Our convention delegation

We had one of the largest delegations to the Green Party of Canada convention in Ottawa. Ten of our members registered to go, though one was unable to make it, and two spouses tagged along. I’ve made all delegates who are not members of our executive guest authors for the next month, so they can contribute their thoughts on the convention.

The delegates from our executive were me, Andrew James, Doug Wright, and Joseph Cunko. Non-executive delegates were Mary Ann Grainger, Anthony Lucic, Chris Lea, Jim Harris and Lee Anne McAlear.

I enjoyed meeting many of the people in the party – members of council and staff who I had spoken to or heard about, but it was ironic that I had never met Chris or Mary Ann before, and finally got to see them in Ottawa. It was nice to share a table for lunch with the Toronto-Danforth crew. I regret that I didn’t formalize this at least once, by setting aside a special table. As it is, many of us stuck together anyway, in little clusters. We ended up going to many of the same sections – the Toronto caucus, the Ontario caucus and so on. And one of the nice things at a convention is that you also get to meet people from farther away. For those who go, a lot of internal information starts to make sense. When emails come from the hub, you can associate faces with the authors. You begin to identify people with their preoccupations about the direction the party is going.

I was inspired to see that when our crew was asked to help participate in the smaller groups, all were enthusiastic, and several asked me what else they could do. Being at the convention draws you into the work of the Green Party. It really is a party unlike other political parties. We are less interested in power than in positive change. One of the most moving parts of Elizabeth May’s speech was her promise never to allow partisanship to exceed sense. We are on a collision coarse with global destruction, and many of today’s politicians are encouraging us to go faster. Anyone who’s willing to help turn things around is a valuable ally, and the Green Party has a history of building effective coalitions to promote Green values. As Greens, we can celebrate when mainstream parties steal our platforms, when Michael Ignatieff talks about the necessity of a tax shift with a focus on a carbon tax, for example, and we would be supportive of these parties if they actually implemented any of these ideas. We are the only party that would celebrate a world where a Green movement was no longer necessary.

Another thing that’s inspiring is the connection between Greens globally. We may be perceived as a small party with few resources, but we can draw on the experience of a vast Green network that sits in many governments worldwide. In effect, we are the largest political party in the world and there’s this wonderful feeling of camaraderie between us all. Mike Feinstein, the former Green mayor of Santa Monica, and Monica Frassoni, the co-leader of the European Greens, were there to inspire us. Monica pointed out a very interesting fact. While Canadian politicians routinely dismiss the Green Party of Canada as a bit player, we have more than double the popular percentage vote of the Italian Green Party, which is part of the ruling coalition in Italy. In Italy, the Greens have influenced policy directly. In Canada, they cannot. In addition, we would likely have a much higher percentage if we had proportional representation so that fear and strategic voting didn’t drive people to other parties.

Monica challenged the Green Party of Canada to develop a trade policy with the European Greens and promised to work with us in good faith to achieve it. Mike Feinstein, who is part of the Global Greens network, wanted to create a North American group. At Elizabeth’s party, he asked her offhand what would be a good name for this group, as he had been thinking about this for some time. She immediately responded “Turtle Island Greens”, which is, of course, when you think about it, the only possible name. The woman is quick and wise. I look forward to the emergence of Turtle Island Greens. I think a trade proposal they developed would be infinitely superior to NAFTA or any other existing trade agreement.

So the convention was a wonderful experience for me, and, I hope, for all of our delegates. I urge all of our supporters to go along next time, probably two years from now. In the meantime, let’s take the momentum and inspiration from the convention, and keep up the work of greening Canada.

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