The Green Party of Canada is set to replace Elizabeth May with a new leader this October. NNSL Media has reached out to all nine candidates to hear more about their platforms, especially as it pertains to residents North of 60.
Green Party of Canada members can cast their ballots for the next leadership of the Green Party of Canada from Sept. 26 to Oct. 3.
*All interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
Judy Green has worked as a software engineer, an airframe technician in the Canadian Forces, and a small business owner. She first ran for election in West Nova, NS in 2019 and is now vying for leadership of the Green Party of Canada.
While her path to politics may be less than traditional, Green says that her “tool belt” provides the skills Canadians need.
“We need somebody that can talk to everybody, we need somebody who knows how to listen. We need somebody who can cut through this massive complexity of the climate crisis and the economic crisis that we’re in as well. The human and social challenges that this represents, the international implications, just on so many levels, and that complexity is what I’ve been trained to deal with in computer science. So I’m not overwhelmed by it.”
On campaigning during a global pandemic, Green says some of the challenges have actually turned into blessings. “With all of the zoom calls, we’re actually reaching, I think, more people than if we were travelling across Canada using up a lot of carbon.”
Yellowknifer: Like you said, those Zoom calls are such a helpful tool to connect with people from all over, but not every jurisdiction has the same internet access. How would you address issues surrounding connectivity?
Judy Green: There are a lot of similarities with regards to internet between the North and rural Nova Scotia. We’re really struggling. Sadly, that often is in association with being in a Black or Indigenous community.
Covid-19 has really shown us that internet access is a basic human right. Right up there with clean drinking water – which is another one that I continue to speak out for in all communities, especially the First Nation communities that have waited far too long, but we need to have reliable internet to be able to have home based-businesses, to attract business to rural areas, and Northern areas of the country. It is something that you cannot do without any longer.
Look what’s happening with children who are now expected to do part of their school work online. If you’re a family that doesn’t have reliable internet, or you come from a family or community that can’t afford the technology, then you’re really at a disadvantage. And if that’s expected of them, it’s expected in education, then we as a government need to provide it. We need to make sure there’s a portable and widespread high speed internet for everyone across Canada.
YKr: What do you think about calls to defund the police and criticisms of racism in the RCMP?
JG: We have to look back at the history of the RCMP and it really did have its roots in controlling, and I’m using air quotes here, “The Indian Problem”, because I find that really to be such an offensive term. That really is where their structure, process, mindset, that elite attitude that they have, and are ingrained with from the first day of training. I know I’ve spoken to many RCMP officers who have assured me that’s exactly what it is. The minute they walk into training, they are told that they are elite police of Canada.
On the larger scale we need to be changing our mindset. Canadians have always been taught and been trained to fix a problem after it happens. Our policing assumes you have committed a crime because they are trained to catch criminals, they’re not trained to prevent crime. There’s not enough focus on the social determinants of health that tie into things like addiction, increased crime rate, recidivism, and all of these things that we have to manage. They’re not equipped for it, they’re not social workers, some of them have just done an amazing job – there are more babies delivered by amazing police officers in really rough situations than we care to acknowledge. And I applaud the police officers who have been able to step up – but the systemic problem that we’re not giving our police officers all the tools and skills that they need to do all of the jobs that we’ve asked of them. They are peacekeepers, so they should be trained to be peacekeepers.
I’m on the community health force here in Digby County, and one of the things that we really look at, and I think it’s true across the board for any public health, is – they call it upstream thinking. The idea is, you’re standing by a riverbank and there’s a child in the river, so you rush in and rescue the child. Before you know it there’s another child, so you rush in and rescue them. And now they’re coming hot and heavy – there’s two and then there’s three and there’s four, so you have a group of people pulling the kids out of the river but you’ve got to send a team upstream to find out how those children are getting into the river. And that is a perfect analogy for what is happening in our criminal justice system, and why there is a disproportionate number of Black Indigenous people who are being represented and being incarcerated by this system. There is something seriously wrong. Incremental changes are not going to fix it, we need to go right to the root of the problem and solve it there.
YKr: It seems to me that we’re in a unique moment where people don’t want to go back to the way things were, and I wonder if in that there is opportunity for change.
JG: Social scientists are saying that we are at a very unique moment in time because people have changed their routines, they have completely changed their way of life in order to deal with one crisis, which, number one has shown them that they can do it. Number two that they can survive it, and number three, gives us a portal, a very short portal that we can step through into a more equitable world on the other side. But we have to take action quickly. That portal will close very rapidly. The research has been done, there are a lot of tools out there that show us what we need to do moving forward. I think we have the tools we need to create the world we need but we need to act quickly because that window is closing.
YKr: Access to fresh food and nutritious food is another Northern issue. How would you address that?
JG: I’m a big fan of community gardens and greenhouses and I know that in Inuvik they have a community greenhouse that is doing a fabulous job, that is helping to model that that can be done that far north.
Ultimately if we provide a guaranteed livable income, that would help hugely in terms of food security and making sure that people have the money to be able to eat well, and, that of course, is going to reduce the number of chronic illnesses, reduce the stress on our medical system, and many more things.
Especially in Northern Manitoba there have been some First Nations communities that are really working together, perhaps raising chickens, others are really going back to the land and traditional ways of living off the land and surviving on what is all around them, rather than relying on processed foods that are really not providing the level of nutrition that fresh food would.
So we really need to be looking at what works for each individual community and have them take the lead on what they want food security to look at in their region. This is where the buy local, and grow local, and support your local farmer really goes a long way because the ecosystems are very unique in different areas and one size will not fit all.
YKr: If you had to leave Northern readers with just one message what would that be?
JG: We hear you, we see you and reach out to us. We may not be physically there, especially in this time of physical distancing, we know that there are unique challenges to your area, but do take heart that some of the challenges are shared to other areas that are rural throughout Canada. These are challenges that we have solutions for, we just need to get into government where we can put pressure on the government in charge in order to push forward to have these solutions implemented.