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My nomination speech in Saanich-Gulf Islands

By Stuart Hertzog
September 19th, 2009

We need a new kind of politics. We need Green politics.

Good afternoon everyone

My name is Stuart Hertzog.

I’m a writer, editor and publication designer by profession.

I’m also a long-time environmental and political activist.

In 1989 I ran a successful campaign for Greenpeace Canada to stop a toxic waste incinerator on the lower mainland.

Waste incineration not a Green solution. It wasn’t then, and it still isn’t today.

I was then able to help prevent mayor Gordon Campbell from building a garbage processing plant in Vancouver against the wishes of residents.

This success forced the GVRD to adopt blue-box recycling.

I then went on to work on municipal recycling, gypsy moth spray, air pollution and energy, and on maintaining the moratorium on BC offshore oil and gas exploration.

I first became politically active with the Green Party in Alberta in 1983.

When I came to BC I joined the NDP and was an active member of its Green Caucus.

I was a candidate for the NDP in Vancouver-Quilchena in 1991.

In 1996 I rejoined the BC Green Party and ran in Bulkley Valley Stikine.

That experience convinced me that parachute candidates don’t work.

I ran for the BC Greens in Victoria-Hillside in 2001, taking almost 20% of the vote.

I am also a blogger, running the political commentary site greenpolitics.ca.

I’m standing before you today to become your candidate because I’m deeply concerned about the state of democracy in Canada, and in the Green Party.

I have run many environmental campaigns.

We won our campaigns because we gave people the straight facts about a project.

People would agree with us, and public opinion would force the politicians to make the right decision.

The ones we lost were because the decision to go ahead had already been made, behind closed doors, in private meetings between government ministers and industry, in cabinet, or in camera.

Secret decisions behind closed doors only benefit the proponents of a project.

They never benefit the environment, protect habitat and ecosystems, distribute resources fairly to all citizens, or ensure the survival of other living species.

They only ever seem to benefit a few rich, apparently insatiable, human beings.

My years of activism have convinced me that we are never going to protect the environment, slow down global warming, or achieve world peace and a just society, unless we have a biocentric and participatory democracy that gives people the right to decide issues that impact their lives, and which respects Nature.

Our present democracy is never going to allow that.

The British Parliamentary system was never intended to be democratic.

It was designed to protect the interests of the ruling élites.

It is a system that comes down from Kings, and speaks of Empires.

Over the years, there have been changes: universal suffrage; votes for women.

But the basic hierarchical system remains.

Prime ministers and party leaders have all the power.

Once elected, they can act as petty dictators.

As a result, our parliamentary democracy is dysfunctional.

Progressively, starting with Pierre Elliot Trudeau, power has been taken away from parliament, and even from cabinet.

Power has been transferred into the Prime Minister’s office and the Privy Council.

Power to represent their constituents has been removed from elected MPs.

Ministerial responsibility has been reduced to an empty sham.

The civil service has been politicised and is no longer impartial.

Party leaders and their advisors act like dictators, reducing candidates and even elected caucus to “yes” people.

Once we cast our vote, our supposed representative trots off to Ottawa and we rarely see him or her again.

And even more insidiously, our basic citizens rights and civil liberties have been steadily eroded by the rise of state ‘security’ in response to the tragedy of 9-11.

A billion dollars will be spent on security for the 2010 Olympics next year.

A billion dollars!

Armed troops and private security forces on the streets of Vancouver?

For what?

To prevent peaceful protesters from expressing their right to free speech?

To move homeless people and drug addicts who cannot get the help they need, out of sight of those who can afford the price of admission?

A billion dollars — while thousands of Canadians are homeless on the streets of our cities, and young children go hungry to school because their family is poor?

There’s always money for security, and for the endless war in Afghanistan.

My friends, our democracy is under attack — make no mistake about it.

I’ve watched as multinational corporations started labeling it as “command and control” in the 1970s.

They didn’t like the fact that it forced them to reduce pollution.

In the 1980s they wanted to “reinvent government” because it was “inefficient.”

9-11 gave them the final excuse to increase government and private surveillance, and limit civil liberties in the name of “security.”

We must wake up to what is happening.

Canadians, we must stand on guard — for Democracy.

I stand before you today because I believe deeply in Green political principles.

The four pillars of Green politics are:

  • Peace and non-violence, which are based on Acceptance
  • Social Justice, which is based on Equality
  • Eco-centrism, which is based on Interdependence, and
  • Participatory Democracy, which is based on Respect

All of these are important, but primary among them is participatory democracy.

This means that everyone affected by an issue must have a vote in its decision.

“Top-down” democracy directed by a distant, autocratic government, making decisions behind closed doors, is not participatory.

It benefits only a few.

We need a new kind of politics. We need Green politics.

The old way of doing things is not going to help us overcome the major challenges facing us today.

With others, I began warning about global warming in the early 1980s.

Almost a quarter of a century later, the world’s politicians have failed to halt the growth of greenhouse gases.

All they can do is talk.

We need a politics of involvement and respect, to tackle the major issues of world peace, economic justice, pollution, and climate change.

We need a Green Party that practices Green politics, as it is supposed to be.

Unfortunately, the Green Party of Canada has drifted away from its political roots.

Imitating the other political parties isn’t going to save us.

We must practice what we preach.

We must move beyond light green environmentalism, fiddling with a broken, undemocratic, and anti-ecological political process.

Our country is crying out for a new kind of politics.

Only a Green Party that stays true to its political principles, can offer it to them.

We can do that only if we ourselves understand what it means to be Green.

I have just two purposes in mind: to protect life on Earth in all its myriad forms, and to end the suffering of all beings, human and animal.

Those are the tasks I have vowed to undertake.

With your help, we go forward to throw the mean, anti-life government of Stephen Harper, out onto the streets.

Let them experience how thousands of Canadians are forced to live each day.

I ask for your support and your vote.

The future of Canadian democracy is in your hands.

Together, we can make it work for all of us, and for all that lives.

Please chose me as your candidate today.

Thank you.


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