For those of you who know me or who are getting to know me, you know that I am both extremely complimentary of what Elizabeth May has done as an MP — constantly speaking up for me on issues — even though I don’t live in her riding - and equally critical of how she has influenced the governance and operations of the party.
Nothing seems to surprise me in the GPC right now, although occasionally something shocks me like Federal Council ignoring a Directive from the membership to have the 2022 Leadership Contest rules approved by the membership [include link]. But what is really amazing that we have right in our Constitution this By-law passed by members at the 2018 General Meeting:
Bylaw 12 Global Greens International Secretariat
The Global Greens International Secretariat is responsible for maintaining connections with the Global Greens, Global Young Greens and Federation of the Green Parties of the Americas. The secretariat will participate in Global Congresses and General Assemblies whenever possible, assist the Party in communications with Green Parties around the world, and report on the affairs of other Green Parties to Federal Council as requested.
The Global Greens International Secretariat shall be appointed by the Executive Council.
Not surprisingly, this to my knowledge has never been properly executed and I haven’t heard anything about this since I rejoined the party in 2019. Our only official connection to the Global Greens seems to be through Elizabeth May who is Chair of the Global Greens Parliamentary Association. Unless I’ve missed it, we hardly hear anything about this activity as a member. I was told that Adrian Currie, Federal Councillor for Ontario from 2020 to 2022, was appointed to this position some time in 2021. There were never any reports produced that I have seen nor heard of. This is consistent with how Federal Council operates — they only trust one of their own — and we will never get anywhere with that small-minded thinking.
What value is there in connecting with the Global Greens?
The Green Party of Canada has effectively isolated itself from the Global Greens movement. Occasionally, we have asked International Greens to explain how they operate as we were looking into changing some of our practices. This was the case with the 2017 Committee for Motion Development which solicited input on how policy is developed by the German and New Zealand Greens. At the 2012 Biannual General Meeting, the International Committee arranged for a few speakers to travel to Victoria to address the plenary about how things run in other Green parties and about their experiences as MPs. This was a very useful and informative exercise.
I was a member of the International Committee after attending the 2008 Global Greens Congress in Sao Paulo until it was disbanded without any valid reason in 2016. This was the beginning of what I term the ‘dark ages’ of the party when the centralization and the cocoon around the leader and staff really hardened.
It was an extremely exhilarating experience for me to have seen people from around the world all passionately working towards the same goals in their respective countries. The most serious issues that we face are global in nature — climate change, war, the oceans on track to contain more mass of plastic than of life, etc. Inspired by what I experienced in Sao Paulo, I traveled to Germany to attend a Congress of Local European Green Councillors in 2009, headed to Australia and England for their 2010 elections, and took a train trip throughout Eastern Europe with Western European Greens who wanted to connect with their Eastern Green colleagues.
Connecting with Czech Greens 2012
The train trip ended up in Athens for the European Greens Convention where I was able to attend a Global Greens Steering Committee meeting as a North American.
With a Constitutional crisis currently looming around the Leadership contest, I have lost faith in the governance of the GPC to the point where I doubt that it is salvageable in any incremental way. There’s too much baggage and we have drifted slowly but surely away from what can be termed a Green party that we almost need to start over. If we connect properly with Global Greens, study how their parties run, and come up with a proper made-in-Canada version that is tailored for our unique political system, the path towards good governance will be much clearer.
It’s a very daunting task isn’t it.
Are you interested in connecting with the Global Greens? Whether we are talking about policy development, specific policies, governance procedures, or campaigning there is a wealth of information available to us from successful Green parties in other countries.
My suggestion would be that we reinstate the International Committee and then interested members could become Ambassadors to other Green parties. They would study their governance structure and policy development, what policies they have, what platforms they put forth for their campaigns, campaigning methods and many other pearls of wisdom. When these topics come up as the party is rebuilt properly, we have a ready resource for input into our discussions from these Ambassadors..
New to Canada? Why not become a Green Ambassador for the country of your birth. Or anybody can pick a country that interests them and better yet, there should be two for each country.
There should be a budget for the International Committee, as we used to have, so that we can send reps to Global Greens and FPVA (North, South and Central America) congresses. Yes, that will burn carbon but it can be offset, and sometimes we need to burn carbon to save carbon. If your contention is that we don’t have the money, please read my blog on fundraising.
It would be easy for Ambassadors to maintain bridges to other Global Green parties through the many internet tools available and I’m certain that other Greens would welcome webinar observation and participation from Canadian Greens. Ambassadors would also extend invitations to other Greens to attend our webinars and meetings where appropriate to provide knowledge, input and perspective..
The Global Greens newsletter is inspiring and should be available to all on our GPC mailing list, or we can display the link to sign up in the Member’s Section. Maxed out GPC donors who wish to give more to the Green cause could donate to the Global Greens, who are always in need of more funds of course.
Young Greens and the Global Greens
I’m not entirely sure what is going on with the Young Greens of Canada (YGC) but they failed to have anybody nominated for co-chair during this last series of Federal Council elections. This leaves Stuart Hunter as the sole chair. I tried to attend one of their meetings as an observer but if you are over 30, you are not allowed to do so. It’s hard to find a justification for that since a common complaint from youth is that they are misunderstood. Openness and transparency will go a long way towards bridging an understanding. Most of their positions on the YGC Council are vacant.
If the YGC connects regularly with the Global Young Greens, this will be an exciting way for youth to meet with other like-minded youth from around the world and doors would open for a tremendous learning experience for young people who are politically motivated. Our site should include regular blogs about their experiences in order to help build more community, momentum and understanding of the Youth perspective. We had a Young Green attend the FPVA meeting in Venezuela about 10 years ago but that member left the party soon thereafter. We are really missing out here, and there is no reason why we couldn’t have specific Youth Ambassadors for the various countries around the world.
I don’t believe that this disconnect from the Global Greens has happened by accident or by incompetence. It fits in with the pattern of unfettered control of the GPC by a small inner clique in support of both Elizabeth May’s personal view of things and what she is comfortable with.