The Green Party: Harper’s BFF

Tory Joan Crockatt’s BFF, Chris Turner

Well, blow me down.  Today’s Globe has an op-ed favouring vote splitting on the left.  And bigger surprise, it’s penned by Tory Joan Crockatt’s new BFF, Chris Turner of the Green Party (Harper’s current BFF).

Turner is the single most important reason Harper’s Tories retained the Calgary Centre seat.  And he knows it.  “Even in Stephen Harper’s backyard”, Turner writes, “63 per cent of voters cast ballots for non-Conservative candidates. If the parties could work together… the opportunity for victory is obvious”.

But despite knowing it he argues against it, giving two reasons that don’t quite add up.

Reason one – once the campaign is on there is no turning back.

This is the “you owe it to your supporters to run” argument and it’s crap.  What you “owe” to your supporters isn’t you.  It’s the ideas you purport to stand for.   And if your candidacy gets in the way, you’re not serving those ideas nor your supporters.

For example, people who vote green care about the environment.  So how does a Green candidate splitting the vote impact that?  It makes it much more likely that Harper gets to keep on supporting two pipelines, increased ghg emissions, mineral extraction overseas, bad transportation planning and delivery… yada, yada, yada.

To be specific.  Turner’s campaign saved Crockett’s campaign making it easier for Harper to keep on harming our environment for the next three years.

Reason two – Non-voters.  I’m worried I can’t really summarize what Turner says about non-voters because its too stupid for words.  Here goes.

Non-voters don’t vote and the Calgary campaign demonstrates that when non voting happens non-votes aren’t counted.  If non-voters voted they would have voted for someone and that makes everybody very important, so splitting the vote isn’t really splitting it because maybe someone could have attracted all the non-voters and won but that didn’t happen and I don’t know why, but it could, couldn’t it?

It’s interesting in a kind of a late night, too much doobie kind of way (I had a significant number of these arguments in my youth).  But most people think that Alberta’s traditional voter apathy has to do with the fact that the Tories always win, so why bother if the result is always the same (see Calgary Centre for the most recent example).

The corollary is that showing that another party with different views can win might actually be the key to increasing voter turnout.  In other words, the way to motivate non-voters isn’t to just represent their views but to show that there’s a good chance those views or something close to them will be made real after the bunting’s torn down.

But all this is besides the point.  Because for all the Green Party’s disclaimers about vote splitting one truth remains.

The truth – and Calgary Centre proves it – is that three parties on the centre left is useful to only one person in Canada.  And that’s Stephen Harper.  With the Green Party’s intervention, it’s a good bet he’ll been looking at his second decade as PM soon.

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9 Responses to The Green Party: Harper’s BFF

  1. John Gregson says:

    It would appear that this dude isn’t intelligent enough to run. Well, maybe for the BC Liberals. Thank goodness he’s in Alberta!

  2. Chuckstraight says:

    Good post- have to agree – some form of proportional voting would solve it, and I think the only way to get it is to have some form of cooperation beteen parties to get it.

  3. Andres says:

    The problem with proportional voting is that the party in charge needs to implement it, and the party in charge always happens to be the one that has most recently benefited from not having it.

  4. islandcynic says:

    I can’t imagine at this point working with the Green Party to keep out Harper after witnessing what happened in Victoria’s by-election. After their best efforts, smears of Mulcair (over FIPA) and using Suzuki’s fame as an endorsement without his permission, and that they ran on not going ahead with the sewage treatment plant as planned but continue to dump sewage for many more years, has made it clear what kind of party this really is. I would describe them as centre-right and not with the left at all. Don’t expect the GP to have the environment as their first priority, gaining power at all costs is.
    I’m still waiting to hear Elizabeth May congratulate the winning candidates in Victoria and Calgary-Centre.

  5. Avery Moore says:

    Recently Victoria voters assessed not only their local Liberal candidate – Mr Summerville – but also his Angel Of Supportive Mercy, Justin ‘I-Understand-Perfectly-What Matters-Most-Here’ Trudeau.

    The result? Total failure.

    For 80 years Victoria’s political mandarins opted for pathological indifference to their watery surroundings. Thus, to date Victoria remains the only city in Canada, righteously, to dump toxins and excrement, tons of it, into the surrounding waters. During this interval a cheerleader’s brothel of reliably-compliant wonks consistently applauded Victoria’s, um, mindless exceptionalism.

    After nearly a century of foot-dragging [and declining tourism numbers] the feds, the province, and the locals have agreed: time to clean up, chaps.

