Electing Greens Matters

Once the pandemic is over, we’ve stopped distancing, and all the bubbles have popped, I need to visit PEI as a tourist. So far, all my trips to that lovely island have been as a campaigner. My first trip to PEI was in 2015, where I coordinated Peter Bevan-Baker’s get-out-the-vote (GOTV) and Election Day efforts in his breakthrough win. Since then, I coordinated GOTV for Lynne Lund’s by-election in 2016, Hannah Bell’s by-election win in 2017, and Lynne Lund’s and Trish Altass’s wins in the 2019 general election. So I like PEI.

In 2019, the PEI Greens earned the second most votes and won 8 seats, enough to become the Official Opposition in a Progressive Conservative (then) minority government. The impact of a Green opposition was immediately apparent. The tone of the legislature changed; there was a more collaborative approach. Green MLAs asked essential questions about issues important to the well-being of Islanders. There wasn’t the grandstanding and cheap point-scoring we often associate with question period.

The PEI Greens have passed and amended legislation that makes a real difference in the lives of Islanders. Regarding climate, they have brought PEI’s emission reduction targets in line with the Paris agreement and passed an Environmental Bill of Rights. They also passed legislation increasing the authority of the Health PEI board that also protects the board from political interference. In addition, Michele Beaton received unanimous support for her bill amending the audit to allow the auditor general to audit organizations who receive government funding.

It’s not just bills passed. More Green MLAs mean that Greens are sitting on and chairing committees. For example, Trish chaired a special committee on poverty that defined what a basic income program could look like and built all-party support. When you combine Hannah Bell’s Poverty Elimination Strategy Act with Trish Altass’ work in committee, the PEI Greens have fundamentally shifted the discussion around poverty on PEI.

The examples above are nowhere near an exhaustive list of the positive change resulting from electing more Greens. If Greens want to see their ideas become real, they need to put Greens in positions of power by prioritizing winning seats.