Transforming Canada: A Human Rights Story
Human rights and Indigenous rights have been a big part of my professional career. For four years I led the development of human rights policy and operations at the BC Ministry of Attorney General.
There, my team transformed the delivery of human rights services in British Columbia and launched a new BC Human Rights Commission. We worked hard to end systemic racism in BC’s child apprehension system, which takes more indigenous children away from their parents now than during the residential school years.
We also enabled our government to protect transgender persons in British Columbia through the BC Human Rights Code. And, we did it in record time, after years of delay.
How did we do this? By bringing three elements together in a timely and effective way:
Activists: The Vancouver Pride Parade organizers threatened to ban the BC Liberals from the parade if the BC Liberal government did not amend the Human Rights Code to protect transgender persons. This focussed our political leaders, gave us a very clear deadline, and provided a great slogan: Just Do It.
Empowered Competent Teams: Our policy analysts and legal teams did their homework. We worked together, each member empowered to move as quickly as possible. We reviewed legislation across Canada and around the world on transgender rights. We waded through the molasses of Ministers’ Briefing Notes, Cabinet Memoranda, legal reviews, drafting instructions, briefing binders, legislative reviews, and the 1001 other steps needed to pass legislation in Canada. And in doing so, we transformed transgender rights in BC.
Leadership: The Premier and Attorney General committed personally to lead. They engaged with opposition groups, like socially conservative backbenchers from BC’s “bible belt”. They shared credit with the opposition NDP. Both groups got behind the initiative. The legislation passed with unanimous support in the BC legislature. Folks watching the final vote from the galleries were in tears. I was too.
The Green Party can bring this kind of activism, competence, and leadership to Canada by electing strong Green MPs. To do that, we need experienced leadership and a competent, empowered team to make it happen.
This is why I am so encouraged by the Green Party’s leadership race. It brings together nine candidates and their amazing teams -- people who are activists, highly competent, and natural leaders. We are going to transform the Green Party. When we do, we will transform Canadian politics. And, when we do that, we may even change the course of human civilization.