Monday, August 12, 2019

If Not Now, Then When. Canada Needs a Progressive Restoration. It's Time for the Liberals to Stop Standing in the Way.

This would be a hectic time for progressives in government, if only there were any around.

If you don't know what a progressive is, here's just one telltale that can help you out. Progressives are long-range thinkers. They're all about vision of what can be and what should be.  They're about making the country strong so that its people can make it an even better country for generations to come.

You can't build a country fit for progressive society if you don't look up. There's no place for progressive politics in governance meted out from one election cycle to the next election cycle. Progressivism is a long-range business aimed at improving society, making the nation a better home for its people.

Canada hasn't had progressive government for quite a while. In 2015 there were signs that our parliamentary drought might be over. There was no end of talk about social licence, First Nations reconciliation, climate change and, coming off a brutal decade of Harper's excesses, electoral reform to ensure that could never happen again.

Justin got elected to a hefty 'false majority' and then wasted little time in abandoning campaign promises - the progressive stuff.  Neoliberal policy, thoroughly antithetical to progressivism, would prevail - and it did.  There would be no grand vision, not great quest beyond perpetual exponential growth.

When are we going to bring Canada 2060 or Canada 2080 or Canada 2100 back into public policy and planning? When will we stop ignoring those generations and prepare for them a place at our cabinet table?

I realize it will be immensely difficult to accommodate the needs of future generations in today's planning after we have neglected them for so long. The past twenty or thirty years have been sterile ground for progressivism.

Yesterday I wrote of the wisdom of Edmund Burke, Theodore Roosevelt, the Iroquois Confederacy and advocates such as Bill Moyers.

How does your government today stack up against the Iroquois?
...a principle called ‘Seventh Generation’ stewardship, defined by the leaders of the Native American Iroquois Confederacy many centuries ago. “Every decision they took had to keep in mind seven generations hence.”
Do you imagine a Conservative or a Liberal prime minister in Canada today would shape policies by the needs of Canadians seven generations hence?  I wrote the following in 2009:
Posterity doesn't fit into our economic model of production and consumption because it creates a fetter on both. We have lost our understanding of the importance of posterity to our society, to our country. We no longer plan today for generations to come far in the future. We no longer look much beyond the next electoral cycle. 
Protecting posterity is an act of collective consciousness and will. It is acknowledging that we're entitled to our fair share and no more. We can't have it all without depriving future generations of their fair share.
The Norse understand the fair share principle. That's why they put their North Sea oil wealth in a sovereign wealth fund in recognition that this money belongs as much to future generations as the current bunch. It's just the opposite of what we do in Canada.

The Precautionary Principle, is thoroughly progressive. It is also the law of Canada but you would never know it from a government that routinely ignores it.
The precautionary principle or precautionary approach states if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is [not] harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action. ...The principle implies that there is a social responsibility to protect the public from exposure to harm, when scientific investigation has found a plausible risk. These protections can be relaxed only if further scientific findings emerge that provide sound evidence that no harm will result."

In 2015, the Federal Court of Canada upheld the precautionary principle as part of the substantive law of our country. The Supreme Court of Canada has also applied the precautionary principle. Whether Trudeau likes it or not, it's the law and it sets the test he and this pipeline project must meet. 


the salamander said...

.. outstanding post mr Mound ..
The links are priceless too.. !

At many times I look at such posts
(see Pierre Berton & Marshall McLuhan smile)
and wonder if they are becoming a book
or a chronology of an environmental scientist
.. (that would be you) ..
or a salmon biologist a la Ms Alicia Morton
or an Andrew Derocher of the polar bears

Perhaps you're the Patrick Watson of Indy blogging
and The Tyee has not quite figured you out ..

The Mound of Sound said...

Patrick Watson, there was a journo. I remember him best for his series on democracy and what it meant to different people in different lands, how remarkably consistent it could be while, at the same time, profoundly different largely due to cultural factors. He was my inspiration when I got a chance to play journo. From him I learned how to go after the real story, the story behind the story, which often meant just asking a few more questions. That, in turn, served me well later as a litigator.

I have tried without success to source a copy of Watson's series on democracy. No luck so far. Watson's series on democracy and Bill Moyer's series on posterity deserve to be aired again. We could use a refresher. I sure could.

Hugh said...

Hi Mound, I wondered what you thought of this recent CBC article:

There is desperation to have the world economy grow.

Central banks are attempting to stimulate the economy by lowering interest rates below zero.

This is nuts. So I would lend someone money, and then I'd pay them the interest, instead of them paying me. WTF?

Something wrong with this picture.