What It Is Like to Have a Green MP

On an April evening in 2014, I opened an email and panicked. It was from a Model United Nations conference I was supposed to attend. The conference was in five days, and I was just told that I was put in a special committee — House of Commons — and I would be the Leader of the Green Party.

Coincidentally, I was a high school student in Saanich. As such, I was well aware of Miss Elizabeth May. I knew that she was (and still is) my MP and that her job was (and still is) to help people in her constituency. In the midst of my research, I realized that my ideas were only based on guesses of what Elizabeth might do instead of what she would do, and those ideas seemed vague, unconvincing, and somewhat immature. I wanted to be an outstanding Green, even though it was just a mock House of Commons. I tweeted Elizabeth the next day, and she responded within hours. I probably had asked too many questions over the next day or two, as eventually she asked, politely, whether we could correspond by email. So I sent her a long email at 6pm PST. She responded at 11pm, which would be 2am in Ottawa, with an email twice as long as mine. Her answers were capitalized to make it easier for me to identify them. I don’t remember more details about this, but I remember one of my questions being “How often, and when, do you compromise in the House?” And she responded, “I DON’T”. I took a deep breath. While the responsibility to strictly carry out her principles was then a challenge, I calmed down knowing that I would succeed with her help.

I couldn’t thank her enough for this. She stayed up late for me, an unknown high-schooler who was facing a deadline for a high-school debate. Yet she answered all of my questions, obvious or wise, with as many details as she could offer, and corrected my ideas and vocabulary for political correctness. I was thrilled.

As a way to pay her back, I gave her a copy of my paper at the next town hall meeting she was hosting. It was late when I finally approached her and told her that everyone who had read it said it was “very Green”. After our encounter, I thought we would never meet each other again.

But her wit and wisdom haunted me; they made me look deeper into all the issues I had researched, and then I realized, “Wow, the Greens are an unknowingly amazing party!”, and that Elizabeth is an underrepresented yet significant figure. I’ve watched numerous speeches. Although I often drift off in the middle of one, as all English learners do, I do feel her power, her determination, and her passion on all of the issues at hand. She was right, she never compromises. As for me, I had always been an acquiescent follower. Principles for me had been an endless abyss. If someone had smashed my belief and said, “that’s the reality”, I would have agreed. By watching her speeches and reading all sorts of articles about Elizabeth and the Greens, I felt like I’d finally found the ground. I could remain silent when confronted, and I could apologize for something that was not my fault. Nonetheless, I had learned that I could not tolerate people, especially those who have the most power, dictating others’ lives to feed their own desires.

A year went by, during which Elizabeth and I had several exchanges. I once invited her to a Model United Nations event at my own school, but it did not work out because of a scheduling conflict. My friend who also worked on this event dropped her jaw when I told her that Elizabeth had agreed to come. “It’s actually not that hard”, I told her, “just tweet her.”

Just a few days later, I found out Elizabeth would be organizing a town hall meeting at our school, one of a new series which she calls a “youth town hall”, that’s aimed to understand young people’s lives better. It was a privilege and a stroke of luck to join her, along with a dozen other students and a few staff members, for a luncheon. The conversation was in-depth. I have to apologize here to those who had lots of questions that day, for talking about immigration issues for too long. It wasn’t intended. When I asked, “What was the role that the government wants foreign students, workers, and landed immigrants to play”, I was expecting a clear answer. The fact that Elizabeth was also confused about the point was scary. I can’t say I had all my faith in her, but I did understand that if my MP who works her hardest to ensure her constituents’ beliefs were considered doesn’t understand the government’s behaviour, I would probably need to interrogate Mr. Prime Minister myself.

A few seconds later, she asked me whether I was facing any hardships in the immigration process. So, I went on with some honest responses and expressed concerns over the new system, which spiralled into a 20-minute discussion on the topic. In the end, she promised to help our family with whatever hardships we may face.

I must have been the luckiest, yet most privileged girl on Earth. I was well aware that my family was in a so-called “normal system” now, only with bad timing. We were not stuck in a refugee camp unable to access the outside world, nor being exported unreasonably, nor homeless. We’re only waiting, and it’s only me who will be affected if things go wrong. I’m young, I can always try again.

I remember my face burning. “I’m not a Canadian yet.” I stared down at the sour cream left over on my plate to hide my disappointment. I could feel that everyone in the room was staring at me, or trying not to stare. The person beside me, another Chinese girl, froze. I’m not even a permanent resident. I’m an international student, able (although barely) to pay her own through-the-roof tuition. I didn’t feel like I deserved it. There are so many people worse off than me. I don’t deserve the attention and sympathy.

Elizabeth’s next sentence almost threw me out of my chair. She said, in such a determined tone, “You’re in my constituency. I’m responsible for helping you.”

“Even if I’m international?”

“Even if you’re international. I’m your MP. It’s my responsibility to take care of everyone who lives in my riding.”

Later that day, I wrote an email to her riding office, explaining in detail about my family’s situation, my concerns, and what I think should be done. I must have whined a lot, as there was no response for weeks. Then, one day, I got an email asking me when I would like to visit my mother who works on the other side of the country. It would be paid by Elizabeth’s Air Miles. After several emails and phone calls, we had booked me a one-way ticket to Toronto. That was my moving ticket, my ticket to have no more official connection with Elizabeth. I was also notified that a staff member from the riding office had also contacted me, only the message was unseen because a delay in receiving my emails.

Then the summer came. A surprise family reunion made me laugh and cry at the same time. For some reason, I wanted to share my joy with Elizabeth, yet she was nowhere to be found. We went to the riding office for the first, and maybe the last time, to say thank you. The next day, on the plane, I secretly wished for another MP who would say “you’re in my constituency, I’m responsible for helping you” to an unknown, sometimes childish international student.

