Month: September 2015

I vote CBC!

CBC Logo

CBC Logo

I’ve received several letters from constituents who want funding restored to the CBC:

Bob Jonkman
Kitchener–Conestoga
Green Party

Like most Canadians, I value public broadcasting. Yet the current government has systematically attacked the CBC. After promising not to do so, the government cut CBC funding, stacked the CBC Board with Conservative Party donors, and grabbed new powers to undermine its independence. CBC has announced major cuts and more are expected.

If you are elected, will you champion a strong CBC and work to undo the damage done to CBC’s funding and independence from government interference? This is a voting issue for me. Please get back to me before October 19th.

Yours sincerely…

Thank you for your concern about CBC funding.

I’m a big fan of the CBC, and I believe that a strong, independent national broadcaster is an important part of our cultural makeup.

Happily, the Green Party agrees, and has promised to restore funding to the CBC, as well as reverse other decisions that have adversely affected the CBC’s ability to serve as an independent voice for Canadians. You can view the full statement in the Vision Green document Arts and culture: Beauty and integrity.

Thank you for your letter, and thank you for supporting the CBC!

–Bob.

I Support Digital Freedom

I’ve received many e-mail messages from people writing through OpenMedia’s web site asking me to support Digital Freedom, more than on any other issue. I’d send a reply to everyone, but all the messages came in with the same address (contact@openmedia.org), so I’m using this blog post to state my position. Here is the message I received:

Dear Candidate, As a voter in your riding, I am asking you to take a stand for a free and open Internet. I believe that every Canadian:

  • deserves to use the Internet without fear of being spied on by their own government.
  • deserves affordable access to world-class, high-speed Internet service.
  • deserves to be able to express themselves freely online.

On October 19, I will be voting for a candidate committed to these goals. Right now you have a unique opportunity to let your constituents know where you stand.

I’m calling on you to become a pro-Internet candidate, by making the following declaration:

As a pro-Internet candidate, I care about affordable access, free expression, and a surveillance-free Internet. I’m inspired by the crowdsourced vision set out in OpenMedia’s plan, Canada’s Digital Future, and I commit to advancing policies that address Canada’s digital deficit. Should I be elected, I commit to making digital policy a priority.

Over 250,000 Canadians worked together to crowdsource OpenMedia’s election platform, which you can read at https://OurDigitalFuture.ca/Platform OpenMedia will soon be publishing a report card, grading each party on how committed they are to putting these crowdsourced proposals into law. I urge you to make sure your party encourages all its candidates to endorse this pro-Internet statement.

Now that the positive pro-Internet alternative exists, we need politicians to commit to implementing it. Please declare yourself a pro-Internet candidate by visiting https://OurDigitalFuture.ca/Candidates#signup today. If you’ve already made this declaration then thank you! Please take this message as an indication of how much voters in your riding care about the future of Canada’s Internet.

OpenMedia will keep me informed as to your stance.

Thanks for listening,

Your Constituent.

I have a very strong position on a free and open Internet. Before I became a member of the Green Party I helped found the Pirate Party of Canada, and was its Executive Director at the time the PPCA qualified as a registered political party with Elections Canada.

Both the Pirate Party and the Green Party want a reduction (or elimination) of the spying on Canadian citizens by Canadian surveillance agencies (or their foreign counterparts in Five Eyes). We champion for Net Neutrality, where the carriers treat all content equally, and are prohibited from throttling their competitors’ content.

We want an end to the arbitrary enforcement of copyright, and especially the fraudulent accusations from Big Media about copyrights that have expired, never existed, or are actually owned by the people who are distributing their own music and art. That’s so common there’s even a word for it: copyfraud.

ISPs need to be neutral in delivering content. They should in no way be held responsible for filtering infringing material (violating copyright is an infringement of a government-granted monopoly, there’s no theft, acquisition of goods, or loss of property).

I’ve been involved in community organizations to work on OpenData and FreeSoftware (software that respects your freedom). In fact, on 19 September I did a presentation for Software Freedom Day in Toronto on achieving E-mail Privacy Using Free Software.

In fact, as a computer consultant my entire livelihood depends on a Free and Open Internet. So yes, you can be assured of my support for this initiative.

