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Can Greens achieve mass appeal? Add to ...

1. 'Creating a better option.' Elizabeth May hopes the rank and file will agree with the Green Party's governing council that a leadership race should not be held until after the next election.

But challenger Sylvie Lemieux, a former army lieutenant colonel who ran for the Greens in a riding outside of Ottawa in 2008, says Ms. May's term officially ends next month and title should be up for grabs.

In an e-mail sent to The Globe on Wednesday, Ms. Lemieux said she is very interested in the job.

"This is not about running against Elizabeth May. This is about creating a better option for Canadians by building the party into a true contender that's more attuned to Canadians from coast to coast," Ms. Lemieux said.

Certainly this is not the ideal time, she conceded.

There is much speculation that an election could be called in the fall and a leadership race now could make it difficult for the Greens to have their ducks in order in time for the campaign.

The Green Party's government council has proposed that there should instead be a leadership review after every federal election. If the leader did not have the support of 60 per cent of the party's membership, there would be a leadership race.

"But the Green Party constitution calls for a leadership contest to happen this year and it's important that we respect our constitution," Ms. Lemieux said. "The real issue is not about the timing of the leadership contest but rather whether or not the Green Party should follow its constitution and hold mandatory leadership contest."

Party members are now voting on the issue in advance of a convention that will be held in August.

"All Greens know just how beneficial the last leadership contest was in terms of bringing in new members, achieving media attention and opening up our party to the public," Ms. Lemieux said. "It's an extremely important activity that we need to engage in if we want to keep our momentum moving forward."

Ms. Lemieux said she has talked with Ms. May about the issue. "We have agreed to disagree."

When asked why she wants the job, Ms. Lemieux said it is time to expand the Green Party's potential audience base.

"Right now, our appeal is primarily with those people most concerned with the environment. And, while that's important, it's a limited group. If the Green Party is to realize its full potential it needs a leader who can appeal to a broader audience - to mainstream Canadians," she said.

Ms. Lemieux described herself as a professional with a great deal of experience.

"I am also a Francophone. Quebec is widely regarded as the greenest province in Canada but the Green Party has not done well there," she said.

"My team and I have some great ideas about how to bring about positive change in Canada that will get us going in the right direction so that we can be a global leader in the 21st Century. We believe this message with resonate with Canadians on a much larger scale than the Green Party's current message."

2. Those who count Canadians. The folks at Statistics Canada get their chance to weigh in on the census debate Wednesday - who would have thought a month ago we would be having a census debate? - when the agency holds a town hall to find out how its own number crunchers are feeling.

Munir Sheikh, the Chief Statistician of Canada, invited all of his staff to the meeting earlier this week. The event will be called "2011 Census: Meeting the challenge."

And there certainly is a challenge to be met. How now to meet the demands of the Conservative government to scrap the mandatory long-form census and, at the same time, satisfy the many vocal critics that the results of the 20111 survey will be valid?

"Since the announcement, this new format has received widespread coverage in the news media," Mr. Sheik said in the missive to Statistics Canada workers that announced there would be a platform for venting their own concerns. "I am aware that this situation has generated questions."

Meanwhile, our friends at Postmedia News have a poll Wednesday that suggests Canadians are evenly divided on the issue.

The respondents to an Ipsos-Reid online survey of 1,036 adults conducted between July 16 and 19 were pretty much split down the middle - 49 per cent said the Conservative move to scrap the long-form census was a good thing and said it was a bad thing.

The poll suggested that support for abolishing the mandatory long-form census in 2011 was strongest in Quebec, with 62 per cent of respondents in that province saying giving their approval.

Those in British Columbia, Alberta and Atlantic Canada were divided while the majority of Ontario residents, Manitobans and residents of Saskatchewan said they think it's a bad idea.

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