We are standing at a precipice and face a clear choice: step into the climate emergency void or change course.
The Green Party leadership campaign has brought Greens together like never before. I have met many interesting and devoted people along the campaign trail. It has been truly inspiring. And, it comes at exactly the right time, when Canadians need the Green Party to take its place in Parliament.
It is now, when global warming and climate change are bringing about new, unprecedented challenges for all life on planet earth—that Greens have been preparing for our whole lives. For decades we have been warning the world of what was to come if global warming and climate change were not addressed. During this time, we have been preparing, getting ready for the time when we are needed.
We know what needs to be done. We have the policies to transform Canada into a sustainable society. And so, it is now that we MUST push harder than ever before to elect a strong Green caucus to parliament. Because the challenge that climate change presents, is like no other.
To achieve this objective, it is important for Greens to move forward together, unified in our vision to transform Canada into a resilient, healthy, sustainable society.
Here’s my plan to get us there:
1. Sharing power: Re-establishing Grassroots democracy in the Green Party
There was a time when the Green Party functioned in a decentralized manner, sharing power between the ridings, regions and head office. The relationship between the leadership of the Party and the grassroots was balanced and transparent. Council meetings were not held In-Camera and the ridings were more active on the ground in-between elections.
I believe our success as a Party electorally is linked directly to the strength of our grassroots: Our members, their riding associations and local campaigns. Re-establishing our presence on the ground in every riding, is step 1 in turning the Green Party into a truly competitive electoral force.
Under my leadership the Green Party will:
- Establish Electoral District Associations (EDAs) in every riding;
- Establish Provincial and Bio-Regional councils to help organize, develop policy and communicate our message regionally across the country;
- Establish GPC offices in every province;
- Implement more equitable revenue sharing between EDAs and the Green Party;
- Re-establish mandatory Leadership Contests, every 8- years, with Leadership Reviews to be held every 2- years in-between. (A motion to this effect will have to be passed by the GPC membership at an AGM)
2. Remaining true to ourselves: Values-based policy and decision-making
In the 2015 federal election, NDP leader Tom Mulcair made the ultimate mistake. He did not stay true to traditional NDP positioning, which allowed Justin Trudeau to take up NDP policy positions and outflank the NDP leader, enroute to a sweeping victory. It was a political lesson for the ages of what not to do if you want your base to vote for you.
The Green Party is fortunate to be part of a Global organization called the Global Greens. The Global Greens established a Charter with six foundational values to guide all Green Parties around the world, in its first Congress in Australia in 2001.
The six values of i) Ecological Wisdom, ii) Non-violence, iii) Social Justice, iv) Participatory Democracy, v) Respect for Diversity, vi) Sustainability, are the foundation upon which all Green Parties operate. And, I believe they are the key to our electoral success.
By remaining true-to-ourselves—committed to the Values that allow us to create better policy, to rise above the deceptive politics of our adversaries, and to fearlessly push for the change Canada needs, we will succeed together, as a true grassroots party.
3. Supporting local ridings and campaigns
In the 2019 federal election, more than 200 Green Party ridings did not have an Electoral District Association (EDA). Without an EDA in place, local campaigns are unable to run competitive campaigns because of electoral and internal Green Party rules governing how funds are raised and transferred to local campaigns.
According to election rules, all marketing and advertising expenditures must be paid for upfront. If a candidate is unable to raise money until they register, the window to do so effectively is very small. Competing becomes nearly impossible unless someone is willing to bankroll the campaign.
And, when 50% of a Party’s candidates cannot compete, the Party does not have much of a chance to create the momentum it needs to do well on election day.
To get us headed in the right direction, it is my objective to:
- Establish Green Party Electoral District Associations (EDAs) in every riding;
- Professionally train EDA executives and volunteers to grow their EDAs and run competitive LOCAL election campaigns;
- Provide the tools, training and material necessary to run competitive local campaigns;
- Nominate local candidates in every riding. Parachute candidates rob local candidates of the chance to run and for EDA’s to hold competitive nomination contests;
- Provide party and campaign material in the languages each riding requires;
4. Clarifying our message
Politics is about people. In today’s information-overload world, making a connection with voters is paramount.
What will connect Greens with voters? I believe we need to make personal connections by telling our stories and providing examples of how the Green Party will improve the lives of all Canadians and their families.
Being Green is about life, all life. Our connection to voters then is naturally through health: Physical health, mental health, family health, the health of our communities, the health of our economy and of our society as a whole. Through Sustainability we will achieve the balance Canadians need to live long and healthy lives.
Communicating clearly, looking voters in the eye and telling them our personal stories—this is what is going to get us elected. You have my commitment to run the best election campaigns the Green Party has ever seen. Because together, we will move this country forward.
5. Electing a strong Green caucus to Parliament
National Campaign: To elect a strong Green Caucus of 20-30 members to Parliament, the Green Party must run a truly National campaign. This was the key to the Green Party of Ontario’s success in the 2007 provincial election where they tripled their vote, achieving an all-time high of 8.3% support. While they didn’t quite elect their first member to Queen’s Park, they came very close in Bruce Grey—Owen Sound that year.
In order for our top candidates to win, Canadians must be talking about us in every corner of the country. If Canadians are not talking about us everywhere, we will not be able to create the “buzz” to build the momentum, to push our top contending candidates over the top on election day. This has been the situation in four successive federal elections.
Full slate, properly funded: Creating the momentum necessary to build a wave large enough to sweep 20-30 Greens into parliament requires a real national campaign, with a full slate of local candidates funded with a minimum $20,000 campaign budget, so every Green Party candidate can reach every voter in their riding. Because if Canadians don’t hear from us, they won’t vote for us.
Running competitive campaigns: Running competitive local campaigns requires money. It is my objective to ensure all candidates have the funding and support they require to run competitive local campaigns, establish an Electoral District Association (EDA) in their riding, if they don’t already have one, and to continue to remain active between elections.
United, properly funded with a clear message and singularly focused on our objective, is how we are going to win more seats in parliament.
Over the remaining weeks of this campaign, I will be releasing a series of policy position papers that build on existing Green Party policy. So, check back regularly for more and please consider joining our email list and getting involved in our campaign.
A sustainable future goes hand in hand with a just future. Canada prides itself on being a just nation, that honours the rule of law and opportunity for all.
Our First Past the Post (FPTP) system is unfair because it produces results that only rarely reflect the will of Canadians.