A special Credit to Cam: Thank you very much for editing it word by word and having your mom to read it!


A Modest Proposal – A Swift’s Parody

This is a recount of my very first political article (apart from the position papers I’ve written for Model United Nations). It was meant to be an English assignment, and the idea of becoming politically active just spiraled out of control. So let the satire rock!

During the recent years, our nation has witnessed a rapid growth of immigrants, especially those from Asian countries, imbalancing the cultural composition of our society. Because of massive immigration, there are further problems with social justice, social welfare, and economic growth. Hence it is in my recommendation that the Canadian government seriously considers such proposal.

Canada, the second largest country in the world, is only able to sustain a certain population. It is then reasonable for our nation to restrict immigration policies. By restricting immigration, we will create more jobs for our own citizens, save resources for our own country, and achieve economic prosperity through a relatively low-carbon approach. To implement such restriction, I suggest that at least 90% of applicants from European and English-speaking countries are accepted into our country within the sixth month of receiving their applications; about 70% of applicants from Africa and Latin America are accepted into the country within two years; and less than 50% of applicants from Asian countries should be accepted by the tenth year of their applications. Notably, this is not racism. Since Asian people are currently the largest minority in our country, in some towns composing more than 40% of their population, it is necessary for Canada as a country to restrict immigration from Asia in order to keep our cultural composition balanced. Also, the qualities of immigrants are pivotal. People from European or English-speaking countries tend to have better sanitary facilities and infrastructures and a higher level of literacy in their country of origin with more diverse cultural and language backgrounds. All of these features make them ideal candidates for becoming Canadian citizens as they reduce the risk of infectious disease epidemics, contribute towards the development of high-tech employment and research, and diversify our society. People from African and Latin American countries, although less literate than people from European or English-speaking countries, also have a diversity in their cultural backgrounds. Furthermore, accepting immigrants from these countries by responding to humanitarian demands promotes Canada’s reputation as a Middle Power.

Applications that are deemed to be declined are held in abeyance until the end of their six-month, two-year or ten-year processing period in order to fully consider the decision of refusal. By delaying responses, we can stipulate the presentation of further items, whereby more paid services are incurred and a minimum of an additional 1000 dollars per applicant is levied. This is an environmentally friendly way to increase government revenue. It is therefore appropriate to abandon paper processing for immigration to become a more sustainable service. However, for some applicants, a photocopy of the diploma of their highest level of education can be requested.

To increase the quality of landed immigrants, it is important to restrict the definition of a “dependent child” and demand a higher level of literacy. Landed immigrants with no children generally achieve more than those who have children because parents are often distracted from their studies or careers as their younger generation requires attention. And once these children become permanent residents of Canada, the government will have to pay for their education and welfare, burdening the community. It is then appropriate to refuse children who can work, who have a relative, or by any chance can survive in their country of origin to reside in Canada, saving the provincial governments up to 1.7 billion dollars in education and welfare expenses annually. These children would remain eligible to apply for permanent residency via the family reunion process, and reunite with their parents when they are older and have better language and life skills. Due to low level of literacy among our landed immigrants and high costs to educate them, we should no longer accept applicants for temporary or permanent residency with a diploma less than an undergraduate level of study. Additionally, we should raise the English proficiency standard for applicants who intend to reside in our nation. An IELTS score of 6.5 with Listening and Speaking of no less than 7 is sufficient for landed immigrants to work and study with few major obstacles in communication (the category of IELTS test required for work and study are General Training and Academics, respectively). By doing so, the 8 billion dollar budget that is currently spent on adult English as a Second Language(ESL) courses and courses for adults to obtain a high school/post-secondary diploma can be redirected into our most demanding services across the country, such as health care and education. This way, provinces, especially British Columbia, can allocate more funds for its public school system, minimize the frequency of educational job actions without having to appropriate funds from other crucial governmental services.

To create more jobs and further increase the quality of landed immigrants, it is also necessary that all children older than 2 years old take an age-appropriate language test. The test for children under the age of 14 will be taken in a one-on-one basis with a testing officer. By urging and providing these tests, we create approximately 3000 jobs Canada-wide that would help sustain our own citizens. Children over the age of 14 will be requested to meet a minimum criteria of recognized standardized tests, which is a lower score than required for adults. For example, an IELTS band score of 5.5 (Academics) is required for a 14-year-old to obtain temporary or permanent residency. Children who fail language tests will not be allowed in the country for temporary or permanent residency because learning a new language in a brand new environment is detrimental to their emotional, intellectual, psycho-social, and cognitive development.

According to a report under Internet Poll Canada, immigration is a threat to the social justice of Canadian society and Canadian identity. To ensure gender equity in Canada, any costumes that define female their roles should be prohibited from entering Canada. Immigrants from Japan should be paid extra attention to their personal belongings as their traditional customs suggest extreme sexism. To prevent the proliferation of certain cultures threatening Canadian identity, symbols of an immigrant’s culture such as Chinese Calligraphy should also be appropriated by Canadian Custom. Further, as language is the Number One invader of Canadian culture, any language other than English, French, or First Nations languages should only be permitted in designated areas. Landed immigrants who disobey this rule should be fined at a rate of at least $100 regardless of age or affordability, as they have disrupted a fundamental principle of being Canadians or permanent residents of Canada.

If the Canadian government were to implement the above proposal, we would anticipate a drastic improvement in our society: first a drop in unemployment rate as the processing procedure becomes more case-based; second a drop in infectious diseases such as tuberculosis as we decline people who are more likely to carry these diseases; then a decreased need in adult ESL and career-oriented education; and finally, a more balanced cultural composition throughout the country.