By the way, did you know that Green Party leader Elizabeth May is the first party leader to sign the OpenMedia declaration? And it looks like the list of candidates endorsing digital freedom is dominated by the Green Party! I find myself in good company!

–Bob.

My Interview on the CBC

The candidates in Kitchener–Conestoga were invited to a panel discussion at the local CBC station in downtown Kitchener today. We were all crowded into the small studio — Amanda Grant thinks it may have been the cosiest setup in the station’s history!

In the CBC-KW 89.1FM studio

In the CBC-KW 89.1FM studio

You can hear the interview on the CBC news story Meet your Kitchener Conestoga candidates – Kitchener-Waterloo.

Promoting Participation in the Election

Bob and his sign

Bob and his sign

I received a call from a gentleman last week, asking for a sign. Happy to oblige! When I got there, I saw that he already had three signs for the other candidates on his lawn.

He told me that his purpose was not to advertise his political affiliation, but to promote awareness of the election and the candidates’ names. And he also complimented my sign because it is the only one to recognize Kitchener–Conestoga with the picture of the Kissing Bridge!

Thank you, sir, for encouraging others to become politically engaged!

You can request a sign from the Green Party website or make a donation to my campaign.

Bob puts up a sign beside others

Bob puts up a sign beside others

Bob and the other signs

Bob and the other signs

My Candidate Conversation at the Waterloo Region Food Bank

I was honoured to be asked to the Candidate Conversation held at the Waterloo Region Food Bank this morning.

The conversation was definitely an eye-opener. The panelists provided us with lots of information about the Food Assistance Network, consisting of 100 agencies at the regional level working together to collect, store, distribute and deliver food to dozens of locations providing food hampers, hot meals, and nutritional information.

And the need is great: Last year over 250 food hampers were needed every day and 1500 meals were served every day. 1 in 20 people in Waterloo Region need food assistance, and over 850,000 Canadians received help from food banks last year. Look down your street — one of your neighbours needs food assistance.

The Waterloo Region Food Assistance Network does great work with minimal government support, and that only from the Regional level of government. I find it simply unacceptable that this still happens in Canada. Perhaps it happens because Canada is the only OECD country that has no national strategy to address poverty, housing, health care.

The Green Party aims to fix that. Guaranteed Livable Income is the basis for poverty reduction. By guaranteeing that every Canadian over the age of 18 has a minimum income, dependence on Food Assistance programs will be reduced. An interesting observation was that Canadian Seniors are the people who have the least need for food assistance because they receive a Guaranteed Income Supplement and Old Age Security. This financial stablility of a guaranteed livable income needs to be extended to every Canadian.

Providing housing is also a major step in poverty reduction. It is really hard to look for work without stable housing. Without work, it is really hard to provide good, healthy food for your family. Without good, healthy food people have more physical and mental health problems. Sure, there are programs to treat illness, but it’s a far better strategy to prevent illness by providing adequate food and shelter.

The Greens’ National Housing Strategy aims to put Housing First. This will immediately provide relief to people that find themselves homeless. Affordable, high-quality housing for all Canadians is needed in all municipalities, and the National Housing Strategy will provide funding for housing cooperatives and subsidized housing programs.

Poverty reduction, housing and food security are top-most on the Green Party platform. The Green Party isn’t only about the Environment any more.

–Bob.

International Day of Democracy and Voting in Canada

United Nations flag

United Nations flag

Every year the United Nations marks the 15th of September as International Day of Democracy. From their website:

Democracy is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives.

Canada is lucky to have a democratic government. We currently enjoy political self-determination without the daily strife and uncertainty that some other countries are experiencing. When the people in those countries achieve democracy there are celebrations in the streets, and when elections are called people stand in the baking sun for hours in order to cast their vote.

But in Canada some 40% of eligible voters don’t even leave their air-conditioned homes to cast a ballot in an air-conditioned polling station.

Some famous Canadian once said Don’t it always seem to go, you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone? This election, more than ever, we’re seeing democracy slip away from us. From the Fair Elections Act that has disenfranchised thousands of people who have no fixed address and so can’t supply adequate documentation at the polling station, to new restrictions on Registration and Voting Processes for Canadians Who Live Abroad, the Conservative government is making it harder for Canadians to vote.

The Green Party will restore democracy to Canada by fixing the Fair Elections Act to increase increase voter participation, and ensure greater fairness, transparency, and accountability in election financing.

