some serious physiotherapy, now that I have some movement back on my lower left side.  There are two physiotherapists here in a building of 200 residents. I am limited to two visits per week for 15 minutes on a bicycle machine. The problem is funding.  The  inadequacy of necessary services and treatments will continue to be major problems until governments return to progressive taxation according to ability to pay.
I was once a fruit farmer and I learned a great deal about organic gardening and good nutrition during that time.  I have since then grown much of my own food when I can and have always ensured that I eat a very healthy diet.  I am almost completely unable to do so now, reliant as I am on institutional food.   The food served here is verymuch like the food served in prisons and hospitals.  Those of you who have been unlucky enough to be in hospital lately will surely know what I mean.    Whereas food was once prepared in the in-house cafeteria, most food services were contracted out by governments eager to save money in the rush to do away with progressive taxation.   The result of contracting out food service is a diet of largely poor quality food.  
I have normally made up for this deficit by dining out several times a week with friends or family.  I can no longer go out nor most food be brought in.  I asked my daughter to bring me a cream cheese sandwich on whole grain bread plus some peaches and cherries.  She did so and added a much anticipated thermos of homemade coffee.  She was not allowed to bring any of this in to me. A new study by respected scientists concludes that the virus is not spread by food or food wrappings.
At least the staff at my nursing home are unionized under the BC government employees union.  They get a fair wage for the demanding work that they do and receive some benefits as well.  Care workers here receive about $25 per hour whereas unorganized care workers receive far less.  In Saskatchewan, care workers make about $15 per hour.   Decent wages and benefits mean that most of the staff here don't need to seek part time work elsewhere. A stable, full time workforce is crucial of the virus is not to be spread from home to home.  The staff here are very committed to their work and they deserve credit.  
All of this brings me to the most serious difficulty I believe those, like myself, in nursing homes face—social isolation.   The hardest burden to bare and the one that, ultimately affects my well being the most, is the isolation I now experience.  It is difficult to make friends here since there are only two people on my ward of 13 people who I can really converse with. Previously, I managed to maintain a rather robust social life, but most of it was spent outside of the institution, visiting family and friends, going to pubs, restaurants, the parks, music events and the like. I also had lots of people visit me here.  It normalized, somewhat, a really difficult life living with ALS.  Now, I am almost totally cut off from that contact. I have one primary caregiver, my daughte, Delia, who is allowed to come in once every  two weeks for up to one hour.  Otherwise, I depend on my online technology to maintain contact with my other family members and many friends.  
This social isolation is something I can barely afford, given my age and the almost unchecked progression of my ALS.  I need to see people before I die.  There are so many people I long to see—kids, grandchildren, and close friends who are family to me. I have not seen my one granddaughter and her children (my four great grandchildren) for several years.   I have close friends in Ontario who were going to drive all the way here in September to visit; they can’t see me so they aren’t coming.  They will try again to plan a trip in January, depending on where this pandemic is at.  If they cannot come then, they will come in the spring.  But with my limited life expectancy, I fear I will never see these people again.
Institutionalization means losing your autonomy.  We residents here at the home have no way to make our voices heard and give feedback that actually has an affect on our day to day lives.  For example, we are told to wash our hands frequently to protect against the virus.  I am unable to wash my hands without help and staff here simply do not have the time to help me.  I wash my hands once a week when I am given a bath. Although I have always been an early riser who engaged in my political research, writing, and activism right after breakfast, I am not usually helped out of bed until later in the morning and, at that time, I get to go to the bathroom.  There seems to be no structure here for resolving issues based on our, the residents, feedback.
Being in long term care during lockdown is similar to what being in solitary confinement within prison systems must be like.   There have to be better choices than what we are faced with currently.  We have all seen the horrific neglect leading to high death rates in for-profit nursing homes during the pandemic.  The publicly funded and run homes are better, but as this lockdown continues on, even “better” becomes intolerable.  There is no doubt in my mind that we need to find new ways of caring for elders and disabled people.  The lockdown has highlighted all the problems and contradictions of how we are currently cared for. I am one of many who live this painful reality on a daily basis. To me there has to be a better way than the BC NDP government has chosen.


Thursday, 28 May 2020

What Is a Green?


