Monday, September 13, 2010

Green stompin', federal style

Last Sunday evening there was a small event taking place at the University of Winnipeg. It was a forum/seminar kind of thing with a group of panelists or “experts.” The subject was transportation and it was organized by the University of Manitoba Greens (student group for green party students).

I attended as I was very interested in the panelists. Included was blogger contemporary Rob Galston, Paul Hesse, Paul Larson from the U of M, as well as a couple of candidates running in the election. Mayoral candidate Judy-W was in attendance as well. The special guest, was federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

Most interesting, was the question and answer period. Ms May is incredibly well spoken and the ease in which she can launch into a discussion was something to see. I enjoyed watching her on the federal debates the last go-round, but seeing it in action is quite something else.

I used the opportunity to ask Ms May a question.

Was it really true, use it or lose it? I've looked around, I can't find anything. I said Ms May, I have a hard time believing Mr Harper would magically take away all of this stimulus funding, funding for infrastructure projects for the purpose of helping us ward off a global recession.

The answer? Yes, it really is true. If any project...any...project, here or elsewhere, bikes or highways or ports or docks, if it is not finished by March 2011, that's it. No more federal funding, leaving the province and municipal government on the hook. That's not all. If there were any audits into how federal money was spent, there is no way to track where a single penny ends up.

Wow. Reeeally. I still have a hard time believing it, I'm trying to wrap my head around how this helps the Conservative government at all.

Anyhow, as the questions came and went, indeed, the Assiniboine Avenue bike path came up. General feeling in the room to me at least, was that this was a silly, and stupid project...and that's from a bunch of Green Party supporters, super cycling advocates. Concerns were about traffic congestion, and emissions, questions also arose about traffic flow (not necessarily related to Assiniboine) and light synchronization (also not related to Assiniboine).

It was at this point where Ms May truly astounded me. She said something so memorable and applicable to many situations in Winnipeg, I didn't even have to write it down. How some transit projects proceed here...with no common sense strings attached.

“You cannot punish people out of their cars.”

The best person such a comment could have come Jenny Gerbasi. Many people I talk to end up telling me they think Ms May is full of shit, I say otherwise. She may lead a party that may have a fair share of environmental wingnuts, and she sure has her work cut out for her to craft it into a credible party, shift the image of the party. She has common sense, a sense that not every politician has. She knows when to stop. She knows when things can turn from green, to retarded.

“You cannot punish people out of their cars.”

This qualifies as “punishment,” right?

*Edit: There is a new blogger in town who was also there. Good writing, and fresh perspective, a critical environmental minded person (like myself). Maybe you need incentive...

I have learned there is more room in the local press to mention the VMAS, the Kanye West & Taylor Swift saga, and Justin Bieber's dad than there is to mention a very important event I attended last night.


The Great Canadian Talk Show said...

AWEsome post and a demonstration of how MSM civics reporting lags behind the alterbative media.

Sophia said...

Graham, much thanks for the mention! I remember you asking that question, and I remember thinking "he looks like progwinnipeg from twitter" haha. I wasn't sure at the time, but now I can tell you that you weren't sitting far from me!

I like that you spoke of Elizabeth May and agree with you about the party. I think we have a hard time disassociating people from their parties, and forget the fact that there are "different shades of green". It was definitely an honour to hear her speak.

Luc said...

you're an idiot.
get a bike.

Luc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.