I don’t think that the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto was quite ready for the media interest that the launch of the Green Party of Canada’s platform would generate. Its wooden, creaky floors were constantly groaning under the weight of people and camera tripods jockeying for position, causing camera-men and women constant stress during filming. Social entrepreneurs found themselves the sudden interest of dozens of cameras every time the 4th floor elevator doors swung open and people thought May had arrived. Hot Desk workers getting coffee, eating their oatmeal, plodding threw the overcrowded 4th floor. But aside from a small power failure – too many cameras and high-powered lights plugged into one circuit breaker – the launch was a complete success.
May arrived around 9:45 am, and had to start right at 10:00 am sharp to compete with Liberal and Conservative announcements also taking place right at 10:00 am, announced after the Green’s Toronto launch was decided upon. She schmoozed with effortless ease – few handlers, lots of handshakes, everyone welcome.
During her Q & A, I was very happy to see that May was able to shut down any media effort to focus the questions on her exclusion from the Leader’s Debate: that issue was addressed in her evening Rally for Democracy at This is London, a – trendy, I suppose – night club in the Club District of downtown Toronto, of all places. She took two quick questions on her exclusion – alluding for the first time that she may not be able to participate after all, but that the fight for democratic principles would not stop with her exclusion – before she was quickly on to the matter at hand: the platform.
The condensed version being handed out is short, sharp, and to the point. Actually, three main points: building a smart economy, strong communities, and true democracy here in Canada. It emphasizes the importance of building green jobs and infrastructure, supporting farmers who wish to transition to organic agriculture, and cutting subsidies to oil and gas companies (something I wrote about last week), among others. May is enthusiastic for voting reform, and meeting Canada’s Millennium Goals for reducing poverty.
For those who wonder how the Green’s propose to pay for their social programs, a fully costed budget review is included, highlighting lower income taxes and income cost splitting for families and married couples, sustainable funding and support for municipalities to replace or repair aging infrastructure, and securing pensions for Canada’s seniors.
And for those like myself who respect politicians who speak candidly or honestly, May spoke openly about having no grand designs or illusions about forming a government on May 2. We all know this to be true, but I was glad to know that she was operating on a smaller, more incremental scale. May has the rare opportunity to work the long view, to imagine a Canada beyond the horizon, which is often neglected in campaigns, and in politics more broadly. This is your opportunity when you have no immediate opportunity to form the next government.
I look at Stephen Harper and the Conservatives and see what our politics in this country have become; and I look at Elizabeth May and the Green’s and I see what our politics can be. A long, long time from now.