Why Green Politics Matters

Every time a Green politician wins an election, the other parties squirm.

Liberals don’t mind losing to Conservatives; Conservatives understand that the pendulum swings. The NDP fight like dogs and take what they can get. But Greens are supposed to be the losers.

When a Green wins, it signals a big shift in the national conversation. It tells the political elite in this country that the desire for a healthier, more equitable planet has reached critical mass. That was the feeling when Paul Manly won his breakthrough election in Nanaimo-Ladysmith in 2019.

Suddenly everyone was tripping over themselves to have the best climate plan. The national conversation was fixated on the details of the Liberals carbon tax plan, the NDP were quick to adopt the American call for a Green New Deal, the Conservatives scrambled to find traction amongst a dwindling base of climate deniers, and Greens just kept getting elected all across the country.

I remember thinking to myself on the night of Nanaimo-Ladysmith victory: “We did it. We just saved the world.”

And I still believe that. In Canadian politics, there is nothing more threatening to the status quo than a hard-fought win around a big idea. In 2019, climate action was the big idea, and Paul Manly’s win helped define the course of the general election of 2019 and the subsequent environmental focus of the Liberal government.

Today, only two years later, it seems like accepted wisdom. You have to have a climate plan. You have to be thinking about the transition to the new renewable economy. And across the country, Greens at all levels of government continue to push the boundaries of what is possible, and Canadians keep voting for them in bigger and bigger numbers.

And as the electoral victories keep coming, and even as successful Greens are defeated or retire, it is critical that we capture their stories, their hard-earned knowledge and leverage it for the next generation of Greens to come. Because as long as there are Canadians who believe in evidence-based, planet healthy, people-powered politics, there must be someone there to support and promote their vision for a better future.