I’m back in Toronto today after being in Halifax yesterday for the first policy conference in a series for the Green Party. It was a great experience, and the organizing team (Chris Alders et al) is to be commended.
The conference was on Ecological Tax Shifting and Environmental Economics, which is of course a key issue for us. As of yesterday morning, there were 150 people registered. An hour before lunch, Chris Alders counted over 170 people in the room.
Here’s the kicker: most of them — about 125 of the total — weren’t Green Party members. The conference was free to attend, and open to the public. How’s that for doing politics differently? This strategy had at least three major benefits:
- It got the attendance of the conference up to a critical mass, giving it credibility and productivity.
- It meant that ideas that most Greens would take for granted (for example, that unlimited economic growth can’t continue) were immediately challenged by people who didn’t have the same assumptions as the rest of us. This forced the group to recognize how our policies will be interpreted, and what we have to do to be convincing.
- We weren’t only preaching to the choir. I’m confident that the majority of newcomers in attendance left with a more complete and positive understanding of what the Green Party stands for, and I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them take up memberships and get involved in the days to come.
Of course, this also meant that the conference didn’t make formal decisions or pass resolutions. That’s ok, that wasn’t the point. The point was to listen to a series of experts on the topic at hand, ask questions, and make policy recommendations to the leader (Elizabeth) and the Shadow Cabinet (to be announced this week) to further develop into a platform that’s consistent with existing policy.
For the meat and potatoes of what went down (from my humble perspective and note-taking skills), please follow the links below. These posts aren’t really “easy-reading,” but I thought it was important to document what happened at the conference for those who are interested in the details. For those who aren’t, you might wanna skip this stuff.
- Dr. Ron Colman – GPI Atlantic – Presentation on Genuine Progress
- Dr. Peter Victor – York University – Presentation on Economic Growth
- Amy Taylor – Pembina Institute – How Environmental Tax Shifting Works
- Andrew Van Iterson – Green Budget Coalition – Implementing Environmental Tax Shifting
- Paul Lansbergen – Forestry Products Association of Canada – Effect on Industry of Environmental Tax Shifting
- Recommendations from the conference to the leader and shadow cabinet.
- Closing statements from the five speakers.