Federal Council by Shawn Setyo

The most recent in-person Federal Council meeting was one for the books. This past weekend saw many returning members of the council being joined by a few new faces. I feel this particular meeting to be one of our more successful gatherings as a Federal Council. Given that many of us have been working together for the last couple years, there was a sense of comfort and ease when discussing what could have been a tense debate. Because of this familiarity, I feel that the resulting discussions produced decisions that will take us on the path to victory.

 

Topics that were discussed included the budget, election preparation and the importance of Quebec in the national discussion. Each council member shared their view that was unique to their province or region. Which allowed the rest of council to hear another side of the argument that they were not normally exposed to.

 

I am once again impressed and proud of the Young Greens on the council. They carried themselves with dignity and debated with vigor. They voiced the concerns shared amongst many young Canadians and shed some light on issues that haven’t quite reached the mainstream of political discussion. Because GPC’s robust and strong youth engagement policy, we are better equipped to tackle issues that future Canadians will face. I believe this young cohort of council members and staffers will one day be our future leaders.

 

The venue was ideal, given the view, it provided of Parliament and the meals were delicious and vegetarian. In the end, the Federal Council meeting was a prime example of green politics in action. We debated with passion, reached consensus on our decisions, and respected our colleagues. I am proud to have been a part of it.

 

Shawn (far left) with Elizabeth May and other Young Greens on federal council: Cherie Wong, William Gagnon, Ian Soutar and Thana Boonlert.

Shawn (far left) with Elizabeth May and other Young Greens on federal council: Cherie Wong, William Gagnon, Ian Soutar and Thana Boonlert.

Looking ahead: Pride by Ian Soutar

While this year’s Pride season has drawn to a close, the fight for inclusivity and diversity continues for advocates and activists.

 

Ian blog.jpg

As a politician, the topic of Pride has been something I’ve been wrestling with for the last couple of years. Leading up to this year’s event there was a lot of discussion about Black Lives Matter and how/whether support and solidarity could be shown. I was heartened by the meaningful discourse that ensued; I had rather expected the idea to be brushed off, even if the result was more watered-down than had been hoped for. Still, it was great to see our leader, Elizabeth May, wearing her BLM shirt and the passion with which she defended this choice. This is exactly the kind of progress that I believe our party needs to see – rather than just waving our anti-pipeline signs, which further perpetuates the false notion that we are a single issue party.

 

As a queer youth activist, there is much work that needs to be done on the ground, and while the reality of equality is hopeful, we still have a very long way to go, both as Canadians and as global citizens.

 

As Greens, one of our core values is Social Justice. Since I joined the party, I have not only felt included and welcomed, I have been elected a number of times for council positions and am frequently included in decision making processes. I am, in fact, immensely proud of and empowered by my party, but I must admit that this also comes through the lens of a cis-gendered white male.

 

As someone who actively volunteers within the LGBTQ+ community, I have learned that despite how open and inclusive I once thought I was, I actually take up a great deal of space. I like things to move along in discussion groups, and I often find it hard to not shout out the answer immediately, rather than waiting for someone with a less pervasive voice to be heard. I frequently find myself talking passionately about political opinions without assessing my audience or considering who might feel uncomfortable hearing these thoughts. It’s a struggle, but the more often I keep it in the front of my mind, the more I find myself able to dial it down and make space for others to have a voice.

 

It is this thinking of how others might feel by what I say and do that has helped guide me down the road of a political activist. When, for example, I am in a delegation at a city council meeting about adding a rainbow crosswalk to my city’s streets, it is not only my goal to tell them how I feel, but also to consider how everyone else who might not have a voice at the table might feel by council’s responses. When one councillor tells me that despite understanding that the rainbow is a symbol of universal inclusion, that many of his constituents will see it as a proclamation exclusively to the LGBTQ+ community, I have to have my sensitivity on extra high alert. While the majority of my being understands what he’s saying, there is still a tiny, nagging feeling that something is not quite right about that.

 

What is it?

 

While I might personally not be harmed by this notion, it is a place of extreme privilege that has allowed me these feelings. For everyone else that hears this as the majority further marginalizing and compartmentalizing the minority, their voice needs to be heard.

 

Just because you know someone who is queer, or you’re related to someone who is gay, that doesn’t necessarily make you an ally. Just thinking and believing that you are inclusive and welcoming in nature doesn’t make it so. Furthermore, just because you are part of a party that flies the social justice flag, you aren’t automatically a social justice warrior.

