2020- 2022 Policy Process | Green Party of Canada
Where GPC membership collaborates to develop our policies
G21-B007 Democratize the Policy Process by Prohibiting Limitations and Functionary Commentary On Members’ Motions
This proposal was discussed in the workshop during Phase 2 of the VGM. However, there was not enough time for this proposal to be voted on in plenary by the members during Phase 2. Therefore, this proposal will not be included in the ratification vote.
Bylaw 4 is hereby amended by adding thereto the following two subsections:
4.3.6 Notwithstanding any other provision of these Bylaws (including Bylaw 6.4.3), neither Shadow Cabinet, Federal Council nor any committee thereof nor any official, employee, representative or Unit of the Party may impose any limit whatsoever on: (1) the specificity of Motions submitted for consideration by the Members at a General Meeting; or (2) the number of words contained in the operative part of such Motions. For greater clarity, but without limiting the generality of the preceding sentence, Members shall be free to specify in any Motion the strategy and/or tactics to be employed by the Leader, Shadow Cabinet, Federal Council or any committee thereof.
4.3.7 It shall be absolutely prohibited for the Leader, Shadow Cabinet, Federal Council or any committee thereof or any official, employee, representative or Unit of the Party to include any partisan commentary on any voting ballot submitted to the Members.
To democratize the GPC’s policy process.
Within the collectivity of the GPC membership, there is a vast pool of expertise on a broad array of issues. Empowering GPC members to adopt specific policies and to specify strategies and tactics will enable the GPC to benefit from that expertise in the policy-making process.
Supporting Comments from Submitter
Nothing in the GPC’s Constitution or Bylaws currently prevents members from making motions that are specific or that advocate for certain strategies or tactics. Despite this, the current GPC policy development process imposes limits on the specificity of policy motions.
The idea that members are limited to developing policies defined as “a principle-based statement which does not contain any specific strategy or tactical statement” is relatively recent and quite unique to a handful of Canadian Green Parties. The approach appears to have originated in the BC Greens and been carried over and adopted by other Canadian parties, including the GPC and the GPO, with limited debate by the general membership, despite its crucial impact on the basic Green principle that party policy is driven by the grassroots. It was argued that, if member-driven policies are too prescriptive, they may tie the hands of Green legislators in Parliament and force them to stand up for things that are controversial, impractical or unpopular.
The approach, however, departs from the generally accepted definition of policy that involves a proposed course of action to deal with a problem (a course of action may, of course, be a strategy or tactic).
To our knowledge, this approach is not something prevalent in Green Parties outside Canada. Policy processes are very heterogeneous, for example, the Green Party of New Zealand has a Policy Committee with policy networkers appointed by provincial bodies and responsible for connecting with the grassroots, these networkers being the voting members, in addition to the Committee appointing working groups from the membership to address specific areas. In France, the Greens have commissions thématiques formed by members “Il existe au sein du parti des lieux de réflexions et de débats que l’on appelle les commissions thématiques. Elles participent à l’élaboration des orientations du parti, formulent des propositions d’actions et apportent leur expertise aux élu-e-s qui le souhaitent.” There are other modalities, structures and processes, but we have not seen evidence of other parties outside Canada placing the same level of restriction on the ability of members to propose policies that are beyond principle and that entail course of action.
Not all Canadian Green Parties have adopted the GPC’s current approach to the policy process. An example of a party that may eventually diverge from this approach is the PEI Greens. They have been working on a process for some time and early drafts and pilot projects outline a different concept. If adopted, the proposed process would enable development of member-driven policy in a participatory manner. It would provide tools to members to develop solid motions, allow for a period where submitted policies can be negotiated with other members and amended prior to final submission. Policy development would be ongoing, with multiple points of entry to the formal motion submission process. Although guidance would contain advice against policies being overly specific (for example, against including specific budget allocations for something), it would encourage members to propose policy approaches (instruments), as these are often what differentiates a party for another. The PEI Committee made the case that sound, member-approved party policies that include a course of action do not tie the hands of legislators, on the contrary, policies provide guidance and direction, whether in government or in opposition, whether in majority or in minority. A party policy will help support negotiations in collaborative situations by providing a baseline for the party’s interests and positions from which to work towards compromise, fair outcomes, and/ or creative win-win solutions. If a party does not have a clear policy on something, it is much more difficult to explain to members what was given up, if anything, in a negotiation because there was no concrete departure point. It must be noted that the GPPEI has not yet adopted the proposal, which is still on draft and awaiting further input.
The single largest piece of evidence pointing to the need for the GPC to update its current process and explore other options is the amount of discord that it has generated since its implementation in 2018. If adopted, this proposed by-law change will enhance grassroots decision-making within the GPC.
Participatory Democracy, Social Justice, Respect for Diversity
Relation to Existing Policy
Add to current GPC policy.
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