Friday, January 20, 2006

Paying Props to the Green Party

Okay, seeing we don't' get a whole lot of media attention (not from lack of trying), I wanted to let you know what some writers are saying about the Green Party.

First up James McRae in Ottawa:

Dance with Greens; [Final Edition]
James McRae. The Ottawa Citizen. Ottawa, Ont.: Jan 16, 2006. pg. A.11

The Green Party has a fresh approach to politics, befitting a new age
we could live in, putting self-responsibility and creativity firmly in the hands of individuals interested in the common welfare.

Canadians wanted the Greens represented in the national leaders' debates. The party has candidates in every riding across the country.

With the release of its solid platform -- so solid you could dance on
it -- I sensed a lot of excitement about the prospect of Greens actually winning seats. The Green Party website received six million hits in the week following the release of its full policy.

The older Canadian parties, mired in the left/right view of the world, seem incapable of expressing new ideas. We are told the Liberals will lead us to more corruption while the Conservatives will lead us to war.

The NDP tries to be socialist and green at the same time; the trouble is, logically, or ecologically, you cannot be both. The Bloc Quebecois stares fixedly at its goal, getting more for Quebec in a Canada where

we already have everything.

Fortune favours the brave. I say we dance with the Greens.

James McRae,

Then there's Rob Gilgan in Alberta:

Ponoka Times
By ROB GILGAN /Publisher
Jan 17 2006

Far be it from me to tell anyone how to vote, or rather for whom to vote. I always encourage everyone to exercise the franchise; it's what keeps democracy alive and it's apparently an easy habit to break. I'm always surprised when people tell me they forgot, or couldn't be bothered, or chose not to vote, deliberately. "Don't vote, it only encourages them," they say. "My vote won't count, I'm from Alberta."

And once again, while I'm not telling you who to vote for, I am going to tell you where I'm placing my 'x' on Monday. I will, for the first time federally, be voting for the Green Party. I think it may well be the most significant ballot I will have cast in a long while and I'd like to explain why I think that.

Historically, I've voted for the candidate I thought earned my vote, either by the way they presented themselves and their platform, or the effort they put into ensuring the success of democracy. I've never been one to blindly place my hard-earned 'x' beside a party name -- I think pure partisan politics is a threat to democracy.

Like many Canadians, I recognize that we're living in the best of times. In theory, we should be re-electing the party that's presided over our robust economy. Notwithstanding that sentiment, the governing Liberals have not earned my vote with their campaign.

I am a social liberal and have been most of my adult life. I am a reflection of my parents' values in that regard. They also emphasized fiscal conservatism and I've benefited from that influence as well.

This election, from the perspective of the three traditional parties, the Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrats, is all about the past. The Conservatives have been focused on the corruption of past Liberal administrations. The Liberals are obsessed with what they believe is their influence on our robust economy over the past decade. The New Democrats selectively remember their influence on the Martin minority, but not their role in defeating the government against the wishes of a majority of Canadians.

The Green Party doesn't have a long past to obsess about, but they do have a track record - a better record than their current treatment would suggest. They have run 308 candidates in this election and the 2004 effort. In fact, due to both the Liberals and Conservatives having dropped candidates they found embarrassing, the Greens are actually running in more ridings than either.

Nationally, the Green Party attracted 4.3% of the popular vote, more than 6% in Alberta (a little less than a third of the votes garnered by the Liberals, ). And they did so without spending millions, renting airliners, hosting crowds of scribes and infringing on your favourite episode of 'Survivor'.

Part of the energy in my vote is a protest. The Green Party, even though it's running candidates in every riding in Canada, even though we anted up a million dollars for the votes they garnered last election, was banished from the national leaders debate. Gilles Duceppe, on the other hand, leading a party with a scant 12.4% nationally, participated in all four. Canadians deserved better.

Further, the Green Party was actually censored not by Elections Canada, but by a consortium of national media. That is shameful conduct and beyond explanation.

But mostly my vote is energized by looking to the future, not so much for myself as my children and their children, should they choose to have them. I don't see a lot of future in the platforms of the Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrats. I see housekeeping, window dressing, semantics and unwavering support for avoiding change.

Only the Green Party seems to recognize the relationship between a clean environment and reduced health spending. The others dare not raise this issue, since their power brokers measure success without consideration for environmental damage.

The Green Party's platform is grounded in sustainability. Resources are managed, rather than exploited. The platform acknowledges that a green economy runs on a sustainable work force. Agriculture is viewed as our food supply, whereas agribusiness seems to be all about shareholders.

The Greens are also keen on developing good government and renewing our democracy, concepts that should resonate with voters in this election. I don't expect my vote to produce a government, but I know it will support a progress that isn't available in the same old, same old traditional parties.

Some day, and hopefully soon, enough people will speak up, enough votes will be cast, that the traditional parties will have to expand their platforms to incorporate the reforms proposed by the Green Party today.

I hope my vote encourages that.

Then we go to Vancouver with Barbara Yaffe

Barbara Yaffe, Vancouver Sun
Published: Friday, January 20, 2006

I know several people who have solved the dilemma of whom to vote for among a field of mainstream party candidates who fail to satisfy.

These people are opting to cast a ballot for the Green party.

Some of them would tell you there is no way they can vote Liberal because of the ethics issue. No way they can vote Conservative because of reservations about Stephen Harper's social conservatism. And that they are simply not socialist inclined.

