Engaging students in Green policy

Green Party leader Elizabeth May visited Wilfrid Laurier University on Feb. 26 to sit down with a group of students and answer their questions about the party’s policies and the state of Canadian politics.

“As a party we’ve geared towards policies of environmental sustainability, but we also have policies that go beyond survival,” explained May.

The party’s policies expand from green initiatives to include plans for the federal budget and the structure of representation.

May discussed with the group the problems surrounding the current system of first past the post voting, suggesting proportional representation as a better alternative.

“I think that a lot of the nasty partisanship we have in Canadian politics would go away with proportional representation.”

Proportional representation would give the Greens, who would receive more votes nationally, more seats in the House of Commons than the Bloc Québécois.

Instituting change will not be an easy feat; May pointed out the divisions growing in parliament.

“In an election campaign I’m very hopeful that Greens will be elected to the house so we can conduct ourselves in a way that will actually make a difference,” said May.

Encouraging youth to get involved and be concerned about Canadian politics was another important force for creating progress that has often been neglected.

“The largest demographic that doesn’t vote is under 25,” said May.

“Young people are really the only source of hope out there in terms of in the climate movement,” she continued.

In addition to the benefits for the Greens in engaging youth, May also recognized the importance of youth being interested in politics as a whole, calling out to all parties to better communicate with those age groups.

With parliament returning to a new session today, May is concerned with how many of the issues that have been put on hold due to prorogation will be dealt with.

“We’re expecting this year’s budget to be pretty awful,” said May, in regards to what she views as the Harper government’s failure to address the growing federal deficit.

Furthermore, Canada’s role in the international spectrum is one that she sees as dwindling.

“Here we are hosting the G8 and the G20, [while being] the country that’s done the worst on climate, the worst on human rights and really in terms of respect for democracy this recent prorogation has brought Canada internationally bad press,” said May.

Despite these recent shortcomings, May remains hopeful that Canadians will move towards a more environmentally-conscious path.

“We’re going to have to re-engage and revitalize the climate movement,” said May.

“Perhaps we don’t expect any change out of the Harper government … but perhaps there will be an election before the next climate negotiations [in Mexico this year] and that would help make a difference.”