How Do You Get To Massey Hall?

“It’s hard to beat the system / when we’re standing at a distance / so we keep waiting / waiting on the world to change.” -John Mayer

I don’t know, I only came close. I can at least tell you that practice has nothing to do with it. I’d practiced my speech a lot.

This evening I was invited to represent the Green Party of Canada at Vote Out Poverty, a sold-out event at Massey Hall put on by Make Poverty History and the Ontario Coalition for Social Justice. I was really excited about it. Poverty–domestically and internationally–must be aggressively addressed, and I looked forward to explaining what we propose to do about it. Besides, it would be an honour to share the stage with the likes of Mary Walsh, Stephen Lewis, The Nylons, and others. When I arrived, I was greeted outside by a nice woman with a headset and a clipboard, given my ticket and told that someone would come get me before it was my turn to speak along with the other federal representatives (Ken Dryden and Jack Layton).

Then, before the event started, a twist. The woman with the headset came back and told me that I wouldn’t be allowed to speak, because we’d “RSVPed too late” and there wasn’t time to change the script. (My attendance was confirmed this morning. There’d previously been a mix-up at the federal office since the invitation was sent to Elizabeth a day before her surgery.) I expressed my disappointment (politely, it wasn’t her fault after all) and asked if she could double-check if it really was impossible to add the words “and, from the Green Party, Chris Tindal” to the script. She went off to see what she could do.

Then, with the event already underway (The Nylons were singing John Mayer’s “Waiting for the World to Change”) she came back and told me that I’d been added to the script and would be able to speak after all. “Great, thanks,” I said.

First, the provincial representatives spoke. It was a very NDP-friendly room. The Liberal was heckled, the Conservative John Tory’s Candidate was outright booed, and Howard Hampton was given several standing ovations. Then, the federal representatives spoke. Um, except for me. I don’t really know why. They just never introduced me as I stood in the wings, waiting. Once Jack was done doing his thing they moved on to the next part of the evening.

Regardless of the fact that I’d canceled two other events to be there, I was already becoming profoundly discouraged at the way this campaign is going. Just a little more than one week left and we’ve talked about almost nothing other than funding for religious schools, as if that’s the only thing that mattered. And then there’s the referendum, which, we’re told by polls and news articles, Ontarians like when they understand it, but might vote it down since they don’t. Add to my frustration-pile that Howard Hampton reportedly went on CTV last night and told outright lies (sorry, but there’s just no other word for it) about what the Green Party stands for. You can only get away with that if people don’t actually know what we stand for. And you can only ensure that if you make sure we’re not allowed to speak for ourselves.

Ontario, you wouldn’t really keep voting for the same parties, using the same voting system, and expect a different result, would you? After all, you’re not insane.

ps. Yes, I’m aware that this has been a bit of a disjointed and emotional rant. Maybe I’d be wise to sleep on this before posting. Then again, it’ll be hard to get to sleep without getting this out first.

pps. Sorry I haven’t been blogging very much the past few days. If someone could please arrange for the federal government to award me a $20,000 communications contract, that could really help subsidize my income and free-up some time.

3 thoughts on “How Do You Get To Massey Hall?

  1. Mary Walsh, did IN FACT call out for any member of the Green Party to get up on stage and speak during the scheduled political speakers slot right before the Hidden Cameras went on.

    Chris, I read this article first on the Torontoist website and I was surprised that you would be so disingenious when discussing such a positive event – where I imagine the Green Party would have benefited from having an opportunity to advocate their cause.

    Everyone was surprised that no one from the Green Party was available to speak after the host invited any member of the party to come up and speak. Also, the lack of Frank De Jong’s presence was odd given that many of us saw him outside of the theatre before the show.

    As you’ll recall, the provincial and federal sections were separate. As the provincial leader, Frank’s name was called along with the other provincial representatives, but he’d left the event by then. My understanding is that there was a communication breakdown whereby he didn’t know he was going to be asked to speak. I’m not sure how that happened or who’s fault it is–it had nothing to do with me.

    Then, after the provincial reps spoke, the federal representatives were called on stage. I was supposed to represent the federal party, and during that section no one from the Green party was called upon. At no point did Mary Walsh ever call on “any member of the party” to come on stage. -CT

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