Alberta Greens are strikingly resilient. Why is that? A look at the people who are drawn to the party and the Alberta we find ourselves in today suggests three reasons.
One: the determination of the dedicated longtime Greens. I count myself among them after a decade of active involvement in both provincial and federal Green parties, even though some of my Green friends have been at it for more than twice as long. We are not easily deterred from our conviction that the wellbeing of Albertans depends on bringing the values of the worldwide network of Green parties to bear on political decision-making in Alberta.
Two: the energy and inspiration of the new members who are attracted by those same values that are at the heart of Green parties everywhere. They are more recently convinced that the Greens are needed to contribute to the politics of a province that hasn’t yet mapped its way to a sustainable economy that fits with a healthy environment, a just society and a true democracy.
By the time of the 2008 provincial election, the Green Party of Alberta had grown to the point of running candidates in 79 of Alberta’s 83 ridings, and we won 4.5% of the vote. A misguided attempt to take control of the party resulted in failure and deregistration in 2009 – but the resilient Greens didn’t miss an election! Just in time for the spring 2012 election, those determined longtime Greens succeeded in registering a ‘new’ party named EverGreen – same values, same purpose, same links to the global network of Greens – and the new energy and inspiration surged in.
Most of the EverGreen candidates in the 2012 election had never before run in a provincial election, and they came from everywhere – Edmonton and Calgary, yes, but also Medicine Hat, Camrose, smaller towns and rural areas. Some seasoned candidates ran too, though many of the longtimers were needed to work on the administrative part of the campaign.
One among the newer members and first-time candidates, who personifies the energy and dedication that marks the Greens, was elected our new leader. At the same AGM that elected Janet Keeping and added two more newish members to the party executive, the members voted overwhelmingly to reclaim our good old name, the Green Party of Alberta. Conserving the best of the old and embracing the promise of the new together mean resilience.
Oh yes, and the third reason: our context. Alberta governments are notoriously slow to change, but ever-greater numbers of Albertans are recognizing the need to keep up with the world’s rapid change at a minimum. Many prefer to ride the crest of the waves of economic change and climate change instead of having the waves break over them. Albertans who understand the connections among economic, environmental and social changes and recognize the dangers of our eroding democracy are increasingly drawn to Green politics, and they contribute to the party’s growth and its resilience.
The future is Green – it has to be!