where's the green
December 12, 2005 5:48 PM   Subscribe

Where's the green? In Canada, as elections loom closer, men in suits discuss each other for our bemusement on national television and radio, but where is the green party all of this? %5 of the popular vote, and unable to appear on the nationally televised debates hosted by the public broadcaster...via...
posted by pucklermuskau (62 comments total)
 
This exact same thing happened with Ralph Nader in thw 2000 election debates here in the US of A. There was a huge outcry and uproar and I voted with my dad for Nader,
posted by wheelieman at 5:55 PM on December 12, 2005


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posted by LimePi at 5:56 PM on December 12, 2005


Except that in Canada, the Greens are a joke.

I mean, not a mean joke or something. A fun, lovable joke that we're all in on.

There's nothing wrong with them, persay, but Canada already has a legitimately leftist party with deep environmental ties, and they actually win seats and wield power. Voting Green is like voting for the American Heritage Party in the states. Go ahead, but what's the point?
posted by Simon! at 6:27 PM on December 12, 2005


Except that in Canada, the Greens are a joke.

And how exactly is that different from the U.S.?
posted by gyc at 6:30 PM on December 12, 2005


That's actually probably not fair. This year the Greens are likely to get unprecedented support - there's a considerable contingent of left-leaning voters who aren't thrilled with the Liberals (for the sponsorship scandal) or the NDPs (for forcing a pointless vanity election). I can't see where they'd pick up any victories, but there are certainly a lot of people who would like to hear them out.

I'm just trying to clarify that this isn't in any way related to the American Green party's attempts to be heard. The Greens here aren't stifled for being radical, they're ignored for being redundant.
posted by Simon! at 6:33 PM on December 12, 2005


On lack-of-preview, responding to myself there, not gyc.
posted by Simon! at 6:35 PM on December 12, 2005


Greens?!?? I want the Rhinos.
posted by docgonzo at 6:51 PM on December 12, 2005


simon! says...but Canada already has a legitimately leftist party with deep environmental ties, and they actually win seats and wield power. and The Greens here aren't stifled for being radical, they're ignored for being redundant.

'legitimately leftist party'? Ill grant you that the ndp are less barefaced in their foolish than the conservative party, but 'not being right-wing' is hardly sufficient to get my vote. What we need is a sensible shift in overall government policy that none of the established parties have any experience nor desire for. Voting green is, at the moment, the closest thing we have to a step in that direction. So it would seem...
posted by pucklermuskau at 6:51 PM on December 12, 2005


...in their foolishness, natch...
posted by pucklermuskau at 6:53 PM on December 12, 2005


Voting green is, at the moment, the closest thing we have to a step in that direction.

No, voting for the Green Party is voting for a party with no electoral experience, very little support and, in this constitutional democracy, no chance of forming a government or influencing the party in power.
posted by docgonzo at 7:06 PM on December 12, 2005


I don't think it's that the Greens are redundant, but rather that they're still perceived by many to have a less comprehensive platform than the NDP. This isn't quite true, of course, but the NDP has made great strides as of late in convincing people that they aren't just an effective opposition but a viable choice to form the government. And even now a lot of people will say they can't imagine the NDP running the country. The Greens aren't even that far yet.

Frankly, most of the people I know who vote Green do so as a somewhat lazy protest vote, comfortable in the knowledge that the Greens will never get close to governing (meaning they don't actually have to pay any attention to the Green platform). I'm in Ontario, though; I imagine the B.C. voters that came so close to getting a Green MP elected are much more devoted to the party.
posted by chrominance at 7:08 PM on December 12, 2005


The Greens are just getting started in Canada and have been gaining ground. In the last federal election they actually got enough votes to receive government funding.

