By Bailey Stead and Sarah Selvanayagam
It takes a lot to knock the enthusiasm out of Atilla Nagy.
The local Green Party candidate in this month’s federal election finished well back in fourth place but that didn’t stop him from expressing enthusiasm for the future.
“Each and every year our support goes up,” said Nagy, who ran in Scarborough Rouge River and earned 1, 468 votes, 20, 165 behind winner Derek Lee.
“We are a force – change isn’t coming, change is here,” he said. “The Green Party has a message, we’re not about power. If we can make changes now we should – the sooner the better.”
Many candidates feel Torontonians are closer to voting Green than ever before. But strong supporters of the larger parties are a hard sell.
“Political junkies are like hard-core hockey fans. Trying to turn a Leaf fan into a Calgary Flames fan is next to impossible,” Nagy says.
But they’ll keep trying.
“I’m extremely proud of this year’s candidates because they are the future,” said Chris Tindal, who acted as master of ceremonies at the Green celebration downtown on election night.
He added the Greens’ progress was evident in media coverage because this year, the CBC had file photos of each of the candidates, something they’ve been lacking in past elections.
Backlit by the green spot light, each candidate remarked graciously about their loss as a whole and their election experiences.
“I’ve been most amazed by the great outpouring of support from the high school students,” says Jason Becevello, candidate for Pickering Scarborough-East.
While they may be pulling in high school votes, there has been much media speculation concerning leader Elizabeth May’s comments on strategic voting. Many feel that this may have hurt the Green Party’s numbers.
“Elizabeth May was misquoted in the media,” Becevello says. “I don’t think that she believes in strategic voting at all, because historically it’s never worked.”
Nagy, on the other hand, was not quite so pleased.
“I don’t want to bad mouth Elizabeth May but strategic voting is the most stupid concept ever,” says Nagy. “All we have as the green party is our vote. So to strategically vote is to throw your vote away.”
Lois James, an east Scarborough resident who was an original founder Canada’s Green Party, was at the party, keeping spirits up.
As was Lois James, one of the original founders of the Green Party. James only stopped running for election when she turned 70, and remains very interested in today’s issues.
“I’m very anti-nuclear. Mining, drilling, transport, it doesn’t matter,” said James, who only stopped running in elections at 70. “That’s my biggest personal concern.
Perched atop a side bar she watches the results roll in along with the rest of the crowd.
“I was Green before there were Greens. Peace, justice and integrity of action, that’s what is most important,” she says.