Past Actions of RODC

Halton Fair Vote Luncheon Notes by Tina

On Saturday November 23rd several RODC members attended a social gathering organized by Fair Vote Canada, Halton Chapter.  The event was held at Nino Panino on Kerr Street.  Guests were able to choose from an extensive menu of pizzas and bruschettas and were treated to cheesecake and warm drinks.  These were most welcome  as most of the guests had previously braved the cold wind to march with Zonta in the Women on the Bridge event. (See below)

There was much opportunity for socializing and Dan Griffin, president of Halton Fair Vote, led a discussion on how to educate election candidates from all parties on the need for commitment to electoral reform.

Over light refreshments, the group discussed electoral reform and the need to have legislatures better “map” to voter intent. 
Violence Against Women Day: Zonta, WHAM, Savis notes byTina who was there.

On Saturday November 23, many members of RODC
joined Members of the Zonta Club of Oakville “on the bridge” to bring awareness to violence against women.
The Women On The Bridge event was part of  “Zonta Says NO”, a Zonta International campaign to raise awareness of, and increase actions to end violence against women and girls globally, on the UN’s International Day for The Elimination of Violence Against Women. 

It was a cold and blustery November day when about 60 people, including men, women and some pre-teens, arrived on the Oakville Harbour bridge, well wrapped up against the cold and sporting orange coats, vests and scarves and waving orange signs. They marched across the bridge and at 1 p.m., they gathered in front of the Central Library to hear speeches from local councillor Max Kahn and from Liana Palmerio-McIvor, the president elect of Zonta Oakville. 
Common Causes Teach In:  Notes
     Pros and Cons-Policies for People and the Planet
            The Common Causes Teach-In in Calgary

On Friday Common Causes very successfully organized “Pros and Cons” a Counter Convention Teach-In in Calgary, while the Conservative Party policy convention was in progress down the road. It was simultaneously live streamed and several of us were able to watch it.
 It was quite an event
The Master of Ceremonies was Bill Phipps a broadcaster, preacher and activist with the United Church.  He made an excellent, fiery speech to set the tone.
He was followed by a First Nations elder who mumbled unintelligibly but was treated with great deference.
Afterwards a mother and daughter team sang songs to welcome attendees to the territory of Treaty 7.  They enjoyed performing and did not want to leave the stage.
The first speaker was Maude Barlow founder of Council of Canadians, who delivered a passionate, articulate and well-argued speech in a flat, dead pan voice, throwing away her own great lines.
Then came Jim Stanford, ex CAW economist and now with Unifor. He gave a wonderful presentation debunking the claims for Conservative successes, called IDTS
(I Don’t Think So.) We should get hold of this presentation if possible.  It has excellent statistical information and is short and punchy.  So, are the Conservatives doing great things for Canada’s economy? IDFTS!
Crystal Lameman spoke next for aboriginal people. Her tone was subdued, romantic and quite dramatic.  She asked, "Can you drink your oil?  Can you eat your money?” And she thanked Prime Minister Harper for “bringing together every piece of a perfect solidarity puzzle”.
Andrew Nikiforuk, who has been a hard-nosed critic of governments for thirty years, asked, "What has happened to Canada?" We are now known worldwide as a greedy petro-state.  Oil revenue strengthens authoritarian regimes. Is this the legacy we want for our children? We now have an office of religious freedom but no chief science advisor.
We need creative resistance in order to bring Canada back to civility and restraint.
Paul Moist of CUPE was fiery about the Conservative attack on workers and unions.  We cannot tax cut our way to greatness.  Canada was famed for compassion, towards children, seniors and the vulnerable. It’s a challenge.  We have to fight hard to win back our country.
Brigette du Pape ex Government page, was not a fluent speaker but very sincere.  She now works at “Shit Harper Did”.  She described feeling very alone when she stood up during the Throne Speech with her “STOP Harper” sign.
She pointed out that we are taught to obey but when an unjust government is going against the will of the people, it is our responsibility to stand up and speak out to change the direction of this country.
Jean Lortie, Quebec lawyer and president of the Syndicat du Commerce, gave a wonderful speech against what he described as a “brutal well- coordinated and massive attack.” His image of slicing a salami, thin slice by thin slice until nothing is left resonated with the audience.   There will be a social forum in Ottawa August 21-24. He urged us to fight for decency and a country that’s good to be living in.
Angela Bercier read greetings from Teresa Spence, who was unable to attend as several people had gone missing from Attawapiskat.  Her message was, "we must all stand together."
Michael Harris, a documentary filmmaker, spoke of the politics of personal destruction. This will be a street-by-street, hand to hand combat.  The past auditor general, Sheila Fraser, told him in an interview that Canada has suffered a coup.  He pointed out that at the PMO “there is no inner circle, just a dot.”
Quoting Robert Frost he said, “Use neither fire nor ice – love and justice is where we should be going.”
Finally David Suzuki spoke off the cuff, as he said everyone else had stolen his speech.  He said that he is in the Death Lane now and free to speak out without fear of reprisals.  He urged retired energy, trade and transportation executives to do the same. In the 1960s the US had been overtaken by Russia in technology and the Space race.  They decided, “We can win the science war” and threw all their energy into doing so.  Now we have to commit to winning the war against ecological damage.

