Political Perspectives is produced by the students and faculty of Carleton University's School of Journalism and Communication, Canada's oldest journalism school.


Capturing the very young vote

Posted by cwaddell under Election 2008, Election 2008 Student articles

Michelle Ervin

Jen Hunter is enlisting the help of children to create sidewalk art that identifies businesses that are doing positive things in the community, says her campaign manager, James Taylor.  

The Green candidate for Ottawa Centre plans to run a non-traditional campaign, Taylor said yesterday after a policy discussion at Hunter’s campaign office. Instead of simply talking about change, he said, Hunter wants to embody the change that she envisions.


Hunter is well-poised to recognize green businesses because she teaches green business practices at Algonquin College, said Taylor. 

Armed with pastel-coloured chalk, children have scrawled the message: “Great work lives here”, he said.

The project ties into Hunter’s overall desire to foster a green economy, to celebrate sustainable living and to engage meaningful participation, said Taylor. In her campaign office, these election priorities are written on a white board in green marker, in big, round handwriting, with hearts for bullet points. 

Taylor said the Sunday policy discussion was the first of several that would occur each week over the course of the election. Hunter was unable to attend this week but plans to be at future meetings. 

The informal talk attracted fewer than ten of Hunter’s campaign staff and supporters, who sat in a small circle of chairs. Everyone was asked to make a name tag, using a pink heart-shaped sticky note and green marker.  

Jen Hunter’s policy anchor, Greg Warne, said that a good way to understand the Green Party is to view it as a party that forms its policies through a green lens. Party leader Elizabeth May calls this a holistic approach. 

Environmental issues go beyond the birds and the trees, said Warne, and the Green Party is trying to get that message across. “The best way to do that is to prove to the voter that we are a political party with the strongest environmental platform but to show how environmental issues ripple and how they relate to other issues, such as health care,” he said.

Health care, said Warne, could be improved by shifting resources to preventative measures, a policy move that the Green Party supports. Positive incentives, such as subsidies for buying organic foods or leading a healthy lifestyle translate into fewer sick people in the long term. 

It’s a case of “pay now or pay later”, said Warne. A spin-off benefit is that a healthier population is also more productive.  

While the meeting was designed to address Green Party policy, the talk tended to shift towards strategy. One of the biggest obstacles for the emerging political party is overcoming the misconception that it’s a fringe, one-issue party, said campaign chair, Greg Laxton. When Laxton ran as a Green in Ottawa Centre in the last provincial election, he said he told other candidates not to wear sandals to debates. Anything that might play into stereotypes is off limits. The Green Party is a full-platform party and the environment isn’t its only focus, he said. 

Michelle Ervin is a fourth year student in the Bachelor of Journalism program at the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton Unniversity.