I was asked to write a summary of the provincial Greens’ recent meeting in London, Ontario for the party’s monthly newsletter (PDF). Here it is.
I think that our new leader Mike Schreiner said it best when describing the outcome of the Green Party of Ontario’s recent leadership conference and policy convention. “There’s a sense of a new beginning, and a new era in the party.” The momentum and energy coming out of our weekend in London was that of a party that has embraced a common vision and is hopeful and upbeat about the future.
Green members from across the province met in London, Ontario from October 13th to 15th. While there were policy workshops and debates, most of the buzz was centered around celebrating outgoing leader Frank de Jong for his amazing 16-years of service, welcoming and affirming incoming leader Mike Schreiner and listening to and learning from great speakers from within and without the party.
For me, three themes emerged: that we must be the party of hope and principled solutions, that we already have more influence and impact than we know, and that in order to reach new levels of success we’re going to have to get to work.
To a certain extent, those three themes were encapsulated by three presentations. The first, by Schreiner. “Don’t appeal to fear when dealing with climate change,” he said during a town hall meeting on the Saturday, “even though fear is justified.” Instead, he said, focus on all of the great opportunities that will come out of transitioning our economy, for example.
The second, by Markham City Councillor Erin Shapero, a non-partisan, who told us in an inspiring speech that “[Greens] have shone light that has shined brighter and reached further than you may realize. Thanks to your leadership things are trickling down and happening [in governments] in ways that you maybe haven’t imagined,” before predicting that there will be Green MPPs at Queen’s Park after the next election in 2011.
The third, by Robert Routledge, a Green party member and former Barack Obama field organizer, who shared campaigning insights for an hour to a captivated audience on Sunday morning. “The other parties are better at this (campaigning) than we are,” he said, “but we can choose to out-work them. What we’re trying to do is really really hard. It’s a grind. So we can take pride in grinding it out against the other parties.”
In other words: stay positive, recognize the amazing things we’ve already done, and get to work on the incredible task ahead.
Of course, no summary can do the whole weekend justice, particularly this short one. We also heard greetings from the European Greens, communications and messaging ideas from broadcaster Ralph Benmergui, a “roast” of Frank de Jong by his partner Kelley Aitken, a rousing acceptance speech from Mike Schreiner, and more. To read even more about this weekend (including highlights from some of the speeches I mentioned), check out these blog posts:
Convention opens with tributes to Frank de Jong
Yohan Hamels brings greetings from European Greens
Mike Schreiner inspires members, sets out vision
Shapero: Greens are needed now more than ever
Greens learn “lessons of an Obama field organizer”