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NDP-Green coalition needed in BC

By Stuart Hertzog
January 5th, 2009

The only way to stop another Gordon Campbell victory

a BC NDP/green coalition?

Can these two parties come together to defeat Gordon Campbell?

Victoria, BC — The Green Party of British Columbia has announced that it plans to run full slate of 85 candidates in the May 2009 BC provincial election.

According to a party newsletter circulated to members in December, the party plans to have all its candidates in place by the end of February. That’s not too far away at this time.

This will be the third provincial election that the BC Green Party will have fielded a full slate of 85 candidates. To diehard party members, it’s a sign that the party has come of age as a force in BC politics.

But the BC Green Party’s determinaton to once again fill all those empty candidate slots could also be viewed as a sign that it has not yet developed a practical political strategy that can propel it away from once again being accused of being the spoiler in BC politics.

Progressive government

Mind you, I don’t buy the argument that by taking a critical fraction of the ‘progressive’ vote, the BC Green Party prevents an socially and environmentally progressive government from being elected. But there is no doubt that the success of the BC Liberals is partly due to a fractionated opposition.

What is needed in British Columbia is the equivalent of the Liberal-NDP coalition that with the support of the Bloc Québécois, stopped Stephen Harper in his political tracks a month ago. (See our sister site majoritycoalition.ca.)

I believe that an NDP-Green coalition agreement is only way of preventing Gordon Campbell from achieving yet another overwhelming election victory, which would give him another five years to rule a province that he’s come to regard as his own personal fiefdom.

The coalition agreement need not be absolute or far-reaching. In essence, it could be an unwritten understanding that in certain constituencies, the two parties wouldn’t run candidates against each other. Because Green support is mostly localised, this may only amount to four or five places.

Help the party mature

Such an agreement would help the Green Party to mature. It would mean that the Greens would have given up the fiction that it is capable of seriously fielding a full slate of candidates at this time. This would help it move beyond its starry-eyed but politically naïve, adolescent stage. More important, it would open the possibility of electing one or two Greens as MLAs.

Isn’t this what the party essentially is trying to achieve? Greens know that they have a chance only is a few urban regions. The full-slate fiction has always been a ploy to get into the televised leaders’ debate.

Most Green candidates step forward at election time because they think they will have a platform to bring up all the green issues that have been bugging them, and which their local media seems to ignore. But election campaigns are not the time to discuss green issues in any depth.

Being a BC Green Party candidate may get you a few lines in the local newspaper. But other than that, it’s a hopelessly idealistic mission that splits the socially progressive voter from those whose main concern are environmental. In an election, those sacrificial Green goats can garner only token support.

Full slate an unwise move

So I don’t regard party’s triumphant annoucement of its intent to run a full slate of candidates as a wise political move. To me, it’s a mindlessly backward-looking strategy by a party that is grimly determined to play with the big boys at any cost, even though it’s still only relatively an infant.

This is a great shame, and the fact that the party leadership has chosen to pursue this course without consultation shows how far the Green movement has to go before it can meaningfully navigate the minefield of electoral politics.

It’s time to move on to a future in which coalitions between parties large and small is the order of the day. Otherwise, we’ll still be locked into a dysfunctional political system in which despite their best efforts, Green parties would only be regarded as amusing refuges for the idealistic and the politically naïve.


Posted in BC, coalition, democracy, Green politics | 3 Comments »

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3 Responses

  1. Philip Stone Says:

    Your commentary brings up some interesting ideas Stuart. Cooperation is a fundamental goal of Green politics, as you know. but so is proportional representation. Your suggestion that only 5 or so urban ridings would be allocated to Greens in an NDP-Green coalition isn’t a representative split.

    I wonder what the results would be of an independent and thorough province-wide survey that asks the question “If the Green Party or NDP cooperated, not to compete against each other in your riding, which party would you vote for?” With the answers to that question a better break down of Green and NDP ridings could be developed. Personally I like the idea.

    If BC voted yes to STV AND elected in a coalition government through cooperation all in one day it would show all of Canada how politics should be conducted in our great country.

  2. Philip Stone Says:

    Correction – you didn’t say ‘urban’

  3. Daniel Mick Says:

    I am also disappointed that the Greens will run a full slate. The benefits of bringing the Green message to voters is outweighed by the years of anti-environment Liberals in power.

    Even without a coalition, it is harder to elect Greens with resources spread so thin. Voters need to know that if a Green is running that they have a real chance to win. Also the quality of the average candidate goes down with a full slate.

    I would like to see 10 or so great candidates that are committed to run a $50,000 campaign.

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