Not Easy Voting Green

By Briane Nasimok

(TORONTO, ON) – Well it may be easy to vote that way, but unfortunately too few Ontarians have followed that path it seems; not that I am suggesting that you necessarily go down that road.

Last week I was invited to a house ”party” meeting with a half dozen would-be supporters, led by a registered Greener. And to tell the truth, I was suitably impressed by the Provincial Party leader’s talk.

And as I have a deadline to meet, and no important government documents to leak, and little to write about…

The main attraction for most of those attending the event (for me it was the yummy local cheese from the Big Carrot Market) was a meet and greet with the leader of the Green Party of Ontario, Mike Schriener. In fact, one of the first things he mentioned was that part of the Party’s strategy is to entice people into meeting with them by offering good, local food. Good plan, Mike.

Full declaration. Over the years I have been affiliated with all the major parties at one time or another.

While a student my loyalties were to the NDP. My father, even though we had a few bucks at the time, worked for David Lewis of the CCF. And I worked with him, when I was a teenager, partially due to the fact I was attracted to Lewis’ twin daughters.

And in university, how could I not support the NDP’s socialist philosophy? And then I got a job and a house and realized the errors of my ways, and embraced the Liberals. So much so, that I helped stage the Toronto Turn-On for Trudeau.

My major responsibility for that event was to make sure the balloons dropped, at the appropriate time, onto an over-flowing crowd that filled Maple Leaf Gardens.

My time with the Liberals continued and so did my interest in daughters, this time the offspring of a generous party supporter who I met at the post-event party, and dated for a year and a half. In another sad story of love lost, I opted to write a movie script instead of following her to Florence, Italy, for what I referred to as “practice honeymoon.” At the end of her school year there, she returned but our relationship didn’t.

Moving into an apartment near Church and Wellesley in Toronto, in times that were a little less gay in the area, I switched my support to the former mayor of Toronto at the time, the “tiny, perfect” Conservative David Crombie. Please do not get me started on the current leader of this city.

I had written a few bon mots for David while he was in office at City Hall, and then when he went federal. I formed the small, yet powerless, political action committee “Jews in Rosedale,” and to garner my support he took me to lunch at the House of Commons dining room.

So the bottom line is, my vote can be bought, or at least rented, or taken for a good meal. So Green Party I can be swayed.

In subsequent years, my support has moved around, back to the NDP for a while when I was knocking on doors for Peter Taubans, over to the Liberals for the Jean Chretien Farewell Party, and I believe a vote for the Green Party in the last election, but please don’t quote me on that.

The one major political force I never supported (other than those good old Marxist Leninists) was the Natural Law Party. Remember them?

The NLP, as I called them, was a party founded on “the principles of Transcendental Meditation and their application to all levels of government.” From what I remember, one of the key platform points was yogic flying. How could you not support that?

After doing my in-depth research for this article (Wikipedia), I was surprised to discover that the party was active in 74 countries.

The party defined “natural law” as “the organizing intelligence that governs the natural universe.” The Natural Law Party advocated using the Transcendental Meditation technique and the TM-Sidhi program as tools to enliven natural law and reduce or eliminate problems in society. Sort of like the Parti Quebecois, without the language laws.

The most prominent NLP candidate was magician extraordinaire Doug Henning who took his magic show to Broadway, where he had about the same amount of success as he did at the ballot box. George Harrison performed a benefit concert in support of the party in 1992, but that didn’t help either.

But I digress.

As you might know (I believe it was covered in the Square), the Green Party achieved success in the recent election in British Columbia. Andrew Weaver became the first Green member of a Provincial Legislature when he won the election for Oak Bay Gordon Head.

Yes I know it is British Columbia, and they did elect Elizabeth May, the federal Party Leader of the Greens, to Parliament, so they do have some hope.

Back to Mike.

Before he got into his platform he told us a little about himself. He started south of the boarder and came north with his family to work the land and help in the development of the local food movement.

His business was awarded the Citizen’s Bank of Canada Ethics in Action Award for socially responsible business and the Toronto Food Policy Council’s Local Food Hero Award. He co-founded Earthdance Organics, a Guelph-based food production business that supplied area health food stores and farmer’s markets in the early 2000’s.

So, when the Green Party called, he answered. And in November of 2009, he was elected Party Leader for Ontario.

Okay enough about him.

He reviewed some of the Party’s platform that he felt our group would be most interested in: feeding our community by championing local farms; delivering government that works; election reform so the legislature is more reflective of the popular vote; and, fixing the education system with special reference to the funding of Catholic Schools (DANGER!). Good luck on that one, Mike!

He did let us in on the Party’s strategy in the next Provincial election; to get one Green Party member elected to the Provincial Government. And if anyone has a chance to get in, it would be him in his Guelph riding.

There seems to be a good mix of would-be supporters there, with a number of students and environmentally minded electorate who would support the Green Party platform. We shall see.

So Green Party nominees elsewhere, put on a good show, but know in advance a majority of the resources most likely will be going Mike’s way. You’re most likely going to be taking one for the team.

But every vote for the Green Party counts, people. So if you like what they’re offering, but don’t think their candidate we’ll win, still make your mark because they still get funding based on the number of votes they get. At the provincial level, if a candidate gets over 15% of the vote, they’re reimbursed for 20% of their election campaign expenses.  And, the central office receives 5 cents for each vote that the candidate received.

Mike introduced the group to the person he sees as “the future of the party,” deputy leader Judith Van Veldhuysen. Her and I had a chance to chat a little before his presentation and Mike might be right about that observation.

The other day I got a note from the event organizer thanking me for attending and asking if she could forward my email address to Judith. I said yes.

Who knows. Judith might be looking for me to join the party, contribute, or get her tickets to Yuk Yuks (I can get those easy).

But if she has another agenda and wants me to join the ticket, let me caution you all. If I am nominated I will not run. If I am elected I will not serve. I think that’s the motto of most of the current Ontario legislators, so I will definitely fit in.

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Ian Shalapata
Ian Shalapata is the owner and publisher of Square Media Group. He covers politics, the police beat, community events, the arts, sports, and everything in between. His imagery and freelance contributions have appeared in select publications and for organizations in Canada and the United States. Contact Ian with story ideas.