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Melamed settling into new role as Green Party president

Electoral reform key to moving party forward

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Ken Melamed hasn't entirely left the world of politics behind just yet.

More than a year after running as the Green Party's candidate in the 2015 federal election, the former Whistler mayor has taken on a new role with the party.

In July, Melamed was named the president of the Green Party of Canada.

"After the election I was interested in finding a way to stay involved, and do what I can to help the party build and prepare for the next time around," Melamed said. "So there was a call for members of the executive, and I put my name forward and here we are."

In his new volunteer role, Melamed chairs the party's federal council, which deals with party operations like developing policy and approving budgets.

The top priorities for the party moving forward should come as no surprise: climate change and electoral reform.

The latter is something of a dry topic, but could have major implications for the Green Party in the next election.

"Electoral reform is really not that sexy, and it makes people's eyes glaze over, and this is part of our problem really... if (the Liberal government) senses that the people of Canada are kind of ambivalent about it, that gives them room to back out of their promise, and that's our big worry," Melamed said.

"When you talk to people in the academic community, political scientists, people who are interested in how the system is working, how can we make Canada better, how can we be a more democratic society, they all say that proportional representation is the way to go."

In regards to climate change, the approach of the Liberals has been disappointing, Melamed said.

"During the campaign they made a lot of promises about addressing climate change and taking determined action... where the disappointment lies is that they seem to be on a path to approving the investments that were underway during the (Stephen) Harper administration," he said.

"They can't have it both ways, and what they're trying to do again is pander to a populist way of governing. They don't want to bite the hand that feeds them, which is the resource extraction industry and the business community."

For Canadians who want to see more action on climate change, the issue of electoral reform is a good place to start, Melamed said.

"Canada would benefit greatly by having more Green Party members in Parliament and the legislatures around the country... that's why we're working so hard on electoral reform, because we think it's one of the best ways to improve the dialogue and to have a fair and more representative set of policies to move Canada into the 21st century," he said.

"We believe our popularity is going to come from speaking the truth, and coming up with policies that will work and create a fairer Canadian society, and increase and improve our influence globally, so we provide that option."

Asked if there's another run for office in his future, Melamed said it's unlikely.

"It does take a tremendous amount of commitment," he said.

"There's a big difference between what you think it's going to be like and what the reality is, and unfortunately there's a lot of people that are very critical and not supportive of politicians, and it's a hard place to put yourself into voluntarily, but you know, it comes from a sense of duty and commitment to a better world for our children.

"That's really what it comes from, and as a result everybody in politics shoulders a certain amount of criticism and unpleasantness."

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