Pamela Chan, BCFamily.ca/Editorial
In their latest piece in the Daily Beast, Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein’s wrote about more than environmental issues. The framework of their argument can be applied to topics such as healthcare or – as discussed recently on BCFamily.ca – universal childcare. How can our involvement in community-based campaigns help to bring about much needed change at a municipal, provincial and federal level?
Do you feel frustrated in the intervening years between one federal election and another?
Do you feel like your voice, concerns and suggestions don’t matter?
Do you try to effect change but feel like you aren’t changing anything?
With the rising popularity of social media channels such as Twitter, there can be a tendency for the individuals to project their feedback and questions in the direction of high profile politicians and media personalities. Isn’t it time we think about interacting more with grass-roots, local, community organizations?
A possible pipeline through northern BC that pumps bitumen into ships that would travel through rough waters.
Developers chomping at the bit to start a project that would threaten the largest, most diverse old tree population in the Pacific Northwest. (Riverview Hospital)
High rates of child poverty in British Columbia.
Repeated stories about deaths of youth who are in government care.
The need for a universal childcare programme to support children and also parents who need/want to re-enter the workforce.
Unanswered questions about missing and murdered indigenous women, while many more remain at risk.
Our continued dependence on fossil fuels and the need to support the development of alternate energy sources.
Limited employment opportunities and hit and miss job stability for younger AND older workers.
The high cost of living in BC and growing economic inequality.
The list of possible issues is long. How can we communicate our community-based concerns and effect change while interacting with politicians and change agents?
Here’s some of what Lewis and Klein had to say:
“People power can stop big dirty projects and start small clean ones. But for a true transition—on the scale and with the urgency that climate science demands—we need policies. Big, bold, ambitious policies that can transform our economies on a deadline. And we need them at every level of government, from municipal to national to international.”
“Even electing progressive leaders won’t be enough. It will take a combination of electoral change and pressure (as well as vision) from below to disperse the smog of Big Carbon’s influence that shrouds our political systems.”
“And that means we need policies that will galvanize huge numbers of people—people who see direct benefits in advocating such transformative change. That’s the only way we will build the massive constituencies necessary to exert sufficient pressure on governments.”
“Health care, education, daycare, long-term care, the arts and public interest media are all low-carbon activities that need to be re-funded and revived after decades of neglect and endless cuts.”
“Granted, this is not the kind of platform that emerges from the narrow box of what mainstream politicians consider pragmatic. And that’s a good thing, because we don’t need more tweaks to a broken status quo. We need to expand what is possible, stretch our political imagination, speak to the deepest aspirations of citizens, and offer a truly inspiring vision of the kind of countries we want to live in.”
“The [Leap] manifesto has highlighted the inspiration gap between what is on offer in elections, and the deep change so many of us know is required in the face of multiple overlapping crises. It was a clear rejection of the shortcomings of a system that encourages us to wake up, vote, and go back to sleep. To wait for saviors.”
“We remember what happened when progressives de-mobilized after Obama was elected and we won’t make the same mistake. Instead, a huge and growing movement of Canadians is determined to give our young prime minister the best gift any new government can receive: relentless pressure from below.”
Readers left comments on a central Canadian newspaper labeling #LeapManifesto ideas as a “utopian wishlist written by a 7th grader” and that they belonged to “champagne socialists”. Really? I don’t know how things are rolling in the Toronto-Montréal corridor of power these days, but not many people in BC can afford to live a champagne lifestyle. Sure there are some wealthy activists living out in BC. But I can think for myself, thank you.
Four years between elections is a long time to be silent and there’s much work to be done here in British Columbia. I started with a fresh dialogue about universal childcare on the night that Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada were given a majority government. I haven’t had a lot of feedback and interaction yet, as I’ve been sharing my ideas, but I’ll keep going. Goodness knows the 10aDay plan people have been chipping away at this topic, day after day, in communities all over BC for years. Every effort to create dialogue builds momentum and, as Avi Lewis Naomi Klein wrote, applies pressure from below.
Where will you start? Or have you already begun?
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“This piece to me is about having the spirit of our ancestors behind us who give gentle strength, love and kindness to our families and communities. It’s about having the courage to change cultural norms such as indifference by creating new ways of living and being and returning back to a place where leadership is about responsibility to all living beings.” Angela Sterritt is an artist, writer, filmmaker and journalist from the Gitxsan Nation.
Main points of the Leap Manifesto. Click here to see a large version. Once you are on that page, click once more.
About the ’15 Demands’ Poster (English only) The Leap manifesto inspires Canadians to think about what’s beyond. There’s a world of possibilities ahead if we are brave enough. Heather Libby is a writer, designer and eternal optimist living in Vancouver with her two lovely cats and many pairs of shoes.