Monday, April 13, 2015

Provincial Campaign 2015 - Alberta Greens

Sat., April 11

Another whirlwind tour! Although provincial elections are rarely as lively as federal, this one started off with a bang. I was asked by long time activist and vital member of the community, David Laing, to lead off the #ActOnClimate Edmonton action. About two days before. Heh. I actually really like working like this. Gives me less time to get nervous...

I go into far more detail on my blog post on the subject "Why I became a Green", and I left out so much, of course. Such as why the current cries, and some blame, for scientists to activate now, and not in the past. As if to illustrate my points, a sudden wind burst up, knocking everything around. You should see the giant bruises on the back of my legs from where one of the signs hit me...  Ah. All for the cause. Made some great new contacts, too!

My entire speech is here. Taping makes it sound better... Did I really talk for 11 minutes? I usually make these so short. But this one - this subject really screams at me.

This year I'm standing for Edmonton Decore. I have stood for it once before, since it's adjacent to the provincial riding I live in, and still in my federal riding. However, the Alberta Greens have decided not to challenge the progressives who have already worked hard to make it to the Legislature and we are not running candidates in their ridings. Instead, we are focusing our message in places that do not yet have such a voice. So Brian Mason, the former leader of the ND's, who currently represents the riding I live in, can thank me for not throwing down the gauntlet. You're welcome. (Because he's soooo worried. Heh.)

Mon. April 13

Taking my campaign manager along to teach him the process. Getting signatures all afternoon and evening to get on the ballot. His very first encounter was greeted by a sit down invite with loads of sweets by a traditional hospitality senior Greek couple. It was certainly one of the most welcoming I've ever encountered doing this part of the work. Another unexpected surprise was Ann the Poetess, who we met in the food court of Northgate. She gave us a spoken word recitation of two of her works, but not her signature, since she doesn't live in the riding. Part of this job is the folks you meet.

And a quick word to Northgate Mall: it's actually illegal, as well as dickish, to prevent folks from getting signatures for Elections Alberta to get on the ballot. It's not partisan: it's providing electoral choice. It's not advertising; it's democracy. The returning office is actually IN your mall! I know you relented and let us do it for one night, but you still can't do that. You do not get to decide who gets on the ballot, by making it harder to get someone on. Here's a tip: you also aren't allowed to prevent campaign literature from getting to renters in buildings that you own, either. Just because you hold the space does not permit you to interfere with the election process.  That's a Real Thing. And I will make a formal complaint next time.

And my face is burnt. Even with my rare, and now apparently collectible, hunter green Tilley.

Sat. April 18

Anti Bill C-51 Rally

More Pics here:

Opening up the Week to Stop Bill C-51, this was a cross country wide co-ordination, with nearly all major cities in Canada organizing a protest. Ours had many of the usual suspects, with some new faces. And many came in satirical outfits to highlight the grim and farcical attempt at painting all activists: environmentalists, aboriginal, social... with one brush - that of terrorists. Much like our neighbours to the south, this is our Patriot Act, except that a few mentally ill murderers are not the same as fighters with a political agenda constantly maiming and killing civilian populations to control the dialog. It kinda ain't. Not even a little bit. Dissent is not terror, and the only people who call it that are those who won't tolerate dissent. Especially if our government is supposed to be listening to us, and doing what *we* tell it? If they shut down all ability to hear us, then who, exactly, are they listening to?

Come for the impassioned and knowledgeable presentations and costumes; stay for the march! From speakers on Aboriginal rights to Palestinian justice to workers rights, all of which would be targeted by this Bill, we were gloriously inspired by spokespeople from many varied, yet always intersectional, causes. Included were Native Elder Taz Bouchier who opened with ceremony, the always popular Raging Grannies, my favourite Communist candidate Peggy MortonDale Ladouceur, Glynis Lieb from CUPE,  Malcolm Azania (aka Minster Faust), Danika Billie Littlechild, the beautiful and talented Bill BourneGhada Ageel, and many others brought their colours out in solidarity, like

I was pleasantly surprised by the organizers inclusion of women and PoC. Many times, lip service is given to hearing voices that are usually silenced, but this rally had some of the most diverse speakers I've ever had the pleasure to hear. Most were women, and nearly all were PoC. Not a white man haranguing us in the bunch. Except the host, and he kept the focus on the guests. I for one was impressed, and would like to extend kudos to the organizers. It's more than past time that we made a place for those who to often have to squeeze their way in.

