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President of the Green Party, No More.

Come Saturday afternoon, I’ll no longer be the president of the Green Party of Saskatchewan.  I’ve occupied the role for the last four years, since I was placed into the position by the board as the interim president in the Autumn of 2008, and was then elected and reelected by the party membership.  It may not sound like a long time, but it feels like it.  And come Saturday I’ll be stepping down not just from that particular role, but from the board in general.

I do have to admit, the decision has come with some mixed emotions…  and it really wasn’t much of a decision really.  The party has a requirement that members not serve on the board any longer than three years.  I stayed on longer as there was no-one to fill the role except for myself.  This year though, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to serve with Vicki Strelioff who was elected as my VP.  And after working with her all this past year, and seeing how wonderfully she has handled herself through what proved to be a rather difficult year for the board, I have EVERY confidence in her ability to serve the membership as party chair.

I now have to decide if I do my one last duty, or if I step aside and allow Vicki to chair our AGM.  It would seem an obvious decision.  I attend the AGM, and chair one final meeting.  The only reason it is a choice at all, and not just a given, is I know how difficult I will find it.

There is no glory in being the president of a political party.  You hold all the responsibility, for everything that happens within the party, yet hardly anyone even knows your name.  The leader – the figurehead – gets the all the prestige (and in some instances, without nearly the work).  But if something ever goes wrong, that shifts very quickly.  The president is the scapegoat, the one who’s head hits the chopping block in any scandal.  However, if you’ve done your job well?  Life continues on normally, no-one even realizing you are there – navigating the rough water, keeping an even keel.  Ensuring your ship and her crew are safe and at ease.  …it’s not a perfect metaphor, but it works.  😉

The GPS has been such a huge part of my daily life for the last half decade…  There is some relief at no longer having to shoulder the burden, but there is also a very large sense of loss.  I know myself, and know how prone to tears I can be.  I’m not sure I’d make it through that final meeting without coming apart – and that’s hardly befitting the chair of the board.  I don’t know.  I very honestly am not sure what I want to do.

At first it didn’t even enter into my mind that attending was a choice.  It’s part of the job description.  I call and chair all the meetings…  but the closer this meeting gets, the more I’m finding I’m dreading it.  I feel kind of silly over the whole thing, but part of me knows I’ll have to say good bye, and if I avoid the meeting, I can avoid doing so.

I guess we’ll see.  I don’t have long now, and one way or another I need to make the choice.  It really is the end of an era for me, and to be honest I’m torn over how I feel.  Relief and sadness…  they make for odd bedfellows.

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Leave of Absence from the Green Party

Tomorrow I will officially announce my one month leave of absence from the Green Party of Saskatchewan.  I am not leaving the party, so no worries there what-so-ever.  Now that the busyness of election time has begun to calm, I know that I can take some time for myself and my family.  It is something I’ve needed to do for a little while now, but would never leave the party without a capable captain at the helm.

My second is Vicki Strelioff.  She was voted into the roll of Vice President at the Party’s AGM this past Spring.  And quite honestly, it’s the first time in my years with the party that I’ve had a capable second… someone whom I felt I could trust to handle my duties and lead the party in my absence.  I’ll admit, having Vicki around has considerably lessened the stress involved with my role.  I will still be around during this month off, and will help Vicki wherever and whenever she needs me… but I think she’ll do just fine.  😉

This last year I have found a shift in my priorities.  A shift in my focus.  And I need to take some time away from my political work to really examine my role within the party.  I need to ensure I’m serving the Greens in the best possible way without sacrificing my many other responsibilities.  And I need to do so without the daily pressures associated with running the party.

So…  a leave of absence.  I have to admit, it will probably feel a little odd not to have my duties and responsibilities constantly on my mind.  But I think it will be a good thing.  We all need a little time to recharge, and I’d say it’s high time I took that time for myself.

#SKVotes is now #SKVoted

Time to update your 2011 Saskatchewan election hashtags: #skvotes is now #skvoted.  And honestly?  I feel pretty good about my results this year.  Every election I’ve ran in has given me something new to be proud of.

In my first national campaign my message resonated with youth, and I came in second place (by a small margin) in the mock youth vote done throughout Canada’s high schools.  I also heard from a number of individuals who chose to vote for the very first time in order to vote for me.