Everyone was invited to a Rally in downtown Calgary called “Crash the Party” at 11.30 on Saturday morning. It was cold and snowy but the electronic STOP FIPA sign paid for by Lead Now was impressive.


Elizabeth May Hart House - Save Democracy Tour

October 10, 2013

Notes by Carol and Tina

Leader of the Green Party Elizabeth May spoke at a Town Hall at Hart House in the University of Toronto, as part of her cross-country tour called “save democracy from politics”

The event was co-hosted by the Toronto Centre Green party, gearing up for what promises to be an interesting By-Election and by Fair Vote Canada.

The Debates Room was packed and Ms May received a standing ovation before she had even opened her mouth to speak..
Before she became leader of the Green Party Elizabeth May was executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada and was invited to become a senior policy advisor for the PC Minister of the Environment under Brian Mulroney. This allowed her to experience the Westminster Parliamentary system at a time when parties consulted and collaborated to improve legislation. Sadly, the power of the Prime Ministers office has since grown like a cancer and now controls every spoken and word and deed among members of parliament from the main political parties. Every single decision is now being made in the PMO, an office that used to consist of two or three secretaries, a file clerk and perhaps a receptionist. It was enlarged by Premier Trudeau, to coordinate public statements by his Ministers, in order to make the best possible use of radio and TV. Every Prime Minister since then has extended the powers of the office. 

The parliamentary system has become so dysfunctional it's hard to call it a democracy at all. Evidence based decision making is now “decision based evidence making.”

In the last election - 7,000,000 voters cast that ballots did not count i.e.: no one they voted for was elected.

40% of eligible voters did not vote. If they had, and all voted for one party, they could have determined the Prime Minister.

The Conservative Party, which received 39% of the vote, has taken 100% of the power.

Ms May had the audience repeat aloud, “There is no such thing as The Harper Government.” She pointed out that it is still the Government of Canada.

The 2013 omnibus budget was entirely propaganda. There was no fiscal information for decision- making. There was no budget in the Budget.

She says of political parties " Kill them All" and let voters elect the MP who best represents their goals and values to run our government.

There's has been a systematic dismantling of Westminster Parliamentary democracy - without a shot being fired we seem to be anesthetized like frogs in water that's brought to a slow boil and "distracted by consumer culture".
During the Q and A period Ms May said that the Green Party passed a resolution in 2012 that the leader of the party seek alliance with any other opposition party that will pledge/ work to get rid of First Past the Post electoral system.

Kelly Carmichael, the brand new Executive Director of Fair Vote Canada, introduced a Politicians Pledge, asking prospective candidates to commit to this. Ms May signed it on the spot.

One questioner said - under Section 10 of the Charter, every citizen is entitled to equal representation and suggested the Green Party and Fair Vote do some crowd sourcing/fund raising to make a Charter challenge.

Ms May listed ways "taxpayers” pay for democracy, 1) $2.00 per vote, 2) percentage of campaign expenses reimbursed to winner of election, 3) donation reimbursement on income taxes.

This is an example of social inequality – in that the maximum donation tax rebate that well-to-do individuals can get back is grossly unequal, especially since previously each citizen was able to donate $2.00 by their vote -until that was repealed by the Conservative Government. (Someone should do the math on that one and publicize it)

Harper has maintained no foundational roots with the Reform OR the PC party (which of course he was never a part of). Ms May believes that Harper "hates" the environment – because it “gets in the way”. He has been very active on the Environment, largely by dismantling all legislation designed to protect it.
E- mails and letters are not especially effective; they just go into the Conservative data bank, indicating which issues are of public interest.

Elizabeth says at most MP's are "lovely" public- spirited people who didn't know what they were signing up for with Harper's control.
We need more MP's to walk across the floor like Brent Rathgeber, who became an Independent after his Private Member’s Bill was completely gutted by the PMO.

Find your mp in a casual situation and speak to him/ her.

Ms May suggested saying sympathetically to a Conservative MP " I don't know how you stand it day to day, being told what to think."

Canada is on the verge of signing a 31-year trade deal that will give Chinese companies new powers over Canadian economic and environmental policy, as well as our right to speak out about them.

Tell your local Conservative MP you oppose plans to sign the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement without debate in the House of Commons, examination by a legislative committee or provincial governments.

