Fighting for the Environmental Vote

Guest Post byJamie D’Souza, Content Manager for Happy Eco News

In 2018, I was a master’s student studying the implications of climate change and polar bear viewing tourism in Churchill, Manitoba. I put my whole heart into this project; travelling to Churchill, collecting data, analyzing my findings and writing a 200-page thesis. That year, I was accepted to present my research to other scientists at an annual Arctic research conference. I was convinced everyone would share my excitement and that I would make many connections, eventually leading to even bigger things.

That conference was one of the most challenging weeks of my life. I dealt with imposter syndrome as I felt everyone else’s research was more important and impactful than mine. On top of that, my presentation was one of the very last, so it didn’t give me much of an opportunity to connect or make my project heard in the way I would’ve liked. I truly felt invisible, and it took me a while to bring that passion and excitement back.

My experience as a candidate for the Green Party of Quebec in this year’s provincial election brought back many of those feelings I experienced during that conference. If you know me or have been following my journey here with Happy Eco News, you’ll know that the environment is my priority and I am fully committed to making a positive influence on this planet. That’s why I wanted to run as a candidate – so I can be a voice for the environment and work with the people of Quebec to make a change. But much like that conference, the elections made me feel small.

You may have read my previous blog post about this election, where I mentioned that the mainstream media completely ignored the Green Party of Quebec. This is something I want to talk about a bit more because I think it’s something that really harmed our progress.  For whatever reason, the mainstream media (tv, newspapers, radio) didn’t want anything to do with our party. I contacted so many sources and got no response in return. Meanwhile, all the other parties (even ones that are smaller and newer than ours) were getting some coverage and making headlines. There was an article written in an English newspaper in Montreal about the area I was running in (which is primarily French) about how the people living there felt like no parties were taking climate change seriously. The kicker?  The article didn’t even include my name as a candidate or anything about the Green Party. It really makes you wonder if there was some underlying reason why we were being ignored. Not to mention, many candidates (myself included) weren’t invited to debates that were going on in their areas, even the ones directly related to the environment.

On top of all that (I promise there is positivity in this post), I had a few people tell me that I was a candidate for the wrong party. That I should’ve been running for a party with more resources, more money, and a much better chance of winning. Throughout this experience, I learned that many people go into politics because they are driven by the job, not the fight. Some people will even switch from party to party to gain a position and an income. I ran in the election because I wanted to make a difference in the world. And I chose the Green Party of Quebec because we share the same values and want to make a positive change in our province and world. Although these comments were frustrating to hear, I never once thought (and I still don’t think) that I was in the wrong party.

It’s true that this was a challenging experience, and there were times I really wanted to give up. But the fight in me allowed me to keep going. I took to social media and made Instagram reels and Tik Tok videos to promote my campaign. It’s hard to say whether or not they reached my desired audience, but they made me feel like my message was being heard nonetheless. I hosted a Zumba event in a nearby park which may have brought some visibility to myself and the party. I also had the opportunity to participate in one debate, which was my first debate ever, and I could tell you it went pretty well.

On the night of the election on October 3, many of the candidates from the Green Party gathered together to watch the results. Many of us thought our party would win at least one seat in the National Assembly, despite everything we experienced this past month. Unfortunately, I don’t have good news about the results. The majority of the seats (90 out of 125) went to the party that was already in power, and that is very right-winged. The Green Party ended up with 31,054 votes for the entire province, which was not enough to win a seat. In my district of Rosemont, I received 451 votes – beating one other party, which happens to be an environmental party but is more ring-winged than the Greens.

I knew I wasn’t going to win in my district, but I think the Green Party as a whole felt a bit defeated, knowing that we didn’t win a single seat. That after all the worry and concern about the environment that so many citizens speak about, the party that makes the environment their priority has yet, after 40 years, to be given a seat at the table.

When I spoke to the leader of the Green Party of Quebec, Alex Tyrrell, a week after the elections, we talked about why the results turned on the way they did. We concluded that the environmental movement isn’t as strong as it used to be. I talked about this in my previous blog that in 2019, the environmental movement was in full force, and it really felt like big changes were coming. And then the pandemic hit, and the rest is history. With this election, it almost feels like people weren’t ready to take the leap towards environmental change. I think many people are still dealing with the effects of the pandemic and are still figuring out how to make life normal again. It’s also possible a lot of people decided not to vote this year – 66% of the eligible population voted this year. But whatever the reason, I still think the environmental movement needs a push in the right direction.

Being part of the Happy Eco News team and publishing positive environmental news daily, I know it’s possible to bring this movement back to life. And I know there are people across the world who are committed to making these changes. The next step is to make these efforts known and give people a reason to vote for those fighting for environmental change.

The conference in 2018 discouraged me for a while, but I got back up, continued to give energetic presentations about my project, and eventually received my master’s degree. I could easily pretend that the election didn’t happen, but I think everything I experienced feeds a fire inside of me that makes me want to do more. This was my first time in politics, and I’ve learned that this business is far from easy. But I don’t plan on giving up. I am willing to fight even harder to make us known and to show the media that we deserve to be heard. The Green Party of Quebec will be going through some restructuring and rebuilding over the next few years, and I can guarantee you we will come out even stronger when the next provincial election rolls around in 2026.

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