Rivers offers: A Post Mortem for the Green Party

“I’ve always been fond of dogs, and they are the one animal that knows the proper treatment to give to poles (polls).” (Former PM – John Diefenbaker)

By Ray Rivers

July 29, 2021



We are expecting a federal election call anytime soon. Most Canadians think we don’t need one yet. But the Liberals are stuck in a minority situation and beholden to the other centre-left or left-of-centre parties to bring their agenda forward. So with the polls moving in their favour they will do what political parties do.

The opposition parties are complaining that it has only been two years since the last election and we’re still not out of the pandemic. But the real issue is that they don’t like what the polls are telling them. After all this would not be the first election during COVID. If we can believe the polls, an election today would mean that the ruling Liberals would improve their seat position and possibly even garner a majority.

The Greens are still polling around their traditional 5%, which means they may not do as poorly as they should this time. After all, the party has shown that it can’t even manage itself, let alone the nation.

Greens have always been a fringe party. Their raison d’être has been protection of the environment and mitigating climate change, which today, to their credit, is one of the most important priorities for Canadians. Still, Elizabeth May, try as she did, never got anyone to take their social and economic policies seriously.

Annamie Paul, current leader of the Green Party

In fact, when new leader, Annamie Paul, decided to venture into middle eastern politics, even with a seemingly balanced position, all hell broke loose. The party ended up losing a third of its elected members to the Liberals, falling back to only two seats. As a result, Paul came within a hair of being turfed out as leader and her Green Party membership revoked. An arbitration process saved her skin, though that in itself is now the subject of even more discord.

The Greens need to shake their collective heads. They are supposed to be a party which preaches social harmony, tolerance and understanding. Yet racism, mud slinging, conspiracy and cronyism are in the makings of this internal war. The party executive has even held back funding Paul’s personal election campaign, in what can only be described as a desperate attempt to get rid of her.

Paul is hoping that the existing executive will be replaced at the upcoming party convention, which may end up coinciding with the federal election. But who knows? And with party executive at war with their leader, why would anyone vote for these folks? Unless Paul can pull a rabbit out of a hat they are another political entity on a road to extinction.

Though it’s not certain, the Greens may at least hope to hang onto Elizabeth May’s traditional B.C. riding. Beyond that, no one should be betting on them. Their future is not likely bright. Besides, the NDP and Liberals have already stolen most Green policies, making the Greens more of a postscript rather than a viable electoral option.

From the perspective of the Conservative Party the Greens are, in fact, a political ally. They and the NDP represent votes which, thanks to our first past the post electoral system (FPP), won’t otherwise go to the Liberals. It is little wonder then that the Conservatives have always rejected changing the electoral system.

But a proportional electoral system, as is commonplace in most democracies (94), might even enable the Greens to become a part of a governing coalition, as they have in other countries. So it was unsurprising that some Green voters supported Mr. Trudeau and voted Liberal when he first promised electoral reform in his first election campaign.

Elizabeth May and Annamie Paul.  May was the leader of the Green Party – she was replaced by Annamie Paul.

At best, the Green Party of Canada, which was formed back in 1983, is unlikely to win enough seats to form even a minority government in the foreseeable future, even if Canada changes its electoral system. And, given the internal strife the Green Party is now experiencing, no one would be surprised to see it go the way of Social Credit, Natural Levitation, the Communists and Marxists, the Reform Party, and very likely the People’s party.

The Liberals, to their credit, have seen the writing on the wall, borrowed environmental policies mostly scripted by the Greens, and is undertaking the most massive restructuring of the Canadian economy and society in our lifetimes, in order for this country to become a global leader in carbon freedom. For that the Green Party needs to be recognized for their prescience and forbearance, anyway.

Annaimie Paul has been remarkably self-restrained and controlled through all that is going on, including personal attacks. She deserves better.

As for Paul, who has been remarkably self-restrained and controlled through all that is going on, including personal attacks, she deserves better. One can only hope there is a future for her to bring her qualities and strengths to work in some other way, or with some other political party, for the benefit of us all. But if her party membership really has a point about her leadership failings, perhaps there is some other kind of career opportunity waiting for her.

Next time we’ll take a look at the federal NDP.

Ray Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor,  writes regularly applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Election Polls –  Green Party –    Climate Change Polls

Paul –   Green’s Dispute –    More Discord

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1 comment to Rivers offers: A Post Mortem for the Green Party

  • It seems to me that groups, or political parties in this case, that are composed of people more dedicated to an external cause, e.g. environment, than to each other are oxymorons. This is like an introverts’ social club, an Independents’ members only club, a Taoist mystic monastery, or other such examples. They are doomed from the start. Does the drive to achieve identity through a group overpower one’s competence at logical thinking? I picture neighborhood children forming an Anti-Club club: Paid up Members in good standing Only!