Thursday, April 03, 2008

Should Greens Pass On Election?

This is what Elizabeth May says, regarding what the various parties should do in collaboration to stop Harper:
"Not just specific trades in different ridings, but an effort to be more collaborative so that we can figure out -- in a first-past-the-post system -- can we work together to ensure that (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper enjoys a one-term period as prime minister.

"We cannot afford more than one term of this government."

There was a comment left on one of my posts, which had a certain inherent logic, if you take May's resolve to the final conclusion:
I May wants so badly for Harper to be defeated - why is her party running any candidates at all?? Name me one riding in all of Canada where having a green party candidate running in addition to a Liberal and an NDP candidate running is somehow going to help end Harper's reign as PM. If she wants Harper to lose so badly, why doesn't she pledge NOT to run any candidates at all and instead that she will endorse whichever NDP or Liberal candidate she thinks has the best chance of defeating the Conservatives in the next election. Or at the very least should could unilaterally pledge not to run any candidates against any NDP or Liberal incumbents.

If her singular goal in politics is to defeat Harper - that's what she will have to do.

I ask the following seriously, rather than an attempt to draw the ire of Greens, people which I respect- should the Greens pull candidates from ridings where the prospects of their running benefits the Conservatives? Following the May logic, in ridings where the fight is clearly between the two main parties, wouldn't an exit by the Green candidate, with an endorsement, be the best way to end the Harper reign? Unless a Green has a realistic chance of winning in a riding, then isn't the strategic play, the moral one, according to May, to coalesce around the candidate with the best chance of defeating the Conservative?

Are these fair questions?


MarkCh said...

Perhaps the Greens should withdraw from all ridings which are close between the Conservatives and any other party. A green candidate in downtown Toronto or rural Alberta is not really helping Harper hang on to power.

I think the real reason they don't do this is that Ms. May is unusual among Greens in thinking that the Liberals are so very much better than the Conservatives.

Rick said...

Not a Green supporter here (mostly because I do not like May), but I think these are fair questions.

Imagine if the left of centre parties could build a meaningful coalition and nominate joint candidates in many or all ridings. They would be able to get a solid majority in the HoC.

The problem (in my view at least) is that that is way too big a tent to cover 3 parties.

But back to your point, If Elizabeth May really truly wants Harper out after one term, then yes, she should not run any Green candidates in any riding across Canada, including Central Nova.

On second thought, I am not an expert, so there may be 5-20 ridings where the Green candidate would have a better chance than the NDP or Liberals, so I guess she should only run 5-20 candidates.

Mark Dowling said...

Saying the Greens should not run candidates at all is basically saying we should have American party politics.

And look how well that's working out.

@rick - while the Libs are running the likes of Jim Karaygiannis and most of the other Scarberian MPs, it doesn't get to be left-of-centre.

Steve V said...

I guess the best example is Saanich-Gulf Islands, where you have two former Greens running for the Libs and NDP. There was a proposal to have a runoff vote between the three parties, with the winner to face Gary Lunn straight up. The Lib and NDP candidates were on board, but last I heard the Green party candidate was resisting the idea. That is a strange stance, based on what May recently said about "teams" being a hinderance to progress.

Rick said...

Mark - good point on some of the Lib MPs.

In my view the Liberals are left of centre (more so under Dion than Chretien), but with any big tent party you get a wide swatch of people. Jimmy K in the same party as Jack Layton, Olivia Chow and Elizabeth May. That is one BIG tent!

Anonymous said...

The Greens are really not a left wing party at all. In fact, they are known throughout the world as RADICAL rightwingers.

The misnomer comes from the left thinking they are the only "environmentalists". But, the very roots of "conservatives" is "to conserve"... not wanting waste, smaller government, personal responsiblity by all, etc.

There was another "Mother Earth" Gaia type movement which recruited youth and idealists in Germany in the earlier 1900's. These people eventually became known as "Hitler Youth".

Propaganda is powerful and if you did some homework on the Greens and their origins it just might scare you.

JimBobby said...

Whooee! I think if the NDP withdrew candidates where the Libs had a chance and the Libs withdrew where the Dippers had a chance, then this idea might fly.

Why should the Greens be the only ones to fall on their swords? Why not the NDP and LPC? The Greens are polling in a tie with the NDP. Why are our candidates and policies less important than theirs?

I see this as a cynical attempt to use the inherently unfair FPTP system to even further shut out the Greens. If enough Liberals would quit backing the abstaining, Con-enabling Grits and joined the Greens, we wouldn't have to fall on our swords. If we could trust Dion and crew to walk the walk, the Green Party would not be the treat it is.

