GreenPAC’s vision is for a healthy planet to be a primary driver in Canadian politics. To advance this goal, we work year-round to activate, inspire and amplify environmental leadership in politics.
A Letter From GreenPAC's Executive
Director & Chair of the Board
Sarah Van Exan & Margo Welch
Sarah Van Exan - Executive Director (Left), Margo Welch - Chair of the Board (Right)
It’s been quite the year, one in which we saw the consequences of climate change hit home with devastating impacts, particularly in B.C. Canadians reckoned as a nation with the violence of residential schools and the direct links between colonialism and the environmental crisis, and the global pandemic continued to cause hardship and disruption.
At GreenPAC, we tried to look the past 12 months squarely in the eye, examining how we could learn and unlearn, respond and grow as an organization, while continuing to get more people engaged in building governments that lead for the health of our planet.
In this report, we describe our activities, including some of the changes we implemented, our achievements and the impact our programs have had.
This past year we went 100% virtual, with staffing and the delivery of programs. The advantages were numerous, such as building a team located in different parts of the country, offering regular online events and programs that attracted a range of experts, elected officials and participants, and hosting a youth-focused summit that focused on the political barriers to environmental change, from partisanship, to procedure to inequity. Our talented team embraced the move to digital, overcame countless technical obstacles and made GreenPAC’s work more accessible and relevant to more people.
Our Parliamentary Interns continued to impress their host MPs and bring critical environmental capacity to Parliament Hill. It was exciting to see our interns and program alumni making their mark on environmental policy and sharing their knowledge at several of our public events throughout the year. We were also thrilled to see two more program alums run for office and one win their race, as you’ll read below.
We launched a new program called “Every Day Advocates” (EDA) as an outgrowth of the previous year’s “100 Debates on the Environment”. Every Day Advocates worked to grow the capacity and effectiveness of individuals and groups across Canada who want to see greater leadership and accountability from our elected leaders, and to build connections between this network. EDA offered regular training and resources for local organizers, helped many to host meetings and town halls with their elected officials, and to mobilize 70+ all-candidates debates when the election was called at the last-minute.
The snap federal election challenged us in many ways, as we worked to centre equity in our endorsements, broaden our outreach and ensure the integrity of our research and review, with vastly less time. A huge thank you to our team, volunteers and Expert Panel members for the hours and dedication they put into this effort.
And, to our donors and sponsors, thank you for your support and feedback.
Together we have helped to raise climate change and the environment up on the political agenda and we will continue to work with you to help heal the planet.
Sarah & Margo
Parliamentary Internship for the Environment
We place exceptional young Canadians as interns on Parliament Hill, developing their potential as future environmental leaders and helping increase the capacity of MPs to lead on the environment
Every Day Advocates & 100 Debates
We raise the capacity of Canadians across the nation to advocate for the environment and hold our elected officials accountable for their commitments
We recognize environmental leaders running for office from all major parties so Canadians can support their campaigns
Our Internship and 100 Debates/Every Day Advocates programs are delivered in partnership with the Sustainability Network.
Beata Rasitsan, new Senior Communications Manager, joins GreenPAC.
Afreen Ghouse, EDA Program Coordinator, comes on board!
Ese Ojo, new Every Day Advocates & 100 Debates Program Manager, joins GreenPAC.
EVENT: Implications of the U.S. Election with John Podesta, Senator Rosa Galvez, and then-Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Jonathan Wilkinson.
Launch of GreenPAC's Every Day Advocates program (public launch in February)!
Micaela Tam, Program Coordinator for GreenPAC's 2021 Future Leaders in Politics Summit, comes on board.
First of six advocacy trainings begins in March for Every Day Advocates.
Emmett Keyserlingk, Network Engagement Coordinator, joins the GreenPAC team!
EVENT: GreenPAC celebrates 5 years with Breakfast on the Web featuring our 2021/21 Parliamentary Internship for the Environment MP Partners the Hon. Catherine McKenna, MP Taylor Bachrach, MP Jenica Atwin, and MP Eric Duncan, alongside the Hon. Joyce Murray.
