Thursday, August 20, 2009

Green Party Leader May ponders new riding.

This is an obvious move. If the Green party leader were to be in parliament she would get more media exposure. This will probably boost the party fortunes and if it doesn't it will encourage the party to choose a new leader! Although the Green Party gets a significant percentage of the vote, since it is so spread out so far no one has been elected. If May runs in a constitutency with a strong Green constituency she could very well pull off the first win.

Green party leader May ponders new riding
Evan French/North Star
North Star, News, Wednesday, August 19, 2009
by Evan French A new riding for Green party leader Elizabeth May was a key issue discussed during Adriane Carr’s lunch visit to Parry Sound.
The party’s deputy leader was in town Friday for a visit with local Green candidate Glen Hodgson and other local supporters to chat about strategy for the next election and to explain why the party’s leader would be “parachuting in” to a new riding next time around.
Carr, who is best known for her affiliation with the Green party of British Columbia, made the visit as part of a national tour, visiting towns and candidates across the country to provide training and support to prepare members in the event an election is called in the fall.
In the recent election, the Greens gobbled up votes, bringing them closer to parity with the New Democratic Party, but still failed to secure that all-important first seat in the House of Commons.
To increase her chances of being the first Green MP, May has decided she’ll leave the riding of Central Nova – Conservative Defence Minister Peter McKay’s riding — to transplant to a greener riding.
Carr said May has made her decision, and although it isn’t yet public, she’ll be going to either the Grey-Bruce-Owen Sound riding in Ontario, or to the Saanich-Gulf Islands, in B.C.
Carr said they’re “concentrating our efforts, and targeting to win.” They’ve looked at other Green parties around the globe who have been successful in winning seats, and are tailoring their strategy accordingly.
“We’ve adopted with our party the national policy of the England Greens, which is called the target to win policy,” said Carr. “It’s focusing on where you have your very best chance, your very best people, and focus your resources.
“For the first time ever, the Green party of Canada has written a campaign plan that is fully detailed, with a pre-written plan and a campaign execution plan, with goals,” said Carr.
The big goal right now: win a seat for May. And when Green strategists suggested May might have to move to accomplish the goal, said Carr, she was all for it.
“She said yes, I want to see polling, I want to see the work that’s been done to identify that riding. So we did go out and actually survey.”
Carr said more and more Canadians are beginning to believe that problems with the faltering economy could be solved with a more environmental approach, so it’s more important now than ever for May to gain a solid footing in a supportive riding.
She said while it’s clear that some countries aren’t ready to commit to environmental reform, it’s important for Canada to set a good example.
“Canada is very much an embarrassing lagger in this,” said Carr. “We need to use — and governments have to use — the current economic crisis as an opportunity to switch the economic path onto one that is also a good path for the environment.”
She said Greens want to see carbon conservation as a start down a path toward renewable energy, following examples set by other developed nations.
.....................“When the German Greens got into power and formed a coalition government ... they wanted to put Germany on a renewable energy path. The people said you’re going to cost the economy thousands of jobs. In one year after making this move — Germany investing in renewable energy, especially wind — there were more jobs and more stimulus to the economy ... than there were jobs in the nuclear and coal industries combined.”
Hodgson said it’s a myth that what’s good for the economy has to be bad for the environment, and proof can be found in Parry Sound.
“You just have to look locally, where we have companies like Crofter’s, a company just out of town that makes organic jam,” he said. “Their product line is flying off the shelves, and they’re not compromising. So it’s such a myth to think that you have to lower your standards in order to be accepted.”
..................................Carr said the future of the economy is green, and the proof can be seen in a changing attitude among Canadian youth.
“We have a son at university, and he was saying ‘you know the girls at university, when they ask you what kind of vehicle you drive they want you to be driving a smart car,’” she said. “Muscle cars are out because they’re not being responsible. So that’s kind of reflective of the shift in terms of consumer purchasing, it’s going green.”
Hodgson, who teaches at Parry Sound High School, said local youngsters seem to be thinking along the same lines, since they’ve chosen the Green party — in a student vote held across the district — for several years. He said he thinks it’s because they want to see change, not because they know him as a teacher.
“I get really upset when people suggest to me that it’s because I’m a teacher because to me that really discredits the young people,” he said. “I totally reject it and I think it’s insulting quite frankly to the kids, to suggest that they only do that because a lot of them know me. They’re familiar with the party, and they’ve supported it for years. Those kids are getting older and some of those kids are voters now. As they get older I think we’re going to see the demographics change.”
He said in the meantime, he has to work hard to win the votes of many other locals, who have voted the same way for years, and are reticent to cast their vote on the party that got its start in 1983.
“I think that in this riding there’s certainly deep traditions about voting intentions and that’s what we want to shake,” he said. “We run into things like ‘my grandfather voted this way, my father voted this way and that’s what we’ve always voted.’ Greens, being relatively new on the block, it really takes time and a lot of effort to be able to shake that voting intention.”
Carr said voting habits are tough to break, and it’s an issue the party faces across the country.
“Part of the challenge is getting people to free themselves up to vote the way they really feel they want to, not worrying necessarily about the outcome, but just thinking of their vote as a confirmation they most feel they’d like to see represented in Ottawa.
“And that’s the way democracy ought to work. The flaw in our voting system is that doesn’t give people that sense that they can vote freely and expect the outcome to reflect it.”

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