Charlie Smith / Strait.com
The Broadbent Institute has been promoting progressive policies from its Ontario base since 2011, but tonight it will hold its inaugural event in Vancouver to launch its B.C. arm.
Special guests from New York City showcase winning strategies for democratic renewal
VANCOUVER—The Broadbent Institute today expands west with a B.C. launch as part of its commitment to build a progressive agenda right across the country.
VANCOUVER—The Broadbent Institute will be holding its British Columbia launch with one of New York City’s top organizers as a special guest and hosting a luncheon with a leading NYC civic engagement leader as part of the Institute’s inaugural events in BC. The Broadbent Institute is a national progressive policy and training organization dedicated to promoting democracy, equality and sustainability.
Edward McClelland / Salon.com
A few summers ago, I spent six weeks in Canada, as part of a 10,000-mile Great Lakes Circle tour. From Pigeon River on Lake Superior to Kingston on Lake Ontario, I drove and camped my way across Ontario. On Manitoulin Island, I went on a fishing charter captained by a retired nickel miner named Tom Power. The Nickel Belt is a stronghold of Canada’s most socialistic party, the New Democrats. When the conversation turned to politics (as it often did with Canadians during the George W. Bush years), Tom made a statement that would have tabbed him as a Marxist crank on the other side of the lakes.
Though Preston Manning likes to point out that the etymological root of “conservative” and “conservation” are the same, Canada’s right-wing political parties seem to be going out of their way these days to prove him wrong. In fact, wherever you look around the world, the alienation of conservatives from anything vaguely “green” is nearing completion.
Aaron Wherry / Maclean's
At one point last Saturday afternoon in the main ballroom of the Delta hotel in downtown Ottawa, epicentre for the Broadbent Institute’s first annual Progress Summit, Alex Himelfarb, a former clerk of the privy council and now co-editor of a book entitled Tax Is Not a Four-Letter Word, recalled being at a dinner party and wondering aloud about “how nice” it would be to have universal daycare in this country.
Broadbent Institute names Ms. Monk Honourary Board Member
OTTAWA—In recognition of her outstanding service as founding Executive Director and Senior Advisor, the Broadbent Institute is pleased to name Kathleen Monk as its first Honourary Board Member.
OTTAWA—The inaugural Progress Summit came to a close today with over 600 participants and more than 10,000 tweets. Over the course of this weekend, progressives from across Canada came together in Ottawa to learn from leading progressive policy experts and organizers.
Left and right-wing politicians have traditionally clashed over economic, social and environmental policy.
Now Ed Broadbent is adding democracy to the list of issues that differentiate so-called progressives from conservatives — at least in Canada.
The former NDP leader says the Harper government's proposed overhaul of national election laws has turned what used to be a shared value among all federal parties into another ideological battlefield.
"Whereas 10 years ago progressives had little or no need to defend our basic democratic values and institutions, today it is essential," Broadbent says in a speech prepared for the inaugural summit of the progressive think-tank founded in his name.
"The mis-named Fair Elections Act is nothing more than U.S. Republican-style voter suppression."
The speech is to be delivered Saturday morning to welcome participants at the Broadbent Institute's sold-out "progress summit."
Text of the speech was made available to The Canadian Press on Friday.
During his 24 years in Parliament, Broadbent says no prime minister ever attempted to rig election laws and undermine voter participation in the way he accused the Harper government of currently trying to do.
"Before Stephen Harper, changes in electoral institutions — the rules of the game — were always made on the basis of an all-party consensus ... He has acted unilaterally and undemocratically."
Broadbent, who worked in developing countries around the world as head of a non-partisan democratic and human rights advocacy group created by Parliament in the 1990s, says Canada used to be seen "as a model democracy."
"Now, as the prime minister promotes democracy in Ukraine, we have 19 serious scholars from half a dozen countries publicly denouncing him for repressing democracy at home."
Experts on democracy and elections, both at home and abroad, have been scathing in their criticism of the proposed overhaul of election laws. They fear it will disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters, muzzle the chief electoral officer and give a big advantage to the political party with the most money and biggest database — which happens to be Harper's Conservative party.
It would boost, both directly and indirectly, the amount of money parties can spend during campaigns. It would end the practice of vouching for voters without adequate identification. And it would forbid the elections watchdog from communicating with the public about anything other than mechanics of how, where and when to vote.
Thus far, the government has been undeterred by any of the criticism.
In addition to their fight to defend and strengthen Elections Canada, Broadbent says progressives are characterized by their belief that "prosperity needs to be broadly shared," that the gap between the very rich and everyone else must be closed.
They are also characterized by their belief that economic growth must go hand in hand with environmental sustainability.
"Progressives, indeed most Canadians, understand that environmental and economic priorities need to be reconciled and made mutually reinforcing," Broadbent says.
"And at some basic level the federal government has rejected this ever since Mr. Harper came to power eight years ago."