Good Government

Good government


Because it’s time to restore democracy.

Good government is founded on prudent planning and rational, evidence-based decision-making in the public interest. Good government provides long-term stability, security from threats both domestic and abroad, and a vision that stretches well beyond four-year election cycles.

To deliver on these basic principles, government needs to engage with, and be responsive to, the concerns of Canadian citizens. The critical first step in this process is to ensure we have a government that represents the will of the people – that means an end to first-past-the-post voting, an end to false majorities, and the creation of a voting system that ensures all Canadians have a voice in our government.

The Green Party is the only party committed to ending whipped votes. MPs from the other parties in Parliament routinely face whipped votes – they must vote the party line or face punishments, such as not being allowed to speak in the House or even being thrown out of the party. No Green MP will ever face a whipped vote. They will be free to put their conscience and their constituents first.

That is the commitment Green candidates make, to be your voice in Ottawa, your local champions.

Because it’s time to restore democracy, our top priorities are to:

1

Elect Members of Parliament who are honest, ethical, hard-working representatives for their constituents and champions for their communities.

When you look at the Green candidates across Canada you will not find a single “career politician.” You will find people with impressive resumes – whether in science, law, academia, teaching, public policy, small business, the arts, journalism, First Nations leadership, municipal government, community organizing and volunteerism, and medicine.

The health of our democracy depends on electing Members of Parliament who are accountable to their constituents. Following Elizabeth May’s example, Green Members of Parliament will work tirelessly on behalf of their communities and never abuse the public trust placed in them.

Green MPs will conduct themselves with integrity and civility, treat others with respect, and never heckle in the House of Commons. Green MPs will always keep the interests of Canada paramount and never be told to vote against the interests and well-being of their constituents.

Green MPs will seek constructive solutions to issues in their local communities, striving to create dialogue and solve problems when they arise.

Green MPs will publish their expenses online, to ensure maximum transparency and accountability, and never use Parliamentary resources for party or personal benefit.

2

Restore Canadian public science and the role of evidence in our decision making

Good policy and keeping government accountable depends on good information.

Under Stephen Harper, Canada moved from evidence-based policy making to policy-based evidence-making.

Funding for basic research and scientists in Canada is at an all-time low; research at small universities is disappearing and we are rapidly losing our capacity for long-term innovation. As a result of the Harper Conservatives’ decision to eliminate the long-form census, Canadian researchers, tracking everything from poverty to public health, know less and less about our country as time progresses.

Science, evidence, and transparency together form the backbone of informed decision-making. We will immediately restore the long-form census to ensure that Canadian researchers and policy-makers have access to the latest data.

Canadian scientists, both inside and outside of government, must have the freedom to pursue important discoveries, without looking over their shoulders and worrying about whether their work is “industry relevant” or subject to political interference in funding decisions.

We will fight to ensure Canada remains a world leader in discovery science by enacting Public Access to Science legislation to ensure our scientists are unmuzzled and free to discuss their findings with the media and the Canadian public without censorship or political interference. Our open science legislation would also ensure that all government-funded scientific research is publicly accessible by law.

We will begin to rebuild the public scientific capacity lost during the past decade by providing $75-million annually to add critical science capacity to Environment Canada, Health Canada, Parks Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans.

We will implement new legislation to ensure that any new laws or regulations are based on sound evidence that is transparent, rigorous, ethically produced, easy to access and understand, based on the best available information and free from political manipulation. Elizabeth May’s bill (which died on the order paper due to the August 2 writ) will be re-entered to mandate that all publicly-funded science must be published.

We are committed to restoring the role of Canadian science as part of our wider vision of bringing back evidence-based planning and decision-making around climate change, criminal justice, drug policy, harm reduction, homelessness, and more.

