Sunday, April 1, 2012

Provincial Campaign - 2012

I was asked to speak at the Robo-call rally.

We're off and running again!   Without even finishing all the paperwork, the campaign is in full swing.  This year, as an EverGreen candidate, I am representing the citizens of Edmonton-Beverly Clareview, which is in my federal riding of Edmonton East.  Beverly is a bastion of Green signs every election, and it does my heart good that support for Green values is being displayed so proudly.

March 31

Robo-call Rally:

My daughter, and Dari, who is running for the EverGreens in Edmonton Highlands.

We were going to bring all the kids to the rally, since our usual child-care provider, my husband, had his own Very Important plans.  He was going to go to his first auction, the River Valley Cycle sell-off, but when he got there, the place was already packed and he couldn't register.  So his sad face meant that we could go mostly child-free.  (If you knew my son, you'd know that was a big boost to our participation...)  I, did, however, take my 10yo daughter, who hasn't been to a rally in recent memory.  (When she was younger, I told her they were parades.  And some of them were...)  She had a great time, giving out EverGreen fliers and holding her sign, like a lone guard standing against the siege.

There she is; on the roof.
Before our march to Canada Place, I spoke about how the Global Greens movement is made of concerned citizens and activists around the world, almost entirely volunteer, who are learning how the system works so we understand where the changes need to be made. I have never yet met a politician in the Greens. If they were, you can bet they wouldn't consider us a good career move... And yet, it's some of the best activist work I have ever done. If it seems that issues only make it to papers during elections, it's also one of the only times the press hands you a mic. Some of the select people who are invited to use it are candidates. So as a candidate or party spokesperson, we can bring up the vital concerns and problems we all know exist in our province and the provable solutions that have worked around the world, which Greens in other places have already seen implemented.

The movement is so empowering and compelling that is spreading everywhere. So many of us are getting elected in different countries, and one of the first efforts, for those states that don't yet have it, is Proportional Representation. We are making a real difference in the global community and in global politics. It is a joy and honour to help empower our citizens and activist movements, and I'm even more thrilled that my daughter got to join me this time. She's old enough now to understand my work and hear my speeches without being bored by all the 'grown up stuff', so I hope I can start introducing her to more of the incredibly motivated and empowered activists in the Greens. Like all Greens, I see my children leading the movements that are bringing the coming changes to the world..  'Course, some of them are right.

March 31/April 1

The Journal already asked for our thoughts.  For those who missed the riding profile, here are my answers. 

My first three priorities, since I was only allowed to pick three, would be:

1) Restore funding in key areas at least back to the percentage of pre-Klein levels: primary education, public health care, post-secondary school, and social assistance programs, including child services, disability, and welfare.

2) Expand our petroleum industry royalty program so that it is on par with other democratic countries, and is no longer comparable only with totalitarian regimes.

3) Put Alberta back on track as a world energy leader with research and industry designed to meet the needs of the emerging post-carbon dependant world. 

Green is neither right nor left. We are the only voices speaking to the future, with an entire global community speaking with us. We look at the long term; for the prosperity of the present to the generations of Albertans that will come after us. We are the only Party connected to a global network of progressive thinkers and we present solutions and ideas that have been tested and proven all over the world. I am deeply proud to raise the dialog beyond the current pandering and rhetoric to truly consider what role Alberta will play in the global future. Live Green. Be Green. For if we are to have one, it is the future for all of us.

April 10

Elizabeth with most of the EverGreens
I spent the next week in a flurry of organizing for Elizabeth May, who cancelled some of her less urgent appointments and rushed to help us out in the provincial campaign.  It took a great deal of time, but the day ended up being nicely filled, with much attention from the media and supporters.  I go into detail on this blog post dedicated to her visit.


