Monthly Archives: January 2007


You really shouldn’t pay attention to polls. They distract from real issues. They unduly influence elections. They contribute to strategic voting. They’re not good for your health.

Except, of course, when you’re doing really well in them. Then they’re kinda fun.

A new Environics poll out yesterday has the Green Party of Canada at 11% nationally. From the release:

The other noticeable trend is the continued growth in support for the Green Party (now at 11%, up 4 since Sept-October, and up 7 since June). Over the same period, support for the New Democratic Party has declined to 14 percent of Canadian voters (down 4 points since Sept-October, and down 7 points since June).

Presented for your information.

Wrath of Khan

Back in August, I supported Bill Graham’s decision to allow Wajid Khan to serve as a special adviser to Stephen Harper on the Middle East and Afghanistan, arguing that “we need more cross-party cooperation and dialogue, not less — especially in a minority government situation.”

In the wake of Khan’s defection to the Conservatives, I stand by that principal. In fact, the CBC reports that it was Stéphane Dion’s insistence that Khan pick a side that forced the move. Dion also made a statement to the Liberal website, saying, “I was never comfortable with Mr. Khan serving as an adviser to a Conservative Prime Minister, as Mr. Khan has done since August of last year.” Other Liberal MPs had “questioned how Khan would balance his allegiance to the party with his new role as an adviser to the prime minister.”

The fact that the obvious answer, “he’ll do whatever he thinks is best for the country,” didn’t seem obvious doesn’t speak well to our MPs’ assessments of each other’s motives. (Nor, unfortunately, of Dion’s.)

That being said, Khan’s assessment that “the best leader for Canada is the man who now has the job” isn’t doing much for my opinion of him either.

Let Us In. (We’re Cold And There Are Wolves After Us.)

With the possibility of a spring election in the air, people are starting to talk again about the televised leaders’ debates, and more specifically, whether or not we should be in them. (Shockingly, I think we should.) The decision will be made by a “broadcast consortium,” comprising the executives of the television networks that broadcast the debate, using whatever criteria they want. (I tend to think the decision should be made by Elections Canada using democratically set criteria, but here we are.)

I’m optimistic that they’ll make the right choice this time. We’ve already received some unlikely editorial support, including from the Toronto Sun. About a month ago the Green Party launched, a website that aruges our case and asks visitors to declare their support. During the last campaign more people signed the Green Party’s petition to be included than sent questions to the actual debates.

A belief that this blog has been generally lacking in bullet points motivated me to outline the following arguments, some new and some old, as to why we should be in the debate.

  • The Green Party of Canada has had increased and sustained presence in the media between elections.
  • The Green Party has held one major policy conference and several smaller policy forums since the last election.
    (those first two points were cited by one broadcast executive last time around as prerequisites for being included in the debate)
  • The Green Party has unique perspectives on issues that are extremely important to Canadians but are not otherwise being discussed. Witness the fact that the climate crisis was completely absent from the last leaders’ debates, and yet is now the number one issue in the minds of the public and the media. That would not have happened if the Green Party had been included, and our democracy would be stronger for it. We have demonstrated an ability to speak to issues that matter to Canadians in ways that other parties are failing to do.
  • Green Party candidates received over one million votes in the last two federal elections. Those Canadians deserve to be represented and heard.
  • The Green Party receives over one million dollars of tax payer money each year. The public deserves to know what we stand for (and where their money is going).
  • The Green Party has demonstrated staying power (vs. the Canadian Action Party and some other small parties, which got popular for one election and then lost ground).
  • Every single Canadian has been able to vote Green for two (and soon three) elections in a row, but has not been allowed the same access to the party’s ideas. The Green Party is only the fourth party in the history of Canada to run a full slate, yet we are the first to do so and be excluded from the leaders’ debates.
  • Elizabeth May received almost as many direct votes to become leader of the Green Party of Canada than Stéphane Dion did for the Liberals (2145 vs. 2541). This highlights the strength of her mandate and the legitimacy of our leadership selection process.
  • Elizabeth May’s inclusion in the debate will make for engaging and compelling television, and will help increase both ratings and interest in democracy, driven both by those who support us and those who don’t.

Just in case the network executives who are making this decision don’t visit my site, you can take action here.

Ministering to the Environment

The Toronto Star reports that John Baird is your new federal minister of the environment. You might think this decision would be of huge importance to me, but I’m finding it hard to react. I want to be optimistic, but I don’t see how this will change anything. I hope I’m proven wrong.

For one, Rona Ambrose never had a chance. Initially, she wasn’t even supposed to be good at her job. The PMO didn’t consider it a priority to maintain our life support systems. Then, when it became clear to him that environment = votes, Harper took over the file and stopped letting Ambrose speak. My first hope for Baird is that he’ll be allowed to do his job.

Defining the nature of his job is the next big challenge. The Conservative government is yet to acknowledge the obvious fact that addressing the climate crisis is priority number one, but they’ll probably have to. Then, they, like the rest of us, will have graduated from if to how. That’s the tricky bit, because as the UN’s Millennium Ecosystem Assessment explained, the climate crisis did not develop in isolation from other problems, nor can it be solved in isolation.

For government, that means two things. First, it means that climate change cannot be addressed unless we also address other environmental problems, including toxicity, over-fishing, air pollution, access to water, etc. Second, it means that much of what has to be done falls under the jurisdiction of other departments, including the ministries of…well, I was about to list them, but I would have had to list almost every single one. (Not to mention the over-arching challenges of addressing cancerous economic growth and destructive cultural assumptions.)

So that’s why I don’t think this shuffle will matter much one way or the other. There’s a joke that the Green Party wouldn’t even have a minister of the environment if we were in government, since we’d take our species’ survival — as opposed to our political survival — into account when making all decisions. (I know, we’re radicals.) And besides, to quote Roy MacGregor, this isn’t about the minister of the environment. “This is about Canada, and the rest of the world, ministering to the environment.”