 

Social justice is like a verb. Setting a quota is not an ongoing action, it is an attempt at resolution through a single act. Like many issues, implementing legislation is only a small part of the picture- true change comes through continuous, internal efforts. Marching in a parade doesn’t make your party inherently more inclusive, though like legislation, it is an important first step. When our leaders parade through major cities with rainbow accessories, what message is the marginalized community taking from it? Do they see a goofy hat and assume that the party is truly inclusive in nature, or do they see politicians looking for a selfie opportunity? Do they see people promoting equal human rights, or do they see people looking to position themselves for more votes?

 

For all the political parties that participate in these events, the answer to me is not crystal clear. While I might not doubt our intentions, I have only to look at our track record as a country for doubt to be cast for the rest of the population. What more can we offer the communities that we hope to represent?

 

It’s here that I remind us that social justice is a verb. Like most things in life, you can’t get to it by simply agreeing (or clicking ‘like’ for that matter), but through continuous actions and efforts.

 

And surprisingly enough, it’s not hard to do! If you’re a federal party, have you heard about our country’s outrageous HIV non-disclosure laws? If you’re a provincial party, have you considered that our education system (in many places) continues to leave children feeling marginalized by inadequate or non-existent sex ed?  If you’re working on a municipal level, what sort of visible contributions have you made to communities that are frequently left feeling invisible? And of course if you’re a truly concerned citizen, what tangible work have you done to make your home more inclusive?

 

If you want to make a difference, it’s not hard! But you must first open your eyes to the amount of space you’re taking up, and consider who you’re taking that space away from. Take some time to educate yourself on issues like race, class or colonialism by listening to the voices of marginalized people. This is truly an example where actions speak louder than words- when asked what we have done to contribute to a minority of the population, we must be able to point to ongoing actions, not just historical achievements. When elected to a position of power, we must actively think about what more we can do today and how to make it a reality for tomorrow. And of course, when you have that nagging feeling that perhaps something is not right, unpack those thoughts and say something!

 

While I felt this year that my best contribution would be to attend Pride as a regular citizen, it is my goal for next year to march proudly alongside my party and reject selfie politics. We’re going to get there, but we’ve got to start thinking and acting now.

Blog by Cherie: Ottawa's Climate March

This past two weeks I had the honour to organize the Ottawa chapter of the People's Climate March. We marched to make our voices heard on climate, clean energy, jobs and social justice. Now, we face a new challenge: Trump’s commitment to dismantle structures in the U.S. for climate action and environmental protection. We need to show that we stand with our neighbours and that we believe in the swift transition to a sustainable, clean energy economy.

We can no longer stay silent on infringement of basic human rights and freedom. This is about speaking up for people and our planet who do not have a voice. We stand together to resist fear-driven politics, to embrace diversity and inclusivity. 

Thank you for everyone who came out! It was an honour holding this march!
Let's stand up, fight back, and save the world! 

SGM16 Newsletter

Happy New Year Young Greens of Canada! 

Without a doubt, 2016 was a mixed bag of surprises for the world, and Canada was no exception. We are now over a year into our Liberal majority government, the 42nd Parliament of Canada, and a great deal has transpired in this short time. Pipelines were approved, the Special Electoral Reform Committee visited Canadi-ans from coast to coast to coast, land temperatures reached record highs, awareness was raised nationally about Truth and Reconciliation… Our party even convened twice in a single year, a rather unprecedented occurrence! 

It’s been several months since our last message to you, and this first newsletter of 2017 hopes to in-form you of some of the most recent events the Young Greens of Canada have been up to. 

Cherie Wong, Ian Soutar, Jesse Langelier, William Gagnon: the 2016/17 YGC Councillors at the Calgary SGM 

Cherie Wong, Ian Soutar, Jesse Langelier, William Gagnon: the 2016/17 YGC Councillors at the Calgary SGM 

Calgary Special General Meeting

It was with the first days of a snowy, Alberta winter that the Green Party of Canada convened in Calgary in the first weekend of December. There was a lot of business that was covered, and while it’s almost impossible to get to all the resolutions put forward for plenary, monumental progress was made on several important issues. 

Consensus was the underlying theme of plenary, and to the delight of the YGC, we reached it on nearly all the resolutions presented to the convention. We now have an incredibly progressive stance on the conflict in Israel and 

Palestine, we are the first federal party to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery, we agreed that while many forms of Proportional Representation have their own, unique benefits, for the sake of simplicity we decided to back Mixed Member Proportional as our favourite choice for PR, though without limiting ourselves to exclusively that. We agreed that a referendum regarding PR could be a good thing; if it were to happen before the next election the choices in said referendum should only include PR options, or we could have it after having at least two elections using a proportional system and Canadians are familiar with its effectiveness. 

