What does it mean to be Green in Canada?

Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May speaks to reporters on Parliament Hill on May 10, 2019. Photo by Kamara Morozuk

What else does the federal Green party stand for along with its call to put Canada on a “war footing” against climate change?

The Greens have been propelled into prominence because of the potential of their signature issue to be a prime ballot-box question in the Oct. 21 federal election.

What else they stand for is less conspicuous. Their place on the political spectrum is obscured by their slogan: “Not Left. Not Right. Forward Together.”

Elizabeth May, the lawyer and environmentalist who has led the party since 2006, welcomes the scrutiny that has accompanied speculation her two-seat Commons caucus could grow to a handful or more.

In an interview with National Observer, May said this election “feels so different to me” from the last one, in 2015. She told anecdotes of unexpected support, donations and crowds from a pre-campaign tour of 33 communities across Canada.

“I hope for a minority Parliament,” she said, relishing the prospect of securing a strong climate action plan in return for supporting a government short of a 170-seat majority.

Greens won’t compromise

“I’m more than ready for prime time. I don’t have any problem addressing any aspect of my life or my character and I’m very proud of my record” – @ElizabethMay told National Observer in an interview #cdnpoli

May, representing Saanich-Gulf Islands, was the only Green elected in the last election. Paul Manly won Nanaimo-Ladysmith in a byelection last May. Greens also hold seats in legislatures in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario and P.E.I.

The centrepiece of the federal Green platform is Mission Possible, a 20-point national action plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions by rapidly phasing out fossil fuels, changing land use and industrial-agriculture practices, planting trees, improving the energy efficiency of homes and buildings and other actions.

May said the primary conditions for Green support of a minority government are adherence to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change position — that global warming must be held below a 1.5 C increase above pre-industrial levels — and a pledge for a “dramatic transformational commitment” to cut carbon emissions in Canada.

“We will not, even for a first speech from the throne confidence vote, work with any party that isn’t fully committed to going off fossil fuels quickly,” May said.

“That means you can’t be building any pipelines, you can’t be fracking, you have to cancel the LNG (liquid natural gas) plant in Kitimat, you have to actually mean what you say — that we are committed to cutting 60 per cent of greenhouse gases by 2030.”

On non-environmental issues, May cited social justice proposals as a priority for the Greens. She said the proposals make the Greens “more progressive” than the New Democratic Party.

Key proposals are national pharmacare, a guaranteed livable income, free tuition for post-secondary students, elimination of existing student debt and a federal investment in colleges and universities.

They would increase revenues by hiking corporate taxes on large companies, such as banks and internet giants, but not on small or medium-sized businesses. They would cancel the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and halt fossil fuel industry subsidies.



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Elizabeth May says the Greens could prop up a Conservative government

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. Photo: Laurel L. Russwurm/Flickr

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May seems to have shifted from her earlier stated position and now says she could support a Conservative minority government led by Andrew Scheer, if — and it is a very big if — it got serious about climate change.

A July 21 story by Canadian Press reporter Mia Rabson quotes May as saying:

“People change their minds when they see the dynamic of a way a Parliament is assembled and maybe think, ‘Killing carbon taxes isn’t such a good idea if the only way I get to be prime minister is by keeping them.'”

The chances of Andrew Scheer abandoning his core commitment to scrap the carbon tax might be far-fetched.

Scheer has stood shoulder to shoulder with four powerful Conservative or Conservative-aligned premiers and solemnly sworn fealty to the anti-environmental resistance. The federal Conservative leader would be taking an enormous risk if he were to cavalierly break that promise. It might be a way to invite a massive rebellion within his own ranks.

But, for now at least, it is May who is taking the greater risk.

Those who are considering voting Green in this fall’s election should be asking May exactly what her price might be for propping up a Scheer government.

Would it be sufficient for Scheer to maintain the Trudeau government’s carbon tax as is? Is that all it would take for the Conservatives to win Green support?

Could the Greens still support a Scheer government if, for instance, it rolled back the newly enacted and more stringent rules for approving major projects such as pipelines?

Would May and her party be able to hold their noses if the Conservatives acted on another key pledge: to scrap the current clean fuel standard?

And what about other Conservative policies, such as imposing tougher restrictions on asylum seekers, or killing the Liberals’ fund for local news while radically cutting funding for the CBC? Those are not climate-change related. Would the Greens be comfortable supporting them?

Is Elizabeth May being naive? 

The Green leader told the Canadian Press she hopes for a minority Parliament because it “would be the very best thing;” but she seems a bit naive about how much power a governing party — even one that only has a minority of seats — can exercise, in our system, without seeking approval of Parliament.

When Andrew Scheer’s predecessor as Conservative leader, Stephen Harper, governed with a minority from 2006 to 2011, he proved that point. Harper could not get everything through the House that he would have liked to, but he ruled with an iron fist nonetheless.  MORE

Green Party support grows as alarms sound on climate crisis

Elizabeth May at podium in 2015. Photo: Bob Jonkman/Flickr
Photo: Bob Jonkman/Flickr

What do Ireland, the British Parliament, and Ottawa and Vancouver city councils have in common? All voted in 2019 to declare a climate emergency.

