Having recently joined the Green Party of Canada and having been invited by Mark of Report on Greens to submit a piece to his blog I thought it might be useful to review why I joined, the things I like about the GPC and the things I have reservations about. As a newbe my point of view is perhaps a little less “partisan” than those more closely involved in the party and will, I hope, assist in bringing the Nine Shades of Green closer to a blend pleasing to all!
That said I find that none of the above 9 shades really describes my feeling about the Green Party, which is I will admit changing daily as I read more information about the official and unofficial policies, the internal politics that seem to be a part any political party and the views of members from the extreme green to the political junkie. This is a process which I have been pursuing for two years or more brought on by conversations with Owen Sound Green Shane Jolley whose mantra of “think local” grabbed my attention and got me investigating what this party was all about.
Firstly I have read the Green Party Vision statements (I have yet to wade through all the policy documents) and generally have no great disagreements with them, my only real reservations being the rather contentious issue of “no nuclear” and the belief that we can supply all our electricity need in this modern society with “renewables”. This is an admirable goal and I suppose fundamental to the green platform, but in my view impractical within the foreseeable future, this view is no doubt coloured by the ever increasing glut of wind turbines littering the countryside in my part of Ontario. That this technology does not produce baseload power 24/7, may have some health and lifestyle impacts for nearby residents (not that other forms of generation do also) and is being bought at far above current market price further adds to my concern that the rush to “green power” is not necessarily all good. The increased use of Hydro electric would go a long way towards reducing the need for nuclear for base load but this is where one shade of green runs head long into the other, witness the ongoing “debate” over run of the river installations in BC. What is best, green power or fish habitat preservation, hydro dams or wetlands….?
But I digress, that debate is fodder for a whole series of articles. This was intended to be more general in nature. There has been much comment both in the MSM and various blogs as to Elizabeth Mays leadership qualities and whether she should be more circumspect in separating her personal opinion from party policy, it is this very honesty of opinion that has me admiring her. Whether that is good for the party I am not sure but it is what has, in part, made ME join the party. Her strong stand for democracy even to the point where at times she has put the protection of Canadian Democracy above the Green Party and most certainly before any leaders objectives was, and is, such a breath of fresh air in Canadian politics that I cannot help but admire her stand. She has brought a much higher profile to the GPC but I understand how some of her remarks (and one wonders how many of them are taken “out of context” by the MSM) may cause some consternation with some greens. Given the many shades of green it is difficult to see how any leader can please all of the greens all of the time, it would seem to be an impossible task. We all know how other party leaders deal with this, stick to the “talking points” and repeat the “party line” adinfinitem, again it is so refreshing to have a political leader who does not treat their audience like a bunch of sheep but speaks TO the listeners not AT them.
As a new member I cannot say much to the internal running of the party for I know little about it other than the views expressed by some bloggers who have expressed concern that the processes have of late have been influenced by “insider” groups without due process. I can only say that as one who believes, as does Ms May, that our very democracy is in peril and that we cannot correct it unless we do so democratically, that must include the internal workings of any party who would propose to take on that challenge. It is not sufficient to do things democratically, to follow any established rules or policies, or to even promote those ideals. They must be seen to be done. Openness and Accountability is the key, we have seen our current politicians spout those words time and time again and then do exactly the opposite, the Green Party appears to be much more open and inclusive in that regard, they seem open to using the internet and other modern tools to enable this, but as they gain more prominence (power?) will these ideals fall by the wayside. I hope not.
I must say here that I just received an email receipt indicating (I think) that the GPC headquarters had received my membership application and money. I say “I think” because I was totally underwhemed with said document, not only did the “receipt” not contain my name (although the email was obviously addressed to me) but it did not even indicate that it came from the GPC (I had to check the email properties to confirm that it did). No fancy header as on those annoying bimonthly request for cash, no indication that further information would be forthcoming, no indication of whether or not I could now get to “insider” information on the Green web site or how to do so, just an untitled and un-addressed receipt for cash! Is this a reflection of how things are done at HQ? One would think that the first official contact with a new member would be a little more professional and contain more information than this! I have suggested by return mail that their system be upgraded in this respect. But once again I digress……
So here is my bottom line, I support in general the move toward more self sufficiency, any efforts to start supporting local economys and moving away from the corporate mantra of “the global economy”, the reduce, reuse and recycle thinking, the protection our water, air, forests and fauna and most everything the party stands for. BUT mostly I support the statements both in the party platform and by Ms May in many of her recent speeches that support our DEMOCRACY, for without the means to peacefully and democratically initiate change all else is but a pipe dream. At this point in time I can honestly say that I believe the Green Party of Canada is the best, and perhaps last, chance for any hope of change for the better in our federal governance. Will they have any enormous impact any time in the foreseeable future, probably not, these things change slowly, sometime almost imperceptibly, but we must do something to halt and reverse the damage to both the world and to our democracy that the current politicians seem unable or unwilling to address. So in answer to those who debate whether the greens are (or should be) mainly a “green movement” or a “political party” I must answer “a political party” for getting Greens elected is essential, without that voice in our parliament the impact the GPC can have upon all the other issues is minimal.
A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.