One of the people who wants to lead the federal Green Party into the future stopped through the Comox Valley on Sept. 11 to meet with supporters.
David Merner says the party is in a transitional state as it moves on from many years with Elizabeth May at the helm. There are problems, he admits, with finances and organization, so the new person will have a big job. This was part of his message for the small group who came out to hear him speak informally at Lewis Park in Courtenay Friday evening.
Whoever takes over should be sitting in Parliament, Merner says, and this is where he feels he has an edge.
Merner thinks he can win his riding, while the other candidates are in areas that traditionally have less Green support. He ran in the 2019 election for the Greens, easily finishing second in the riding of Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, and he is confident about next time.
“I can win the seat I ran in,” he says. “I’m sure we can roll into victory.”
The chance of gaining a seat in the House of Commons is not the only thing he feels he brings to the table, as he is a bilingual candidate who can speak ‘hockey’ French, which he says he learned from playing the sport with Francophones and which differs from the more academic French he encountered as a lawyer.
“I’m the only person in this race who does ‘hockey’ French,” he says, “and that’s the kind of French you need on the doorsteps.”
Through his background as a lawyer, he has spent years in dispute resolution, meaning he knows how to work toward reconciliation and bring people together – something he aims to do with the other candidates, he says, all of whom bring great attributes to the party.
“I think I’m the best-placed person to pull them together into a team,” he says.
Merner also ran in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke in 2015 but as a Liberal. However, after the Liberals were elected, he became disillusioned quickly after Justin Trudeau went back on a promise of electoral reform.
“It was a series of broken promises,” he says. “It became clear this wasn’t the party for me.”
Later, when the Liberals announced the purchase of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, Merner felt the Prime Minister was simply adopting Stephen Harper’s environmental policies, which have made Canada one of the largest exporters of fossil fuels in the world.
“We’re facing a global problem,” he says. “For the planet to change how things are going, we need Canada to change how things are going.”
Merner also thinks the party has been more progressive on many social justice issues than the New Democrats, as the Greens want to ensure no one is left behind.
At the core of their policies, he says, is an ambitious economic plan to create jobs in environmentally sustainable ways – for example, through a massive east-west-north electrical grid across the country powered by renewable sources of energy.
Online voting for the leadership of the party begins Sept. 26, with results to be announced live on Oct. 3.
Merner’s stop in the Comox Valley was part of a tour through B.C. communities in the Interior, the Lower Mainland, the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island. In the remaining weeks, he plans to connect with party supporters by phone or by Zoom.