Rolling through the Prairies ... 3 Whistle stop rallies later

Elizabeth May

Yesterday the Green Party Whistle stop tour included greeting members, former candidates and members in Jasper (11:30), Edmonton (5:20) and Saskatoon (1:45 AM).

It was a wonderful blitz. The Jasper stop of one hour included the great good fortune of a helpful reporter from a local weekly who took my daughter across the street for access to a high speed internet if yesterday's BLOG was posted, it is thanks to my daughter and Alison at the Jasper weekly! There were about ten people in Jasper including old friends from the Jasper Environmental Association (Jill and Basil Seaton) plus our candidate in the 2006 election, Monika Schaefer. Local supporter Marianne Garah gave me a "Care package" of Tuktu Fair trade coffee and local art ( Afraid we might not be eating well on the train, Monika brought fudge and organic carrots from the garden. (As a mum, I am busting my buttons with pride over my daughter much all of the time, but when she dove into the bag of goodies and went for the organic carrots in preference to the chocolate fudge I was pretty chuffed. She said it was the most delicious carrot she had ever tasted.) I did interviews with the two weekly papers from Jasper and an independent film maker and then jumped back on board.

By Edmonton, VIA Rail gave me the VIP treatment. The train is so long (25 cars) and the car I am in is second to the last, so as VC and I raced to the station, a little cart pulled up to make sure I got to there fast for the waiting group. Deputy Leader of the Alberta Greens, Peter Johnston, was heading down the platform to find me and jumped on board the little cart... Over 20 local Green Party members and former candidates were waiting. Former Candidates Dave Parker and Trey Capnerhurst and Richard the "Green Cowboy" plus mums and dads, kids and dogs. Global TV was there to interview me, plus the Edmonton Journal. I phoned in to a local reporter who couldn't make it to the station. Trey had (like the Jasper Greens thinking we might be starved for good food), brought me a homemade organic apple pie. As soon as we can get a chance to email photos from the trip, I have a great one of the woman who is in charge of service in our VIA car. Collette had dropped by our room to learn more about the Green Party platform, which I explained to her and then ended with my new party slogan : "Organic Apple Pie for everyone!" A variation of the old US slogan from (whose?) campaign : "A chicken in every pot!" (maybe Herbert Hoover?) My daughter piped up with "Make pie, not war." (By the way, Trey is a brilliant cook. I want to know how she gets her crust so light and flaky. Best pie I ever tasted.)

I started feeling really tired by 11 pm, and figured I'd take a nap before Saskatoon. I had left a wake-up call for 15 minutes before we reached Saskatoon, but somehow the on-duty night steward forgot. I woke up with a start at 1:38 AM and wondered if we could be in Saskatoon. It was impossible to tell from where our car had stopped. It could have been a rail yard anywhere. I know what the Saskatoon train station looks like. A small box in the middle of nowhere and it was not in sight. I raced out of our room, confirmed with a porter that it was, indeed, Saskatoon, and started running down the platform. Worryingly none of the doors to the train were open, except the one I left... I could see myself stranded in Saskatoon... When I got within view of the station, I could see our stalwart members there to greet me. We did a quick round of introductions, snapped a photo and then I asked when the train was leaving. Two minutes. No little passenger golf cart this time. I started running back down the platform to the tail end of the train and got back on board, wishing I had had more time with the Greens of Saskatoon!

This morning, the service manager has started making announcements when I come in a room, so all passengers will know the federal leader of the Green Party of Canada is on board! A nice couple from Calgary asked to have their picture taken with me. An elderly gentleman from Saskatoon, whom I literally ran into in the corridor as he boarded last night wanted to know more about our policies.

Next stop: Winnipeg at 11:30. With any luck, the technology to send this message will be accessible in that beautiful, domed, classic old train station.

P.S. Having a sleeping accommodation on VIA these days means the meals are all included and the chef seems to have been recruited from Cordon Bleu..Even the vegetarian offerings are outstanding. No danger of going hungry on this trip!.