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Lil MacPherson won't be elected mayor of Halifax, but that was never the point

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Photo: Luke Walker/flickr

It will come as a surprise to no one -- least of all to Lil herself -- when I predict Lil MacPherson will not be mayor of Halifax after all the votes are counted this Saturday.

But that was never the point, especially for MacPherson.

And that is a point the rest of us should also consider.

Although you may not need a weather forecast to know which way the electoral winds blow, consider this reality tsunami. The most recent public opinion poll from Corporate Research Associates -- taken this summer -- showed incumbent mayor Mike Savage with the support of an overwhelming 85 per cent of decided voters.

Even if we give MacPherson the benefit of its entire 4.9 per cent sampling error, and then load in every single one of the other 30 per cent of respondents whose non-preferences were recorded as "Don't know/No answer/Do not intend to vote/Refused/Neither" to top up MacPherson's tally… the result will still be a win-in-a-walk for Savage.

So why then did she even bother?

Lil MacPherson is an environmentalist who pointedly announced her candidacy on Earth Day last April. She's made her own green bones over more than a dozen years as co-owner of the Wooden Monkey, a popular local restaurant focused on sustainable agriculture. She has attended three global climate change conferences, including, most recently, in Paris last November.

There, she says, she realized municipalities like ours -- "ground zero" for climate change solutions -- are "not ready… We've got to prepare," she told reporters.

"I've got a fire in my belly for change, and I can't hold myself back."

The problem, however, is the issues she's championing haven't gained much political traction, in part because of the absence of the typical interest-generating, who-will-win, horse-race campaign coverage and, in part, because the two candidates themselves have carried on a respectful, environmentally friendly, no-lawn-signs campaign that inevitably favours a popular incumbent that MacPherson herself calls "a good, funny, fun man."

So McPherson won't win, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't vote for her. The more votes she gets the more clear it will be to the incoming council it needs to finally take climate change's perils and possibilities seriously.

Which, for MacPherson, was always the real point.

This article first appeared in Stephen Kimber's Halifax Metro column.

Photo: Luke Walker/flickr

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