One of the most awe inspiring presentations was by Jenna Joyce Broomfield, a law student and native activist who explained some of the most problematic parts of the law, and then proceeded to give us a demonstration of one of the many forms of self-expression: Inuit throat singing. Subversive!
(I found to my shock that I did not, in fact, get this on video. So I'm using a link that Paula E. Kirman posted to FB from her channel. Let me know if you want me to remove the link, Paula!) 

See all of the presentations posted here:

Sunday, April 19

Blue dot action at EGS

Met up with some of the lovely folks at Earth's General Store, and stayed for a few hours. They even remembered me from my climate change speech last week! I'm totally flattered... Went into more detail about the issues, handed out a few cards, but there were no babies to shake or hands to kiss. Or is that other way around? Good thing there weren't any then! Had a lovely chat with Estefania Cortes-Vargas, ND candidate for Strathcona-Sherwood Park. We discussed at some length the current problem of the ND's shifting to a non-cooperative and adversarial model, and how that affects the Left as well as their own policies. A truly progressive young woman, who I hope to work and get better acquainted with! 

April 20 & 21

Doorknocking with the Leader, and our Crew

Me, and your Green Party candidate for Edmonton-Riverview, Sandra Wolf Lange!
Janet Keeping, our indomitable Leader, managed to make it up to Edmonton with her team for two days this week. We spend the evenings doorknocking in two ridings with fellow candidates. I was privileged to spend some quality face time both days, as well as show off my riding.

Monday night we paired off in teams and hit Edmonton-Riverview and Edmonton-Whitemud with a vengeance. In part because I forgot it was 4/20. That will tell you how much campaigning makes you completely lose track of everything else. Should've been there for the spinning alone... Tuesday we were in Edmonton Decore, right beside Northgate Mall. Met one of the ND volunteers hitting the streets, too. Lovely young man! They have such great people! I wish they would let them talk to us...

A much deserved celebration!  Kathryn JacksonSandra Wolf Lange,  me, my campaign manager, Francis Ho,  Jill Browne, and our Leader and inspiration, Janet Keeping 

Tuesday Afternoon, April 21

Shaw Interview

Local cable isn't dead! At least, it's putting up a good fight.. Shaw invited all the candidates into the studio, in both Calgary and Edmonton, to present a 90 sec speech, which isn't easy to do when they suggest you talk about yourself, discuss taxes, and throw in a health care plan. A great plan for local relevancy, and I for one applaud their initiative. Most of the Greens managed to avail themselves of the invitation, and it took alot of polishes and practices before most of us felt comfy with the timing and the material. Yes, we write all our own speeches. I know for a fact that the Liberals have their own speechwriters, for the federal campaign anyway, even for tiny ridings, so I have little doubt that the other parties have a more..consistent.. message with actual writers. But since the Greens are all volunteer, being the only citizen's action party, we do it all ourselves. And you know, we are pretty damn good!

I only found out the night before that they were using a green screen, so we couldn't wear green, black, or white. Due to my religious vows, I've only worn black and green for over 25 years, so that's all I have in my closet. Fortunately, my other colour is silver, so even though I thought it might seem frivolous, it was really my only option left. So in that spirit, I tried to get my daughter to lace me into my silver steampunk corset for the presentation, because if you can't hide it, you'd better decorate it! But she couldn't do it up, so I had to go with a silver shirt. My campaign manager thinks it was for the best. Sigh...

I wrote my speech only a few hours earlier, because I always work to deadlines, and I just couldn't get inspired before. However, my 13 yo daughter said something that totally gave me my speech. She said, and I quote, "We're the heart of Canada's oil industry. Why is everyone getting cancer?" And that kinda did it for me. She gets it, even at her age, because that's it in a nutshell.  I wrote furiously, for about an hour, and it all came together. Rearranging it was tough, though, since I didn't have time to copy it out, so with taking out the bits that were too long, and trying to point to where I was supposed to go next, it was an editor's nightmare.

They had to check to see if my green hair would scan properly...

Which is kinda what did me in when I actually got there. Shaw is Hel and gone for me, so I had to cab it. I do that very rarely the rest of the year, but I have to rely more on it during a campaign. I and my campaign manager can get everywhere in the riding by bike or bus, as we otherwise do, but some events are simply not doable in a reasonable time frame without utilizing cabs. I think of it as stimulating the local economy! But it does make for some stress, so I was a bit freaked out by the time I got there. And I actually can get terrible stage fright, though you'd never know. That's why they call me "professional"... Heh.

