Betty Online – Time Out

         Reflections of a Teacher turned Activist.

April 2, 2014

An Open Letter to Andrew Saxton, MP

Dear Mr. Saxton MP, (Conservative, North Vancouver)

On Tuesday, March 25, we accompanied a large group from Leadnow and The Council of Canadians delivering our “Let People Vote” petition to your North Vancouver office. (A) Our petition included over 80,000 names of Canadians, many whom are outraged with the very UNfair Elections Act that your party is trying to ram through our parliament. While there is a lot wrong with what your party is proposing in this particular bill, our petitions are specifically asking your party to remove the parts of the new elections law that would suppress voting by young people, Aboriginal people and low-income people.

Dropping off the petition, March 25

Photo by John-Ward Leighton

wheelbarrow of petitions

So there we were Mr. Saxton, en masse to hand deliver our wheelbarrow full of names to you.  We took the time from our own busy day to come in person. We understand you were in Ottawa and we were sorry to have missed you. However, as a courtesy to you we had phoned ahead to let your office know we were coming yet you were unable to return the courtesy by having someone there to hear us out.  We wonder, Mr Saxton, did you help your staff to plan an extended lunch break that day?  

Photo by John-Ward Leighton

As no one was at your office to speak with us so that we simply had to leave our petition on the floor of your office, we are writing this letter to tell you what we were unable to tell you or your staff in person. We want you to know sir, that as Canadian citizens we continue to be outraged. We are outraged at the arrogant stance that you and your party are taking in your refusal to listen to what we Canadians are saying about Bill C-23.Your colleague, Mr Poilievre,  MP (Conservative, Nepean-Carleton) has refused to listen to or consult with non-partizan electoral experts such as Harry Neufeld (B), or even the chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand (C). Political science scholars across the country and even from abroad are writing to your party to express their grave concern with regards to what this act would mean for democracy in Canada and yet you march on, pretending that somehow this bill will make our elections more fair. (D) (E) Shame on you Mr. Saxton for being a part of this scam. Shame on you.


Photograph by: Mike Wakefield, North Shore News

Since your office was closed Mr. Saxton, we also decided to visit your website to see what you had to report to Canadians on the very important matter of your party’s plan to fundamentally and unilaterally diminish our democracy; to see what you had to say about how  your party has re-written our election laws to dis-enfranchise thousands of Canadian Citizens; and to understand how you could justify having done so without consulting any of our respected electoral experts, scholars, provinces or citizens. Apparently democracy isn’t important enough for you, Mr Saxton, to open your doors, nor important enough to communicate to your constituents through your website. We used your own search engine Mr. Saxton – there was not one single occurrence of the “Fair Elections Act” on your website. Perhaps we should have searched for “UnFair Elections Act”?

Saxton web search

Photo by Jackie DeRoo

Our message to you Mr. Saxton is this – be assured that we will remember that your website was silent and your doors were locked when we came to discuss our concerns with you. You cannot pull the wool over our eyes. Canadians will vote on election day and weigh in on your refusal to listen to the people of this country.


Three Inconvenient Citizens,

Jackie DeRoo, Eoin Finn and Betty Gilgoff



(A) “Protestors Decry Election Act Changes,” By Brent Richter, North Shore News, March 28, 2014, 12:00 AM.

(B) “MPs pass Fair Elections Act, Opposition Demand Changes,” By Jessica Hume, Toronto Sun, First Posted: Monday, February 10, 2014 10:43 PM EST, Updated: Monday, February 10, 2014 10:51 PM EST.

(C) “Election chief Marc Mayrand fears Canadians could be denied vote,” By Laura Payton, CBC News,  Mar 06, 2014 10:48 AM ET Last Updated: Mar 06, 2014 8:29 PM ET.

(D) “Don’t undermine Elections Canada,” National Post, March 11, 2014, Last Updated: Mar 12 7:07 PM ET.

(E) “Fair Elections Act sure to deprive Canadians of voting rights, U.S. experts warn,” By Alexander Panetta, Canadian Press, National Post,  February 16, 2014 11:17 AM ET.




February 26, 2014

Tired of Stephen Harper?

