Sunday, November 10, 2019

2020 Green Party of Canada leadership race

With Elizabeth May stepping down, the Green Party of Canada will start a leadership race starting in the new year and ending in an election at the fall 2020 convention in Prince Edward Island.

While I am currently not a partisan, I plan to re-join the party to participate in the leadership vote, just as I did for the Conservative party leadership to show support for Michael Chong.

I don't know who the leadership candidates will be yet, but given I have history with the Greens I suspect I will have strong preferences.  I haven't received details yet, but I hope they will be using a modern voting system for the leadership that actually allows preferences.

I first learned about the Green Party some short time prior to the 1995 provincial election, directly from the then provincial leader Frank de Jong who also lived in Ottawa at the time.  He understood the international context of the party, and explained to me in numerous personal conversations the principles behind what is now called the Global Greens charter.

  • Participatory Democracy
  • Nonviolence
  • Social justice
  • Sustainability
  • Respect for Diversity
  • Ecological Wisdom
(The 10 key values of the GPO at the time are available on the Wayback engine).

Like Frank, I consider myself "socially progressive, fiscally conservative, and environmentally aware" (See historical leader profile).  Ignoring some odd problems surrounding a free speech issue, we pretty much always got along and I shared many values with Frank.

I offered my technical skills to the party and hosted websites, as well as participated in policy and other conventions.  While I was asked several times, I never put my name on a ballot as I am uni-lingual English and believe this isn't appropriate for a candidate running in Ottawa.  Several of my friends did put their name forward in Ottawa area ridings.

In the 1990's there wasn't a separation between provincial and federal parties, and the Ontario party organizers essentially organized the federal party within Ontario.  When there was federal elections in 1997 and 2000 we participated from Ottawa, but I didn't quite see myself in what I heard from Joan Russow.  She didn't seem to mirror the values I had understood the greens to stand for, but being a partisan at the time I didn't question whether the federal party had to have the same underlying values that made me interested in the Green Party of Ontario within Ottawa.

Then Copyright Happened. 

As technology property rights is very important to me, I discussed this area of policy across party lines and started to meet members of parliament. I came to realize I had as much in common with some of those MPs as I did with some of my fellow Green Party members.  There were MPs in the same parties I had strong disagreements with, and there were strong disagreements within the Green Party.  My experiences from this area of policy made me realize that party affiliation was not an important determination of what policy persons and politicians I could work with and those I could not.

That brings me to today.  When I vote, I vote for the person who can best represent my values.  Provincially that is sometimes a person nominated by the Green Party, and sometimes not.  Federally I have felt that David McGuinty is the most (lower-case) green thinking candidate in the district I moved to in 2003, and I vote for him despite having absolutely no trust in the Liberal Party of Canada (or its various leaders other than St├ęphane Dion).

While the leader is only one person among many, they set the tone and help recruit like-minded candidates.  As much as Elizabeth May has repeated current green party policy that she is only the primary spokesperson of the party, not in control of it (and can't whip votes), she has put a major stamp on the party and what candidates will run.

I don't know how things will change.  Federally I obviously supported Chris Bradshaw as he was a close personal friend before and after his interm leadership roll.  I never got to know Jim Harris I was spending far more time on technology law than party politics during his time.  I was happy to see the organization grow, partly as organizers and supporters of the historical federal Progressive Conservative party went different ways with the merger/takeover of the PC party by the Reform/Alliance party.

I've not had personal conversations with Elizabeth May, and have mixed feelings about the policies she puts forward even if I am far more supportive than I was of Joan Russow.  I expressed some of these concerns in a posting during the election.

That said, I am very grateful for Elizabeth May's ongoing work with the greens and for her constituents in public life.

My hope for the future leader:

  • I want someone with a science background.  While Elizabeth was very strong on climate and environmental issues, I found she (and whoever she was using as advisers) lacked a STEM background whenever other technology or technology law issues came forward.
  • I want someone who understands and believes in the principles behind the Global Greens charter.  While I have a stronger connection to the historical 10 key values of the Ontario party (which included Grassroots Democracy, Decentralization, Community-based Economics, Personal and Global Responsibility, and Gender Equality/Feminism), these are all values that the short-form 6 values of the global greens should be understood to include.
  • I want someone who recognizes the need for parliamentary and democratic reform, but helps articulate and promotes reforms that are consistent with green values and not those which temporarily appear politically expedient. I think Elizabeth's participation in the electoral reform committee was a major missed opportunity.  Joining the NDP with their promotion of the Ghallagher index, which only promotes the centralizing interests of party executives, is inconsistent with green principles.  It is also inconsistent with the parliamentary reforms Elizabeth has personally spoke about for decades.  Expressing some of those personal and global green principles might have enabled rather than blocked electoral reform.
  • I want someone who can articulately and calmly explain what makes the green principles different that those of all other parties, and not to mimic the other parties because they are perceived as being historically successful.

I don't expect the federal leader to be "socially progressive, fiscally conservative, and environmentally aware", but if the federal Greens have a leader closer to the above then they may again attract candidates (and grow a caucus) that can include some of these people.   Diversity is a value and potential strength of the Greens, but only if the executive allows that diversity to exist within the party.

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