SARAHS GREEN DEMOCRAT PRESS CONFERENCE (Nov 26, 03):
Good morning ladies and gentlemen, nice to see you all here on this beautiful BC morning.
I would expect that many of you are curious as to why Ive called this press conference. No, it isnt to announce a new album, or tour, or plans for a new Lilith Fair this summer. No, Ive asked for your attention for quite a different reason: I want to be your Premier.
Well, that was certainly a surprise wasnt it; and judging from your shocked silence Im guessing that most of you dont know quite what to make of my announcement. Yes? And now its sinking in. Hold on, hold on, Ill answer questions later, but first:
This morning Im announcing that a group of concerned citizens, including myself and some pretty experienced members of both the New Democratic Party and Green Party of BC, have put together a plan for uniting as a new Green Democrat party with a platform based upon caring and nurturing in order to heal this province and to help create the necessary healthy conditions so that we can safeguard our very privileged quality of life here in BC for our children and their childrens future (and maybe as an example for those in the world that do care about the human condition on this small blue planet).
Several months ago a group of concerned citizens asked to meet with me. They said: Sarah, Gordon Campbells Liberals are waging destructive war on families, on communities, on the environment in our province in the name of short term economic gain for a very few. They said they had a plan to provide an opposition united under a big tent holding all those who cared about people, communities and their environment, who saw nurturing and not money making as the primary goal of government in BC. And they had come to ask me to be the leadership figure to communicate this vision of government to the people of BC.
If youre shocked this morning imagine how my jaw dropped and how overwhelmed I felt when they told me of their plan and asked me to be their leader. Ive never run for any political office. I was raised in a family of activists; my parents were politically and socially active in our community. They taught us to be very proud of being Canadian; that service was an obligation. And Ive always voted and even, most of my adult life, been a member and contributed to a political party (the New Democrats) but hey, Im an artist, a creator; my life has been full, writing and performing and, latterly, trying to help other women in my profession Im not a politician?
They said I was a communicator and that BC needed me to communicate a vision of what we could be and of the dangers of following the Liberals myopic path.
As you know my husband and I live for our little girl, India. Like most of you for your children. And with our activist upbringing and our reading we have been deeply disturbed about where we are going in BC. Because we are reasonably well off we can afford a reasonably safe, clean, healthy lifestyle somewhere, if it wasnt possible any more in BC, but, Ashwin and I had talked about this often and we know that we cant buy a healthy future world for our kids kids, for our grandchildren, for their kids. We have to do our best to nurture our bigger family, our community, our society and safeguard our precious environment in order that our children are as fortunate as we are as Canadians, as British Columbians, as very fortunate citizens of what has to be the best and richest society in a miraculous but unfortunately deeply threatened paradise.
And so after we thought about it with trepidation I dont want to be a politician, Im an artist!!! with a little pragmatic fear and selfishness we dont want to give up our freedom we realized that we had an obligation to help. We were needed. I phoned Larry (Mayor Campbell, who was the leader of the group who was proposing this new Green Democrat initiative) and said yes, if a party of Green Democrats is prepared to choose me as their leader. And weve been on a steep learning curve ever since then preparing for today and our schedule for trying to merge the parties and build a platform to challenge the Libs in the next election.
Is a Green Democrat party possible? Our group thinks so. Weve looked at the constitutions for both parties and we think that if historic and personal animosities can be overcome for a greater good that there can be a formula for broad agreement. Caring and nurturing have to be the priority; they have to infuse our every action. We must agree that the economy is nested in society, which is nested in the environment, which because it is mother to us all must come first.
Will Dave Haggard agree with me about the priority of the environment? maybe not yet this morning, maybe well have to debate it hammer and tongs, but I think that Mr. Haggard and his unions members will come to see both the wisdom and benefits of this framework for Green Democrat agreement.
I have to say that Im a small l liberal not a socialist. In the music business Ive had to be a hands on businessperson and had to recognize the talents of the entrepreneurs, the need for movers and shakers in creativity, for getting things done. I appreciate business and business people in achieving this wonderful world we live in. And whereas I think socialism a very noble and enlightened way of thinking about government, I think that it is just not tenable in our particular global economy.
But, although I recognize the importance of a healthy economy as a pre-condition to pay for healthcare and our social safety nets, I am appalled at the shortsightedness of those of the Neoliberal faith who endeavor to turn everything into money as quickly as possible; to mortgage and endanger our futures encouraging over consumption and waste; encouraging people to have extravagant footprints and spend and spend just to raise tax dollars today and in order that the Libs succeed in getting re-elected. We know there is a better way to manage the economy and pay for our social programs and we think a better way to live, to choose to live, that British Columbians will understand and buy into.
A Professor Clark who once taught at UBC wrote a paper in the 70s showing that, because whales had low birthrates over long lifetimes, with an average discount rate it made more financial sense to hunt whales to extinction and invest the money. Escalating fishfarming, paving over farmland in the Fraser Valley for malls and condos, continuing to overharvest BC forests, radically redesigning old growth into crops of trees, or encouraging deep in debt consumers to buy ever more extravagant toys may keep the economy expanding this year, but this is folly. This Neoliberal path is wasteful and unsustainable. When we follow this myopic path we are robbing our children of economic opportunity in the future and severely endangering their environmental and societal basis for life their future BC home.
A caring, nurturing government would not act this way. A Green Democrat government will not follow this selfish, short-termism path. But wed be here all day if I tried to even briefly scope out our whole platform. We are creating position papers on the economy, on social legislation, and on needed but pragmatic and not bureaucratic or overly confrontational - environmental policy.
I havent mentioned either Carol James or Adriane Carr and I meant to earlier. They are women I admire. When first asked to get involved in this initiative their elected position as leaders of their respective parties was my first concern. The bottom line is that since neither the New Democrats nor the Green Party is electable, neither Carol nor Adriane will be in a position to lead and nurture in government. But if we put together a Green Democrat team and this new party chooses me as leader, then both will have a position as deputy premiers with empowerment to use their vision and talents in governing and not be left languishing outside in opposition watching the Libs destroy.
I was approached to head this Green Democrat initiative because the concerned citizens who have put this initiative together believe that this new party is possible and that with me as leader we can defeat the Libs. We cannot conquer and take over both parties not our intention at all. We are offering a vision of a new party to both Carol and Adriane, to New Democrats and Greens saying if we cooperate and grow we can govern. We are going to flesh out this vision and we will talk with every person who is interested. We wish to be inclusive and will endeavor to especially answer the concerns of those who have life long investments in the existing parties. You cant please everybody but it will take a big tent, cooperation among all nurturers, to achieve a Green Democrat government.
A Green Democrat government would be breaking new ground in choosing caring and nurturing as governments focus instead of concentrating on growing the economy. Any Green and social democrat government has to operate in a global economic climate that isnt particularly conducive to ecological thinking or social justice.
But we must change and we can do it and those who cant change, who dont care or cant afford to care can continue to be losers and vote Liberal. Well win the hearts and minds of British Columbians and we will win the next election and once people are used to a caring, nurturing government they will never ever vote Liberal again. People worldwide are waking up to how empty and small Neoliberalism really is, how corrupting is our money politics, how destructive community, democracy - is the Neoliberal agenda.
Now Ive already spoken for far too long hey, this politician thing is catching isnt it but we have so much to say. Can I sing you a song? No, I shouldnt - although Ill never give up my music I think that I should stop here. I think that I have put more than enough on your plate already this morning. But expect much more in future days.
Do you have any questions?