Green Party leader visits Waterloo

Fresh off a campaign stop in Guelph and on her way to a rally and TV appearance in Hamilton, Elizabeth May found herself in Uptown Waterloo on Sunday afternoon, talking to over 200 local Green Party supporters.

Speaking at the Regina St. headquarters of Kitchener-Waterloo Green Party candidate Cathy MacLellan, May received vocal support from the group that was assembled. Something MacLellan was very proud of.

“It’s extremely encouraging and I know that there is huge support for the Green Party here in Kitchener-Waterloo,” she said. “I’m just trying to tap into that support and free people up to show up and they did today.”

May touched on a number of campaign issues during her speech, including the recent decision by the Canadian consortium of broadcasters to exclude the Green Party from the upcoming televised leaders debate.

“This is about democracy, these debates that will take place this week, these debates that right now appear more and more likely to take place without the voice of a party that represents over one million Canadians,” said May. “Whether people want to vote green or not, across Canada they’re outraged.”

In reaction to being barred from the nationally televised debate, May invited the other party leaders to a debate hosted by independent broadcaster CHCH on Sunday night. However, none of them responded to her request.

“CHCH television, in conjunction with Chuck media…. invited all the other leaders to a real debate that would include the Green Party,” said May. “I’m sad to tell you that none of the other parties bothered to reply.”

Despite the other leaders not responding, May still intends on making an appearance on CHCH Sunday night in Hamilton.

During the question and answer period, May addressed the Green Party’s stance on education. Condemning the level of student debt most people find themselves in after completing post-secondary education and the high level of student unemployment, May stressed the importance of making college or university available to all Canadians.

“Our policy is that we have to invest in education,” she said. “We have to increase the federal/provincial transfers that are earmarked for education so that universities are not so squeezed so that tuition rates won’t keep going up.”

May also said that the Green Party has a “$1-billion program” that will encourage municipalities to hire students and recent grads.

Those kinds of policies will be of particular importance to MacLellan, whose riding includes Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Waterloo and Conestoga College. Though apathetic in the past, MacLellan is confident that the student vote can be an asset to the Green Party.

“It’s not their fault entirely, the system works against them,” said MacLellan of the historically low student voter turnout. “Right at the get-go there are barriers in place, that make it difficult for students to even get registered…. But there’s over 40,000 students here, they could basically choose the MP.”