Why I’m Running Green

I made the decision to run for office because I looked at my world and felt completely unsatisfied with how my government was treating it. When I looked at Canada’s government and political parties, I didn’t feel represented by policy decisions, or by the people in government themselves. There is a lack of diversity in our system. The issues that matter most to me weren’t being addressed in government, and I didn’t see anyone like me in office — so I decided to become that person in office. I want to be someone who brings an intersectional lens to government and policy.

Right from the beginning, I knew that I wanted to run for federal government in my home riding. It’s the place where I grew up. It’s the only place where I knew how to get to work on changing things. If I was going to properly represent my constituents in government, I felt that I needed that personal knowledge about the riding that I would be representing.

So then I had to pick a party.

I already knew that I wasn’t going to run for the Conservatives. They have repeatedly downplayed the climate emergency and have been outright hostile to science in Canada. They continue to think that we can build a prosperous nation by cutting services. What are people left with, if their government keeps cutting away at the services meant to help them? “Not enough” hardly begins to answer that question. The Conservatives are not leaders in the fight for the rights of marginalized people, and that is unacceptable to me.

I also knew that I wasn’t going to run for the Liberals, because I didn’t believe they would follow through on their platform. The party had already broken too many of the promises they made in the previous election. They had approved the TransMountain pipeline expansion, refused to enact electoral reform, and continued to marginalize Indigenous communities and peoples — all items at the top of a long list of ways their party had betrayed me, and so many others in Canada. I hadn’t voted for them, but breaking those promises showed that the Liberals had a total lack of political will and integrity.

Much of the policy I want to write regarding AI has to do with worker’s rights, and strengthening our social safety net, so I figured I would probably be running for the NDP. When I approached them to talk, I was told that there was no knowledge, political desire, or interest in the AI policy that I know is extremely important to protecting workers and their futures in Canada. I later met with organizers in the NDP who said they appreciated my concerns, but warned me that if I was too independent, the party would try to shut me down. Hearing this shocked me. I have fought for diversity and attempted to affect change within other institutions riddled with implicit bias for years, and learning this about the NDP was a massive warning sign for me, given what I want to accomplish as an MP.

It doesn’t matter how inclusive a group claims to be. What matters is that a group can hear dissenting voices from within. If I was going to represent my constituents, I couldn’t be playing games within my party. Of course, there are good reasons for party structure and discipline, but when there is a toxic internal culture where the people with the least power don’t have freedom of thought and expression, it leaves no room for diversity. I knew then that the NDP would be a dead end for me. Running with a party that I knew I would have to leave — that would just be unfair to my constituents.

Then I met with Elizabeth May. Elizabeth met my standard for what a politician should be, when no one else did. She truly listened to me, hearing my concerns and the goals that I wanted to accomplish in government. I could tell the Green Party would be different from the other parties. With the Greens, I would be allowed real opportunity for independence in my work. But given this, I also needed to be sure that bigotry, racism, and misogyny would be unwelcome in the party; those are definitely deal breakers.

And I became sure of this when I signed up to follow the six core principles within the party: ecological wisdom, social justice, participatory democracy, nonviolence, sustainability, and respect for diversity. Although the party encourages being able to work independently, and does not whip votes, if party members do not follow these core principles, they will not be welcome.

As a gender-diverse person in the sciences, and as a person of colour, I know what it feels like to be under-represented. It’s because of how I have been treated that I feel compelled to fight, to make academia and politics more inclusive by leading diversity and inclusion efforts within them. I feel today that our government doesn’t represent me, and people like me. And I don’t just mean the Liberal government that was recently in power, but rather the structure and system of government as a whole. It’s still inherently colonial, which means it is inherently exclusionary. The best way I can work to change these problems with our system is from inside it.

Since making the decision to run with the Green Party, my experience with the NDP has shown me that I made the right choice. I have a tremendous amount of respect for many people within the NDP’s slate of candidates, and I hope their party listens to them in order to improve, just as I hope that the Green Party listens to me, and my fellow underrepresented candidates on how to be more inclusive as well. The amount of condescending, insulting behaviour, and the numerous attempts to erase me and my voice from this election campaign have been disturbing. Honestly, this doesn’t phase me individually, because I was used to dealing with this sort of thing in academia, but it does speak to there being something incredibly wrong with our politics when such things are rampant during an election. I’m running to try to fix these problems.

My party may not be perfect, but it is easily the best choice to improve politics in Canada for everyone.