Quebec's Green Party aims to win over voters with 'eco-socialist' agenda

Like the rest of Quebec's party leaders, the head of Green Party is touring the province this month in a bid to win over voters.

But instead of a sleek campaign bus and nights in hotels, Alex Tyrrell is driving around in a beat up 2001 Honda Civic and sleeping in youth hostels.

"We're running a really low-budget campaign at the Green Party of Quebec," said Tyrrell, a 30-year-old from Beaconsfield, Que., who has been leader of the party since 2013.

"We're doing everything we can to connect with voters."

The Green Party of Quebec, which garnered only 0.55 per cent of the popular vote in the last election, is hoping to make strides this time by presenting itself as more than just a single-issue party.

Its platform touches on a range of issues, from education to health care to labour. 

For instance, the party is in favour of cutting the work week to 32 hours, implementing a guaranteed minimum income for all Quebecers and establishing a permanent council to address racism.

"We have a very comprehensive, left-wing program," Tyrrell, who studied environmental science at Concordia University, told Daybreak.

"We call ourselves eco-socialist, so it's a question of taking care of the environment but also the population at the same time, making sure we have access to quality public health care and access to education."

Emissions need to be cut, party says

But, of course, for the Green Party, the environment is key.

Tyrrell contends his party is the only one prepared to act on the warnings of climatologists and ensure Quebec meets the greenhouse gas targets outlined in the Paris agreement.

By 2030, Quebec's emissions are supposed to be 37.5 per cent lower than they were in 1990. They are currently only nine per cent below the 1990 level.

François Legault's Coalition Avenir Québec, which is leading the polls, has been noncommittal on the Paris agreement targets.

The Liberals insist the province is on track, despite environmentalists warning more needs to be done to curb emissions produced by cars and trucks.

"A lot of people are frustrated that the urgency of the issue is not reflected in the big political parties," Tyrrell said.

The Green Party's commitments, he said, go further than those of Québec Solidaire, another small, left-wing party, which has also focused on environmental issues so far in the campaign.

And, unlike the pro-independence Québec Solidaire, the Green Party defines itself as a "progressive federalist political party" that believes its program is "fully achievable within Canada."

Tyrrell, who is running in the riding of Verdun after getting 4.5 per cent of the vote in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce in 2014, is under no illusions his party will sweep the electoral map.

But he said a vote for the party is never a waste.

"The Green Party is actually funded based on the number of votes we receive," he said.

"Every time somebody votes for [us], not only does it send a message that the ideas and values resonate with people, but also it helps build the party in the long-term."