Greens should infiltrate Liberals, NDP, and the Bloc

Throughout the federal election campaign, Green Leader Elizabeth May described Liberal Leader Stephane Dion as an honourable man.

May also said she would do what she could to stop Stephen Harper from being reelected as prime minister.

In light of the recent election results, one wonders if the opposite is true.

The Greens helped elect more Conservative candidates by siphoning off environmental votes, many of which might have gone instead to the federal Liberals.

During the 1990s, right-wing voters had two choices: the Reform party and the Progressive Conservatives. It made things much easier for the Liberals under Jean Chretien.

In this decade, the pro-environment voters have four choices: the Liberals, the NDP, the Bloc Quebecois, and the Greens.

This makes things much easier for the anti-environmental Conservatives under Harper.

If May wants to elect a government that will support strong environmental policies, she should advise her supporters to tear up their national  Green party memberships and infiltrate the other pro-environmental parties to influence their policies.

Saskatchewan farmer David Orchard tried this with the Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals, and enjoyed a fair amount of success, apart from being stabbed in the back by Peter MacKay.

There are a lot more federal Greens than Orchard supporters. Imagine the  impact they could cause within the federal NDP on such issues as proportional representation, the next leadership race, and a carbon tax.

Of course, many Greens are political dilettantes who only get together at election time so they can  put their names on the ballot and get a buzz by speaking at candidates meetings. So the likelihood of this occurring is pretty slim.



Dan Grice

Oct 17, 2008 at 7:32am

Charlie, the only solution is to change our voting system and not to hope that a political movement with branches in nearly every country will go away. While the Green Party may only receive attention at elections, many of our members and candidates are extremely active in NGO's, activist groups, and however we can put forward the changes that we want to see.

For many of us, we joined the Greens out of frustration with other parties for ignoring common sense ideas and the futility of waiting years for action to occur. For at least the last three elections, the Green Party has included putting a tax on carbon, and if it was not for the decent results that we had in the London North Center by-election as well as Vancouver Quadra earlier this year, we likely would never have seen it make it into any party's federal platform. That the Liberals and Dion absolute blew their campaign, due mainly to trying to present a gimmicky named "green shift" as something that would save family money's rather than outlining the true necessity for a carbon tax is hardly our fault.

Nor can we be blamed for the Conservatives walking away with over 37 percent of the vote. Even if you wrongly assumed that every Green voters would have the Liberals as their second choice, our combined vote would have still been 5% less that the Conservative. A smaller minority perhaps, but still a conservative minority.

You suggest we should infiltrate a party to try and change it from within. Our supporters are passionate about a number of issues. How about Marijuana legalization, an idea accepted by over half of Canadians. Supporters of the movement tried to work within the NDP, and you can ask Dana Larsen and Kirk Tousaw how well that strategy worked.

Or how about proportional representation? We are glad the federal NDP has it as part of their platform, because their provincial counterparts have been absolutely useless on this matter whenever they have actually controlled a legislature. We have had better process from Gordon Campbell that we did from Mike Harcourt or Glen Clark.

Should we hedge our bets and hope the Federal Liberals mention proportional representation. So far, we the most we could get out of half of their candidates was a pledge to perhaps have another study on it.

Our political system basically relies completely upon the will of a party leader to determine political policy. Certainly we could purchase our temporary memberships during a leadership contest, but is it really going to have much effect. We can't trust the other parties to follow through on their commitments. And our political system only allots a change in political leaders every 8-10 years. (Unlike the US where the law legislates every candidate run in primaries.)

Unfortunately, the best way to change policy may be to pull away voters from other parties. If the Liberals really prefer government to opposition, then they can back their voters. Not by begging Greens to vote ABC, but by actually taking a leadership role on all progressive issues.

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Oct 17, 2008 at 11:52am

Mr. Grice conveniently forgets that the Green vote going Liberal or NDP would have enormously reduced Harpers power as two minority parties out of three could have ganged up on him. Now it will take all three - almost majority power..

