Green and growing

My story about being a Green politician in Canada, and why it was the best thing I ever did.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What is missing in the debates

I can't believe it has been a week since I last posted. It has been a very busy time.

We have had a few debates already, three more this week. Four of the candidates are the same as 2006, and generally, we have had decent and respectful discussions, even when we disagree. We have been able to share some stories and some laughs together as we do our best to show, in one minue or less, what our parties stand for. The interesting thing for me is that at the end of 2006 debates, I am confident that I could have delivered the opening or closing speech for any of the candidates there (perhaps not with the same conviction, but with the right content).

What I think we are missing in this election is a critical and honest evaluation of Stephen Harper's leadership. The other four parties in my debates, including me, often point out issues and concerns that they have with the performance of the government, and their track record on key issues such as income trusts, Kelowna, fixed election dates and Afghanistan. It has been my observation that nobody seems to notice these concerns. This, in turn, is concerning to me.

The only way that I can rationalize what I am seeing is that voters have only ever seen Liberal and Conservative federal governments. In Ontario, we saw one provincial NDP government, which did go terribly well for them. So, I think that some number of these voters look at election time as a choice between red and blue, between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs. If one of the teams is predicatably weak this year, well, then we'll support the other.

Leadership has been the defining issue of this campaign. Yet, it is not so much about evaluating Harper's leadership as it is about the speculative fear of Dion's leadership. Some of these people are drifting to the NDP and to the Greens. But we have not seen a wholesale rejection of Harper's way of doing business. This is the thing I can't understand. If we vote, once again, for a government that is closed, secretive, changes positions as needed, and flaunts the very regulations that it brings into law (fixed election dates, for example), then are we not saying to them "Go ahead, do whatever you want". Is that the message we want to send?

If anybody can help me understand this, please comment and tell me why is it that the government's record seems to be irrelevant in this election?

From where I sit, the message needs to be (1) stop campaigning 24/7 and govern the country, (2) Stop insulting and derogating your opposition .. after all, Canadians voted these people in and the government should respect their choice, (3) work with all of the parties in the house to achieve effective change for Canadians, and (4) don't use your office to promote your party. Oh, and (5) do what you say you are going to do, or at least give us a good reason and an apology when you change course.

The only way to send this message, in my opinion, is to vote Green. Every Green vote says, it is time for a new way to govern. A Green vote says, I care about my country, my people and my planet.

By the way, there is a very interesting blog post about the track record of the government at

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Information, information

Tonight from 7:00 to 8:30, I will be on air in Chatham on CKSO Country Radio 92.9 FM or 630 AM for an all candidates broadcast. Tune us is if you get the chance.

I neglected to post a link to the Green Platform which was released last week. You can download it at .

From there you can download the quick overview, called "Looking Forward", or the full 160 page "Vision Green" document which outlines our long term direction .. Canada in 50 years and what we can do about it today.

You can also download the budget which supports our platform, which is fully costed and will result in a budget surplus while moving us in the right direction. Please have a look at the documents that interest you.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Getting on the Green Train

You may have already heard about the Green Train. Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is travelling by Via rail from the west coast to east coast this week, with whistle stops in dozens of cities and towns along the way. To learn more, see . This train tour captures the spirit of Canada, formed from the dream of connecting the country together with a ribbon of steel. Today, Canada's passenger rail service is only a shadow of its former greatness, and this is an area that we need to invest in to create high speed rail service as well as local commuter service.

When Elizabeth left Vancouver, she was seen off by a crowd of 200 supporters, and has been greeted at each stop along the way. There will be a rally in Toronto on Wednesday to meet the train at Union Station at 8PM on Wednesday the 24th, if you can make it.

You can also follow Elizabeth's blog at . Her election web site is

We have gotten over 500 signs out to distributors across the riding, and we have a few hundred more in boxes. Thanks to Carol, Jamie, Don, Jim, Laurie, Bruce and Terry, Simon and John. If you are interested in helping with sign distribution, let me know, and I can put you in touch with the closest person who has signs.

