The Green Party of Canada to elect new leader

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Green Party of Canada will elect a new leader today. The new leader will replace Jim Harris, who stepped down after holding the position since 2003.

The candidates are:

May and Chernushenko, have emerged as frontrunners of the leadership race.

"We draw pretty much equally from across the entire political spectrum," Jim Harris told CBC News. "If you were a Progressive Conservative, as I was, where do you go? The Green party supports Kyoto. We were opposed to the war in Iraq and yet at the same time we're fiscally responsible. This is something that's attractive to people."

The Green party didn't get any member elected in the January 23 general election, but the party did get about 4.5 per cent of the vote, enough to secure $1 million a year in federal funding. Chernushenko, an environmental consultant in Ottawa, got the most votes of any Green candidate.

Most Green party members have already cast their ballots by mail for the next leader.

The candidates

May says that "her national profile and background as an adviser to the environment minister during Conservative Brian Mulroney's government are important for getting more Canadians interested in the party". May referred to tackling climate change, urging electoral reform and ending Canada's military mission in Afghanistan.

"I don't really understand yet what she stands for. It's a lot of rhetoric," Globe and Mail columnist Jane Taber told CTV Newsnet.

"We will elect MPs by continuing to gain the trust and confidence of Canadians, and by reaching out to Canadians outside of our traditional base of support," said Chernushenko. Chernushenko said the party should parachute star candidates into key ridings.

"Chernushenko sees a need for government regulation but wants to involve the private sector a bit more, and that's consistent with Jim Harris's ideas," said Jonathan Malloy, political science professor at Ottawa's Carleton University.

Jim Fannon, who spoke casually to the audience about his talents as a mediator, capable of bridging political gaps between the Greens, Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrats. Chernushenko says though he may not always be able to "wow" a crowd, he remains a strong communicator and team player. "I can't do the rah-rah motivational thing, like Jim (Harris) did an incredible job at, but I can go very deep on complex issues and explain them in plain language," he said Friday.

Josh Matlow of Earth Roots said: "Elizabeth May is someone I would want to lock myself to a tree with; David Chernushenko is someone I would want to discuss policy with; and Jim Fannon is someone I would go for a beer with".

Political analysts consider May, a veteran envirnomental activist but also a newcomer to the party, to be the strong favourite to win the race against party stalwart Chernushenko.

Sources

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