Green Party: 2009 election and the Health Care Issue.

Really Really big survey

Really Really big survey

I have been sitting on a draught of this post for about a month now. It was simply a matter of time before a major poll came out with some convincing evidence to support my thesis. That is that the Health issue is one important direction the Green Party can move in order to broaden our support base. Now we have the second poll in the massive series that the CBC has commissioned from EKOS.

In a recent post, I suggested that Health care is a major issue that has simply dropped off the radar in the last two elections. It’s not because Canadians don’t care about it anymore, because they do. It’s not because it isn’t important, because it still gobbles up about 10% of our GDP. It’s not because it’s somehow been fixed, because there’s no permanent fix for people getting sick. It’s because the major Party’s have decided that elections are about slanging wars, sound bites, and that policy can jolly well take a back seat.

Green and Healthy choices

Green and Healthy choices

This content vacuum is a great opportunity for the Green Party. Yes, we certainly want to take back the Carbon Shift for our very own. That is an obvious major plank in our upcoming election plans. I propose that a second major plank should be a robust preventative health care program.
I have been digging up numbers, and there is lots of evidence to support my contention. Ipsos Reid released a poll on Dec. 4, 2008 in which 76% of  Ontarians believed that there were toxic chemicals in their environment, 77% believed that there were toxic chemicals in the products they use, and over 80% believed that these toxins could be harmful to themselves or their families. These are pretty direct fears, and I believe it’s the kind of material that can motivate people to change their voting behaviour.

The EKOS Poll didn’t ask a specific question about Health Care. Instead, they asked a catch all question about ‘Social Issues’, which included Health Care. The ranking of the top issues is here:

Top issue for next election:
¤ 35% social issues
¤ 27% jobs & unemployment
¤ 18% debt & deficit
¤ 11% climate change
¤ 10% none of the above

The Green Party has pretty dismal poll results in all these policy areas with the obvious exception

Liberal Policy: Prepare a $$Billion injection!

Liberal Policy: Prepare a $$Billion injection!

of climate change. I don’t think that the Liberals will miss the boat in the upcoming election. They will have spending promises, and I will bet dollars to donuts that they will have a carefully crafted Health Care message to trot out. It should be no great trick for the Green Party of Canada to have a really well differentiated Health Policy. The trick will be to help steer the conversation in this election away from the economy, where the GPC fares miserably in the electorates eyes.

Obviously the Conservatives will be in a cleft stick. Their leader is at an all time nadir in popularity and trust measures. They can be castigated on the Economic front, and will be seeking to steer the election towards the right wing fluff they call policy. Mandatory prison time for dope smokers. No early release for convicts. Minimum sentences, etc. It’s the Liberals who will be both our closest ally, and our deadliest foe. How would it be if we were able to tag team with the Liberals by talking up the Health issue, but by presenting a dramatically different policy prescription? I don’t think we’ll have enough traction to bring Health to the forefront of the campaign by ourselves. If we are pulling in tandem with the Liberals, then it provides Ignatieff with a debating partner for a public dialogue, which will eventually oblige the Tories and Dippers to defend their turf on this issue. So long as they are all talking about it, and we are saying something valuable and really quite different, then it will expand the pool of voters available to us.

I will confess a personal bias on this issue. When I first joined the Green Party it was because I was upset that the proximate causes of my infant daughters Asthma were simply not on the political radar screen. The rest of the Green Party platform at the time was eminently sensible policy, that appealed to the small business owner that I was, but the impetus to consider change was the issue that touched me deeply, and personally. To whit, my families health and security. I hope that I’m not falling into the trap of assuming that my own experience is universally applicable. Perhaps this anecdote will help my readers though, because it illustrates just how this issue is different from most other issues available to us. When it has an impact, it is truly visceral, and touches people in a place that will influence them strongly.

Whether I’m wrong or right in this post, I still believe that there is an election right around the corner. This is the kind of thinking that absolutely needs to be happening at GPC Headquarters. WHAT is the objective in this campaign. WHERE are we going to focus our efforts to acheive said objective. Who are our target voters that will get us there, and precisely what message are we going to deliver that converts those electors into Greens?

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Green Party Support and The Inconvenient Truth

Al Gore Academy Award Winner

Al Gore Academy Award Winner

Last night the CBC aired Nobel Prize winner Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”. Again this morning, on the way into work I listened to a CBC Radio show on the 12 year long drought in Australia, that is directly attributable to climate change. With all of this compelling news exposure, my guess is that the political ‘Climate Change’ in Canada will be no less dramatic. I equally expect that the pace of political climate change will be much faster than the pace of global warming.