Docgonzo: Not sure if you are talking about the US or Canada, but in Canada with the election being so close, I think voting Green encourages the major parties to consider environmental issues more seriously.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that the Greens are substantially different than the NDP. The Greens have a somewhat original if undeveloped platform. For example, they support proportional representation and market solutions to environmental problems.
posted by vegetable100% at 7:25 PM on December 12, 2005


I'm glad the Greens are going nowhere. Better that than splitting the already-too-small leftist vote. We should be aiming to defeat the reformers/conservatives, not emulate them.
posted by Elpoca at 7:29 PM on December 12, 2005


Banning the Green party from debates in Canada is much worse than the equivalent action in the states. In Canada we are much more used to a wide variety of parties.
posted by Mitheral at 7:42 PM on December 12, 2005


Not sure if you are talking about the US or Canada, but in Canada with the election being so close, I think voting Green encourages the major parties to consider environmental issues more seriously.

I doubt that -- and I can't think of any evidence to support it.

Truth is, Canadians consistently rank the environment as one of the most important national issues... but when it comes to what decides their vote, the environment runs far behind other priorities. It doesn't decide votes.
posted by docgonzo at 7:44 PM on December 12, 2005


If there wasn't a lot riding on this election, I'd be voting Green again.
As the CCF/CLC, the NDP did a lot of good, often great, things. As their power waned, they still managed to do some good by voicing opinions that may not have been popular, but still needed representation.
But now? They're shrill and obsolete, and the only reason they have any sort of clout is in situations where they whore their seats out. They're not even Jiminy Crickets any more, they're soley concerned with consolidating and securing the pettiest kind of 'power'. I would be surprised if the NDP as we know it ever rises higher than being the opposition in a majority government.
I would not, however, be surprised if they created a leftist federal alliance with the Greens in the next two decades in an attempt to prove their relevance.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:06 PM on December 12, 2005


vegetable100 said....Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that the Greens are substantially different than the NDP. The Greens have a somewhat original if undeveloped platform. For example, they support proportional representation and market solutions to environmental problems.
and elpoca said...I'm glad the Greens are going nowhere. Better that than splitting the already-too-small leftist vote. We should be aiming to defeat the reformers/conservatives, not emulate them.

The green have an opportunity to present a rational alternative trajectory for canada, one that doesnt split folk down into the standard left/right arbitrariness. The point isnt to attract the 'leftist vote' or 'defeat the conservatives'. The point is to get as many people in the country moving as a concerted body towards practical (and very essential) improvements to our society. Not one of the entrenched parties is making any moves in this direction, and this election is our best chance at getting this started...
posted by pucklermuskau at 8:54 PM on December 12, 2005


I pray for the day when we will finally wake up and demand proportional representation. Or lists. Or anything that makes more sense than the ridiculous system we have now, where the PC party got 16% of the national vote and ended up with 2 of ~300 seats in 1993, or where the Greens get 5% and have no say at all in Ottawa. Or for that matter where the BQ gets 12% of the vote but ends up with 20% of the seats. How is it democratic to have your vote count for absolutely nothing, as mine will?
posted by loquax at 9:02 PM on December 12, 2005


All you have to do is have voters list the candidates in order of preference... I don't think it will ever happen...
posted by Chuckles at 9:28 PM on December 12, 2005


Voting Green is the left wing version of voting Reform. And you know how that all went.
posted by freedryk at 10:04 PM on December 12, 2005


If the Liberals are going to win anyways (that is, if I don't have to use my vote to fend off a Conservative) then I feel like I should vote Green if only to give them my $1.50 or whatever it is Chretien promised each party per vote to make up for limiting corporate donations. The Greens could probably use the money, I don't really disagree with them, and I'm in favour of electoral change so it makes sense for me. It isn't like I'm throwing a vote away.
posted by maledictory at 11:08 PM on December 12, 2005


The Greens are just getting started in Canada and have been gaining ground.

Really? I seem to recall them being around when I was getting all politicized and stuff at UBC more than 20 years ago. But then again, it's a possible I dreamed that.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:45 PM on December 12, 2005


If there wasn't a lot riding on this election, I'd be voting Green again.

Isn't there a lot riding on every election? Hence, you won't ever vote Green?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:18 AM on December 13, 2005



I pray for the day when we will finally wake up and demand proportional representation.


