The Green Party of Canada released its platform online in a live-streaming event from Toronto. While the platform document itself is fairly light and focuses on the budgetary implications of the Green plans to shift taxes onto carbon and other pollution generators, it builds on the 130-page Vision Green policy document.
While the platform makes no mention of rights issues, it does place emphasis on “Help for married couples and families” as the first plank of its Strong Communities section, and the major proposal for such help is to implement income splitting in the tax system, along with a greater emphasis on workplace childcare spaces.
“It’s bigger than just families and married couples – it’s about communities,” says Kieran Green, the Green Party’s director of communications. “When we talk about families, that includes families with same-sex parents, and any form of GLBT family is included in that.
“It’s about having a life, not just a livelihood,” Green says. “Decreasing the economic burden of the household.”
Vision Green explains that while income splitting doesn’t benefit low-income families or those with similar incomes, Greens would prefer to use targeted programs to assist those families while using income splitting to create more choice in options, and not only for childcare.
“It will allow one spouse to take a lower-paying job in charitable or NGO work,” Vision Green reads. “It will allow one spouse to work from home in growing a garden, in developing artistic talents, in writing for perilously low income.”
Most significantly, Vision Green has a comprehensive section on queer issues that advocates the inclusion of gender identity and gender expression as a protected grounds of discrimination and their inclusion in the Criminal Code under hate crimes provisions. These propositions were the basis of Bill C-389, which died in the Senate when the election was called.
Vision Green also calls for a repeal of Section 159 of the Criminal Code – the prohibitions against sodomy – as well as support for public education to end prejudice and discrimination on sexual identity and gender identity, calls for the end of targeting of queer materials and businesses by the Canadian Border Services Agency, and for Canada to advocate internationally for an end to state-sanctioned discrimination and violence against queers.
The section on queer issues was co-authored by Laurie Aaron, former chair of Egale Canada’s Equal Marriage Committee.
Vision Green has a section on healthcare dealing with addressing drug addiction that begins with legalizing marijuana and focusing other efforts on harm reduction, treatment and prevention.
Such legalization would come with a regulatory framework for safe marijuana production by small, independent growers, with a taxation rate similar to tobacco, and to be sold through licensed distribution outlets. It also promises to launch public consultation on the decriminalization of other illicit drugs, considering the high costs of enforcement, focusing more on treatment and prevention.
Vision Green has a section that addresses reducing the stigma associated with HIV, a promise for greater resources for treatment and delivery of antiretroviral therapies to HIV-positive drug users, and an emphasis on harm reduction and prevention. It also advocates the elimination of HIV travel bans and support for providing low-cost AIDS drugs to the developing world.
Vision Green also includes mention of revising laws related to charitable NGOs so that they can participate in advocacy while still being able to retain their charitable status and ability to accept tax deductible donations.
According to Green, this is because the party feels that some NGOs have knowledge and experience that they should be advocating the government follow, such as policies on poverty or international development.
But what about churches or other religious organizations that would use their charitable status to bankroll lobbying efforts for issues like criminalizing abortion or repealing same-sex marriage?
“This policy is to ensure groups working on legitimate charitable purposes – such as ending poverty, protecting the environment, et cetera – are allowed to examine the root causes of the issues we face,” says party leader Elizabeth May. “It is not a mechanism to advocate for non-charitable goals.”