At the end of June I took time out of my busy, busy gardening schedule and I went to the Green Party of Ontario AGM (Annual General Meeting). My CA (Constituency Association) suggested that I should go to the AGM where I could learn more about acronyms (a word I never remember) and get a better feel for the party. The timing was bad because we were (and continue to be) overwhelmed with CSA work, but by Friday afternoon while I was weeding in the hot sun, I’d be dishonest if I didn’t admit that the thought of sitting in an air-conditioned lecture hall appealed to me. Of course on Saturday, sitting in the air-conditioned lecture hall, I began fantasizing about being in my garden. Apparently there’s something to this “grass is always greener” thing.

I had a great time and met a lot of great people. It was held at Durham College in Oshawa, so it was kind of like being back at high school. Once you got your meal in ‘the caf’ you had to find someone to sit with. Obviously the cool people were already with a group. Even at 54 I still feel like an outsider, but it didn’t stop me from picking any group where there was a spare chair and sitting down with them. And the Green Party is a pretty welcoming group, so it never was a problem. There was no, “Oh sorry, no, we’re saving this seat for the quarterback…”

It’s always nice to put a face to the names of the people that I’ve been corresponding with as I went through the process of becoming a candidate. And I’m very impressed with the sense of true democracy that seems to pervade the party. This can seem cumbersome at times but compared to the other parties it’s quite refreshing. Canada is currently run through a power obsessed Prime Minister’s office. A Member of Parliament recently resigned from the ruling party because he felt like a trained seal with no input to how the party was governing. There’s a reason it’s called democracy.

Canadian and Ontario politics is full of partisanship and scandals right now, and it’s easy to get fed up with the state of the system and the main parties very quickly. I think many in the electorate are, which is why I think the prospects for Greens in Ontario and Canada are very good right now. It’s not about the personalities, it’s not about power, it’s about some pretty strong ideals. But enough electioneering.

There was an exceptional speaker at the AGM; climate scientist John Streicker http://www.greenparty.ca/convention/election/john-streicker discussed climate change in the North. This is the frontline of climate change and John provided some great information. I had never thought about how the Antarctic and the South Pole are a big chunk of rock with ice on top of it. The North Pole on the other had is in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. So it floats on ice. And that ice is getting thinner each year and fairly soon the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer months. Which means of course, that Santa can’t really have his whole workshop thing at the North Pole. Explain that to the kids as you drive to the airport in your SUV to fly to Australia again. So, what, is he going to like need a floating barge or something for the summer months? Hope Rudolph and the team are good swimmers.

The party is also going to concentrate many of its efforts in the next election to get the leader, Mike Schreiner, elected. He is doing exceptionally well in his riding of Guelph and I think it’s a brilliant strategy. The Green Party of Canada focused on getting the leader Elizabeth May elected in the last federal election and not only was she named “Parliamentarian of the Year,” she has raised the profile of the party immensely. Mike gave an excellent speech and I think he will win in the next provincial election. He did a great job of pumping up the team. I even got my photo taken with him! Woo hoo! Cam and the Leader of the Green Party of Canada! What’s next? Cam with the Prime Minister? NOT! I asked Judy Van Veldhuysen, the Deputy Leader, to take the photo but I think her smart phone must have been broken because the photo makes my nose look way more crooked than it really is. If voters like ex-boxers who’ve had many broken noses, then I’m a shoe-in.

Mike-Schreiner-h

I was disappointed about one element of the convention/AGM. There were in fact NO danishes during the coffee breaks. The morning break had coffee and fresh fruit, and the afternoon break had coffee and fresh vegetables and dip. Really. Fruit and vegetables? What, are you trying to keep candidates healthy or happy? I expect plates full of donuts and danishes on coffee breaks. No, in fact I demand it! This alone is reason enough for me to go. Next time I’ll just bring a box of donuts for myself. “Yes, question from the guy at the back with the icing sugar on his face…”

There was a new policy resolution put forward that the Green Party of Ontario will introduce a Carbon Fee and Dividend Act. Unlike a carbon tax or carbon trading, this just taxes all carbon as it comes out of the ground or into the country, puts the money in a trust, and then cuts everyone a check every quarter for their share of the pot. If you burn a lot of fossil fuels, you’ll pay more. Have a smaller carbon footprint, and you net out ahead each time you get a check. Carbon will get more expensive and individuals and the marketplace will decide how to deal with it. It’s so simple and straight forward even a conservative or anyone on the right could like it.

I’m totally pumped about this. It’s what James Hansen, the renowned climate scientist who wrote “Storms of my Grand Children,” recommends and it’s the reason I decided to run for the Green Party. With a fee and dividend system in place that puts a rapidly rising price on carbon, I think we still have a shot at turning this thing around. With the Greens putting it out there I believe it will gain traction.

Oh yea, and some people kept playing with their smart phones while the lectures were going on. I was going to tell on them, but I guess they’re adults now and can do whatever they want in class.