Monthly Archives: November 2006

Back In London

Apologies for sporadic posts. Regular blogging is easiest in times of stability, and this is anything but.

I’m back in London at the moment (working on the campaign to elect Elizabeth May). Part of the non-blogging is from the sense that I need to spend every moment I can trying to get to as many London voters as possible. And, even though Google Analytics tells me that hundreds of you read this blog every week (thanks, by the way), it also tells me that you live all over North America and the world, which doesn’t help the London situation very much.

Last night at dinner with a good chunk of the campaign team, Elizabeth decided on a whim to call Raffi. Yes, the Raffi. Then, on an even more random whim, she passed the phone to me. There’s not really any point beyond that, I just wanted to let you all know that I talked to Raffi last night, and I’m pretty happy about it.

Tonight there was an all-candidates debate. Well, almost all candidates. The conservative candidate didn’t show because of a scheduling conflict. We’re all trying to brainstorm what could have been more important. Anyway, the uplifting news is that Elizabeth was the first candidate to get applause (no one applauded until a few minutes in), received the most applause over the course of the evening, and was the only candidate to receive applause for her closing statement. It was clear to everyone in the room that she won the debate, which is consistent with previous results.

Keep helping however you can. This one’s gonna be tight.

The Impossible Dream

Sometimes a song pops into your head unannounced and gets stuck for hours. You almost never know how it got there. (Were you just singing that? Is there a radio on somewhere?) Currently, my song is “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha.

I’m writing from the train, traveling back to Toronto after a weekend of canvassing for Elizabeth May in London North Centre. I’m not sure where Don Quixote came from or exactly when he showed up, but I’m in the mood to hypothesize.

This morning I went with Elizabeth and my new friend Steve Edwards (Communications Chair for London North Centre) to St. Paul’s Anglican Church. The homily, by Archdeacon D. Ian Grant, was about the need for justice, using the acceptance of same sex marriage as the primary example. That would have seemed impossible just a few decades ago.

Last night, at the dinner to benefit Olivia’s Dream, a veteran told an unjust story about a sick girl in an unnamed country where citizens have to pay for all medical treatments above a certain limit, regardless of ability to pay or how necessary those treatments are. Tommy Douglas’ dream of universal healthcare must have seemed impossible to most just a century ago (and, in many countries, still would).

One week ago, if I’m being honest, despite all public optimism, I believed on some deep level that electing Canada’s first Green MP on November 27 was likely impossible. I know now that that’s not true; Elizabeth has a real chance.

Today, I was on sign duty. My new friend Larry and I (there are lots of new friends in London) drove around the whole riding looking for a piece of public property where an opponent had a sign and we didn’t. It was a challenging task. Over the course of a few hours we found one or two vacant spots and promptly rectified the situation. Currently, we have more signs up than any other candidate.

In addition, Elizabeth seems to have somehow befriended more people in London than most Londoners. Everywhere we go she is recognized and greeted warmly. And this campaign is just getting started. Mark my words: you ain’t seen nothing yet. (Randy Bachman just showed up and pushed Don Quixote out of the way. I wonder who else will make a surprise appearance.)

In a way, we can’t really lose. We’re generating huge amounts of attention and setting the agenda for the campaign (just one of many “firsts”). At the very least we’re giving the other parties a run for their money and forcing them to consider issues that experience tells us they’d otherwise ignore. And, not unimportantly, we’re having a lot of fun. I’m very jealous of those people – from BC Ben to PEI Sharon — who have been able to move to London for the month to campaign full time. I can guarantee that no other party is having a better time.

See you again next weekend, new-London-friends. Stay true to that glorious quest.

My Pappa’s Clippings

My Pappa (George Tindal, my dad’s dad) has taken to sending me newspaper clippings in the mail. It’s somewhat of a right of passage in my family — my dad and his brother have been getting clippings for years. My clippings, however, are much more targeted. Every story Pappa sends me has something to do with the converging environmental crises. On the top of the articles he writes little notes to me, like “it’s time for Canadians to wake up,” and “good luck.” This week I got a fresh batch (the Stern report, the all-the-fish-are-going-to-die report, etc) with the note, “Congratulations on your appointment to Shadow Cabinet.” (Oh yeah, did I mention? I was appointed to Shadow Cabinet!)

I’ve been thinking about Pappa this remembrance day. He’s a veteran of the second world war, but we never really talk about it. I get the sense that he doesn’t want to. Him and two brothers went over; only one of his brothers came back.

This morning, Elizabeth, myself, and other campaign volunteers attended the London 11:11 ceremonies before going out door knocking. This evening, we attended a dinner at the Dutch Canadian Society Hall, which was a joint benefit for Mark Wilson and a girl named Olivia. The former was killed in Afghanistan, the latter is a two-year-old who was born with cancer. Both of their families sat at the head table. So yes, it was a an emotional dinner.

And yet, the evening ended with organizer Michelle Iurman singing war-era songs from her album “Lest We Forget.” Embarrassingly, I didn’t know any of them, while Elizabeth knew every word. (I’m embarrassed for myself, not Elizabeth.) I wish you could have all been there to see her making jazz hands while singing “praise the lord and pass the ammunition” at the top of her lungs, in between bantering with our waitress in Dutch. The woman is a wonder.

Now, I’m sitting around with volunteers who have come from all across the country to get her elected. We have a cause and a sense of urgency. I’m reminded of that by my Pappa’s clippings, and I’m motivated by his support. He gave and endured so much; by comparison, what we’re doing should be a walk in the park.

London Calling

This morning at 6:30am I met David Scrymgeour (Green Party of Canada Director of Organizing) and Elizabeth May outside of the home where she stays while in Toronto and hitched a ride to London. I’m writing this from the converted internet cafe that is the Elizabeth May Campaign Office. Somehow, all of the computers are still here from the internet cafe days, modified glowing cases and all. Volunteers are sitting at every screen calling voters using Skype.

Well, except for this screen. I’m selfishly bogarting it for blogging purposes. I’m feeling justified right now though, since I canvassed a whole poll by myself earlier today and (from what I can tell) hold today’s record for most lawn signs secured, including two lawns that already had NDP signs on them. (Remind me to be modest about something later to compensate for this paragraph.)

This is a real, live campaign out here. The office is buzzing with volunteers, there are stacks of signs (with Elizabeth’s name and photo), several different flyers/postcards have been printed, and clips of media coverage are pasted all over the walls.

That being said, they still need your help. If you can’t make it down here for a day or two, you can still donate or phone people from your house. It makes a big difference. We’ve got an uphill battle here, but Elizabeth has already been endorsed by a number of very high-profile community leaders, including an influential newspaper columnist who was at our morning briefing.

Ok, that’s a long enough break. Got to get back to work…