Canada is Free and Freedom is Its Nationality

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Event Blogging the Wilberforce Weekend: Plenary Session on Developing an Advocacy Campaign Strategy

Please Note: This is a summary of the events and speeches in my own words for educational, information, and entertainment purposes only. It is not the speakers' exact words and should not be taken as such. It also may contain errors due to the nature of the medium. I am not responsible for any of them, use at your own risk and consult the official videos and/or audio record if you want to verify or quote anything.

Preston Manning

The following format is the audience (A) giving answers, suggestions and Preston Manning (PM) responding, asking questions, summarizing their remarks, etc.

Suppose we were part of a campaign to oppose euthanasia and direct public action. In what context will this issue come up in Canada? The bill that is coming up is highly unlikely to pass. Physician assisted suicide will be brought through the courts, another Sue Rodriguez challenge. It will be a constitutional challenge. There is a good chance that the court will strike down the law.

What is our ultimate objective? What is the goal of a campaign to oppose euthanasia?
Is our goal to retain the current law? Change the law in such a way that we have iron clad regulation?

(A) We should phrase it positively, protection for the vulnerable.

(A) Education. People need to understand their options, legal ramifications, what help is available

(PM) That goes together

(A) It should be a multi-faceted campaign with a positive prescriptive agenda for change. We need a set of common and shared principles from religion and human rights ideas. Choose something positive that will resonate with Canadians like a charter of rights for healthcare. What sets Canadians apart from Americans is their healthcare. Support and assistance in palliative care is something that people can believe in and adopt. It would also disarm our opponents.

(A) It really doesn't matter what the law says. People who are determined to die will do it one way or another. We need a society where no one will want to die or think of dying. It makes no sense to say that alternatives are available if they are not accessible. Information and resources need to be made available.

(A) In (a state) the palliative care argument did not work against choice. However if Canadians define themselves by their healthcare, their healthcare is at risk because people will be offered Assisted suicide instead of cures.

(PM) The more focused you are on one objective the better it is. On the other hand there have been people advocating a more multi-faceted approach.

(A) A multi-track approach can work, but we must be focused on the issue. That doesn't preclude multiple ways to address the issue. We can't just focus on legal but also need legislative. We should have cases ready. We need to identify problems and address them.
Parliamentary Track
Court Track

(PM) We need to be clear on tracks so we can give volunteers focus and direction
(A) we need to really focus on the service track so that we have authenticity.

(A) We should develop a case ourselves for the court. We should sue for abuse. His father could have lived but because of finances and so forth it was in the interest of the doctors to kill. Wilberforce was successful because they focused on horrors and abuses. In Washington they focused on the success in Oregon and didn't talk about the horrors in Oregon

(A) We need to address the issues about finances with regard to demographics. If the system cannot bear the cost then euthanasia will happen.

(PM) Talking about finances like that could potentially hurt us.

(A) Should we have intellectual/academic track? We should support academics who must get lonely.

(PM) We should be careful about getting TOO multi track

(A) Don't politicians appoint Supreme Court justices? Why are you so pessimistic about the Supreme Court?

(PM) Based on my knowledge of the Supreme Court. They focus on equality issue when it comes to euthanasia. There is a better than 50/50 chance of they will declare it unconstitutional.

(A) Need a renewed emphasis on open debate at universities. You alienate yourself if you take a countercultural stand there. There needs to be an emphasis on the issue itself not just ad hominems.

(PM) Used to need a police escort on UofO because of bilingual stance so understands that.
How do we seize the high moral ground. Opponents say they care more about people who are suffering.

(A) Alex S. debates a lot and thinks that he does very well, but then someone wins by bringing up some horrific personal situation. Our spokespeople are most effective when they have lived the issues.

(PM) Give voice to those affected by the issues.

(A) Can we be proactive. Can this group develop a protocol to help doctors and patients who are in critical situations?

(PM) Key word is proaction. It gives authority.

(A) In terms of lawsuit we can bring forward many things. For example where people ask for care and are denied it. Redefine or define again the relationship between doctor and patient.

(PM) Legal committee should bring up 5 cases we can pursue pro-bono (laughter)

(A) We need expert resources for physicians in difficult situations. People need advice for difficult cases.

(A) In B.C. they have a toll free number that any medical personnel can access 24/7 and get a palliative care expert to give advice on any case.

(A) To gain moral high ground, we need numbers.

(PM) That is gaining democratic legitimacy.

(A) The problems are not so much palliative care as sticky ICU cases and so forth. The court cases can work against us if it is a crazy person just wanting to prolong life with ridiculous measures.

(PM) Summary: Give voice to those who are affected by these situations and we need to engage in real action.

How do we organize the campaign? Should we form a coalition? Diverse but not too diverse? National? Alternatives?

(A) There are many different groups here with many different approaches etc. If you form a prescriptive coalition people will start to bail out. Make it loose enough that individual groups and people can give the message their own flavour.

(PM) So yes, but not too prescriptive.

(A) Alex S. Coalition works when focused. When we are at a larger meeting things can fall apart when people get too divided and less focused. There must be commitment to remain focused on what they are doing. Then people from all backgrounds can be comfortable and equal.

(PM) There is difficulty maintaining focus in a multi-track

(A) We are more like a massed choir, where different choirs come together for one event then break up. We are not just one choir. When you break into workshops for example you must be committed to your workshop but may send messages to other groups. So to faith-based groups, multi-issue groups, single-issue groups can work together but stay separate.

(A) Another tool for vulnerable people is the UN charter for people with disabilities which Canada has signed.

(A) There are very distinct provincial spheres and we need to realize that and work on those levels.

(A) There are many coalitions and groups. We need to identify who is going to be our voice in different issues. And how loyal we are going to be to those voices.

(PM) Easier to get people who are directly affected

(A) We need to stay focused, don't focus on other social issues we might disagree on. We see how enemy could divide us.

(PM) We would all agree on that.

(A) This issue needs to be connected to an event.

(PM) If you are out on a surfboard you can get a hold of a wave and ride to shore. Or you could drown.

Summary: Multi-track approach but need to realize this could draw us off focus. Parliamentary, Court, Education/Communication, Service

Spokespeople who are affected. Action.

Coalition but not too prescriptive. Maintain focus. Maybe multiple coalitions. Keep an eye out for some big event.

In a real campaign strategy you would spend a lot of time and come up with a document. In the small groups we will not be discussing strategy but discussing action, how to implement the policy.

They need more people in finance sub-committee. So-cons don't like doing funding but it is absolutely vital. (They put a $5 bill on the paper to encourage signups. Didn't work) Alex S. talks about all the things they could do if they had money.

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