Proportional Representation- among countries using the Westminster parliamentary system, Australia has it for election of the Senate and New Zealand adopted it for Parliament, after a Royal Commission and referendum. After 10 years there was a second referendum on whether or not to continue with PR and the vote was wholeheartedly in favour.

A Royal Commission is much more democratic than a Citizens' Assembly, since it travels around the country hearing local delegations and is widely covered by the media.

A Citizens Assembly is an isolated event that no one except the participants knows about or understands.
To a question about whether environmental assessment would help to stop jets at the Island Airport in Toronto, Ms May responded that there is no longer any Federal environmental assessment law. She could not speak for the Province or the Municipality.

Write letters to the editor - 300-400 words. See Andrew Coyne's article in the National Post on partisanship.
To defend good positions adopt and go on a column or website once a day and comment.

Be a media critic and call to complain if there's something in an article that's wrong or missing. One reason democracy is in danger is because our media is corporate controlled.
In the last election there were more people who didn't vote than did vote for Conservative candidates in their riding. Avoid toxic messages. Give people 

ONE thing to vote FOR i.e.: a reason to vote. Ms May noted that whenever there's a Green candidate who has a chance, the voter turn out goes up. - To receive her newsletter and start helping spread messages. - An honest place where people can go to learn and comment.
RODC Rallies for Health
RODC Members at the Rally

Notes by Tina Agrell

On July 25th 2013 members of RODC joined the newly formed umbrella group Common Causes to rally in Niagara on the Lake Ontario, outside Queens Landing, the elegant venue where the provincial premiers were holding their semi-annual conference.

12 members of RODC (Tina Agrell, Susan Berry, Donna Chevrier, Elka Enola, Rosemarie Green, Tessa House, Daniela and Hart Janssen, Bev Lefrancois, Nick Spohr, Esther and John Wieler) traveled to Niagara on the Lake  on a glorious summer day and joined with approximately 1000 people in the park near St Marks Anglican church.

The main focus of the two-day Shadow Summit and Rally was to bring attention to the fact that the Canada Health Accord will come to an end in 2014, and there are currently no plans to renew it. 36 billion dollars in federal funding available to provinces will either disappear, or could be used for other purposes. 

Unions for those working in hospitals, long-term care facilities and in home-care (including the Ontario Nurses Association and Service Employees International Union,) were very well represented by their energetic union members.  They were stoutly supported by CAW (Canadian Auto Workers), CUPE  (Canadian Union of Public employees) and United Steelworkers as well as Solidarite and unions from Quebec and Alberta. 

The proceedings kicked off with music from a wonderful guitarist and folk singer from the Federation of Labour, There were stirring speeches from union leaders, including Ken Lewenza of the CAW.  Wendell Potter, a former health insurance company executive from the United States, spoke eloquently about what happens when Medicare  becomes privatized, describing a State Fair at which local doctors and nurses offered free care and were inundated with thousands of patients, who had to be treated in barns and cattle stalls. 

There was a mock trial, at which Steven Harper and Jim Flaherty were found guilty on all charges and a couple of clowns frolicked, representing members of the Senate.

Maude Barlow, Chair of the Council of Canadians, spoke briefly and rather hoarsely, after two days of discussion and debate. The Ontario Nurses Association led us in practice chants before the march set off through back streets to Queens Landing.  Police and Security guards looked on bemused while the crowd chanted and speakers spoke. 

RODC members met up with many old friends among the crowd. A beautiful wooden Trojan Horse was pulled up outside the gates of Queens Landing and acted as a focal point for the rally.  Then suddenly we all dispersed and ralliers were free to go back to the buses that had brought them from Hamilton, Windsor, Toronto, Montreal and elsewhere, or to explore beautiful downtown Niagara on the Lake.

Amid the flowers on the main street, visiting tourists, especially Americans, stopped ralliers to ask what it was all about.

The RODC signs were much photographed, our “Bullying Government” pamphlet was very well received and was actually quoted by one of the speakers.  Various television news cameramen took pictures. 

Was the rally a success?  Who can say?  In terms of attendance, it was not bad but not great.  In terms of organization – it started very well but fizzled somewhat – no climax, so to speak.  The weather and the venue were idyllic.

Will the Health Care Accord be renewed, or rise in a new form like a phoenix from the ashes? It is too early to tell.

Were RODC members invigorated by their participation in the action?  Most certainly, yes. It was good to find that we are not alone in opposing the bully tactics of the federal government and in urging the provincial premiers to forget their differences and form a united front to protect Canadians from the erosion of our democracy.

Read the report on CARP's web site .

