Passing the torch (October 11, 2020)

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you are finding ways to be thankful in a time of COVID, when gatherings
are not possible. I write this feeling quite chilly. My daughter is visiting and we are not in the same bubble, so keeping the apartment breezy with open windows, bundled in layers and wearing a mask. And ever so grateful that I get to see her in real life at distance, in her mask, but not on zoom!
I just got back to British Columbia yesterday. What a week! The vote on the
Speech from the Throne, debates in parliament and the blast of wonderful media
coverage of our new Green leader, Annamie Paul.

New Green Party Leader Annamie Paul Speaks with Reporters – October 5, 2020

If you want to know why we voted against the Speech from the Throne, my
question in debate sums it up. There is not real understanding or commitment to act on the climate emergency that is consistent with our obligations. Elizabeth May: Canada must set a climate target that meets IPCC requirements before the end of 2020
Deciding how to vote on the Speech from the Throne was like all our decisions as a caucus, by consensus. We decided in our very first meeting with our new leader.
We were of the same mind. There was not enough there for the growing gaps in
equity, not even a reference to Guaranteed Livable Income. Nothing concrete for
the scandal in long term care homes, and as noted good words and some good
programmes on climate, but no commitment to double or even significantly
improve our climate target. We set out our reasoning in a press conference the day of the vote. New Leader Says Green Party Will Vote Against Throne Speech – October 6, 2020
I was asked so often if I had any sense of sadness at the passing of the torch that I wrote a little column for Policy magazine.
First, of course, I have not been leader since November of last year. It is interim
leader Jo Ann Roberts who really passed the torch. Still, it is quite different to have Annamie Paul introduced as leader of the Green Party of Canada. How does it feel? FANTASTIC!
I do have to remind people I am not retiring. If you are in Saanich-Gulf Islands,
please be ready to help me again. Who knows when…..

Then I headed to Toronto by train to help her campaign in Toronto Centre where
she is the Green candidate in a by-election. Toronto Centre is the most compact,
small and densely populated riding in Canada. It also has the highest child poverty rate and is an epicenter of the Ontario opioid crisis.
All this after five years of having the nation’s finance minister as their local MP,
and after 27 years with nothing but Liberal after Liberal. One Liberal friend told
me that Bill Morneau had bragged to him that he had never had a meeting with a constituent. I find that shocking, but I guess Bill Morneau must have thought it showed some sort of non-parochial approach. I am so appalled.

Annamie’s campaign is operating under strict protocols from a public health expert whom they consulted. Ontario is a national hotspot for COVID and Toronto Centre has two areas with the highest COVID rates in Ontario. Clearly, this is not a good time to call a by-election. The reality of by-election timelines is that Trudeau could have met the requirements with an election in fall 2021.
So campaigning involved being masked at a few busy intersections to wave at passing drivers and talk to the media.

Getting home to BC, I am in time to try to do whatever I can to help elect as many BC Greens as possible. Despite early coverage that Sonia Furstenau and the BC Greens were caught by surprise and were unprepared, they are confounding the pundits by running a super campaign.

This week, we also felt the horrific gravitational force of US politics. Increasingly terrifying, but we can hardly avert our eyes. Trump with COVID, removing his mask, celebrating his recovery and telling Americans they should not fear a virus
that has already killed over 200,000 Americans. After a Green town hall with Annamie Paul, I watched the bizarre Vice-Presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris. If you missed it, Pence ignored the moderator and just kept talking over her. It drove me a little crazy so I was grateful when the Toronto Star asked me for comment.

Next week, parliament is in recess and I look forward to joining Green candidates on waves and zoom. And I will get out and vote in the advance poll for the best MLA I have ever had – Adam Olsen!

I am including a press release we did this week as I am so worried about the threat of ethnic cleansing in the increased hostilities in Azerbaijan. The Armenian community is pressing Trudeau to do more, and so are we.

Please take good care and hug the people in your bubble. Sending love to you all and appreciate more than I can say your continued support!

Love and peace,
PS. If you missed it, this was my speech from last Saturday night at the leadership event:

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