Sabrina Bowman is Executive Director of GreenPAC. In this post, she reflects on the ground the organization has covered in the last several months and the road ahead.
With two provincial elections so far this year and four more coming up from now into 2018, this is GreenPAC’s moment to reach out to the depth and breadth of the Canadian environmental community. And to the unusual suspects in other issue areas, from health care to resource management, whose goals can be advanced through an environmental lens.
Our work during the British Columbia and Nova Scotia campaigns has proven the value of a non-partisan organization that reaches out across partisan lines to support strong environmental leadership. That means endorsing candidates in all the major parties in a campaign—the way we did in BC, where four of our six endorsees won, and one of them has now been named to Cabinet.
And it means connecting with people with a diversity of political beliefs and party affiliations, the way we did in Nova Scotia, where GreenPAC supporters with conservative views helped us join the dots between air quality concerns on a more traditional environmental agenda and the emergency care issues at the top of the province’s political agenda.
Those connections, human and conceptual, go to the heart of our long-term goal: to get environmentally-minded politicians elected across the spectrum, so there is never a wrong moment to put the environment at the centre of political decisions.
People Make the Difference
The remarkable people who have committed their time, talent, and dollars to GreenPAC are the organization’s greatest strength. It’s an inspiration to work with dedicated volunteers and a small but mighty staff who share a long-term vision of how elected politics can serve environmental values.
Anyone involved with GreenPAC is in it for the long game. That means a constant commitment to think strategically, then build a practical foundation to turn ideas into results.
So many of our volunteer leaders (our board, advisory board, Expert Panel, and day-to-day volunteers) bring strong, specialized expertise in areas like climate change and wildlife protection, medicine and finance, organization management and events, innovation and strategy. And the candidates we support are proven leaders who demonstrate time and time again that when cross-partisanship works, the environment gains.
But first and foremost, GreenPAC is a learning organization. We treat every campaign as an opportunity to evaluate what we do, discover what worked and what didn’t, and do even better next time.
Learning By Doing
Our experience in BC and Nova Scotia over the last few months is standing us in good stead as we map out our action and endorsement plan for campaigns next year. In Ontario, we will:
- Connect with candidates and volunteers in every part of the province.
- Convene our Expert Panel to endorse the strongest environmental champions on the ballot.
- Connect those campaigns with a network of passionate, dedicated supporters who can deliver the resources they need to help them win.
- Organize events where our candidates and a wider mix of politicians can take part, giving our supporters a chance to engage more widely and build a shared vision of environmental leadership.
In Quebec, we’re challenging ourselves to develop the on-the-ground connections and French-language content that will make GreenPAC/Comité politique pour l’environnement a truly national organization.
Now It’s Your Turn
It’s never easy building a new movement from the ground up. But here’s what keeps me going: everywhere I go, in dozens of conversations, I meet people who are so thrilled an organization like GreenPAC exists. They tell me a multi-partisan approach to environmental leadership in politics isn’t just a good idea. It’s essential if we intend to address the serious environmental issues we face as a country, and as a global community.
And that’s where you come in.
GreenPAC will succeed when the hundreds of people who’ve donated to our endorsed candidates in provincial and federal campaigns become thousands and tens of thousands. When our determined volunteers and staff are backed up by the financial support they need to get the job done. When campaigners across the country sign on to support the candidates who best reflect their political leanings and their vision of environmental change.
We won’t always agree on every issue. Nor should we. We’re building a community of support on the bedrock environmental values we share, while turning our partisan differences into an asset that helps us reach farther and wider for legislative support. Canadians of all political persuasions know the life systems we depend on go beyond party politics. GreenPAC is the organization that puts that knowledge to work.
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