Niagara Advance reports 2500 at rally.
Wrestling With Democracy
Notes by Tina Agrell

On June 18th several members of RODC attended a talk organized by Fair Vote Canada. Dr Dennis Pilon, associate professor of political science at York University, spoke about his new book “Wrestling With Democracy: Voting Systems as Politics in the 20th Century West ”. University of Toronto Press Apr. 2013 $37.95

Dr Pilon began by noting that journalist Martin Regg Cohn in the Toronto Star had complained that the campaign to change to a ranked ballot in municipal elections was undemocratic with measures being foisted on voters without their say. Regg Cohn opined that any voting system reform required a referendum, the way it had always been done.

Dr. Pilon argued that in fact this is absolutely untrue. Toronto has never had a referendum on voting systems. In fact this has only ever been done once, for US municipal elections.

He also suggested that in this case a referendum would not be democratic, since most voters would have no idea what the question meant.

1.What is Democracy?

Many people believe that the western world has moved steadily towards democracy in a series of steps, including the Magna Carta and the American Revolution and the Broadening of the Franchise to include more citizens.

But the Magna Carta just took power away from the monarch and gave it to rich landowners. The American Revolution just separated that country from rule by the English crown. Only rich white men were allowed to vote. The broader franchise was not democratic because the ruling executive was not answerable to the people’s elected representatives.

Historically rich land owners and businessmen have sought to hold all the power and make all the decisions for the state. The Industrial Revolution caused a mass migration from rural to urban living and the improved communication between people led to pressures for more rights. The process evolved; there was never a moment when a formal decision was made on how to share power. The Father of Canadian Federation, Sir John A. McDonald was a fierce proponent of Constitutional Liberty (the protection of the rich minority.) As the masses pressed for more say in government, the resisters tried to shape the process to protect their own interests.

The minimum requirements for Democracy are:

An executive that is accountable to the elected legislature

A mass franchise

Lack of corruption.

2.When did we achieve Democracy?

Not until 1925 in the western world. Before this, many countries had responsible government but a very narrow franchise (male landowners only.)

Before this, many rigid governing institutions were formed that are still in use 100 years later.

Any steps towards a greater say in decision making for citizens were forced concessions, made under duress. They were not logical steps towards an ideal of democracy.

We never had the system we want; only what we could get.

World War 1 was a catalyst. Disastrous decisions made the ruling elite look bad and the underprivileged were mobilized. After the Winnipeg General Strike in 1919 the Canadian

Government was grudgingly compelled to appeal to “The Reasonable Labour Man.” However, as soon as the crisis had passed, in many countries democratic reforms died away and were often replaced by Fascist dictatorships.

We have to ask: what will Democracy do? For whom will it do it? Who might it hurt?

There have been 4 identifiable eras of Voting System reform.

1. The Conservative Era 1900- 1914

At this time the ruling elite was the conservative landed gentry but they began to be threatened by successful businessmen, liberal traders and manufacturers, who sought to protect their newly acquired wealth. Proportional representation was briefly introduced to the masses by the conservative elite, in an attempt to divide and weaken the opposition.

2. World War 1 1915 – 1925

The war produced death, injury, food shortages, decline of industry and hardship and as a result the landed gentry were very unpopular. In Europe the Socialists were close to seizing power or promoting a civil war. Again PR was introduced as a way to “resist the Socialist onslaught.” The conservative elite was convinced that once in power, socialists would seek to enrich themselves. However, between the World Wars this did not happen. Instead there was a tendency towards compromise and collaboration.

3. Cold War Era 1945-1960

Communism and International Socialism were perceived as extremely dangerous threats. In Europe PR was once again introduced as a way to diffuse this threat.

4. Neo-Liberal Era 1985-Present

A battle between Left and Right ideologies. The Conservative elite opposed the social reforms promoted by the Left, such as pensions and healthcare. The left could not make the economic reforms urgently needed by the Right.

Sometimes voting system reform became a way to break up coalitions between parties.

40% of the vote wins a majority and allows policy changes to be rammed through Parliament. We have had 10 voting system reforms in Canada. The Single Transferable Vote was used in Winnipeg until 1972; the Alternative Vote has been used in Alberta and B.C.

A motivating force has been class, with workers’ and farmers’ parties holding sway at times. In the 1960’s and 70’s more reforms were brought about by the threat of Quebec Separatism. In the 1990’s there was pressure from the multicultural citizenship to change the preponderance of white males in the Legislature.

In the early 2000’s the perception grew of a Democratic Deficit. 4 referenda were held across the country to vote on the introduction of Proportional Representation. They all failed. In part this was because the ruling elite and the media took care not to educate voters with informed discussion on the question. PR was promoted at the level of values, such as fairness. But this is not how the real world works.

Recently there has been a decline in voter turnout, because members of the working class do not feel entitled and so withdraw themselves from the franchise. Because they do not vote, their needs are not addressed. There is little reason for the political elite to reform.

So how do we gain traction and bring about reform?