Were you also praying for this when Mulroney was in power? To me the system seems idealy suited for a country as large as Canada where different regions have significantly different political concerns. Proportional representation would destroy the ability of the different areas of Canada to get a hearing at all.
posted by srboisvert at 1:57 AM on December 13, 2005


Good point, Steve.

The irony, I believe, will be more poignant in hindsight. When the BIS knows you're in trouble, you better listen.
posted by anthill at 3:20 AM on December 13, 2005


PLEASE, NDP-voters, do not get fooled by the "Green" name, or by their relation-in-name to Europe's Green parties. The Green Party of Canada is not "a more rigourous/principled NDP".

"It is intriguing to watch the coverage of the Green Party in the federal election because the conventional wisdom -- that it will take votes from the NDP -- is confounded by the party's actual policies. While the analysis is likely correct, a look at Green policies reveals that this party is really a Conservative alternative, not a social democratic one. Its fiscal, economic and even environmental policies would be a near perfect fit for the old Progressive Conservative party.
[Murray Dobbin in the Globe & Mail, June 2004.]

The way the Green Party have insinuated themselves into the left is disingenuous and really annoying; I have too many friends who assume that they are something they've shown no inclination towards being.
posted by Marquis at 5:32 AM on December 13, 2005


But I do very much believe that we ought to have established guidelines by which we decide the parties to be included in the televised debates, and that decision should probably be based on proportion of the popular vote. (Although with some other rules, as well, or else any new parties, no matter how big (eg: Conservative Party of Canada), wouldn't be able to participate.)
posted by Marquis at 5:40 AM on December 13, 2005


Considering the leader of the national Green party is a former Progressive Conservative, I have to agree with Marquis that there's something off about the Greens. "Eco-capitalist"? Sheesh.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 5:56 AM on December 13, 2005


Were you also praying for this when Mulroney was in power?

Yes. Fair is fair. Regional representation is overrated at the federal level anyways. If we were serious about that, there's a simple solution, the triple-e senate. Otherwise, the Provinces serve as regional voices in Ottawa far more than MPs toeing the party line.
posted by loquax at 6:26 AM on December 13, 2005


I think it's only fair that the Greens win a seat first. Then they would get a place in future debates. That's the rules the broadcasters have followed. Jim Harris even acknowledges this in Green Party of Canada minutes from a 2004 GPC meeting:
"Concerns were raised about the "beach head" strategy used during this election, resulting in disproportionate amounts of support being given to a handful of BC ridings. Jim Harris responded that it was important to try to win at least one seat. He pointed out that the reason that Preston Manning was included in the 1997 TV debates was because the Reform Party had a seat in the House of Commons. If winning a seat got us into the next Leaders Debates, it would be worth the cost. This analysis was challenged from the floor."
posted by capilano at 6:27 AM on December 13, 2005


Regional representation is overrated at the federal level anyways.

Ah, the regional view from Toronto.
posted by bonehead at 6:36 AM on December 13, 2005


I like the Green party. Their party policy seems to be mostly right about most of what it covers. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that the party is full of people who think they're absolutely right about everything. The Green presence would certainly make the debates a whole lot closer to being worth watching, which would be a good thing. That benefit alone is worth wishing them enough modest success to make it happen.
posted by sfenders at 6:39 AM on December 13, 2005


capilano scribbled "I think it's only fair that the Greens win a seat first."

They have won a seat, but because they didn't yet qualify for official party status the member sat as an independent.
posted by Mitheral at 6:46 AM on December 13, 2005


True Steve, but I've decided to buy into the the Conservatives-are-eeevil fearmongering this time around, and so will be holding my nose and voting for the Grits, instead of investing in the Greens.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:48 AM on December 13, 2005


Ah, the regional view from Toronto.

Hardly. I wish Toronto were represented in Ottawa. How exactly are the regions represented in federal parliament if there are no votes of conscience? If party support is supreme? When was the last time a block of Liberal Maritime MPs voted against their government for any reason? The Provinces serve that function, balancing centralized power by negotiating directly with the federal government on any issue under provincial control (which is most of the relevant ones). Proportional representation would finally acknowledge that fact, and allow one's vote to count for something no matter what arbitrary "riding" you're in.
posted by loquax at 7:01 AM on December 13, 2005


Proportional representation would finally acknowledge that fact, and allow one's vote to count for something no matter what arbitrary "riding" you're in.