3

Create a Council of Canadian Governments to find solutions within Canada, and work collaboratively with our allies abroad

Canada’s success has always depended on people working together. We are a country of vast geography and distinct regions. Good and effective government in Canada depends on bringing people together with a shared sense of purpose. In an era of global insecurity, it is more important than ever that we work together here at home.

In the 21st century, we need to reinvent the way we work as a federation. We need to work together to develop national goals and national strategies. To this end, we will create a Council of Canadian Governments to address shared challenges and ensure more effective collaboration between the various levels of government in Canada – federal, provincial/territorial, municipal/local, and First Nations, Metis and Inuit.

Chaired by the federal government, the Council will regularly bring together the provinces and territories, municipal governments, and Indigenous leadership to ensure constructive collaboration to find real solutions for the problems that concern all Canadians from security to infrastructure to health care. In order to make progress on these critical issues, it is important that all levels of government are pulling in the same direction. With a transparent process, a published agenda and a clear path to set in place national strategies – on energy, transportation, culture, health care, and climate.

It is simply absurd that Canada has more internal domestic barriers to trade and movement of workers than the European Union has among 28 separate and sovereign nation states. Canadian workers should be free to move anywhere in the country, without worrying about whether their certifications are recognized in one place or another. The Council of Canadian Governments will be the catalyst for a new era of cooperation that establishes common standards to improve interprovincial labour mobility and work towards recognition for international accreditations.

The bottom line is this – when our federal, provincial, municipal and First Nations governments work together, we can bring down barriers that restrict our employment opportunities and keep families apart.

From climate change to terrorism, we will work together with our allies to counter threats and ensure a safer world. We will strengthen our international influence by investing in our diplomatic skills and talent, and shift our focus and funding away from NATO military contributions, towards United Nations peacekeeping, poverty alleviation and disaster relief efforts. We will not purchase the F-35 stealth fighter jets. We will invest in new military equipment that fits Canada’s defence requirements. We will purchase fixed-wing search and rescue planes, ice-breakers and replace dangerous old military hardware to ensure that threats to our military are not posed by the equipment we give them.

We will overhaul our immigration and refugee protection system to ensure that Canada is seen as a welcoming and compassionate home for people fleeing violence and persecution. Our immigration system should welcome and integrate new Canadians over the long term. The short-term employment focus of the Temporary Foreign Workers Programs both exploits those workers, often denied a route to Canadian citizenship, while denying Canadians those job opportunities.

We will reverse numerous changes to our laws that have created two-tiers of Canadian citizenship – with some deemed more Canadian than others. The matter of citizenship should never be political. It must be based on facts. You are born here or you are naturalized a Canadian citizen. Canadian citizens who violate the law go to jail. But to create the notion that citizenship can be revoked for anything other than fraud in obtaining that citizenship is to move into a shifting and uncertain understanding of what it is to be Canadian.

We will act to resolve the confusion created for the “lost Canadians” – one million Canadians have effectively been denied recognition of their citizenship – including thousands of our war dead.

We will repeal as unconstitutional the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). It essentially deprives any Canadian with US connections (even those short of dual citizenship) of full rights to privacy and treats them as a lesser Canadian. We will also repeal Bill C-24 which allows the minister of citizenship to revoke citizenship. Other threats to Canadians will be eliminated with the repeal of Bill C-51.

4

Repeal Bill C-51 to defend Canadians’ Charter Rights and privacy

Presented as an “anti-terror” bill by the Harper Conservatives, Bill C-51 needlessly expands the powers of Canada’s spy agencies, without creating the necessary oversight. At the same time, it actually undermines our policing efforts to abort terrorist plots. It is a dangerous piece of legislation that does not make us safer.

We were the first party to oppose Bill C-51 in the House of Commons, and we will continue to fight to repeal this Bill and defend Canadians’ constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms.

Among the thousands of ordinary Canadians of all political stripes who spoke out in opposition to Bill C-51, four former Prime Ministers, five former Justices of the Supreme Court, and over 100 independent legal scholars expressed profound concern with this ineffective, harmful, and overreaching new law.