April 13

Ethno-cultural Communities Election forum

Sponsored by the Edmonton Multi-Cultural Coalition and the Somali Media Society of Alberta, I was privileged to represent the EverGreens in cross-riding forum.  It was very well-attended, and as it was my first forum of the campaign, I was thrilled to see so many people come out and show their interest in the election.  The time-keeper was uncompromising, and really kept us all on target, down to cutting off some of the candidates who were more verbose than the rules allocated.  It's always hard to try to answer questions in more than a cursory manner when you have only 1.5 min, and not simply deliver a pat response, but we all did our best.  Our efforts seemed to be appreciated, as we applauded the audience exercising their right to speak up and grill their potential representatives to their satisfaction.  Well, I was heartened by it, at least...  I'm not sure about what the other candidates thought...

April 16

Wrecking Ball 2012

Of course Dari and I always dress up for parties...
Always entertaining, and more than a little bit gritty, the Wrecking Ball is an evening of arts and politics, designed to excite interest in the election and generate a space where candidates and the public can interact more vigorously. 

From the promo: "Join Edmonton’s arts & culture community for a one-night cabaret where arts and politics collide! Wrecking Ball Alberta is an opportunity for you to witness first class Albertan performance, and join patrons, artists and politicians in a lively discussion about our shared vision for Alberta.
Some of the EverGreen candidates
Candidates from all parties are invited. Interested candidates will be provided the opportunity to address the audience for two minutes each, after which candidates are invited to participate in a brief moderated forum... Following the performances and forum, all Wrecking Ball Alberta guests are invited to tip a glass and continue the conversation!"

Beat/Street poets.  Lots of finger snapping going on..
I couldn't get pics of the dancer; only of people who didn't move much.
My camera sucks...
Don't move, don't move...  There!  Got it!  Mostly...
David Parker, one of our founding and continuous Greens

Green Party shirts look so much better with a corset...
Matt Levicki; our EverGreen in Fort Mac
Presented this time at the ARTery, I was thrilled to be part of the Wrecking Ball for the federal campaign and speedily cleared my schedule for this one. So, it turns out, did alot of other Greens. Turns out we were the majority of candidates there, too, with about a half dozen of us, along with a couple NDP, a PC, and a Wild Rose. I was first up of the candidates to speak, and started off mentioning that the last time I was up on that stage I was performing for the Sexual Assault Centre gala, and that did it. It totally set the tone for almost all the other candidates, most of whom nearly tripped over themselves trying to outdo each other's Arts credentials. I felt rather guilty afterward. I really wasn't trying to whip out my professional arts background. That really WAS the first thing that leaped to my mind!

The rest of us needn't have gotten too worked up, though. Nearly all the questions for the Wild Rose candidate, and although all were very polite, no one was buying the answers. Especially the climate denial, which was made absolutely clear once again. I'm not quite sure how they found that many climate deniers to fill their slate, or if they made it a requirement, but this guy was true to the script, and the audience  roasted him in a 'lake of fire' for it.

April 19

Candidate Forum Edmonton/Beverly Clareview

Sponsored by the Candora Society at Abbotsfield Mall, this is the only forum I know of specifically related to the riding. Due to certain candidates' petty bickering about procedures, including one who objected to providing the audience with information regarding which powers fell under municipal, provincial, and federal jurisdiction, it was nearly canceled entirely. (I'm not telling who, but you can guess which one didn't approve of increased knowledge for the citizens...)  The best bit was the Liberal candidate, Chris Heward, sided with the Wild Rose candidate in accusing the forum sponsors of accepting bribes by not rejecting the pastries sent by the NDP for the after-snacks.  Seriously.  Dudes, just admit you didn't want to go and leave it at that, okay?  The bizarre accusations of pastry manipulation in politics just makes you look petty as well as stupid.  He later dismissed me as a candidate and woman by Tweeting that when he showed up near the end there was a "girl talking about stadiums" and "NDP bias".  I'm sure all of the citizens who showed up to hear his policies appreciated his firm stance on baked goods.    

