Tuesday, September 09, 2008

An Outsider's Perspective - Part I - The Greens

My apologies to anyone out in the blogosphere who feels that they may have been lacking in Glenergy of late, but things have been hectic for me of late what with moving to a new country and starting a new job. Sadly my blogging has been lacking, which I think will turn around since I feel that I have SOOOO much to talk about, what with a new NHL Season just around the corner, a few major political elections, and oh yeah that whole China thing as well.

With the announcment of a Canadian General Election on October 14th (which I HATE by the way) I have decided to start a five part series here as I look at the different parties and their main issues and challenges going into this particular campaign.

I am going to start with the party that has the smallest number of seats currently in parliament, but has a massive amount of potential going into this October.

The Green Party of Canada
Established: 1983
Current Leader: Elizabeth May
Leader's Riding: Central Nova
Members of Parliament at Dissolution: 1
Major Issues:
The environment, social justice, speaking at debates

This election stands to have potential break-throughs for Canada's fifth party. Environmental awareness is at an all time high, and dissatisfaction with the Liberal party is pretty darn high as well. However, just yesterday any momentum that the Green Party had was severely stifled as it was announced that they would not be allowed to participate in any televised debates due to a threatened boycott by the Conservatives, and NDP.

This is a major blow to the Green Party as Elizabeth May has proven herself to be very articulate and quick-witted and she surely would have performed well in any live debates. The reason that the three parties are (officially) giving, is that due to a deal worked out between the Liberals and the Greens to not contest party members in the opposing leaders riding, that they are obviously the same party.

This is a pretty ridiculous comment, since the Greens and Liberals are going head-to-head in 306 of the 308 ridings. Also of note, one of the bi-elections which were canceled due to the call for this election, was looking to be a toss-up between the Liberals and the Greens. Also, May has criticized Dion's Carbon Tax repeatedly, saying that it doesn't go far enough.

Now there is legal precedent in May's argument as Preston Manning was able to participate in the 1993 debates under a similar set of circumstances. As such, the Green Party is taking this decision to court, which should have some interesting consequences before the two debates.

The Greens find themselves in an interesting position, since they are currently receiving a great deal of media attention from the debate debate. This of course helps them out and gives them a "Little Party that Could" mentalitly, which has potential for them to gain support. Now obviously for that support to really grow she needs to be included in the debate, but this uphill struggle really has potential for long-term benefits for the party.

The Greens are hoping to grabs several votes from Liberals and New Democrats who are sick of their current leaders, which has potential for them to make party history and actually elect a member of parliament. Looking at the map, I think that Blair Wilson (their current MP who was voted in as a Liberal but is currently a member of the Green Party through some complicated steps) will retain his seat in BC, and Elizabeth May will pull off a huge shock and dethrown the Defense Minister in his home turf, giving the Greens 2 seats.

More influentially, a Green surge will take several votes away from the other Left Wing parties and should hinder the New Democrats and the Liberals, ultimately benefitting the Conservatives in the end. This is obviously a tough question that any Green supporter must ask themselves, do I help my party or hurt the Conservatives? Given the incumbents party's poor environmental track record, this is a question that should not be taken lightly.

Wait a minute, silly me, I haven't even talked about any of the ACTUAL issues that the Greens are campaigning for. The obvious first one is the environment. The believe very strongly in a carbon tax, and feel that Dion's Green Shift is not sufficient or aggressive enough. Also, they feel that Canada should follow through on Lester Pearson's promise to devote 0.7% of our GDP to help eliminate poverty, and are staunch supporters of diversity and social justice. Their party website explains this far better than I ever could, and is actually a very well put together site, so check it out.

But no matter what their party platform, that will prove second to the attention that they are receiving due to their inclusion in the debates, which should only help the party in the long term, however I hope that Elizabeth May realizes that a boost to her party really does help Stephen Harper in the short term. However, like all reasonable environmentalists, perhaps May realizes that things will have to get worse for them to get better.

Until next time,


Part I - The Green Party of Canada - September 9, 2008
Part II - The NDP - September 15, 2008
Part III - The Bloc Quebecois - September 16, 2008
Part IV - The Liberal Party of Canada - September 19, 2008
Part V - The Conservative Party of Canada - September 21, 2008

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