If you need to get the schedule for all candidate debates or other functions, drop us a line at and we will send it out to you.

Thanks for all the support! It has been a very positive campaign so far, and I expect we will do quite well when the votes are counted.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Formalities and organization

Well, the paperwork is all filed with Elections Canada and we have received confirmation that we will be on the ballot. It is always a worry to make sure that all of the required documentation is lined up and that there are no missing spaces to be filled in.

Over a hundred voters in Lambton-Kent-Middlesex (in Mount Brydges, Strathroy, Ilderton and Granton) signed my nomination papers, supporting the notion that the Green Party should be on the ballot in LKM. The reception was astounding (compared to 2006), and almost everyone I asked agreed to help get us registered. It is quite remarkable really, and I am deeply grateful to those people for their help.

The signs have arrived, and there are more on the way. LKM is such a large riding that we need about 10 or 12 area sign coordinators to make sure that all sign requests are handled efficiently. If you would like to help out with this please give us a call (519 666 1203).

There are several all candidates meetings being arranged, and I will get a schedule up by the end of the week. I look forward to talking with you in the weeks to come .. we will be at election day before we know it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Starting Day 6

Most of the time on the campaign has been spent on practical, get-ready stuff. Last night, we picked up the signs. We have been working with schedulers to set up all candidates meetings and we have been out collecting signatures for the nomination form. There is a huge difference in the reception at the door from the last election. People are almost always happy to see us, and a majority of them are enthusiastic.

The news seems to pick up on a different issue everyday, but out here in the ridings, the issue remains the same .. to try and see as many people as you can before voting day.

This will be a very interesting election, and I look forward to my local debates.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The morning after Day 4

Well, one magnificent thing begat another. The NDP and the Conservatives relented in their attempts to block Elizabeth from the debate, and the broadcast consortium has issued an invitation for her to participate. This will be a debate like no other! Democracy is the winner here, and the Canadian people.

The real story here is that a whole lot of Canadians worked very hard to pressure their political leaders into action. I cannot recall seeing something like this ever before. Wisdom and fairness trumps power. What a concept!

I thank Jack Layton and Stephen Harper for changing their point of view on this issue. At the same time, I will keep in mind that without outside pressure, this change would not have occurred. I will also remember that the broadcast consortium has lost any sense of authenticity in this process, and the whole thing needs to be retooled.

Devin Johnston has started a blog about alternatives and criteria. It makes for interesting reading, and you can find it here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Day 3 (an hour late)

Today, I witnessed a magnificent thing. After the announcement yesterday afternoon that the broadcast consortium was planning to deny Elizabeth May a spot at the televised national leaders debate, a groundswell began. It was in the press for a while, but then they backed away from the story pretty soon .. by the end of the day there was not much mention on the news of this travesty.

But something happened. The internet picked it up, the bloggers picked it up, facebook and myspace picked it up, and then the phone calls and letters and faxes started. They started from real people all over Canada who were disgusted with the idea that Jack Layton and Stephen Harper could call the shots over who would and would not be in the debates. Then the press got back into it, seeing the impact and enormity of the backlash. It continued all day. Elizabeth May spent the entire day doing interviews and calls. Call in shows all over the nation were saturated with people outraged at this denial of democracy.

I was very impressed with what I saw. I saw NDP bloggers openly questioning the direction that Jack Layton was taking. I saw a smaller, but similiar, reaction with Conservative bloggers as well. How could Superman Stephen be able to take on 3 opposition leaders all at once with one hand tied behind his back blythly pointing out his superior policies and ideas, but then whine and complain like a baby that adding a 4th leader was unfair and two of them might gang up on him? Is this 4th leader made of kryptonite? Methinks, maybe. Truth is Stephen Harper's kryptonite.

I saw Jack Layton and Stephen Harper referred to as cowards and chickens. I saw more than one reference to Layton's alleged support for proportional representation being called into question. I saw great comments which suggested that Canadians need to see the Green Party and find out what it is about. Sometimes, this suggestion was made by someone who thought that the Green Party is horrific, and people need to see that. I agree. Let's put the information out there and see what the voters think.