Adrian Carr, Green councillor for the city of Vancouver, presented her resolution on the Kinder Morgan pipe-line, which the party agreed wholeheartedly on (of course!), and we dedicated our future time, effort and resources to engaging and educating Canadians across the country on the urgency of runaway climate change. 

It was a difficult event for youth to access, unfortunately, due to travel costs and conflicting times with mid-terms for students, but we still managed to bring out several Young Greens, including Muna Sonia, Thana Boonlert, Marco Antonio, Eric Glimore, Sky Losier, and of course your YGC councillors William Gagnon, Ian Soutar, Cherie Wong and Jesse Langelier. Thanks to everyone for making the mighty trek out and representing our group and our values as Canadian youth! 

CURRENT AFFAIRS

The Dakota Access Pipeline Our fellow activists in Standing Rock, North Dakota, celebrated a massive victory for their fight against big oil, as a key permit to its construction was denied. The news reached our Greens mere hours after our moment of solidarity at the SGM in Calgary, which resulted in a massive outburst of cheers and celebrations within our ranks.  The battle, of course, is still far from over, especially with the recently elected, oil-eager president on his way, but with the appearance of veteran forces on site, the US and the world’s attention has been drawn to the conflict there, and the chances of a permanent victory are much more realistic. Way to go guys! Keep up the good work! 

The Dakota Access Pipeline

Our fellow activists in Standing Rock, North Dakota, celebrated a massive victory for their fight against big oil, as a key permit to its construction was denied. The news reached our Greens mere hours after our moment of solidarity at the SGM in Calgary, which resulted in a massive outburst of cheers and celebrations within our ranks. 

The battle, of course, is still far from over, especially with the recently elected, oil-eager president on his way, but with the appearance of veteran forces on site, the US and the world’s attention has been drawn to the conflict there, and the chances of a permanent victory are much more realistic. Way to go guys! Keep up the good work! 

The Kinder Morgan Pipeline Of course we’ve got our own fair share of pipeline mad-ness going on at home. While our new PM eagerly ap-proved more than one pipeline, Kinder Morgan was eas-ily the most controversial. As if Canadians had forgotten about our First Nations, the Paris Agreement and honest science in general, Mr Trudeau also tried to convince us that the decision was not political (though pipelines are inherently so). Protests and community activist groups have ignited, and it’s clear that the battle has only just begun. Good luck trying to get this one built! 

The Kinder Morgan Pipeline

Of course we’ve got our own fair share of pipeline mad-ness going on at home. While our new PM eagerly ap-proved more than one pipeline, Kinder Morgan was eas-ily the most controversial. As if Canadians had forgotten about our First Nations, the Paris Agreement and honest science in general, Mr Trudeau also tried to convince us that the decision was not political (though pipelines are inherently so). Protests and community activist groups have ignited, and it’s clear that the battle has only just begun. Good luck trying to get this one built! 

Special Electoral Reform Committee On the PR front, the ERRE committee submitted its extensive research to parliament which showed Canadians overwhelm-ingly prefer proportionality to our current system. Since then, the Liberals have been flip-flopping on their promise, trying to spin the idea that we’re either not interested anymore, or too indecisive on what system should replace FPTP. Though the committee also found a desire for a referendum, it also found that there is no historical precedent that requires it. Did you see the survey from MyDemocracy.ca? No mention of PR to be found… Many thanks to our leader, Elizabeth May, for her hard work representing us and Canadians on the committee! 

Special Electoral Reform Committee

On the PR front, the ERRE committee submitted its extensive research to parliament which showed Canadians overwhelm-ingly prefer proportionality to our current system. Since then, the Liberals have been flip-flopping on their promise, trying to spin the idea that we’re either not interested anymore, or too indecisive on what system should replace FPTP. Though the committee also found a desire for a referendum, it also found that there is no historical precedent that requires it. Did you see the survey from MyDemocracy.ca? No mention of PR to be found… Many thanks to our leader, Elizabeth May, for her hard work representing us and Canadians on the committee! 

