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Be the change

Posted by cwaddell under Election 2008, Election 2008 Student articles

Kristen Cucan

A handful of Green party supporters met in their local Ottawa riding last night donning green-coloured clothes and accessories, and hopeful that Canada might see its first green MP elected to Parliament.

In a small room at Saint Paul University, residents greeted their candidate for Ottawa Centre, Jen Hunter, and watched a screening of a new documentary produced by local environmentalist and former Green Party member, David Chernushenko.

The film, entitled Be the Change, featured interviews with Ottawa residents living their lives in environmentally friendly ways, such as cultivating gardens, regularly riding a bicycle or recycling household items. The screening was followed by an informal discussion on how ordinary Canadians and the government could also “be the change.”

“We’re really committed to being a different kind of campaign, so you will see less paper and more people,” Hunter told supporters.

Hunter, 39, said she would be pleased if the other parties “steal” the Greens’ environmental ideas.

A core policy of the Green Party platform is its Green Tax Shift. The plan — similar to the Liberals’ Green Shift, which was introduced after the Green policy — would tax carbon emissions and pollution and use that revenue to cut income and payroll taxes.

The plan would add a $50 tax for every tonne of carbon emitted, which the party says is equivalent to an extra 12 cents a litre at the gas pump.

“All decisions are not equal,” Hunter said in an interview after the event. “Some decisions cost more than others, and those should actually be paid for.”

Hunter acknowledged that her party’s tax shift and the Liberals’ tax plan are “fundamentally very similar.” But, she said, that’s good for Canada.

“Rather than look at what is a difference, which is . . . typical adversarial politics, I think what is exciting is that this similarity is something to be embraced by Canada,” she said. “Our two parties are bringing forward something that could be very healthy.”

“Our party also represents a lot of different ideas. We are not the Liberal party,” Hunter added.

Hunter, who worked for the Liberal election campaign in 1993, joined the Green party more than two years ago, and is running as a candidate for the first time. She has spent most of her career as a professional facilitator for various organizations, and she is an executive member of the Ottawa chapter of Equal Voice, a group that promotes female involvement in politics.

Aaron Caplan, who attended the event, said he is still undecided about whom he will vote for. But he said he believes the environment is a catalytic issue in this election.

“I think there’s a lot of interesting principles behind the Green party,” said Caplan, a visiting fellow at the School of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton University. “It’s always a challenge in voting principles or voting strategically.”

Hunter said she is running as a candidate for the Green Party because its ideas represent the future, not more of the past.

“Fifty-seven per cent of Canadians believe it’s time for Green MPs to be in Parliament. I know they mean me,” she said with a chuckle.

Kristen Cucan is a fourth-year student in the Bachelor of Journalism program at the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University.