- MTL Blog got the opportunity to speak with the deputy leader of Canada's Green party, Daniel Green, about what the future holds for Canada's most eco-conscious party!
- Since former party leader, Elizabeth May, resigned shortly after the election, the party is in search of a new leader, who may just need to be a younger face in order to be more relatable to their many millennial voters.
- Read the interview with Green below!
After Elizabeth May stepped down as leader of Canada's Green Party two weeks after the election, critics were quick to say that her resignation was a long time coming. Now, the party is looking for a new face to usher them into the 21st-century and to tackle the harsh realities of climate change in Canada.
If recent history is any indication, it might serve the Green Party to choose a young, progressive leader who's from Quebec.
In Quebec, the Green Party hasn't won much of anything in their time as an official political party. However, the province is known for mobilization against climate change, especially with younger generations. Most recently, Montreal saw a historic climate march, close to half a million strong. So, if the Green Party is looking to make inroads, Quebec is prime real-estate for a Green wave.
Despite the fact that they only won 3 seats in Parliament, the Greens received a historic number of votes in the 2019 Election. As the only fully environmentalist party in the country, the Greens are most in line with how a vast majority of Canadians feel about climate change.
It'll take a Herculean effort and perhaps a change in the electoral system for the Greens to have a breakthrough in Parliament, but the party hopes that new leadership will reap new rewards.
I spoke with the deputy leader of the Green Party, Daniel Green, to discuss what the party's plans are moving forward.
What was the reason behind Elizabeth May's resignation?
She announced that this would be her final election as a leader over the course of the past few years. Elizabeth has always said that she loves the Green Party but hates being its leader because it takes away from her true love of Parliamentary work. Being the leader of a national party is an extreme sport and she wants to have a life.
She's stepping down on good terms because we have a caucus now, which we didn't before. We doubled our membership and we doubled our votes. The time was now for her to step down to have a new leader come in ahead of the election we'll probably be having in another 24 months.
Do you think the Green Party leadership should go in a younger direction?
We know that the Millennials are strong Green voters. We've looked at the demographics of who supports us and we know it's a young, female demographic that votes for us. If you look at the student vote - and we're talking about the non-official high school vote that Elections Canada allowed this year - there's very strong support for the Green Party.
Two years from now, those high schoolers will be official voters so we know that we'll need a young and relatable candidate.
Every party has an environmental platform. How does the Green Party distinguish itself from what the Liberals or the NDP are offering?
If you look at our platform and our climate action, we are very decisive. We're doubling the target, we're asking for the closure of the tar sands in 10 years, and we're the only party in Quebec to say that the pipeline project is a bad project and is not in line with the reduction of our carbon footprint.
Our party has been at the forefront of climate action and climate adaptation. We're not afraid of asking for more decisive action than the NDP is and of course, the Liberal government. Even the Bloc Québécois avoided taking a strong position against the pipeline project.
Do you think that the Green Party would benefit from having a multi-faceted leadership, like the Quebec Solidaire, for example, rather than one leader?
It's possible. It's not part of the Canadian tradition but the Green Party is known for breaking tradition. It has been suggested in meetings but it would mean a complete constitutional change.
Though, it remains to be seen how that would physically work. What would be the divisions of labour, of gender, and regional ones for instance?
Our tradition has always been to have two deputy leaders and historically, one of those has come from Quebec. That way, Quebec society can be more in touch with the Green Party leadership.
Will you endorse anyone for leadership?
As I'm part of the leadership committee and part of my job is to organize the leadership race, I have to remain completely non-committal to the candidates that will be running and will not be endorsing anyone for the leadership of the Green Party.
Do you think the Green Party will need a leader from Quebec to be successful?
We have many candidates from Quebec that have been talking about running for leadership and we hope we have more. Personally, I won't be seeking leadership - as I said, being a leader is an extreme sport and I still continue to work in the environmental toxicology field, so it would be difficult. I do plan to run again as an MP in the next federal election, however.
How does the Green Party consider Quebec and its unique issues such as language and immigration? And, how does the party plan to negotiate with Quebec's government moving forward?
We understand that Quebec is a distinct society and it has always evolved a little different than the rest of Canada. The province has a centre-right government, the CAQ. Its position on immigrants and immigration is not shared by everybody in Quebec and there's a lot of division on this debate.
Bill 21 has created a malaise but we respect the fact that the National Assembly has the right to adopt its own laws. This law is being contested by Quebecers who feel they are being discriminated against and we will closely follow the court challenge once that reaches the Supreme Court of Canada.
What's one initiative that the Green Party will propose to improve public transit in Montreal?
We support the metro extensions, both proposals in the South Shore and the Blue Line. We also support the Pink Line electric tram between Lachine and downtown Montreal. And we've even supported adding high-frequency trains in the Toronto-Montreal corridor.
Personally, I said that if CN doesn't want to collaborate, we would think about renationalizing the railway lines so that VIA Rail would be allowed to operate high-frequency trains. We're still waiting to see how the Trudeau minority government will deliver on promises to collective transport.
How do the Greens plan to break through Canada's apparent two-party system?
Elizabeth May has been at the forefront of electoral reform and its one of the things we've been asking for almost 10 years. With the type of Parliament we have, first-past-the-post doesn't work anymore because we are a five-party system.
In mixed-member proportional representation systems, coalition governments are often more stable. Ultimately, Canadians should see that first-past-the-post in a multi-party system no longer works anymore.
We'll see this happening over the next few years and as democracy evolves on a federal level, it may come to pass that a proportional system will allow for more stable governments.
Should you become an MP in an upcoming election, what's one policy that's near and dear to you that you will bring to Parliament?
Because of my background in environmental toxicology, what I would like to see is much more climate adaptation that specifically deals with environmental challenges. In Quebec, we're seeing massive flooding where it never been seen before. When you have these rivers that end up where they shouldn't be, it entails a lot of pollutants in the river systems.
We have a lot of physical infrastructure in our urban environments that contain a lot of chemicals. Now, we'll have to start thinking about what to do with these chemicals if they end up in the water. One thing that I would like to do is concretely evaluate how we manage our chemicals, both industrial and consumer so that they don't end up in our water systems.
As expected, the future of the Greens continues to look greener by the day!