Dion and teh Liberal caucus have failed to represent their constituents. They've stood by and allowed Harper to extend the Afghanistan fiasco two more deadly years. They're about to allow the most drastic changes to immigration policy in a decade. They embarrass all Canadians with their abstentions and non-participation in the democratic process. Why should Greens stand down for that bunch? How can they tell us they will do what's good and right when they won't even stop the senseless slaughter in Afstan or put a stop to Min. Finley's overarching bastardization of immigration policy?

Stand aside for the NDP? They're gonna have to turn off the vitriol first. The NDP won't co-operate with anyone. Not the Grits. Not the Greens. Not anyone. They pride themselves on their intransigence.

Again, when the Libs and NDP start showing they can work together for real progress (and not just non-binding flag flappin' posturing), the Greens might be interested.

You want the Green votes? Win 'em. Show how you can be effective and get things done in a minority Parliament. Enact the green policies you yammer about. The GPC didn't "steal" votes away from the other parties. We won them. The other parties failed to retain their support and the Greens came in and offered an alternative.

Greens are going to turn into "Hitler Youth"? I invoke Godwin. You lose the argument and all credibility, AnonnyNumbnuts.


JimBobby said...

"treat" should be "threat" - Freudian slip, I think.

Steve V said...


Would you support the idea of a runoff election?

I'm just throwing this out there, and your points are taken.

JimBobby said...

I would consider a runoff a possibility. But, again, if the Lib candidate wins the runoff, what guarantee do voters have that the Liberal will actually represent the riding and carry the constituent's concerns to Parliament?

A few short years ago, there was a fringe party known as the Reform Party. That party morphed and merged and now runs the country, nearly unopposed. If the Liberals stay stagnant and NDP keep losing support like they are, the Greens may just be able to do for the progressive movement what the Reform Party did for the right wing.

Rather than a runoff, I'd prefer to see real co-operation from the existing opposition parties. If an NDP candidate stands down in a 3 way race to allow a Liberal to win, Greens would be encouraged to do similar things. So far, the May-Dion non-compete deal is the only one. May has said we will entertain any similar offers but none have been forthcoming.

You're asking the Greens (who are growing in strength) to stand aside for parties that are either stalled or moving backwards in public support. It's easy to see what's in it for the LPC and NDP if the Greens stand aside. What's in it for the Greens? All it looks like is obscurity and we're just emerging from obscurity.


Joe said...

If the Greens do not run a candidate so a Lib might win does not mean that the people of the riding will follow the leaders. Betty May may not understand the difference between the Libs and the Greens but I think most voters do understand. If I wanted to vote Green but was denied a Green candidate implying that I should vote Lib does not mean I'm going to vote Lib. Out of spite I might vote Con or NDP or not vote at all.

Every Green supporter should be working overtime to get rid of Betty May. I'm quite certain that they did not put all that money and energy into getting a political party going only to have its leader working to get another party elected.

If political parties want to form coalitions then let them do so formally and work under one leader. I kind of think that any informal coalition where parties retain their autonomy will result in a parlament that resembles a sheep dog trying to herd cats.

Steve V said...

"You're asking the Greens (who are growing in strength) to stand aside for parties that are either stalled or moving backwards in public support."

JB, I'm not really, just an idea. The Saanich riding is interesting, because you do have former Greens running, so that assumes some like-minded views, a runoff seems a good idea, fair, the best candidate moves forward.

Anonymous said...

So in other words, the Green Party is all for "cooperation" as long as it takes the form of other parties rolling over and playing dead so that maybe, just maybe, the Green might elect someone somewhere.

That's fine, I expect parties to do what's in their own self-interest. But then spare me Elizabeth May sanctimoniously squawking about how the ONLY thing that matters is defeating the Harper government.

If that is what she believes then she should order her party to withdraw all its candidates in the next election.

Green Assassin Brigade said...

Liberal current inaction and my very faint faith that they will even stay green long enough to do the things they claim the believe in makes me say NO!

There is no credibility that the libs have a core belief, rather they move like the changing wind, climate change and electoral reform would go the way of the promise to cancell the GST and scuttle NAFTA

Despite the NDP/Green Vitriol, at least I know what a dipper believes.(even thought their support of electoral reform is not so broad as to demand Greens in the debates)

The current state of affairs is not our causing, the Cons are in the lead not because they are oh so impressive but rather the nation is sickend by the normal alternatives. There is no proof Green votes will go to any particular party or even vote if we pull out, this is too simplistic an arguement.

The best proposal I saw was divide the country up fairly, each party running 1/3 of the ridings in all regions, with the understanding the role of the proposed coaltion gov (that would likely be formed) would be to deal with climate change and enact PR.

That Greens would probably buy!

But to blame us for a possible Con win when the incompetence of others gave us our current strength is misguided, or to put the onus on us to stop the Cons and save the decadent Libs from themselves is equally foolish.

