Who is Stephanie and why does she deserve my vote?
First: a short history lesson - Why are people disenchanted with the government?
Since colonial governments were created, its citizens have always felt that government didn't represent their needs.
How could they? They gained power by taking it from others.
The very structure of a colonial government was not to live in an equal and just society, it was to subjugate those who had no other choice but to obey.
As time moved forward, the occasional brave person who wanted to stand up for what they believed in, would work hard to get elected by their constituents. To represent the voice of the average citizen. They would fight long and hard, against all of the other elected officials and criticisms from the media, against other special interest groups, to create legislation that would protect their constituents and the residents of their province (or country, or city).
On occasion, major breakthroughs would happen. A piece of legislation would be created to protect its people.
1962: Tommy Douglas and Woodrow Lloyd, former Premiers of Saskatchewan - known as the creators of the provincial public health care program, which later became adopted in all of the Canadian provinces
2015: Elizabeth May presented two amendments to a bill regarding the Pipeline Safety Act, as a Member of Parliament in federal government - the first amendment allowed Aboriginal governing bodies to receive compensation for clean up of an oil spill. The second amendment involves the company determined to be at fault for the spill must pay to clean up. The National Energy Board shall compensate those affected by a spill, paid for by the polluter.
These are only a few samples of good people trying to use their privilege to speak for the health and vitality of their population.
Next: why is Stephanie different? Who does she want to speak for and why?
In looking at the current structure of the colonial government, it's clear that politics attracts a similar disposition, yet so poorly represents the populace:
- Most people elected to government come from a high socioeconomic status. Politics is expensive, campaigning is expensive, and only a few people get to walk through those doors. When people's needs are being met, their personal and professional development are only limited by their individual temperaments. People in these positions tend to believe that their success is a direct result of "hard work", and that it is merit-based rather than a result of privilege. Most people can thrive when their needs are being met.
- Most people elected are already well-connected in their communities. This is another benefit to being of a higher socioeconomic status - when all of your energy is not being spent on generating enough income to meet your basic needs, you have the emotional space to connect with others who belong to the same level in society as yourself. Power magnifies for everyone involved.
- Most people elected tend to come from common employment backgrounds: many are lawyers, business people, or are career politicians. This means that its common for them to lack the lens of working in a field/industry and have not been connected outside of politics or power in a long time.
How is Stephanie different?
- Comes from a low to moderate socioeconomic background. While Stephanie has had some privileges in her life (a roof over her head, access to food and medication), she has also lived on social assistance, declared bankruptcy, and remains encumbered with student debt.
- Lives with a chronic illness since childhood, and has learned what supports do and do not exist for people with disabilities (PWDs), in the government and in employment. In addition, she grew up with a parent with a combination of multiple progressive disabilities.
- Has worked for over 11 years in physical fitness, and chronic health condition management, as a personal trainer, kinesiologist, and clinical exercise physiologist.
A measure of how well a society and its government works is determined by how well they care for society's most vulnerable.
How can one's voice be heard if no one in the running matches their disposition?
It is impossible to be all things to all people yet, when enough political candidates have more in common with the average person, they are better suited in communicating with empathy and urgency than someone who has not had those lived experiences.
Stephanie first joined the Green Party of Canada in 2003 when Jim Harris was leader. The platform piece that most resonated with her was the Greens desire to not only increase funding to healthcare, but to invest in people, in their communities and environment to support the health of Canadians.
What actions can the government take to prevent people from becoming ill in the first place? How do we invest in Canadians?
There are too many people now being forced to live in survival mode, or worse, perish before their efforts pay dividends. The wedge between the have and the have nots is widening.
We as a government need to acknowledge that we can do more to support the livelihood of its populace and move beyond surviving to thriving. This is what the Green Party of British Columbia stands for. We are ready to challenge those with power and hold them accountable, and build positive change.