Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Post-election assessment

My friends and supporters,

I want to begin by offering a heart-felt thank you.
I mean it.
A candidate can’t do much alone. You made all the difference. When you came to events, smiled at me in an all candidate’s meeting, donated, helped out, encouraged your friends, “liked” the Facebook page, volunteered in other ways, etc. etc. etc. –this is what made the difference! So, thank you.
While most of the province is in shock, and we would have wished for more Green votes, I see that we have actually turned a corner as a movement and a Party. This was a direct result of our hard work, dedication, imagination, fun(!) and more. Your involvement made a real difference. Together we managed to inspire a greater 30 – 65% more Green support in the two Nanaimo riding's! As someone put it, “We are part of the change that has to occur, even when we are not aware of our contribution to it.”
We can celebrate Andrew Weaver’s win. Finally there will be a different voice in Victoria! Like Elizabeth May in Ottawa, the province will now see what is possible, and this will create far more momentum in the next election.
If you are interested in my analysis of the election, and where I see hope for the future, please read on.  Otherwise, please simply accept my deep gratitude for taking our movement to the next place.

So. What else happened out there? More sifting needs to take place by all of us before we get closer to the whole truth, but here’s what I conclude at this early stage:
My premise: People mostly vote with their hearts; in this election people voted out of fear or inspiration. Sometimes both.
Fear: The oil and gas industry (amongst others) poured millions into the Liberal campaign and the election. Liberal candidates were extremely well endowed with funds. The corporate media did an excellent job carrying their theme “It’s the (old) economy,” What all forces managed to do was to invoke fear in many people’s hearts that a change to the NDP would spell disaster for jobs. It worked.
The NDP put a lot of (fearful) effort into trying to prevent Greens from gaining more ground (which the Liberals brilliantly used to their advantage, especially over the pipelines issue). The NDP tried to play it safe, were coy with their vision, and so failed to inspire a different future. Result: Many of those who would have voted NDP seem to sit on their hands (watched hockey?), or instead voted Liberal, or Green!
Fear won the day for the Liberals and their corporate supporters. Most voters fearfully stayed with the familiar.
Inspiration: But there was something else that happened. Where people experienced enough real hope that the future can be better they usually voted Green. In some places (such as in Victoria) this was significant.
It was when people’s hearts were moved by the realisation that “the economy” meaningfully improves when we create local (clean sector) jobs and while being stewards of the earth, they voted Green. People also voted Green realising that we can create real health care, treat each other with dignity, save wild fish & protect our drinking water, create a better (and less costly) transportation system, and vastly improve our communities and democracy. When all of these could actually be realised –this is when people acted, and change occurred.
How did those campaigns move people’s hearts and kindled people’s imaginations for a genuine Green change? Enough people got involved before and during the campaign, including reaching people, donating money & time, door-knocking and/or voting. The inspired message of hope reached people and, more importantly, engaged people.
By these measures all Green campaigns were successful. You were and are a part of this, even in ways you may not understand.
As Stuart Mackinnon, the Green candidate for Vancouver Fraserview so eloquently put it,
Our success is not always measured in numbers of votes but often in the number of hearts we have touched, heads we have turned, and (I add) hopes kindled. You can count yourselves as in the vanguard of the great change that is happening, not only here in BC or Canada, but around the world.
It is with this sense of hope, realising that the disenfranchised can be empowered to join the Green Wave, that I invite you to stay involved between elections. This is truly how elections are won.

It has been an honour and a pleasure to run for you. Thank you.

Ian Gartshore  May 15, 2013
“Be the difference you wish to see.”  ~Ghandi

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How to Save Our Health Care System

The health care system itself is on life-support

The increasing demands on our health care system, the obvious stresses to the system, to the provincial budget and to our own pocketbooks (skyrocketing pharmaceuticals ) indicates it's time for a significant change in direction.

Emergency ward physicians at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital are again sounding the alarm about being overwhelmed by the volume of patients accessing the ward. Solutions so far have been limited to increasing funding, privatising services, reducing nursing qualifications, and building more facilities.

With nearly half of the province's budget now allocated to health care, and in light of the aging population and growing health problems among younger people, our current approach is not sustainable.

We need an approach that focuses on health and wellness rather than illness.

Before trying to cure ill people, we need to get serious about keeping people healthy. The Canadian Cancer Society is realising the better approach is to preserve people's health, not treat their cancer. 

The Cancer Society is not alone in this belief. They and other organisations have joined the BC Healthy Living Alliance, a non-profit organisation focused on keeping us healthy. Why? It is far cheaper, for starters. And there are many other obvious benefits, such as improved lives and better work-place productivity.

In two houses I recently visited as a part of my energy-advising business, I discovered instances of preventable environmental toxins making people ill.
In both cases the owners were slowly dying from carbon monoxide poisoning, but their doctors couldn't figure out why their patients were sick. As soon as we found the source, their symptoms evaporated. Health Canada has discovered that indoor air quality in many Canadian homes is 6 - 10 times worse indoors than out. It's a growing concern because there are so many chemicals and other toxic substances such as mould that are making us sick. The province needs to proactively help occupants eliminate these problems, rather than wait until people become ill.

Buildings are not the only culprit. With studies revealing that up to two-thirds of all chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes, are a result of diet choices I think it's time we take the same approach to harmful foods that we have with cigarettes. The money raised on taxing "junk food" could be used to provide locally grown organic fresh fruit and vegetables in schools, for example.

Such an approach would offer many benefits such as improved health, reduced childhood obesity, improved local economies, and greater self-reliance.

Without making these and other changes, our whole health care system will move from being in crisis mode to a collapse. Making small changes to the existing approach is not sufficient if we wish to have a health care system in place in the coming decades.

We need a qualitative change to the way we envision health care and the Green Party is prepared to provide that leadership.