Politics

Green Party leadership candidate says he's chasing 'green' conservatives

The latest person to join the race for the federal Green Party leadership says the party needs to work harder to woo disaffected Conservatives.

Conservatives disappointed with their party's approach to the environment should go Green, says Andrew West

Andrew West, 45, is an Ottawa lawyer who has served as the party's attorney general critic in Ontario and has run for the Greens in several provincial and federal elections. (Submitted/ Andrew West)

The latest person to join the race for the federal Green Party leadership says the party needs to work harder to woo disaffected Conservatives.

"For those that feel that the Conservative Party has lost their way, they should turn to another fiscally responsible party," Andrew West told CBC News before launching his campaign Friday morning.

Pointing to the legacy of Brian Mulroney, West said that federal Conservatives once were in the vanguard on environmental policy — combating acid rain and working to marshal international co-operation to enact the Montreal Protocol on ozone layer depletion, for example. The Conservative Party of Canada has "lost its way" in the years since, West said.

Citing the Conservative leadership race, West said many of the party's current and former supporters probably are disappointed with the selection of candidates and the lack of strong environmental policy.

There's a place for environmentally conscious Conservatives in the Green Party, he said. And many voters in rural ridings — particularly farmers — have close relationships with nature and understand the value of protecting the environment, he added.

"We need to show the Conservatives in those ridings that we care about their land and their water. We care about conservation," he said.

West said he's not interested in taking the Greens further to the right, that he wants the party to remain in the centre. He said he would court Liberal and NDP voters while continuing to pursue socially progressive ideals and fiscally conservative policies.

Policy positions

Asked to define those policies, West offered few details and said the membership drives Green Party policy development.

West, 45, is an Ottawa-based lawyer. He has served as the attorney general critic for the party in Ontario and has run for the Greens in several provincial and federal elections. Although he's not bilingual, he said he is taking French courses. 

The Green Party recently announced its leadership race would continue despite the pandemic, with debates and voting taking place online. The Conservatives temporarily suspended their leadership race after the pandemic hit.

The Green Party leadership race began in February after Elizabeth May announced in November that she would step aside.

The other candidates who have declared they're running for the leadership are:

  • Judy Green, a former candidate for the Greens in West-Nova, N.S.
  • Amita Kuttner, a former candidate for the Greens in Burnaby North-Seymour, B.C.
  • Dimitri Lascaris, a former candidate for the Greens in London West, Ont.
  • David Merner, a 2019 candidate for the Greens in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, B.C.
  • Glen Murray, a former Winnipeg mayor and Ontario Liberal cabinet minister
  • Annamie Paul, a 2019 candidate for the Greens in Toronto Centre.
  • Dylan Perceval-Maxwell, who ran multiple times as a federal candidate in Laurier—Sainte-Marie. Q.C.
  • Alex Tyrrell, leader of the Green Party of Quebec.

About the Author

David Thurton is a national reporter in CBC's Parliamentary Bureau. He's worked for CBC in Fort McMurray, the Maritimes and in Canada's Arctic.

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