Totally agree. In Alberta last election, we would have gotten 6 Liberal, 3 NDP, and 2 Green MPs instead of the 2 LIB/26 CON split (dang those pesky unintended consequences).
posted by hangashore at 7:11 AM on December 13, 2005


Exactly! I'm not saying this out of a political bias. I think that if 20% of Alberta voted liberal, they should get 20% of Alberta's seats. Perfectly fine and fair.

What I really think would happen is that all of the major parties would split up, as there would no longer be a need to win overwhelming numbers in individual ridings. We'd end up with 3 right wing (ranging from ultra to moderate) parties, 3 or 4 left wing (ranging from say the right wing of the Liberal party to the current Greens) parties, the BQ and several fringe parties (MLP, Marijuana, CAP, Natural Law? Rhinoceros?). It will be a new age of coalitions, sometimes titling left with the support of moderate rightwingers, sometimes tilting right with the support of moderate leftwingers. But no voice, however fringe, will be shut out from parliament, and everyone will have at least a chance at participating in government. As opposed to now, where we make a big show of having 4 or 5 parties, but only two that have a chance at governing. This will eventually come about, but it will probably have to start at the provincial level.
posted by loquax at 7:26 AM on December 13, 2005


The Liberals are a regional party: they represent urban Ontario and, to a lesser extent, the GVRD, with a small wing from the maritimes. They'd like to include Montreal in that mix, but that's a problem right now.

But it's always been true that the Liberals represent Toronto. That's the hub around which every one of their policies revolve. Bay Street is their core constituency.
posted by bonehead at 7:33 AM on December 13, 2005


Loquax, why do you want the Italian political system? Our current one at least has the vertue of working most of the time.
posted by bonehead at 7:35 AM on December 13, 2005


I pray for the day when we will finally wake up and demand proportional representation.

BC had their chance, and though the vast majority of people voted in favour of electoral change, they didn't make the (absurd) 66% approval requirement.
I was really hoping British Columbians would be Canada's guinea pigs leaders on this issue.
posted by Popular Ethics at 7:41 AM on December 13, 2005


This will eventually come about, but it will probably have to start at the provincial level.

Or rather, it will come about if Canada doesn't break up first, due in large part to the incompetence and irrelevance of the federal government in general. A massive shakeup in Canadian federalism and democracy is badly needed if the country wants to look the same in 15-30 years.

Loquax, why do you want the Italian political system? Our current one at least has the virtue of working most of the time.


Because it's democratic most of the time. Our works because of complacency on the part of the electorate. Dictatorship works too. Why should we hand the reigns to the country to the Liberal or Conservative parties ad infinitum when a large chunk of the country votes for neither? Coalitions are messy, and there will be times when the federal government is paralyzed, however in Canada we have the advantage (at times) of having a very decentralized federal system, with much more power residing with the provinces compared to Italy (or the vast majority of countries). Periods of federal political instability will not affect us the same way. And in general, our political culture is different enough from from other countries that it's difficult to predict how our electorate would react. I'm certainly open to other suggestions, including a mix of ridings and lists.
posted by loquax at 7:42 AM on December 13, 2005


Bay Street is their core constituency.

Right, because what's good for Bay Street is bad for the rest of Canada, right?

Tax cuts on dividends - good for Bay Street, bad for... Kelona! Halifax! Red Deer!

It just happens that almost every serious banker in Canada works on Bay Street. But what happens there affects the entire country. It's not like the money is physically dumped at the intersection of King and Bay and has to be carried by hand to the rest of Canada.

Plus, if the Liberals represent Toronto, let me tell you that a lot of Torontonians think they're doing a pretty lousy job. Not that the Conservatives would be any better, but if Toronto got its way on everything there'd be no help for western farmers and a thousand gold-plated streetcars roaming the streets of Toronto.

