Friday, 7 September 2012


On the evening of Tuesday, September 4, members and supporters of the Green Party of Manitoba gathered at Triple B’s and ate Bruschetta while awaiting the results of the Fort Whyte byelection.

It seemed as though most people who were speaking about the byelection throughout the day knew the PC candidate, Brian Pallister, was going to win, and he did. The riding has always been conservative, with Hugh McFadyen, PC garnering 5,594 votes in the last provincial election on October 4, 2011. The NDP candidate Sunny Dhaliwal was far behind him with 2,655 votes, and Liberal candidate Chae Tsai only got 710. 

The Fort Whyte Green Party candidate, Donnie Benham, said he was not nervous, even when results were going to be in any minute. I believed that he was not afraid at all as I watched him casually walk over to the ATM to pull out some cash while some of the other people there, including party members, student journalists, and supporters waited in anticipation.

I started to think about why he would not be nervous and aside from what seemed to be the obvious near fact that he was not going to be elected, it occurred to me that being elected may never have been his goal in the first place. I suppose I started giving this more thought after James Beddome, the Leader of the Green Party of Manitoba, began speaking about awareness as the party’s central focus in the byelection.

“We want to make sure they know the Green Party is out there,” he said. 

The Green Party, I started to think, holds the convictions and values of its members and supporters, and it sounded as though Beddome, and Benham, want to see the party’s identity bloom.

The idea of identity started going around in my mind even more when I found out, minutes later, that Pauline Marois of the PQ had been elected as Premier of Quebec.

I had gotten back from Montreal two days before and each time I walked by a sign of Marois’ face, I listened to my pal Erik, who is an Anglo, talk about Marois as the would-be worst thing to ever happen to Quebec. He spoke of coexistance and expressed disapproval at the prospect of separating from the rest of Canada, saying it would leave him no choice but to leave Montreal.

But then at night I would listen to Mado, my favorite Franco (and all time) drag queen discourage spectators from voting for Charest while performing her show, and denying her status as a Canadian citizen, claiming she is “Quebecois, and Quebecois only,” or something along the lines of that.

“Who here does not speak French?” she asked in her thick and very sexy accent. “Oh, it’s okay to be retarded” she said when people raised their hands.    

And that, too, is all about identity. Because while the Green Party of Manitoba was trying to bring theirs to life, the PQ and their supporters are trying to keep theirs from dying. 

I was sad that Marois won, I guess, because even though it’s unlikely, I don’t want Montreal to leave from Canada. I love how it is now. But I guess I kind of get it because I’ve been to Israel so that gave me a sense of how it feels to really belong. When I got there, I was told a million times that I was home - simply because I’m a Jew. It was cool to see people from my ‘tribe‘ with their own land and their own language and their own way of life, and it was even more cool to know that my blood - my identity - entitles me to be a part of that. So I started thinking that, if I was a Franco, and I lived in a sweet place like Montreal, or Quebec in general, hell yeah I’d want to claim it for my own. 

Anyway, I was also sad to see the official results of the Manitoba Fort Whyte byelection, which were the following:

Brian Pallister, PC got 3,626 votes
Bob Axworthy, Lib. got 2,069 votes
Brandy Schmidt, NDP got 739 votes
Donnie Benham, Green Party got 113 votes
Darrell Ackman, Independent got 19 votes

That means that NDP has 37 seats, the PCs have 19 seats, and the Liberals have 1 seat.

I was sad to see this because I will soon be at a place where I am going to want to build my own identity and it is hard to imagine that even if you believe your values are valuable and your perspectives give perspective, not everyone else will see that in you. Not everyone sees it in the Green Party, I guess. 

“Every vote for the Green Party is a victory,” said Benham, after he saw the results. “I am really happy with the turnout; 100 votes, that’s 100 people that want a more accountable government and a greener future for Manitoba.”

Those things that he said made me understand it definitely was not about winning or losing, and that’s something I will remember about the identity of the Green Party.

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