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Un nouveau rôle pour la gouvernance

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un nouveau parti

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réunir des gens
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La motivation
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Parti vert est


A New Role for Governance

Mike Nickerson
Sustainability Project - 7th Generation Initiative
June 24, 2004

Why would anyone bother to start a new political party? It's no small task, to connect with people across a country, define a common cause and then attempt to breach the well-guarded access to public communications.

The motivation behind the Green Party's emergence is compelling. Since industrialization began, society has focused on building productive machinery, hooking it up to energy sources and cranking out ever expanding volumes of material goods. Until now, politicians of all stripes have made their careers by promising ever greater volumes of gross product for their electors.

The continuous expansion of the industrial process has brought about a fundamental change in our relationship with the Earth.

When industrialization began, people numbered a few hundred million. Today there are over six thousand million of us. Furthermore, each of us today, on average, consume a far greater volume of natural resources and produce a correspondingly greater amount of waste. In the last fifty years, our waste has increasingly contained dangerous manufactured chemicals. The change in human impact is huge.

Fish tanks

(photo: Gilles Daigle)

At a time when human activity is disrupting everything from the diversity of life forms to the global climate, what sense is there in continuing to accelerate expansion?

Rather than disperse what remains of the natural world for political and economic gain, effective government should be reorganizing the system to encourage non-destructive practices. The need for change is doubly obvious when we see decisions being made on the blind assumption that expanding the flow of money (GDP) will increase well-being. This is what globalization is about. It inflates GDP, but that money has little to do with the well-being of most people. What use is the GDP measure when is sees no difference between money spent cleaning up disasters brought on by our waste and money spent educating the next generation. Indeed, education, along with health care is often sacrificed to feed the "needs" of capital growth.

Green governance would start with a Genuine Progress Index (GPI). In addition to the traditional measurements of economic performance: GDP and rates of employment, a GPI would measure job satisfaction and dependency on foreign investment. It would also measure the value of unpaid work in homes and communities, resource stocks, pollution levels, the durability of goods, the nutritional quality of food, levels of education, public participation in decision making, rates of crime, signs of equity and inequity and other factors which Canadians feel indicate improvements in, or deterioration of, their well-being.

A Green government would follow by lowering taxes on employment and would replace the diminished revenue with taxes on resource drawdown and pollution. Phased in over a number of years, this would have the effect of making it less expensive to employ people and more expensive to waste resources and pollute. In the meantime, public resources would be allocated in ways to encourage renewable energy, conservation, pollution reduction, local employment, preventative health care, participatory democracy and education.

While consumption and waste have to be managed within limits, education and preventative health care offer unlimited opportunities for improving well-being. These public services are based primarily on good will, sharing of information and caring for each other. The obsolescence of the old political priorities is revealed when these activities are discounted because they do not make the economy grow.

What is life for? Are we born to shop until we drop? Or would we actually derive more satisfaction from clean air and water, quality food and time to spend with friends. Genuine progress is progress which leaves the world intact for the generations that follow.

If your vote counted, would you vote for the party that offers to lead Canada toward a healthy relationship with the land and life? Take the leap of faith and the Green Party will take steps to establish proportional representation (PR). PR means that the seats in Parliament would be filled in proportions matching the votes cast. Majority power could no longer be exercised without a majority of votes. Your vote could be used to express how you feel the country should be run rather than as a weapon to deter unsavory parties and politicians. Parliament would become a place for debating issues from different perspectives, rather than a setting for opportunism and categorical opposition.

Consider the possibilities.


Mike Nickerson is presently writing "Life, Money & Illusion,"
a book on Ecological Economics, due to be published in 2005.