While I have no sympathy for Bill Tieleman’s grade school –ha-ha-a-ha-ha taunting Tyee article, Greens’ Breakthrough Dreams Withered on the Vine, it is impossible to look at the federal election results, and not conclude it is time to think clearly and analytically about the future of the Green Party of Canada and the values that it so boldly espouses.
While Tieleman concludes that “’Stampede’ voting, not strategic voting, ran them(Green Party) over this election,” my own experience going door to door, day after day, over the course of our marathon election was that people wanted Harper out and they were very much planning to vote to accomplish that end. Stampede voting in Tieleman’s mind is a hard core reality like the asphalt under his feet though he has no demonstrable proof of or mechanism for this figment of his imagination. Oh, Yes! There were new voters-horary!- and confusion about which party would be the vehicle for change, but in my home riding-Courtenay Alberni-I encountered a large number of people committed to strategically voting to keep Harper out. And there was a stronger Green presence with personal endorsement through yard signs than I have ever seen before.
Further to the question of strategic voting, Votetogether.ca notes that in ridings they targeted for strategic voting:
• The NDP and Liberals took 25 of the 29 targeted seats away from the Conservatives. That’s an 86% success rate in seats the Conservatives won in 2011. A HUGE shift and far more dramatic than the national average.
• Local Leadnow members recommended 13 NDP candidates and 16 Liberal candidates as the most likely to defeat their Conservative opponent. In the seats Conservatives lost, our recommended candidate was the winner 96% of the time (24 out of 25 ridings).
• In our 4 targeted seats where Conservatives won, our recommended candidate ended up as the closest challenger twice. In the two other ridings, Leadnow members recommended the NDP candidate where the Liberals actually ended up finishing 2nd.
• LeadNow recommended NDP candidates in 11 B.C. ridings, and the Liberals for two seats on the North Shore.
• All but three of those chosen candidates won their races.
Bill Tieleman was not on the ground or on the phone to hear how many people were voting strategically to oust Harper.
Tieleman’s vindictive rant about the Green Party losses is without merit and without respect for the Green Party, our core democratic processes and the social and environmental values the Green Party has so steadfastly championed.
As I don’t see an apology coming from Tieleman, let me say– as someone who has shared Bill Tieleman’s political leaning for a very long time, I deeply regret his remarks and I know they do not reflect the opinion of the large body of left-wing people I know. I and many, many of my friends and colleagues have the greatest respect for Elizabeth May and the efforts of the Green Party of Canada to point the way to a just, sustaining and sustainable Canada with a vibrantly functioning democracy. We acknowledge that many Green voters made difficult/even painful decisions about not voting for their first choice party so that Canada would not have to suffer through another devastating four years of social and environmental devastation at the hands of the unprogressive Conservatives. Now is the time to recognize, and be thankful for the difficult decisions these Green Party supporters made on the behalf of a much better Canada.
And-giving credit where credit is due-it is still time to ask what is the future of the Green Party in Canada? While strategic voting-in my view-definitely cut into the Green Party vote, it is very hard to see how– even without strategic voting– the Green Party’s 3.5% share of the national vote could have stretched to anything close to its historic 5%. One has to ask, does the Green Party’s existence as a political entity actually advance the values they hold or could all that effort and money be channeled into a more effective agent of change.
A recent survey found that 77% of Canadians agree that climate change/global warming is a significant problem that our governments should act on. Given the Green vote it seems clear that the Green Party is neither the source of environmental awareness in Canada nor its beneficiary. It is difficult to imagine how that will change—even if we get electoral reform.
In a number of ways—not all—the Green Party is in a position like the Reform Party was in prior to Reform’s merger with the (then)Progressive Conservatives—despite early successes the party just wasn’t advancing its goals. The Reform (Alliance for a short time) Party simply took votes that kept the right wing out of office without effectively advancing the corporate agenda. So they merged and out of that came the Harper years-years we loath but none can challenge that they dramatically advanced the corporate agenda. In my view the corporate funders had a big hand in the merger—they simply told both parties they wouldn’t go on funding two losers. They wanted to fund one party to take power and steer the country their direction.
There are no big funders to steer the social and environmental movement to joint action but we do have a lot of thoughtful people that are very capable of seeing that the status quo is locked in until we do something to unlock it.
One bright vision of the possible is working itself out south of the border where Bernie Sanders, the avowed Socialist from Vermont has turned the old boys club(s) upside down by speaking to real social and environmental values while (brilliantly!) choosing to do an end run on splitting the vote rhetoric by running for the presidency under the banner of the Democratic Party—and he is neck in neck with Hillary for the nomination. Sanders is a genuine reformer talking about reversing the income inequality, getting money out of the money driven political system that has become nothing more than a sham, dealing effectively with climate change, valuing peace before never-ending-war, advancing single payer-universal healthcare…
So the obvious question is why not have Elizabeth May run for the leadership of the NDP? I’m serious. The NDP has just had its identity stolen by the Liberals, it has to remake itself as a fully differentiated, valued, new brand or it will end up polling near the historic Green Party levels. For those who see this as a pipe dream—think back to the early 90’s in BC. The Social Credit Party was all but deregistered following their devastating loss in the 1991 election. But the conservative/business first and foremost interests were not down or defeated for long. Those smart guys simply moved-holus bolus-to the Liberal Party. In short order they were back in power and their far right values have—with minor exceptions—dominated the province ever since.
If the right can so purposefully work together to advance their values why can’t the progressives work cooperatively (supposedly a progressive value) to advance a just, sustaining and sustainable province, Canada, world?
Imagine, for a moment, the collective energy that would be generated if all the wonderful people who worked apart in the last election came together to work cooperatively for a progressive and Canada energized to take on all the issues that Bernie Sanders has so comprehensively laid out? Imagine the political consciousness generated by an election campaign dedicated to social and environmental justice with Elizabeth May at the helm of the new “Democratic Green Party” proclaiming a new vision of a “Just and Sustainable Canada”-a clear take off on Pierre Trudeau’s effective campaign slogan “A Just Canada”?
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. How is coming together to promote a just and sustainable Canada different from the coming together of the Alliance and Progressive Conservatives to promote the right? or the transmigration of Social Creditors to new powers and privilege under the name of the Liberal Party? or the—really remarkable—ascendency of avowed socialist values to the helm of the Democratic Party by simply having one man step over the line and do what hadn’t even been dreamed possible for more than a century?
I hope someday—soon—you’ll join us and our dream of a just, sustaining and sustainable Canada will no longer be a dream—it will be our Canada! I know that working respectfully together we can do so much better than the nihilism of Bill Tieleman.
You likely have some different thoughts on this topic and they would contribute much to our common understanding and our common longing for a vibrantly Green AND truly Democratic Canada.