We need a healthy democracy to rise to the challenges that we face as a society. During this spring election, as the attack ads blare and major issues are ignored, we have a chance to start creating a new kind of politics for our country.
Over the last month, thousands of Canadians have been working together to draft a Declaration for Change that will call on politicians to cooperate for progress on major issues Canadians care about.
Together, we can shift the conversation away from personalities, polls and attack ads, towards a positive, self-reinforcing narrative of people getting out to vote for progress on the issues we care about. In a nutshell, our strategy is to:
This post will cover the results from our process so far, and our campaign plan for this election.
From the results so far, the Declaration for Change will focus on democratic reform, environmental protection, increasing opportunity while achieving greater equality, and ensuring that everyone has access to the care they need.
To start, we want to say thank you to the thousands of people who have already participated. In the middle of March people from across the country organized over 75 local get-togethers for (Re)Generation: Voices for Canada. Then, over 2,400 people participated in the online values survey.
Our community includes people from all across the country. Check out this map - the large markers show the(Re)Generation get-togethers and the small ones represent a person taking the values survey.
Our community is bringing generations of Canadians together. Check out this graph that shows the age distribution of the people who have taken the values survey.
Maps and graphs are one thing, what does this process actually look like? Here’s one of our favourite pictures from the (Re)Generation get-togethers. This is Nadia Nowak, one of the coordinators of our local organizing team, with her friends at a (Re)Generation get-together in Prince George, British Columbia.
So, what have we found? Our focus at this stage is finding the key areas where our community wants to see action and change. Let’s start with the online values survey.
At the top we have environmental protection, health and education, and democracy issues.
We see the strongest disapproval of the government’s performance on environment and democracy issues.
The long-term sustainability of our economy, environment and society is more important than economic growth.
Instead of measuring the success of the country by its annual economic production (GDP), we should measure success by a range of indicators that tell us about the happiness and well-being of the people.
I would be willing to consider being taxed more if it meant our society could tackle a major shared challenge that I care deeply about.
Many Canadians need help, and I want to make sure that they are cared for.
I want my politicians to ask more citizens what they think when they make decisions, even if that means it takes longer to make some decisions.
Canada should take steps to make the world a better place, even if those steps have some domestic costs.
I am worried that I will not be able to support the people who depend on me now, or who will come to depend on me in the future.
Our government creates space for
me to influence its decisions.
I am willing to give up more of my civil liberties to increase my personal security.
My tax dollars should only be used for projects that benefit me directly.
Given that most of these questions involved trade-offs, it’s amazing to see the level of consensus in almost all of these responses.
The (Re)Generation get-togethers produced a huge and inspiring range of ideas and priorities for our country. Our team of volunteers worked to find common themes that spoke to shared values. The specific ideas are the basis of the next step in our process, voting for priorities to complete the Declaration for Change.
Democratic reform and environmental stewardship, with a particular focus on global warming, stand out as the most common themes from the discussions. The ideas ranged from building mass transit to ending oil subsidies, and from electoral reform to stronger accountability measures.
The next biggest theme was the desire to provide greater opportunities and achieve greater equality for all Canadians. Ideas in this area ranged from housing strategies to education and job training.
Again, health care was a major focus of the discussions, with many participants holding it up as a symbol of a Canadian value of shared responsibility and caring for each other. Related ideas included mental health and preventative health care.
Combining the online values survey and the (Re)Generation results we see four key areas for the Declaration for Change:
We want a country with a vibrant democracy that protects our environment, provides opportunity while achieving greater equality, and ensures that everyone has access to the care they need.
What are the specifics? For example, what specific democratic reforms should we call for? This is where the ideas from the (Re)Generation get-togethers come in. Our next step is to take specific ideas from the (Re)Generation get-togethers that speak to these shared values and vote for the top priorities that will complete the Declaration for Change.
The final question that we asked in the (Re)Generation get-togethers was about the strategy for creating the Declaration for Change and using it to call for cooperation and action on key priorities that Canadians care about. There was one concern that came out the most strongly: the need to engage many more Canadians in this process.
Over the next five weeks, we can come together to invite our friends to help set the agenda for this election and create a mandate for the next government. We can engage thousands of Canadians, and get out to vote for the priorities we care about.
This election provides an opportunity for us to start regenerating our democracy. The other major suggestion that we heard from the (Re)Generation get-togethers was to treat this process as the start of a longer-term project to improve Canadian democracy. We’re in!
Thanks for being a part of it (and if you’re not - sign up on the right!). Can you share this page with anyone that you think would be interested?
With hope, respect and admiration
Adam, Jamie, Tria, Matthew, Ryan, Emma, and the entire Leadnow.ca team
It's time to move beyond today's political division and short-term thinking, and get to work on the shared challenges of our time.