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Grant goes Green: Harbord Village chair jumps into provincial race

February 10th, 2011 · 2 Comments

With the nomination of Tim Grant (above) in December, the HVRA chair seat will be temporarily filled by former chair Gus Sinclair. Perry King/Gleaner News.

By Perry King

When Tim Grant went to a Green Party policy conference two years ago to hear more about their platform, he was “prepared to be unimpressed.”

“The Green Party in this riding has been very weak organizationally. This is one riding where more people spend and donate to green causes than any other riding in Canada, so in a sense Trinity-Spadina is the greenest riding in the country, and yet the level of organization of the Green Party is way too small to rise up to that level of potential support,” said Grant, a publisher and chair of the Harbord Village Residents’ Association (HVRA).

But, that conference was an eye-opener for Grant. “I was instead very impressed by the high level of discussion. The pragmatism but also the vision wrapped together very nicely. I was impressed with the quality of the debate.”

It was this conference that began a process that lead to Grant’s nomination as the Green Party candidate in December, and he will run in Trinity-Spadina in October’s provincial race.

The only nominee for the Green candidacy, Grant has stepped down from his HVRA chair seat, and a constitutional provision has helped install a temporary replacement, former chair Gus Sinclair.

HVRA will be electing a new committee during their next AGM Oct. 19, two weeks after the Oct. 6 provincial election.

“He ran for, in good faith, and intended to fulfill his term and then this thing happened where he said, ‘I’m a very green guy, and if I don’t do it now I’ll never do it.’ It all happened and it’s fine, it’s legitimate, I encourage citizens to become engaged in the political process. There’s no right or wrong parties, and he’s an honourable guy,” said Sinclair.

Sinclair is not the only person with praise for Grant. “Tim is really a kind of an interesting study. I would sort of speak to what Malcolm Gladwell talked about in terms of the three main personal characters in The Tipping Point,” said Avi Lambert, a master’s candidate in environmental studies, whose mother is a neighbour of Grant’s. Lambert refers to Grant as a maven, salesmen, and connector, especially regarding Grant’s work producing the quarterly publication Green Teacher.

“In terms of his ability to connect people, he’s just an amazing facilitator in being able to find something in everyone to connect with. He’s one of those rare people that can create linkages with different communities and membership groups,” he added.

Grant has been producing the 52-page quarterly, which provides the North American education community with teaching ideas and cross-curricular activities that promote global and environmental awareness, for 20 years.

Perry King/Gleaner News.

Grant is excited about the coming months, where he can discuss progressive polices, but he looks at his possible success pessimistically. “I’m running for a fourth place party that is on the rise, but I think there’s only a slim chance that I will get elected. I’m really running for other reasons with other goals. If I was younger, I would be a bit more naive I suppose, but I’m not.

“In the cold light of day, I’m running for other reasons … I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for the sense that there was really a large number of people that already care about these [environmental] issues who weren’t well represented in the political spectrum. Thus, there was a sense that there was a real need and an opportunity for someone who could raise the issues more effectively for someone to do it, and I realized that maybe that person is me.”

Beginning the campaign early is also necessary for the party to raise adequate funds, a challenge for a party that Jo-Ann Shannon, interim president of the Trinity-Spadina Green Party’s constituency association, maintains is at a disadvantage, compared to the other parties that have larger bases of support. She acknowledges the financial challenge ahead, but is confident that having a candidate in the riding is a good first step. “Finding somebody who is energetic, putting himself out there and really into it, rather than just putting a name on the ballot [is a good thing],” she said.

“It’s been said that some ridings do that with the Green Party because they can’t get a good candidate. But, I don’t believe that.”

Rosario Marchese has been the incumbent MPP for Trinity-Spadina since being elected to office in 1990. He has been re-elected five times with at least 41 per cent of vote. The 2007 provincial election was Marchese’s narrowest victory to date, with about a 10 per cent margin between himself and the closest candidate, the Liberal party’s Kathryn Holloway. Equally, the Green Party received 11.5 per cent of that vote, their highest percentage to date. That result is a marked improvement from the 2003 and 1999 elections, where they received 5.8 and 1.7 per cent respectively.

Grant believes their chances are better this time around, but that there is plenty of work to be done. “The Greens will develop some momentum. The big challenge, though, if you have a tiny organization on the ground, your capacity for raising money before the election or doing anything else, developing a profile, are very limited,” said Grant.

“To be fair, most of the riding associations in Toronto are similar to ours. There have been a couple strong campaigns, but there’s a vacuum at the Green level, certainly in terms of strong green campaigns in the downtown area. I don’t want to be too negative to my colleagues in the party, but it is a sober recognition that we’ve [got] a way to go to build.”

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