Getting ‘pant-suit serious’

With the provincial election just around the corner, Penelope Plessas, an eight-year-old girl from Toronto says it’s time to get serious — “pantsuit serious.”

She took to the streets with her very own environmental, non-partisan campaign to make sure that when Ontarians vote on Oct.6, they keep in mind the future of kids, and the environment.

“We need to protect the environment because it’s our home,” Plessas said.

“We’re all connected; animals, plants, trees, nature, so we have to protect the environment.”

Shiloh Bouvette, program manager of ‘Penelope 4 Ontario’ explained in a little more detail the meaning behind Penelope’s campaign.

“In Australia, they did something similar with a kid’s campaign, so we were sort of thinking about doing something like that,” she said.

“Penelope’s mom is sort of a friend of a friend, so we sent [the e-mail from Environmental Defence] out to friends and said do you know any smart, outgoing kids who are passionate about the environment?

So that’s how we got the wheels turning. Penelope came in and we talked about what we wanted to do and it kind of came from there.”

And outgoing she is. Plessas traveled all over Ontario, shaking hands and being a strong voice in the name of environmental defence.

“She has a lot of energy,” Bouvette said, which is almost a necessary requirement of any eight-year-old taking on a political campaign.

“I’ve been getting to travel around cities, and get Penelope cookies, and protect the environment,” Plessas explained. When asked about the cookies, Bouvette gave more detail to the fact that Penelope traveled to Moulin de Provence bakery in Ottawa’s Byward Market — where the famous Obama cookies were created — and the bakers offered to create Penelope Cookies.

“They were shortbread and sugary,” Plessas explained. “Very sugary; with a face on it, and a big P on it and it said vote for your future, and it said vote for Penelope.”

Travelling with her campaign managers and her mom, Plessas only takes two days off school to learn about the environment and trek across Ontario to defend it — asking leaders of the political parties if they will commit to protecting the environment.

“I asked [political leaders] if they had a pet,” Plessas said, “and if they would commit to clean air, clean water, green energy and protecting our green belt, and I asked if they could share an ice cream with anybody who would they share it with?”

Plessas’ website aims more hard hitting questions towards politicians, with questions like, “Will your party allow the Pickering nuclear station to be replaced by a portfolio of clean energy options when it closes in 2020 instead of new reactors (as currently planned) if cost effective?”

“I think a lot of the politicians got a kick out of it,” Bouvette said. “It’s kind of beyond their normal campaign stuff to meet with a young candidate. So it was a little bit fun, and that’s the idea behind the campaign, to have a young positive voice.”

“[The politicians] were very fun to talk to,” Plessas added. “Serious, but fun.”

Plessas’ platform discusses issues such as clean water, renewable energy and protecting the greenbelt, in the hopes that the winner of the Oct. 6 election will make a commitment to environmental defence, remembering the young and captivating eight-year-old with her own environmental campaign.

Check out her website to see Penelope’s biography, and a report card of environmental questions posed to political leaders and their respective responses.

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