PoSitics, Week 4: The Green Party of Canada

Why today’s Green Party is more than just a vote-splitting decoy that will doom us to yet another Harper government.



Welcome to PoSitics. This special Gazette feature seeks to present a positive, upbeat analysis of each party’s platform so that Dalhousie students can approach the upcoming election with an appropriate sense of hope. We want students heading to the polls debating which party they WANT to vote for, not agonizing over who scares them the least. Surely things can’t be as discouraging as we’ve been led to believe…right?

This week, we arrive at the fourth and final party that is both running a candidate in Halifax and has seats in the House of Commons—the Green Party.

Do we even need a PoSitics column for the Green Party? Does anyone on campus actually have anything negative to say about them? Could anyone possibly have so cold a heart as to dislike Elizabeth May, the twinkling-eyed, statistics citing Hermione Granger of Canadian politics?

No, we probably don’t need to run the column this week. We will anyway though, because at least one English media outlet besides Macleans has to give the Greens equal time with the rest of the major parties. Besides, if we don’t, May will probably just serial tweet her own PoSitics column that will end up drawing more attention than whatever we publish anyway.

So then, down to business. What do the Greens have to offer students?

  • Free tuition by 2020.
  • The elimination of any existing or future student debt above $10,000.
  • The abolition of interest on new student loans.

I’m going to be honest: I didn’t read the rest of the platform. This is like one of those qualifying-round hockey games at the Olympics where Team Canada jumps out to a six-goal lead in the first period—we can all safely go back to studying for mid-terms, because we don’t have to watch the rest of the game to call a winner.

None of the other parties’ promises can touch what the Greens are offering us. It’s like they were running out of time before the platform was due, and some staffer just copied and pasted our list of demands.

(Note to DSU VP Academic & External John Hutton: Tack on a request for free hoverboards next time. It’s worth a shot.)

The generous Green platform does create one significant problem—figuring out what I’m going to do with the rest of this column. I’m supposed to pump out at least 700 words of positivity per week, but there’s only so many ways I can rephrase “the Green Party is promising us everything”.

I suppose I’m going to have to look past the platform and consider the big picture.

Maybe I should write about how inspiring it is that the Greens have the extremely optimistic policy of running a candidate in every riding. It takes a real can-do attitude to follow through with this plan—especially when the election-forecasting website threehundredeight.com indicates that, outside of Elizabeth May’s own riding, the Greens aren’t polling better than third anywhere.

Let’s also applaud their relentless positivity in the face of criticism over so-called vote splitting. Sure, as of the time I’m writing this, their hopeless candidates are siphoning off small but potentially crucial percentages of the progressive vote in at least 45 dead-heat ridings in which the Conservatives are running neck and neck with either the NDP or the Liberals. And yes, there are another 10 or so close races in which the Conservatives—notoriously efficient at getting out the vote—trail the currently leading progressive party by less than the Green Party’s share of the polls. But, as Elizabeth May rightly points out, Canadians should be free to vote their consciences—and who knows, a failed run this time could lay the groundwork for a breakthrough next time around!

One cannot help but admire the Greens’ absolute dedication to this philosophy, even when it flies in the face of all strategy or reason. Take the race in Peterborough–Kawartha, where Green Party Candidate Gary Beamish tried to step down to help prevent vote splitting. This is a riding where the Greens command about 4% popular support, while the Liberals and Conservatives are sitting at about 36.1% and 36.9% respectively.

Other, lesser parties might have simply accepted Beamish’s decision. Indeed, it would have put Canada one step closer to electing the Liberals, who have promised to get rid of the first-past-the-post system—a move that would severely hurt the Conservatives’ chances of ever forming a majority again, and would increase the Green Party’s seat counts at least twentyfold.

The Green Party, however, is not motivated by greed or by some base desire to one day wield actual power. It is a party of principles. Greens wasted no time replacing Beamish when he refused to run a campaign. His successor, Doug Mason, acknowledges that he has no chance of winning. Still, Mason claims that it is critical to run a candidate in every riding, arguing that “we want to show that the Green philosophy is nationwide—not just localized in B.C.”

He has a point—there’s no reason that the philosophy of futilely throwing away your vote as a show of support for an also-ran party should be limited to B.C. So what if it ends up painting a few dozen extra seats Tory Blue this time around? Four more years of Harper should subject Canada to just the sort of eco-apocalypse that will have any surviving voters crawling into the open arms of a nationally relevant Green Party!

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John Hillman

John Hillman is the Gazette's Opinions Editor. John is a second-year law student, but he has been at Dalhousie for much longer than that. Recently discovered cave paintings indicate he was first observed lurching around campus by Halifax’s original human settlers some time during the late Pleistocene epoch. He started writing for the Gazette back when you were in elementary school, but he unexpectedly went off the grid a half-decade ago to concentrate on helping found Punditry.ca, a DSU-focused political blog. Where exactly was he hiding between the years 2009-2013? Certain individuals would prefer he not comment. Why has he returned? Not because of a top-secret Illuminati indoctrination project known only as the Omega Initiative, that’s for sure.

You can email John at opinions@dalgazette.com.

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