On the road...

Elizabeth May

It is hard to keep up with the events and travel since I last blogged...

In the last week I have paraded with the Toronto Pride Parade, rode my flower-festooned tricycle in the Westville Canada Day Parade at home in Nova Scotia, and joined the VIP viewing stand for the Calgary Stampede parade.

Elizabeth May Stampede ParadeI was the only federal party leader to meet Republican putative presidential nominee, Senator John McCain when he was in Ottawa. (The others appeared scared of the optics of meeting him.) Conversation opener: “As leader of the Green Party of Canada, I could, hypothetically, be Canada’s next Prime Minister, and I understand that, hypothetically, you could be the next President of the United States, so I thought we should meet .” (He cracked up.) Then we discussed climate.

I had four days in one of my favourite provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador, where we had people come up to us on the street to ask to join! And I met with a wonderful group of committed citizens in Cornwall, Ontario, trying to pursue a St. Lawrence River clean up.

And I have wept with relief at the dramatic rescue of the Honourary President of the Global Greens, Ingrid Betancourt.

Every time I think something merits a brief – or long - mention on the blog, I am off to another experience.

Elizabeth May flipping pancakes at the Chinook pancake breakfastMy quintessential Canadian experience of the day was getting to the Chinook Mall parking lot in Calgary at 7 AM for the famous Chinook pancake breakfast - typically serving over 10,000 people – in my Western garb, (white hat from when I was officially welcomed to Calgary and “white hatted” a few years ago, denim and cowboy boots given to me by our Wild Rose candidate Lisa Fox, and a green kerchief). I was seriously engaged in the business of cooking pancakes for several hours (being a former restaurant owner and cook I tend to lose myself in doing these jobs just right. This was, in fact, my third pancake breakfast of the Stampede and not my last!). Alberta organizer Danielle Roberts pulled me away at 9:30 so we could slip into the mall ladies room, for the quick change into clothing appropriate for our next event - the opening of the largest mosque in Canada.

The Baitan Nur Mosque was built for and by the Ahmadiyya Islamic community. I sat right behind Art Hanger, MP, in whose riding this quite beautiful building sits. (He was still in cowboy gear.) I was next to the current Liberal leader of Alberta, Kevin Taft, and just behind Vancouver MP Hedy Fry. Danielle and I sat with our heads covered, long dresses and no cowboy boots. The event was a celebration of Canada. We were addressed by the Prime Minister, who left immediately for the G-8, as well as Mayors and MLAs, and Stephane Dion, and quite importantly by His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim community. His Holiness spoke clearly of how no true follower of the faith could engage in violence or harm other beings. It was a message of peace and unity.

I have been feeling that sense of inclusive love of country and people as I get to be in such diverse, yet essentially similar, events as Toronto Pride and Pictou County Canada Day and the Calgary Stampede. They all draw their strength from community volunteers. They all result from months of work to share something of what they want to celebrate about that community. Whether it is the marching pipe bands of Nova Scotia, or the flamboyant floats of Pride Parade, or the wonderful 100 women, former rodeo Queens and princesses, who rejoined the Calgary Stampede parade, we are all Canadians and part of communities where we are welcomed and supported.

Protecting this planet and all those communities is what we are about as a party. Stopping a while to celebrate all that diversity and joy is my favourite part of the role of leader.