In a message to P.E.I. Green party members, leader Peter Bevan-Baker struck a hopeful tone about the future that will follow the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) pandemic.
Bevan-Baker spoke to close to 70 party members who gathered for the party’s annual general meeting over the weekend, held online through the Zoom app. The party had originally scheduled an in-person gathering in Summerside but instead held a scaled-down online meeting due to the pandemic.
Although the meeting focused largely on an update of the party’s financial and political activities in 2019, Bevan-Baker’s remarks focused on the current pandemic.
“I imagine, like many of you, the thoughts, the feelings that I'm having (are) of being a little bit scared and confused. And I'm not quite sure what kind of a world is going to emerge from this crisis," Bevan-Baker said.
“But I have great faith in the fundamental goodness of people and in our ability collectively to rise to challenges.”
"I see trees awakening. I see birds singing. I see the land thawing. I know that those predictable cycles of life will continue. I believe we're going to emerge from this into a better and a healthier and a more caring world."
Bevan-Baker said he believed it was possible the world would emerge from the coronavirus pandemic having created something better. But he admitted to discomfort from comments from some in the environmental movement who cheer about reductions in pollution due to the crisis.
He urged members of his party to have compassion and to not overlook the "wave of human suffering” resulting from the crisis.
"There will be lots and lots of time for us, after this has all passed, to talk about those things and to wonder how we can improve how we live on this planet,” Bevan-Baker said.
Bevan-Baker grew emotional at the end of his speech after gazing out his kitchen window.
"I see trees awakening. I see birds singing. I see the land thawing. I know that those predictable cycles of life will continue," Bevan-Baker said.
"I believe we're going to emerge from this into a better and a healthier and a more caring world."
Both the Opposition Greens and Liberals have played a role in the provincial response to the pandemic. Bevan-Baker sits on a government committee focused on labour and social supports. Liberal interim leader Sonny Gallant sits on a similar government committee focused on the economy and business supports.
The year 2019 saw the P.E.I. Greens grow from a party with two elected members to its current status as the Official Opposition, with eight elected MLAs.
But the party’s resources are still dwarfed by those of the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives.
The Greens’ expenses during the last provincial election totalled $181,000, while the PCs spent close to $450,000 and the Liberals spent $830,000.
Party secretary treasurer Sue Whitaker said the Greens emerged from 2019 without debt. During the AGMs last fall, the PCs reported they had taken out election-related loans of $325,000 while the Liberals reported $290,000 in election-related loans.
For the 2019 year, Whitaker reported the Greens drew in $185,000 in revenue and had $253,000 in expenses. The revenue total, however, did not include an $87,000 reimbursement the party received from Elections P.E.I. in per-vote subsides.
The year 2019 was also marked by tragedy. During his annual report, Green party president Martin Ruben acknowledged the death of candidate Josh Underhay and his son, Oliver, last April.
The party plans to hold an in-person convention in the fall with a focus on policy resolutions.