On Sept. 20, history was made in Ontario as, after 38 years since its establishment in 1983, the Green Party of Canada won their first MP seat with Kitchener Centre’s Mike Morrice.
In 2015, the local vote for the Green Party was 3 per cent and this year, Morrice was elected with 32.7 per cent of the vote.
Morrice ran in the 2019 election and decided to run with the Green Party due to similarities between their values and his. For example, the Green Party’s values of social justice, participatory democracy, non-violence, and ecological wisdom.
“The Green Party, within the values of the party, encourages their MPs to focus on representing their community first and foremost, rather than being spokespeople for the party. And so, to me, that was really important, because it meant that when I was knocking on doors I could be genuinely listening to the person I was speaking with, and that, now, as MP Elect, I’m intending to go to Ottawa to be a strong representative for our community, to be a voice for our community first and foremost,” Morrice said.
Once in Ottawa, Morrice wants to focus on listening to the communities he represents and working across party lines to create solutions to pressing problems. For example, the housing crisis is a big concern for Morrice.
“When it comes to the specific priorities, we’ve got to address the unaffordability of housing… It’s over 360 people in our community who are living unsheltered. It’s also about young people who I’ve spoken with who are unsure if they’ll ever be in a position to afford to move out of their parents’ place or to even buy a home of their own. And it’s true for seniors who are living on fixed income who are anxious as their rents go up,” Morrice said.
Morrice is a graduate from Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU), where he studied business and computer electronics, and founded Sustainable Waterloo Region. This passion for local organizations stemmed from a frustration with the Conference of Parties hosted by the UN in 1992.
Through his work with environmental organizations, Morrice became interested in politics. He believes that not enough action has been taken on a national level to address climate change and other crises.
Sustainable Waterloo Region started the Green Economy Hub, an organization that supported businesses who voluntarily set targets to reduce their carbon footprint and increase profitability. During his time with Green Economy Hub, Morrice worked with dozens of companies and other organizations including Laurier itself. The organization would eventually contribute to the regions first climate action plan “Climate Action WR.”
“We are not on track to meet what scientists and Indigenous leaders and young people have been calling for to ensure that we leave our kids and nieces and nephews and grandkids with a safe climate future. At a time when our government continues to build new pipeline infrastructure and subsidize fossil fuels, I realized that it’s policy that we need to shift if we’re going to be honest about what is required to address the climate crisis,” Morrice said.
“And this extends to other big challenges we’re facing, when it comes to the affordability of housing, when it comes to mental health supports, long-term care it just felt increasingly existential to me when I decided to run just before the 2019 election that we need system change, we need policy change, if we’re going to meet the scale of the crises that we’re facing.”.
Morrice credited his community with helping him win. He said it was a humbling experience and that he hopes to work with his community to address the issues that they feel are important.
“It’s pretty humbling, just to know the number of people that have placed their trust in me. I think of the day before the election: I was on Westmount and spoke with a mother and her daughter, it was her daughter’s first time voting. And she said to me, she said, ‘Mike, I believe in you’ And so that comes with a real sense of responsibility to follow through on,” he said.
“Now, [I am] not saying, you know, ‘elect me and I’ll solve the housing crisis,’ but I did say that I would be respectful, that I would be working hard on our community’s behalf to be a strong voice for us,” he said.