  Finally, it is with deep regret that we inform you that our co-chair, Émilianne Lépine, has had to step down from her position within YGC. Due to unfortunate circumstances, she has had to resign from the political sphere, but she will remain a strong force to be reckoned with in her world in Laval, Quebec.  Émilianne has written up a formal resignation letter, which we have posted on our website. Here is the link to it.  Thank you, Émilianne, for your tireless efforts for the Young Green cause. You were inspirational to all of us on council, and a role model for how youth ought to be engaged in politics both locally and more broadly across the massive country we call Canada. We’ll keep an eye out for you in your future endeavours in life, where you undoubtedly will be taking the world by storm! 

 

Finally, it is with deep regret that we inform you that our co-chair, Émilianne Lépine, has had to step down from her position within YGC. Due to unfortunate circumstances, she has had to resign from the political sphere, but she will remain a strong force to be reckoned with in her world in Laval, Quebec. 

Émilianne has written up a formal resignation letter, which we have posted on our website. Here is the link to it. 

Thank you, Émilianne, for your tireless efforts for the Young Green cause. You were inspirational to all of us on council, and a role model for how youth ought to be engaged in politics both locally and more broadly across the massive country we call Canada. We’ll keep an eye out for you in your future endeavours in life, where you undoubtedly will be taking the world by storm! 

 

Have you or your friends not received emails from YGC? Contact support@greenparty.ca and let them know that you want to be included on our mailing lists, and of course, tell your friends! For other help, contact youth@greenparty.ca . 

Ottawa Convention 2016

With Convention only just over a week away, Greens across the country are gearing up for the largest convergence of members of 2016. Thanks to the donations of various members of the party, the Young Greens of Canada will be making a huge splash at the event! With many scheduled appearances, there will be many opportunities for the voices of Canadian youth to be heard by the entirety of the party. 

As transportation to the event is quite difficult for many, given the massive size of our great country, we are preparing to broadcast all of our events across social media. Our newly formed council has many options for how to participate, and we'd love to get as much input from you as possible! While all of us will be posting on our own media accounts (see Council 2016-2017 photos on our Facebook page), all of our content will be shared on our national accounts. If you aren't already, you can follow us on facebook at "Young Greens of Canada - Jeunes Verts du Canada," on Twitter at @younggreenscan or @jeunesvertscnd , on Instagram at @younggreenscan , and on Snapchat at YoungGreensCan . (Notice a pattern?) We will be posting as much as humanly possible and introducing you to as many delegates as we can. There is word that our leader may even be making an appearance! Stay tuned for more.

If you do find yourself in Ottawa during the Convention weekend (August 5-7), we will be meeting at New Generation Sushi on the Friday between 5 and 7pm. This is located on 150 Laurier Ave W; this is an open event to all Young Greens, whether you are attending Convention or not. We'd love to see you there! 

As always, if you have any questions or suggestions for us, please don't hesitate to give us a buzz on social media, or via our email at youth@greenparty.ca . Our new communications guy takes great delight in hearing what you have to say and is doing all that he can to guarantee a timely response.

We look forward to seeing you there! 

(Pour vous qui parlez francais, notre site est en train de converter bientot! Nous implorons votre pardon et nous remercions votre patience!)

Recapping the Young Greens Retreat

Through August 7th - 9th, Young Greens from across Canada came together for the Young Greens Retreat & Training weekend. The weekend was focused on building connections across the youth membership of the Young Greens of Canada and growing capacity for the upcoming election.

We were joined by several special guests over the weekend, including Ilona Dougherty, Co-Founder of Apathy is Boring, who facilitated discussions around youth engagement and building the youth vote. Local campaign organizers also joined in over the weekend, leading sessions around campaigning, Green policies, and canvassing.

Ending the weekend, there were a few major takeaways.

Young Greens are building leadership experience throughout the party, particularly in campaigns. While we're awesome at knocking on doors, we're also proving that our energy and fresh perspectives are a huge asset in building and driving campaigns forward.

We came away aligned on the issues we feel are most important to our generation and generations to come. We're ready to bring these issues to the forefront, and share with our peers how the Green Party is leading the way on these issues.

We had an opportunity to share our individual experiences, and build capacity from this learning. Campus Club leaders, community activists, campaign organizers and engaged Young Greens discussed our best practices, and are ready to bring them into action in our home ridings.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we left the weekend with a true sense of community amongst the Young Greens. Our membership varies greatly, and comes from many different backgrounds. Spending the weekend together, learning and getting to know each other, has strengthened our connections, and fired up every single one of us for the election period and beyond!

On behalf of the Young Greens Council, I'd like to thank everyone for taking the time to come and invest their time and energy. We're looking forward to many more!