Filed under: Activism @ 5:47 pm
Tags: , , , ,


March 15, 2013

On Being Inconvenient

I’m definitely on a steep learning curve and planning to blog more and more as I go, simply to chronicle my transformation into Another Inconvenient Citizen.  The idea of an Inconvienent Citizen, as will be posted on the new Inconvenient Citizen blog site being launched soon, is as follows:

The goal of An Inconvenient Citizen is to mobilize citizens under the banner of “protest for the rest of us”, including people who never really thought of themselves as protesters before. We believe people will be motivated to action once confronted with the facts about how the Harper government is negatively changing our democracy and negatively impacting our environment. Even if action is as low key as simply voting when they might not otherwise have voted (good), or convincing a number of others to vote who might not otherwise have voted (better); or (best) a combination of voting, convincing, signing petitions, writing letters to political parties, newspaper editors, etc. and generally becoming royal pains in the butt by advocating that our “first past the post” electoral system needs to be changed to give us a “fair democracy” (which for me includes the idea of a more “representative” system).

In other words, we are hoping that Inconvenient Citizen will make life really “inconvenient” for Harper AND for the other parties as we head towards the next election. We hope Inconvenient Citizen will advocate for the defeat of Harper’s Conservatives AND convince other parties to co-operate with each other to agree on a united platform “for fair democracy”.

And – oh yes – we would like to see young Inconvenient Citizens re-engage with the electoral system, and see other older Inconvenient Citizens convincing youth to do so. Participate in the next election to achieve a modified system. How about a rallying cry like “YOUTH WANT IN”. (By the way, this slogan will resonate with people who remember Stephen Harper as a former Reform Party Member of Parliament who ran for office with the slogan “The West Wants In.”)

I’m excited to be identifying with this group. From the mentors within, I am learning more and more about a variety of issues and politics. Our original Inconvenient Citizen, Jackie DeRoo, is an excellent researcher. She is passionate and committed to issues around democracy and electoral reform as well as environmental health and sustainability. She is tenacious and knowledgeable. I’m honoured to work alongside her.

Over a year ago I attended a protest in Surrey, BC, where George Bush had been invited to speak. At that rally and then a followup event  Gail Davidson, Lawyer for Stop the War, spoke about being involved in activism. Her advice that I remember most clearly was that to be involved in activism one needs to not get sidetracked by the wide variety of issues, but instead pick one or two that are close to one’s heart and dig deep. For the past year those words, word that were meant to help and guide, have resonated with me and in a way that rather than being helpful have perhaps hindered my active involvement as I searched for the “right” issues, never quite sure if “this,” whatever it was, was the right issue. For now Inconvenient Citizens is helping me in providing a space to talk with peers and be inspired in the little things I can do. I’m able to let go a little of being overly concerned with whether or not each issue is what I want to commit to.  Through the Inconvenient Citizen group I am beginning to connect with other 55+ activists, many like Jackie who have not been particularly politically before now. Slowly we are becoming aware of the vast resource that our demographic group can provide to the political landscape. In reality I believe we are a sleeping giant just slowly awakening.

March 14, 2013

Tyee Master Classes

Filed under: Activism @ 7:01 pm
Tags: ,

If you’re like many of us, just learning how to be actively involved,  you won’t want want to miss The Tyee’s Spring 2013 Master Class Series. Learn under the tutorage those who are already in the field by signing up for classes like Polling and Public Opinion with Mario Canseco, Web Mapping and Basic Data Herding with Hugh Stimson, Deep Research and Political Ops with Emma Pullman, or High-Impact Online Campaigning with Emma Pullman and Jamie Biggar.  Learn more

If you attend, be sure to write ‘Another Inconvenient Citizen’ on your name tag to help spread the interest and connect with others who are beginning to engage.


February 21, 2013

Help Is On the Way If You Get On Board

I have rarely been a member of any political party, at least until last year when I realized what wonderful work Elizabeth May was doing on behalf of all Canadians and so I joined the Green Party. But that was last year. As of this month I am no longer a Green Party member.

Elizabeth May is still amazing but she needs help. She can’t save us alone. Our country and our environment need help.  Most importantly, right now until March 3rd we have a very unique opportunity to offer that help but we all need to get on board. Rick Mercer perhaps says it best, with levity, in his rant about the Liberal Leadership Race:

What Rick Mercer doesn’t talk about is the benefits for Canada in supporting Joyce Murray’s campaign as it fits well with the urgent care that Canada needs for our democracy, sustainability and stewardship of the environment. I’m pretty new to this whole political scene as an activist. More on that is coming in future posts but right now I’m motivated and excited by what Joyce Murray is offering up by way of creating some real change for Canada.

