Bob Rae gets a lesson in his foreign affairs portfolio from Green candidate Chris Tindal


Unable to attend this week’s St. Lawrence debate, in the Toronto Centre federal byelection campaign (voting day is Monday!), I  tip my hat to The Green Party of Canada’s Chris Tindal, my candidate of choice, for this gem.

How is it that the man who is the Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic, and who campaigned against Stéphane Dion for the top job, missed the fact that a group of Canadians, albeit a small group, has been in Iraq – and therefore participating – with the Americans almost from the start of the war there?

Check with Jean and Paul Mr Rae.  It’s a galling fact that almost never fails to be mentioned at anti-war demonstrations here.

Liberal blogger A BCer in Toronto reports on the same event and has some pretty good assessments of the candidates. NDippers (and Cons if you read the full entry) would not agree. (Emphasis is mine.)

The NDP’s candidate, El-Farouk Khaki, didn’t impress me. When he wasn’t on script I liked some of what he had to say, but he seemed uncomfortable and very scripted. He kept harping on leadership, whether it fit the context or not, it was his answer to nearly everything. And I wasn’t impressed at all at the vocal NDPers in the audience who tried to shout-down Bob Rae with calls of Traitor! a number of times as he tried to speak. Not classy at all.

Along with Rae I’d say the most comfortable and at ease candidate on the stage was the Green Party’s Chris Tindal. He was the only candidate to have ran in the riding previously so that probably helped and, as he joked, allowed him to claim a kind of incumbency. He almost seemed to be doing a little stand-up comedy at times. But he also got some of the loudest ovations, and showed a strong grasp of issues green and non-green. I liked some of his comments around fair trade, for example, although we disagree on Afghanistan. He also got in some good shots at some of the other candidates. He rightly called Meredith out for trying to pass off a dollar figure that included highways funding as being all for transit. And, pointing out how it was nice Rae was calling for a green tax shift, that’s not Liberal policy today and if you want a green tax shift maybe you should vote for one that supports it today.

Even Rae said Tindal is the candidate on the stage that he most respects, and the only one of his opponents to run a campaign on ideas and issues. This is a by-election, and I think Tindal may have scored when he said if we elect a Green we’ll make history, and if you don’t like me you can vote me out in another month, week, or whenever the next election is.

I hear he has a lot of volunteers, and has raised more money than the NDP. Given the level of support he had in the room, I wonder how many people in the room may be planning a Green protest vote. Particularly Liberal supporters. It’s a pretty safe bet Rae will take this thing, even Meredith said it would “be a miracle” if he won. Given that it’s likely to be a Liberal win anyway, and given that Rae has been one of the anti-election leaders, I wonder how many Liberals might decide the way to send a message to the leadership is with a Green protest vote?

Might be something to watch next Monday.

And here uncluttered Nick praises Chris Tindal and pans the disorderly partisans who alternately tried to shut down Bob Rae and Don Meredith.

But Chris (who I had already seen in action at a University of Toronto young leaders debate for the Ontario Provincial election) presented his position and views clearly, threw in a self-deprecating remark or two, remained above the muck-slinging one might have expected in a political debate and earned the loudest applause from the crowd. At least that was my take…

One last thing: what is up with cantankerous old people? Maybe I’m not cynical enough, I haven’t had my dreams shattered, or I don’t rely on the government for many things, but the number of angry comments, venomous spittle and all manner of viciousness that was thrown at the Grits and Tories was shocking. A little bit of decorum and respect please…at least the candidates took it all in stride. Most of them were probably used to it by now.

Well, after a few months away from riding-level politics last year, with Parliament’s current lot of MPs in full theatrics, I returned to my passion in December with a decision to quit the NDP, after more than twenty-five years, and vote for the Green Party of Canada and our candidate Chris Tindal.


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