Why I joined the Green Party

Stephen LaFrenie

I joined the Green Party just prior to the 2006 election in December ‘05 and worked as a volunteer in Trinity-Spadina. I have recently joined the new executive here and sit as membership chair. I am also seeking the nomination this February 27, 2007 which is when we are holding the nomination contest meeting. I voted Liberal as a young person and then NDP for the last couple of decades. I did not leave the NDP because I was disillusioned with their ideals. I left because as I get older I grow wearier of the ever increasingly deceptive left/right designations. I don’t believe that just because I’m devoted to social justice and equality that I can’t be a private business person. I don’t believe that it is wrong to become rich or even wanting to become rich as a business person. I believe there are moral ways and immoral ways to achieve it. To achieve it through exploitation and violence is immoral and therefore I see a great need for labour justice and the right to unionize when needed. I just don’t believe everything needs to be unionized.

My work in Jamaica and Haiti has shown me the dark, hypocritical side to our foreign and economic policies. I see no value in building our economy on the backs of women and children in sweat shops and ‘free zones’ outside of Canada. I see no value in a free trade system built on the systematic destruction of developing nations and their ability to feed and educate themselves. I see no value in sending women and men to their deaths in Afghanistan on the false claim of human rights defense while at the same time destabilizing a defenseless nation like Haiti so that we can maintain sweatshops there. Canada must have the courage to step back from the brink of violent chaos based on the economic domination of Western nations. It then can apply its dedicated military to peace keeping, nation building and security.

There is no such thing as ‘free’ trade when all the markets are controlled by multinational corporations who owe nothing to ethics or national sovereignty. The only ‘free’ trade is fair trade which honours human rights no matter where the product is produced or sold.

I don’t believe the government can solve everything or pay for everything. That is one of the reasons I shifted away from the NDP. I disagree with their mechanics of how to solve problems. I believe private business and government partnerships can work. It just takes political will to make them successful and accountable. They fail because the government fails to oversee them properly and allows private companies to dance around the ethics of the partnership.

I believe in the social safety net. I was raised in the sixties on welfare but I believe it is exactly that, a safety net. It is there to break your fall, not keep you artificially and hopelessly in the air. It is up to the individual to climb back up. The government should practice less interference in our lives and instead set the parameters within which we can develop and prosper. It should set and enforce the rules, based on equality, social justice, fair trade, and then get out of the way and let communities and people themselves solve their problems in a manner that works for them. To this end I believe in multiple solutions to problems. The Green Party expresses a dedication to these ideals. It is dedicated to changing how government works. I have long since lost any hope that the conservatives and liberals believe in these ideals. I believe the Conservative and Liberal parties to be actually one in the same. Two branches of the same tree with corrupt roots.

This is why I joined the Green Party. This is what I want to work for. Quality of life not quantity of material wealth.