GreenPAC takes a stand for the environment during elections by identifying political candidates who have a solid track record of environmental accomplishments and consistent leadership in order to increase the visibility and priority of environmental issues during election periods. We connect voters with candidates they can stand behind and help drive donations of money, time, and other support towards their campaigns.
We believe the environment is not a partisan issue and therefore endorse candidates from every major political party with the aim to see a cross-party coalition of MPs and members of provincial legislatures who will prioritize the health of the planet.
Each endorsement campaign brings together an Independent Expert Panel composed of leading experts in different areas of the environmental field (e.g., biology, law, environmental justice). Panelists provide a politically-neutral, objective assessment of candidates’ leadership credentials.
We also ensure that our nomination process is viewed through an equity lens. This means we take into consideration candidates' experiences in dealing with the disproportionate impacts of environmental degradation and climate change in their respective communities.
2021 FEDERAL ELECTION
The start of the FY21 was was marked by the snap federal election. Despite the pandemic and short timeline of this unexpected election, over 70 groups across the country came together with GreenPAC’s coordination and support, to host all-candidates debates on the environment. These events pushed candidates to consider the importance of their plans and commitments on climate, biodiversity, water protection, Reconciliation and other issues critical to voters in the midst of a hectic campaign window and helped voters make an informed choice.
GreenPAC also provided templates and resources to support organizers in building a relationship with their MP to remind them that the environment remains a priority between elections, including a record of commitments made during the debate.
SPOTLIGHT ON WILLOWDALE
The organizing groups consisted of the Earl Haig Secondary School's Eco Council and Student Council with support from local organizations: Citizen Climate Lobby, ClimateFast and NeighbourLink North York.
"Thanks to Ontario Debates, I was given the opportunity to witness discussions on reconciliation and addressing climate change. These topics are important to me and fellow youth who are advocating for change.
Hosting this debate [has helped] me stay connected to Mississauga’s local democracy and continue to advocate for improved environmental policy because I feel connected to the politicians who are representing myself and my community."
MP Leah Gazan
"This debate allowed us to communicate to all of the MPP candidates how important environmental policy is for Brampton North residents. We hope to maintain a relationship with all elected officials and community leaders to help improve sustainable efforts from the government.
The [debate] brought together MPP candidates, community leaders, local new outlets and Brampton residents to discuss important environmental topics regarding the provincial government. We all got to hear from each other on our concerns and wants for this election and the BEA will aim to maintain these connections for future community work."
MP Leah Gazan
Looking at turnout, candidate participation and local media coverage, these 8 ON Debates were as successful as others GreenPAC has helped organizers to coordinate during the 2019 and 2021 federal elections. 88% of attendees who provided feedback said the debates informed their voting intentions, sometimes in unexpected ways.
However, our strategic goal of making the environment a determining issue in these ridings was seriously challenged by the plummeting of climate off the top five voter issues list during the lead up to this election and the general disengagement of Ontarians, as evidenced by the lowest turnout in Ontario’s electoral history.
As a consequence, we saw less responsiveness to efforts of our organizers to engage wide segments of the community in the debates and standard audience sizes (instead of the large audiences we aspired toward). Continuing concerns about the pandemic caused logistics strains on organizers too.
Nonetheless, each of these debates was an important and worthwhile occurrence in its own right. In each of these eight critical ridings:
These debates brought together new groups that had never worked together before, often including groups outside the environmental sphere, including newcomer support groups, community service organizations and student groups
The conversation made clearer to voters and candidates that climate change is a priority that impacts and is deeply intertwined with top priorities like housing, mental health and jobs
New organizers got a crash course in civic engagement, community organizing, and public advocacy that will boost their community and political relationships and advocacy capacity going forward