CHESTERVILLE – The latest platform unveiled by the Green Party is the most comprehensive and ambitious effort presented to date, and the man charged with selling the ideas and carving out some political real estate in a traditionally conservative riding of Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry is 26-year-old personal trainer Raheem Aman from Cornwall.
Originally from Hamilton, Aman may not be what many would consider a traditional politician – he is young, athletic and thoughtful – but he is atypical of a Green Party candidate, driven by climate action through social responsibility with innovation and financial opportunity in mind.
A party built on the power of volunteers, they’ve often been criticized for lacking the political polish and organization of other parties and failing to transition public support, currently at 10 per cent nationally, into actual seats in parliament.
This version of their federal platform presents the most accessible ideas to date and a deadline. Referred to as a “vision for Canada in 2030,” the platform tackles some hot button issues head on, although the accounting specifics and how it will all be paid for is yet to be presented.
The 2030 plan aligns with the deadline for reaching the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and is also the halfway point to eliminate climate-changing pollution by 2050.
With those two benchmarks in mind, the party vision of the nation in 2030 includes the full reconciliation and restoration of rights with First Nations, Métis and Inuit as well as “economic and social transition that puts the country on track to meet our obligations in the global effort to limit climate change, while leaving nobody behind.”
A large part of the platform is driven by the idea of a green economy complete with a national green electrical grid, powered by 100 per cent renewable energy, new net-zero building energy standards and retrofits, new regional high speed rail networks and an increase in local food networks and regenerative agricultural practices through import replacement policies.
The ideas are large, and, critics will say, utopian and unrealistic, but Aman is ready for the challenge.
“It’s part information, but it’s also inspiration,” he said. “Know the policies, know the science, the facts, what happens if we don’t [do something] and the trajectories, but [we] also make it palatable.”
The immediate resistance to environmental ideas is based on the notion that it is bad for jobs and bad for business.
“They think that they will lose their jobs. They think this is going to be wide scale job loss until one day we get it right,” said Aman. “The world is going this way. It’s a matter of not who’s going to capitalize, but who’s going to lead. It’s really more about fear of the unknown. We’re used to doing things one way until it shifts.”
Part of the shift to a green economy will be paid for with funds from the 21 per cent corporate tax, the cancellation of the purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline and by taxing fossil fuel companies rather than subsidizing them. The party also claims that it will make post-secondary education free and alleviate the current student debt load with this plan.
More than a shift away from a fossil fuel based society, the party believes a change in goals is required and using “well-being, rather than gross domestic product, as a sign of progress” and “embed ‘conserver society’ values rather than consumer society values.”
That will also mean a change in agriculture practices and as such the Green Party would “implement national standards for reducing the use of nitrogen fertilizers in crop agriculture, reducing erosion and rebuilding soils to retain carbon, and transitioning away from industrial livestock production” and a wide-scale adoption of regenerative agriculture practices.
“When the world catches up, when Canada wakes up to what’s going on, whether it’s in 2030 or when it happens, they’re going to be making ways to disincentive that type of [old] behaviour because we’re all going to be paying for it,” said Aman. “In viewing the future, if they’re thinking only in terms of the present then they’ll enjoy it while it lasts and then they’ll see it all go.”
He maintains that as an agricultural leader, Canada is in a unique position to set an example, but getting in early, much like on Apple or Bitcoin stocks, is vital.
“It’s only a matter of time before this is almost legislated on a global scale,” he said. “Someone has to be the visionary and lead. That could be us. Do you want to lead or follow? That’s what it comes down to.”
Although he is still relatively new to the area and the Green Party lacks official party status in the House of Commons, Aman has set a high watermark for his run at the candidacy in Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry.
“If I do what I’m supposed to do, I will be able to galvanize people to try something different. It will be an investment, not in me, not in our party, but in our planet,” he said.