I am well prepared for this national work. I have lived all across Canada – I was born in Yellowknife along with my late sister Margot, and we lived all over the place – we were a mining family, and we went where the rocks were fresh. We lived in Sept-Iles and Labrador, Montréal and Beloeil, Toronto and Vancouver. I went to school in French, English, and Newfoundlandish. I am at home everywhere in this wonderful country. I’ve lived in BC most of my adult life. I’ve worked as a cowboy on Canada’s biggest ranches, I’ve worked in fish plant and mines. I was trained as an agricultural economist, and got caught up in the beginning of environmental economics in the ‘70s. I managed large natural resource projects – the first in Canada to treat the land as a place for many users at one, instead of just carving it up for forestry or farms or other single uses – I learned to help people who saw themselves in conflict come together in unified purpose. I learned a lot about how to love the land. When people ask me why I’m Green, I tell them that if they had been so lucky as to spend a few years on a saddle horse, outside all day in grasslands, meadows and forests, watching the seasons go around, they’d be Green too.
Doing this work introduced me to small computers when they were brand new. I became the first manager of Computer Music for Roland Music in 1983 – that work took me everywhere in North America, and often back to Québec, then and now the most vibrant music scene in Canada. Rock and roll, jazz, fusion, auteurs/compositeurs. The best. We can use a whole lot more Québec in the party – we certainly need to be functionally bilingual for a start. Then I started building tech companies from the ground up – two companies I founded are going strong. Photon Control Inc. makes fibre optics switches and sensors (my 6 patents in fibre switches were the base technology there). I grew Photon from a two-person startup to 36 employees and a Toronto Stock Exchange listing – not a big company, but a good one. APRIO Inc. is Canada’s leading supplier of governance software, used by most of the credit unions in Canada, by crown corporations and public and private companies, and by many nonprofits. Building APRIO, I was one of the early members of the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD) and the Canadian Society for Corporate Secretaries – I’m a graduate of the ICD’s intensive (part-time over two-years) “Directors Education Program” and other short courses specializing in nonprofits and finance. I have served on and consulted to boards in businesses, industry, culture and politics. I learned to build consensus there as well, to focus always on what brings people together in common interest and intention. Boards and councils set an organization’s overall culture. That should be one of co-operation and consensus, not of majorities and minorities, not of control or powerlessness. I’ve been engaged in politics for years. In 1983 I was a founder of the Green Party of BC, the first in North America. I spent many years in the federal Liberal Party, always on the left/enviro side (we were many), running as a candidate in 2011. Then Justin Trudeau took over – his first act was to go to Alberta and say that Stephen Harper had “not done enough to promote the Keystone XL pipeline. I quit the party immediately, and came back to my roots as a Green. I have been a Green candidate provincially and nationally. I serve in Shadow Cabinet as Finance Critic.
I’m an old, straight, white, cisgender male (he/him), but I have worked for years to bust some of the patriarchal and colonial bonds that limit us all. I’ve spent years living, working and protesting with indigenous friends in BC, I’ve been a consistent promoter for women on corporate boards (but oh, my, boards are still awfully white and male), I’ve led cultural non-profits (especially the Vancouver Folk Music Festival) to more diversity in management, volunteers and audiences.
Our party is pretty white. We’re not so inclusive as we might be, we don’t deal very well with people who are challenged by baked-in privilege. We need to be more welcoming, and much safer. I learn a lot from my friends. Inclusivity, politics and governance and come together for me. Our way of dealing with people from marginalized backgrounds and with Young Greens rightly draws a lot of criticism from members and candidates. I believe that’s not only wrong in equity and principle, it’s a substantial barrier to our party’s success with our most natural allies. We’re good at lip service, we talk a moderately good game, but our actions put the lie to our words. We need to change our way of going. Now.
I married Elizabeth May last year after ten years of widowhood. Between us, we have 7 children and step-children and 11 grandchildren. We’re working for their futures. More at www.johnkidder.ca.
The Canadian Green movement is beginning a crucial phase, in critical times for the country and the world. We begin with a new Executive Director, new Council and new Leader, who must together share common intentions.
Council’s job is governance and strategic direction, to help accomplish our shared mission, to keep members’ wishes foremost, and to keep Green values front and centre in all we do. Council can be more effective, through conversations with members/EDAs about our vision and culture, objectively evaluating operational/election performance, modernizing governance practices, and building an inclusive, diverse and bilingual party.
Historic needs mean historic opportunities. Candidates across the country are aligned on these issues, committed to bringing us together, with members and values at the core.
We’re in this together.