Canada already has effective anti-terror laws that do not trample on our rights as egregiously as Bill C-51 does. The RCMP has used these existing powers to keep Canadians safe; for this they deserve Canadians’ gratitude.

Bill C-51 allows widespread government surveillance and intrusions into Canadians’ privacy, will not make Canadians safer, and, in fact, will make us less safe. Without any oversight or obligation to share information with RCMP, CSIS is allowed to secretly intervene in suspicious activity without coordinating with other security forces. This is a recipe for disaster.

We now know that the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) already collects millions of Internet communications every day from average Canadians. Canada Border Services also has no review or oversight mechanism. And none of these agencies, all tasked in one way of another with confronting terrorism, have any oversight individually and no requirement to share information with each other. This is unacceptable. At a time when the United States is beginning to rebalance the relationship between government surveillance and the privacy of its citizens, the information sharing provisions in Bill C-51 will decisively tip the scales toward unchecked government intervention into our personal lives.

Bill C-51 must be repealed, as it infringes on the political and civil rights granted to all of us under the Canadian Charter. For these reasons, Green MPs will make the repeal of Bill C-51 a top priority in Parliament.

5

Replace the first-past-the-post system with proportional representation

Our current voting system is outdated.

It is the only voting system that allows a minority of the votes to elect a majority government with 100 percent of the power. It makes voters feel as if their vote just doesn’t count. It is time to replace it.

The first-past-the-post voting system has lost the confidence of Canadians. Our promise is to replace the first-past-the-post system with a form of proportional representation within the first year of the next Parliament. We will determine the form of proportional representation best suited to Canada through extensive public consultation by an all-party committee.

We will overhaul the “Fair” Elections Act, establishing mechanisms that increase voter participation, and ensure greater fairness, transparency, and accountability in election financing. We will make the Commissioner of Canada Elections (CCE) responsible for investigations into campaign irregularities, reporting directly to Parliament, and give him or her the power to fully investigate and hold to account anyone who breaks Canada’s electoral laws. The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) should be clearly mandated to encourage voter turnout. Both the CCE and CEO should be appointed by an impartial Public Appointments Commission.

To strengthen local democracy and enhance the freedom of MPs to stand up for the interests of their constituents, we will amend the Elections Act to remove the requirement that party leaders need to sign the nomination papers of candidates, giving this power instead to the local organizations. In opening up the Elections Act, we will undo damaging changes made in the Harper era that undermine Canadians’ right and ability to vote, whether living within Canada (youth, First Nations, homeless and others) or living overseas.

6

Defend Canada’s sovereignty

Of all the damaging things done to Canada in the last nine years, ratifying the Canada-China Investment Treaty – in secret, by Cabinet alone, without any parliamentary or public hearings – poses the greatest long-term threat to our sovereignty.

The treaty, known as a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement or FIPA, is lop-sided, benefiting the People's Republic of China, while providing no advantage to Canada. In fact, it locks us in until the year 2045, giving State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) superior rights to those of Canadian companies. Beijing’s SOEs now have the right to bring arbitration claims against Canada in secret tribunals. These are not courts, but private arbitrations in which arbitrators gain personally and financially through a system that lacks the fairness and predictability of our national courts. Thanks to Stephen Harper, our sovereignty has been significantly eroded.

In the next parliament, Green MPs will press for legislation to require that any and all complaints from Beijing under this treaty, even early diplomatic complaints, must be made public. We must ensure that all the other party leaders understand that Canadians want to fight for our laws and push back against complaints from SOEs from the People's Republic of China.

If Beijing complains about a municipal by-law or proposed legislative change, such as reversing the damage to the Fisheries Act, Environmental Assessment or Navigable Waters Protection Act, we will not cave. We will not let FIPA-chill cause government to pull back from doing the right thing. We need a transparent commitment to aggressively defend Canada’s policies and decisions, and, if we must, to write a cheque for damages under FIPA, rather than cancel planned laws or repeal existing ones.