In the provincial by-election I accomplished something no other Provincial Green had ever done before.  I actually won a poll (in a landslide I might add).  And in a very strong NDP riding too.

This last election saw me running in my home riding – which was pretty amazing.  And as before, I encouraged people to vote who had never done so in the past.  I also stuck to my campaign messaging (equality and anti-bullying) in spite of a narrow focus on corporate politics by the media.  But here’s the big one:  I came in third, beating out the Liberal candidate.  And I have to say, it feels pretty good not being last.  😉

Saskatchewan isn’t ready for a Green MLA yet, an I knew that going into this election.  But I’m in this for the long haul…  slow and steady and all that.  And when ya’ll are ready, I’ll be here then too.  We need an alternative voice in the Legislature, that much is clear.  And I’m ready to be that voice, when you’re ready to have me.

The Green Party of Saskatchewan fielded candidates in every riding, 43% of which were women.  I’d say it’s high time the other parties took note.  They may preach gender equality, but they hardly practice it.

For those of you who enjoy a look at hard numbers, here are a few for you:

Party Candidate % of votes Votes
SP Parent, Roger 53.9 3,767
NDP Quennell, Frank 42.0 2,934
GRN Smith, Tobi-Dawne 2.3 159
LIB Jeffries, Nathan 1.8 128

That’s up from 1.66% of the vote in 2007.  Small steps?  Maybe, but they are steps forward just the same.  And I am proud knowing that the message is getting out, and it’s bringing voters out too.

Today I got a message that read:

Hey Tobi! I live in the River Heights area and your name was on my ballot when i went to cast my vote. I wasn’t voting NDP as I usually do. And Sask Party was out of the question!! So, when I saw your name for the Green Party I smiled to myself and put my X to the right of your name!! :-) Just thought I would share.

My thanks to Tom Fournier, both for his vote, and for writing to share.  It’s not too often than casting a vote brings a smile to a person’s face, and I’m glad to know this particular vote did just that.  I have to admit, letting my daughter find my name on our ballot, and marking our X beside it, made us smile too.  🙂

Congratulations to all my fellow candidates.  You all ran excellent campaigns.  The life political is not an easy one.  Thank you for all your hard work during this election, and for all the work yet to come.

Saskatoon Meewasin, MY riding.

This is my third election.  And I’ve had ties to each riding I’ve ran in…  but this is the first time I’ve had the honour of running in my home riding.  Saskatoon Meewasin is my riding.  So when I was asked to take part in a bit of a photographic essay, sharing sights from within the riding, it was an easy task.  Four of the five images were taken within a three block radius of my home.  The other is in Meewasin Park – where I spend a lot of time working.  So, have a peek into MY Meewasin:  http://www.leaderpost.com/news/5661216/story.html

Tobi-Dawne Smith for Saskatoon-Meewasin

Tobi-Dawne Smith and her daughter, Lily-Ann, experiencing the joy of finding a baby snake out in the green of Saskatchewan.

Tobi-Dawne Smith and her Daughter Lily-Ann

Born and raised in Saskatoon, Tobi-Dawne Smith is proud to be running in her home riding, a riding that boasts incredible diversity. As a member of a multi-racial family, she believes in the strength found in an open sharing of cultural and religious traditions. An open and honest dialogue is the best way to bridge gaps and bring understanding. The candor found in a quiet moment of respect is something all people should seek.

The search for authenticity isn’t something that ends when Smith, a professional photographer, puts down her lens. It’s a part of everything she does. Whether she’s busy in her most important role as mother to an incredible four year old, helping families create a legacy through photography, or cultivating initiatives to create safe spaces for at-risk youth.

Ms. Smith spent the last eight months working with Camp fYrefly, which celebrated it’s third year in Saskatchewan with it’s retreat this August. Camp fYrefly is a life changing program designed to help foster leadership skills and resiliency in gender variant and sexual minority youth, youth who are at the greatest risk of bullying and suicide. Now that Camp has been wrapped up, she has accepted a role on the Board for Breaking the Silence – an annual conference in support of the LGBTT2QIA community at the University of Saskatchewan.

