Thursday, August 17, 2006

Why the Green Party Loses

I attended a Green Party of BC event on Tuesday night here in Vancouver featuring a speech by Monica Frassoni, leader of the European Green Party and representative of Belgium to the European Parliament. What a difference between her and our local talent. Where Canadian Greens often sound grasping, Ms. Frassoni spoke with the focused confidence of both an environmental leader and a powerful elected representative.

Granted, Green Parties in Canada do not have the seasoned experience of the their European counterparts, but too often the Green Party comes across as the underprivileged brother of the NDP, scrounging for left leaning votes and anyone else who is simply sick of the status quo. By honing their vision the Greens have the opportunity to make major inroads In Canadian politics. Here are several points our own Green Party leaders would do well to embrace.

1. Greens are not the lefts alternative to the NDP, and they should distance themselves from their union patronizing platforms. The BC Green platform deals extensively with unionized labor in BC and specifically with reinstating unionized contracts for food and cleaning services in government departments. Unfortunately, most Canadians do not support public dollars going towards bolstering minimum wage services and corrupt unions, so the more of an issue it is in the platform, the fewer voters will vote green. Wage issues should be addressed through minimum wage policy and labor laws, not by pandering to unions.

2. Do promote alternate tax structures to advance sustainable economy and discourage unsustainable practices. Here is the Green's bread and butter and the real way towards winning new voters. People believe in private enterprise and the role of government to provide free market leadership through a fair and productive tax structure. The place to find those votes is in the progressive supporters of the Liberal Party, not the NDP's left overs.

3. Engage the private sector as a part of a meaningful fundraising strategy. Once destructive union sympathies come off the Green Platform, they stand to be the party of choice for responsible, sustainable and green industries being hampered by the pollution friendly policies of current administrations. Renewable power producers, alternative fuel manufacturers, and companies moving ahead to meet Kyoto targets are being hurt by the foot dragging policies and lack of commitment shown by both the Federal Liberals and Conservatives whose are supported by corporations opposing Kyoto.

4. The number one priority of every Green Party in Canada, both provincial and national, is to ensure that the upcoming referendum on electoral reform is passed in BC. The referendum date is set for the next provincial election in 2009, and if passed it would put BC on the road to electing a proportionally representative government in the election to follow. Based on current voting patterns, that would mean almost 10% of the seats in government going Green. If electoral reform is successful in BC, it is very likely that similar initiatives will take hold in other provinces, clearing the way for the Green Party to become a genuine political force in Canada and for progressive values to gain a stronger voice in Canadian government. But that all depends on the success of this first step.

The Green Party recongizes the electoral system as their major barrier to election. Now they need to put their collective money where their mouth's are by beginning immediately to put together an effective public education program in support of electoral reform in BC that will ensure the success of this intitiative.

Currently, all Green candidates are dedicating their campaign dollars towards elections that they know they will lose before they begin. The path to success lies in having the courage to put forward a long term vision of sending representatives to government in 2013, by putting all available dollars towards ensuring the referendum's success in 2009.


Larry Gambone said...

Moving the Greens to the right is not a winning strategy either. There are already 2 parties on the right - 3 if you include the actual practice of the NDP. The Greens should become the party rather of the New, New Left which has grown and developed since Seattle. Rather than co-towing to union bosses - who sell out the workers anyway - rather than statism - appeal to the rank and file and to alternative economic like cooperatives. The neocon-neoliberal era is coming to a close, for the Greens to tie themselves to this ideology is sheer political suicide. The future can be seen in Latin America and the social movements in Europe. We have to adopt these ideas to the Canadian situation.

Anonymous said...

It matters little how articulate your candidates and leaders are if you are perpetually shut out of televised debates and shunned by the media in general.

In the last election, I thought Jim Harris did wonderfully in a short interview on CBC radio.

Considering the total votes that the Green Party received was more than 40% of the total the Bloc received and the Block ended up with 51 seats compared with zero seats for the Greens shows how twisted the electoral system has become.

Odiyya said...

I'm not so sure the neo-con era is coming to a close larry, but that aside, I'm not meaning to suggest moving green's to the right. I agree with you that they should leave behind the unproductive baggage of the traditional 'left', and become clearer with a real political vision that voters can embrace.

Anonymous said...

Greens will win seats if and only if the public understands that they are neither right nor left but to quote them "out in front". Right and left is the lazy journalists way of simplifying (incorrectly of course) a complicated issue. And that's the rub, getting any new idea through a co-opted media.

Reinvent the Village said...

As long as the Green Party keeps working within the paradigm established by the statuus quo, the manifested "state", I don't believe you'll get too far..

Rather than left or right, why don't you consider being the Party of the Divine Vision, you know,

Genesis,getting back to creating Eden and getting past the Cherbum with the flaming sword...The flaming sword being materialism...

Build a new reality..Don't inherit the old one..