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12/20/2005: "confessions of a Green Party supporter"

Some of you may already know that I'm a Green Party supporter. Last year (I can't believe I'm saying that about a federal election) I went so far as to put a lawn sign out. This year, not only am I doing the lawn sign thing (recycling the same sign, thank you very much) but I'm doing a limited amount of volunteering for our local candidate.

Last week that included greeting Green Party leader Jim Harris as he came into town. I went out, held my Green Party candidate's sign, sang the Green Party version of the 12 Days of Christmas, and was part of the backdrop for Jim and his handlers for the local media. After a quick tour he dropped in to the local CTV station for an interview, which I caught on the 6 o'clock news.

Confession - I was embarrassed by what I saw.

The Green Party is always labelled as the "environmental party". By and large this is true, but that doesn't mean that it only has environmental policies. In fact, the GPC's platform was recently released, and it covers the full range of issues; healthcare, tax reform, fiscal policy, and so on and so forth. The difference is that the Green Party's policies are based on a foundation of cleaning up after ourselves, with a focus not just on the short-term but generational benefits. The problem is, everyone THINKS that the Green Party is nothing more than a bunch of carpooling, recycling tree-huggers that turn down their thermostat and wear sweaters, and that the party only has a stance on environmental issues.

I was very happy to hear, when Jim was greeted at the train station by the local media (one video cameraman, two photographers) he had something to say that was NOT just environmental. He very topically mentioned that while the Conservatives are promising to cut the GST, the Green party is also intent on changing the GST. The full details can be found under their Fiscal Policy, but the long and the short of it was that the Green Party has a stance on issues other than just environmental ones.

Fast forward six hours or so and I've turned on the 6 o'clock news. I'm hoping to see what kind of coverage our local affiliate has given the Green Party. After a half-hour of fearing we'd been snubbed, a segment on Jim's visit comes on. The footage from the train station was fairly brief, but only in order to allow more time to the interview the station conducted. I'm instantly pleased that the Green Party is getting some press (however local it may be), but then my pleasure turns decidedly sour as I listen to Jim.

I don't recall the whole interview, but I do remember two questions that were asked. One was about the then-recent federal leader's debate, which the Green Party still has not been invited to participate in. The question was whether there were winners and losers in the debate. Jim's answer? Yes, there were losers; our children's future, our health... really embarrassingly pie-in-the-sky answers. If he wanted to go that route, he could have at least said "democracy" and elaborate on the reasons why the Green Party hasn't been included in the federal leader's debates, despite precedent saying they should. As it was, he came across as blustery flake. It didn't even stop there. Another question centered around childcare. I don't even remember the answer, but it had nothing to do with childcare, and the interviewer actually had to say, "OK, but back to childcare..." Argh.

If there is any chance of the Green Party being seen as anything more than an "environmental issues only" political group, Jim has to take the opportunities to talk more about other issues and provide less bluster and blather that makes it hard to distinguish him from the people that live in old-growth trees to prevent them from being cut down.

I am still supporting the Green Party, and Jim Harris as its leader. It's just that the one time he comes to town and gets some media time, he pretty much blows it (in my opinion) by reinforcing an already problematic stereotype. It's just frustrating, is all.

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