With the new rules for ID it may take longer to get through the voting station on election day. Avoid the line-ups — you can vote in the Advance Polls taking place from 9 – 12 October 2015. Check the Kitchener–Conestoga Returning Office web site for Advance Poll locations. Or you can go directly to the Returning Office at any time and cast a Special Ballot.

Seize your rights! Vote for the person who will best represent you! I hope that’s a Green, but vote regardless!

–Bob.

Guaranteed Livable Income

This week, the Green Party of Canada released its election platform. In the plank on Strong Communities the plan to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality includes implementing a Guaranteed Livable Income.

Canada has been in two recessions since the last election, and people don’t feel as well off as they were five years ago. Income inequality is getting worse — the rich are richer, but the poor have to subsist on part-time jobs, contract work with no benefits, and are ineligible for Employment Insurance when those jobs are lost.

The Green Party wants to reduce the worries of precarious employment and remove the stigma of receiving social assistance by providing a Guaranteed Livable Income for all Canadians. Anyone who lives below a certain threshold of income, whether that’s because of circumstance, disability, or because only part-time employment is available, will receive a livable income through the tax system. No-one will be stigmatized for relying on disability payments, or depending on welfare payments to make the rent.

Not only does GLI provide a better social safety net for Canadians, it will reduce the costs of providing social programs. The program would be delivered through the existing income tax system, so no additional bureaucracy is needed. Guaranteed Livable Income would reduce the transfer payments to provinces, replacing the patchwork of existing programs such as OAS, GIS, CCTB, UCCB, NCB, and the Working Income Tax Benefit. Other programs such as Employment Insurance (EI), the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), child care subsidies, social housing, drug benefits and dental care would not be affected by a Guaranteed Livable Income.

Will this be a disincentive for people to work? No, the Canadian experiment with Mincome in the 1970s showed that people will seek work even when they have a guaranteed income, and are able to take on meaningful jobs such as art and music that may not provide sufficient income on their own. Earned income would not be clawed back, as it is with social programs today. Instead, there would be gradual reduction of the guaranteed income, perhaps 50 cents for every dollar earned.

The Guaranteed Livable Income is one of the many socially progressive programs that the Green Party will implement to keep Canada one of the better places to live.


Guaranteed Livable Income: 4.8 Million Canadians live in poverty; Over 200,000 Canadians experience homelessness every year; GLI improves the academic performance of kids at or near the poverty line; GLI decreases the student dropout rate for both high school and university; $1.5 Billion estimated criminal justice system savings by introducing a GLI; Over $10 Billion estimated health care system savings by introducing a GLI; 40% of Indigenous children live in poverty, twice the national average

My Interview on The Agriculture Show at @SoundFMca

On Tuesday, 1 September 2015 I was invited to be a guest on The Agriculture Show heard on CKMS-FM, 100.3 SoundFM.

Jeff Stager is a great host, and put me right at ease. We talked about family, politics, and agricultural issues.

The podcast is available from SoundFM: Episode 133 of The Agriculture Show.

In the SoundFM studio
Waiting for the music

Waiting for the music

Preparing for the interview

Preparing for the interview

Jeff Stager in the control booth of SoundFM

Jeff Stager in the control booth of SoundFM

Bob Jonkman reads the station identification

Bob Jonkman reads the station identification

Jeff Stager, host of The Agriculture Show

Jeff Stager, host of The Agriculture Show

Bob Jonkman on the Radio

Bob Jonkman on the Radio

Jeff Stager cues up the next selection

Jeff Stager cues up the next selection

Bob Jonkman adjusting the mic

Bob Jonkman adjusting the mic

Bob Jonkman finishes his interview while Michael Harris, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP waits his turn

Bob Jonkman finishes his interview while Michael Harris, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP waits his turn

Politicians Off Air: Michael Harris, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP chats with Bob Jonkman,the Green Party candidate for Kitchener-Conestoga between interviews

Politicians Off Air Michael Harris, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP chats with Bob Jonkman,the Green Party candidate for Kitchener-Conestoga between interviews

In the SoundFM studio

In the SoundFM studio

Pictures from Flickr album The Agriculture Show by Laurel L. Russwurm used under a CC-BYCC-BY license.