Monday, April 25, 2011

#elxn41 Primer: Green Party

Nation, this is the first is a series of posts that will go up daily leading to Election Day on May 2nd. I'll be profiling the 4 federalist parties and their campaigns thus far, in reverse order of their popular support according to the latest polls.

If it seems as though I'm a little down on ALL the parties and their performances in this campaign...  well, you're not imagining that.

The schedule will be as follows:
Monday, April 25th - Green Party
Tuesday, April 26th - Liberal Party
Wednesday, April 27th - New Democratic Party
Thursday, April 28th - Conservative Party

Today's special: Mixed Greens.

The Green Party finds itself in a VERY different position in 2011 than it did during the last General Election. In 2008, the party was riding as high as it had ever been, with a sitting Member of Parliament (not elected as a Green, but sitting as one nonetheless), a spot in the Leader's Debates as a result of that MP, and polling near the double-digits. There was even cautious optimism among party insiders that leader Elizabeth May might be able to unseat Conservative Party rock star Peter MacKay in Central Nova, where she had spent many years as a youth and where she decided to run.

Reality, though, hit the party like a tonne of bricks as the election results came in. While they had increased their voter numbers nationwide greater than any other party, and by over 41% versus their results in 2006, they still registered less than 7% of the national popular vote, and found themselves once again shut out of the House of Commons.  May herself scored a personal victory, capturing 32% of the vote in Central Nova (where the Liberals had declined to run a candidate against her) however she still lost the race to the entrenched MacKay by over 5,600 votes.

Fast forward to 2011, now, and let's take a look at the growth of the Greens. Whereas they scored 6.8% of the popular vote in 2008, now in 2011 they sit at... 6%. Elizabeth May - still Green Party leader after a controversial constitutional change within the party - is running in a Vancouver Island riding, where her party polls the highest, giving them their best chance yet at winning a seat in the House of Commons. May was shut out of the Leader's Debates on account of her party's lack of a sitting Member of Parliament (a decision which disappointed many, this blogger included).

While it's hardly surprising that the Green Party got their largest share of the popular vote in British Columbia in 2008, it's borderline shocking that their second strongest province, by the same measure, was Alberta.  That's right - Alberta. Home of those awful "tar-sands", and rednecks who only care about green issues when the green being discussed is the ink on the $20 bill. Home of greedy corporations who plunder Mother Nature. THAT Alberta.

Well, the Greens are working to correct the issue this time, coming out strongly in favour of corporate tax hikes and a carbon tax. Which should do them WONDERS with their popular support in Alberta. "Thanks for the votes in 2008. p.s., get bent."

The Green Party policy book has a lot of very good "what"'s - that is to say, "Here's how life should be, and would be under a Green government". What it lacks is "how"'s - How do we actually achieve the goals as outlined?
The knock against the Greens has long been that they're a group of environmental activists, trying to run a political party against parties that are run by - wait for it - politicians. Candidates are often (but not always) exactly what you'd expect: Bright-eyed students, or bleary-eyed former hippies (the candidate in Calgary-Southwest, running against Stephen Harper, is trumpeted on the Green website as "an active member of the Calgary 420 Cannabis Community"). They increased their profile, though not necessarily their legitimacy in the public eye, with the July 2010 appointment of recently retired NHL enforcer Georges Laraque to the position of Male Deputy Leader.

The party has grown steadily in membership and support since Elizabeth May's first election as leader in 2006 - however, patience is reportedly wearing thin among Green Party donors and supporters. Many eyes on election night will be on May's suburban Victoria riding, where she's taking on notable Tory Gary Lunn. It will be a chance for May to prove that her party made the right decision in extending her term as leader. Possibly... the last chance.

Green Party of Canada - Website
Green Policies
Find your local Green candidate

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