It all comes down to people expecting someone else to more altrustic than they are willing to be. Deal fairly and I'm sure we'd deal.

JimBobby said...

Whooee! I like that one about the sheep dog and the cats. I have one of each and the cat herds the sheep dog more often than vice-versa.

Joe, Lizzie wasn't the only one who made the Red-Green deal. It's a two-way deal. Dion is trying to get Lizzie elected, too. By your reckoning, he should be turfed out for that. As far as the deal goes, Lizzie sure got the better end of it. Dion sacrificed a few thousand CN LPC votes, while the Greens barely got a few hundred votes in Dion's riding. I call that a good bargain for the Greens.

Most Greens I know are strong supporters of Elizabeth. As with any party, there are a few grumblers and malcontents. I'd say her leadership position is much, much stronger that Dion's.

And, I agree. Withdrawing a candidate is no guarantee that those supporters will vote the intended way. It may just be a way of making people even more cynical and less likely to vote. That's an unintended consequence our democracy can do without.


Steve V said...

"There is no proof Green votes will go to any particular party or even vote if we pull out, this is too simplistic an arguement.'

If a particular candidate where to stand aside, and endorse, then that would carry added weight for vote transfer.

Anonymous said...

JimBobby: Unfortunately, Dion or Layton aren't on the record as saying that getting rid of Harper is the trump card that beats everything else. That's why the Greens are getting picked on here. If you don't agree with that, ditch the leader that's saying so.

While the Greens in the party may approve of May, let me just say that, from the view of an outsider who sympathizes with the Greens, she's a disaster. The Dion/May thing isn't seen as a vote exchange, it's seen as an endorsement. And in that case, Dion benefits a hell of a lot more from a Green endorsement than May benefits from a Liberal one.

Also her "No Harper, None of the Time" campaign is doing her candidates out here in the west absolutely no favors. In Alberta and BC, provinces that have had the highest level of Green support, that support, in general, comes from conservatives who like the Greens more pragmatic approach to environment, taxation, and democracy -- so the idealistic fervor with which May is approaching things does not play well. I know it's certainly made me reconsider whether to vote Green or something else.

JimBobby said...

"While the Greens in the party may approve of May, let me just say that, from the view of an outsider who sympathizes with the Greens, she's a disaster."

Yet, the GPC is growing and gaining strength. We need more disasters like that.

WRT, the Dion endorsement and the slagging of Harper, I tend to agree with you. I've written to Lizzie and I've encouraged her to be less deferential to Dion. I was particularly concerned about the Afstan extension and I've suggested we point out how different GPC policy is from the Liberals.

There has been a bit of discussion on the GPC blogs re negativism, especially where it concerns Elizabeth trashing Harper. Many of us feel it is counterproductive and we've made our views known.

Of course, it's not like Elizabeth May is the only one saying negative things about Stephen Harper. The Dippers sometimes quit slagging Dion and May long enough to devote some vitriol to Harper and the governing Con's.

At any rate, I'm for a positive campaign where we put forth our ideas and let the voters decide who has the best policies and platform based on merit rather than mudslinging.


Joe said...

Well jimbobby I was thinking the same about Dion except near as I can tell no one cares what Dion is thinking or saying. LOL

Anonymous said...

I'd argue that the GPC's growth is only correlated with May in that she's the one that happens to be in charge as Canadians really start to realize the magnitude of the environmental problem we're setting up for ourselves. Personally, I believe the growth is despite her, not because of her, and I think the Greens are getting shorted what they really could have for support if they had a leader that didn't come off as batty in the media.

JimBobby said...

Maybe if the TV network executives who make up teh Broadcast Consortium see fit to allow Elizabeth into the TV debates, the "battiness" you see will be tempered. There are plenty of Elizabeth's appearances on video on YouTube. Have you seen any?

I had a little trouble convincing even my local GPC candidate of Elizabeth's leadership qualities. It wasn't until he attended a campaign school where Elizabeth spoke and ran some workshops that he came around. He did come around, skeptical as he was.

The MSM and the negative portrayal by the NDP and Con's have not been kind to Elizabeth. The GPC doesn't have millions to spend on TV ad campaigns and image consultants, psychic or otherwise. And remember, Preston Manning wasn't exactly a media darling and he was portrayed as a batty fringe party leader. His party is running the country now.


Anonymous said...

"The Dippers sometimes quit slagging Dion and May long enough to devote some vitriol to Harper and the governing Con's."

Please help me. I keep searching high and lo for an example of Jack Layton or anyone in the NDP directing any "vitriol" at Elizabeth May. I have combed through every NDP press release for the past year, combed through the NDP website, combed through CBC and Globe websites and I cannot find a single instance where anyone in the NDP has said anything particularly negative about May at all. In fact, for the most part the NDP seems to just ignore her (which probably drives her nuts more than anything).

