By Jeannine d’Entremont
At a recent climate rally in Georgetown, Ontario, Spencer Lippa strides confidently to the podium. The crowd of about 200 people – local politicians, moms with young children, retirees, a smattering of students skipping class, falls silent. Lippa starts with a question – “Do I deserve a future? When you were my age, did you think you deserved the life you enjoy now? I support the Green Party because I believe they are the best people to take on the challenge of protecting the environment through plans and ideas that are also good for the economy.”
Twelve-year-old Lippa is the youngest member of the Green Party of Canada (GPC), which he joined in 2016. Before the last federal election, when he was eight, a leaders’ debate on the radio piqued his interest. He researched the political parties and compiled Spencer’s Guide to the Federal Election. Convinced that the Green Party has the best platform to save the planet, Lippa pleaded with his parents to be allowed to join the party. Two years ago, Lippa persuaded them to donate half his allowance — $10 a month, to the GPC. Party leader, Elizabeth May, officially welcomed him in October, 2016. At his home in Georgetown, Lippa proudly displays the letter and certificate he received.
While most kids his age are just happy to be sprung from school for the summer, Lippa, who just finished Grade 6 at Ethel Gardiner Public School, is ramping up his speaking schedule. He is passionate about doing whatever he can to combat climate change.
“It’s important to get involved with others who are taking action,” says Lippa. “There’s a lot that individuals can do, like eating less meat or going vegetarian or vegan, walking and biking instead of driving, avoiding buying single-use plastics and speaking out to leaders.”
As an unofficial GPC spokesperson, Lippa is popular on the local climate action speaking circuit, with five engagements over the spring, including a presentation to the Halton Hills town council, which recently declared a climate emergency.
In June, Lippa joined Wellington – Halton Hills Green candidate, Ralph Martin’s campaign, and serves as a youth advisor. Lippa spoke at a Canada Day event in the riding on behalf of Martin, sharing the stage with MP Michael Chong.
“I’m proud to have Spencer as part of my campaign,” says Martin. “I see him as one of my key youth members. It’s important to listen to bright, young people like Spencer. He’ll inherit a world that we will not and he’s quite capable of providing advice from a youth perspective.”
“I never get nervous about speaking,” says Lippa. “Mom calls it my superpower.”
Lippa’s mom, Janel Bascom, is a high school teacher with the Peel Board of Education. She helps scribe her son’s speeches, but says they are all his ideas. “He prepares and rehearses a lot before delivering a speech,” she says.
At the Welllington – Halton Hills Green Party Association annual general meeting in 2018, Lippa was named a Director-at-Large, which means he has voting rights. This year, he was invited to a meeting in Nova Scotia, but wasn’t able to attend. There is a link to a GoFundMe page on his web site to raise funds for travel expenses and carbon offsets.
Asked what environmental issues he is passionate about, Lippa says, “Fracking concerns me the most. It’s inefficient, it hurts people and it pollutes water.”
Lippa says he hopes to one day run for public office. “I originally wanted Elizabeth May’s job, but I may have more of an impact at the provincial level,” he says.