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The Green Party Is Not Necessarily Progressive

Why I am cancelling my membership

by Tyson Kelsall

Also posted by tkelsall:


In June 2013, I was elected as the Campaigns Chair on the Young Greens of Canada council, the youth wing of the federal Green Party of Canada. My hope was to help build and promote a progressive party that was going to stand up to the neoclassical economic structure, bring awareness to stopping pipelines, and put real environmental protection onto Parliament’s agenda. I sat on the Campaigns Committee with some important Greens. Although my role was very minor, Green Party momentum has been building nationally since Elizabeth May’s election. First, there were the federal by-elections where Chris Turner and Don Galloway in Calgary and Victoria, respectively, won huge percentages of their electorate. Then, Andrew Weaver earned a provincial seat over an incumbent Liberal in British Columbia, in a very Liberal election. Thunder Bay Member of Parliament Bruce Hyer, who had previously jumped ship from the New Democratic Party, joined the Greens, doubling their MPs. New Brunswick Green Party leader David Coon took a seat in a provincial by-election. Most recently, the Greens had success in the Vancouver municipal elections; including former British Columbia Green Party leader and Green Party of Canada deputy leader, Adriane Carr, receiving the most votes of anyone running for city council. Not to mention, their rise in many opinion polls done since 2011, at least in terms of popular vote.

This is all well for the Greens, in terms of getting more power in Canadian politics. Is this rise, though, good for the environment and progress towards social justice? Greens in Canada have often championed the fact that their platform rises above the traditional left-right spectrum, and as long as someone aligns themselves with their six principles, they can be a Green.  These principles: non-violence, sustainability, social justice, ecological wisdom, participatory democracy and respect for diversity, leave room for vagueness and opens their party up to a diverse set of people. This is why a centrist-liberal, like Elizabeth May, someone as politically ambigious as Georges Laraque, and a former NDP MP can all be part of the same party. It’s why former Green Party Leader, Jim Harris, can endorse a conservative in the Toronto mayoral race that featured an actual progressive in Olivia Chow. This is why May won in a previous Conservative riding, rather than a traditional progressive/left riding. On January 19th, she will host and give a platform to former Conservative Premier Joe Clark for a speech. Here, arises their greatest shortcoming: the Green Party has no backbone. Their platform subscribes to no ideology, and thus they do not stand for much. The reason they claim to be something different than the other mainstream parties is the very same reason that negates their existence at all.

If Canadians needed any further proof that voting Green is not intrinsically voting progressive, they can look to newly elected Vancouver School Board trustee Janet Fraser who, while holding the balance of power, voted for a right-winged NPA member to be the school board chair, over a Vision Vancouver candidate. Her pathetic defense was that “voters brought change”, despite the fact that the Vision incumbent, Patti Bacchus received more votes than any other trustee, and Christopher Richardson, the NPA trustee, received the fewest on the board. Fraser says her decision was “based on Green values”. The NPA is backed by the far right think-tank, the Fraser Institute. Their mayoral candidate openly supported corporate classroom funding from Chevron. It is also known that right-leaning parties tend to be anti-union, which pits them ideologically against the British Columbia Teachers Federation. First, does she think voters would have elected a Green trustee, if they had thought a Green would help bring a Chevron partnership onto the school board’s agenda? Moreover, what does this say about “Green values”? A few days after Fraser cast her vote, BC Green Party Leader Adam Olsen wrote a post called “Left-right politics” where he denounces the left and right spectrum, and says, “Greens are defined by…the quality of decisions we make and our ability to defend those decisions”. This, of course, is dependent on what lens somebody is looking through while examining a decision. To be a Green then, only means being able to rationalize your decision regardless of how just or unjust it is.

One fellow Green explained to me that, “we’re basically running on a 1990s Liberal platform”. Perhaps, these are the citizens who May and the Greens are pandering to, Liberals who care about the environment a little bit more than Justin Trudeau, who has shown support for Keystone XL and previously for Energy East (although that is waning with so much grassroots opposition), but agree with most Liberal Party politics.

The Greens, as they say on their website, are historically rooted in “the counter culture movement [that] launched the first mass rejection of consumer culture”. However, they have sacrificed a lot on their journey from protest party to mainstream Canadian politics. Would a current Green Party of Canada voice claim to be anti-capitalist and against consumer culture? In haste of gaining more political clout they have abandoned their initial base of staunch environmentalists and progressives. The Green Party movement has perhaps lost any significance it had.