Dr Pilon argued that none of us makes history simply by our own efforts. We have to work together and “gum up the works” by our combined

On Thursday June 6th the Oakville NDP Riding Association hosted Trish Hennessy, Director, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Income Inequality Project. 

Notes by Tina Agrell

Trish spoke about Inequality in Ontario .

She began by asking, what happened to the undertaking to reduce child poverty by 25% in 5 years? It started off well, but the time will be up next year and government austerity measures have effectively stalled it.
Austerity measures have created a 3% drag on GDP in Ontario. 

Compared with 2008:

Long term unemployment is higher now.

The employment rate is lower.

Involuntary part-time employment is higher.

Youth unemployent is much worse (twice the overall unemployment rate).

Today’s buzz words are:



Work force optimization,

Wage freeze,

End to job security.

Relying on consumer spending and increased household debt is a “Jesus take the Wheel” approach. Shouldn’t we all be taking the wheel?

It is time for a “grown up” conversation on alternative ways to raise revenue.

We have to get over our tax phobia if we are to pay for the services we care about.

We could raise the marginal tax rate by 1% across the board.

We could raise sales tax, on big items like gas.

We could raise the HST by 1%.

We could raise corporate tax by 1% - and we’d still be well below US and European rates, so there’d still be an incentive to companies to stay and jobs would not be lost.

1% increases do have a disproportionate effect on those on ODSB and Ontario Works. It should be possible to build a firewall (exemptions) to protect these vulnerable groups.

Currently we are losing $17 billion annually in tax cuts.

An “Evironics” poll found Canadians said they feel good when:

they volunteer, when they perform an act of kindness and when they pay taxes.

In Canada we have only had a middle class for three generations. Are we going to allow it to die? We need alternative revenue streams to pay for services.

We need a conversation with a politician who gives us chills down the spine because they tell us what we could achieve together.

Ontarians are hungry for cooperation.

Under the present minority government in Ontario we have a golden opportunity for grown up conversation on how we can all “give a little” for the common good.

There followed an excellent and wide ranging question and answer session. Trish referred some questioners to the CCPA website

Trish Hennessy and High Mackenzie recently (May 22nd) wrote an article in the Toronto Star on this topic.

Perhaps they will make a presentation to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne?

Get Up, Stand Up

Report by Tina Agrell
An all-day conference organized by the CBC in conjunction with the Globe and Mail, as a fundraiser for Frontier College (promoting adult literacy) and Toronto Public Library (the largest city library system in the world.)

On a glorious Saturday, RODC members and 400 others gathered in Convocation Hall University of Toronto to hear six activist speakers, who all stand up for Democracy - with moderators Carol Off of CBC Radio’s “As It Happens” and Gillian Findlay of CBC TV’s “5th estate” to try to control proceedings and also to record the Q&A sessions for CBC.

We began with Micah White, deputy editor of Adbusters magazine and instigator in chief of the Occupy Movement. He filled the vast hall with his energy and enthusiasm. He felt that the Occupy movement was a tactic rather than a long-term strategy but that it taught us a lot about what works and does not in “meme warfare” or helping a revolutionary idea go viral and the consequences of horizontal (leaderless) activism.
Then came Chris Hedges, former pastor and journalist, foreign correspondent for the New York Times, who quit after a formal reprimand for denouncing the US invasion of Iraq. He disturbed many in the audience by describing criminal acts by the Obama administration. He spoke with revolutionary fervour about the need to stand up to authority and not be prevented from taking action.

Margaret Atwood, 74-year-old poet, playwright novelist and Canadian icon, was at her wicked best, telling jokes and refusing to cooperate with anyone. She urged audience members to look at the website “Shit Harper Did” and donate money, towards a TV ad to be shown during the NHL Playoffs .

Shawn A-in-Chut Atleo, National Chief Assembly of First Nations, spoke from the heart about the needs of First Nations people across Canada and the importance of “being seen” at last by those in power.

RODC members gathered to picnic in the sunshine and discuss the ideas in the green heart of U of T.

In the afternoon Wade Davies, National Geographic explorer-in-residence and citizen and lover of the far north, showed wonderful pictures of the glorious wilderness few Canadians have never seen and spoke of the imminent threat of their desecration and destruction by mines and pipelines, of the Sacred Headwaters of the Stikine, Skeena and Nass Rivers.

Finally John Raulston Saul, philosopher and President of International PEN spoke about giving abused, marginalized, disenfranchised people everywhere a voice. 