So, after being lead in, and ushered and maneuvered around by the lovely staff, I was set up to go. I took a deep breath, and managed about half the speech, when my edits caught up with me. I got lost. Could not figure out where I was supposed to be going next. Like the trouper I am, though, I had already practiced it earlier, and I actually do know my material and what I want to say, so I just vamped my way through it. I may have been a blunter than I would have otherwise, but I was just under time, and got in most everything I was planning on saying anyway. And the staff looked stunned. Even my campaign manager thought that was some of my best work. Apparently, we could have another take, so I suggested I try doing the speech I had originally intended, but they strongly encouraged me to keep that one. So I abide by their advice, and we kept that. (Original speech and how it actually went is here.)

Profiles of the candidates are available up to election day, and the schedule is posted on my website, my FB page, and I'm assuming, Shaw's, but I didn't check. And if anyone could record it for me, I'd really love a copy. Because I have almost no idea what I said. I mean, I know what I said, but you know... And Shaw has for some reason decided that they aren't going up on YouTube or their site, so I'm kinda outta luck, unless they relent and allow me to have a copy after the election. Because, I kinda rocked. Or, I think I did... Isn't that the same thing? Heh.

Wed, April 22

Candidates Public Forum on Education: Crestwood Community League

The Future of our Public Schools and School Closures, sponsored by Community Action for School Renewal

Me in the new T shirt design!
Supposedly an all-candidates forum: but just like the one on education held in Calgary, the PC and the WildRose chose not to attend. Or even send an excuse, I think... Much note was made of it, since it was the only one of its kind this election held in Edmonton. Despite that, however, a highly useful and productive evening was spent by all. FB listing is here, with more details and pics.

For my full answers to all the questions, check out my Youtube channel!

Actually in attendance were two Alberta Party candidates, two NDP candidates, one Liberal, and me, representing the Greens. My answers are on my Youtube channel. Thanks to my campaign manager for taking them! The MC announced that they would be livetweeting the answers, which put on a bit more pressure. However, I only looked at them afterwards, and was very impressed that someone could manage to summarize our answers so well and so quickly. I didn't quite know I was so well received until after the event, when so many participants came up to me to offer congratulations, and I looked over the tweets the next day. They do make me look pretty darn good! It's nice to have the pat on the back every once and awhile. We really work hard for this... See them all yourself, with the hashtag #casrforum 

I was very impressed with Dr. Donna Wilson, Liberal candidate for Riverview. She was clear and focused, with great answers and a real knowledge of the subject. As a prof, she could also speak to post secondary as well.Great stats! I could only really disagree on the Liberal party line of keeping government out of the schools. Well, no. That's kinda what government is *for*: collecting taxes and providing education. When we have decided on a system of public education, that's one of the things governance is for.

The male Alberta party candidate, Brandon Beringer, standing for Riverview, the only boy on the panel, held himself fairly well for his first election. He was a bit flippant, and didn't know his material much, but he kept to his script, which is what he's supposed to do, I guess. I have no clue why he thinks that the Alberta Party policy of *borrowing* to get out of our financial mess, instead of just collecting a more appropriate amount of tax from the rich and corporations getting wealthy off OUR resources, is somehow a better plan.  You know we have some of the lowest royalties on the planet, right? And borrowing puts us in *debt*? Really. Those oil companies aren't going anywhere. They could just pay their fair share. I couldn't stop staring at Dr. Christina Stasia, the female Alberta party candidate for Goldbar. The work that goes into looking like she is literally off a Mad Men set was impressive. And a bit stunning. However, she was also clear, with a lovely speaking voice, and totally knew her subject matter. I felt like I had to up my game with this crowd.. Which isn't a bad thing. 

