Lynne Quarmby: Bringing honesty back to democracy

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      A lot of people ask me why I’m standing for office. It’s simple: because no other candidate in my riding is offering a bold vision for genuine action on the intertwined issues of climate change and social inequality. If I believed that another candidate in Burnaby North-Seymour could do the necessary work, I wouldn’t be here. 

      Under Harper rule, our democracy has become fragile. The immediate question is how to elect a government that will take meaningful action on the most urgent and important issues, like the transition to a sustainable economy based on knowledge, skills and renewable resources. In this monumental task, the other parties’ promises fall short. 

      There is a stark contrast between the science of climate change and the inaction of our government. After many years of engagement on this issue, I have gained a deeper understanding of how our politicians continue to be out-maneuvered by corporate interests. I’ve come to understand the intimate connections between the economy, the environment and social justice. By my actions on Burnaby Mountain last fall, when I was arrested as an act of civil disobedience against the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, I have demonstrated that I will not be silenced, bought, or intimidated. 

      I am running as a Green because my values align with theirs, and because Green MPs are expected to vote their conscience, rather than being forced to toe the party line.  I will happily do the hard work of reading legislation, consulting with my constituency, and listening to others. I will bring the concerns of our region to Ottawa. By thinking for myself and acting for my community, I can be a highly effective representative for the people of Burnaby North-Seymour. Can the other candidates truly say that?

      To overcome the distrust and even despair felt by many voters, messaging by candidates needs to be clear, direct and, above all, honest. Just as Conservative, NDP and Liberal candidates need to be clear with voters about the limits of what they can honestly offer outside of Party leadership positions, I need to provide an honest view on what I can offer as a Green. 

      The Liberals and NDP are calling for a new National Energy Board review and approval process for the Kinder Morgan Pipeline/Tanker expansion project, but in doing so they are shirking the responsibility of recognizing evidence already before us. In B.C., some NDP candidates don’t support the pipeline; in Alberta, they don’t oppose the pipeline. My position and the position of the Green Party of Canada is clear: We are unambiguously opposed. The project presents all kinds of economic, health, social and environmental risks, but above all, it is incompatible with a rapid transition to a post-carbon economy. We need to elect MPs with the integrity and strength to do the right thing. That is the job of Government, and that is what Green MPs offer constituents. 

      A strong Green caucus elected on October 19 will stabilize an otherwise fractious minority NDP or Liberal government. In exchange for that support, we will insist on reforming our electoral system to bring in proportional representation, repealing Bill C-51, and engaging in genuine action on climate change. The Paris climate summit, COP21 (Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) begins a mere 40 days after the election. Elizabeth May is the only party leader who has participated in these negotiations (often on her own dime, sometimes representing other countries because Harper would not include her). A strong Green caucus will ensure that Elizabeth May is in Paris to work for Canada as a global partner. 

      Elizabeth May has demonstrated that even one Green MP can accomplish a great deal. Imagine what a dozen will do. It’s time for a Canada that works. Together.