Last week, interim provincial Green leader Christopher Ian "Wonder Boy" Bennett, urged those seeking the party's top job to "move the party to the middle on some policies" and make inroads with the business community. This, according to a report by The Globe and Mail's Laura Drake. But at least one of those leadership candidates was less than enthusiastic about Mr. Bennett's message. Speaking on Public Eye Radio yesterday morning, former Green campaign co-chair Silvaine Zimmerman said she thinks the interim leader made that statement just to grab a headline. "I know he has said to us in the past that the way to get in the news is to say things that are controversial. And I think he's right about that. But I'm not sure if that is a really good strategy actually. Because it does create internal controversy."
Continued Ms. Zimmerman, "I'm very much into inclusive, cooperative, working-together, solutions-oriented politics. And I think creating controversy may get you into the news. But I don't think it's a very constructive way of doing it. So I disagree with both his strategy and his vision there because I don't think (being) centrist is a meaningful concept. I think having a big tent is a meaningful concept. Working together with anyone who has a good idea - whatever party they're from - is a good concept. If that's what he means - fine. But if he thinks we have to somehow blunt our message or change it somehow or message-massage it into some sort of fudged version of what we're about - I don't agree with that."
During the interview, the party's former external liason also said she would like to see the Greens have co-leaders rather than just one spokesperson. "Ideally, there would be two main spokespeople. In other parts of the world where this is employed, it's usually one man, one woman. And they are chosen by the general membership. And they help each other be spokespeople. As you know, there's a lot of work to be done as any kind of politician - but especially as a leader-type figure."
"I talked with the late Green Party leader of New Zealand. And he said that it really helps them spell each other off. If one is off on the campaign trail or travelling around the globe interacting - doing the sort of activist Green thing - the other one can still be at home attending parliamentary sessions and doing the more directly political thing. So you're kind of juggling all the balls without having to clone yourself."
The candidate said, if she wins, she would prefer to have the party membership pick a co-leader. "But if it's not possible to do it that way, then I think Ben (West) would be my number one choice, yes...I think we would work really, really well together. And I would be so jumping up and down happy if we could work as a team officially. Because he's the same age I was when I started the Green Party. He's around 30. Actually, he just turned 30. So I think he has a connection to the youthful grassroots that we need in the party."
"I think a lot of activist movements lately in the world have been populated by sort of late generation ex-hippies or just the generation that came after. So when you're in a room of activists you are almost looking at a room full of people with grayish or graying or even white hair. And that's not a very healthy situation. I think we really need to bring young people in. So one thing that makes Ben special is that he's younger. And he has an amazing dynamic with people," Ms. Zimmerman.
"He's very much the networker like I am too. And so I think we have a very similar style. We're both very inclusive. And we tend to inspire people to join at least our larger group of friends - if not inspire them to become Green Party members which is our final goal as far as party politics is concerned. Our big goal is to help save the world."