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Perception vs. Green Politics (or My First Political Convention)

I will now remember the summer and fall of 2006 as book-ends around an indescribable weekend in Ottawa, August 24th to 27th. As a newbie to political conventions, I was happy to find so much diversity, yet, so much cohesion in our green family. How could we possibly be a one issue party? How can Canadians ignore the breadth of ideas and solutions within this party? How do we change the perception of Canadians? We are talking about concrete policy, but we are also talking about changing people’s attitudes and about the party, the environment and their place in all of it (how else will they vote Green?). No small task.

All of this fermented in my mind with the election of Elizabeth May as leader of the party. She is in a unique postion to change the perception of our party at a national level which is critical to getting MPs in Parliament. Something tells me she’s up to the job.

What about you and me? When I arrived in Ottawa on Thursday I was unsure. I had doubts about the party itself; about its level of organization — its sophistication of policy. I even had concerns about my perception to family, friends and co-workers — how do you explain a “green epiphany” to them? How do you convince them that you haven’t joined a small-time, go-nowhere movement?

The inclusiveness of debate at the convention and the pervasive feeling that I was constantly participating in something solidified an answer for me:

Being Green means Acting Green — be it a protest, a petition, a simple discussion, a sign or a vote. I think the cycle may work like this: Acting Green = Changing Peoples Perception and Attitudes = Building Concrete Support = Acting Green, and so on.

Acting Green means participating in change, not watching it, waiting for it, or even debating it. Find your niche (I wrote this over my lunch break — 45 min. of political action) and start acting. We need to destroy the false perceptions that have been applied to this movement. Others will notice. They’ll see results. Eventually they will follow and we’ll have Green MPs and Green Policy in this country.