As I'm sure all readers are aware, the United States of America is at the end of a major election cycle. But did you also know that our national government in Canada was prorogued for some time this summer, and they came back to session a month or so ago? My Instagram has been filled with folks watching the President and VP debates, but none of the Throne Speech. We - Canadians - get so wrapped up in US politics. And while they may affect us peripherally we cannot control or directly participate in.
I think part of it is the fact that we often sit on a high horse when we compare ourselves to our neighbour. But I also believe it’s that we (not me, the royal we) love reality TV so much, and sometimes watching American politics is like watching a train wreck.
In addition to our lack of knowledge, we also tend to be very politically apathetic up here and disengaged from our political system, and disconnected from strong labour unions. When our elected officials do something we don’t like, we throw our hands up in the air and say “well, there’s nothing we can do.” Or ask “what can we do to get them out of power in the next election?” This erroneous belief that elections are the only time we can engage, or force change.
Well, the days in between elections are where we have to live. We can spend this time learning about how Canadian Supreme Court Justices are appointed for example. Engaging with our elected officials and local unions. And most important, talking to your friends, family, and community about the issues that are important to you. This is the way you make social change into policy change.
YES IT TAKES TIME
I KNOW that y’all are busy. I also know that I personally spend 2 hours on Instagram every day. And while there is some info and activism on there, there are better ways to get engaged in local politics. And there are shortcuts out there! A lot of activists and organizers have designed tools to make it easier for you to get engaged, and have your voice heard. I have linked some of my favourites at the bottom of the post.
I made a small change to how I have been approaching my blogs for Waste Free YEG, that I want to try out here as well. I’ve divided the action items into 3 categories based on their level of effort. Let me know how it works for you!
Follow 3 “political” social media accounts or pages, and start re-posting their content.
Sign a petition for a cause you support, or against something that makes you mad.
Write an email to your City Councillor, MLA or MP about an issue in your community that is important to you and relevant to their mandate or position.
Go stand on a picket line and show your support and solidarity for your fellow workers.
Subscribe to a progressive online newspaper, magazine, or podcast and share it with your friends and family. My favourites are:
Sandy & Nora podcast > national, and central Canada centered
Harbinger Media Network podcast network > they are just getting going and represent about a dozen lefty podcasts across Canada
Sprawl Calgary online magazine & podcast
Briarpatch online and paper magazine > I have been subscribing to this magazine for a few years now, and I always devour every article in there
Progress Report articles, podcast, newsletter > lots of Alberta-based news in here (and bonus points because the right hates the guy running it!)
Alberta Advantage podcast & newsletter > fiery, smart AF, baby Communists
Join an Alberta Federation of Labour Community Action Team...with me!
Write an article and submit it to your favourite local progressive newspaper, magazine, zine, or blog.
Talk to your people about this stuff. Make it personal. Tell them why it is important to you personally that the Alberta UCP government plans to lay off 11,000 healthcare workers in the middle of the pandemic (for example). Talking about this now makes it much easier to talk about it come election time, and maybe you will have moved some opinions by then. In the U.S. I noticed this happening a lot over the past few months. They call it “friend-banking” and I think that’s just adorable.
“While marching in the streets is important, the real work of organizing comes down to the conversations we have with one another.” From the Green New Deal Organizing Kit for the 2019 federal election
Y’all, I have so many progressive resources to share, I can’t even decide which to choose. Everything I have listed above are all Canadian resources. And all the links below are to tools that make it easier to reach out to your local, provincial or national government reps about specific issues.
Citizens for Public Justice breakdown how to write a letter to your MP
Pekiwewin Camp has created a tool to contact Don Iveson & City Council
The Campaign to add Black history and add anti-racist curriculum helps you sends a note straight to the Alberta Minister of Education
We can do hard things, and it's best to do them together.