Tag Archives: green party

Where does the Green party go from here?

About 250 federal Green party members gathered in Pictou, Nova Scotia over the weekend for a policy convention. I was not there, and have instead been trying to follow along via media reports, including these ones:

Green Party at a political crossroads [The Star]
Practising what they preach [The Chronicle Herald]
Liberals will run in all ridings, including the one where May lost; Ignatieff [CP, via Metro]
Ignatieff will run Liberal candidate against May [CTV]
Go west, young woman [Rick Anderson, The Globe and Mail]
May says Obama’s success among Canadians can help Greens in next election [CP, via Metro]
May: Greens not wilting [The Chronicle Herald]
Elizabeth May’s 2009 Convention Speech [Green Party, YouTube]
They’re working on a Green dream [The Chronicle Herald]
Greens mull Quebec ‘mystery’ [The Star]
Greens more united than ever, standing behind leadership: May [CP, via Metro]
Elizabeth May to tilt at Central Nova windmill again. [Not an Official Green Party Canada Site]

I’m glad to read that the people who attended the convention are, for the most part, feeling energized and motivated. That being said—and I mean this constructively—I do think there are a few key things that the federal Green party must do if is is to have a future beyond the next election.

Of the above links, Rick Anderson’s analysis is probably the most worth reading for anyone trying to understand where the party’s at, and where it needs to be. He points out that on the one hand, the Green party has a great set of policies that should appeal to a wide group of Canadians:

I had long thought, and still mostly do, that the Greens have a winning formula in their unique combination of practical environmentalism, fiscal responsibility and democratic reform. Those are three potent appeals, each worthy in itself, and rarely found in combination.

Arguably, all the other parties are less credible on all three of those topics than ever before.

On the other hand, he notes that what the party stands for is pretty much a mystery to most Canadians:

[The Greens have] welcome changes you could come to believe in… if you knew they were available. I don’t know about you, but I had to visit the Green website to read about [their economic stimulus plan].

Anderson is generous to blame this mostly on “the media’s preoccupation with political games and manoeuvring and tactics and day-to-day process stories” at the expense of “substantive issues of relevance to voters.” However, while that criticism of the news media is well placed, it would be foolish for Greens to get distracted by it. The Green party must earn attention and support in spite of the obstacles facing it, not use those obstacles as excuses.

The three biggest challenges as I see them are as follows (and are discussed prominently in the above articles).

First is the need for elected Green MPs. The Toronto Star reports that Elizabeth May “[admitted] that she did not view winning her riding as a priority in the last election.” She wasn’t the only one. Those of us who were advocating for a focus on electing MPs in the last general election sometimes felt like we were banging our heads against the wall. The party must realize and act on the importance of electing members under the current voting system (even while we work for change to that system). Otherwise the party’s credibility will be increasingly questioned.

Second is the widely held belief that Elizabeth advocated that Canadians vote for other parties in the last election. (I say “belief,” because Elizabeth denies that she did this. Either way, the perception is what’s important.) This needs to be repudiated in the strongest terms. There is a time and a role for partisanship, and it is the primary role of all party leaders and candidates to advocate for their party’s platform and for their own election, especially during election campaign periods. To send mixed signals to the contrary distorts election results even more than they already are distorted by our antiquated voting system.

Finally, the party must get serious about messaging and marketing. Too many Canadians still don’t know or believe that the Green party has policies on all major issues, and that those policies are often consistent not only with what various experts think (on environment, economy, crime, etc), but are also consistent with what most Canadians think and value. Ultimately only the party itself is accountable for how they’re perceived, which means that a lot of work needs to be done to communicate Green policies in compelling, inspiring, and easy to grasp ways.

In all three of these areas the party is now playing catchup. I’m not yet prepared to say it’s a lost cause as some others have, but no one should underestimate the enormity of the challenge. Before the last general election I had said privately to a few people how critical I thought an electoral breakthrough was in order for the party to maintain credibility and momentum. Since that breakthrough didn’t happen federal Greens now have to hope for a rare second chance, but it will require addressing the above three issues (among others) quickly and aggressively.

CBC bans Green from Next PM Contest – Please help

I just received the below action appeal from Camille Labchuk. Please take a moment to read it and do as she asks. The fact that this rule exists at all is ridiculous, as it punishes youth for being actively involved with their democracy. The fact that the CBC would treat her in the way she describes is even worse. I’ve added emphasis to what I believe are the key points.

ACTION ALERT: CBC kicked me out of the Next PM contest. Help me expose this injustice.

Hi friends,

I just received the shocking news that CBC has disqualified me from the Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister contest. They say it is because I ran for Parliament in 2006, but when they asked me to enter the competition in November (yes, they recruited me) I raised this point with the producer and asked if it made me ineligible. The producer told me (in writing) that I was “good to go.”