 
    Note:
I wrote this piece some time ago ,but it is still basically true today .In the more advancednced industrialized countries the Greens remain on the political left. Theycntinue to put a high priority on nonviolence and are opposed to the existence of NATO. In the past this has been a major obstacle  for the Green Party of Canada.If Dimitri Lascaris is chosen as the next leader of the Green Party of Canada this could change. 
Home
The recent federal election caused a lot of problems for supporters of the Greens. Particularly in Saskatchewan. The New Green Alliance, formed in 1999, has fought two provincial elections and a number of by-elections. Across the province the NGA is known to be a committed environmental and social justice movement, to the left of the provincial NDP. On fiscal and tax matters, the new party has regularly endorsed the progressive Alternative Budget created by the Saskatchewan branch of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. To this we add some Green tax and fiscal policies. The NGA has been strongly opposed to the neoliberal taxation policies of the federal government and provincial NDP government, which are shifting the tax burden from corporations, wealth, and high income earners on to low income people.

In contrast, the leadership of the Green Party of Canada, and the Ontario Green Party, regularly state that they are “neither left nor right.” During the federal election campaign, Jim Harris, leader of the GPC, commonly stated that the Greens would cut corporate taxes and move to eliminate the income tax. This policy position was widely cited by the mass media and the NDP. The right wing Ottawa Citizen praised the GPC for its tax policies. This caused a lot of confusion, in Saskatchewan and elsewhere. People wrote to the New Green Alliance asking if we are a “right wing party” because that is how the Green Party of Canada has been characterized by the New Democratic Party.

The Greens: Neither Left Nor Right

The term “neither left nor right” was first used by the fascists in France and Italy in the 1930s to support their view that fascism was above traditional left and right politics. The new fascist movement would rise above the old class conflict between owners of the means of production and the workers. The term was also used by Herbert Gruhl, one of the founders of the German Green Party, in his famous book, A Planet Plundered. He quit the Greens and formed a right-wing patriarchal party when the German Greens embraced feminism. Today, the term “neither left nor right” is associated with the Third Way element in social democracy. Tony Blair’s ideological guru, Anthony Giddens, has written their basic text, Beyond Left and Right. How does the world wide Green movement line up in this debate?
First, it might be useful to revisit the origin of the terms “left” and “right” as they are applied to politics. After the French Revolution, when men without property were allowed to run for office and vote, a wide range of political parties developed. In the French legislature, and elsewhere in the parliaments in Europe, the legislators sit on benches or at desks in a half circle facing the Speaker. Parties align themselves in this half circle as they wish. From the beginning those parties which supported equality and the expansion of democracy placed themselves to the left of the speaker. They became known as “the Left.” Those parties who opposed equality and the expansion of democracy placed themselves to the right of the speaker. They became known as “the Right.” This practice continues today, and European Green parties in each country decide where they will sit in relationship to the other parties. This is a recognition that deep ideological and class differences remain today and are central to politics. It is not possible to ignore or try to be above these divisions in society.

Where do the Greens place themselves in this ideological spread of political parties? In Australia and New Zealand, the Greens are to the left of the Labour parties. They are the left opposition when Labour is in office, as they are today in New Zealand. In England the Greens are to the left of the Labour Party. They joined in coalition with the Socialists to support “Red Ken” Livingstone in his campaign for mayor of greater London. In Scotland the Greens are part of the left opposition in legislature with the Scottish Socialist and the Scottish Nationalist Party. The government of the right is the alliance between Labour and the Liberal Democrats. In Wales the Greens are on the left, in opposition with the nationalist party, Plaid Cymru. In Northern Ireland the Greens are quite small, and in the recent European Union elections won less than one percent of the vote, one half of the vote received by the Socialist Environmental Alliance. In the last UK election, they ran jointly with the Women’s Party. In Ireland, the Greens, until recently the Green Alliance, are on the left and work closely with Sinn Fein, which now is primarily a socialist party; they jointly opposed the participation of Ireland in the European Union and the surrender of Irish neutrality. The Green Party of the USA is well to the left of the Democrats and Republicans, and its general policy is well to the left of the platform of the Green Party of Canada.

So in the English speaking world the Greens are on the political left. Social justice, opposition to militarism, opposition to the U.S. imperial wars, and support for the anti-globalization movement are all policies that are central to their political ideology. The Green Party of Canada is certainly the most right wing of all these Green parties. What about the Greens in Europe?

There is a wide range of Green parties in Europe. In the past, and at the present time, there are countries where there are two Green parties. There are three today in France and Spain. Most belong to the Federation of European Greens, but some do not. Some are aligned with the European United Left - Nordic Green Left. In Iceland the Greens are known as the Left Green Alliance. In Norway there is no formal Green Party, for the Socialist Left Party is a red-green party back by environmentalists. In Denmark there is the Unity List - Red Greens. In The Netherlands there is the Green Links - Green Left. In Finland there are two Green parties, the Left Wing League and the Green League, both of which get close to 10% of the vote. In Greenland there is the Inuit Community Party, socialist and green, which was the largest party after the 2002 election with 25% of the vote. In Portugal, the Partido Ecologia Os Verdes participates in a formal electoral alliance with the Portuguese Communist Party as the United Democratic Bloc.
All of these Green parties are clearly on the political left.