John Ralston Saul Notes by Pat Froio:
- We have the right to oppose power 
· 2008 legalized fraud: banks more important than people 
· Gov't paid for banks gov't in debt (That means we the citizens are in debt.) 
· AUSTERITY: Not one example that austerity can get us out of trouble 
· History of money: If you believe it exists then you believe in leprechauns. 
· Money is a relationship between parties. 
· We have an unconscious civilization. 
· Neo conservative is a Bolshovic idea and has taken over the conservative party 
· So much money has been wasted there is no possibility of growth. 
· Feels like 1914 signs are here. 
· Rating agencies are people looking for jobs not experts 
· We need to have a conversation with our politicians about our Canada 
· Paying our taxes gives us that right. 
· We need to change behaviour.

Judging by the questions from the audience and the shared appreciation of the speakers’ remarks, there is a growing perception in Canada that we must “Get Up, Stand Up” if we are to Reclaim Our Democratic Canada.

Margaret Atwood’s joke.

So there’s this Canadian who wants to go ice fishing. He walks out on the ice and starts chipping away to make a hole. Suddenly a deep voice from above says, ”There Are No Fish There.” The Canadian looks around, sees no one -, shrugs and moves twenty yards further on. He begins chipping away at the ice. The deep voice booms, “There Are No Fish There”. The Canadian picks up his tools and moves again. He begins to make a new hole. The deep voice says “And THERE ARE NO FISH THERE!”

The man looks up. “God, how do you know there are no fish here?

Comes the answer, “Because I am the manager of this hockey rink”.

From this we can learn four things. There is still ice. There are still fish. There is still hockey. And if someone talks loudly and bossily enough, a Canadian will think it is God.
               RODC 2012 Year End Report to Supporters
Sent out December 19, 2012

We at Reclaim Our Democratic Canada wish you a Happy Holiday Season and we hope for success in our work for real Democracy in Canada in the New Year.

This is our End of the Year report. Please check out our Symposium site and read the material that we have posted there. We will get back to you in January with our plans for next year.

While our big event of the year was the Symposium on November 24, we did mount other campaigns and organized demonstrations during the year.

Our campaign to find common ground on Bill C-10 began in 2011, but it carried on in 2012 until the so-called Safe Streets and Communities bill was passed. Details of the campaign are here

On June 22nd we celebrated RODCs 3rd birthday at the condo of Bev LeFrancois with music and a large cake.

On June 2, we had been supporting Leadnow in its efforts to stop the omnibus budget bill that incorporated several changes to our environmental protection among a lot of other things. RODC organized a rally in Towne Square in Oakville in double quick time with speakers from political parties and social groups including RODC.

On Wednesday, June 13th at 5:30 pm local time, while our MPs gathered in Ottawa for a decisive showdown in Parliament, we joined Canadians across Canada to call for 13 “hero” Conservative MPs to work together and stop the Bill, split it, and start over.  We demonstrated outside our MP’s office and on the street to draw attention to the anti-democratic nature of this bill.

To see slide shows of these two outdoor demonstrations, go to our web site

On Wednesday evening, June 20, 2012,  Reclaim Our Democratic Canada, Advancement of Women Halton and Fair Vote Canada sponsored a public showing of the film Menocracy by Gretchen Kelbaugh.  A lively discussion followed with our notes available on our Campaigns page

On September 26th, Clare and Tina spoke on democracy in Canada to a class of Humber College students in Orangeville.

On October 22nd, members of RODC joined a rally outside MPP Kevin Flynn’s office against Bill 115, which denies teachers the right to strike.

On November 1, members of RODC  joined a rally in Oakville Town Square supporting Bill C-398 (CAMR).

Symposium 2012 

Of the symposium Lawrence Martin says, I very much enjoyed it. It was a great, well-informed group you had there and congratulations for pulling it together and making the symposium work.

Bonnie Brown, the reigning expert on how parliamentary democracy works says, Congratulations on such a successful day.  Her speech and workshop contributed to our understanding of parliamentary procedures.

Thanks so much for including me in yesterday's symposium. I thoroughly enjoyed the other speakers' presentations, it was a treat to see Lawrence Martin in action, and I was tremendously impressed by the RODC group itself. Very heartening to see so many engaged, smart people giving up a Saturday to talk about the health and vibrancy of their own democracy. Well done! –Trish Hennessy

RODC is supporting a campaign to build “One Big Campaign” bringing together the social action groups across the country. One of the speakers at our symposium was Nick Fillmore, the leading light of this optimistic approach, who says that A new campaign urging Canadian social activist groups to work together under one massive umbrella to take on the Harper regime and his right-wing supporters is being born! 

To see photos of the speakers and the Symposium Committee, check out our web site.   The Symposium Committee has met to analyse the material from the day, and in January the committee will present its proposals for action to the Steering Committee and to the Committee of the Whole.  After that, the action report on the symposium will be published on this site. Right now there is a huge amount of material for you to read.

RODC has had an eventful year. Our hope has been that the actions by groups like ours would have an impact on the Harper government and would lead to a greater respect for our parliamentary democracy.  The second omnibus bill underlined the on-going need for further action to educate Canadians about the undemocratic nature of this administration before the election in 2015.

