Tag Archives: Elizabeth May

Political Apprenticeship 101: Losing to Learn

Ned Taylor 1

Ned Taylor, candidate for Saanich City Council

Ned Taylor is eighteen years old, a recent high school graduate, a veteran political campaigner and (with a bow to Leonard Cohen) a beautiful loser. How does this all fit into his grand plan to become a politician? Very nicely, I’d say, and as someone who’s been following Ned’s progress since he was a sixteen-year-old political novice just beginning to volunteer on campaigns, I’d venture to predict that it’s one of the first chapters in a political success story!

Ned is an issues-driven politico, and when he jumped into the Saanich municipal election of September 23, 2017 as a candidate, he focused on issues rather than personality: housing affordability, reducing waste, fighting climate change, expanding car-free transportation. Ned even took the opportunity to get some animal related issues, and his own views on them, into the conversation.

Should Saanich deal with the deer overpopulation that causes car accidents and ruined gardens? Ned strongly opposes culling deer, one common suggestion. “We have to co-exist with wildlife,” he insists. “Culling them simply isn’t effective.” Instead, he proposes long-term population reduction such as sterilization. “Deer never wanted to be around humans, but they have now become comfortable in our environment.”

Ned Taylor 2

Ned also proposed some unique ideas to tackle the housing crisis in Saanich. One of these was to allow ‘garden suites,’ detached backyard rental suites. “They would provide more affordable housing for students at our universities, and even accommodate seniors looking to downsize,” he claims. Others include ‘tiny house communities’ and more student housing at Saanich’s university campuses.

Much greater than Ned’s position on these issues, however, is how he used the election as a learning curve for his future political goals. His campaign was shorter than most of the other candidates – a mere two months versus five months. His budget was also strikingly leaner, yet he translated that modest sum into lawn signs and enough pamphlets for a daily campaign of knocking on doors, the time-honoured way to run a successful political campaign. He also paid for Facebook boost payments and a robocall.

Ned’s youth also paid off in terms of his familiarity with social media. He was very active on Facebook, and was able to reach a large audience. He has since gained a presence on Twitter and Reddit and is planning to launch on other platforms which have significant numbers of followers.

Ned Taylor 3

“I was pretty sure I wouldn’t win,” Ned explains, “but I wanted to make a difference and do  well. I knew I’d be running again in October 2018, and I wanted to be ready for that. I wanted to have an impact on this election, and make my issues and ideas heard. r. I had a full platform, available on my website, as testimony to my seriousness.” Ned Taylor was “that young kid running,” but he was also much more than that young kid.

Ned didn’t win the election. He placed fifth in a field of ten. But in terms of his political career, it was a victory, because it was a strong showing and an intense learning experience, a political apprenticeship that’s just beginning.

What’s his next step? Impressively, it’s a “gap year” that will be spent in Australia volunteering in the office of Shane Rattenbury, a Green Party Minister who holds the balance of power in a state government.. Ned has some distant connections with the Australian Green Party, a family he will live with in Canberra, and a cousin who is a Green Party city councillor in Sydney and whose campaign he will observe so that he can bring ideas back to Saanich. He’s also served a brief apprenticeship with Canadian Green Party leader Elizabeth May, spending a week at her office in Ottawa.

Ned and Elizabeth May

Ned’s political passion is currently directed at the municipal level. If he’s elected after two or three terms, he can see himself in provincial or federal politics. “But,” he says, “right now, I can’t keep my mind off Saanich!”

So let’s see. Ned is eighteen now, and by the time he’s in his mid-twenties, he should be a seasoned politician. He’s already a committed advocate, and an ethical young man willing to compromise on strategy but not fundamental principles. From the perspective of this animal activist, Ned Taylor’s political ambitions can only be seen as a bright light in the fight to give Canada’s environment, animals, and people, something better.

Today in the Legislature I introduced Ned Taylor

Dr. Andrew Weaver, MLA, introduces Ned Taylor (photographed to the right with Vicki Huntington) who started a petition to ban battery cages in British Columbia. Weaver subsequently tabled his petition in the legislature.

