Mitchel Raphael on Elizabeth May’s fear of flying and NDP tank tops

Mitchel Raphael on May’s fear of flying, and tank-top contests

NDP's Charlie Angus (Photograph by Mitchel Raphael)

Elizabeth May’s fear factor

Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May is gearing up for the three by-elections (yet to be called) that she hopes could double her caucus of one. She feels the Greens have a chance in Calgary Centre, the riding formerly represented by Conservative Lee Richardson, who resigned to work for Alberta Premier Alison Redford, and in Victoria, which became vacant after NDP MP and deputy Speaker Denise Savoie stepped down for health reasons. One of the advantages of the Victoria riding for May is that it borders her own riding, and she won’t have to get on a plane to help with the campaign. Flying can be a problem for May. “I’m too afraid of flying to sleep,” she says. When she takes the red-eye from B.C. to Ottawa she is pretty much up for 24 hours—a skill, she notes, that has its perks: “That’s why I’m so good at voting all night.”

Tankers not tank tops

Over the summer, NDP deputy leader Megan Leslie, the party’s environment critic, was raising awareness about environmental issues surrounding the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project. While in British Columbia, her fellow NDP MP Nathan Cullen introduced her to Greer Kaiser, a local activist originally from Nova Scotia, the province that Leslie represents. Leslie connected Kaiser with local Halifax environment groups (the Atlantic chapter of Sierra Club Canada, the Ecology Action Centre and the Atlantic Canada Sustainable Energy Coalition) and the duo brought their pipeline-awareness message to a barbeque called “Tankers vs. Tank Tops.” Participants were asked to wear creative tops for the cause. Leslie had a multicoloured tank top and then put on a T-shirt, given to her by the organizers, that said, “No pipeline. No tankers. No problem.” Liberal MP Geoff Regan attended the event but did not wear a tank top.

NDP talent night

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair declared that his party’s caucus meeting in St. John’s, this week had to be “fun.” Accordingly, the provincial brewers’ association arranged a welcome reception promoting local breweries, and O’Reilly’s Irish Newfoundland Pub organized a musical night, featuring MP talent of the likes of Charlie Angus and Andrew Cash, who were both part of the ’80s punk band L’Étranger. Asked whether he’d ever go non-partisan and perform with piano-playing PM Stephen Harper, Angus said: “I’d have to learn the [Rolling Stones’] Sympathy for the Devil. I could do the woo-hoo lines. So take that as a ‘no.’ ” After the caucus meeting, the party planned to fan out and visit all the province’s ridings.

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