We have this year continued alliances with Leadnow, VOICES, Fair Vote and local social action groups.

There will be more to come in 2013 as the recommendations from the Symposium are developed into an action plan.

Clare Henderson for the Steering Committee
Reclaim Our Democratic Canada

2012 January
 RODC Monthly Report to Supporters 

The year end report of December 16  detailed the many activities of RODC in 2011.  A month has passed and there are some new directions to report.

Web Site Changes: The initial document created by RODC took up all the pages of our site, so a new organization of the site was necessary to reflect our new directions.  The Page called “Concerns for Democracy” links to that material.  Nothing has been lost.
     However, we have created a page for the four new committees, which are focussing on actions designed to achieve our goals as set out in our Strategic Plan, and we continue to oppose the Crime Bill energetically in co-operation with our Partners.

Goals: Although our Strategic Action Plan has not been finalized, we have two overarching goals: first, to elect a truly democratic government in 2015, and second to change the voting system in Canada.

Sub-Committees: In addition to our already existing Steering Committee and Committee of the Whole, there are these four:

Electoral Reform Committee: RODC has formed an alliance with Fair Vote Canada to work towards one of our key long term goals, electoral reform. At the monthly meeting of our members, we had a presentation by Dan Griffin, Chair of the Halton Fair Vote chapter.

Media and Public Relations: The media team will create resources for the group and has been set up to respond to eventualities quickly.

Ad Hoc Action Team: In co-operation with our Partners, we continue to energetically oppose the Omnibus Crime Bill, which is now in the hands of the Senate. 

Symposium 2012: RODC plans to work with its affiliates to hold a symposium on aspects of democracy in Canada.  
     The concept is to hold face to face meetings at a venue in Oakville, Ontario, but also  a goal is to Livestream key speeches so that our Supporters from across the country who cannot attend can participate in the knowledge created by the symposium and be motivated to organize and carry out local actions.

Twitter: Please follow us on Twitter @reclaimcanada

2011 Year End Report

RODC has been very active this year 
· arranging for public meetings, 
· being more overtly active by demonstrating publicly, 
· joining other groups in demonstrating, and finally in 
· forming coalitions with several groups: Leadnow, Voices, Occupy Toronto, Fair Vote Canada. By forming such coalitions, we hope to multiply our effect in reclaiming true democracy and effecting real change in Canada.

To read the whole report, which was sent to all our Supporters across Canada, click here.

Crime Bill: Demonstrations and  Actions

RODC formed a coalition with with to promote demonstrations against the Crime Bill on November 24 and 25.  

Here are some results.

David Lea Reports for the Oakville Beaver


To Jamie of Leadnow
From Elka of RODC

Regarding the Gathering and the Day of Action in Oakville, October 2/3, 2011

Regretfully, we had to cancel the Gathering in Oakville, but not for lack of interest. We are still very interested in the Leadnow initiative and still wish to be kept in the loop.

The problem is centred around the Ontario election:
-The first obstacle was the date restrictions set by Leadnow and the resulting time line. I got the information, presented it to our Steering Committee and then had to present it to the Committee of the Whole for action/approval. There was much enthusiasm.
-During the Gathering time-allotment, many of us were involved in other major events, for example, the Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan Symposium and AGM which was being held in Oakville from Sept 29 – Oct 1, and which also featured a sold out Tribute Dinner to Sally Armstrong with 450 attendees. 
-Getting a place before that became problematic. The central library had all its rooms rented out for the preceding week. The other library with appropriate space was shut for renovations and the Town Hall could not be used because it housed an advanced poll.
-There were also the all-candidate meetings where RODC members were involved.

So in a last ditch effort, I offered my home. Then the Ontario election became extremely close. This morning CBC was indicating a possible three way split. All of the people who would have attended the Gathering are involved in working for their candidate/ party. One by one they had to withdraw from the Gathering.

Cancelling the Gathering seemed to be the sensible thing to do.

Please keep RODC involved and I will be happy to share whatever you send to our members. I will remain the contact person for RODC, Reclaim our Democratic Canada.

The Forum was a success.  Watch the VIDEO and see for yourself.

Oakville Town Hall Forum
Policy Not Polls
September 22, 2011

Reclaim Our Democratic Canada
Canadians Advocating Political Participation Oakville and Fair Vote Halton 

Invitees: All candidates from Halton and Oakville ridings were invited. Five candidates turned up.

Forget news reports about who’s ahead in the polls!


Policy not Polls All-Candidates Forum
by Susan Berry

Low voter turnout is becoming a reality of Canadian political life.  Commentators point at many possible causes, often citing the impact of US style negative political campaigning and the failure of political parties to inspire and motivate voters.  Yet voting remains a critical means by which citizens participate in our democratic system. 

