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Green Party of Canada leadership hopeful promising $20 per hour minimum wage

'There are challenges with that, we understand it. The Green Party would be there to support small business, but it is important to pay workers fair rates'

North Bay was the first stop on a national tour for Alex Tyrrell who is running for the leadership of the Green Party of Canada..

The 31-year-old has served as leader of the Green Party of Quebec since 2013.

He believes bringing a youth perspective to the table will help him lead the Green Party of Canada.

“I am running on a program of the Green New Deal, able to bring in a lot of young people, a lot of minorities, a lot of women into politics. And I think if the Green Party of Canada adopts a slightly more ambitious platform, they will be really able to galvanize the Canadian left and to unite the entire Canadian left behind the Green Party of Canada.”

Tyrrell explained part of that ambitious platform is to eliminate the country’s consumption of fossil fuels.

“We’re talking about doing this by offering a job guarantee to all fossil fuel-dependent workers in Canada, and doing that by creating a series of new Crown corporations that would provide both the equipment and the services required to transition to renewable energy within 10 years.”

The environment is always a priority for the Green Party, but Tyrrell says his platform will also focus on health, education and social justice issues.

“Issues like making sure everybody has access to clean drinking water, healthy food, a clean environment. So, it is about taking care of the environment but also the population at the same time.”  

He was asked for his thoughts on the government’s handling of the rail blockades and protests currently gripping the nation.  

“What Justin Trudeau should do is put a pause on the pipeline development, to pull the RCMP off the Wet’suwet’en lands. I think those have been the conditions that have been established for a dialogue with the Wet’suwet’en. He should accept those conditions and pursue dialogue,” said Tyrrell.

“What he is doing now talking about police interventions is only an escalation. The reality is the rail network in Canada is very vulnerable. People could shut it down virtually anywhere, at any time just by going to the tracks. So I think that the government really has to be very cautious in how they approach this and they need to look at it through a lens of reconciliation and repairing many of the injustices that have been done by the government of Canada towards First Nations over the past 100’s of years.”

On the issue of employment, Tyrrell wants to see a jump in the minimum wage for workers.

“In my platform, I’m talking about raising the minimum wage to $20 per hour. People should be able to live in decent conditions if they’re working fulltime. That is really not the case now,” said Tyrrell.

“Even here in North Bay people were telling me that they are paying a lot for apartments. A large portion of their income is going towards just paying their rent. People should be able to live a decent life if they work full time.”

He agreed it would be difficult for small business owners to find the money to pay for a large hike in wages.

“There are challenges with that, we understand it. The Green Party would be there to support small businesses, but it is important to pay workers fair rates. It is bad for the economy to have people that are working, that are struggling to make ends meet. If people have a little bit more money in their pocket, they will spend a little bit more money and there will be economic activity for those small businesses that will be generated by that.”

He sees North Bay and northern Ontario benefiting from a Green New Deal which would not only bring high-speed rail but free transit and green jobs to the region.

Following his stop in North Bay, Tyrell will be heading to Sudbury, Southern Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

“It is really about meeting Green Party members across the country in small settings, but also reaching out through social media and through other means,” said Tyrell.

“It is important in politics to be able to connect with people and the Green Party of Canada is really going through a bit of a searching exercise now and we really want to hear what people think, hear which way they think the party should go moving forward. And that is what this leadership race is about.”