It appears we are again, off to the races. For me, this will be my third election campaign. I ran for the first time back in 2008 for the Green Party of Canada in Saskatoon-Wanuskewin. My second election was a provincial by-election in Saskatoon-Riversdale in 2009. And I am now running in my home riding of Saskatoon-Meewasin.
I spent my afternoon out on the door-steps of my neighbours. Unlike many who enter the muddy floor of the political arena, I actually really enjoy getting out and talking to folks. Door-knocking is a chance to listen to the real concerns of my fellow community members, and I enjoy hearing their stories (and getting to share a few of my own).
This is the first year I am campaigning in my own neighbourhood. I have ties to both ridings where I’ve run in the past (I grew up in, and my extended family still lives in, Saskatoon-Wanuskewin) but it feels different to be able to walk your door, and walk straight over to the first house on the left. It actually felt really good. And it was nice getting to introduce myself to a few neighbours that I haven’t had a chance to visit with before. It was great seeing so many familiar faces.
I’ll admit, my biggest political failing is that I’m not a politician – mind you, that’s also one of my greatest strengths. Where it hinders me though, is in my fundraising ability. I’m not comfortable asking people for money. Yet any successful campaign requires funding. I just can’t do it though. So my campaign this year (unless someone sees this blog post and decides, based on it and their knowledge of me, to donate – you’ll get most of it back come tax time) will be run on left overs: old campaign signs, and brochures. Things I knew I kept around for a reason. Most of them say Green Party of Canada, but I’m sure it’s a small thing my constituents will forgive (as long as Elections-Saskatchewan does). To be honest, I’d rather reuse these things than have new ones printed anyway. These types of things can contribute to a rather large amount of waste and it just makes sense to use them again. Where I would like to have some funds to spend would be on a new leaflet and perhaps a mailing – simply to ensure that something gets to each one of my constituents… as I know I won’t make it to every door, or have a chance to speak with every family. So here it is… my one and only plea for contributions. I could use them, and would very much appreciate anything you’d be willing to send my way. It would definitely be put to use.
It feels good being back on the doorstep. In our communities these days, we don’t often gather like we used to. And going door knocking reminds me of all the good that’s here. We are a strong community, full of amazing people: families, seniors, students just starting out. It’s a diverse neighbourhood, and one that I’m proud to call home.
Please feel free to drop me a line to talk about your hopes for Saskatchewan, the messages you hope the politicians will take away from this election. I’d love to hear from you.
And to the other candidates in Saskatoon-Meewasin? Good luck with your campaigns!
Granted, it’s not actually official yet… but I feel safe to yell from the rooftop:
CANADA HAS OUR FIRST ELECTED GREEN MP!!!!!!
I’ve actually had to stop watching the numbers roll in. Every poll counted has E.May’s lead increasing. It started with only 20 votes, and now is hovering around the 1000 mark. Every poll forced new tears to spring from my eyes. I am sooo very proud to be a part of this moment in Canadian history.
Elizabeth May in Parliament!!! What does that mean? It means we finally have a voice. After years, and years, and years of fighting, of not being heard, of being dismissed, we finally have a voice. A holistic voice in parliament. A voice of reason, that understands how all systems are connected. How the environment and the economy are not separate issues, but one and the same. How we can not forge ahead with one at the expense of the other.
To truly have a voice? I’m not really sure what it will mean. But I do know that it’s only the start. Today was something we have fought long and hard to see. And it really is only the start. So very much work to be done, but I know that Elizabeth is up for the task. I know she will fight for us, and ensure that we are heard. She is a strong, smart, well-spoken woman… and I know she is ready for all this means.
Today, as I always have been, I am proud to be GREEN!
Because of my recent problems with the Green Party of Canada (and the reason I am not running this election – SEE HERE) I have had to seriously look at my options. Voting Green was not the no-brainer that it typically is for me. Do I support the party who’s organizer treated me so shabbily? Do I support them despite this egregious error?
The way I was treated seriously made me fear for the future of the Green Party here in Canada. What makes the Greens different is that the party treats every voice the same, gives every person a say. They have always been a grassroots political party. But the way I was treated made me wonder if this is still true for the GPC… because clearly I don’t matter to the party. Elizabeth May took the time to listen, and to care, but as a figurehead she has little input into how the party is run (which is as it should be).
