Episode IV: A Green Hope

When I moved to Toronto in early 2019, I had the notion that I would get more involved in politics. 

My analysis of society always circles back to the same conclusion. We know the problems. We know the solutions. We just need to do the hard work of motivating people to assume the short-term costs of the solutions for the sake of their long-term benefits. The problems persist, I think, because of a lack of political will.  

If that’s true, the next conclusion follows quickly from the first. To influence the political will, one must play the political game. And to do that, I need to volunteer to help one of the teams playing the game.  

Unfortunately, when I had a look at the usual suspects back in early 2019, my motivation to get involved cratered. I didn’t see any party where I would easily fit in.

I accept that winning elections is an important part of advancing policy, but I can’t really stomach the idea of stumping for policies whose only function is to win votes. I’d much rather start with the best policies and work hard to convince voters of their merits. Most political parties, as you’d probably guess, don’t seem to share my view. 

Today, I can write “most” parties rather than “all” because I now know that I overlooked the Green Party of Ontario. As luck would have it, I stumbled across their 2018 election platform the other day. When I read it, I was pretty much, “yes, yes, and yes” (x3).

Looking back on it now, I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me to take a closer look at the Greens in Ontario. I have voted for them in the past. I’ve also voted for the Greens at the federal level.

Moreover, I have since learned that the party had a significant breakthrough in the last election. They elected their first Member of Provincial Parliament in the riding of Guelph. Mike Schreiner, the leader of the party, was elected with an impressive 45 per cent of the popular vote (29,082), a 25 per cent increase over his tally in 2014 (10,230). After such significant step forward, I would have thought they’d be on my radar.     

Whatever the reason for my oversight, on the plus side, it means I have a very easy and straightforward opportunity to help out. I can’t be the only person in Ontario who shares my political values, who wants to get more involved in politics, and who has also overlooked the Greens. 

Ergo, this post. 

Give their 2018 platform a look. If you like what you read, buy a membership and sign up for their virtual convention on November 7, 2020. I’ll be attending, and, if all goes well, I will get more involved in the party and see what I can do to help them elect more MMPs in the next election.

I write, “if all goes well”, because I have been down this road before.

There is much more to a political party than its platform. The party’s culture will likely trump all other considerations, when it comes to deciding how much time I will volunteer to the cause.

My hope is that the Ontario Greens are still sufficiently deep in the political wilderness that they haven’t attracted the kind of people who think the pursuit of power always trumps principle, but, at this point, it is impossible to know.

In their platform, they say that they want to do politics differently, but that could be an empty slogan. More charitably, their vision of “differently” might simply be different than mine. Ultimately, there is only one way to find out: once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!