Crossposted from my blog on gpo.ca, which has even more posts from this weekend’s convention.
Leadership contestant Mike Schreiner spent 30 minutes this morning answering questions from Greens in attendance at this week’s convention. His comments were an inspiring and energizing call to action. What follows is my attempt to transcribe some of his comments. These are mostly direct quotes but some slight paraphrasing has taken place as well.
Three critical pillars for Green leadership
First, you need to have the right vision. I joined the Green Party of Ontario because I absolutely believe we have the right vision.
Second, a leader needs the right organizational leadership. We have to build our organizational capacity by increasing our membership and raising more money
Third, we need to be able to effectively, clearly and compellingly deliver a message that motivates people to vote for us.
Three green messages to focus on
I think our message needs to focus on three critically important pillars.
First, we are going to advocate for building a prosperous green economy in this province
The second critical component, we need to foster strong sustainable communities and empower our municipalities.
Third, I’m going to be steadfast in my commitment to promoting the health and well being of all Ontarians.
Question: How will you ensure we run strong candidates in all ridings?
I think it’s absolutely critical that we run 107 candidates, and first we need to have 107 functioning CAs. I’m going to be a full time leader. That means I’m going to spend at least one day a week at Queen’s Park, and the other five days (I’d like to take one day a week to spend with my family) I’m going to be traveling around the province engaging voters and our members. I don’t want a candidate to go into the next election without the support of a CA in place.
But I’m going to be frank with you. We’re going to need to focus our resources on ridings where we think we have a chance to win. And when we break through in one or two ridings it’s going to benefit every single riding and every single candidate across the province.
Question: How will you ensure we’re not just preaching to the choir?
I’m going to propose that we do a Community Engagement Program where CAs go out into the community and do something like support the local BIA or organize a Buy Local campaign or a Clean Up The River campaign. We need to demonstrate concretely on the ground that we as a party are doing things to benefit the community. We have to reach out to people who are not yet members of this party. The nice thing is I’m already getting quite a few requests to speak at events that aren’t Green party events. It’s going to take just picking up the phone and talking to business leaders, community leaders, NGOs, heritage associations, and opening a conversation with them. It’s going to take every single person in this room to engage and commit to that kind of activity.
Climate change is an enormous problem, and we need to accomplish huge emissions reductions. How will we do that?
First, don’t “appeal to fear” when dealing with climate change, even though fear is justified. Instead, talk about the opportunity to transition our economy. One of the things we have to address right away is the lack of efficiency in our buildings. We need an aggressive campaign to retrofit all our buildings. The great thing about that is it’s going to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. The other great thing is it’s actually going to save us money over time. The second opportunity is for each and every Ontarian to become an energy entrepreneur. The third critical area is around our transportation systems. Again, we can appeal to that in a positive way. “Did we bargain for this? Do most of us really want to spend three hours a day in our cars?” No, we want to spend time with our families.
What is our position on the HST?
We’re opposed to it, and I’d invite you to read Frank de Jong’s blog on the subject. Most parties have attacked this as a “tax grab,” and it is, but there’s a more fundamental issue with the HST, and that’s the continued centralization of power in this country. We’ve taken an important tool and turned it over to the federal government. (Ed Note: I’m definitely paraphrasing here.) We use taxation tools to help create the changes we need, so abdicating those tools to another government is not in the long term interest of the province.
A final thought…
What motivates Green party activists isn’t the political appointment at the end of the day, it’s our commitment to our values, principals and vision to create a better world for our children. That, as Frank de Jong says, is our compass.