Friday, September 01, 2006

Green Party of Canada

The Green Party of Canada is in political limbo. They're not quite the real thing—they’ve never been elected to any public office—but they're not entirely insignificant either; they teeter on the edge of something big or of nothing at all.

Elizabeth May’s victory in the party leadership race might or might not change that. She represents a turn away from they party’s flirtation with free-market economics, but also comes as the party stands at least a slight chance of actually picking up a seat—if not in parliament then at least in a provincial legislature. That the country’s major polling organizations have started tracking it along with the big four parties, along with mainstream press coverage of the leadership race, suggests the party has arrived, made itself politically relevant.

Presumably, if anyone should be worried, it’s the NDP. Perpetually incapable of reform, and prone to knee-jerk moralizing, it’s the little party that could but couldn’t quite. It’s shackled constitutionally to organized labor. This is something that likely made good sense a generation ago, but seems an anachronism now. Unions are no longer the only game in town on the left, and blue collar union membership is probably more socially conservative than the left would like to let on.

Ideally, the Greens represent not the one-issue platform their name suggests, but a mixed bag, a broad political voice on the left the Canada mysteriously lacks. The NDP have had the breadth of voice for years, but not the depth. I can’t recall the last time I heard a policy speech from an NDP leader that was anything other than a sustained attack on a Liberal (or now Conservative) position. NDP policy has become alarmingly thin on the ground.

The Green Party looks almost set to capitalize on this. If the Liberal leadership goes to a progressive candidate, then the NDP might well be squeezed out between them, as thoroughly as the Tories were in the ’94 election. The left would stay split, but it would be split between two more thoughtful and politically astute actors than it is today.

I’m not sure I’d object.


Aside: apologies for silence lately, folks... I've been tying up a few loose ends. Should be back at it for a bit.
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