The two NDP were right beside me. And barely looked at me the entire time. I will admit - I was very disappointed in them. As a former hard core NDP, I must say that this new route of hostility, rather than co-operation, does not suit them at all. One at least gave me the time of day, then proceeded to ignore me, but Sarah Hoffman, for Glenora, was a wall of rude. Although I admit I didn't get most of that until *after* I mildly satirized her idol worship of Notley. But really. Do the NDP think we are that stupid? Or was that just her? I know they have been instructed to say "Rachel Notley and the NDP" whenever they breathe, but she was giving the impression that Notley herself was going to build all those schools personally. She said it so often that the kids were considering making a drinking game of it. I'm glad they can't legally use alcohol yet. They'd have died from the poisoning. I personally found it deeply embarrassing and shameless, and shades of Ralph's Team and the PC Cult of Personality, were hanging over us all.  Everyone who spoke to me afterward felt the same way. I couldn't help but get a little bit angry over it. None of us mentioned our leaders. Mine in particular is an inspiration as a spokesperson, but she's not the Be All and End All of all the candidates and our platform... I did have a chance to sneak a peek at their notes, cheat sheets, and talking points. (Which we don't have, by the way. Just our policies.) I saw an actual chart comparing Prentice to Rachel, him all bad and her all good. It was eye opening - the push to manipulate, and in such a simplistic fashion. I almost got a picture of it with my phone. The candidate was rather indiscreet with such party secrets. You know we don't vote for a premier, right, Rachel? And encouraging use of your first name to promote a false sense of intimacy, countering his use of last name to indicate authority, is a rather sleazy and manufactured tactic? The best part was the end, when we all wandered around and shook hands, giving each other sincere compliments on an evening well spent. Except for the NDP, who totally ignored me. Again. I don't know if they shook hands or spoke to any of the other candidates, but their bad form and general discourtesy was highly pointed. I don't know if that was just them, or if they are under orders to snub us. Because they most certainly did. Bad NDP. No cookie.

Feature in Diversity Magazine!

Leader Janet Keeping, Sandra Wolf Lange, and me hamming it up. We have such fun in all the hard work...

Also while Janet was in town, we had a photo shoot at Diversity Magazine! See the full article here...Big thanks to editor Franklin, the Green Crusader, for the invite!

Sunday, April 26

Earth Day in the Downtown core

The martial arts Green contingent

Of course, it is the must attend event of the day.  My campaign manager and I meet another local Green, Chris Vallee, and hang out with the usual suspects. Garbaganza was in attendance, as was Greenpeace, Amnesty, Permaculture, local green hero Michael Kalmanovitch from Earth's General Store, and some new folks we said hi to. I was particularly impressed with the new vegan food truck! A great addition! We did our duty and dropped off some literature and buttons, which joined the federal swag on the table. More pics here.

Then we spent the rest of the day, for some much needed R and R, at the Legislature grounds for ArtsJam: a very loosely organized group of flow artists, hoopers, musicians, and now, the martial arts group, of which I happen to have the honour of joining from time to time... 

Sword training and one of our dapperest attendees

Hoopers and jugglers and drummers: oh, my!
Hand to hand, because we didn't bring enough weapons...

April 29

Pack the Chambers

Livetweeting selfie! Sandra Wolf Lange, your Green candidate for Edmonton Riverview, and me!

A call to action! The Edmonton City Council was meeting to discuss the motion to reduce our carbon footprint, for the *very* realistic goal of 35% reduction by 2025, and the Greens, and green minded citizens, came out in a show of support. It was just an ordinary business meeting, which happens fairly often, but in this case, we were to bare witness and demonstrate how much we cared about this plan. Several of us livetweeted, including me, and you can see most of them on the FB event.  Our mayor, Don Ivason, is a popular progressive, and even mentioned climate change! And so near to the tarsands, too... And not a single job was lost. He did, however, chastise us for not 'sitting respectfully in silence" when we made sedate polite applause over one Councillor's remarks about an hour into the meeting. You know, you ARE facing us in a semi-circle. You are OUR employees, doing work for us.  That's a democracy thing. I'm not sure admonishing us like bad children to 'sitting respectfully in silence' is the best way to address us. One attendee went so far as to call it an abuse of power. I probably wouldn't say that, but it wasn't cool, Don..

Greenies in the house!

Yes, we really do the less glamourous stuff, too, to get the job done.

Saw a sound check for a really good musician on the way out. Oooo...looked fancy! I wonder what was going on here...


May 1

May Day Worker's Rally and March

The worker's / united / will never be defeated!
I'm all scary when I'm in Fight mode..
We started off at the Legislature. Speakers went on for about 45 min, but mysteriously, the clarion at the Ledge continued for about 10 minutes during it all, making it very hard to hear the speakers. I have honestly never, ever heard those bells go on for quite so long. I'm not gonna say someone did it deliberately, but...