I was struck again by Al Gore’s compelling presentation. When you remember that three years have passed since it was produced, the fact that many of the films projections have been borne out by events alarmed me all over again. At the same time, I couldn’t help feeling positive about the huge bounce in the polls that this CBC program will give to the Green Party of Canada. Last night, hundreds of thousands of Canadians woke up to the urgency of the problems facing humanity. It will be the Green Party to whom many of them will naturally turn to for solutions.

I didn’t join the Green Party of Canada strictly out of fear of global warming. It wasn’t just the simple fact that, according to Toronto Public Health authority air pollution is causing thousands of premature deaths every single year in the City of Toronto alone. It wasn’t only the fact that 17,000 Ontario hospital admissions, and 65,000 emergency room visits every year are directly attributable to air pollution, at the cost of billions of dollars, and untold suffering. I didn’t join the GPC because one of the root causes of air pollution, congestion, costs businesses and citizens of Ontario $1.5 billion annually. I didn’t join the Green Party because the disruption entailed by global warming, and climate change will cause an economic, and humanitarian tragedy of epic proportions.

I joined the Green Party of Canada because they were our best chance to bring proper, and effective public environmental policy onto the public stage in Canada. I joined the Green Party because they were fighting elections, and forcing public attention on the types of market oriented solutions to these problems that have been proven to work. The Green Party of Canada remains our single best chance to influence the public. The GPC is still our best electoral choice to force the other Party’s to recognize the Inconvenient Truth, and start taking remedial actuion before it’s too late.

On behalf of myself, my children, and all canadians, I thank the CBC for airing this imortant documentary. For maximum impact, please air it again 1 week before election day in the next Federal Election.

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Conservative to Blame for Cancelled Construction Projects

Go Home Boys

Go Home Boys

In the past few days, an awful lot of construction projects have been cancelled across Canada, and I lay the blame at the feet of Stephen Harper.

 I design and sell buildings for a living. I deal with hundreds of prospective clients all across Canada, and generally it’s a satisfying and well compensated occupation. This year has been  quite a roller coaster, with freight costs yo-yo’ing, steel costs surging by up to 50%, and uncertainty in the marketplace. OK, thats what makes life interesting, and there are sound reasons for all these things.

This year has seen agricultural construction demand collapse due to surging fuel and fertilizer costs all spring and summer, followed by the drop in many crop prices at harvest time. Construction for the manufacturing sector in Ontario, traditionally a huge and stable market has totally collapsed with the slow death of the whole automotive sector. Other manufacturers do not have a stable exchange rate environment, so despite the drop in the Canadian dollar, it is not dependable enough for exporters to sign long term contracts, without paying punitive fees to hedge the dollar.

Alberta has seen a raft of projects frozen, or even cancelled, for all the reasons above, PLUS collapsing energy prices.

There is still super strong demand in NewFoundland, and Saskatchewan, but fear is starting to set in, and good solid projects are being shelved due to uncertainty, and fear. It is that fear that is capping a bad year under the stewardship of the Conservatives, with a totally preventable disaster.

This week alone, I have had a significant number of building projects collapse. Due to the Conservative induced, and ONGOING political uncertainty, the Canadian dollar is moving down, like a basketball bouncing down the stairs. There is no rhyme, nor reason, but with an integrated North American materials market, every participant has to build ever increasing hedges into their project costs. This is pricing marginal projects out of the market, and I have personally witnessed HUNDREDS OF CONSTRUCTION JOBS LOST because of this volatility. They are mostly good projects, and when the situation settles, then the projects will mostly proceed in the 2009, and 2010 construction season. What really pisses me off, is that these, plus a large number of Government funded projects could, and should be starting RIGHT NOW! Canada really needs this to happen, and every small town that sees a project delay is losing 20 – 50 jobs over the winter.

So, why do I blame the Conservatives? They started this mess with their gratuitous attack on the opposition. They piled more rhetoric onto the hyperbola, and continually raised the stakes. Now they are putting their communications team into high gear, inventing a spurious constitutional crisis. The world is starting to listen, and political risk premium is now driving the dollars crazy ride. The Conservatives need to acknowledge that they screwed up, and surrendered their right to govern. They need to pay the price for their screwup, and step aside so a majority coalition can take the reigns with the full confidence of the house. It’s no longer about partisan interests, it is the only solution that will kill the uncertainty dead. The fact is that the Conservatives cannot, under any circumstances form a majority in the house TODAY, and that is now the only thing that will settle the uncertainty, and stop this death spiral.

I’m talking to you Ottawa, are you deaf to Canada’s Plea?

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