Many of us already know that our democratic system is not representing Canadians well enough. That Stephen Harper could have been elected as Prime Minister of Canada with a majority government with less than 40% of the popular vote, and with less than 23% of those eligible to vote actually voting for him, is just wrong. The system needs to change and it needs to change fast before this government, or quite frankly, any other government with a minority-earned-majority continues to follow the self interest of so few, ignoring the need for a more just, sustainable and equitable society.

As Rick Mercer says, this may well be a one time opportunity. Sure, one needs to sign up to the Liberal Party, but only as a supporter. One does not need to join and it costs no money. Any one of us can still be free to join any party after the Liberal Leadership election. To be eligible as a supporter one only needs to meet very limited criteria. This includes the following:

  • either be a member of the Party or
  • (a) be at least 18 years of age;
  • (b) support the purposes of the Party;
  • (c) be qualified as an elector who may vote in accordance with part 11 of the Canada Elections Act or ordinarily lives in Canada; and
  • (d) not be a member of any other federal political party in Canada.

The Liberal Party purposes are a little less clear. The web site for registering asks one to agree to what is essentially the preamble of the Liberal Party of Canada constitution. It states the following principles but I had to assume they are the purposes I am required to agree to:

The Liberal Party of Canada is committed to the view that the dignity of each individual man and woman is the cardinal principle of democratic society and the primary purpose of all political organization and activity in such a society.

The Liberal Party of Canada is dedicated to the principles that have historically sustained the Party: individual freedom, responsibility and human dignity in the framework of a just society, and political freedom in the framework of meaningful participation by all persons. The Liberal Party is bound by the constitution of Canada and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and is committed to the pursuit of equality of opportunity for all persons, to the enhancement of our unique and diverse cultural community, to the recognition that English and French are the official languages of Canada, and to the preservation of the Canadian identity in a global society.

In accordance with this philosophy, the Liberal Party of Canada subscribes to the fundamental rights and freedoms of persons under the rule of law and commits itself to the protection of these essential values and their constant adaptation to the changing needs of modern Canadian society.

The Liberal Party of Canada recognizes that human dignity in a democratic system requires that all citizens have access to full information concerning the policies and leadership of the Party; the opportunity to participate in open and public assessment of such means, and such modifications of policies and leadership as  they deem desirable to promote the political, economic, social, cultural and general well-being of Canadians.

To realize this objective, the Liberal Party of Canada strives to provide a flexible and democratic structure whereby all Canadians can obtain such information, participate in such assessment and militate for such reform through open communications, free dialogue and participatory action both electoral and non-electoral. This Constitution sets forth the institutions, systems and procedures by which the Liberal Party of Canada, in co-operation with its provincial and territorial associations and electoral district  associations, works to implement these ideas on behalf of all its members.

In my opinion, these are pretty general and vague. They aren’t hard at all for me to support as the basis for a civil and democratic society.

As per my previous blog post, I have withdrawn my membership from the Federal Green Party and am now registered as a supporter for the purpose of voting in the Liberal Party Leadership Election.  At this time I believe that I will be supporting Joyce Murray, and only Joyce Murray, as leader. I’m taking this vote very seriously and so am also doing the ground work to really, really research who Joyce Murray is, what she stands for, and whether or not she deserves my vote. In fact I’m learning everything I can about all of the candidates and I will be voting for the candidate who I think will put my concerns at the forefront. I want a Liberal Leader who understands that we need to oust Stephen Harper first and foremost; a leader who understands that the politics of our diverse nation has to be about cooperation, not just now but forever down the road. I want a leader who understands that we need  electoral reform so that we will never again have a minority-elected-majority. I want a leader who cares about our environment and about sustainability, and yes about economic development but not at the expense of the health of our citizens and not solely for the benefit of the corporations. I want a leader who is honestly respectful of diversity including our First Nations. Someone who values women. So far, the only candidate in the running who seems to be the kind of leader that I can support is Joyce Murray.

As a newbie to this world, I’m going to keep on blogging so as to report on what I’m learning. If you have video clips or articles I should check out to help me in my research, please comment and let me know. I’d appreciate your comments and opinions. Even more, I’d love for you to get involved if you aren’t already. Please join me in being a liberal supporter. Help make a difference.




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