Improving voter turn out is the responsibility of all: Elections Canada, politicians and political parties, citizen’s groups and voters themselves.

It may be that many voters just don’t understand the critical issues and aren’t inspired by their politicians, who always appear to be riding on polls and taking cheap shots at one another.   Media coverage seems to have fallen to the level of reporting on the latest 1 – 2 point change in an opinion poll and the snarky ad just released.  Tune in and turn off seems to be the result if people try to follow election campaigns.  Critical and insightful coverage of election issues appears to be hard to come by.

If you attend an all-candidates debate you are likely to find the candidates relying on sound bites and slogans to rile up a crowd of highly engaged, already decided voters (usually their supporters).  Rarely is there any real exchange of ideas and meaningful discussion.  

This is why a few groups of concerned Halton-area citizens have begun a “Policy Not Polls” campaign to elevate the Ontario election coverage and campaign.   In addition to calling on mainstream media to provide issue-based coverage (instead of daily poll results) the group is offering candidates and voters the opportunity to participate  in a new-style discussion forum.  The “Policy Not Polls” forum on September 22, 2011 at 7:00pm in the Oakville Town Hall Atrium will aim to take political discussion of issues important to citizens to a new level.   

Candidates will be provided with 6 questions submitted by citizen’s groups in advance of the discussion  so that they can research and meaningfully respond.  Audience members will have the opportunity to pose questions and also to  state their concerns and opinions.  The candidates are encouraged to stay away from pat answers and sloganeering and provide some honest and engaging insight into how they will plan to deal with some of the most critical issues facing Ontarians in this coming election: economy, health, education, environment, transportation, jobs and democratic reform.

In our great democratic exercise called the Ontario Election you can attend the event on September 22nd.  Bring your ideas, concerns and questions and engage in some “Policy not Polls” discourse.  


What is Policy Not Polls About in this Upcoming provincial election?

Reclaim Our Democratic Canada is calling for the media, politicians and the public to participate in a fundamental exercise of democracy: getting out an informed, involved electorate on October 6, 2011. 

The recent federal election and surrounding media coverage, which spent so much time and space on polls, neither inspired nor informed the public on any number of public policy questions. In the upcoming Ontario election, we are expecting, and working towards, a focus on important issues.

25 people attended 
A Workshop on Social Media
for Social Activists
Presented by Reclaim Our Democratic Canada

on Wednesday June 22, 2011

at the Oakville Public Library, Central Branch Auditorium

Susan BerrySusan Berry presented a workshop explaining the basics of Twitter and how social media tools can be used by social and political  activists to promote their interests and campaigns. 

In combination with this "how-to" session, RODC launched a campaign to promote their “Policy Not Polls” initiative with specific relation to the coming Ontario election.

People said, "Susan’s workshop was excellent."
"Policy not polls is terrific."

Follow-up workshops will focus on 
Facebook, Blogger and Youtube  as well as the interactions between them.

A Day For Democracy was a great success!
We met on April 6 at 7:00 p.m.
Operating Engineers' Banquet Hall
2245 Speers Road, Oakville ON

Carole Holmes, MC
  The Oakville candidates and community groups championed Democracy and many of the 240 attendees had a chance to speak out publicly about the state of democracy in Canada. 
See comments link below.

The  Speakers were

Carol Brayman, RODC
Carol Brayman (RODC) Her speech is here.

Andrew Chlobowski (Green)
James Ede (NDP)
Max Khan (Liberal)
Terence Young (Conservative) 
Terence Young MP, Conservative Party

Max Khan, Liberal Party

James Ede, NDP

Andrew Chlobowski, Green Party

Canadians Advocating Political Participation (CAPP) -Craig Bell
Women of Halton Action Movement (WHAM) 
             -Elka Enola           Her speech is here.
Fair Vote Canada - Dan Griffin Dan's speech is here.

A Speaker at Open Mike
Open Microphone. Comments are here.

We sent the message that we want an open, transparent, accountable government.

This NATIONAL event was sponsored locally by
Reclaim Our Democratic Canada
(in collaboration with Voices/Voix )
Check out our web site

Photographs by David Williams

RODC had a table at the

11th annual Halton Eco Festival:

A One-Day, Environmental Fair for 

Sustainable Living

on Saturday, April 9, 2011 from 10 AM to 5 PM

at the Glen Abbey Rec Centre on Third Line in Oakville 

We were there to discuss DEMOCRACY IN CANADA 

with attendees and we did just that. Several people

 signed up as Supporters of RODC.

Organized by the:
Oakville Community Centre for Peace, Ecology and Human Rights (OCCPEHR)
P.O. Box 52007, Oakville, ON L6J 7N5, Telephone: (905) 849-5501

Site Meter