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I met future politician Ned Taylor just after Canada’s 2015 federal elections, in which I stood as a candidate for the Animal Alliance/Environment Voters Party (thankfully now renamed the Animal Protection Party)! Ned, then sixteen-years-old, wanted my help in promoting his Change.org petition to “Ban Battery Cages in Canada,” fighting against the brutal treatment of factory-farmed chickens in the egg industry.

SIGN IT HERE: https://www.change.org/p/the-prime-minister-of-canada-ban-battery-cages-in-canada

Ned’s petition exposed the reality that more than ninety percent of Canada’s egg-laying hens are trapped in cramped wire “battery cages” for their entire lives, forced to exist in spaces smaller than an 8 ½ x 11 inch piece of paper. It was a stellar document that I enthusiastically supported and promoted.

Canadian chicken factory farm

But I was also struck by its author, this fresh-faced, engaging and energetic youngster who was spending so much time researching and crafting his petition, and then guiding it through the rule-bound, paper-strewn path that is the only route to changing Canadian laws. And Ned’s eagerness to learn was real, and he listened to the more experienced animal advocates he sought out to help him. Clearly he was a caring, compassionate and effective politician still in embryo stage!

Ned Taylor, budding Green Party politician

And I assumed that his passion about drastically improving the lives of the farmed chickens whose intelligence and sensitivity he admire meant that he must also be vegan, the logical consequence of his heartfelt opinions.

But when we spoke on the telephone and I mentioned our shared veganism, Ned quickly set me straight.

“Oh, I’m not vegan,” he said. “We humans are animals, too, and animals have been eating other animals for centuries. I believe that if we treat them right and they live a full life, then there’s nothing wrong with eating them.”

And so do humans have the right to kill healthy, usually very young animals at will, as they currently do? I demanded. And what about food culture that avoids all killing and cruelty? In other words, what about veganism?

“I completely support and understand it,” Ned responded. “In fact, I’m considering it. Not promising to do it, just considering it right now.”  By the time our conversation ended, he had committed to one meatless day a week.

Ned’s meatless experiment has gone well. Almost a year later, he is a steadfast vegetarian. It’s a great start! And, Ned adds cheerfully, “It’s incredibly easy now.”  He is mindful of how his food is sourced, what kind of oil is used in fried dishes,  if animal-derived gelatin is used, and he has even abstained from fur and leather  – “I really don’t mind the little details,” he says. His family, always supportive, has also become much more veggie-friendly, and his dad encourages him to eat more healthful nuts and beans. “My mom thought my vegetarianism was a phrase,” Ned says. “But now she realizes it’s forever.”

Ned Taylor’s Vegetarian Year!

Forever! That’s my kind of vegetarian (with vegan flourishes), and I renewed my efforts to recruit Ned for the Animal Protection Party. But Ned’s loyalty to the Green Party is unshakeable, and for compelling reasons. “Animal welfare issues are hugely important to me, and always will be” Ned explains, “especially the environmental issues such as climate change that directly relate to animals and meat consumption. People often don’t make that connection, and that’s what I want to focus on. I want to bring that awareness into the Green Party.”

How could anyone argue with that?  And I’ve longed for years to see that awareness in the Green Party.  With Ned and some of his cohorts, that will likely happen, with animals huge beneficiaries.

Ned has already caught Green Party leader Elizabeth May’s attention and, at her invitation, he spent a week in Ottawa volunteering, which reinforced his conviction that this is where he is meant to be.

But it’s not a loss for the Animal Protection Party, it’s a win for animals, as Ned and several of his friends transition to vegetarianism or veganism. “Kids and teens are now more receptive to vegetarians and vegetarian food,” Ned says, “and even friends who were previously pescetarian are ditching fish. My co-workers at Starbucks also notice that lots of customers order soy or other non-dairy drinks, and they make sure it’s available.” In other words, among young people, a slow and steady food revolution is unfolding, one squash soup and soy latte at a time!


Ned has given me an assignment: to calculate how many animals he saves on an annual basis by not eating them. That’ll be my next blog about the contributions to animal advocacy of this up-and-coming Green Party politician, B.C.’s Ned Taylor.

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Filed under Animal Alliance/Environment Voters Party, Battery cages, Ned Taylor, factory farming. veganism, Uncategorized