John Baird's legacy as Environment Minister was to waste taxpayer money on attack reports on Liberal plans to clean up the air we breathe and reduce pollution, while demonstrating a lack of leadership and letting our environmental agenda be set by the US. Peter Kent, the new Harper environment minister, looks to be following the same path that John Baird set out: Asking how high to jump when Harper asks, not listening to the concerns of Canadian families that want clean air for their children to breath.
Look at some of the headlines Kent has generated:
Been there, heard that environment speech before-CBC, Jan 28, 2011
New Canada environment minister offers no new plans-Reuteurs, Jan 28, 2011
Environment Minister targets critics in first major speech-Vancouver Sun, Jan 28, 2011 How very John Baird like - target critics, not climate change
Peter Kent sees no pressing need for new climate laws-Globe and Mail, Jan 28, 2011
New minister doomed to disappoint-The Gateway, Jan 27, 2011
Does Peter Kent even care about emissions?-Globe and Mail, Jan 26, 2011
Peter Kent, like John Baird before him, is putting at risk Canada's environment and the health of families and children across Canada and in Ottawa West-Nepean. Canadians deserve a plan to clear the air, not hot air from the new John Baird.
"I know that my constituents are concerned about the economy, their jobs, their retirement and the financial security of their family."
Well yes, they are concerned about the economy and financial security. Let's take a closer look at the signs held by those "pathetic" protesters:
"John Baird! What are you doing for Nortel retirees?"
Well, here are just some things John Baird and his backroom buddies have done for Nortel, and the economic security of families in Ottawa West-Nepean:
-Had the Conservative Senate (which was just joined by Larry Smith, who complained about having to take a pay cut to sit as a Senator and get $100,000+ of taxpayer money a year to campaign for a Commons seat in Quebec) kill Bill s-216, which would have helped hundreds of families and Nortel pensioners in Ottawa West-Nepean
-Allowed Nortel to be bought out by foriegn companies at fire-sale prices, putting the future of our innovative economy at risk
-Having no plan to deal with the deficit and spending of taxpayer money, according to Kevin Page http://www.cbc.ca/money/story/2011/01/20/budget-office-report.html
-Serving as the bullhorn for a government which saw the highest youth unemployment and underemployment on record
While Baird keeps up his spin, we'll keep knocking on the doors of the "pathetic" citizens of Ottawa West-Nepean and working hard to elect something the people of Ottawa West-Nepean haven't had for 5 years - an MP who listens to them and respects the concerns they have.
Edit: A link to the full-sized photo http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_1UiQ0wncFLk/TTy7wc-qwmI/AAAAAAAADuA/h9A0px9c5_Q/s1600/IMG_6131.JPG
The issues the video talks about are particularly relevant for youth. The damage Harper has done to our environmental reputation, and the massive mismanagement of government spending turning surpluses into deficits will be paid off by our generation. And Harper and Baird think they can get away with it, because they think you don't care. That's the grand Stephen Harper strategy for re-election. Run attack ads to scare other voters into staying home, and hope that he can get enough of his base out to be able to win another government with 30% support of the population. Youth must step up to the plate, and the best place for youth to play a roll and show Harper that yes, youth do care, and that hope can beat fear, is Ottawa West-Nepean and the Anita Vandenbeld campaign.
I was the first to arrive. I met Anita and we discussed how the day would proceed. She gave me the plan for door knocking including what to say, how to speak and other key tips. Otherwise, the task of intriguing people about the campaign was free to our own whims, ideas and creativity. Immediately, on this premise of such an exciting operation, I began imagining it as a sort of action-hero mission. With adrenaline pumping, we set off.
At my first door, I rapped on it politely and nervously. I got a very polite response back and I began to see how this would be easier than I had anticipated. Furthermore, Anita is a huge help while canvassing because she comes into the conversation giving a jolt of positive energy to the interaction. This energy carries over from door to door and it develops a quality unto its own. Honestly, its pure fun.
We were left to our creative devices into how to convince people that they should both come to the Michael Ignatieff event at Carlingwood Mall and to learn more about Anita's campaign. Largely, canvassing is so addicting that I sought to charge ahead and was not afraid to go on my own after the first couple doors.
