I’ve already told my friends and family (hot tip: announce things to your friends and family before the blogosphere), but I wanted to also let everyone else know that I am supporting Elizabeth May for leadership of the Green Party of Canada.
As previously mentioned, the other main contestant is David Chernushenko. (A third candidate, Jim Fannon, has since announced on an unofficial Green Party mailing list that he will also run.) While I stand by my statement that David would make an able leader, I’ve come to believe that we need Elizabeth to take us to the next level as a party.
The importance of breaking free from our current plateau cannot be overstated. If we don’t start electing MPs soon, in the minds of voters we will become a perpetual fringe party. On the other hand, if we capitalize on our momentum, we will become a serious player within one or two elections.
I did not rush into my decision to support Elizabeth, which is one of the reasons why I’m now so comfortable that it’s the right one. I first spoke with David and his supporters, and had the impression that he would be a “comfortable” or “safe” choice. That was largely based on the fact that he’s done a good job as a deputy leader and candidate, and on his own description of himself as someone who’s steady and matter-of-fact. (“If you’re looking for a leader who’s going to get all fired up and give impassioned speeches,” I recall him saying to me, “I’m not your guy.”) On top of that he’s a man in a suit, which for better or worse (well, ok, worse) cues my cultural stereotypes to tell me that he’s respectable, professional, etc.
In retrospect, I also felt that way because, since David had been involved in the party for some time, I knew more about him than I did about Elizabeth. I don’t mind admitting that I had a number of questions and concerns about whether or not she’d make a good leader, including:
- Does she speak French?
- Is she more than a famous environmentalist?
- Does she understand the Green Party platform?
- Will she respect and support participatory democracy in the party?
- Is she a strong public speaker?
I was very excited to discover, though watching, listening, and reading about Elizabeth in the media, exchanging some emails and telephone calls with her, and seeing her speak at her book launch in Toronto a few weeks ago, that the answer is a resounding “yes” to all of the above, and then some. (For example, she’s also very funny.) She has already begun to articulate an exciting vision for this party and the country, and has, in my assessment, generated more media attention for the party outside of an election campaign in the past month than we’ve had in the past year — and she’s not even leader yet!
Not that I’d want to suggest she’s a shoe-in; she needs our support. Donate, join, vote, volunteer, and convince others to do the same. And continue to follow her website, campaign blog, and the media coverage she generates. After the Green Party of Canada National Convention in Ottawa this August, politics in this country will change for the better.