Tag Archives: Ned Taylor

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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Recently, a sixteen-year-old high school student in British Columbia contacted me and asked me to help him help chickens. “First off, I would like to thank you for running in this election [for the Animal Alliance/Environment Voters Party] and standing up for both animals and our environment,” he wrote. Then he requested my support for his petition, “Ban Battery Cages in Canada,”  against the brutal treatment of factory-farmed chickens, which references the Canadian Coalition for Farmed Animals as its source.

Canada factory farm chicken

Canadian factory farmed chickens. Hell on earth, and methane pollution in the atmosphere

As an animal advocate, I could not resist this appeal on behalf of billions of chickens. Ned’s petition is stellar. It reviews the condition of more than ninety percent of Canada’s egg-laying hens, detailing how these creatures 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.

These conditions are not only cruel, Ned writes,  but they deprive hens of their natural behaviors of nesting, perching, dust-bathing, stretching their wings or even walking around, and the consequences can be dire. Chickens are fouled and sickened by urine and feces falling down from cages above them. Their feathers fall out and their skin is damaged. Their muscles waste from lack of use, their bones and skeletal systems become brittle, and their spinal cords deteriorate, leaving them paralyzed. Dying and dead chickens litter the cages and are often cannibalized by their surviving cage-mates.

“This is how millions of hens spend their entire lives in Canada, and yet nothing has been done to stop this,” Ned’s petition concludes. “We need to ban battery cages in Canada and make it mandatory for chickens to be raised in a free run or free range system. This is the humane and Canadian thing to do. … Please, for the sake of our animals and our people, do the right thing.”

I read through and signed the petition and agreed to promote it. Soon after, I connected with Ned by telephone and bombarded him with questions. What had driven this teenager’s desire to help chickens? And why had he chosen petitioning the government as the best way to achieve his goal?

“Oh, because at home we always ate free run eggs and one day I just asked my mom why. She gave me some information about battery cages, and when last October’s election was called, I looked at the platforms of all the different candidates, because I thought battery cages, and the way we treat chickens aren’t right, and that led me to your party, the AA/EV.”

“I’m a bit of the odd man out,” Ned admitted. “My friends also followed the campaign, especially about the legalization of pot issue, but I’m the only one who volunteered. And the petition came after the election, because petitions are important tools to achieve results. Look at Europe! Switzerland banned battery cages back in 1992!” Western Europe is way ahead of Canada in animal welfare, Ned and I agree.

And, because we also agree on the intelligence of chickens, and their right to live full, natural lives, I invoked the veganism I assumed we shared.
“Oh, I’m not vegan,” Ned said.

Not vegan? I was taken aback. How could someone so knowledgeable about chicken nature and culture, someone so compassionate about the treatment of animals, justify eating them?

Ned’s explanation was forthright. “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.”

There was more. “Hunting them is better than the food industry,” Ned said. “They live in the wild, and die without fear.” That’s certainly true, but it still implies that humans have the right to end a healthy animal’s life whenever they wish to. Which begs the question: what about veganism?

“I completely support and understand it,” Ned said promptly. “In fact, I’m considering it.

Not promising to do it, just considering it right now.”
How about committing to one meatless day a week? I suggested. It needn’t be a Monday; any day of the week would suffice, making it more convenient and easier for him to honour his commitment.

Ned did not hesitate. “I agree to one meatless day a week, starting next week,” he pledged. “And I also agree to take notes and let you know how I’m doing.”

Ned Taylor

Ned Taylor with Abbey

I can’t wait to hear, and not just because each of Ned’s Meatless Days will save an estimated .54 animals, for a grand total of twenty-eight each year. It’s because I’m confident that this challenge will be so easy for him, and so satisfying that he’ll not only embrace it for life – his life and the lives of animals he cares for so deeply – but that he’ll find ways to reach out to other young people who’ll be inspired to follow his example. When they do, their Meatless Days will add up to thousands of animals saved from the horrors of factory farming and the terror and anguish of slaughterhouses.

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