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Canada needs a strong Green Party

The past several weeks have been very confusing and stressful. A lot of people have been asking questions about what’s going on with the Green Party and whether I still plan to run. My team and I have taken this time to process our feelings, and ponder these questions and what to do next.

I’ve spoken with my family and friends, professional advisors, and Greens who have been mentors. I reflected on what motivated me to run in the first place: to bring openness, transparency and honesty to government. These conversations confirmed that it would be impossible for me to run authentically if I was not open, honest and transparent myself. And so this is where I stand today.

In all honesty, I have been very bothered by the events of the past several weeks. Since her election, our leader has encountered significant challenges including racism and misogyny typical of what marginalized people face in Canadian politics. As a Black Jewish woman she has fought hard against the systemic colonial structures made to hold people like her back. As a queer woman of colour myself I understand and recognize all too well how systems and society are stacked against us.

Yet, I am sad that our leader failed to distance herself from the comments made by her senior advisor, openly declaring war on our elected Caucus and aiming to unseat duly elected Green MPs. I expect the leader of our party would consider these actions inappropriate if not wholly intolerable and would take immediate and decisive action to defend our Caucus. It is both disappointing and confusing to see this has not yet happened.

The leader and I have different views when it comes to certain issues. As a Green I do not have to fully agree with my party or the leader so long as we maintain mutual respect and trust in our commitment to our shared Green values. In spite of these differences I hope that if elected I will enjoy the full support of the leader if my very existence as a Green MP is called into question, especially if that attack comes from within.

It is in this context that I reflected on how I would move forward with my campaign and as I did I kept coming back to the words of our leader: democracy, diversity and daring.

Democracy is one of our founding principles as Greens. We are the political manifestation of a global grassroots movement to fundamentally change our political systems to one that is truly open, democratic and scientifically minded. We have a proud history of embodying participatory democracy throughout our decision-making on policy, internal governance and in how we show up for the public at large.

I believe our leader deserves the chance to lead through a strong mandate and that the best opportunity for her to receive this mandate is through a truly democratic process at the upcoming policy convention in August. Only then can we move past the current crisis together and start focusing on the issues Canadians actually care about: building a just green recovery from the pandemic, ensuring our healthcare system is resilient, decolonizing our systems of governance, and tackling the climate crisis.

Diversity is our strength and the heart of our future but as Canadians we must acknowledge that we have a racism, misogyny and transphobia problem. Our systems are colonial, built on oppression of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. As willing participants in a political system rooted in oppression, political parties must be at the forefront of changing these systems and that begins with being truthful about ourselves. As a queer, immigrant, woman of colour I have experienced a lot of hate and abuse in my life, through academia, in my professional life and in politics, and all I can say about the Green Party at this point is we have a lot of work to do.

Some have asked me if things are so bad, why I don’t I just walk away. I stay because I want to do the work to help the Green Party become a safe political home for everyone committed to furthering social justice, participatory democracy, ecological wisdom, non-violence, respect for diversity and sustainability. There are many who feel excluded from politics because they don’t feel safe, because they don’t have the extreme privilege it takes to participate in the system. My commitment to members of the Green Party in Vancouver Quadra and people across this country is that I will continue to speak truth to power and do the work to make this party a truly safe space, and tear down the systems of oppression that stand in our way.

Daring means speaking truth to power, not letting fear drive your decision making, and being honest and transparent with the public you serve. It means staying true to your values even in the face of fierce opposition. People need authenticity from their politicians and they aren’t getting it, which is why millions of people do not vote.

I haven’t always agreed with members of our caucus and I won’t always agree with our leader, nor do I expect them to agree with me on every issue. I have, however, always felt I could openly and honestly disagree with them. So long as we shared trust and respect in each other, and treated each other with compassion and dignity we could move forward together. This is the very foundation of consensus building that has made elected Greens extremely successful in legislatures across the country despite having so few seats. If we are to move forward in this country the Green Party needs to recenter itself on this foundational principle.

I decided to run for MP because Vancouver Quadra is my home and I believe everyone deserves a strong, local representative who will put their constituents before their party. We deserve a representative who will dare to speak truth to power, not let fear drive their decision making, be honest and transparent with the people they serve, and stay true to their values even in the face of fierce opposition.

With the events of the recent heat dome, heat deaths, wildfires, and oceans literally on fire it is clear the planet needs climate action now more than ever. The climate crisis is bearing down on us all and we have little time to prevent the worst. Yet, the language in our political discourse has not changed to meet the challenges we face. I care about the planet, the plants and animals and people who call it home. I care about the thousands of species that will surely go extinct while we buy ourselves time with delusions that net-zero will save us. It is clear that Canada needs a strong Green Party but it’s also clear the planet can’t wait for the Green Party to be the force for change it needs to be, and so it is up to us Greens to own that work.

Despite everything, I still see the Green Party as the only way to bring about the change we need. I remain motivated to bring more scientific thought and evidence to legislation, to bring more transparency to government, to bring more scientific literacy to our discourse, to improve the public trust in politicians, and to bring the voice of those traditionally excluded from politics. I am more committed than ever to help transform the Green Party into a political force that will make change happen for the climate, for marginalized and excluded people, and for all the plants and animals with whom we share this planet.

So today I’m announcing that I am still seeking the nomination for the Green Party of Canada in Vancouver Quadra. I will always commit to lean in to truth telling because that is who I am but that road will not be an easy one, not even within the Green Party, so I need your help. Please sign up to volunteer and donate so that we can secure the nomination together, and start the work of building a solid campaign to challenge the Liberals when they call their snap election next month.

Canada needs the Green Party and we can be the party Canada needs, but we have a lot of work to do and not a lot of time to do it. Join me.

Photo Credit: Diane Lake

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