    So… A vote-savvy politician would be wise to avoid an already-decided issue of local sewage treatment. Right? Besides. There’s no connection with FEDERAL politics. Better to attack the opposition NDP with real firepower. How else could an unknown – a Scarborough refugee – boost his credibility on the Left Coast?

    Didn’t happen. Instead Summerville obsessively hammered away at no other issue than his sympathetic dread of the taxes locals must assume to lift their obstreperous region out of the 15th century. Poor YOU!

    Forget that this deal is done. Ignore the environment. Forget that local Conservatives too are dead set against sewage treatment and agreement merely helps them; forget that their opposition likely insures that they will lose. Mr Summerville proved more dead set against the 21st century than Mr. Harper’s thralls. And thus helped split the anti-treatment vote.

    Dumb? Well, can you guess who travelled thousands of kilometers to applaud this unique neo-liberal\neo-con view of environmental stewardship? Leader-In-Waiting, Justin Trudeau.

    A patriot, no doubt, but who apparently supports the NEXEN takeover by Chinese state-owned conglomerate, CNOOC. A group with a very questionable rep, due south..

    National Energy Security? You mean that matters to Canada? Not just to the US?

    Final Vote Tally?

    Conservatives = 14%
    Liberals = 13%

    It’s not just the Greens who made ideological idiots of themselves.

  6. Scotty on Denman says:

    Things went well for the Greens during the recent federal by-elections: by their close runner up finish in Victoria (which some have attributed to Conservatives reconciled to losing this contest strategically voting Green to spoil the NDP’s chances of winning), they have revivified the notion of punching much higher than their weight vis a vis the illusion of proportional representation, a system that would likely elect minority or coalition governments where small parties that hold the balance of power can extort demands far disproportionate to their electoral weight. Pro-rep is a pipe dream that blunts the reality of plateauing at single-digit support, entertained, now that it has been decisively rejected by referendum in BC and conspicuously absent on any Canadian government agenda, only by idealists in the Green party. Although still an important party policy attracting utopians and NGO types accustomed to protesting from without, Green realpolitik aims to punch higher than its single-digit weight by simply being there should a hung parliament be elected using the current Single Member Plurality system, a not-so-unlikely possibility given Liberal resurgence after Ignatieff’s resignation. The strategy of parachuting Green leader Elizabeth May into the party’s most promising riding, where all resources were focused, achieved the minimum requirement for holding the balance of power in a hung parliament: a single, but very, very important seat. A similarly focused, all-out effort, no holds barred by-election campaign, including an ethically shady Suzuki endorsement claim, environmental policy flip-flops surrounding Victoria’s sewage controversy and, perhaps, a bit of help from rearguard Conservatives, to come in a close second suggest the Green strategic target might be in the next general election. In short, to achieve the level of influence Greens want with the low level of support they have requires lining up a number of ducks in a row, pro-rep not realistically being one of them. They would be, as always, a core of ideological support plus a parochial environmental controversy plus support by way of non-Green strategic voting; after that, it is simply a matter of selecting which riding has the best polling numbers.

    The corollary of targeting one or a few most promising seats that might give the Greens the balance of power in a possible hung parliament is that, in addition to the possibility of neither of those two outcomes happening, the rest of the seats where Greens poll in the low, instead of upper single-digits are neglected and support falls to levels that effectively elect governments antithetical to environmental protection, the proclaimed Green ethos, by splitting the progressive vote. Some might accept the contradiction as a cost of doing politics, the reality of Green parliamentary circumstance. However, given the habit of neo-right governments across Canada to expend, not protect the environment, it might be less costly to all of us if Green supporters sent their money to whichever riding party strategists anoint but vote for the candidate most likely to vanquish Steven Harper’s Conservatives. It is a long, long road to pro-rep; neo-right governments can destroy a lot of environment in the meanwhile.

  7. robert quinn says:

    I was about to say how much I enjoyed the teeth-grinding anguish in evidence, but your profile account of illness limits the pleasure one would normally glean from the above vote-splitting analysis/lament. Good luck with the treatment.

  8. John Luton says:

    Missed in the discussion was the disingenuous campaign of the Greens (in Victoria at least), to characterize the by-elections irrelevant (except if you voted Green). They argued that it didn’t matter to the government or the opposition to have just one more seat, so one could vote a protest or vote your “consicence”. It worked to poach votes from other parties but the story has changed since the by-election. No longer are the results so insignificant; they are a game changer for the Greens, a new storyline that flips their strategic marketing on its head. You can’t have it both ways, but for the Greens, it seems, no amount of doublespeak is off limits. Reform party reborn in a new cereal box.

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