Bill Green will be running for the Green Party in the Kootenay-Columbia riding in the upcoming federal election. That riding will include Nelson this time around, since the riding boundaries were redrawn in 2012.
Green is an economic development consultant and biologist who lives in the East Kootenay. Since 1994 he has worked as director of the Canadian Columbia River Inter-tribal Fisheries Commission. He also ran for the Green Party in the 2011 federal election.
The Green Party’s campaign headquarters for the upcoming election is located in Nelson.
Green says the ‘anyone but Harper’ movement is “front and centre in any conversation I have these days. If we battle it out with the NDP and Liberals we are bound to lose again. How we can win is by expanding the voter base, and that involves reaching out to youth and engaging them.
“You do not engage non-voters by saying you have to go and vote against someone. You have to have a commitment to positive changes and that is something we can engage more youth in. We want younger people to think, ‘Hey, there is some hope in this system and we can make it work.’”
Green says he also wants to attract disaffected conservative voters.
“The NDP has had 27 years to try and elect an MP from this riding, but they not been able to do it. There is a feeling out there that some current disaffected Conservative voters are not going to go to the NDP and we think we can find shared issues and concerns that would convince them to vote Green.”
In the 2011 federal election, under the old boundaries that did not include Nelson and Kalso, the Conservatives got 23, 910 votes, the NDP 14,199, the Greens 2,547, and the Liberals 1,496.
Green says one of the most important issues for him is “restoring our democratic institutions, making them something people believe in again. The party believes this and I believe it. It is over-arching.”
He says parties and party leaders are too powerful, and that MPs should be able to vote independently to represent the wishes of their constituents. Asked how this is possible when there is generally no consensus among constituents, Green said, “You have to listen, understand, and then and then take Green party vision and principles, and say, ‘here is what I have heard from constituents, here are the principles I ran for election on, and where does that take me…’”
Green says omnibus bills need to be ended and proportional representation needs to become reality.
“Omnibus bills are undemocratic. Completely unrelated measures are lumped in same bill and get no time for full consideration. And of course the Green Party is committed to reforming the electoral system to make it more proportional. I hope that we can get to a position where in the next parliament we can be making common cause with other parties to that end.”
Green says the most important national issue is climate change and carbon policy, and he thinks the solution lies in changes to the taxation system.
“Let’s reduce taxes on good things and increase taxes on harmful things. Income is a good thing, employment is a good thing, so lets reduce those taxes and offset them with taxes on harmful things like carbon emissions, and achieve revenue neutrality through balancing those off.”
Green says the current government has got it wrong when it comes to collective security.
“The massive changes in climate, and climate induced migration, those are huge threats to our collective security, a more compelling security issue than some of the things the current government is talking about.”
Green wants Canada to get back to being an international peacekeeper.
“The only Canadian who ever won the Nobel Peace Prize was Lester Pearson who fought for peacekeeping in the Suez and in humanitarian missions, and that is when Canada had a strong and effective role in the world and focussed on peacekeeping and humanitarian support. Now instead of what we are doing in Iraq and Syria we should be providing humanitarian support. There is tremendous dislocation of citizens in those countries. Bombing is not engendering more support for Canada. It is engendering hatred.”
As for the economy and jobs, Green would push for green development.
“I think we do have a green economy now—we have people working in FSC certified forest harvesting and management, we have people working in mine reclamation, reclamation of reservoirs. But there is much that can be done to strengthen that, through tax policies and carbon policies. That is a key piece and the federal government has a role.”
He says the infrastructure deficit in Canada could also be dealt with according to green principles.
“We have throughout this riding old cities formed in the mining boom with decaying infrastructure, and that needs to be green investment. Let’s repair our leaking water systems, reduce the amount of water that needs to be treated, thereby reduce costs and create green jobs.”
Green places great importance on reconciliation with First Nations.
“That is a 150 year old issue we have not come to grips with, We have court cases telling us we need to talk, need to negotiate solutions, and yes there are treaty negotiations but that is not the only table. It has to be between communities, and it is for First Nations to find their own solutions but also shared solutions with other municipalities.”
Locally the major First Nations issue for Green is salmon restoration.
“First Nations tell me that this loss, this cultural loss, is equivalent to the impact of residential schools and the creation of reserves. We have a willing partner on the US side. Let’s move it forward.”
Locally, Green thinks the Trans-Canada Highway between Revelstoke and Golden needs to be twinned, but he calls it a short term necessity.
“Of course I approach it from a Green Party perspective. We don’t want more cars, we want other solutions. The long term solution is twinning the railway through Rogers Pass so that much more of the commodities go on the rail system and we get the trucks off the highway.
“That is long term, but we have to deal with this short term situation. The Green Party has no position on this but my view is we have to twin the highway and take the longer term steps at the same time so we don’t have to look at another highway expansion 20 years from now.”
Green says he is very familiar with all parts of the riding and doesn’t think people in Nelson should be concerned that none of the federal election candidates are local people.
“It is a very big riding and whoever representative is, they have to be from somewhere, and that means they will not be from somewhere else.”
Green says the 2012 boundary changes could benefit the Green Party because of the strength of the party in Nelson.
He says the location of the Green Party headquarters in Nelson, “reflects the fact that there are a lot of deeply committed party activists in the West Kootenay.”