Giving Green a Chance
Guest Post by: Jamie D’Souza, Content Manager for Happy Eco News
As many of you already know, I am running as a candidate for the Green Party of Quebec in Quebec’s upcoming provincial election. This is the first time I am running as a candidate and the first time I’ve engaged in politics. I chose to be a candidate because of my passion for the environment and because I believe that it’s time for environmentalists to be heard so that we can work towards making this province a greener place to live. My platform focuses on improving our recycling systems and reducing textile waste, and I am dedicated to making these issues heard.
Behind the scenes, a lot of work goes into becoming a candidate. And my experience so far has given me a lot to think about. To be eligible as a candidate, every candidate from every party has to collect signatures from people living in their riding. A candidate needs at least 100 verified signatures to appear on the ballot. And how does one get those signatures? The easiest way is to knock on people’s doors. It’s not an impossible task, but I have to say, it takes a lot of guts. As someone new to the election process, an unknown to the neighbourhood (I only moved here in the summer of 2020) and fairly introverted, I had some work cut out for me.
A few things that kept me up the night before I started collecting signatures were that people would slam the door in my face, tell me that the environment doesn’t matter, or make me feel like my fight for a greener world wasn’t worth it. As you can imagine, I was an absolute wreck when I started going door-to-door. But if you’ve ever met me, you’d know that I am an extremely determined person. If I say I am going to do something, I will bite the bullet and make it happen. And because my passion for the environment triumphs over my fear of “what-if” situations, I went to my neighbourhood looking for signatures.
When collecting signatures, we tell people that these signatures do not mean that they have to vote for the Green Party, but it provides us candidates with an opportunity to be represented and have our names on the ballots. It gives us a chance and, in my case, an opportunity to share the voice of the Green Party. Of course, there were many “nos”. Some people were reluctant to give their names and signature, and some hadn’t even begun to think about the elections (mind you, this was in April, and the elections are being held in October). But there were a lot of positive reactions from the people I interacted with, and I had quite a few people who were signing to support the Green Party of Quebec and support the environment.
Of the over 120 people I spoke with, one person really stood out, and even five months later, I can still remember our interaction. I was on a pretty good signature streak, so when I got to my next house door, I felt confident. I rang the doorbell, and a middle-aged gentleman answered the door. You could see his family in the background, and they were having dinner. Immediately he told me there were in the middle of eating but allowed me to say why I was there. I gave him my 30-second spiel, and he answered, “I’m not going to vote for you”. At that point, I think to myself, “okay, tell him thank you and move on”. But before I could open my mouth to speak, he said, “but I will put my name on your sheet”.
This interaction got me thinking about what these signatures represent. In a perfect world, every person who signed their name on my paper will vote for me in October and support the environment wholeheartedly. We know from the example above that that isn’t the reality. But it shows us how the democratic process works. People are signing these candidature papers because they want to see more names on the ballots. They want to see more parties being represented. They want there to be a choice of who they can vote for. After everything that has happened in the last four years since the last election, people are looking for a change. And maybe, just maybe, they are hoping that a political party, like the Green Party, can bring these changes.
The Green Party of Quebec has existed for over 40 years. While the party has persistently been fighting for the environment, under the leadership of Alex Tyrell, it has shifted to a more eco-socialist party. It’s a party seeking social justice and sustainability. Candidates in the party are fighting for the people of Quebec and the environment. And for this election, the party is working tirelessly to get as many candidates from the whole province to sign up and represent the Green Party of Quebec. At the time of writing, the party has 80 candidates! It’ll be historic if we can get it up to 100. What fascinates me about these candidates is that we are all a very diverse group of people with a common interest—the environment. In Alex Tyrell’s speech about the launch of the elections, he mentions that we are the original Green Party. No matter how many other political parties try to weave the environment into their platform. We have always been fighting for the environment, and we always will.
It’s important that I mention that although the Green Party of Quebec has been around for some time, the exposure of this party is limited. A lot of the focus in Quebec is on the big-name parties, primarily Francophone parties. Media coverage looks closely at the Coalition Avenir Québec, Parti Quebecois, Quebec Solidaire, Conservateurs and the Liberals (let me know if you see some trends among these parties). The Green Party of Quebec is considered a small party that doesn’t have the financial means or following to get the same sort of coverage. This can be discouraging, but this is why these signatures are so important! This is why the Green Party is putting so much energy into getting candidates; so we can play with the big dogs and be heard! Every time someone signs that paper (especially those who are hesitant), it’s one step closer to showing the province that we are here. Many candidates are still collecting signatures, and I wish them all the success and strength. Every signature is a win.
As I am writing this, I have just received an email informing me that my signatures have been approved, and I am now an official candidate for the Green Party of Quebec in the 2022 provincial elections. My name will be on the ballot on October 3, and the Green Party will have representation in Rosemont, Montreal. It’s officially real. Now I have one month to be known in the neighbourhood, get my message across, and be the voice for the environment.