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Andrea Goldsmith

Green candidate Goldsmith finds support in Squamish

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On what was a picture perfect day in Squamish Andrea Goldsmith was a busy woman.

Look twice and she was gone, only to reappear again before you could say, "what does the Green Party stand for?"

Goldsmith, who is the Green Party’s candidate in the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast riding, spent this day pounding the streets of Squamish listening to residents and spreading the Greens’ message.

She appeared just before midday but by that time Goldsmith had already driven for a few hours and had interviews with a local paper and a cable television provider.

A CBC television crew had also just arrived to follow her around.

The CBC guys said she was "credible" because she had already been elected to the Gibsons council.

Goldsmith is credible for a variety of other reasons as well.

At 36 she has worked in corporate services, planning, parks and infrastructure.

Before moving to Gibsons she was a professional for KPMG Peat Marwick Consulting and earned a Bachelor of Arts and Masters degrees in Environmental Studies.

But in politics it doesn’t matter how good you might be, it’s about convincing the people that you can help them, so with the camera rolling the first thing Goldsmith did was meet with some "friends".

It was an awkward start because it was quite obviously a set up and one of her "friends" wasn’t old enough to vote.

But Goldsmith was just warming up.

By the end of the day she would have people approaching her and thanking her for coming.

The second person Goldsmith approached had escaped from a "communist country" by "jumping the wall". Because of this upbringing he was not especially enamoured with politics or politicians.

But Goldsmith persisted in a subtle way, listening, letting the burly gentlemen with a strong accent do the talking and while he probably won’t vote come June 28, he was impressed.

Eric Ringrose, 20, who was working at the Cartunes Sound & Cellular, was Goldsmith’s next target.

Ringrose represents an elusive vote pursued by all parties; only 20 per cent of people under 30 vote.

Ringrose admitted he had just started getting into politics.

"It’s good that she visited because I always saw the Green Party as the Marijuana Party," said Ringrose.

"I don’t know too much but my friend was saying that the Liberals and Conservatives are the two biggest parties and one wants to lower taxes and have less benefits while the other one wants to have higher taxes but better benefits."

Goldsmith’s message to Ringrose was that if some of the Green principles were applied to the system we would all be healthier and therefore could reduce taxes, because there wouldn’t be as much of a strain on the health-care system.

Goldsmith had scores of questions thrown at her throughout the day, but one in particular looked certain to stump her.

"I like the Green Party but how can you expect to be effective if you’re not going to win a seat?"

Goldsmith quickly highlighted the electoral change former prime minister Jean Chretien instituted before he stepped down. The legislation limits individual, corporate and union donations to political parties but it also increased the amount of money-per-vote, which is awarded to parties that win more than two per cent of the vote nationally, equating each vote to $1.75.

"Thanks to Jean Chretien your vote will count for a $1.75 towards the Green Party now, so you can vote for who you think would do a good job now, rather than a protest vote," said Goldsmith.

She went on to explain that the polls were showing the Green Party now had five per cent of the vote nationally and her party was an ardent supporter of proportional representation rather than the current first-past-the-post system.

Throughout the day she kept reiterating that "your vote counts".

She also spoke of her anger at the Green Party being excluded from the national television debates and how difficult it was for her to get enough money to run as a federal candidate.

"We just need more money to buy more media (advertising) and resources and staff so we can earn more media space," said Goldsmith.

"But now (because of the new legislation) we’re going to have funding between elections to help us with that sort of stuff."

Support for Goldsmith seemed to grow as she walked into some of the shops in Squamish’s downtown area.

Most of the shop owners were happy to talk about "smart growth" strategies and sustainability and one even offered to help set up a forum for Goldsmith.

Goldsmith stopped Dan Jarvas, 41, on the street just to say hello and it wasn’t long before Jarvas, who has lived in Squamish for 10 years, admitted he would be giving Goldsmith his vote.

She attended to a few more "streeters" before it was time for lunch, which is an irrelevant event in a political campaign except when you’re dining with a "greeny".

What does this "greeny" eat?

While everyone was ordering salads and reaching for the water, Goldsmith ordered a wild game beef burger and a beer and devoured both in the same way some of the local loggers in Squamish do on a regular basis.

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