Sunday, October 30, 2022

Canada’s Charter Challenge for Fair Voting and the Urgent Climate Clock

Even though I believe that Canada’s grassroots supported Charter Challenge for Fair Voting will not be able to improve our democracy fast enough to prevent Canada from inflicting a high degree of climate devastation I still strongly believe that it’s still necessary for the long term.

Regardless of whether or not there is a livable, or partially livable, climate future to look forward to, we still have to prepare for the possibility of there being a livable, or partially livable, future.

Let’s face it: There’s a strong possibility that it’s likely to be a badly damaged future with much suffering, many dead, and much sorrow. But even if we can’t save everything, we need to save as much as we can.

The New Normal: A Changed Eaarth

In 2010, Bill McKibben wrote a book entitled, Eaarth, Making a Life on a Tough New Planet. He points out that we have already set in motion the physical process that will change our “Earth” into “Eaarth,” a planet that is qualitatively different than the one we know now. The subtitle implies that we must make the best of life, given these circumstances. The back cover of the book reads as follows: “…our hope depends on building the kinds of societies and economies that can hunker down, concentrate on the essentials, and create the type of community that will allow us to weather trouble on a planet suddenly and violently out of balance.”

Here’s an excerpt from his last paragraph (p 212): “The momentum of the heating, and the momentum of the economy that powers it, can’t be turned off quickly enough to prevent hideous damage. But we will keep fighting, in the hope that we can limit that damage. And in the process, with many others fighting similar battles, we’ll help build the architecture for the world that comes next…”

Canada’s grassroots supported Charter Challenge for Fair Voting is an essential part of trying to build that “architecture”:

I believe that a better democracy will result in better climate policy. That’s why I’m involved in Canada’s grassroots supported Charter Challenge for Fair Voting.

Nevertheless, our court date of Sept 25, 2023 is not soon enough to change our undemocratic electoral system by the 2025 federal election.

How does that legal time frame fit with the urgent climate clock?

Regardless of how bad the physical effects of climate change that are set into unstoppable motion we must nevertheless also set into motion the legal proceedings that lead to a relatively better democracy that can improve or ameliorate the situation that that future brings.

Foresight and Hindsight: The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago:

Here’s an analogy: In Manitoba, a Red River Floodway, meant to divert excessive spring floodwaters around the city of Winnipeg, was started in 1962 and completed in 1968. Building it took years and was very expensive, but the demand for it finally became absolutely necessary when a flood of unprecedented proportions happened in 1997. It was three decades later that everyone was glad that it had been built.

Analogies are never perfect, but the story of the foresight and preparatory work of the Red River Floodway speaks to the story of the foresight and preparatory work of the Charter Challenge for Fair Voting:

It will take time to establish an improved democracy, but it’s likely that an increased demand for that improved democracy will likely become apparent by the physical effects of climate change in the next several years. It’s likely that an improved democracy will then speed up a government response to the suddenly increased demand for action on climate that is expected in the coming years.

Making  a Silent Majority into an Effective Majority

When I mention a “sped up” government response, I’m referring to this:

A critical mass of people who recognize the dangers of climate change is already forming today. But translating that critical mass of the public into government action is difficult with our current disproportional electoral system. That critical mass is not being proportionately represented in our governments. In other words, our disproportional electoral system continually transforms a majority voice for the environment into a silenced majority voice for the environment.

The dangers of such an electoral system are magnified by the urgency of the climate crisis.

With the future proportional representation of the people, then it’s likely that the govt’s habit of disproportionately listening to oil lobbyists will be improved, relatively speaking, from what it is now.

Of course we need a change in the Lobby Act, and many other necessary ingredients. But proportional representation is at least one of those necessary ingredients.

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