Tobi-Dawne’s role as a mother has strengthened her resolve to be socially responsible and to help build a better future for her daughter, and all the children of Saskatchewan. She recognizes that our children depend on her to fight against inequality, and to help create with them a more genuine safe future for our province. TD also realizes the only political party within which she can truly achieve these goals is the Green Party of Saskatchewan.

The Green Party’s six guiding principles: ecological wisdom, social justice, participatory democracy, nonviolence, sustainability and respect for diversity.  Guiding principles we should all strive to uphold.

Start your Engines Saskatchewan!

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.

Anyway…  😉

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.

saskgreen@puregreenius.ca

And to the other candidates in Saskatoon-Meewasin?  Good luck with your campaigns!

I am disappointed.

During these last few weeks I have wrestled with a number of things in relation to the Green Party of Saskatchewan.  I have always been open and honest, and I will continue to be so.  I don’t like politics, I don’t like what it does to people… yet I continue on in my role as President of the provincial Green Party, and as a candidate whenever called upon.  After all, if I were to step down, I’d be letting the politicians win – and they’ve already shown their colours.  I can’t, in good conscience, leave the politics to the politicians.

I believe in the Green Party.  I believe in our principles.  I believe people can make a difference.  I cling to the ideal that we are better when we work together, and that we can accomplish anything.  I believe in honest open discussion.  I believe that we can move past our mistakes to become better.  I must hold fast to the notion that we will bring about change.  But today?  Today I am disheartened.

I just deleted eight paragraphs from this blog post.  Eight Paragraphs!  The fact of the matter is that there are things going on of which I am not proud.  I am concerned.  And for one particular thing I am down right embarrassed.  If my daughter treated someone as shabbily as some members of the provincial Greens have treated a former candidate and leadership contender she would be up for a stern discussion, at the end of which you could be darn sure she would never treat someone that poorly again.

I hate politics.  I hate what it does to people.  Can we not stand on different sides of an issue, on different sides of a campaign, yet still treat one another with respect and dignity?  We are all in the same boat… and it appears to be taking on water.  😦

Larry Waldinger: GPS Leadership Candidate

Before proceeding to Larry Waldinger’s answers to my seven questions for our leadership candidates I wanted to issue a quick apology.  I had intended to post his response yesterday, but time just seemed to get away from me.  For that, I am sorry.

Victor Lau has yet to respond.


What inspired you to put your name forward for party leadership?

I sensed that it would help the party and my campaign at the same time. Also, some people I spoke to were enthusiastic about me running.

What one issue do you feel should be the priority for our provincial election platform?

It is hard to separate which is more important people and planet or planet and people. If we don’t come to grips with climate change it will cause a lot of damage to the planet and a lot of misery to the people, so what I like to say is that climate change is our “signature issue”. If I had to choose I would say that climate change is the thing, but we need to balance a little sacrifice now with avoiding mass misery later.

How will you juggle work, family, and leadership duties leading into the provincial election?

I will balance all of my responsibilities the way I have been and the way I continue to do each day. It’s not that complicated. I will work hard at all of my responsibilities. My union (ATU615) has negotiated the luxury for its members of being able to arrange time off from work, so I am able to put my work responsibility on the back burner for a while. In fact I have been doing that for some time. That makes the juggling act much more easy.

Can you please tell us a little about what first brought you into “a life political”?

I felt an overwhelming need to do something about the many crisis facing us. I started with a donation to the GPS, followed it with an offer of volunteer help, and it all just seemed to flow naturally to where I am at now.

When did you first identify as a Green?

I think it is in my DNA

Why should we vote for you?

People should vote for me because of the passion, energy, and innovation that I have already brought to the table. Since 2010 I have been active, loyal, and dedicated to the GPS. I have experience in leadership positions. Same applies to my candidacy in the Saskatchewan general election to be held on November 7, 2011.

Where can we go to learn a little more about you?

