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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Beyond Copenhagen: The Harsh Realities of Canadian Politics

with 3 comments

A guest post from Andy Shadrack


Saturday December 5

Love her or hate her consistent polling shows that a majority of Canadians think that Elizabeth May would be a welcome addition to the House of Commons. Recently a group of NDP MPs approached their Leader to request the Party not run a candidate in Sannich-Gulf Islands. Jack Layton declined to act on their request because Provincial NDP Leader Carole James wants no accommodation with the Green Party in BC.

The fact that the NDP placed a distant fourth to the Green Party candidate’s 3rd place finish in 2008 and that polls have consistently showed the Green Party could actually beat Conservative Gary Lunn in a two way fight is never acknowledged by the NDP leadership. So Elizabeth May is finally running in a seat she could actually win and the NDP want to act as spoiler, just like Jack opposed the Green Party being in the tv debates in 2008.

In Guelph the Green party obtained one in five votes and came 3rd and in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, Ontario, more than one in four and came second. In contrast in Australia the Green Party recently won a by-election in Fremantle, Western Australia, when the second placed Liberals (read conservatives) stepped back and chose not to run a candidate. The same policy was recently undertaken again in the seat of Willagee by the Liberals where the Green Party is expected to achieve 39.5% of the final vote count.

At a federal level two Australian by-elections were held today in New South Wales and Victoria States where this time the Labour Party stood down so that the Green Party could take on the Liberals and again they are achieving a healthy 36% and 42% respectively. Imagine a Canadian politics where the desire for diversity and public discourse is so healthy that both the federal Conservatives and Liberals would step aside to try and assist the Green Party to get into the House of Commons.

In Germany and Austria the Green Party is now so respected for its contributions in government that both the christian centre- right and social democratic centre-left offer them coalition status in cabinet. In France the main social democratic party, running in a two round majoritarian system, goes so far as to back Green candidates in the first round in certain seats and then persuades the communists to back the Greens if they make it to the second round run-off.

Why? In New Zealand under a multi-member proportional system the Green Party has obtained from 6 to 9 seats in parliament since the mid-1990s. On one occasion the minority Labour government introduced a health bill that Green Party MPs wanted to amend, but Labour refused to bend. So the Greens went to the opposition National Party (read conservatives) and obtained their support, not to defeat the bill but to amend it. At that point the Labour Party Prime Minister directed the Minister of Health to strike an all party committee to see if parties in the house could write a bill that every MP could support.

Imagine a Canadian Parliament in which an all party committee sat down and wrote an effective climate change bill!! For that to happen activists on this list would have to make common cause with some pretty strange bedfellows and accept some unpalatable compromises, on road that would lead us back from the brink of climate change disaster.

It could happen under the right leadership. During WWII both Chinese and First Nations people volunteered to fight for Canada, even though they had no real citizenship rights. Those who did this argued that by fighting for democracy, they in turn would persuade the Canadian people to grant them democratic rights. In 1949 Asian Canadians won back the right to vote and First Nations the right in 1960.

On the Murmansk run to supply war material to the Soviet Union many of the merchant seaman who volunteered to serve were card carrying communists and other sympathetic leftists. In other words, even though they felt little allegiance to the Canadian State, the parties in power, and in some instances were actually let out of jail or internment camps to fight, a very broad majority of the Canadian population found a way to make common cause with those they had often seen as political enemies and oppressors in peace time.

New Democrats in British Columbia and Canada should be writing to their Leaders, Jack Layton and Carole James, outraged and demanding that they reverse this self-interested policy in Saanich-Gulf Islands. Just like federal Liberals should be hanging their heads in shame over the fact that their Leader Michael Ignatief refuses to return Jack Layton’s requests to discuss policies and options they have in common.

If ever we are going to bring the people together to reverse our industrial policies that impact the climate, it will only come about when politicians from all parties exercise due diligence in showing how they can work together for the common good.

Respectfully submitted
Andy Shadrack

Written by Stephen Rees

December 6, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Posted in Green Party, politics

3 Responses

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  1. It’s pretty underhandedly unrealistic to use the 2008 results in Saanich-Gulf islands as a means of demonstrating that the NDP is less supported in that riding than the Green party.

    The NDP did not run a campaign in the riding in 2008 and would have withdrawn their candidate had it not been beyond the date with which they could do so.

    The NDP vote was STILL 5% despite publically disavowing the candidate and yet STILL Gary Lunn won, despute a 20 point drop in one of the three opposing parties.

    In terms of historical election results (re: elections the NDP contests), you find a different story than described here. In 2006, the Greens were hte ones that trailed a ‘distant fourth’ and acted as spoiler while the NDP took the lion share of the opposition vote at 26%. In 2004, the Greens again trailed a ‘distant fourth’, though this time admittedly the NDP were simply in third, but still received 3,000 more votes than the Greens. In 2000 (though admittedly far enough ago and prior to the real rise of the Greens), the Greens managed to come in fifth place.

    This article is everything that is wrong with the ‘left’ in this country, hating on itself rather than targeting that anger in an intelligent manner.

    Patrick Meehan

    December 6, 2009 at 7:13 pm

  2. You must be kidding this isn’t an amateur sport but who is best at running our country.Elizabeth May has shown she is an arrogant know it all shrill and unmannerly.she is arrogant enough that she thinks she can win in an area that is shared by three of the strongest party constituencies in Canada. Does she really imagine that she can split the vote 4 ways and win.After this next try she better realize her popularity is a figment of her imagination.


    December 7, 2009 at 9:13 pm

  3. What is this rambling? The fact is is that Elizabeth May does not represent the left-wing values that many of us hold dear in SGI. Whether or not she would make a nice addition to the fold in Ottawa is beside the point. The Canada that I dream of is one that is run by a social-democrat, or more so, a democratic socialist party. This is NOT the Green Party, and it is NOT May. To suggest that I park my values so that the right-wing environmentalists can have a handicap in the next election is absurd. Many of us believe that it is the neo-conservative movement and its love of capitalism that got the environment into this state – and it is not the neo-cons that will get us out with their “green-economic growth plan.” It is however the fair-minded, non-exploitative values of the left that will bring us back to a place that we can have a respectful relationship with the earth. If Ms May is to get to Ottawa it must certainly be because she has convinced the good people of SGI that she would be the best person to represent our common values. And I, for one, don’t believe that she is.

    Michele Murphy

    December 29, 2009 at 9:30 am

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