Thursday, December 15, 2005

Jim Harris Wakes Us Up on CBC's Your Turn

I've suddenly realised Christmas is only days away and if I don't get going, there'll be unwrapped presents come the 25th! So I've started ignoring the election, like every good Christmas-obsessed Canadian, but did happen upon the feature "Your Turn" last night on CBC's The National, where Jim Harris, leader of The Green Party, answered questions from the public and Peter Mansbridge.

It was fascinating. He speaks well, he doesn't have any of the presentation issues of Stephen Harper, he doesn't have the credibility issue of Paul Martin, and he sounds as passionate and knowledgeable of the issues as Jack Layton and the NDP. The newscast is still available on CBC Online probably until the first issue of tonight's The National, if you want to watch it.

I found myself agreeing with many of his policies and impressed with his background knowledge. I thought we need many of these policies implemented now because our health and our environment and our pocketbooks are suffering, and each year is worse. And I wondered why we think that only the Liberals and Conservatives can form a government, when they are not as forward thinking as Harris or even Layton. On what planet was it written in stone that we can never vote a party other than those two into power?

Harris hammered home the fact of the media shutout to the point Mansbridge got a bit testy, and then he did it again, but he also took advantage of this rare opportunity to speak to the public through the media and dispelled some myths and explained his party's policies well. (Studio 2 had an interview with him as well, which I caught the tail end of.)

Truths: The Green Party attracts people evenly from across the specturm of political affiliation. It will not have voluntary compliance, but will regulate and force the corporations to meet emission targets.

Policies: Some of his policies are creative, like adding the right to clean air, uncontaminated water, and uncontaminated soil to the Charter. Can you imagine the ramifications, not only on Canadian corporations and governments, but also on treaties with the U.S.? It's audacious. I think his tax policy is particularly good. Calling 10 cents on a litre of gasoline a childhood asthma tax is brilliant. Shifting the burden from the poorest to high-energy consuming and wealthy Canadians is compassionate and smart as a way to change our consumption habits and to create green collar jobs. He's right to bring up the fact that we have no wind industry, resulting in jobs going to Denmark, Germany, and the U.S. Why are there no companies creating manufacturing jobs in the green industry? And more importantly why are our governments doing nothing to little at best to stimulate those kinds of jobs?

It's too bad Harris won't be in the leaders' debates. He would challenge Harper and Martin in a way that would make Canadians start thinking, "yeah, why aren't they doing that?" And he'd remind us of things we've already forgetten but kill us every year, like the record number of smog days in Toronto this past summer.

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