Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Green Party and the Coalition: Are We Becoming a "One Issue" Party?

(originally posted at

I just recently read the blogpost from Attila Nagy, who ran for our Party in Scarborough Rouge River in the recent election. I don’t know Mr. Nagy, and I think this may have been the first time that I had read his blog, but I believe that Attila raises some good points. I thought of maybe writing a quick response post to his blog, but instead I’ve decided to make a new post in my own blog, because I am feeling a growing sense of unease about a number of things, and would like to expand on what Attila has communicated.

With regards to our “decision” to support the Coalition, I ask everyone to contemplate what might have happened if the Green Party took the “high road” here and decided to come out in support of neither the Conservatives or the Coalition, but instead in support of the people of Canada, their jobs, and democracy in general. What if we had moralized and urged our elected officials to find a way to work together for a change, for the good of our nation, and point out at the same time that Greens stand for something bigger than partisan politics, because we’ve got real issues to tackle and would very much like to get on with tackling them. I ask you to think about those outcomes, and wonder whether we might have missed an opportunity here.

As a Canadian, I personally would support any government which did not include Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party. Given the current alternatives, the Coalition seems to be the much more palatable of the two. That’s important to me personally, and I believe that a Coalition government would be for the good of Canada.

But as the CEO of an EDA, I really have to question why the Party has positioned itself as we have done. I’m not sure what we gain out of “supporting” this Coalition, given that we have no sitting members in parliament. I believe that we really should have thought this through a little bit more before rushing to embrace the Coalition (which I just heard being referred to as “the New Libs on the Bloc”). Unlike the other Parties, because we have not been directly involved in the situation, we actually had time to sit back and consider our options. I’m not sure that this happened.

Instead, we were almost stepping over ourselves to get our Leader in front of the camera and tell Canadians where the Green Party stands on this issue. And frankly, it was embarrassing to hear discussion about having Elizabeth May appointed to the Senate. I don’t think that Canadians really wanted to hear about that, nor did it add to the debate.

We like to think of ourselves as “grassroots”. We could have had a little bit more canvassing of opinion before our declaration of support. Careful consideration might have led to a different outcome. All of this need not have been framed as a choice between only two alternatives - Harper and the Coalition - and instead a third way, a better way, a Green way may have been found and acted upon.

We may have lost an opportunity here to take a different approach. So, where then, does the proverbial buck stop?

I have been growing increasingly concerned regarding the direction in which the Party has been going. I was personally dismayed by events which played themselves out during the final days of the election when our Leader urged Canadians to not vote for us. Yes, her message was mangled by the media, but confusion of her message to the media should have been expected, given the media's track record presenting nuanced discourse. And now we, as a Party, have come out in favour of a Coalition in which we won’t have any say, and which will also likely take Canada in a direction which is not in keeping with the policies of our Party. Policies which, I might add, have been given the benefit of careful consideration by grassroots members. For one example I offer up that Stephane Dion has already nixed the idea that the Coalition would be pursuing a Carbon Tax. While certainly the discussion of a cap and trade system is much better than Harper’s do-nothing approach, it still won’t get the country to where it needs to be.

I believe that we had a golden opportunity to stake out our position, finding a third alternative to present to the Canadian public in an election which is sure to come sooner rather than later, whether the Coalition takes over from Harper or not. Instead, we have chosen to remain the Party which is beginning to appear to be a true one-issue Party; that issue being to promote at all costs the need to remove Stephen Harper as Prime Minister.

I’m not sure this is what I signed up for. I know others are beginning to feel the same way.

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