Respect, Cooperation, Consensus
I’m back in Provencher from Calagry with a well exercised brain and a warmed heart.
The second day of the SGM felt like an exercise in contrasts after Saturday’s hard work. The meeting was far behind schedule because of the complexity of the work on Saturday which left workshops and most of the other policy motions for Sunday.
After a bit of work getting ducks lined up people went off to various workshops of their choosing. The workshops craft the policy motions. Sometimes these motions are already fully prepared, at others, the motions may be being put together from scratch.
While I was very tempted to head to the workshop that was dealing with a package of Indigenous issues, I followed my first instinct to attend the workshop on Electoral Reform. Part of the draw was because I’m passionate about the subject but it was also because this was the only case of a ground-up construction of a policy and I was very interested to see how it worked.
It might sound odd that we had to have this workshop at all but the party only as a very broad policy that electoral reform should include some form of proportional representation. Clearly, with the work of the Electoral Reform Committee wrapped up, more definition was required. This provides people knocking on doors with some concrete information on policy and provides our MPs (Elizabeth May in this case) with direction on party policy.
We had only two hours to build a policy in a room of seventy people. Choosing a prop rep system to get behind is not easy; there are many different forms and variations of forms and there were a variety of opinions in the room. A survey of the room found that most people supported Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) while there was strong support for STV and some for Rural/Urban (which is less well understood).
In a remarkable show of solidarity, a number of supporters of other system, declared that in the interest of having a reliable policy in place they would be willing to move aside.
Remarkably, and only a few minutes late, we crafted a new and meaningful policy on Electoral Reform that included:
- Supporting MMP as the preferred system of PR with room to accept alternatives such as STV or Rural/Urban.
- Supporting a referendum if the referendum was only between proportional systems or the referendum were held after two elections under a proportional system
- Directing the party to create a task force to study public education on electoral reform.
Once done, we headed back to plenary for discussion of the various policy proposals from the workshops. Unlike Saturday, which had a lot of stress surrounding it, Sunday’s proposals were met mostly with consensus and, in some cases, unanimity. The plenary managed to get through most of the motions and wrapped up only about fifteen minutes late and passed policies on:
- Opposition to the Kinder Morgan and Enbridge Line 3 pipelines
- Support for implementing recommendations from the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples Report.
- Rebuilding and Recognition of Original Indigenous Nations.
- Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery
- Affirmation of the value of consensus based governance
- Affirmation of post meeting ratification of policies
- The electoral reform policies mentioned above.
The spirit of cooperation and respect in the room was palpable and was a great way to wrap up a hard working weekend.