In the end, what has brought me back to the national Greens, is this: The principles the party was founded on are still the same principles I believe in. Every Green Party in the world bases policy on these same six principles, and no other Canadian party can say the same. I believe in the principles of the Green Party. Regardless of anything else, I must vote with my principles.
Respect for Diversity
While I am disappointed in how I was treated, and how the local candidates all appear to be running completely non-visible campaigns… my devotion to these principles is still the same as it has always been. So come May 2nd, I will be voting Green. My support for the GPC may be wavering, but I am still a Green (both as a politician and activist).
Lately, I’ve had a lot of inquiries from residents of Saskatoon-Wanuskewin who want to know why I am not their candidate. As my former constituents were aware, I fully intended to run again in the current general election. I accomplished a number of things in the last national election that I am very proud of, and with a few years experience and two elections under my belt, I’m all the stronger, and that much better prepared.
Firstly, I am sorry. You put your trust in me, and I have let you down. Your support was not something I took lightly.
Over the last few years, the Green Party of Canada has shifted several people through the role of organizer for Saskatchewan. A role that was filled by Mike Jones when I first came on board, and I’ll be honest… they never should have let him go. After the last general election, the GPC did away with the part time job Mike held, merging us with another of the three Prairie Provinces and turning it into a full time position (for the other organizer).
At this point Saskatchewan went from being a top priority to being bottom rung, just like our province is for every other political party. I was disappointed, but it’s really par for the course. We don’t bring in a lot of funds for the national parties. It was bound to happen.
Next, all three provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta) were merged under one organizer. And then, under yet another organizer, all three Prairie Provinces were merged with Northern and Eastern Ontario – because that makes perfect sense. This organizer was Nora Shea.
Nora knew I planned to run again, and had been in touch with me. Unfortunately the two of us had difficulty connecting the one time I knew she was in Saskatoon. We had planned to work together on all the paperwork that needed to be filed in order to make my candidacy official. But, I figured, the next time she found her way out here, we’d make it work and get everything formalized. I wasn’t worried. Nora knew my intention, and so to did every Green who knew me.
About a month ago I overheard some happy chatter in regards to Saskatchewan officially having a full slate of candidates for the rumoured upcoming general election. I say rumoured, because we all had been waiting for a non-confidence vote shortly after the last general election. Sometimes the rumours were strong, sometimes they were a murmur. They ebbed and flowed like the Oceans that border our country.
I was rather startled by this news… as I was still a “candidate of record”. Without my paperwork filed, there was no official anything. Just an intention – albeit a well known one.
I queried Elizabeth May. I taught her how to use BlackBerry Messenger last time she passed our way, and we have each other as BBM contacts. Regardless of everything that has gone on within the party, she remains steadfast. Always someone I can count on. Always upfront, always honest. I let her know what was going on, and asked her to look into things for me. And despite a packed and hectic schedule, she did so quickly and without hesitation. For that, I am very grateful.
It turns out that Nora had been fired… and the claim from Sharon Labchuk (the organizer for PEI) was that she never passed on any information about my intention to again seek the candidacy for Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, and that would have been sufficient. I felt badly, but amidst chaos, things like this happen. People fall in the cracks, details are forgotten, information is not passed on.
However, Ms. Labchuk left me with a very bad taste in my mouth. Rather than apologizing that I’d been overlooked, she instead began throwing the blame anywhere she could. At Nora, at me… at unnamed people whom she insisted had repeatedly attempted to contact me, but whom I didn’t actually hear from (why they would have been trying so hard to reach me if Nora had not informed them of my intention, I have no idea). It very much reeked of “too bad for you, I don’t care, it’s not my problem, don’t waste my time”.
A political party’s worth can truly be measured from the ground up. The leader, our figurehead, is vitally important… but without each supporter, each volunteer, each candidate, each willing body pushing tirelessly towards change, those at the top have no hope and no future. So while I fully support E. May, and believe wholeheartedly in her abilities and her integrity, the type of attitude displayed by Ms. Labchuk truly makes me fear for the future of our party.
I hope I’m wrong. Truly I do.
So… that is the long and short of it.
I fully intended to again fight to give a voice to all of you who otherwise feel you have none in this backwards, broken political arena. And I am sorry that I am not there for you. I do not know the man who has replaced me as your candidate, but I hope you will give him the same support you would have given to me. And I hope that he will listen to you the same way I have, ensuring that your voices ARE heard.
In solidarity, ALWAYS, Tobi-Dawne Smith.