Remember the good old days when us Greens couldn’t get the attention of the media if our lives depended on it?
The story all of the news outlets (and for that matter, the blogosphere and listseves) are buzzing about today is that Elizabeth May and Stephane Dion have announced that, out of mutual respect, a tradition of allowing new leaders to run unopposed, and a recognition of the need for cooperation, they will not run candidates against each other in the next federal election.
Not surprisingly, some people have strong feelings about this development, and it’s clear that the move has both advantages and disadvantages. However, overall I believe Canadians will see this for what it is: a positive sign for Canadian politics.
Let’s review the context of this announcement. It put principal above partisanship at a time when Canadians are crying out for positive politics. It advances the cause of action on climate change as time itself is running out. Above all, it confirms what the Green Party has always said: that winning looks different to us, and that getting our ideas enacted is more important than the success of the party itself.
That being said, it does not, in any way, endorse the Liberal platform or negate the strong need for Canadians to vote Green in the next election. All Elizabeth has said is that she thinks StÃ©phane Dion would make a better PM than Stephen Harper, and that her and Dion can agree on the urgency to act. Greens and Liberals do not agree on a wide range of other issues, and without Green MPs in the House we will not see the right kind of action, or enough of it.
I also want to take a moment to refute the somewhat strange argument that this non-partisan cooperation somehow subverts democracy. It is, in fact, our current electoral system that subverts the will of the electorate when only 1/3 of Canadians can elect a Prime Minister who then presumes to have an unquestioned mandate, while over a million Green Party voters in the last two elections have not had their votes counted towards electing an MP.
A recent poll found that the majority of Canadians think that, based on our electoral results to date, Greens deserve representation in the House. This “principal before partisanship” cooperation could help achieve that democratic will, despite an archaic and unfair electoral system that most Parliamentary democracies have already abandoned.
To conclude, here are some (admittedly selected) initial reaction comments taken from theglobeandmail.com. I suspect these sentiments will prove to be representative of the majority.
Douglas Campbell from writes: The Green Party of Canada has a wide ranging, economically rational platform which is neither left nor right wing. Check their website – you may be surprised to find that on many issues their policies are considerably more fiscally responsible than the Conservatives.
b g from Canada writes: The Liberals, NDP, and Green should come together in the interest of the environment. A Harper Conservative majority would be THE worst outcome for the environment.
John Baird Is Nothing But A Loud-Mouth from Edmonton, Canada writes: I thought before that May might have a chance in the next election, but if this agreement is true, I do believe she would win Central Nova if an election were called today. It’s not my riding, but I know I for one would like to see the Greens have a more pivotal role in government, and I think the voters of Central Nova might like the notion of being the first federal riding to elect a Green to parliament! On a similar note, I would love to see Ms. May stir things up in a national election debate. Not only would she eat the others for lunch on environmental issues, it would be good for the country to hear her defend her party’s platform regarding other governmental portfolios. I’ve never voted Green myself, but I may well do so in the future.
A Mahadeen from Toronto, Canada writes: Brilliant move!
Good on them – now maybe we will get rid of that embarassing MacKay!! I am very impressed that these two parties can work together like this and see it as a positive sign.
Peter Kells from Ottawa, Canada writes: Elizabeth May is a dynamo and would be a welcome voice in the Parliament of Canada. I applaud any move that would bring her into the House of Commons. I do not for a moment veiw this as some kind of sellout or backroom deal. She has always struck me as a person who speaks her mind and kow tows to no one. She may even come to be Mr. Dion’s worst nightmare if he ever strays from the environmental path. I am sure that the CPC do not see the Greens as a threat but I am sure that they view Elzabeth May as a threat.
G. Veneta from Calgary, Canada writes: BRAVO! It’s time the center united where it counts. United is the only way to move Canada forward and to stop the Con sellout of Canada and complete impotence on the environment with no overall plan but crumbs to pacify the masses in their minds. Hard to see how any con policies speak to the future health and productivity of the country. Who do they work for? Canadians I think not!
Go Ms. May and Go Mr. Dion!!
Tom W from Vancouver, Canada writes: As a NDP supporter I like this move ! Dippers like to claim the moral authority over the environment, whereas I think having a Green Party perspective represented would do wonders for both sides of the green vote by broadening its appeal as the central public policy issue (not as a peripherial singular issue) of the day.
As far as I’m concerned the GPC should be the party representing fiscal conservatism in this country (the Conservatives being utterly incompetent in this regard, as made evident with their blatent waste with one of the largest surplus in Canadian history). We are utterly wasting the financial opportunity to invest in a sustainable economy with the riches obtained by resource royalites. That’s fiscal irresponsbility in my book.
The addition of a 4th Federalist party would be great for this country, as would electoral reform that would bring in some additional porportionality into the house of commons.
Having May and Layton in the house during question period is a win-win. Ditto for former Green supporter turned Liberal candidate Briony Penn, who is running in Sannich-Gulf Islands.
CG fr Toronto from Canada writes:
Elizabeth May is a lovely compliment to Stephane Dion… intelligence with a human touch.