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Renewed Green Party a threat to the NDP?


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hmmmmm.....one party taking support from another with similar values.....(sounds kinda familiar) thoughts?

Elizabeth May is a tree-hugger to be reckoned with: If Sierra Club head leads the Greens, the NDP could be in for some trouble

Montreal Gazette

Friday, May 12, 2006

Page: A23

Section: Editorial / Op-Ed


Column: L. Ian MacDonald

Source: The Gazette

It was a bad day for Jack Layton when Elizabeth May announced she was

running for the leadership of the Green Party.

When it comes to environmental activism, she is the real deal. It's not

unrealistic to suggest that she might double the Green vote to eight per

cent. Most of those votes would come from the cities and Vancouver

Island, and most of that growth would come at the expense of Layton and

the NDP.

"It would serve him right," May was saying in Ottawa on the day of her

announcement, as she waited to go on for a CBC television interview with

Don Newman. "He shouldn't have brought down the government on the first

day of the climate- change conference."

That would be the non-confidence vote of last Nov. 28, the opening day

of the United Nations conference on global warming in Montreal. It was

the 11th Conference of Parties in the Kyoto round, and during nearly two

weeks of marathon sessions, it did some important work that was swamped

by the media coverage of the campaign.

May was there as executive director of the Sierra Club, a post she has

held for 17 years since she left the Mulroney government as special

adviser to the environment minister.

In a movement known for its share of tree-huggers and wingnuts, May has

always been mainstream, working from the inside rather than shouting

from the barricades. If there's an acid- rain accord with the United

States today, she deserves a significant amount of credit for talking it

onto the Mulroney government's agenda.

May could talk the birds down from the trees. She has always refused to

take no for an answer. And she has always been motivated by optimism

rather than driven by zeal. While the shock troops of the environmental

movement are always saying the end is near, she's always saying the

problem can be fixed, as ozone depletion was following the Montreal

Protocol of 1987.

That was a fairly important development since, without a solution, as

she deadpans, we die.

The environment isn't going away as an issue anytime soon. Canada's

Kyoto target of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions to six per cent below

1990 levels by 2008-2012 is unattainable, especially since our emissions

have actually increased by 24 per cent. But if Kyoto is only a process,

the issue of global warming is urgent, especially with the melting of

the polar ice cap, and all that implies for sustainable development and

Arctic sovereignty.

The Harper government will release its climate-change policy in the

fall, and if May becomes leader of the Greens on Aug. 27, the

Conservatives can expect her to make it all about the environment.

The Tories should be concerned because of her eloquence and her ability

to turn science into sound bites, on an issue the public deeply cares about.

The NDP should be concerned because she is a real threat to them on the

centre left of the political spectrum.

"Who's your opponent?" she was asked.

"Stephen Harper," she replied.

"No, for the leadership."

"Oh, the deputy leader, David Chernushenko."

He ran unsuccessfully for the Greens in Ottawa Centre, one of the

granola-crunchiest places in the country. For that matter, the Greens

ran unsuccessfully everywhere in the country under the leadership of Jim

Harris, who in two elections couldn't get the Greens above four per cent.

Without a seat in the House of Commons, the Green leader doesn't get

invited into the leaders' debates. But the Greens do have money, since

they got enough votes in both 2004 and 2006 to qualify for the $1.75 per

vote per year under Bill C-24, the campaign finance reform that limits

donations but also funds parties.

If May were to win the Green leadership, and somehow win a seat in a

by-election, they would have to invite her to the leaders' debates. That

would make a stage already crowded with four leaders even more crowded

with five. But it would also put her on a level playing field.

At 52, a single mother of a teenage girl, she might seem a novice or

politically naive. She's anything but. She's a American native who lived

in coal-miner country in Cape Breton, and can play the game with the

best of them.

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I hope so. Definately glad to see Harris out -- I like Chernushenko a lot, but if May can get people excited about the Greens in a way that the NDP can't get people excited, then I'm all for it. The NDP had a chance to really tap into the various social movements, but ultimately rejected the NPI strategy at the 2001 convention. If the Green Party is able to mobilize that base politically, I'm all for it.

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Well, yeah, sorta. It is going to be Liberal and Conservative governments anyways, and it is rare (last Parliament) that the unofficial opposition has much sway to begin with. That problem is going to be there until the demand from inside and outside increases enough to change it. If the Greens can get more (and younger) people involved in Parliamentary politics, it should increase the demands for democratic reform (y'know, that stuff Paul Martin used to like to talk about a lot ;)).

BC, Ontario and PEI are already flirting with moving beyond FPTP ... but undemocratic requirements for supermajorities have so far been introduced to thwart the will of the citizenry. It is going to change somewhere provincially, and domino, and federal leaders are only going to be able to dodge it for so long before having their hand forced. The more people who feel unrepresented by the political establishment who start participating, the more people to feel alienated by the two party system of largely interchangeable players. Although I'll probably be too old to care by the time the lunacy at the federal level ends :)

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This is good news for Canada and Canadian Politics. Nothing like a "I'm Lost in Niagra Falls New York" drive to make one realize just how good we have it here in Canada. With 30-40% of the population still not voting, there seems to be more than enough room for parties to grow as they start echoing the voices of those who are complacent with not being heard.

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