Dear Fellow Greens,
I cannot thank you enough for your support through 2016. We have much to celebrate, even though it has been a very tough year. Following the 2015 election, I didn’t think I would be going back to Parliament as the only Green MP. The workload has been grueling. I have to be honest. As wonderful as it was to see the end of the Stephen Harper era, it was a struggle to keep going.
I was certain the new government would be much better than the last, and it has been. Nevertheless, the decisions of the Trudeau administration—approving the Woodfibre LNG plant in Howe Sound, maintaining the anti-environmental laws of omnibus bill C38, selling military vehicles to Saudi Arabia, issuing permits for the destruction of the Peace River Valley in northern BC, approving the monstrous LNG plant on Lelu Island BC, deciding to keep Harper’s climate target, and most recently, approving the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker expansion—are body blows.
We must continue to press the new government. They promised better and they must be held to that promise.
I do not speak of these things publicly, but you need to know that the Green Party and I are currently the strongest voice on climate. Only a couple of environmental groups are willing to push Trudeau to adopt climate targets that align with the goals of last year’s Paris Climate Conference. Most have taken the position that “Targets do not matter. All that matters is that we get started”.
But if we start to meet targets that fail to avoid climate catastrophe, how is that progress?
Here’s what I realize now:
Yes, we are a political party. But we are more important as a movement.
Yes, we want to elect Green MPs, but our role is more transformational as the conscience of Parliament.
Our job is not primarily about achieving power. Our job is speaking truth to power.
Other parties only want to score political points at the expense of the government, for use in future elections. Many environmental groups have settled for a mediocre climate agenda, grateful for any glimmer of progress after the Harper years. But that is not good enough to stave off the coming climate crisis.
Only the Green Party is telling Canadians the truth about what is really going on.
The power is now in the hands of the “sunny ways” Liberals. Those in the Liberal government are, I believe, reachable. We should be able to persuade, push and cajole them to do the right thing: on climate justice, indigenous rights, civil liberty, human rights, and on democratic reform.
As you know, right now in Canada, we have the once-in-a-generation opportunity to change the way we vote. Our current winner-take-all First Past the Post voting system is outdated and unfair. In 2015, it meant the Liberals were elected to a majority with only 39 percent of the vote.
During the election, Justin Trudeau made a campaign promise that 2015 would be the last election held under First Past the Post. Then, as Prime Minister, he embedded that promise in the Speech from the Throne and formed an all-party Special Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reform, which has recommended a change to a Proportional Representation voting system.
Although our new Prime Minister is popular among Canadians, we must not forget the last ten years. Stephen Harper’s policies did immeasurable damage to our climate, our laws and regulations and our global reputation. We must seize this chance and ensure that a prime minister with a dangerous agenda - supported by only a minority of citizens - can never again have total control of our political process.
This year, I attended more than 50 meetings on electoral reform across the country, and heard from thousands of Canadians who are fed up with our perverse system. As a member of the Special Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reform, I worked harder than ever, with my colleagues across party lines, to come to consensus on a voting system that will be fair, inclusive, and representative.
We need to continue to hold Justin Trudeau to his promise. This is a critical moment in our history -- we finally have the chance to make sure that every vote counts, not just the ones cast for the winning party.
Not since women, indigenous people and all ethnic and minority groups were granted the long overdue right to vote has Parliament had the chance to deliver on their pledge that every voice matters. We need to deliver on the promise to reform our voting laws.
To do this, we need more Greens. I do not mean solely more Green MPs – or even more Green MLAs at the provincial level. We need more Green citizens like you. Greens know that a healthy local economy rests on a foundation of environmental sustainability. Globalization and corporate rule will never get us where we need to be as a country or a planet.
Now is the time we pull together to show Canadians that there is a better way. Please reach deep into your heart and your wallet and send us the most you can.
We need to run strong campaigns of public information and mobilization. The window is closing rapidly on holding global average temperature to 1.5 degrees C, the Paris target. Political party timelines are irrelevant. This window may close on 1.5 degrees before the 2019 election.
The voice of Greens in Canada is needed more than ever before.
Green Party of Canada