One hundred and twenty years ago today Agnes Macphail was born. If you live in Canada it's possible you've seen one of the Canada Post television ads that features Macphail's passion for penal reform. She was the first woman elected as a Member of Parliament to the Canadian House of Commons in 1921, just two years after women were given the right to vote. An activist and an advocate for rural issues, pensions for seniors, workers' rights, and women in the criminal justice system, Macphail helped bring a once quiet voice to federal parliament.
Although the riding boundaries have changed over the years, Agnes Macphail was first elected in what is now my local riding, Bruce-Grey Owen Sound. She switched to provincial politics in 1943. As best I can tell this riding has not had a female Member of Parliament since Agnes Macphail last held the seat in 1940--seventy years ago.
Last week I submitted the paper work required by The Green Party of Canada to run as a candiate in the next federal election. I like how the Green Party defines success. If you haven't read their platform document, Vision Green, you may be surprised to know that there's more to the party than climate change and "green taxes." A lot more. For the open source software geeks: read their commitment to open source software. Interested in farming and food: that's covered in the Agriculture and food section. Are you a home-based entrepreneur? You're covered too. Or maybe you're an artist or a patron of the arts: yup. There's an arts and culture section for you.
To me Vision Green just makes sense. There are a few things that are a bit controversial (I'll let you find those for yourself), but I like the overall feeling I get from the document and from the party. It meshes with the way I live. It puts a great big WOAH on overconsumption and instead looks to support local, sustainable business. The Green Party encourages Canadians to work hard, but with the goal of leading a sustainable, healthy life.
When Elizabeth May spoke in Owen Sound a few years ago she said she wanted to see more women in politics. She didn't say it directly to me, she said it to a room of a few hundred people. But I heard it as if she said it directly to me. I've been around politics for a long time. I was a provincial Legislative Page in 1991 and a Legislative Usher while at university. I took many credits in political science while studying environmental science at the University of Toronto. I helped build the Web site for Shane Jolley's provincial campaign, and Dick Hibma's federal campaign. I get excited about politics and even took Eric Ries to the beehive building to see the New Zealand government in action back in February. I like living in a democracy where my vote is counted and my member of parliament will call me back if I have a question.
If you've seen me talk about HICK Tech or the 100 Mile Client Roster at an open source conference you know that I'm all about defining, and achieving success. I have not been approved to run in the nomination meeting to be the local GPC candidate, but should I be chosen my personal campaign goal will be to increase voter participation in Bruce-Grey Owen Sound by 10% in the next federal election. It's a SMART goal: it is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant to my love of democracy and it's timebound. Do I expect to be elected? No. Will I campaign to win? Yes.