Much hedging around for the political Labour talk, and election was obliquely referred to, but no one was crass enough to really promote the orange party, and they were not predominantly in attendance. I for one found it refreshingly tasteful, and also did not shove my literature at anyone. And yet, not one of the speakers insisted that everyone just out to VOTE, DAMMIT! I hung out with Janis Irwin, federal NDP candidate for my usual riding of now Edmonton Griesbach. We really wanted to start the chant of Vote, Vote, Vote! but we were both too shy to interrupt the proceedings with such a political agenda. Even though a damn election and the workers should speak up with their vote! Grumble, grumble... Even though somehow we've never actually met before, we have both followed each other for awhile and made a great connection. We vowed to hang out in future and the possibly of is a very distinct possibility. Hush.

The march was one of the longest I've been in for awhile, and we ended up at Grant Notley park. Nope. No political statements there.. Heh. We didn't get permission to march, but the organizers informed the cops of our route, so there was a police escort, and we were encouraged to take over Jasper Ave! Which we kinda did. It was exhilarating! I know some folks may have had their travel interrupted, and often will whine over that, but I tells ya: your human rights are way more important, and exercising them is sometimes inconvenient for others. At least we weren't in Quebec, where they were tear gassed for the very same action. So, we get to count ourselves lucky...? Or do we have to fight harder for them?

I usually celebrate Beltaine today, but instead, I headed out in solidarity. I will have to make it up my observances *after* the election, I guess. I certainly can't take much time for them now...

Sunday, May 3

North Glenora All Candidates Forum

Well, okay. *First*, it was Artsjam,  And although I am usually the one documenting, someone finally managed to sneak pics of me. Not with any of the weapons though. Just dancing and borrowing a robe for effect. My arms still ache from swinging at my campaign manager with the Ken-do staff, too...

Then we were off to Glenora. I was filling in for David Parker, and holding up the Green banner for the riding. All parties chose to attend this one, and the format was like a quiz show, with random questions from the audience, names picked out of the bowl to answer, and one minute timed. They WILL take the mic from you in mid-sentence, btw... Fortunately, this is my sixth rodeo, so I was the only one they never had to do that to. Booyah. My answers are loading up on my Youtube channel, though not totally complete. It's hard to video when you don't know who's coming up next.

As usual, I totally got on great with the Liberal candidate. I hadn't met Karen Sevcik for Glenora before, but it was her first campaign, and obviously her last forum for it, so she was a bit more experienced in them by now. She was delightful, and not yet had her sense of humour, and disgust, crushed under the weight of it all, so we tried hard not to look appalled at the PC incumbent's Orwellian take on education funding and taxation. Sarah Hoffman of the NDP was there again, and really gives the impression that she doesn't like me. One remark satirizing her idolatry of Notley in a forum and a girl can't get a break... Heh. The first thing out of her mouth when she noticed me was "Oh, are you in the audience this time?" I have no clue why she would think that, esp. dressed all in my Greens, but I assured her I was on the panel with her. As a real, live candidate. I wasn't even snarky about it! After her brag about how many forums she's been in so far this campaign (I've still been in far more in my six times running, but who's counting?), she again dismissed me. I love working with professionals... At least this time she shook my hand afterward.

The Wildrose candidate sitting to my left, Don Koziak, had run lots of times himself, for city council and other seats, but he still shook like a leaf and looked like he was gonna puke. And he almost couldn't finish one minute for each question. I kinda felt sorry for him. But this is part of the job, and if I may recommend, you are not good at this at all. You may want to consider another way of participating in the democratic system. Oration in front of crowds is not your bag. The PC incumbent, Heather Klimchuk, flailed around like she was desperate to keep her job, but like an employee in a bad performance review, not enough to be honest about mistakes or blame. Just "how I'll do better!" Many found it rather distasteful.

And with that, and a few more blog posts, we reach the end of one of the hardest campaigns I have ever done. With the new change looming and the complete shut out of the media on the Greens, it also seems like this one will see the least returns. But we are building a party here, and more hope for the future. And rest assured, a conscience and alternative for the NDP. So keep that in mind, oranges. What you did this time, we can do next, if you don't keep your people happy. And do something about that appalling environmental record, switch our jobs and our industry green, clean up our air and water, and make us world leaders again. Properly and sustainably this time. Or your votes are ours.

Election Night after party

Greenies hang out at vegan eat and drinkery Arcadia on 124th St.