Well, what an inspiring weekend I had last weekend. I went to Guelph in Ontario, Canada to help out with the campaign to elect the Green Party Candidate Mike Nagy there, and what a pleasant surprise I got. It is a by-election campaign, and the Canadian Greens think it’s their best shot ever at getting a Green MP elected under their First Past the Post (FPP) electoral system (the poor things). I must admit, I was skeptical about whether they actually had that good a chance before I got there, but now I’m sure they have a damn good one.
Firstly, the campaign has gotten off to the best start ever for a Green Party campaign in Canada. They’ve already had many volunteers, including about thirty Young Greens the weekend I was there, with four weeks of campaigning remaining. They’ve had many people getting Mike Nagy signs for their lawns, and a lot of support coming in.
Guelph is a green city anyway, with, most notably, a fantastic farmers market. It is also a university town which, as we all know, means plenty of Green supporters as the Green Party is the Party for young people. In a riding (electorate) in London Ontario (my birthplace), some polling booths at the last Canadian Federal Election in the University there polled as high as 80% Green. Furthermore, Guelph is on track to have the highest amount of Green support ever from Green Party canvasing.
Then there are the stories. Firstly – the campaign office. It is an ex-car rental lot on one of the most busy corners in Guelph, with excellent visibility. All the other major contenders for Guelph contacted the owner about leasing the now empty and awesome place, but the guy wanted Guelph to go Green, so he gave it to Mike Nagy. The other campaign offices were barely visible, so Guelphites know that the Greens are serious contenders. You can see the sweet location above, with it’s sweet signs beneath the other sign – the beautiful rainbows on the Saturday night. Now, I’ve seen many rainbows in my time, but never one as full and vivid as that one, and it’s second shadow rainbow. And they are rare in Guelph apparently. It seemed too coincidental to be just a coincidence…
The other thing I was very impressed with was the energy and excitement that was there. It feels like the Canadian Greens have momentum and are on the verge of breaking the deadlock that is created by being in an FPP environment. The best result they’ve ever had was in the Ontario Provincial Election last year by the awesome Shane Jolley (who I was lucky enough to hang with while in Guelph) who scored 33% of the vote and a disappointingly close second place. This is consistent with the upward trend they’ve been having in certain areas, and it’s about time they break through. Once they get an MP, everything changes. They are no longer seen as unelectable, and their leader Elizabeth May gets to participate in the televised leaders debates in the next Federal Election (ie. shatter the old white guys who lead the other four parties in Parliament).
So from the weekend I was inspired by how the Canadian Greens are doing, and i will take their energy with me back to New Zealand to help with our election campaign. It also serves as a good reminder that New Zealand should never abandon proportional representation. A Party with as much support as the Greens in Canada should have fair representation.
So will Guelph go Green? Time will tell. Do Guelphites ever want me to return to their lovely township? Time will tell. I for one hope they do, because that would be fantastic. Mike Nagy has an excellent chance, and so do the Greens in Canada for their future. It is time.
I will be following the campaign and checking the results after September 8.