May’s Green Trans-Canada train tour following in the tracks of Laurier, Trudeau

No planes or buses for the Greens. Elizabeth May’s campaign will be crossing the country in a train car, instead of leaving a plume of greenhouse gases like the other leaders.

I think it’s a great idea. The Greens don’t have the money to fly around for six weeks, so they are trying to turn this limitation into an opportunity.

May says the train takes us back to a time when politicians were honest, which shows she doesn’t know as much about Canadian history as she thinks she does – the very first Canadian political scandal involved politicians and railroads. But I still like the idea.

  • It shows high spirits, a streak of unconventional thinking and inventiveness, all things that will appeal to the Green’s electoral universe.
  • For lovers of Canadian political history (or anyone older than 108), it links May with political giants such as Wilfrid Laurier, John Diefenbeaker and Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who all campaigned by train (see John Duffy’s book).
  • It establishes a clear contrast with the high-carbon-emission campaigns of the other leaders, especially given the Dion campaign plane troubles.

It’s also going to be a lot easier on her flack staff. Planes and buses allow election machines to radically alter their travel plans to react to the other campaigns, thus putting enormous strain on PR and logistics. In contrast to the frantic pace of the other campaigns in full rapid-reaction mode, May’s staff will have the luxury of planning in advance in the comfort of their private train car.

I bet Malcolm Andrews and the other Via Rail PR folks are really happy about it too.


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