Breaking the Green ceiling

How do you convince someone that something called “Green” isn’t just about the environment?

It’s in the name, for goodness sake, right?

The Green Party was originally called “The Small Party,” referencing Schumacher’s “small is beautiful” philosophy. The party has evolved dramatically in the last three decades or so and has joined the Global Green movement- indeed the only international political movement- but we have taken a beating with the false classification of a “single issue party.”

Let me be clear: this is NOT the marijuana party. We are not just about the environment, though we do make all of our decisions with the environment in mind, just as a parent would make their decisions with their children in mind.

If you look up the Federal Green policy book, Vision Green, you might be surprised to find that the first entire section of the book is actually about the economy.

You may think of us as a bunch of left-wing extremists, but if you take a look at our membership, you will find that a very large section of our base is actually comprised of disenfranchised Conservatives.

That’s right, CONSERVATIVES.

Yes, we’ve got our share of hippies, but we’ve got just as many ex-Liberals and ex-New Democrats.

Today I had the honour of being interviewed at Tri-Cities Community Television. For anyone who has been around Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam for even a couple of years, you might recognise my interviewer as Brad Nickason, a candidate for Member of Parliament in the 2015 federal election.

Brad, like myself, is also struggling with this difficult task of teaching our community that the Green Party is so much more than a bunch of tree-huggers vying for political office.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have hugged more than my fair share of trees in my life. When I was a young backpacker, my hair went past my shoulders and I dressed primarily in white, baggy clothes. In fact, when I got involved in activism, it was with the intention of saving some trees.

When I picked up a copy of Elizabeth May’s “Who We Are,” I was largely prepared to read a bunch of inspirational material on just that- saving trees. However, as the pages turned, it became immediately apparent that there was so much more to this than just the trees and our water, though one could easily argue that the air we breathe and the water we drink are indeed our most precious resources.

Democracy, it seemed, was under attack. At the end of the Harper era, voter turn out was abysmally low, our rights and values were being sold out under the guise of ‘free trade,’ our privacy was being infringed upon with Bill C-51 and the most marginalized people in our society, the youth, the elderly and the sick were being pushed even further beyond the scope of our concerns. The things that made Canadians revered world wide were being chipped away and sold to the lowest bidders, and the global community was starting to take notice.

The more I read, the more I started to learn about what it means to be Green. It’s not just about the trees, and it’s certainly not just about the pipelines. The Green platform is arguably the most complete and well rounded platform of them all. While the other parties focus on just the middle class, the most impoverished and at risk members of our society are almost totally forgotten. When the traditional parties carry on with ‘politics as usual,’ more and more people are turned off and we risk putting ourselves even closer to the disaster that is currently the US of A, where voter suppression has led to the rise of white surpemacy, now often being referred to as the “alt-right.”

We have a duty, as Canadians and especially British Columbians to show the world how things ought to be done. We’ve got the values, we’ve got the resources and the infrastructure, and we’ve got the diverse and welcoming cultures of our multi-racial society. Now all we need to do is act on it!

As an informed and engaged youth getting into politics, I find my solace here with the Greens, where I can rely on our shared, enshrined values. These values that are kept in check by both the national and global movements. If one of us strays from our path, there is a global network of checks and balances to put us in our place. We haven’t got a single career politician in our ranks, and we’ve banned big money from our party and campaigns, so you know that greed couldn’t possibly be a factor in this.

We are here to change the world, folks. Vote us in now, or don’t, but either way we’ll be fughting well past May 9th, and much further beyond 2019. Whether the world is ready for us or not, we’ve got work to do. Time is running out, but we’ve still got a fighting chance.

Why else would we all still be here?

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