In this experience, you truly get to step into someone's life at a random moment and see his or her innermost self. As ridiculous as that might sound, it's true. Even the one's who are not interested in what you are saying provide interesting stories, lines or let you discover something new.
Some of the notable stories of my experience would be the girl who told Omar that her Daddy told her she could not vote for anybody but a conservative. There are door lockers, one or two door slammers and many who are perplexed for quite a long time. Thankfully, Anita usually comes to the rescue at this point.
Although, the ones I most relish from my first experience were the ones who brought enthusiasm, a smile and interest to their doors. There are a surprising number of people who you can hear talking behind their door about the conversation, the campaign and which of their friends they will tell. Many people, political or not, enjoy canvassers and especially talking to the candidate directly.
My personal story of the day, on my first day canvassing, was a door in which I could smell pungent brownies the whole time. These just smelled like quality brownies and I found myself waiting at the door for a very long time. The aroma sent me into a fantasy in which the person opened the door, was a liberal and offered me a brownie. Sadly, this fantasy never came true and they never opened the door. My hope is that someday this happens.
Anita really means it when she says “canvassing is [her] fun”. You can see her eagerness as she moves to connect with the people. She has a natural ability to warm up a room. She is kind and cheerful and it just can't help but seep through into her canvassing. People find themselves caught in a moment between them and a candidate for public office face-to-face right at their doorstep. It is obvious that it is a rare treat to have Anita Vandenbeld show up at your door.
Canvassing really is a great experience. I advise that you try it. It is a moment like no other in which you connect with a total stranger, talk about politics, step into their frame of mind and get some good exercise out of walking around. I further advise you get out there before I get out there and hog it all.
Young people like Natalie are making a difference. If you think the people of Ottawa West-Nepean deserve an MP who listens, join us, and help elect Anita Vandenbeld.
Canvassing is the backbone of a successful campaign. The campaign that does the best job of getting out, talking to voters, listening to them, and get them out to the polls is the one that wins. Period.
Canvassing is also a campaign area in which youth can play a huge role. All it takes is a belief in the candidate you are running for, enough self confidence to knock on someones door, and the ability to talk to a voter about why your candidate will be the best for standing up for the families of Ottawa West-Nepean.
This is a swing riding, and canvassing will make all the difference. The margin to make up is just a little bit under 5,000 votes (which is really not that many in a riding of almost 110,000 people), and when you break this down poll by poll, it really demonstrates how important getting out the vote is. With 252 polls in the last election (and probably a similar number next election), a 5,000 vote Baird victory translates into only 20 votes per poll. Since to win, we need to swing at least half of the 5,000, as little as 10(!) votes per poll could be the difference between winning a defeat.
If we have a youth canvassing team of say, 25 youth, that is only 10 polls each (which really is nothing, on a good day of canvassing you're going to want to do at least 2-3 polls minimum), and if we need to win 5,000 votes, that's only 200 voters per youth, over the whole riding, over the course of the whole pre-writ period and election.
If we want to paint this riding Liberal red, we need a strong youth team to go out and talk to voters and say they deserve a Member of Parliament who will be a voice for the people - not the pit bull for the Prime Minister. If we want to elect a women of such strong experience and ability like Anita, we need a strong youth team to talk to voters and say they deserve an MP with real life experience - not a career backroom politician. If we want a Liberal government to advance the ideas and policies to move this country forward, we need a strong youth team to talk to voters and say that they deserve a economically responsible, forward looking government - not a government that abuses the public trust and your democratic institutions.
We can make a difference - but we need you. Please join us this weekend for canvassing with Anita Vandenbeld.
Here's a great video featuring some of the great artists who were there at the Youth Voice Youth Choices event, Anita's fantastic speech (that line about the Conservatives thinking they can get away with having ruled over the highest youth unemployment on record and abandoning climate change leadership because they think youth don't care is really strong), a bit of Justin Trudeau's inspiring words about civic engagement, and even a cameo from yours truly asking a question. If you were there, watch it again to relive the excitement (and maybe you'll see yourself in the video) and if you weren't, you can still watch and be inspired by the great youth turnout and Anita's powerful words.