Until today, I was a front runner in the contest. Thanks to your support, my entry video got more votes than any other contestant. I devoted all of my free time to this competition over the past two months. My campaign team and I spent over 200 hours researching policy, filming videos, organizing online and encouraging people to vote for me. My efforts paid off and I was slated to become the Web Winner next week when voting closes, meaning I would have automatically advanced to the semifinals.

Another contestant has run for Parliament yet has not been deleted from the CBC’s website, like I have. There are 31 additional contestants whose videos are either too short or too long to comply with the entry rules and, according to the rules, should be disqualified too. I don’t think these candidates should be kicked out and I don’t think I should be kicked out either. CBC let us enter this competition, allowed us to spend two months of our lives on it, and they should let us finish it. I have asked CBC if they will disqualify these other candidates and they refuse to answer me.

The intent of the Next Great PM contest was supposedly to encourage youth political engagement. This outrageous treatment of a contestant who has poured her heart and soul into the contest sends an opposite message: “get involved, get kicked out.” I am appalled that our publicly funded broadcaster sees fit to backtrack on its word. I am also shocked that major sponsor Magna, run by former MP Belinda Stronach, would accept this. Ms. Stronach has had to fight every step of the way to climb to the top in politics and I can’t imagine that she would support this treatment of a young Canadian who loves politics and simply wants to make a difference.

CBC and Magna chose to disqualify the wrong young Canadian. I am launching a major campaign to draw attention to this abuse. I feel utterly crushed that my efforts have been for nothing and I refuse to just quietly go away. I will be retaining counsel and intend, if necessary, to pursue legal action against the CBC for unfair disqualification. Lawyers cost money and this is going to be difficult for me to take on financially, so if you want to contribute to my legal fund, write to me. I feel it’s the only way to hold CBC accountable.

Please help me expose this injustice by contacting CBC and Magna to tell them their actions are reprehensible. Write to:

seema.patel@cbc.ca (Seema Patel, Senior Producer)
matthew.barrington@cbc.ca (Matt Barrington, Producer)
ht.lacroix@cbc.ca (Hubert Lacroix, CBC President)
mary_gittens@magna.on.ca (Mary Gittins, Magna)

Copy your emails to me (cflbchk@mta.ca) so I can track support!

Thanks for standing with me.


Villain 2008: Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition

Torontoist invited me to contribute to this year’s Heroes and Villains. Yesterday I shared my hero pick. Now here’s my villains submission.

Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition

Last year, Torontoist readers voted Stephen Harper, Jim Flaherty, et al. the number one villain of the year. Since then, their governance has gotten even worse. Even if you sympathize with the Harper government’s policy objectives, it’s hard to support the way they’ve gone about accomplishing them. Despite expressing respect for the will of Parliament while in opposition, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have done everything they can to obstruct Parliament from functioning properly in a minority situation, to the point of breaking their own fixed election date law for pure political advantage. In other words, this government has given the opposition parties no shortage of fodder.

And yet that opposition has failed, repeatedly and consistently, to offer an alternative that catches the imagination of voters. The Liberal Party, for example, was specifically mocked for their reluctance to vote against the government (perhaps most memorably in a flashy Rick Mercer musical number). In the election that ultimately took place anyway the Liberals received their worst result in recent memory, while the New Democratic and Green parties also failed to make any significant inroads.

With such a vacuum of popular political options another smaller or newer political party might have found its niche (as Québec Solidaire recently did in the Quebec provincial election), but none of the nineteen registered Canadian political parties offered anything that caught the public’s attention.

This failure is mostly due to communication and political problems rather than policy ones. It’s not that the opposition parties haven’t had any good ideas—they have—but rather that they’ve been completely unsuccessful in communicating those ideas in a compelling way. This impotence was epitomized by the year-end coalition debacle, where the opposition leadership allowed perfectly legitimate and potentially exciting democratic cooperation to be successfully characterized by the prime minister as some kind of separatist coup.

As a result, the highly objectionable government of Stephen Harper has been allowed to continue to exist essentially without opposition. To be clear, only the Conservative government is responsible for their actions, but that doesn’t mean the opposition parties can be left off the hook for their failure to perform. No matter what party or ideology is in government, our democratic system relies on an effective opposition to function properly. Here’s hoping for better in 2009.

Oh come on, CBC

This is nonsense. The CBC goes to their post-debate panel and it includes a representative from every party except the Greens? And then as if that wasn’t bad enough, when Don Newman went around the table he asked the NDP pundit to comment on Elizabeth May’s performance as if she could speak on Elizabeth’s behalf. The NDP representative was then of course free to heap criticism on May for a minute with no one there to refute her. Pathetic.