We will vigorously oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA).

Greens will also work with Green MPs in governments around the world to open a full-scale global review of all investor-state agreements with the goal of revising and improving all of them to rebalance rights to democracies and reduce global corporate rule.

7

Reverse Harper’s legacy to put our government back on track

Over the last decade there have been unprecedented changes to the way our government operates. Our government now functions in the least transparent, least accountable, most partisan and divisive manner in Canadian history.

The Harper Conservatives’ invented the use of omnibus budget bills – bills that cover dozens of diverse and unrelated changes to law and policy. Such bills have been rammed through Parliament time and time again since 2011, without proper study. With the “might makes right” style of Stephen Harper, over 99 percent of opposition party amendments were routinely rejected.

Omnibus budget bills have severely damaged our democracy. The Harper administration has used omnibus bills to devastate centuries-old environmental legislation, curb free speech, and cut billions in funding from health care. A single omnibus bill in spring 2012 (C-38) changed 70 laws, which even former Conservative ministers said undermined our fisheries and environment.

The Green Party will work to end the illegitimate use of omnibus bills. These sweeping bills have no place in our democracy. In addition to ending the use of omnibus bills, Green MPs will restore all the environmental protections that the Harper government has eliminated over the past ten years.

Due to Stephen Harper’s shocking use of prorogation to avoid political embarrassment and confidence votes he knew he would lose, Canada now needs to control access to prorogation by requiring a 2/3 vote in Parliament. We need new rules to require the summoning of a new parliament (within 30 days of an election) and for the dissolution of Parliament.

We will work to end the “American-style” attack politics that is slowly becoming the norm in Canada, slashing the budget of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) by 50 percent. The PMO is a taxpayer-funded office that has become a partisan central agency, controlling all government MPs, Cabinet ministers, all operations, and even attempting to force non-partisan civil servants into partisan schemes.

The PMO now constitutes a daily contempt of Parliament. It spews out negative, partisan, and divisive campaigns. The PMO has exerted control over parliamentary legislative committees, demanding Conservative MPs attack witnesses who disagree with Conservative policy and whipping votes in committee. The PMO has (in violation of our Constitution) also dictated votes in the Senate and even attempted to interfere in an audit of Senate expenses.

We will slash the advertising budget of the federal government. All contracts must be publicly tendered on a website with decisions being removed from political operatives.

We must empower parliamentary committees to fully discharge their oversight responsibilities: appoint committee members for a full session of Parliament; select chairs through secret ballots and ensure adequate budgets; strengthen the mandates and establish genuine independence for officers of parliament (Parliamentary Budget Officer, Privacy and Information Commissioners, Auditor General, Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Science Advisor, National Security Advisor).

We will overhaul Accountability, Conflict of Interest, Privacy and Access to Information legislation.

It is time to curtail patronage through use of an independent Public Appointments Commission.

We need to act to diversify and enliven the media in Canada. A robust news media is essential for an informed citizenry and a healthy democracy. Canada’s media has become dangerously concentrated in a few hands. Recommendations have been made in numerous reports and Royal Commissions. It is time to act on these recommendations and apply anti-trust legislation to corporate media, while restoring our public broadcaster and its essential role.

We will enshrine in the Constitution the right to a healthy environment.

We will act to reform the Senate. A comprehensive proposal for an elected Senate by proportional representation must be developed and approved by Canadians in a national referendum. It is time to grasp the nettle and amend the constitutional amending formula to approve changes through a referendum mechanism.

The PMO is not part of our system of government. It is not even mentioned in the Constitution. It was invented in 1970. While initially exerting a minor level of control, it has become too powerful, too centralized, and too unaccountable – its budget needs to be cut and practices reformed.

We must protect the fundamental principle that the prime minister reports to parliament; not the other way around.