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My, my; such judgement

When you are uncompromising, you end up very alone.

The left should be a "big tent," capable of supporting a variety of points-of-view that are not obviously destructive.

I get so tired of hearing "anti-capitalist" as though it were the be-all and end-all. Truth is, there is much good to find in personal ownership of the means of production, as Garatte Hardin noted in his seminal work, The Tragedy of the Commons. A farmer buys a plough so he can work the land to produce food to sell — capitalism. A seamstress buys a sewing machine so she can make clothing to sell — capitalism. What is unconcionable is the notion of passive investment, or financial capitalism. You probably have a pension that depends on it! (I don't!)

I think what you should be attacking is big government, whether right or left. The former Soviet Union was not exactly the common person's friend, and neither is communist China. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absulotely, as the last BC NDP government discovered.

I don't think you really understand the Green Party. I suggest you read the Green Plan, the official platform. It has a little-l "libertarian" streak you may not like, but the government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take away all you have, whether left or right.

Rather than pick on a tiny faction like the Green Party, why don't you get busy fighting the real bastards — the ones in control in Ottawa? Elizabeth is the only party leader advocating strategic party coordination to defeat Harper, and will not run a Green where it would help a Conservative.

And how dare you, how dare you, attack Elizabeth for winning a riding by some 55% that had been held by a Conservative for sixteen years who had never received as much as 40% of the vote? She won this seat by being the candidate that finally united the left, after sixteen years of "engineered elections" that successfully did what your article advocates: splitting the left.

In the immortal words of Walt Kelly, "We have met the enemy, and they are us." Somewhere, someone in the Harper Government is reading your article and grinning ear-to-ear.

My, My... Such denial & indignation

Newsflash: the greens ARE libertarians who figured out that greenwashing works. Let's look at a few of the key players NOT mentioned in the article.
Jane Sterk: Former leader of the BC Greens. Was a Conservative supporter in Alberta. Retired millionaire who became 'green' after becoming concerned about beach garbage at her favorite Mexican resort.

Jodi Emery: Now seeking a federal Liberal nomination, ran for the greens in the last provincial election. She & her husband Marc (the sexual predator) Emery are died in the wool libertarians who formed the BC Marijuana Party. That party is 100% libertarian & only runs 2 candidates per election in order to maintain party status. Beyond that, they throw their support 100% behind the greens. Jodi's platform consisted of  the following: lower taxes, changing the pot laws & oh, yeah... The enviornment, we can do that through individual responsibility & smaller government.

How dare someone attack Elizabeth May? I'll dare: She put out statements in support of Jian Ghomeshi after the allegations broke. Showing clearly that she does not give a rats ass about women's issues, nor does she belive that women tell the truth about sexual assault. Not exactly a bastion of progressive thought.

The greens are not left or progressive, they're Ayn Rand with pretty trees.





Caveat emptor

And, as most Libertarians-liberals do, the Greens support the prostitution industry over women's rights.

really a stretch

"How dare someone attack Elizabeth May? I'll dare:"

Typical of someone who has no arugument: change the debate when cornered.

I said "how dare you" attack Elizabeth for winning a riding that had been conservative for 16 years, when I pointed out that the conservative had never won more than 40% of the vote, while May won by 55%, and you switched the topic to Jian Gomeshi, who has still not had any allegations supported in a court of law.

I supported Jian initially, as well. I've seen too many popular people pilloried with false accuasations, and had enjoyed Jian's work througout the years to the point where I found the firing rather arbitrary. CBC wasn't saying much. It was a few days before the accusers came forward, at which point, May did "the right thing" and said:

"Violent attacks on women are not acceptable. Full stop. As Professor Cossman points out, consent can never be given to physical attacks such as those described in the Toronto Star story."

So, you not only quoted me completely out-of-context on a completely different issue, you picked one in which the facts were murky and which ordinary people were expressing opinions similar to May's initial tweet.

I guess it's very easy to be critical of Greens when one demands such perfection of politicians, when one demands that politicians cave to popular innuendo and meritless condemnation before the facts are established.

In such a case, I'll have whomever you're not voting for!

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