Green is a vote that's easy to feel good about. Without a healthy environment, there's no life to enjoy.

The cancer rate is increasing, more and more children suffer from asthma, the planet is running out of conventional energy supplies, weird weather is causing mayhem across the globe, and just last week we learned Canadian polar bears are full of the toxic chemicals we've been deploying as a fire retardant in a variety of products.

No one expects the Greens to form government. But imagine the utility of having a couple of diligent Green MPs darting about the corridors of the Commons, asking questions that wouldn't otherwise be posed.

Green MPs would act as bees in the bonnets of traditional parties that regularly put political considerations above fundamental environmental principles, parties more attuned to economic growth and the provision of services to taxpayers, particularly needy ones.

We often forget the degree to which the planet and all its life forms are needy, too, although lately Mother Nature has been giving us a good few nudges.

Jim Harris, leader of the Greens, says his isn't a party of the left or right. Rather, it's a "solution-oriented party, with solutions based on ecological integrity."

"We are fiscally responsible, socially progressive and in favour of what is environmentally sustainable," he told a recent Vancouver Sun editorial board meeting.

Harris, a 43-year-old Torontonian, is a former journalist and author, married to business consultant Lee-Anne McAlear. They have no children. The party website describes the leader as a "committed environmentalist and avid rollerblader."

Harris is running in Beaches-East York in Toronto, currently held by Liberal MP Maria Minna.

While a party member for 17 years, Harris became the Greens' leader in 2003. He notes the party won 600,000 votes in the 2004 election, up from 100,000 in 2000. New election financing laws gives the Greens $1.75 for each vote. Harris began taking a salary last summer -- $50,000 annually.

The Greens definitely will not form government next week, so the party's specific policies are less important than its general orientation.

But for those who care, the Greens are against the Atlantic coast seal hunt, oppose offshore oil drilling off B.C., would phase out fish farms because they believe them to be a threat to natural fish stocks, want the tax system used to discourage high energy consuming pursuits and reward those practicing energy efficiency.

The Greens insist their policies would reduce health costs. which are such a drain on federal and provincial budgets.

"You cannot have healthy people on a sick planet," Harris asserts, pointing to smog problems increasingly being experienced in Canada's larger cities.

"We are putting our short-term interests ahead of the long-term interests of our grandchildren," says Harris, who drives a hybrid car. "We are caught in a deep pathology. We need a deep reorientation . . . . When are we going to say, enough is enough?"

Greens argue that practising environmental awareness wouldn't mean a loss of jobs. Rather, destroying existing ecosystems costs jobs -- think Newfoundland's cod stock. Encouraging new, unconventional resource use -- like wind power -- might well boost employment.

There's a pressing need for Green thinking for many reasons, the party website notes. At present, the world consumes about two barrels of oil for every new barrel discovered. Clearly, that's unsustainable.

Most parties, operating on short-term political exigencies, aren't prepared to tell voters they need to make radical changes in their lifestyle. Greens believe they have no choice.

Certainly, in the current campaign, no party other than the Greens have vigorously highlighted environmental issues.

Greens are running candidates in every riding, arguably making them far more relevant to the national political scene than the Bloc Quebecois.

And then there's all these people saying great stuff about us.

"Rather than spoil my ballot, I'm looking for a true alternative. I may have found it in the Green Party. I know what you're thinking. The Green Party is for granola-eating peaceniks who drive hybrid cars. That's what I assumed until I discovered that the party offers a broad platform that covers much more than just environmental concerns."

- Lydia Lovric, Winnipeg Sun

"I know several people who have solved the dilemma of whom to vote for among a field of mainstream party candidates who fail to satisfy. These people are opting to cast a ballot for the Green party. [...] No one expects the Greens to form government. But imagine the utility of having a couple of diligent Green MPs darting about the corridors of the Commons, asking questions that wouldn't otherwise be posed."

- Barbara Yaffe, Vancouver Sun

"The Green Party of Canada has expanded a great deal on its social policy agenda since the last election. Women's equality issues are definitely covered in this platform. Unlike the other platforms, one does not need to read between the lines to seek out mention of equality issues. The Green Party's platform is most likely the most progressive of all party platforms."

- The Coalition for Women's Equality (CWE)

"By providing thoughtful responses to the questionnaire, the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party and the Green Party showed they care about women's sexual and reproductive health and rights."

- Action Canada for Population and Development

"Frankly, a Green voice or two in parliament wouldn't hurt a bit."

- The Hamilton Spectator

"One thing you have to say about Jim Harris, he's got balls. When Paul Martin gave his speech on Kyoto he made sure to do it in Halifax and Montreal where he would be safe from industrialists. Jim Harris walked directly into the heart of the enemy territory and stuck it to empowering them."


"Frankly, with our fiscal house largely in order, Canada should be poised to take to the world stage with innovative and bold stances on global issues like environmental sustainability, weapons in space, and Third World debt – all topics addressed in the Green platform."

- The Progress

Then there's all these Non-Profit groups Evaluating our platform and policies.

Have a look. Decide for yourself.

Council of Canadians
Canadian Medical Association
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
for Women's Equality

PLUS, there's all these articles too!

Did you get through it all? Yeah, I know, it's a lot of good word to get through.

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'M said...

Wow - that's some great stuff.

Shayn said...

Notice that our now elected government answered the fewest questions? We have a lot of work to do...

Stephen Eli Harris said...

Yes. Yes we do.