Where and when exactly did this anti-May vitriol from the NDP take place? Or is may just making it up?

JimBobby said...

"Where and when exactly did this anti-May vitriol from the NDP take place? Or is may just making it up?"

May didn't say it. I did.

I was referring to unofficial NDP blogs, not to Jack Layton or any official NDP press releases or documents. Sorry, if I gave the wrong impression. I can see my original statement wasn't too clear on that point.


Daniel Grice said...

The Greens will be running 307 candidates in the next election, unless otherwise expressed by members at the AGM in September. We receive nearly $2 per vote per year, so even weak ridings are worth $6000 a year to us, if not more.

Frankly, as a Green Party candidate, the only solution is electoral reform, and if the Liberals really care about the environment or progressive policies, they would be championing it to ensure that vote splitting did not lead to false majorities.

As they are not, there is no reason for Greens to do anything but offer all Canadians a real alternative. Right now, there only seems to be 2 parties in the country with a comprehensive vision for Canada that go beyond one election.

One is the Conservative Vision, as outline by Stephen Harper that calls on incremental steps to reduce the federal governments spending power and to move Canadian values (not just laws, but values) closer to conservative values.

The other vision, is that of the Green Party, outline in, that sees Canada as a leader in green technology and moving away from Carbon, and outlines sensible solutions to health, crime, and foreign policy. It is one where making a living does not crowd out having a life,where everyone has the right to dignity and building an economy does not result in depleting our natural resources beyond a level which is sustainable.

Right now, the Liberals have yet to tell us what they would do if elected. If they have to wait until an election to present their vision of Canada, then why should we trust that they believe in what they speak of?

If they want to stand for something or take on Green policies on mass, they are free to do so.

Johncolin said...

I am a former Liberal who worked for the party in the last two elections. I now have a Green party membership and intend to vote for them in the next election. I am also from a family that helped form the CCF in Sask. and still work with the NDP so I have long history of dinner table discussions over power v issues v influence.
I agree with jimbobby on the issue of the Lpc having to win my vote back. I do not have an obligation to go to the LPC they have an obligation to win my vote.
The truth is that the environment is currently my first and last concern and the LPC history is so poor on this issue that I am falling on the side of influencing thier policy by parking my vote until they respond to my concerns. No big tent, no compromise.
Perhaps that means I am out in the wilderness for awile but it is better than losing faith in the system and humanity with working for more false hopes, empty words and downright lies (I can see those from the CPC without supporting them)
Dion started out promising but has clearly backed off on the environment as in no carbon tax.
These are the hard truths that the LPC will have to face in the coming years and my view is that as the climate crisis gets worse these views will harden. The longer the LPC waits to win our votes back the steeper the price.
Just like the price of waiting to act on climate change.
This is Canada's new deficit.
Who will tackle it.

Greg said...

Whooee! I think if the NDP withdrew candidates where the Libs had a chance and the Libs withdrew where the Dippers had a chance, then this idea might fly.

JB you are on to something there, I think. If only the parties were adult enough to give that a try (or better still reform the electoral system so such radical strategies are unnecessary).

Steve V said...

"I agree with jimbobby on the issue of the Lpc having to win my vote back. I do not have an obligation to go to the LPC they have an obligation to win my vote."

Yes that do. And, you know what, when I joined the Liberals it was in support of Kennedy, who uttered those same words.

lance said...

JB said, "And remember, Preston Manning wasn't exactly a media darling and he was portrayed as a batty fringe party leader. His party is running the country now."

Umm, and how's Preston doing in that gov't?

Sure, the example of the right, if taken out of context bodes well for the Greens. Right up until you put it in context and then the only rational way is what Steve said, the Green's surrender everywhere, the NDP quit Ont and the Libs leave everywhere but Ont.

Even then I seriously doubt it would work.

I tend to agree with one of the anon's the best place for the Greens to grow with the most opportunity is on the right. But that isn't going to happen with May.


Demosthenes said...

If there were no NDP, this might be valid. But it's the height of madness to assume that the Greens aren't leeching away more NDP voters than Liberals, and also the height of madness to assume that the NDP isn't working to split the vote in potential Liberal ridings.

Indeed, if I understand Layton's strategy correctly, that's sort of the point.

If the NDP/Greens/Liberals want to coordinate, that is their right; but keeping in mind that the only thing standing between Canada and a Liberal/NDP government coalition is the Bloc Quebecois that nobody will ally with, the current system still seems to make sense.

jimbobby: There's no way the Greens will be able to do what the Reform party did. They'd have to overtake and absorb both the Liberals and NDP, and that isn't going to happen. If there were no NDP then it might work, but then again, if there were no Greens, the NDP's attempt to replicate Reform would also work. Because both do exist, though, invasion from the margin seems impossible for both.