What I learned from Politics

“When can you start?” “Right now I guess,” was my reply although I was still startled by the question. “Good, because we are car-pooling to a CRM software training session in half an hour and want you to come. I had known Jocelyn and Marilyn from the 2011 campaign and had responded to their email reminder that they were looking for a canvassing coordinator just to find out what would be entailed in the position. It was well into what I thought was an impromptu chat, when I realized they were already interviewing me.

When we finally ran out of money building the Biggest Little House in Sidney, it was time to seek some gainful employment. Laura had already taken a job as constituency advocate for our local MP, Elizabeth May. I first met Elizabeth in her mother’s kitchen when I volunteered to help fight the budworm spray in Cape Breton back in the 1970s. It seemed fitting that Laura and I would work in the same arena, supporting the same person, in two very distinct and separate capacities.

After the 2015 campaign came to a successful end I was offered the part time position of Coordinator for the riding association or as it is known federally in Canada, the Electoral District Association (EDA). Donors had been very generous to Elizabeth’s campaign and there were enough funds to engage me on a half time contract. Within a few months, my clear commitment to citizen engagement between elections impressed the Executive Director of the national Green Party enough to also offer me a half time contract as Synergist. In that role I completed two tours across the country to engage with local EDAs and volunteers after what was for most of them a heartbreaking defeat.

After that contract ended, my role as coordinator for the local EDA became a full time position. Being the party leader’s EDA, and by staying engaged between elections, it was well funded and could support my efforts to work with many other EDAs from coast to coast. My contract with the EDA ended in December of 2018 but I continued as a volunteer, responding to local requests by campaigns across the country during the 2019 campaign. I also ran in the 2019 election of president for the national party and was invited to manage the campaign for the “Charlottetown Six”, three of whom were elected as Green MLAs to the PEI Legislature.

During a total of seven cross country tours, sitting at kitchen tables and listening in community halls, I had the opportunity to synthesize a deep understanding of what drives success when building a political movement.

In the end it’s all about people and community; what most voting citizens long for is integrity and authenticity. Canadians are fed-up with the self serving merry-go-round of power politics. What they hope for are governments they can trust to preserve and protect the future; for them, their children and their grandchildren. They want a new kind of politics; an authentic alternative to the old style power games of bait and switch. 

You can read more about this experience here: https://tmt.ca/lifelong-learning/politics/

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