By Meg Ronson | Feb 7th
I'm super new to politics. I did study a bit of political philosophy during my undergrad years. When it comes to environmental activism, I've kept it to the basics: helping run kids' nature programming and donating to conservation and animal welfare non-profits.
A few weeks ago, I was trying to convince someone over the phone to come volunteer for the Green Party of Ontario. I'm working to mobilize a volunteer community to see Deputy Leader Abhijeet Manay get a seat at Queen's Park for the Beaches-East York riding in this upcoming election. The lady I spoke with put me to the test, asking me to prove to her that if she did volunteer for the party, there would be a clear, tangible benefit to the planet.
When you plant trees, you can count how many trees you planted. When you pick up waste, you can count how many bags you've picked up. When you teach kids how to tend a garden, you can count how many cherry tomatoes they’ve harvested together - and how many went directly into their mouths! When you volunteer for a political campaign, it's hard to figure out how the political infrastructure you're forming can have real-world impacts on the community's and the planet's wellbeing. Is it worth it?
You already know that I think it is, but let me make my case anyway.
The most direct evidence we see of making a difference in the environment comes from Green candidates holding office at Queen's Park. The Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner holds the only Green seat at Queen's Park right now, so he's got quite the job cut out for him when it comes to making sure that our government is passing bills that are good for our planet and our people. Some examples are bills to protect electric vehicle infrastructure or to ensure the careful planning and preservation of our precious natural places. If we had more Greens in office, we could do a whole lot more! Having Green Party members in provincial parliament is a powerful way to protect our beautiful province and the people that live in it from bills and laws that would harm them. They will be able to use the resources of provincial tax payers and the Green Party to make sound decisions for their constituents and for the province.
To get Green people into power, we need to spread the word of what they want to do with that power when they get it. When volunteers are knocking on doors and calling folks on behalf of a Green candidate, it translates into more votes for the party, and the Green Party's data analysis has shown that Green candidates who run successful campaigns are the ones that were able to speak with and reach as many of the votership as possible in their ridings. Every vote that a Green candidate receives gives the party money that they can invest toward growing and improving the party's work.
Getting more attention for the Green Party also seems to have a positive effect on the entire political landscape when it comes to environmental protection and climate action. As Greens get more votes and more support (and are able to be louder on the political sphere), they exert pressure and influence on the larger parties to adopt better environmental policies of their own.
It's true that there is much research still to be done to substantiate my arguments. Conducting research into the environmental impact of these big-picture, system-changing efforts that politicians are engaged in requires money to fund it. And the Green Party of Ontario is very much a grass roots, community-driven party rather than one that can draw on corporate funding to track the impact of solid, Green policy work and advocacy.
If you're a runner like me, you might appreciate this analogy. Some environmental volunteerism, like tree-planting or cleaning up waterbeds, is a short, quick sprint. You did something fast and immediate that gets your blood pumping! Meanwhile, volunteering to get Green politicians into provincial parliament is like a long, long, marathon. It takes a long while, and you want to maintain a steady pace and a confident heart. And if you're lucky, you'll have a good team around you to boost you up. And hopefully there's some beautiful scenery to enjoy too.
If you'd like to learn more about volunteering for a Green Party campaign for this upcoming election, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org - I'd love to help you join the marathon for planet earth here in Ontario.
About the author
Meg Ronson is the Volunteer Manager for Beaches-East York at the Green Party of Ontario. She splits her time across several management positions in post-secondary research and innovation management; co-operative development training; and grassroots organizing. In her spare time, Meg likes to play guitar, knit and crochet, play Dungeons and Dragons, and enjoy lively debates with family and friends over glasses of cold beer.
About Abhijeet Manay
Abhijeet Manay is the Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Ontario and is running for election in 2022 in Beaches-East York. He has constantly been a voice for decency, justice and sustainability in Ontario politics and has been a strong advocate for affordable housing, small businesses and a guaranteed livable income. Together with his fellow Green candidates, Abhijeet works under the basic principle that all life on the planet is interconnected and that humans have a responsibility to protect and preserve the natural world.