Many of Toronto's issues are urban issues that are becoming more and more important to many other parts of the country. Alberta is transforming into an urban province with more and more of its population centralized in Calgary and Edmonton. I don't see how Toronto's issues are any different than Calgary's, other than issues revolving around oil revenue.
posted by GuyZero at 7:45 AM on December 13, 2005


bonehead - People always use the fucking Italy or Israel example to shoot down forms of proportional representation. What about Finland? Japan? The Netherlands? Scotland? Spain? Seems to be working okay there.

The danger with proportional representation is that it ditches regional representation altogether; unlike loquax, I don't like that idea. But Canada could introduce, as many countries have done, a combined system - regional and proportional. And that would be rad.

The NDP has advocated proportional representation. So have the Quebec Liberal party. (Although no sign of it, I don't think...) And I'm sure other parties have too.
posted by Marquis at 7:45 AM on December 13, 2005


And to those who think the NDP has become inneffectual, did you pay any attention to the last parliamentary session? When the Liberals were about to lose the budget bill, Jack Layton traded his party's votes for 4.6 billion in new social program spending.

It may be painfull to watch, but minority governments work.

Back on topic though, the Green's should definately get a seat at the debate. It's the right thing to do.
posted by Popular Ethics at 7:49 AM on December 13, 2005


The danger with proportional representation is that it ditches regional representation altogether; unlike loquax, I don't like that idea. But Canada could introduce, as many countries have done, a combined system - regional and proportional. And that would be rad.

I didn't say that, only that I didn't believe that regional representation existed today, contrary to popular belief. I said the provinces acted as regional checks, and suggested the triple-e senate as part of a possible combined federal system, as you suggest.
posted by loquax at 7:49 AM on December 13, 2005


we live in a time where there is far too little debate over matters that have immediate and lasting impact, and far too much debate over issues that will have either limited scope or trivial consequences. More viewpoints may slow things down but they also reduce the chances of slipshod decisions...
posted by pucklermuskau at 7:58 AM on December 13, 2005


Sorry for misrepresenting you, loquax.
posted by Marquis at 7:59 AM on December 13, 2005


The thing I hate about proportional representation is the idea of voting for a list. Sorry, I want to vote for a single candidate not a list presented by the party. I voted away from type last time based on a strong candidate, and I'll do it again. Lists make it far too easy for parties to stack the Commons with yes-hacks, and more difficult for strong-minded candidates such as Chuck Cadmon. I'd much rather have a local nomination meeting of a single candidate than a list ranked by the party brass stacked with back-room girls and boys.

A better solution to loquax's problem is more free votes and weaker party discipline, not coalitions. The problem with coalitions is the appeasement of the wacko minorities at the expense of the majority. Sure our current system tends to steam-roller minorities, but at least we don't have Western Canada Concept people setting fiscal policy.
posted by bonehead at 8:02 AM on December 13, 2005


I have yet to talk to a potential green party voter who can articulately explain to me the differences between the Green party's and the NDP's environmental policies. The closest anyone came was a swipe at the NDP saying that all those union workers would rather build factories than protect the environment. It was pretty frustrating.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:11 AM on December 13, 2005


bonehead: I share your concern about voting for a list, and it's the reason why I would never support a mixed-member system. But a proportional system doesn't necessarily need a list. Check out the "Single Transferable Vote" system (the one selected by the BC citizens assembly).
posted by Popular Ethics at 8:15 AM on December 13, 2005


The thing I hate about proportional representation is the idea of voting for a list. Sorry, I want to vote for a single candidate not a list presented by the party.

So base your vote on the composition of the party list. I think you'd see that strong candidates would be highlighted by the party, as they're the ones that would bring in more votes. Nobody's going to rush to vote for a party stacked with no-name, back room hacks. You'd also see particularly strong candidates forming their own parties with similar minded people, minimizing the stifling of true leaders by way of logjams and party bureaucracy. As it is today, your local MP does very very little for your riding, except in highly unusually circumstances (usually pork). They never vote they way you want them to, only the way the party tells them to. Loosening party discipline would help, but that has to be an intermediate step on the way to prop-rep. Why not do away with the charade altogether and let parliament focus exclusively on national-level issues, and have a senate (or the Provincial MPPs/MLAs take over at the local or regional level? Our constitution is tailor made for that anyways.
posted by loquax at 8:19 AM on December 13, 2005


I'm curious: what's an exclusively national issue? I've never seen one.
posted by bonehead at 8:29 AM on December 13, 2005


Defense, telecommunications, banking, territorial soverignty, railroads, postal service, shipping, currency, immigration, marrige, "Indians" and criminal law. As per the BNA act.
posted by loquax at 8:33 AM on December 13, 2005


As per the BNA act.