In the end, only three showed up. The Liberal and Wild Rose rep didn't bother to send their regrets. So I went up against the NDP and incumbent PC for nearly two hours. The questions were grueling, and the time keeper wasn't nearly as stringent as many other forums, allowing candidates to roll right over the hostess.  The NDP candidate kept repeating that he's an English teacher, and that it somehow excuses his love of the sound of his own voice. I, as a coloratura soprano, presumably don't, since I didn't go over time... Maybe it's just manners.  As for bias, I managed to record the question part of the forum and any normal person would be impressed by how much effort the organizers took to keep it fair and balanced.  Far more effort than Mr. Chris Heward took, obviously. 
Podcast here:

I won't even begin to go into the PC's answers, but I have rarely been so moved to speak not-nice things to someone in a forum before (except, it turns out, the later Arts forum).  It wasn't even outright pandering and not directly answering questions.  It was the actual misinformation or selective information that really made my blood boil.  Yes, sir.  They brought us the question of literacy again, sir, since you didn't answer it the first three times.  And still you say that your government is committed to education.  How do you explain, then, that we have one of the highest adult illiteracy rates in the country, one of the highest post-secondary debt-loads, and your government has been in power for over four decades?  When will this commitment to education finally start?  Since many of the people who were children under your government when it first started STILL can't read functionally?  I kept myself under control with difficulty, but without letting him get away with it as much as he was hoping for...  There is something horrible about a person who is trying to keep his job by doing as little as possible.  'Course, compared to the Liberal and Wild Rose candidates, he at least made slightly more of an effort...

April 20

PACE Edmonton Arts Forum

Excluding the very opening remarks, this podcast contains the entire forum at the Prince of Wales armory, including the now-infamous Doug Main meltdown.  Remember, he's a spokesperson for the Wild Rose, not even a candidate, like the rest of us are.  The cowbell sounds when we go over the time limit, which is a rather fun way to do it.  The most interesting bits occur near the middle of the forum, and it just gets more eye-brow raising as it goes on...

April 21

Clean the Ravine

Group hug!
My husband wins most of a bike.
EverGreen candidate Chris Vallee put together the annual Clean the Ravine and this year's lottery winner was Kennedale Ravine, which was in my riding.  As well as organizing volunteers and equipment, as well as providing snacks, he knocked on neighborhood doors to see who was home that morning and wanted to join us!  In an unusual turn of events, my children happening to staying with their grandma that day, and so my husband rode with me to the ravine.  An avid car-free cyclist and river valley trail user, he has always wanted to give back and participate in one of the many clean up projects.  So instead of heading off to the rest of his errands, he stayed to help.  And got a bit of a bonus for his trouble!  It was a rare treat for me, since he usually supports me by taking care of children more frequently during elections and very much eshews the role of "political spouse", so I was thrilled to have him along this time.

April 22

Earth Day

Of course the Greens were out in full force; in both our federal and provincial modes.  The place was packed, as usual, and I spent nearly the entire day setting up and staffing the booth, answering questions for eager Greenies or Greens-to-be.  My daughter came with me, and was a trooper the entire time.  I managed to get pics of most of the other booths and participants, and the weather more than co-operated.  A great time was had by all!

April 23

Voting Day After Party

We met up at Bistro India, a family run business in a two story historical house in the middle of downtown.  They couldn't have been more accommodating to our party and our children.  It was fine Indian cuisine in a relaxed and tasteful atmosphere.  We took over the entire upper floor and the kids ran around with naan in hand.  The TV was all ours and we spent the night sharing stories and our community vision for the future of the province.  Many sighed with relief that the polls about the majority Wild Rose government were completely out of wack.

Our EverGreen senatorial candidate and the only woman on the ballot.
David Parker reads the offical letter of congrats and thank you from our interm leader Larry Ashmore.
This was my fifth campaign where I had the honour to represent the Greens, and it was the most intense yet; which give me great hope.  The last provincial election was nearly comatose, with no debates, and almost no interest.  I was thrilled to see so many Albertans stand up to demand change and take an active role in their democracy.  I didn't expect it in this election, but the train has left the station now, and it's coming.  The era of PC is over, and whether the New Order will be Wild Rose or Green is up to the next four years, and the newly engaged public, to decide.