True democracy begins with an informed electorate. Harper and Layton think the truth hurts. It should. After all, it is made of kryptonite.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Day 2 - Disappointed in the bullies and cowards

I just heard that the broadcast consortium which puts on the national leader's debate has decided to NOT invite Elizabeth May to the debate because three of the other party leaders threatened to boycott the event. What a bunch of cowards!

This is the kind of decision I would expect from a tightly controlled dictatorship. I know why Harper is scared, but that is no excuse to subvert democracy by denying people the opportunity to see all of the alternatives available to them. The Bloc will be there, even though they only run 75 candidates, and some polls have put the Greens at TWICE their vote. Just another example of "my way or the highway" politics.

Please, kick these bums out of office, and put the power of choice back into the hands of the people. 80% of Canadians polled want to see Elizabeth May in the debates. But three greedy and arrogant "leaders" use their collective might to try to crush the voice of change. I know have a better idea of why they had to get together to have their little "chats" last week .. to get their strategy together.

People, if you support these parties again, you will get exactly what you vote for .. more of this.

Election 2008 - Day 1

Well, they really did it. Now we have an election that nobody really wants. It is a great opportunity for the Green Party, so I can't complain. It just seems to me that if you bring in legislation for a fixed election date, you should abide by the law. In the 2006 campaign, I heard the Conservative candidate repeat the phrase, "we support people who play by the rules". So much for that, eh?

The first day of the campaign was filled with angst. Are we ready to do this? It takes a huge toll on your personal life, your work like and your relationships. There is a lot to organize and execute, and there will be constant time demands from now until October 14th. Many people think that politicians are among the least trusted professions. So why do this?

Well, it is time for a change. Because we, the people, have the power, and we need to take our power back. If we vote for a party, and they lie to us, and then we vote for them again, we are basically saying, "go ahead, lie to me". If we vote for a party, and they cheat us and misappropriate our tax dollars, and we vote for them again, we are saying "go ahead and cheat us". If we continue to vote the way we have always voted, we will continue to get the kind of government we have always gotten.

Why do we do this? Well, many people believe that there is no alternative. In 2008, we have a viable alternative. The reason I joined the Green Party is because of their commitment to grassroots democracy .. that is, you represent the people, not the party. It is committed to ensuring that people have a place in governing their own country, that they have opportunities to express their views between elections, and have a say in how this country is run. That is the essence of democracy, not the multi-million dollar splash of policy conventions.

We are uniquely position in this election, as I believe many people are disappointed in the performance of the Conservative party, and for many of those people, a natural place for them to go is to the Green Party. We have many former Progressive Conservatives in our members, as many as from any other party, and we have conservative fiscal values. You can check out our Vision Green statement at .

I look forward to this challenge. It is a worthy one.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Are we there yet?

Like most people, I am listening to the press who are saying that we are having an election on October 14. I am curious though, why hasn't the Prime Minister driven all that way over to the Governor General's house and asked for the dissolution of Parliament. If you believe the media, it will happen between Friday and Sunday. Why wait? Why not pull the trigger now?

Is this a bluff? By-elections are scheduled for Monday. Why not wait until next Tuesday, and let them complete?

You just never know what Steven Harper is going to do next. That's one of the main reasons that I don't like him.

I guess I will wait until I hear from Elections Canada that the election is on. At least, when they say something, you can take it to the bank.

Tired of reading blogs

I read dozens of blogs every day. Not always the same ones, as I tend to go to aggregaters and see what titles interest me. However, I would say that 95% of the time, I can tell what the blogger is going to say ahead of time. Perhaps its just the politics, but it seems everyone has a bias that they inject into everything they write. I'm sure I am no different, but at least I try to see the benefit in the opposite point of view.

The other 5%, though, are really worth reading. I love it when someone can step outside their partisanship and history, and have a fresh look at an issue, and share those insights with others. I guess that is what keeps me coming back.

That is one reason why I appreciate true journalists. I enjoy Chantal Hebert and Andrew Coyne, for example. You just don't know what they might say next.