Check out birthday wishes from friends of GreenPAC here.
EVENT: GreenPAC's first-ever FLIP Summit (Future Leaders in Politics), featuring tons of special guest speakers including: MP Elizabeth May, Former Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty, incoming Minister of Environment & Climate Change Steven Guilbeault, keynote speaker Dr. Ingrid Waldron, the Hon. Bowinn Ma, and more!
New Parliamentary Internship for the Environment cohort begins.
Matthew Blackshaw, new Parliamentary Internship for the Environment Manager, joins GreenPAC!
New GreenPAC website goes live.
100debates.ca goes live.
Regional coordinators, Kiemia Rezagian, Coco Wang, and Maya Provencal come on board for 100 Debates on the Environment.
Year 3 of our Parliamentary Internship for the Environment wrapped up, with all of our interns moving into amazing new opportunities.
Nicole Golletz, new Administrative Assistant, joins GreenPAC!
GreenPAC partners with Solutions: A Game of Hope & Action for the Climate.
Heather Nichols comes on board as our 2021 Elections Lead, along with an amazing group of volunteers!
EVENT: GreenPAC's 100 Debates on the Environment takes place before the 2021 Federal Election. 70 debates, 226 candidates, and 16,000+ views (combined live & recorded video views).
GreenPAC endorses 36 candidates in advance of the 2021 Federal Election. Of these, 25 are elected / re-elected. Read about our endorsees here.
Year 4 of the Parliamentary Internship for the Environment begins with 7 incredible new interns! Our biggest group yet.
A YEAR IN REVIEW
PARLIAMENTARY INTERNSHIP FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
The GreenPAC Parliamentary Internship for the Environment (PIE) is a leadership development program that places young environmental stars with MPs from across the political spectrum. Interns learn about the inner workings of the federal government and develop their leadership capacity through this immersive experience, which includes training, workshops and sit-downs with environmental champions.
In September 2020, we welcomed four extraordinary young leaders into the GreenPAC Parliamentary Internship for the Environment program. These young leaders, selected from more than 300 applicants across the country, included a sustainable agriculture advocate, a former federal candidate, a Green Corps organizer, and a Rhodes Scholar candidate.
Spotlight: Matt Blackshaw, Incoming PIE Program Manager
I am thrilled to be managing the PIE program and supporting the interns over the exciting year they have ahead of them. As a former intern on the Hill, I know the rich experiences and unique opportunities a program like PIE can offer. I hope to be a good steward of the program as I help these environmental leaders set a path for their careers and their policy aspirations.
This year, I’ll be supporting several new initiatives in the program, including our first placement in the Senate and our specialized streams in sustainable agriculture and the low-carbon economy. Looking forward, I also intend to shape our burgeoning alumni network and to continue to advance the inclusivity and accessibility of our program. Thus far, I’ve greatly enjoyed leading the interns through their orientation and pre-placement projects, and can’t wait to see them explore how things happen on the Hill as they now begin their office placements with verve and curiosity.
Exclusive Fireside Chats
Exclusive Fireside Chats with:
Mike Wilson (Smart Prosperity/Task Force for a Resilient Recovery) / Shannon Phillips (MLA and former Alberta Environment Minister) / The Hon. Michael Chong (Conservative Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs) / Craig Stewart (Insurance Bureau of Canada) / Lara Ellis (ALUS Canada) / Julie Gelfand (former Commissioner for Sustainable Development and the Environment) / Lenore Zann (Member of Parliament for Cumberland-Colchester and sponsor of Bill C-230 - Strategy to Redress Environmental Racism) / Natural Resources Canada Staff Mollie Johnson (Assistant Deputy Minister); Eric Bélair (Director General - Energy Policy Branch); Debbie Scharf (Director General - Clean Fuels Branch)
GreenPAC's FLIP Summit (Future Leaders in Politics)
This full-day online event engaged aspiring changemakers from across the country in learning more about a pivotal - and sometimes missing - piece between the vision for inclusive, equitable environmental change and change itself - leadership in politics. The FLIP Summit was inspired by the PIE program - its objectives and the overwhelming interest we receive in it each year - and engaged a broad audience of aspiring environmental leaders, and some advocates too.
