May in December

Last night the CYD welcomed Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party of Canada, to our hostel for a chat about climate, Canadian politics, and effective youth strategies. I’m going to touch on a couple things she said that really stuck with me: first, the importance of keeping Kyoto alive; second, the lack of youth voter turnout and potential solutions; and, her experiences as a woman in politics.

Kyoto. This is a major and recurring theme in many articles and blogs, not because we have nothing else to say, but because it’s REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT. May said herself that she “takes developing nations at their word” and believes that if Canada, Russia, Japan, etc. drop Kyoto, developing nations will walk out on the UNFCCC. This means that the global forum on climate change will die and we will have to resort to something like a G20 model for dealing with climate change. I don’t really think I need to delve deeply into the history of the G20 to convince anyone that such a model for climate action would be anything short of disastrous. Let’s not delude ourselves into thinking the G20 is a better place to deal with climate change, please.

Not surprisingly, Elizabeth spoke about voter demographics in relation to the Green vote. As you may know, she is making a case for proportional representation in Canada (see more about her case here, more about proportional representation here). She openly expressed her opinion that if we didn’t have a first-past-the-post system, there would be no need for strategic voting, and people could “vote from their hearts,”as she so strongly stated. I asked what she thought about spoiling your vote in the case that you didn’t want any of the available parties to run the country, and received a rather unexpected response – she said that doing so would essentially just put the Conservatives right back into parliament, and was a solution comparable to saying “I have a headache, so I´m going to take a gun and blow my brains out.” What if your heart happens to be telling you that all currently existing parties that they are unacceptable? Her comment seems pretty hypocritical to me.

We moved on from that harsh item of conversation to something a little more wholesome: women in politics and positions of power. Her main advice to the CYD ladies was to maintain an air of confidence, and speak with authority. You know when girls say everything like it´s a question? It makes everyone sound a little like they don´t know what they´re talking about? It´s probably not a very good idea when you´re trying to convince people that they should take you and your cause seriously? Especially when climate change is the biggest issue humanity has ever dealt with and people die every day we´re barrelling into the unknown at an alarming and ever-increasing speed? Don´t do that. Not only is it pretty irritating, it also takes away from your credibility in a huge way. And we just don´t have time for that.

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