In France, asLes Verts participates in the Radical Alliance with the Socialist and the Communist Party. The two other Green parties are smaller: Generation Ecologie and Les Alternatifs. In Italy the Federation of Greens is part of the Olive Tree Alliance with the Socialist and former Communists. This alliance produced a Green mayor for Rome.

In other European countries, the Greens have been growing in strength; it would be hard to label them as on the political right. The European Greens have been strong in supporting Peace, opposition to the Iraq war, opposition to NATO, and opposition to the so-called “free trade” agreements, including the Maastricht Treaty. As the social democratic parties strongly supported the European Union and “free trade” and globalization, they moved to the right and the Greens moved to the left. Thus in Sweden, where the Green Party started out as a middle class party to the right of the Social Democratic Party, they are now on the left working closely with the Left Party. In Germany, as Alliance 90/The Greens has been badly divided on ideological issues and over the electoral alliance with the Third Way Social Democratic Party. But they are identified as the left element in this electoral alliance.

Thus as we look around the industrialized world, we can see that the Green movement today is on the political left, opposing militarism, globalization, supporting the World Social Forum, fighting to retain the Keynesian welfare state, while remaining the one force which is deeply concerned about environmental degradation, global warming and climate change. It seems quite obvious that the New Green Alliance in Saskatchewan is in step with this movement and the leadership of the Green Party of Canada is not.

Monday, 18 May 2020

The Twentieth Century


Eric Hobsbawm - Telegraph



A short while ago I received a message from a friend that  I had not seen fora good while.We had been active in the in the New Green Alliance. He wanted me to recommend a book to read on the history of the20th century.Much happened : Two world wars,the great depression, and the communist revolutions in Russia and China.

first Some Background: 

.

I had grown up in rural Ohio.. It was right-wing Republican liberalism. Everyone was expected to pursue their own self interests and not worry about anyone else. My family followed this path. There was one difference however. Neither my father nor mother were religious.

I absorbed this culture. When I was in the 10th grade in high school I even got a prize for giving the best anti-Communist speech.. I was a bookworm. I was always at our local library. In addition I became good friends with my history teacher. I would go to his house on the bank overlooking Lake Erie. It was a relatively small house which he shared with his wife who taught English at the high school'. Books were piled up everywhere. He lent me all kinds of books on history..
I was particularly interested in the American Revolution and the American Civil War.
My mother's was adopted and her new father,Edwin Brown, was a member of the Order of Cincinatus, a private organization whose membership was limited to men who could trace their ancestors back to officers who served in the American Revolutionary Army. My mother had documents used to support this claim...all the way back to Lexington and Concord  and Georg Washington:'s army.
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I was also interested in the American Civil.War.My fathers family[three brothers and their wives ]  had left Ireland in 1846 and had gone to a community in Pennsylvania where others had gone before.When the Civil War broke out my great grandfather joined the Army of the Pennsylvania Volunteer and served in General Meade':s army and had fought in the battles which ended at Gettysburg. There was  a lot of detailed accounts  available on these two histories.

I left this community behind me when I went on to university. Both my mother and father hoped that I would follow the new Warnock tradition and become a member of the medical profession. They urged me to go to Duke University because it had a good medical school. So in the fall of 1952 I arrived at Durham North Carolina. It was a real shock. Complete racial segregation. An apartheid state in the middle of liberal America.

It only took me one semester to learn that I was not to be a member of a medical profession. I would pursue history, political economy and sociology. In my first history class, taught by Prof. from the University of Wisconsin. I am sorry to say that I cant remember his name..He suggested that I read Eric Williams,Capitalism and Slavery. Which I did. It was really the first book I read with a theoretical analysis. I learned the importance of trying to understand why things were happening.. What were the social forces at work. Counting the numbers was the easy part.
So this is why I am recommending my friend John Kern tread Eric Hobsbawm's Fractured Times; Culture and Society in the 20th Century.This was his last major work.
   

Friday, 24 April 2020

Tent City Victoria


The local newspaper reports today that there are now 100 tents full of homeless people in one of Victoria's parks. This is where liberalism takes us. In a democratic society everyone has equal value and is guaranteed food, clothing, shelter and services. As well all should have the right to make a contribution to their community. We have not had that in human society for a long long time.

One can hope that when this pandemic is over we will see some significant changesImage result for google images victoria homeless camp