The day featured more than a dozen current and former environmental decision-makers, including Minister Steven Guilbeault, Elizabeth May, the Hon. Michael Chong, MLA Shannon Phillips, MPP Mike Schreiner, the Hon. Bowinn Ma and former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, as well as PIE interns and alumni.
Advancing Equity & Anti-Oppression
While the 44th Parliament may be the most diverse to date, Parliament Hill still has a lot of work to do to become more inclusive and representative, and we believe our program can play an important role in that. Two-thirds of our interns to date identify as being part of an equity-seeking community (BIPOC, LGTBQ+ and/or a person with a disability), and we have supported MPs from these and other underrepresented communities as well.
This year, we worked with an external consultant, Future Ancestors, to identify hidden risks and biases in our program’s operational policies and developed a written Statement of Approach to Anti-Oppressive practice for the program. Our biggest change was overhauling our recruitment and selection process for interns using an equity lens. Some of the major changes were:
Fully shifting to a skills- and strengths-based model for intern selection, as opposed to a credentials-based model
Explicitly identifying the skills we consider most valuable for applicants on our website
Increasing our transparency about equity-related workplace challenges on Parliament Hill, as well as our commitment to personalized intern support and our approach to anti-oppressive practice
Changing our scoring template to prioritize “issue knowledge” over education and to treat lived experience on par with work or volunteer experience
Spotlight: Brittany Stares, Departing PIE Program Manager
After three years with the program, PIE Manager Brittany Stares handed the reins over to a new Program Manager, Matt Blackshaw.
Being involved with this program has been as much an adventure as an honour. In just three years (two of which were in a pandemic!), PIE has provided 13 young leaders with invaluable work and learning experiences alongside MPs from all national parties. It has been thrilling to watch the program infuse much-needed intersectional environmental literacy into politics, with several alumni going on to work as staffers and even run for office themselves. Proudest moments: curating the first-ever FLIP Summit (Future Leaders in Politics), developing a sustainable agriculture stream within the program, implementing an anti-oppression model for recruitment, and hearing MPs say “I want a GreenPAC Intern!"
This year’s MP partners from left to right were MP Catherine McKenna (LPC), MP Eric Duncan (CDP), MP Jenica Atwin (GPC at time), and MP Taylor Bachrach (NDP).
Our MP Partners had great things to say about the interns placed in their offices.
The GreenPAC Parliamentary Internship is an outstanding and beneficial program for both the Member of Parliament and intern. The quality of work by our intern was instrumental in forging positive relationships within our local sustainable agriculture sector and has set the stage for further projects.
Jessie Mayes, Year 3 PIE Intern
I will recognize the value of this internship over the entirety of my career. My approach to environmental issues has evolved immensely throughout the program, and I believe the learning will extend well beyond this experience.
Jessie Mayes made our record books when she was hired out of the program after less than three months on Parliament Hill. She now works as a Parliamentary Assistant for Conservative MP Dan Mazier, a fellow Manitoban and GreenPAC endorsee who shares her passion for sustainable agriculture.
Zhenglin Liu, Year 3 PIE Intern
The GreenPAC Parliamentary Internship for the Environment was, without a doubt, the best way I could have supplemented my formal education in environment over the turbulent past year. Coming in with a broad understanding of the environmental policy landscape in Canada, I was able to deepen it more than I could imagine.
Zhenglin Liu is off to Cambridge to pursue an MPhil in Environmental Policy, with plans to enter the civil service once he returns to Canada.
Joshua Swift, Year 3 PIE Intern
My time as a PIE Intern gave me an inside view of how Parliament Hill operates and how work gets done. It was the perfect opportunity to give me the knowledge and skills to effectively drive environmental action on the Hill.
Joshua Swift was hired out of the program by his MP partner office and now works as Regional Advisor for Ontario to Minister Guilbeault.