Vancouver’s Damian Kettlewell stopped by the farmers market in Whistler recently to meet the public and encourage people to register with the B.C. Green Party for the upcoming leadership convention on Oct. 20.
Kettlewell is one of five candidates running for the leadership post, which is in itself unique.
“There is an unprecedented level of support, and interest in the leadership position, due to the growth of the party,” said Kettlewell.
“It’s a friendly and cordial race, we’re all supportive of each other and just working to get the word out to our membership and sign up lots of new members in the next few weeks.”
To get a vote at the Green Party leadership convention in Victoria on Oct. 20 you must become a member of the B.C. Green Party by Sept. 20. In addition to Kettlewell, the list of leadership candidates includes Silvaine Zimmerman, Jack Etkin, Ben West, and Jane Sterk. There are five debates planned; the first one was scheduled for Aug. 29 in Prince George. Other debate stops include Vancouver, Surrey, North Vancouver, and Kelowna.
While all candidates are supportive of each other, Kettlewell believes he has the experience and leadership background to be an effective party leader.
“Definitely I’m strong on economic issues, which is why (Whistler Councillor) Ralph Forsyth agreed to endorse my campaign, but I’ve also spent 14 years as an environmental activist.
“I have a car that runs on vegetable oil and biodiesel, I’ve organized 12 different Eco Fests in Whistler and Squamish, and I’ve been part of the campaign to preserve the Elaho. I’m also the chair of the B.C. Rivershed Society. So yes, I can speak on economic issues and present new and innovative ideas, such as tax shifting, but I also have the respect of the greens.”
In the last provincial election, Kettlewell won 15 per cent of the popular vote in the same riding as reigning Premier Gordon Campbell and an established NDP candidate. While a few other Green Party candidates got more votes than Kettlewell, he faced a tougher campaign against a sitting premier.
In the last few provincial elections the Green Party has received between 10 and 12 per cent of the popular vote, but has yet to win a seat in the Legislature. Getting Green Party members into the provincial government is the number one priority in the 2009 elections, says Kettlewell, and the party will direct most of their resources to candidates with the best chance.
The Green Party continues to support the push for proportional representation, which would guarantee the Green Party at least a few seats based on the popular vote.
“We support it and not just because it helps us,” said Kettlewell. “The Citizen’s Assembly on Electoral Reform was an independent and non-partisan group, and they made a recommendation that was in favour of proportional representation and the single transferable vote system. It’s a better form of democracy.”
Kettlewell has several initiatives that he is promoting within his leadership campaign, including a call to make 20 per cent of B.C. farms organic by 2020, and accurate oil and gas pipeline maps to prevent the kind of spill that contaminated an area of Burnaby last month and forced several people out of their homes.
A more comprehensive look at Kettlewell’s positions on issues, as well as a complete bio, can be found on his website, www.damiankettlewell.com .