Two significant transformative things happened for me in 2005: 1) my first child was born, and 2) I ran as a political candidate in the British Columbia provincial election. The two were integrally linked. The issue of climate change and social disparity had long lent to a deep sense of skepticism and bringing new life into the world required me to to fully engage in a shift toward political progress. I have long believed that the political process is not leveraging the inherent strength within the public, and proceeded to utilize dialogue rather than the convention of debate. The distinction here is that with debate a proponent holds a position and argues to persuade others to come to their point of view, whereas with dialogue a generative conversation takes place where all parties come to a more complex and coherent understanding. Dialogue promotes a cooperative process of progress. Our political convention clings to debate and references the now archaic command and control structures of the industrial mindset. As a Green Party of BC candidate in 2005, I engaged citizens from across the political spectrum and worked from shared values toward a more meaningful and generative political dialogue. I found that the more we conversed from our values and the less we clung to rigid confines of partisan political interests, the more positive the process. I found strong shared convictions with conservatives as well as environmentalists, and a strong thread of agreement from all sides came around electoral reform.
I first met Nathan Cullen in early 2008 shortly after I moved to Smithers. There was never any partisan barrier, no debate, we went straight to how can we work together to make Canada better for all kids, not just our own. I took comfort immediately in the fact that Nathan was my MP, and that he was fully open to cooperate with me as an agent of change. It was clear to me immediately that Nathan Cullen is a politician cut from a new sort of cloth. a person who can see beyond his own ideas, and listen to all the ideas that are expressed in the room. I had many opportunities to sit in rooms with Nathan convening dialogue, and he has a profound gift for this, for making space for conversations to unfold for greater complexity and coherence to emerge. Nathan is a leader in the sense that Lao Tzu idealizes in the Tao De Ching, a leader that invites possibility and empowers constituents to engage.
I have subsequently joined the federal NDP specifically to vote for Nathan Cullen in the leadership race. I do not consider myself to be a New Democrat or a Social Democrat, but I believe in the value of cooperation, the power of true dialogue, and the capacity of Nathan Cullen to lead the NDP in a way that Canada has not seen within the traditional political framework.