The Greens who the Neocon's refer to as "useful idiots" by rolling the dice would have elected a Neocon majority government had Harper not made an enormous tactical error in Quebec.

We need to hold Mr Grice's sanctimonious bleatings and his puerile disagreements with other progressives in the NDP and Liberals, against the certain death of hundreds of Salmon runs and hundreds of tar sand native cancer deaths the Greens ensured with their participation this election. His American counterpart Ralph Nader still has no apologies for the death of millions of Iraqi's, he caused by defeating Al Gore in 2000.

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Oct 17, 2008 at 12:00pm

On Vaughn Palmer's 'Voice of the Province' last night, panelist David Anderson said the same thing. The Greens should become "greens" in the established parties. He had in mind, of course, mainly the Liberals. But I would extend his advice to include the NDP and yes, even the Conservatives as well. After all, wasn't it David Suzuki himself who, along with Elizabeth May, organized the presentation of the Greenest PM Ever award to Brian Mulroney?

On another point, Anderson said he was sure that Harper would bring in a carbon tax within three years. I am not so sure about that, and if you read the Globe's story today on Dion's stubborn "lone wolf" approach to both policy and politics, you'll find this passage:

“The Green Shift was a millstone around his neck,” the Dion adviser says.

In fact, he had been counselled in the spring by his senior advisers, including campaign manager Gordon Ashworth, not to use it as a major election piece.

As well, deputy leader Michael Ignatieff and Mr. Rae “went hand-in-hand to dissuade him from this lunatic policy,” the adviser says. “They struck out as well. Nobody could change his mind.”

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If both Rae and Ignatieff are against it, how long is the carbon tax going to be official Liberal Party policy?

Rod Smelser

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Dan Grice

Oct 18, 2008 at 9:52am

When voter turnout drops below 40%, it makes me just about puke to hear people ready to blame the Greens for "electing Harper". We got 6.4%, yet 40% of people did not vote.

This sense of arrogance is laughable. Apathy elected Harper with 22% of eligible voters, not the 4% of potential voters who voted Green.

If the Liberals wanted to win, why bother asking for Green votes. They certainly got our votes (cost us $6000 in election rebates in Quadra) but they tanked badly across Canada.

Ask for lost votes. Give people some reason to come out rather than win these campaigns based on fear. The ABC campaign took away Green votes but gave little reason to attract anything else.

We are not the party encouraging apathy, we are the party that spends our time reaching out to students, hitting the streets and bars, and going after new voters almost as much as we go after existing voters. Eliminating the Greens from the electoral field is not going to increase voter turnout. Frankly, many of our supporters are loyal to us because they have absolutely no trust in the Liberals or NDP and would never vote for them anyways.

IF anyone wants to learn any lessons, look at Howard Dean and Obama in the US. After losing in 2000 (with Nader) and in 2004 (without Nader), they realized their folly. It was non-voters that were allowing the well organized religious right elect Bush. That is why they started a comprehensive youth voter turnout, focusses heavily on registering undecided voters, ensuring that low income people new how to vote, capturing cell phone numbers to run their GOTV campaign.

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Arno Schortinghuis

Oct 18, 2008 at 5:44pm

This article is very short on research. How does Charlie Smith know that Greens only take votes away from former NDPs and Liberals? Many Greens are also former Conservatives, so perhaps Greens actually reduced the number of Conservatives elected!

Also, our country and the planet would be much better off if Liberals, NDPs and Conservatives moved en mass to the Green Party and elected a Green government.

As Dan Grice mentioned, the real problem is the lack of proportional representation. Fair Vote Canada estimates that if we had a proportional voting system, Canadians would
be represented by 20 Green MPs. This would have had a bigger impact on Canada and the planet than electing a few more Liberals and NDP with their tired old platforms.

So lets all put our efforts into obtaining proportional representation so that the will of the people will be represented in parliament!

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