The expression on almost everyone’s face the last time I was directly involved in a Green Party election can be summed up in two words: pure horror.
During Monday night’s vote however that expression was nowhere in sight at Green Party HQ, replaced by what can only be described as pure joy.
Ah, what a difference a couple of decades can make!
Back in 1981 we had fairly modest goals, running environmental activist Paul Watson for a seat on the parks board in the Vancouver municipal election.
The campaign began well, with Paul using a remote control robot to entice voters to chat at Granville Market and other venues. Then, at about 10 p.m. one night, things went south in a big way. Paul, we learned on the news, had claimed responsibility for sinking two whaling ships in Iceland. Our star candidate was being called a terrorist.
As Paul’s wide-eyed supporters huddled in the party office, flapping our hands and trying to figure out what to do, the phone rang.
“I hope you die and burn in hell,” the first caller said. The second call, right after, was from the press.
“We’re meeting about that now,” we told the reporter. “Everything will be fine.”
Then we unplugged the phone.
Not surprisingly, we didn’t win that election.
This time I played the role of reporter in the Green Party drama and nobody at Myron Jespersen’s election night gathering at the Old Dutch Inn was hiding from me, despite their candidate’s dismal showing. Quite the opposite.
As soon as I poked my nose in the door they erupted in wild cheers, waved their banners, clapped and thumped the table with delight.
They weren’t cheering for me of course. They were celebrating the news that, after over 20 years of repeated failure by candidates across the country at all levels, Green Party leader Elizabeth May had just been named as the winner of the federal election campaign in Saanich-Gulf Islands — and politics in Canada would never be the same again.
I’ve been out of the Green politics biz since just after the Neo-Nazis torched the Green Party office in Vancouver because of something I did in 1989, but I have to admit I shared some of the greenies’ delight.
There wasn’t much else to celebrate for me or people like me, that’s for sure. A Harper majority government was pretty much the worst possible scenario in my books — and I’m not alone. Only about 24 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots for him and his party, but that was enough for us to elect our dictator for the next few years. Don’t kid yourself either. Stephen Harper is going to use that majority to change this country to the point where we won’t recognize it.
However, like my old Gaffer used to tell me, it’s always darkest before the dawn.
So yes, the way I look at it, even as the political Shelobs are reveling in their victory and preparing to feed, there’s one little hobbit who has cut herself free of her bonds. She’s still got the ring and she’s scampering as fast as she can towards Mount Doom.
It will take about four or five years to get there, but with the political landscape so dramatically changed in this country, I wouldn’t be surprised if she actually made it.
Neil Horner is the assistant editor and columnist with The News