Why I’m Voting Green in this Election

The social dynamic of living in this Lilliputian place means that politicians are far more everyday regular people than elsewhere. They are neighbours, friends, friends of friends, the people you meet each day. The mayor was Olivia’s elementary school French teacher, my city councillor used to be my office landlord.

And so it goes in this provincial general election (election day is tomorrow, April 3).

One candidate used to run a grocery store I was quite fond of, another was a supporter of my open data efforts (and yet another ran the actual endpoint of an open data service I was consuming). One candidate owns the coffee shop I used to grab a bagel with Swiss cheese and tomato every morning, one was the community police officer at Olivia’s high school.

I’ve seen enough of political life, from the door to door campaigning, to negotiating the finer points of a bill, to know that it’s demanding, all-consuming, day-and-night work; we owe those who put themselves forward for an of the people, by the people, for the people turn our respect and our thanks.

I got to know Karla Bernard when she was the Green Party candidate for District 12 in the 2019 election. I met with her one-on-one before the writ dropped, and found her a creative, compassionate, smart person, filled with ideas for how to improve the lot of Islanders. She knew that she had little chance of being elected, but she was willing to take leave from her job and spend a month knocking on the doors of her neighbours, making the case for herself and her party. Perhaps none was more surprised than Karla herself on the night that, against the odds, she was elected our MLA.

Seven months later, Karla, as a member of the Official Opposition caucus, had her first private members bill adopted, An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act. This was followed, the next year, by the passage of the Intimate Images Protection Act she introduced. Karla was not alone: her Opposition colleagues put forward and saw adopted legislation on everything from pay transparency to non-disclosure agreements to poverty elimination. Taken together they represent a bold, progressive, feminist agenda, the result of thousands of hours of discussion, drafting, and debate. It has been a remarkable run in a legislature where private members bills, in the hundred and fifty year Liberal-PC duopoly that came before it, were rare. Our province is better for it.

Tomorrow I’ll go to the Eastlink Centre to cast my ballot again.

And again I’ll be voting for Karla Bernard. And for the hope of the Green Party forming government.

In a place where politicians are friends and neighbours, I’m freed from needing to engage in the kind of politics, so common elsewhere, that seeks to cast those we oppose as wrongheaded, mean-spirited. Premier King has led the Island ably through a difficult time; his government has made bold moves in public transit, social assistance, and housing. I don’t need to think Dennis King and his caucus colleagues are jerks to vote Green. 

I’m voting Green because Peter Bevan-Baker, and the Green slate of candidates he leads, seek to set a higher upper-limit for Prince Edward Island, a higher vision for what we are collectively capable of.

I want a government with an action plan for protecting the rights of 2SLGBTQI+ Islanders, a government that will make birth control free, a government that will move to make healthcare administration independent from politics, a government that will commit to public housing. A government that is grounded in core values that I share.

And a government that, after four years of learning the ropes of the Legislative Assembly, is ready to govern, that knows how to legislate, and that has a legislative agenda ready to go.

Karla Bernard lives just up the street and around the corner; she’s a neighbour, and she’s become a friend. I’m proud to call her my MLA, and I’d like to see what she and her Green colleagues are capable of as members of Executive Council.