Google me, click on one of the many links below, or use some of the contact information below to contact me directly:

Email: lwaldinger@gmail.com

Mobile: 306-717-7275

Web: LarryWaldinger.com

Blog :http://gpswaldinger.blogspot.com/

GPS: http://saskgreen.ca/larry-waldinger-saskatoon-sutherland-prospective-candidate-2011

Bio Info: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1l8Iz8kbpuQihAz_Z264NbolSbAt_j25gdwEKq0xt_Wc/edit?hl=en_US

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Larry-Waldinger-for-Saskatoon-Sutherland-Green-Party-of-Saskatchewan/185144554852618

Twitter: @VoteLarryW

Or may I suggest to you that you go to the leadership convention…

Larry Waldinger

Thanks, TD

Brendan Cross: GPS Leadership Candidate

The first Green Party of Saskatchewan leadership candidate to reply to my “seven questions” email was Brendan Cross, Larry Waldinger emailed his reply shortly after (and I will share his answers a little later today).  We are still waiting to hear from Victor Lau, but I’m sure he’ll have his answers off soon.  In the mean time, let’s hear from Brendan Cross:


Thanks, Tobi-Dawne, for the email.

What inspired you to put your name forward for party leadership?

I was inspired by the principles and past platforms or the party and believed that the former leader’s grievances for leaving the position were, to me, the opposite of the truth.  The opportunity to work with a developing team of individuals who are running such good campaigns seemed really attractive to me.

What one issue do you feel should be the priority for our provincial election platform?

I think the priority should be put on the issue of providing free education to post-secondary students should be the priority, but not to the extent of neglecting our anti-nuclear stance.  The Green Party is the choice of the majority of young people under the age of 25 and I think this should be the ideal time for them to vote.

How will you juggle work, family, and leadership duties leading into the provincial election?

I view providing poltical advice as my work, so leadership duties would simply be my work.  I’m prepared for a six-week election campaign and have a plan for the leader.

Can you please tell us a little about what first brought you into “a life political”?

Does one choose politics?  Or does politics choose you?  I’ve found that when a political opportunity presents itself in an obvious sort of way, it is great to take advantage of the season while it lasts- and hope it lasts for a while.  In the past decade, I have had my share of political activity and love the thought that I may be back in the game, so to speak.

When did you first identify as a Green?

While for years I kept informed on the policies of all the major parties, it was this past year that I really admired Elizabeth May’s success and her stance against the war in Libya.  The more I looked at the party, the more I realized it stands for my core beliefs and reflects my own thoughts on many issues.  It was not hard for me to join the party and accept the offer to be a candidate.

Why should we vote for you?

I hope that the skills I am currently utilizing are what the party needs regarding leadership.  If it is a good fit I will be pleased.  One way or another, there will be a leader, and one way or another I will continue to use my skill set as best I can.

Where can we go to learn a little more about you?

My website is always the number one result in a google search for my name, and it includes my book and newspaper articles and speeches.  And I am always available on Facebook, too.

Green Party of Saskatchewan Leadership Election

The candidates for party leader are:

  • Larry Waldinger (nominated by Tobi-Dawne Smith, Robert Forsyth, Penny Swartz, Vicki Strelioff), 
  • Brendan Cross (nominated by Penny Swartz, Vicki Strelioff, Robert Forsyth, Tobi-Dawne Smith), and
  • Victor Lau (nominated by Owen Swiderski, Mike Wright, David Orban).

The candidates for deputy leader are: 

  • Amber Jones (nominated by Tobi-Dawne Smith, Vicki Strelioff, Robert Forsyth, Penny Swartz), 
  • Owen Swiderski (nominated by Victor Lau, Mike Wright, Amelia Swiderski), and 
  • Mark Bigland-Pritchard (nominated by Amber Jones, Vicki Strelioff, Robert Forsyth, Penny Swartz).

For those who are available, the Special Leadership Meeting and Election will be held in Regina, this Sunday, at the Glencairn Neighbourhood Recreation Center (2626 Dewdney Avenue East) from 9-5.  The election itself will be occurring after lunch at 1:00.

If you are not able to attend the meeting, we still want to hear from you!  Your voice, your vote, matters!  The Green Party of Saskatchewan is a true grassroots party, run by it’s membership.  A ballot is available for download here:  http://saskgreen.ca/GPS/docs/2011/Special_Election_Ballot_Sep25.pdf  …along with the instructions for casting a distance vote.   If you have trouble with the download, or have questions or concerns about the voting procedure, please feel welcome to email Amber Jones at secretary@saskgreen.ca

For more information on the meeting and the candidates visit http://saskgreen.ca/leadership-race-be-decided-sunday-september-25th and http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=281009695261132

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