I could be snarky and point out that the country has changed since 1931, but that misses the point. The federal government is really about inter-provincial issues. It needs presence in things like the environment, health, industry, agriculture, because there are very strong arguments for national standards for things like healthcare, environmental protection and food safety, all "provincial matters". Do you want to still have healthcare if you move to New Brunswick? Thank the Canada Heath Act. Do you, an Ontarian, want to be able to do business in BC without having to learn an entire new legal code? Thank the Canada Labour Code. Do you want to be able to enjoy the highest quality of food in the world in North Battleford? Thank the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The federal government has much more to do than foreign affairs and run the military and the mint. Our quality of life, our competitiveness in the world marketplace and our happiness as citizens depend upon it.
posted by bonehead at 8:45 AM on December 13, 2005


bonehead: But it's always been true that the Liberals represent Toronto. That's the hub around which every one of their policies revolve. Bay Street is their core constituency.

You forget that whatever concept the term Bay Street captures for you was in Montreal until the 70s. You also forget that it was Quebec that elected most of the majority governments, all the way back to the 60s (perhaps further, check it out for yourself).

Now there does seem to be a correlation between big business and election results, but it isn't really about Toronto.
posted by Chuckles at 9:06 AM on December 13, 2005


Sign my petition metatalk post!
posted by mendel at 10:20 AM on December 13, 2005


I could be snarky and point out that the country has changed since 1931

Or 1867 even (sorry). Doesn't matter if the country has changed, the constitution hasn't. Like it or not, this is Canada. Until we change the constitution, and re-divide the responsibilities outlined in s.91 and s.92, this is the way it is. I, as an Ontarian want laws and rules that reflect business conditions, economic conditions or legal conditions that are present in Ontario. I want my healthcare, education, welfare policies to be designed for Ontario, not for Saskatchewan. I don't want to follow rules made to apply to the entire country when they don't make sense for me. Obviously there should be some co-ordination on the part of the Provinces, but this can be handled quite easily at the Provincial level. There's no need for the Federal government to impose regulation on Provinces that don't wish it. Especially when it's unconstitutional.

Our quality of life, our competitiveness in the world marketplace and our happiness as citizens depend upon it.

Which is why we need a strong and relevant federal government that focuses on the important issues for the country and leaves the Provinces and regions to decide for themselves what is best. It should be creating the conditions for Canada to suceed as a whole on a macro level, and leave the micro-level decisions to those that have the most stake in them. But there's no point in forcing Ottawa into a role that it isn't constitutionally, politically or structurally empowered to play.
posted by loquax at 10:20 AM on December 13, 2005


After voting Green in the last election I offered to volunteer for them. 6 months later, after I hadn't heard from them, I wrote them again and received and apology and a note saying they'd be in touch 'soon'. They never did contact me, but added me to their mailing list, where they've now sent me three completely blank emails and one event announcement where they got the date wrong in the email and had to follow up with a correction.

As far as I can tell, they are disorganized to the point of ridiculousness, and therefore will not be getting my vote this time around.
posted by Kickstart70 at 10:33 AM on December 13, 2005


The biggest problem I have with the Green party is that they are, under the cloak of environmentalism, simply a conservative corporate party. They're a party that's more open to big business than to social welfare.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:04 AM on December 13, 2005


So it's agreed then: greens suck, NDP rule, conservatives are evil, and vote Liberal anyways.
posted by Elpoca at 6:04 PM on December 14, 2005


more info on the greens.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:38 AM on December 17, 2005




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