It's not every day that you wish your boss well on their first day of grade four. But Penelope, the face of Ontario's newest non-partisan election campaign, Penelope 4 Ontario, is no regular fourth grader. After all, when was the last time you saw an eight-year-old workin' a pin-striped pantsuit?
If you're following Ontario politics, you'll know that things are shaping up for quite a horse race. Suited-up politicians are making promises on the economy, healthcare, and education. The tour buses are on the road. The attack ads are airing. The race is close and we're left wondering: who will be the next leader of this province?
Alright, so you can't really vote for a kid. But this provincial election, Penelope is still campaigning and asking you to think about kids when you vote. On Sept. 1, in front of Queen's Park and surrounded by her supporters, Penelope gave her first public speech about taking care of our environment -- the thing most crucial to a healthy, prosperous future for all Ontarians, especially the kids who will inherit this province.
After Queen's Park, there was a campaign stop in Barrie. This week, Penelope handed out leaflets and Penelope cookies in Ottawa and then the campaign team (including Penelope's mom) will be off to London, Hamilton, Kitchener, Waterloo, and Guelph in the weeks ahead. You can follow her tour on Twitter, Facebook and penelope4ontario.ca, where you can also take the pledge to vote for her future this Oct. 6.
Now, I've worked with some pretty good candidates in the past, but I have to say that working beside Penelope is quite a refreshing change from the usual election theatrics. Kids really do tell it like it is. They know that other people are making decisions that are going to impact them. If not directly right now, then sometime in the future. They know that someone else is making decisions about the lakes, streams and rivers they swim in and that provide them with drinking water. They know that coal creates pollution and makes it harder for them to breathe. They also know that cool things like wind turbines and power from the sun can make coal a thing of the past.
Where do the parties stand on these issues? For a full comparison of the parties commitments on renewable energy, green space, local food and more, you can visit the Penelope 4 Ontario website to view a party comparison on the issues outlined.
Elections can sometimes make people pretty cynical. It's 30 days worth of song and dance for two minutes of penciling in a box. It doesn't have to be this way, though. Sure, you can't really vote for a kid, but you can cast a vote for what Penelope stands for, and that could mean a long term victory for the future of our children.
Don't just take it from me, though. Here it is from Penelope herself.