Green Party of Canada leadership candidate Dimitri Lascaris held a campaign event Friday, Aug. 14, at Nanaimo’s Maffeo Sutton Park. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)

Federal Green leadership hopeful brings eco-socialist campaign to Nanaimo

Dimitri Lascaris one of nine candidates running for party leader

A leadership candidate for the federal Green Party wants to expand the boundaries of what’s up for debate.

Dimitri Lascaris, a lawyer from Montreal, was at Nanaimo’s Maffeo Sutton Park on Friday night to meet people and tell them about his campaign to try to become the party’s next leader this fall.

Lascaris labelled himself an eco-socialist and said the majority of Canadians have a positive view of socialism. He said “progressives are not being represented in the Parliament of our day” and said other parties are competing for the middle of the political spectrum.

Lascaris said some of his values include social justice, peace and non-violence, ecological sustainability and respect for diversity.

He discussed his support for defunding the RCMP by 50 per cent over five years, with that money reallocated to addressing “causes of behaviours that we describe as criminal” such as poverty, homelessness, mental health issues, domestic abuse and substance abuse.

“The police ultimately are dealing with the symptoms of social injustice and oftentimes are doing so in a way that’s brutal and systemically racist,” he said.

He wants to have conversations about getting Canada out of NATO and reducing defence spending, saying that the country spends two per cent of its GDP on “merchants of death when we are confronted by an existential climate crisis that is far more dangerous than any military threat that we confront.”

Lascaris said Canadians should be having a conversation about “taxing billionaires out of existence” by capping wealth accumulation and taxing 100 per cent of net worth over $500 million, and implementing a 75 per cent tax rate for income over $500,000 per year.

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Asked whether Canadians will want to vote for fiscal responsibility in an era of pandemic deficits, Lascaris said he subscribes to modern monetary theory and said the government’s pandemic response has shown Canadians how money they were told wasn’t there can suddenly materialize.

“The Bank of Canada has the ability to create currency necessary to continue to fund all the programs that I want to fund,” he said. “We’ve only scraped the surface of our fiscal ability to do that.”

Lascaris said as a securities class-action lawyer, he’s taken on big banks and said it’s radicalized him and he wants to be a politician who can make change in the face of corporate interests. He said the Green Party can be the conscience of the nation.

“We can force discussion about the issues that the mainstream political parties do not want to discuss,” he said. “Dramatic change begins there. It begins in expanding the boundaries of debate.”

The other eight candidates for leadership of the Green Part of Canada are Judy Green, Meryam Haddad, Courtney Howard, Amita Kuttner, David Merner, Glen Murray, Annamie Paul and Andrew West.

The deadline to become a voting member of the party is Sept. 3 and the next leader will be chosen via online voting between Sept. 26-Oct. 3.

RELATED: Elizabeth May resigns as Green party leader

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