Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Co-operation is the key to successful politics

Can Canadian politicians of different parties work together for the common interest? I’m about to find out.
This weekend at the Green Party’s 2012 convention in Sidney, BC, we won’t just hear from our own Member of Parliament, Elizabeth May, and other green-themed presenters. Featured speakers also include sitting Liberal MP (and former leader) Stéphane Dion, and formerly NDP MP Bruce Hyer. Dion will be there to share his ideas on electoral reform, while Hyer shares his perspective as Parliament’s only current fully independent Member.
I believe it’s unprecedented for one party to feature MPs from two other parties to speak at their national convention. Could this spark a new era of nonpartisan politics, concentrating on what we have in common, rather than what divides?
Interestingly, May won’t be the only elected Green on the stage. Panelists include Green Party parliamentarians and senators from Finland, New Zealand, France, and England. Although May’s election last year was a first for Canada, it is not unusual around the world. Green members are elected to parliaments, and sit in governments, in many countries, including cabinet positions and even serving as premier and prime minister!
Meetings in Sidney will highlight the ongoing international cooperation which is integral to the global Green movement. In my own role on the Canadian Green Party’s shadow cabinet, I have been part of co-writing a joint statement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), a treaty currently being negotiated between trading nations around the Pacific Ocean. In consultation with elected Green senators in Australia and New Zealand, I have watched a consensus grow. A joint Australian-Canadian-New Zealand statement will be released soon, perhaps at this weekend’s convention, and we expect the Green Party of the United States to also sign on shortly.
Meanwhile, I’ve also been liaising with the office of Caroline Lucas, leader and first elected Green Party MP in the UK. The Green Party of England & Wales shares values with us, and we are monitoring the progress at Westminster of Lucas’ bills for land tax reform and landlord accreditation.
Meanwhile, back in cottage country, local representatives of the NDP, Liberal, and Green parties of Simcoe North have initiated meetings to see where they can find common cause on shared policy positions.
So if the summer “silly season” of Canadian politics, or the even sillier antics south of the border, make you feel politics must be divisive or combative, you can take heart. Here in Canada, we have some politicians cooperating across party lines and around the world to protect what we hold dear and forge a better future. It’s our mission, and we’ll keep at it even while most sensible Canadians are in summer vacation mode.
Published as my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner as "Co-operation integral to global green movement".
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of the Ontario School of Economic Science and Earthsharing Canada.

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