Following the Green Party win in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith byelection, both the NDP and the Liberals proposed climate-change emergency resolutions for debate in the House of Commons.

On May 16, the day the motions were being debated, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May presented “Mission Possible,” a 20-point green action plan.

The first point calls climate the greatest security threat the world has ever seen.

For the Greens, climate is no longer just an environmental issue — it requires putting Canada on a war-like footing, directed by a multi-party inner cabinet, on the model Winston Churchill employed during the Second World War to combat fascism.

The Green Party 20-point plan calls for an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to the climate emergency

Since its inception in 1983 the Green Party of Canada has not attracted enough voter support to be seen as a big threat by other political parties. But recently announced voting intentions for the Greens at 12 per cent now have other parties paying attention.

The Green Party has been gaining political representation: in P.E.I., where it now forms the Official Opposition, and in New Brunswick, where it has party status. Green Party leaders have won seats in Ottawa and in four provinces, and hold the balance of power in B.C.

With 17 elected Green Party members at the provincial and federal levels, the Greens look to be competitive in a number of federal ridings across Canada in the October 21 election.

The first-past-the-post electoral systems used in Canada have worked against the Green Party. A vote for a small party is often considered a wasted vote because it means not defeating a troublesome government or boosting a more likely winner.

When feelings run strong against a ruling party, supporting a fourth party amounts to being complicit with those wielding power.

However, a vote for a third or fourth party is also an opportunity to send a message to parliamentarians and the public.

In a minority government situation, with a multi-party parliament, a small party can be the linchpin in a coalition or influence the legislative and spending agenda, and can even determine which party forms government.  MORE

Even With Fewer Seats, Justin Trudeau Should Try To Form Minority: Elizabeth May


Image result for elizabeth mayGreen Party Leader Elizabeth May says not enough is being done to tackle climate change, and the future is at risk if that doesn’t change.(Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Elizabeth May has high hopes for the 2019 federal election.

OTTAWA —  If the 2019 election ends up in a minority situation but the Tories have the most seats, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May thinks the Liberal government should try to form a new  government with support from other parties.

In an interview with HuffPost Canada’s politics podcast ‘Follow-Up,’ May said that if the campaign results in a hung Parliament, “yes, of course” the party in power should try to convince the governor general that they can hold the confidence of the House.

“We’re now up to 17 elected Greens across Canada. And that’s pretty cool.”

May thinks the party’s support is due in part to the public’s increasing concern over climate change but also to “a general disillusionment with the idea that any of the old three parties tend to disappoint and will say one thing in an election and something else afterwards.”

“I don’t think that, you know, adherence to ignorance is really something that encourages voters to support you.”
—Elizabeth May

She remains concerned that support for her party could swing back to the Liberals or the NDP during a campaign when voters are told a vote for the Green candidate would indirectly help elect a Conservative member. But she’s hopeful “fear factor voting” has prompted enough voter remorse that Canadians will feel free to vote for candidates they believe in.

What’s more, May said, is that while Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer may represent the same policies as former prime minister Stephen Harper, he is less polarizing a figure. Not that she thinks he should become prime minister. She calls him “unfit to govern” due to his position on climate change. MORE


History will judge ‘reckless, even criminal’ politicians ignoring climate change crisis: Elizabeth May

A Green-NDP merger? It could be a big hit.

“Small parties generally have a hard time in FPTP systems. But to change the system, you first have to beat the system. And in doing so, a little math and politics-fiction can’t hurt. It all starts with a little imagination.” –Philippe J. Fournier

A new 338Canada analysis shows the ‘Green Democrats’ would hold the balance of power in a minority government after the next election

Singh speaks following the tabling of the federal budget in Ottawa on Tuesday, March 19, 2019. (David Kawai/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Here is an interesting exercise of politics-fiction. What if the NDP and Green Party decided that they have more in common than they have differences? With the recent success of the PC and Wildrose merger in Alberta, would it be so unreasonable to imagine what a Green Party-NDP merger could look like?

Let’s call them the Green Democrats.

I entered the numbers in the 338 electoral model and made the following hypotheses:

  1. Most of the current NDP and Green support would remain with the Green Democrats
  2. The Green Democrats would have a higher appeal among younger, urban and educated demographics (which is, statistically at least, already the case for the GPC and NDP)
  3. Neither Elizabeth May nor Jagmeet Singh would lead the new party.

Here are the results.

According to current data and with the hypotheses formulated above, the hypothetical Green Democrats would get an average support just under 27 per cent (roughly the combined support of the GPC and NDP). The confidence intervals range from roughly 23 per cent to 31 per cent of support.

The Green Democrats would still likely fall in third place behind the Conservatives and Liberals, but the race at the top would become far more competitive.

[Results based on the data from the 338 Electoral Projection of April 21st 2019.]

With this level of support, how would this theoretical new party fare in the seat projection? This is where it gets interesting. Here are the numbers.

Seat Projection

By running the 338 electoral model with the numbers above, the Green Democrats would win an average of 59 seats, more than twice the current combined seat projections for the NDP and GPC.

What is perhaps more striking is that neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals stand at an average above the 170-seat threshold for a majority at the House of Commons. In fact, more than 80 per cent of all 250,000 simulations run by the model resulted in a minority government where the Green Democrats hold the balance of power. MORE

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