Thank you Tim, it’s a real pleasure to speak as the Green party’s representative here today and on behalf of Elizabeth May, the Party and my fellow Green Party Candidates I want to extend our gratitude to the organizing committee and to all the attendees and other party’s candidates for being here today.
My name is Wes Regan and I’m your Green Party Candidate in Vancouver East. For the past five years I served as the Executive Director of one of our City’s 22 Business Improvement Areas. Hastings Crossing BIA, representing several hundred small business, social enterprise, non-profits and property owners in the heart of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. I’m also a partner and founding director in a local Greentech firm, and know firsthand not only what it takes to start and grow an enterprise, but also the role government plays in creating pathways or jungles for different industries and sectors.
I’m here today to tell you that the Green Party of Canada is not a one issue party, here in Canada we have built on decades of Green Party success in Germany, New Zealand, Sweden and other countries with strong Green Party representation, to develop public policy that results in robust modern economies, safe and inclusive communities and a strong accountable democracy.
I’m here to say unequivocally that Canada is a resource based economy, but that our greatest natural resource is our people, and increasingly these people live in cities and urban regions, over 82% of us.
Green MPs in Ottawa will be champions of healthy communities supported by healthy small businesses, the largest single source of employment in Canada, generating over $300 billion dollars in GDP.
When we ask how we should grow the Canadian economy, we should ask, how can we grow small business?
The Green Party of Canada sees a number of ways we can do this. We can start by reducing small business taxes to 9% freeing up ventures to circulate more money in their communities as they grow and acquire additional staff and assets.
We can work more closely, and work smarter, with other levels of government to eliminate duplicative tax filings and other forms of redundant red tape for business owners.
We can reinvest in Canadian cities and urban regions where the majority of Canadians live, work, and own businesses and property. The creation of a national urban strategy has been something that Chambers across our country, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and other leading organizations have called for repeatedly. As the Green Party of Canada’s Critic for Housing and Urban Affairs I believe that our fully-costed platform contains the seeds of a national urban strategy that addresses the infrastructure deficit, housing affordability and other key areas.
Student debt is a serious drain on far too many young professionals, adding an unreasonable financial burden that delays our ability to save and invest. We want to eliminate federal student debt above $10,000 freeing up recent graduates to invest in their own ventures, start families or attain home ownership more quickly.
We want to restore evidence-based decision making in Ottawa and ensure the Canadian census delivers the accurate and dependable types of data that businesses and industries rely on to plan and strategize.
How do we do these things? We believe our government should be a reflection of Canadians’ ability to cooperate, collaborate and innovate.
Building on the concept of the First Minister’s Meetings we have put forward the concept of a Council of Canadian Governments, to break down the multi-jurisdictional silos that have resulted in inefficient delivery of resources and poor communication. We want to create policy coherency at all levels of government so that our economy, our environment, and other crucial areas of public policy will benefit from informed and thoughtful legislation that sees us all rowing in the same direction.
And this brings me to one final thought I want to leave you all with.
The Green Party may poll at 6 or 7% nationally, and while this reflects the aspirations and hopes of Canadians across the country it doesn’t put us in a position to gain the confidence of the House of Commons and form government after this election is over. In my Riding of Vancouver East Libby Davies is retiring after 18 years as our MP. When she was first elected to Parliament the NDP held only seven more seats than the Green Party did in this most recent parliament.
Things change, parties grow and develop, the political landscape shifts.
Here in BC the Green Party has a strong and growing base, and is in a position to send more MPs to Ottawa. When we get there we will play a valuable role in supporting a stable NDP or Liberal minority government that can get four solid years of work done, or in supporting a stable coalition. Ten years of Harper Government is more than enough, change is coming and we are excited to be a part of it.
Please have a look at our fully costed platform, and research who your Green Candidate in your own riding is. Consider what we have to offer, and the role we can play in this coming parliament.
And come say hi to us tonight, we have much to talk about.