Beyond Copenhagen: The Harsh Realities of Canadian Politics
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.