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Young Canadians Should Pay Attention To The Green Party Leadership Race | Op-Ed

With parliament prorogued and the Conservative Party’s leadership race now over, it might seem like there’s not much going on right now in federal politics. But don’t forget about the other leadership race going on right now!

  • That’s right, the Green Party leadership race is just reaching its final stages and there are a few reasons I believe all young people across Canada should be paying attention to this race and voting if they can!

The Green Party of Canada leadership race is an incredible opportunity for young people in Canada.

Not only does it give a voice to those otherwise ineligible to vote in federal elections, but the Green Party leadership also represents a great opportunity for youth to have their voice heard at this critical time in Canadian politics.

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No Need to Wait Until 18

In a federal election, only citizens over the age of 18 are eligible to vote. This means that people under the age of 18, and permanent residents, are effectively shut out of the democratic process.

  • As the various youth activist movements have shown us, young people under 18 are deeply invested in the decisions our political leaders make.
  • While under-18s aren’t able to vote in general elections, teenagers aged 14 and up are eligible to vote in the Green Party leadership race.

With the climate crisis and COVID-19’s economic shocks, time is of the essence. The policies put in place today will determine the future of today’s youth for decades to come. Waiting for your 18th birthday simply isn’t enough anymore for many teens. And while marching in the streets is one solution, voting for party leaders is a simple action with a huge impact.

Voting in a leadership race does more than you think.

Party leaders bring issues and policies to the national stage. The Green Party often brings fresh new ideas to the forefront, helping popularize them.

  • A great example is a guaranteed livable income (GLI). In 2019, the Green Party advocated for a GLI across Canada in their platform. This led to the idea being discussed in the news, during the national leader’s debate and by the candidates on people’s doorsteps.
  • Recently, a motion calling for a GLI was submitted to the House of Commons and polls have determined that 59% of Canadians support such a proposal.

This is just one example of how the Green Party leader influences policy in Canada. But why does the Green Party’s influence matter for youth?


Giving Youth a Strong Voice

Perhaps the biggest reason that young people should pay attention to this leadership race is because the Green Party is a place where youth have a strong voice.

  • The Green Party has a history of supporting youth political participation. In the 2019 election, the party over 40 candidates under the age of 30! And that’s just the beginning.

The Green Party believes in giving youth a voice within every aspect of the party. Young Greens hold many important positions within the party, whether that’s leading their local EDA (Electoral District Association), holding positions on shadow cabinet, or sitting on the Party’s governing board.

In 2019, the youth wing was able to take part in the platform development process and made contributions that were directly included in the platform on issues like environmental rights, Indigenous rights and policies relating to Canada’s LGBTQ2SI+ community. It was these issues, championed by young people within the party, which candidates across the country brought straight to people’s doorsteps and onto the debate stage.

The Green Party is a grassroots party that believes in bottom-up policymaking. Even if you don’t want to get involved in a major role within the party, members of the party drive policy. The members make the policy, and the party crafts it into a platform.

Any member can submit policy to be voted on by the rest of the membership, and vote on proposals made by other members. New leadership tends to spur lots of policy creation, so now is a perfect time to join to take part in this exciting process. Imagine how exciting it would be to see a leader of a federal party on the national stage defending a policy you proposed!

A membership in the time of a leadership race does double-duty:

  • Not only do you get to vote for a leader whose policy priorities align with yours, but you get to be part of seeing those policies brought to the forefront of political debate in Canada

A Wide Diversity of Candidates

It’s unlikely that finding an appealing candidate will be a problem in this leadership race. While the final cut-off isn’t until the end of the month, there are currently 9 candidates in the running for the leadership.

  • The candidates come from all regions of the country, from coast to coast to coast—and everywhere in between.
  • If you’re tired of the status quo politician, the leadership candidates include people of colour, people of various gender identities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and more!
  • Many of the candidates have bold visions for the future and are proposing innovative new policies that will benefit countless Canadians.

The Bottom Line:

The Green Party presents an exciting opportunity for young people to get involved in politics and influence the policies made by our Parliament. Perhaps that’s why so many leadership campaigns have youth in key roles on their campaign teams. It might be a little late to join a team, but it’s not too late to have your say in who becomes the next leader of the Green Party!

  • Anyone who becomes a member before September 3 will be able to vote for the next leader of the party, and help write the next chapter of the party.
  • Voting opens online on September 26th.
  • Anyone over the age of 14 can vote—permanent residents too! It only takes 5 minutes to sign up and costs as little as $10.

Even if you’ve never voted Green before in your life, you have the opportunity to help elect someone to the leadership that will champion the issues that youth care about and have a real, tangible impact on the very shape of political discourse in this country. The Green Party is an important part of the political process, and it needs a leader that young people in Canada can depend on.

The next federal election is critical. As we deal not only with the climate crisis, but also the recovery from COVID-19, youth need a strong voice who will bring their concerns to the national stage. The next leader of the Green Party could be that person, but only if young people sign up to vote in the race. The time for simply hoping that our political leaders represent us is over—it’s time to pick them ourselves.

So, are you in?