Today in Le Devoir, a group of Green Party members who are seeking revenge after I spoke out about Elizabeth May’s support for the Alberta Tar Sands are trying to call into question my integrity for receiving a living wage for my full time work at the Green Party of Quebec.
My current salary is $47k per year. Being leader of a provincial party comes with big responsibilities and long hours. A typical week is anywhere between 50 and 65 hours of work. There is no dental plan, no health insurance, no possibility of overtime pay and no pension plan. If you base the calculation on a 55 hour week my salary works out to just $16.50 per hour. The lowest paid employee in our organization is our official agent who makes $15 an hour. Those who opposed my criticisms of May’s position on the tar sands claim $16.50 is excessive and they are now smearing me in the press and are taking aim at my integrity as if I had done something wrong. They are essentially saying that the leader of the Green Party of Quebec should live on the street and rely food banks.
In the first 5 years of my leadership I was paid an average of $157 per week which works out to less than $3.5 per hour. I have a college level degree in Mechanical Engineering and a B.Sc in Environmental Science. People who know me know that I am not in politics for the money. I am here to stand up for the environment, for social justice, to denounce racism and to build a more progressive society. I have made many financial sacrifices to be where I am today. I have been close to relying on food banks on a number of occasions. I have lived in cramped low cost apartments with roommates. I have made cuts to my grocery budget. I have pushed back visits to the dentist. I have never had the means to travel outside of Canada and when I travel for the Green Party we stay in $30 a night dorm rooms. This summer I was camping out on the side of the road. During the 2018 election campaign I spent nights sleeping on couches and, on several occasions directly on the floor.
This is how strongly I feel about the work we are doing in the Green Party. I have dedicated so much time and energy to this position and I find it disgusting that Elizabeth May’s supporters are attacking me on these issues just because I had the courage to speak out against the Green Party of Canada’s support for the Alberta Tar Sands. They claim to do politics differently but they are turning to underhanded and unethical attacks. They say that they are against negative politics yet that is exactly what they are doing. If they don’t agree with my policies they should address that in the leadership race rather than putting out false allegations and hiding behind an anonymous Facebook page.
This attack shows how deep the problems run within the Green Party of Canada. The party prides itself on not having party discipline but then launches underhanded attacks on people who use this policy to speak out against the tar sands. They have rules that say that the members of their federal council must remain neutral in the leadership race yet this whole thing is being pushed forward by the vice president of their party which leads me to question if they are planing to have a fair leadership race or if the party establishment would prefer to bypass the internal democracy so that they can hand pick their chosen candidate; something that Elizabeth May has talked about many times in the past. She calls it « succession planing. »
I understand that some people are upset that I spoke out against the Tar Sands but as a Green Party leader and as an environmentalist I had a duty and a responsibility to speak out and to act to have this policy changed which I succeeded in. I stand by what I said and I am glad that I spoke out when I did. Going forward I will continue to speak my mind on such important issues. I will never be complacent with the continued exploitation of the Alberta Tar sands which contain the dirtiest fossil fuels in the entire world. .
Leader of the Green Party of Quebec