The Green Party of Manitoba hopes voters are in the mood for change.

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This article was published 7/9/2011 (3694 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

National Green party Leader Elizabeth May addresses supporters Wednesday at their provincial campaign kickoff.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

National Green party Leader Elizabeth May addresses supporters Wednesday at their provincial campaign kickoff.

The Green Party of Manitoba hopes voters are in the mood for change.

Provincial leader James Beddome called the other three provincial parties "blasé" moments before he took centre stage at the party's campaign kickoff at the University of Winnipeg Wednesday night. In front of a cheering crowd of about 200 supporters, Beddome said Manitobans deserve to hear what the party has to offer and that he should be included in future leaders' debates.

"I think there's a real chance we could catch on," Beddome said.

About 20 candidates will run for the Greens in the Oct. 4 provincial election. Beddome said that's the party's largest slate of candidates ever and he hopes to encourage more people to run before the Sept. 13 nomination deadline. Beddome said every Manitoban should be able to vote Green on their ballot and urged any interested supporters to step up to the candidate plate during the evening rally.

He said the party is focused on preserving wetlands, moving towards more organic agriculture practices and offering free public transit. Beddome said the Greens are the only provincial party that thinks Manitoba needs to do a full energy assessment before it proceeds with a new hydro transmission line.

Green Party of Manitoba Leader James Beddome speaks at the University of Winnipeg on Wednesday.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Green Party of Manitoba Leader James Beddome speaks at the University of Winnipeg on Wednesday.

Though they've yet to win a seat, Beddome said he thinks the party has a shot at snagging some key Winnipeg ridings, including Wolseley, where he is running. He said several strong candidates who run their own organic farming businesses are campaigning in rural ridings, and that poverty activist Harold Dyck and physician Teresa Pun have a real chance in Minto and Point Douglas.

Federal Green party Leader Elizabeth May spoke at the campaign launch and urged Manitobans to support the party's inclusion in leaders' debates. She said Manitoba has been "ravaged" by climate change, noting she was "stunned" by the recent three-month crest of the Souris River. She said politicians need to make climate change a priority, and that Manitobans should consider the party's stance on food, water and energy policies.

"This is the climate crisis," she said. "This is not just a freak of nature."

May said climate change has dropped off other political parties' radar and urged supporters to sign a petition to include Beddome in any upcoming debates so voters have a chance to hear what the party has to say. She said Manitoba and Canada need agricultural policies that support trade and locally grown food, so Manitoba doesn't rely solely on food imported from other countries. May also said the province needs to focus on preserving existing wetlands to protect the health of its waterways.

"Do we have enough food in Manitoba to feed everybody if those trucks stop rolling across the border?" May said.

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca