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Why I am Standing as a Nomination Candidate

By Stuart Hertzog
August 22nd, 2009

For the Green Party of Canada In Saanich-Gulf Islands

Stuart Hertzog - photo by Peter Rockwell

“We need a different kind of politics… a participatory democracy”

photo by Peter Rockwell

Stuart Hertzog is a writer, editor, and publication designer, and an active environment and social justice advocate. He has worked on many environmental campaigns, including waste incineration, municipal recycling, air pollution, energy, and on maintaining the moratorium on BC offshore oil and gas development. He has been involved with the Green Party since 1984 and has run as a provincial candidate three times, once for the BC NDP in 1991 as part of the NDP Green Caucus, then twice for the BC Green Party, in 1995 and 2001.

Stuart believes that the primary task of the Green Party is not to just to talk about the environment, but to defend and develop Democracy. He is concerned that Canada’s Green parties have drifted away from their fundamental Green political principles in their drive for political power. They have centralised party decision-making processes into the hands of the central council and the leader, alienating grassroots green activists and undermining their membership base.

“We need a different kind of politics to tackle the major issues of world peace, economic justice, pollution, and climate change,” he says. “We must create a citizen-based, Green democracy as the foundation of a compassionate and eco-centric society, for the protection and prosperity of all that lives. This democratic revitalisation must begin within our own Green political parties,” Stuart concludes. “We must begin at home.”

An environmental and social justice activist

My name is Stuart Hertzog. I am a writer, editor, and publication designer. I have been involved with the Green Party since 1984, in Alberta and BC. I’m also a long-time environment and social justice advocate, my main focus since moving to Vancouver in 1988 to work for Greenpeace Canada.

In 1989 I ran a successful Greenpeace campaign to prevent a toxic waste incinerator from being built on the Seagull Indian band reserve near Hope in the lower mainland. This project would have created toxic ash and spewed dioxins and other pollutants into the airshed of the upper Fraser Valley. As a result of this campaign, no toxic waste incinerators have been built in the Fraser Valley.

I then set up Citizens Action Network (CAN), a grassroots citizens environmental group focussed on urban pollution. CAN was able to prevent then Vancouver mayor Gordon Campbell from permitting a garbage processing plant to be built on Terminal Avenue in Vancouver, against the wishes of local residents.

Campbell’s garbage-mashing plant would have allowed people to continue to throw recyclables into their trash, resulting in a low-grade product good only for burning in pellet stoves. These in turn would act as multiple point sources of air pollution and leave toxic ashes. As a result of this success, the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) moved to adopt blue-box recycling, which we agreed to only on the basis that it would begin to educate people on the necessity of reducing and reusing their household waste.

So I can claim the rare distinction of having fought Gordon Campbell—and won!

I then sat on the GVRD’s Air Quality Advisory Committee; was an Intervener to a BC Utilities Commission hearing; and a member of the Burrard Task Force examining the operation of the Burrard thermal generating plant, the largest single source of air pollution on the Lower Mainland. I have been focussed on energy issues, including preventing BC offshore oil and gas development.

In recent years I have taken on social justice issues with Faith In Action, a non-denominational, faith-based social action group based in Victoria (I am a practicing Buddhist). I am now setting up the Vancouver Island Subsidised Housing Tenants Association (VISHTA) to advocate for administrative justice, tenant rights, and respectful treatment of residents of public and private subsidised housing for seniors and people in need. This campaign is ongoing.

Three-time Green political candidate

I first became politically active when I joined the Green Party in Alberta in 1983. At that time there were very few active Greens in Alberta. I realised that those few of us, including myself, were too naïeve and inexperienced. I needed to learn about politics, so I joined the Alberta NDP. When I moved to BC I became active with the Green Caucus of the BCNDP, and was also an active member of the BCNDP’s Standing Committee on the Environment.

The Green Caucus played a large part in trying to push the BCNDP towards green policies, particularly on logging in the Carmanah Valley. But the industrial unions in the NDP were anti-environmentalist, and after running as a candidate for the NDP in Vancouver-Quilchena in 1991, when I came in second, the victorious BCNDP under the leadership of Mike Harcourt essentially pushed the Green Caucus out of the party. Glen Clark, the next NDP BC Premier, was even worse. Clark declared environmentalists “enemies of BC.”

Having learned something about politics, I rejoined the BC Green Party in 1996 and ran as a parachute candidate in Bulkley Valley Stikine, enabling just 151 local people to vote Green. That experience convinced me that parachute candidates simply don’t work. A person has to live for some time in a city or bioregion to understand its social ecology. You need a sense of ‘place’ to go beyond human-centric environmentalism.

I then ran as the Green Party candidate in Victoria-Hillside in 2001, at which time I received 19.82% of the vote. I had to set up the Victoria-Hillside Green Party constituency association to do this, which I did single-handedly. I received no help from the party’s central office for my Hillside campaign, as the majority of its efforts were being directed towards leader Adriane Carr’s unsuccessful bid for election on the Sunshine Coast. Only the miraculous appearance of few willing volunteers prevented me from bailing out in the middle of this campaign.

This experience gave me my first insight into the Green Party’s growing lack of support for its grassroots membership. It lead me to the conviction that Green parties must be reminded of their political and philosophic origins, which is why I set up greenpolitics.ca, and why am now standing as a nomination candidate.

Back to Green principles

I am standing as a Green party nomination candidate for Saanich Gulf Islands because I believe deeply in the Green principles on which all Green parties are based―or should be. These have been written down in many ways, but they can be reduced to the four basic principles or pillars of Green politics:

  • Peace and non-violence based on Acceptance
  • Social Justice, which is based on Equality
  • Eco-centrism (biocentrism) based on Interdependence
  • Participatory Democracy based on Respect

All of these are important, but primary among them for any Green political party is the Green principle of participatory democracy. This means that everyone affected by a policy, law, or project must have a vote in deciding that issue. “Top-down” processes directed by an autocratic government, making decisions behind closed doors, are not participatory. Canada’s Westminster-style parliament is far from being democratic.

It may seem strange to make the achievement of participatory democracy―genuine democracy―as the primary goal of Green politics. Isn’t the Green Party the party of the environment? I believe this view is incorrect, and that the Green Party has misunderstood its mission in the Canadian political arena. The environmental movement deals with environmental issues; the Green Party’s primary mission is Democracy.

I came to this conclusion only after years of working on environmental issues. We won campaigns by taking our fight to the court of public opinion. We gave people the facts, and they agreed with us. Politicians backed down as soon as public opinion swung against them. Those campaigns we lost were never resolved in public view. Secret decisions were made behind closed doors, in cabinet or at private meetings with corporate CEOs and lobbyists.

Because our political system is not truly democratic, once these agreements have been struck, prime ministers and premiers simply issued legislation or Orders In Council to ‘make it so.’ Public opinion didn’t affect those decisions.

Our parliamentary party system is dysfunctional in many other ways. Power to represent their constituents has been removed from MPs and MLAs. Ministerial responsibility has been reduced to an empty tradition. Prime ministers and premiers have politicised the civil service. Party leaders act like dictators within their own party, reducing candidates and even elected caucus to “yes” people.

Anti-democratic centralism

Unfortunately, the same tendency towards anti-democratic centralisation has become dominant in Canada’s Green parties. As they drifted away from their Green political foundations, they have forsaken grassroots Green bioregional activism. Their focus now is exclusively on the inner machinations of federal council, and the loyal court of supporters surrounding the leader.

Perhaps this is in the nature of human beings. Certainly, history tells us that after the idealistic stage of a political revolution, those with a need for power soon move to repress ‘dissenters.’ But grassroots Green politics is not about disempowerment; Green politics is about respect and empowerment.

Federal council has defined its goal for the coming election as to get just one Green MP elected, namely Elizabeth May, the current leader. They believe that the Green Party won’t be effective until it can belly up to the negotiating table and become part of the anti-democratic, secret deal-making process.

I believe that they are wrong. For a start, the ‘leader’ of a Green Party is supposed to be a spokesperson, not a dictator. The cult of leadership and its promotion by the corporate media is not Green. I believe that getting the leader of the Green Party elected won’t change anything, except to guarantee the flow of funds to central party coffers and reduce the Green party to being seen as just another bunch of untrustworthy politicians that make self-serving deals.

There is already enough public distrust of the current political process, especially by young voters. We don’t need more wannabe politicians saying “Vote for me, I’ll fix everything.” People know that promise is not authentic.

By desperately trying to become a mainstream political party, Green parties are in danger of losing their vision, and soul. It has been said that: “Without vision, the people perish.” I say that without principles, politics is an empty charade.

A different kind of politics

The old way of doing things is not going to help us overcome the major challenges facing us today. With others, I began warning about global warming in the early 1980s. Almost thirty years later, the world’s politicians have failed to halt the growth of greenhouse gases. All they can do is talk.

We need a different kind of politics, a politics of involvement and respect, to tackle the major issues of world peace, economic justice, pollution, and climate change. Imitating conventional political parties isn’t going to save us.

In 1985, I presented a discussion paper to the Founding Convention of the Green party of Canada, in Oliver, BC. Called Distributed Democracy, it described exactly the same of bioregional, grassroots structure that I am still promoting as a truly Green democratic model for both the Green Party and for Canada.

Out of fear and close-mindedness, the Greens present chose not to adopt this forward-looking structure. Instead, the Green Party of Canada was set up along the same top-down, hierarchical lines as other conventional political parties.

Green politics is different

Genuine Green politics is truly different. Green parties were conceived as offering an alternative to the undemocratic centralisation of power in a political system that was designed to preserve the rule of the aristocracy and the might of the British Empire. Now, it serves CEOs and the money men, who prosper from a selfish and rapacious industrial economy that impoverishes people even as it destroys species and ecosystems. We must halt their destructive greed.

We need a new kind of politics―a grassroots, community-based, participatory democracy, and an eco-centric and life-affirming social culture―to overcome the currently destructive focus on economic growth, with its over-production of material goods that generates a ‘wealth’ that flows directly to the already rich.

Please join with me in this task

We are faced with a conundrum that “politics as usual” isn’t going to solve. This entire planet and especially those humans and other living creatures being exploited by greedy global corporatism, is crying out for we humans to adopt an eco-centric and democratic Green politics.

I believe that only a truly Green political party that practices what it preaches, can offer an alternative to dysfunctional conventional politics. Parchuting the leader of the Green Party into a foreign bioregion and pouring in the money, will not change Canadian politics by one iota.

This is why I am standing as a nomination candidate for Saanich-Gulf Islands, in my Island bioregion. I ask you to join me in the great task of creating a Green, citizen-based democracy, and a compassionate and eco-centric society, for the protection and prosperity of all that lives.

Stuart Hertzog,
Victoria, BC
August 20, 2009


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177 Responses

  1. Eric Walton Says:

    John, If there are future threats to our current imperfect democracy from serious social disruption then the responsible course of action is to simultaneously oppose these anti-democratic forces at all levels of political organization. To pretend that a federal level political power would not impose its rules on local authorities is naive to the extreme.

    Surely you do not believe that national governments will simply close shop and disappear even if green voters no longer support or vote for them. Many First Nations people have done this in the past to make a political point and this has not changed their reality for the better or reduced the power of the federal government. Your strategy of non-engagement would in fact assist potential anti-democratic forces rather than hinder them.

    I think in time you will be very surprised by the positive impact of Green M.P’s in advancing ecological sanity, democratic resilience and social justice. In that sense this debate will only be resolved through the passage of time and not on this blog.

  2. John R. Bell Says:

    In the 19th century a debate took place between Marx and the self-described anarchist Bakunin. The latter masqueraded as a genuine anarchist while secretly planning to have himself placed at the head of the revolutionary movement as dictator with the assistance of 100 of his most devoted acolytes. In the heat of the moment the anarchists–and perhaps not even Marx himself– failed to recognize that Marx and Engels had over the years promoted not one but two different though not necessarily incompatible theories of the state: the state was an agency that allowed the ruling class to exercise coercion over the subordinate classes and the state was a parasitic excrescence which always aspires to to dominate the host society even as it sucks the lifeblood out of its host. This latter theory is actually quite close to the anarchist view. While Marx and the anarchists may have differed regarding how quickly and in what way the class coercive properties of the state should be done away Marx may or may have differed from the anarchists in that Marx believed that the parasitic state should be immediately dismantled or smashed rather than ignoring the parasitic state in the hopes that it would collapse. Contrary to what Eric seems to believe I am not advocating that we simply disengage from the national state. I am saying that we dismantle it as soon as local and bio-regional bodies are strong enough to throw off the parasitic yoke and we should devote our energies to bringing that about as quickly as possible. Eric is advocating that we become part of the oppressive national state apparatus because this is the only realistic course of action given that the national state is unprepared to leave local and bio-regional governments free to construct vibrantly democratic, substantially self-subsistent communities re-embedded within nature. I would always choose an ethical course over a realistic one but in this case I do not have to choose one over the other because choosing to prop up the national government and the unsustainable society behind it is an unrealistic and unethical DEAD end.

  3. Sebastian Ronin Says:

    John, re “Contrary to what Eric seems to believe I am not advocating that we simply disengage from the national state. I am saying that we dismantle it as soon as local and bio-regional bodies are strong enough to throw off the parasitic yoke and we should devote our energies to bringing that about as quickly as possible.”

    Prior to the current socio-political dynamics that will be unleashed via Post-Peak Oil and post-ecological tipping point, any secessionist oriented discussion could easily have been thrown out the window as pie-in-the-sky nonsense. Re my own “secessionism” a point I make over and over, is that I recognize “secession-by-default.” It trumps ethnic-oriented secession, i.e. Quebec, but does not displace it. As I see it, the first to go will be the physical infrastructure, followed by the institutional infrastructure…and it will happen very, very quickly. This is the political opportunity that I argue needs to be prepared for at regional levels, ergo the re-empowerment of provincial Green parties, or whatever their replacements are to be.

    One of many blind spots that “contemporary” Greens seem to relish is that Greens do not have a monopoly on ecological philosophy and political organization. I would further argue that the GPC is a relic of a bygone, liberal era. What lurks on the horizon demands that the GPC be relegated as redundant, obtrusive baggage.

    Fundi is the new Realo.

  4. Andrew Lewis Says:


    Stuart, you wrote in part in your intro, “Green politics is about respect and empowerment”. You also go on about “grassroots”.

    With as much respect as I can muster, you would not know SGI grassroots if they grabbed you by the ankle, and your campaign is an insult to the members of SGI who have campaigned for many years, often under intense pressure,… e.g. ShunLunn, (where were you?), or the NOTA campaign, (where were you?), and the Liberal/Penn campaign, (where were you and who did you support?, political expediency over principles along with all those other professional enviros?).

    Your actions, far from being grassroots and supporting democratic ideals, are instead, a unilateral, self serving fraud. SGI Greens deserve better than this blatant disrespect. At least Elizabeth May had the decency to talk with local members and supporters many months before the decision, and know that her candidacy would be welcome and supported in SGI. That is grassroots action Stuart, not your insulting assumptions.

  5. Stuart Hertzog Says:

    Hi Andrew,

    In answer to your emotional accusations, I was involved in other issues. It’s impossible to respond to every campaign, but I was certainly disgusted about the attempt by some self-important environmentalists to get you not to run in Saanich-Gulf Islands against Briony Penn.

    I felt that Briony made a strategic mistake in running for the Liberals, and that the environmentalists trying to get you not to run were either foolish or had their own covert political agenda. So my sympathies were with you. Sorry if I didn’t make it clear at the time.

    As for my actions being self-serving and a fraud, I think you have it backwards. The Green Party Council made its decision without consulting the riding, and Elizabeth’s elaborate charade at asking people’s advice was nothing more than pure political dissimulation and fakery.

    I stand by my opinion that the Green Party has ignored its grassroots in its search for power. It has become centralised in an attempt to imitate the other parties, and has fallen prey to being dominated by self-serving egotists devoted to their own self-aggrandisement.

    I’m not alone in this analysis, and I note that when Elizabeth ‘officially’ announced her intention to run here — possibly Canada’s worst-kept secret — you were about the only other person standing around apart from the media and Elizabeth’s handlers. Such a lack of grassroots support belies your claim that Elizabeth’s campaign is a ‘grassroots action.’

    It isn’t grassroots, Andrew. It’s the kind of politics that that disgusts the majority of Canadians. It doesn’t grab their ankles; it sticks in their craw.

  6. Sebastian Ronin Says:

    Re “…you were about the only other person standing around apart from the media and Elizabeth’s handlers.”

    Ouch! I think this is getting just a little too personal. =;-D

  7. Stuart Hertzog Says:

    Not personal, Sebastian, but a comment on the lack of grassroots support for Ms. May’s campaign and the way in which the Green party is faking its strength. It’s a typical example of how a political party can set up an expensive false backdrop then invite the media to a non-event at which only a handful of party officials are present. Smoke and mirrors — but the public isn’t fooled.

  8. Sebastian Ronin Says:

    Simply tongue-in-cheek back atcha, Stuart. Winking smiley faces can be either real stupid for adults to insert or attempts at nuance.

    The camera angles are always deceptive, doesn’t matter what the party or candidate is. If the shot was ever to zoom out the viewing public would be left scratching its collective head as to the degree of democratic support in front of the mike.

    Same same with Renee Heatherington’s media introduction last week. Likely shot in her home with the camera crews outnumbering the few people seated on the living room couch.

    The public has yet to clue in to what a small, small and selective game it is.

  9. Andrew Lewis Says:

    Stuart, you wrote in part,…”The Green Party Council made its decision without consulting the riding, and Elizabeth’s elaborate charade at asking people’s advice was nothing more than pure political dissimulation and fakery”.

    Wrong Stuart. I suggest your paranoid emotions are getting the better of you. We were fully consulted and Council did its due diligence. You clearly know nothing about SGI and our members, and have not bothered to ask or listen to us, but have decided to use the nomination process to further your own agenda of dissimulation and fakery at the expense of us,… shame on you. You are nothing but a political dilitant and a parasite on the backs of SGI Greens, and yes, I AM pissed off with you and all the other keyboard poseurs who freely comment about SGI and expose there own ignorance.

  10. Stuart Hertzog Says:

    Careful, Andrew. Ad hominem arguments are not allowed on this site. Most often, they are projections of the writer’s inner turmoil and don’t address the issues. So we try not to go there, and if someone persists after a warning, their subsequent comments will be removed.

    I suggest that you are being blinded by your inner emotional reaction to my candidacy and cannot focus on the central issue, which is the state of democracy both in the GreenParty and in Canada. Simply ranting at me does not address this issue. Sorry, but that’s how I see it.

    We won’t get environmental protection, tackle global warming, achieve a just society, or protect all living species, by playing ego games within the present authoritarian political system, which is too easily captured by the private interests of the multi-national corporations.

    We must re-examine and restructure the Green party so that it practices what it is suppose to be preaching, which is a peaceful, equitable, ecocentric and respectful participatory democracy that responds to the needs and wishes of all people. Only then can we say that Green politics is different, and present a model of an improved democracy for all Canadians.

  11. Brian Smallshaw Says:

    Stuart wrote: “Careful, Andrew. Ad hominem arguments are not allowed on this site. Most often, they are projections of the writer’s inner turmoil and don’t address the issues. So we try not to go there, and if someone persists after a warning, their subsequent comments will be removed.”

    Such a threat! We may not agree with you or appreciate the attacks, but nobody has tried to prevent you from speaking, but now that someone expresses what they feel about you, you threaten to use your high and mighty power as owner of this board to shut them down.

    I asked before, but you never replied: why aren’t you participating in the Green Party blogsite?:


  12. Stuart Hertzog Says:

    I don’t allow ad hominem arguments to go on too long, Brian, as they inevitably degenerate into mindless name-calling. So after a warning, I pull those comments. I don’t shut people off from future comments, I just remove any offensive comments after the warning. Does that not seem fair to you?

    As for why I’m not blogging on the Green Party web site: I have this one and I like it better. It and the four other sites I’m trying to maintain take up enough of my time to not want to blog anywhere else. There’s only so many hours in the day.

  13. Brian Smallshaw Says:

    Stuart wrote: “As for why I’m not blogging on the Green Party web site: I have this one and I like it better. It and the four other sites I’m trying to maintain take up enough of my time to not want to blog anywhere else.”

    It’s not because you’re in control here and not over there, right? If you’re concerned about a lack of participatory democracy, why not jump into the debate where Greens are congregating rather than sniping from the sidelines? Arguments about participatory democracy might carry a bit more weight if you were, er, participating more.

  14. Stuart Hertzog Says:

    It seems to me that I’m never going to satisfy your need for me to behave exactly as you want me to, Brian, nor should I even have to try. If you can’t accept that, too bad.

  15. Brian Smallshaw Says:

    Stuart you can believe and say whatever you want about the Green Party. But when you attack the Green Party and Elizabeth May for failing to uphold the party’s principles of participatory democracy without making an effort to participate in that process, it makes those of us who’ve been trying to build the organization wondering about your goals and motives.

    I think you’re defining the ‘grassroots’ as those that think like you, everyone else is not. And I suspect you’d rather see us fail than succeed as something that doesn’t fit your ideal of what the Green Party should be

  16. Oemissions Says:

    Briony’s response to Elizabeth’s running in(to) this riding was published in the local newspaper.

    “Where were you Elizabeth, when I was running?”

    That may not be word for word accurate in quoting but what is meant is obvious.

    Andrew has often said: Vote from your heart. We did. We voted for Briony.

    This next election, if Briony’s choice, Renee Heatherington wins the nomination, then many of us will vote for her, or, NDPers will go back to vote for an NDP candidate.

    Perhaps Elizabeth met with people here before Briony introduced Renee to us. We were very impressed with her.

    Actually, No. I just remembered that after meeting Renee I immediately emailed Elizabeth to say that we had an awesome candidate to represent the concerned citizens of this riding.

    Remember that we want to see Elizabeth in the House but we don’t want her to run here where there are oodles of green minded people in every party.

    Many people are disappointed that Elizabeth has done this and it won’t attract them back to the Green Party!

  17. Brian Smallshaw Says:

    Oemissions wrote: “Briony’s response to Elizabeth’s running in(to) this riding was published in the local newspaper.

    “Where were you Elizabeth, when I was running?”

    Asking her to run for the Green Party.

    But Briony thought she’d have a better chance with the Liberals and a lot of Greens (and greens) decided to suspend their skepticism and take a chance on her conviction that under Dion’s leadership, the Liberals might finally do something besides talk about the environment.

    Briony came close, but thousands of NDPers voted for the non-existent NDP candidate, irate that their candidate had been ‘outed’ by the Liberals. Dion has been replaced as leader of the Liberals, and the only reference to the environment I’ve heard from Ignatieff is, in reference to the tar sands:

    “This is where a chill falls over the room because everybody expects me to say that they’re terrible and we’ve got to shut them down. Absolutely not… and for once the word ‘awesome,’ that we overuse all the time, is truly what you feel when you’re there. It is awe-inspiring. The capital investment, the sheer size of this thing, the fact that there are 100 years of deposits…”

    So now we have a fantastic individual prepared to run in this riding if she’s nominated: smart, knowledgeable, articulate, nationally prominent, good with the media, sterling credentials in her efforts to protect the environment.

    And at the same time, we have a Green from a grassroot who’s doing his best to bring her down, apparently disgruntled because she’s too effective in the media and too much of a leader, and because he feels that the party has strayed from its belief in participatory democracy, even though he hasn’t bothered to participate in this riding at all until now, and from what I can tell, not much in the riding he lives in either.

    And we also have the greens of other parties, who readily acknowledge May’s strengths, wish her well, want the Green voice to be heard, but don’t want her to run in a riding widely recognized for the strength of its green convictions, because…. because….

    Well, maybe you can help me out here Oemissions, because I fail to understand.

  18. Sebastian Ronin Says:

    Oemissions, re Renee Heatherington being an “awesome candidate” I guess our mileage differs on what constitutes “awesome.” I, and many others, have seen the vid that was released last week. The commentary around the personality in the vid (which is the only image the voting public will ever get to meet) seems to be along the lines of soft, much work to be done, naive, etc.

    Having said that, I would think the perfect choice for the Libs to toss in against May.

  19. Oemissions Says:

    Brian: Look at the numbers.

    Lunn will get about 20,000 to 28,000 votes.

    Libs and NDP will get????

    Last time Greens got 6500 or so.

    How can they surpass the votes for Lunn?

    Do you think about 15,000 Conservatives are going to vote for Elizabeth instead of their cherished little Mr. Lunn?

  20. Sebastian Ronin Says:

    Ah, but you forget that Liz May has an ace up her sleeve called Blair Wilson, that Green stalwart of ecological stewardship! Will he not be asked to speak at one of her rallies? West Van is just a spit away.

  21. Brian Smallshaw Says:

    Oemissions: Sure, let’s look at the numbers. Last time the Greens got 6742 votes, with a minimal campaign, and lots of Green and green-leaning NDP voters voting Liberal to support Briony.

    This time around with a much bigger, better-organized campaign, were green-leaning Liberals and NDPers to vote Green, together with fiscally conservative Conservatives I don’t think it’s a stretch at all to think that Elizabeth has a shot at it.

    Lunn has only ever had a slim majority in this riding and has only won because the opposition is more evenly divided here than in most other ridings. On top of that, since the last election, Lunn has been demoted for flubbing the Natural Resources portfolio, and probably was only made Minister of Sport because demoting him right out of cabinet would have been tantamount to admitting that his appointment was a mistake in the first place, and we know how Steve doesn’t like admitting that he was wrong!

    So no, I don’t think May winning here is such a long shot at all – but it will take people like yourselves deciding to vote for who and what they really believe in.

  22. Oemissions Says:

    Now about the NDP. I go to their meetings. I am a Brown person,meaning, I would like a union of the Red, Green and Orange and smaller parties, such as CAP to pull together into one consolidated piece.

    I know that some of their KEY people voted for Briony and supported her.

    Dr. Margaret Fulford in her introduction to Briony at the acclamation meeting said: “Well, you may wonder what an old prairie socialist like me is doing up here welcoming a Liberal candidate…..”

    So Briony damn near won that election and people pointed their fingers at the Greens more than at the NDP .Because of that robotic call on Thanksgiving Monday NDP votes were excused.Others say that diehard NDPers voted for a no show candidate, and ofcourse picked up some funding by doing so.

    I really doubt that a whole lot of NDPers will vote for Elizabeth as they did with Briony.

    Briony had a big record of activity here and was 3 generations a Saanich/Gulf Islander.

    They will NOT appreciate Elizabeth parachuting in and they will probably go back to supporting their own candidate.As I said, should Renee win the nomination, some will vote for her because of Briony’s recommendation. If Briony said this time: Yes! Vote for Elizabeth,they might but she has not.

    If Renee does NOT win, well, its another roll of the dice. You will have to ask Briony if she will vote for Elizabeth.

    My bet will be, if Kit Spence is the Lib candidate that it will be roughly: one third, each way and Lunn maintaining his 20 some thousand votes and maybe the NDP in second.

    Sorry to say it but I believe this is the way it will go.

    And Stuart, as valid as his points are, will not win over Elizabeth.

  23. Brian Smallshaw Says:

    Regarding the NDP: Well, I come from old-time Saskatchewan CCF roots myself and know some influential people in the party; some of them will vote NDP no matter what, others have told me they are very impressed with Elizabeth and would consider voting Green because of her.

    Regarding finger-pointing at the Greens by Briony: Yes, it’s true, some people could not overcome their skepticism about the likelihood of Briony turning the Liberals into a green party – can you blame them? In hindsight, don’t they look correct? But considering the number of Greens that did vote for Briony, and the number of Liberals that apparently stayed home because they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a green Liberal, I think finger-pointing is, at best, ungrateful.

    Regarding the current nominees and the coming election: Though I think she was mistaken, I think Briony could make a solid case for supporting her in the last election – it’s absolutely true that the Liberals had a shot at forming government, and under Dion, you could reasonably argue that the Liberals had finally seen the light and would take real action on the environment. Furthermore, it is also true that the Liberals have a much better organized party machine to help a candidate get elected.

    The situation now is utterly different. Briony is not running, she’s endorsing a nominee who seems like she might be capable, but certainly doesn’t have credentials that match her own. The Liberal party is completely changed; Dion is not only gone, everything he stood for has been completely discredited in the party, and they are now led by a man that is arguably more of a hawk than Stephen Harper, thinks tar sands development is great, and was as ready as the Conservatives to run up a deficit while bailing out banks and auto companies.

    How can a green possibly vote Liberal now, and especially in this riding when Elizabeth May might be running?

    Regarding the validity of Stuarts points: They aren’t.

  24. Stuart Hertzog Says:

    I beg to differ.

  25. Oemissions Says:

    How can a green possibly vote Liberal now?

    I asked that myself at a meeting to introduce Renee.

    The answer: not from me but from Briony and Renee: take a look at the proposals and recommendations that were accepted and made a priority at the recent Liberal convention in Vancouver. That environmental platform was created and submitted by a team from the Saanich GI riding, including Renee and Briony.

    They believe that the grass roots members in the Liberal party will be strong.

    Read the comments that were posted on En Famille prior to the Convention.Read the pro[posals and debates and discussions.

    My personal take on Ignatieff: I smelled an “old boy” the first time I saw him (on TV) during that Liberal Convention when Dion won the leadership race.

    Last year he ,Iggy, voted against a Bloc private members bill to mandate labelling for GE products and food.He said nothing about the horrendous suffering in Gaza this winter, other than, “Hamas needs to stop throwing rockets” and then those stupid remarks on the Tarsands left me whirling.

    But I, take the Dylan dictive: “Don’t follow leaders… and watch those parkin metres.”

    That’s j Old World hype.

    Power is with the individual MPs and the people meeting, discussing,potlucking,dancing singing and having some differences of opinion yet sensing the best solution.

    I actually find all this party business very frustrating.

    To conclude,the only person in Canada that I know who would make me feel glad to have as a PM is David Orchard.

    And yes, I know how the Libs dealt with him, and before that the Conservatives.

    You know that song: We can get there faster if we all work together…”?

    Hard to do when everyone is saying: Vote for ME!

  26. Brian Smallshaw Says:

    Well Oemissions, if you can hear all of that talk and see all of those actions and still believe, your faith is very strong indeed.

    To get real change in this country we really need to have electoral reform, something that I know Briony supports. But when I’ve talked to the policy people within the Liberal party, they have said flat out that they do not support it. And of course they wouldn’t, they have everything to lose and nothing to gain. And if they can so effectively co-opt environmentalists, they have absolutely no reason to do anything to protect the environment beyond paying it lip service. ‘See, look at these wonderful resolutions we’ve passed, and all of the wonderful environmentalists within our party – we’re green.’

    Watch out for those parking metres….

  27. Oemissions Says:

    So Brian, you want me to vote for a party that doesn’t even have 1 seat in the House of Commons?

    Like I have said, the Conservatives will rule again . They got 44.4 percent of the vote in BC in 2008.

    Have the Greens had a run on memberships since the announcement of Elizabeth running here?

    I do NOT have the patience to wait for Greens to win seats. It will take too long.

    I donot know how I will vote yet in the next election but I know it will Not be for a Conservative candidate and it will not be for a Green candidate.

    And you know what else, I am not oppossed to the maritimers hunting seals.

    And who is Joan Russow now supporting?

    I really have nothing further to contribute here.

    I am fed up with all this volleyball amongst progressive voters.

    The provinicial election was another fiasco. The NDP and Carole James behaved ridicuously regarding the carbon tax which I think should be tripled.

    The Coalition was promising and now its a beer parlour brawl.

    People are suffering more from lack of housing, employment,and public transit.

    Sustainability is entering into the mainstream .

    The Green party has been a catalyst, probably, but so was the Whole Earth Catalogue.

    Meanwhile, here on Salt Spring Island, where I have resided for over 20 years, we have an enormous traffic problem and I see few Greens and members of the Conservancy using the bus.

    They will revolt if parking meters are put in downtown Ganges!

  28. John R. Bell Says:

    Two things, Stuart. Stick to your guns re Andrew Lewis. He is not interested in dialogue. His comments are pure ad hominem. Second, just in passing, how naive do you have to be to think that you could ever win the federal Liberals to a genuinely green agenda? It would be hard enough to win the Greens to such a position–a position that would necessarily mean saying good bye to our corporate dominated, growth oriented society. If you did not support Penn’s quixotic flirtation with the Liberals that in itself shows a certain political maturity.

  29. Oemissions Says:


    Had to look that one up.

    It means, John R, which way is your finger pointing?

  30. Brian Smallshaw Says:

    Oemissions: You’re right, the Greens don’t have a single seat in the House of Commons, and the Conservatives got more than four times the votes of the Green Party’s 9.4% in BC in the last election. Given those odds and our electoral system, sensible people would just give up.

    But you are also right about what became of the Coalition and how the NDP behaved in the last election, and to me, voting for those parties is more of a wasted vote because with any of them in power it is just more of the same. ‘Sustainability is entering into the mainstream’, but so far I’m seeing a lot more talk than action – look what happened to the Liberal green conversion when the economy went bad, and look at the NDP working so hard to prop up auto companies. I’m idealistic enough to want a better world for my kids and am willing to take a chance on voting for a party that represents a possibility for real change.

    I’m also fed up with the ‘volleyball amongst progressive voters’, and in fact dropped out of politics entirely for a few years when it seemed like our efforts were more divisive than constructive, especially here on Saltspring. But with the possibility of Elizabeth May running in this riding, I’m being lured back in – it’s still going to be an uphill struggle against this ‘we don’t have a seat, so why should we be given a seat’ way of thinking, but the way I look at, a vote for the old-line parties is a vote for the status quo, so I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

  31. Erich Jacoby-Hawkins Says:

    Your constant harping that the GPC is centralized or top-down just like the other major parties shows that you really have no comprehension of how the GPC differs radically in structure and practise from other parties. Since I wouldn’t presume you to be a liar, I must assume that you are profoundly ignorant of how the party functions due to being disconnected from the grassroots Green Party members you purport to represent.

    The GPC is the ONLY major federal party to:

    – give away 2/3 of the federal per-vote funding directly to ridings and provincial/regional organizations for local activity, with essentially no strings attached

    – allow an open nomination process in EVERY single riding, not reserving any ridings for top-down candidate appointment by the leader – even the leader’s own chosen riding!

    – provide the leader to attend local riding fundraiser events for FREE – not charging the riding any set speaker’s fee, or even for the leader’s travel or accommodations, and then letting the riding keep 2/3 of the funds raised

    – allow local ridings to choose the topic or content of the leader’s speech, and allow the leader to personally and candidly answer any and all questions, not only from members but from any person present

    – feature a leader who is elected by a direct vote of every single member, with no delegate selection system subject to backroom manipulation

    – make member-approved policy resolutions BINDING on the Leader and Cabinet

    – share with ridings a portion of any funds raised by the central party via the riding’s page on the central party website

    – pay out to ridings (via revenue sharing) more per member than the ridings pay to enroll members

    – allow candidates to publicly disagree with official policy, so long as they also explain what the party policy is

    Each of these significant measures empowers the grassroots in ways that other parties would find unthinkable. The central party also provides training and support to local ridings through events and tours at nominal or no cost to ridings, and regional organizers are available to provide on-demand support for free. The party even arranges discount bulk copies of the leader’s books for additional local fundraising. The party does not in any way restrict who can be elected to or serve on local riding organizations and does not “tax” locally-raised donations by even a single dollar. Some of the other major parties require ridings to turn over some or even all of their locally-raised funds to the central party; some even don’t allow EDAs to have their own local bank accounts.

    In light of all of these significant and unique supports and freedoms that the party provides the grassroots, it is quite false to state that the GPC is somehow centralized or top-down in a way that even vaguely resembles how other parties are organized.

    Perhaps your misapprehension that the party has “forsaken grassroots Green bioregional activism” is because the purpose of the central party isn’t to be active in the grassroots at the bioregional level – it is to EMPOWER the local groups who are or can be active at the grassroots. Although it isn’t perfect in this respect, the GPC does provide real support to such efforts. It is not the role of the central party to be active in your riding – they can’t do it for you – that is the job of the EDA. The party’s role is to make that easier for YOU, and that’s what they do.

    No longer is the GPC a small group of activists working on various political causes; now it is a national framework which can support any number of small, local groups of activists in political activity. I consider that evolution to be a GOOD THING.

  32. Stuart Hertzog Says:

    The GPC does not differ in structure from the other political parties — that’s the whole point of my suggesting that it needs to be restructured to offer a participatory model of an improved democracy to Canadians.

    What you are claiming to be structural differences are merely procedural concessions that pay only lip service to participatory democracy, in which decision-making resides at the grassroots level.

  33. Brian Smallshaw Says:

    Thank you for explaining that so well.

    As it happens, I ran into a fellow Green in the supermarket the day before yesterday, a person who was very active in Victoria for years before moving to Saltspring about five years ago. She has no recollection of Stuart being involved in anything over there.

  34. Stuart Hertzog Says:

    I’ve already responded to you on this, Brian. I’m beginning to suspect that you may not be voting for me in the nomination contest, and that you are simply trying to waste my time by continually attacking me on this site. So no more responses from me to you, Brian. Enough already! You are opposed to me, and are going to stay that way.

  35. Brian Smallshaw Says:

    Well you are correct in assuming that I’m not going to vote for you!

    But no, I’m not trying to waste your time, I just don’t want to let incorrect statements go unchallenged.

    I’m beginning to suspect that you would rather debate in this forum than elsewhere because you control this one.

  36. Stuart Hertzog Says:

    Well Brian, I promised not to reply to you, but I have been meaning to respond to a previous comment of yours about control, so call me a liar, but here it is:

    Yes, this blog takes me out from under the control of the party, which would be the case if I blogged on the party’s web site. It returns control to me, which is the main point in what I’m saying about the democratic structure of the Green Party.

    Conventional, ‘top-down’ politics is all about control. It’s about disempowering the electorate and moving control into the hands of a ruling élite, who can than pursue any self-serving project or policy and impose it upon the electorate, often policies that enslave people and destroy ecosystems and living species.

    The struggle for democracy has always been a struggle against the ability of the ruling élite to impose control either by force, or as is the current situation, by propaganda and manipulation through the corporate media, with force being kept back as an ultimate weapon. The upcoming Olympics will show us how covert the use of force will be if social unrest were to occur.

    It’s all about control: the control exerted by the party’s federal Council and its Campaign Committee in deciding that the party’s goal in this election is is to elect the leader and where that person should run; in setting and changing the nomination procedure many times; and getting the EDAs to transfer control of their candidate selection process to this central committee.

    So while you accuse me of wanting control of my own activities — to which charge I readily plead ‘guilty by reason of self-determination’ — you neglect to consider the control games being played by Ms. May and the party apparatchiks in trying to impose their will on at least one unwilling member.

  37. Erich Jacoby-Hawkins Says:

    In your writings, you seem to indicate that you believe a national Green Party structure should not even exist – that simply by existing, it somehow taints or retards the local, grassroots spirit of Green politics. In that belief you are simply wrong, because the mere fact of the GPC’s existence provides a number of very powerful tools for anyone wanting to organize in their riding or “bioregion”. Below are just a few examples:

    1. Local Green activists can (for free*) become party members, form an electoral district association (again for free), and have virtually unlimited fundraising powers. ALL money raised locally can be kept and spent locally however the EDA chooses, with no restrictions whatsoever from the central party. In fact, once registered, the Green Party provides an annual subsidy which can amount to several thousand dollars; *the per-member portion actually exceeds the per-member annual fee. This fundraising power is better than that of an NGO, since it grants significant tax benefits to donors; it is better than that of a charity, since it does not require the EDA to be non-partisan or apolitical (and has higher tax benefits for donors)

    2. An EDA is a registered local non-profit organization, which can get you discounts on various products and services such as room bookings, mailbox rental, or countless other needs; becoming an EDA is the fastest, cheapest way to become a registered non-profit

    3. The party provides credit-card processing and receipting for local ridings or campaigns which don’t have their own account set up for a very modest fee

    4. The party provides (for free) sign, literature, and advertising templates created by professional designers which can be modified and used at local printers; these are created to promote your local organization or address topics of concern, not merely for electioneering

    5. The party provides (for free) web-hosting for riding contact & event information and candidate/member blogging

    6. The party has group liability insurance which covers all EDAs up to $5 million each for the unbelievably low cost of $50 each per year; for an independent “grassroots” group to get similar coverage would either be impossible or prohibitively expensive, and nowadays (if you’ve actually done any grassroots organizing lately) it is often impossible to rent a site or venue or table at a festival – or even book a public space, like a park – if your group does not have sufficient liability insurance

    7. Being a candidate for a national party gives you a far more prominent platform in local media coverage. Many “all-candidates” type events or news features will minimize or ignore independents or “fringe party” candidates; simply being a representative of the federal Green Party usually guarantees coverage equitable to (if not equal to) that provided the other major parties for you to bring forward local issues

    In short, there are many ways in which being a member of a federally-registered party gives you a head start on local, grassroots organizing. And trying to do so via a totally decentralized ad-hoc party or a loose confederation of regional parties has proven to be extremely difficult. All of the registered “fringe” or minor parties have extremely limited capacity at the local level and can provide almost no support to their grassroots supporters. A recent GPC offshoot along the lines you seem to favour, the “Peace and Ecology Party,” failed to even register as a federal party because they could not garner the signatures of 250 electors to be members – despite offering free membership! Getting 250 people to sign up as members of your party is a lot harder than getting 100 to sign off on your nomination form. It takes at least a modicum of central organization to achieve and maintain the procedural requirements of a registered party. If you can’t do that, you can’t offer the many advantages to local, grassroots action which come from membership in a registered association.

    Of course, to argue that you know better than our Leader about representing or organizing the grassroots is comical. She literally wrote the book on effective grassroots organizing: http://tinyurl.com/og6wy8 . (I’m tempted to say she’s forgotten more about grassroots organizing than you’ve ever known, but you’d probably try to turn that around against her, or just dismiss it as some kind of personal attack on you. So we’ll pretend I didn’t say that.)

  38. Stuart Hertzog Says:

    Wrong, Erich. I’ve never stated that a national Green Party structure should not even exist. One should exist, but that it should be structured as a national confederation of activist, ecocentric, bioregional, Green Party groups that run candidates in national, provincial, and local elections.

    You have listed the Green Party’s attempt to encourage local EDA activity, but after a quarter of a century, the centralist approach to Green politics has failed. There are not enough active local members to keep most Green Party EDAs going. Except for a few strong EDAs, the Green Party of Canada is an empty shell at the grassroots level. That’s why the focus on getting just the leader elected.

    What you are so proud of is just smoke-and-mirrors from the party leadership to convince people that this is a genuinely grassroots national political party. In this, the NDP is way ahead of the Green Party. The NDP is strong at the grassroots; the Green party is not. I want to change that by replacing the existing ‘top-down’ structure with a participatory one that empowers and not disempowers, Green Party members.

  39. Brian Smallshaw Says:

    Or maybe the opposite is true Stuart; the Green Party was fringe for all those years because we lacked the organizational structure to build strong EDAs.

  40. Erich Jacoby-Hawkins Says:

    Brian is essentially correct. The “centralist” approach has only been attempted by Greens over the last 6 years, and it is precisely over that time that the party has achieved a strong LOCAL presence in dozens of ridings (as evidenced by our unprecedented 41 ridings over 10% vote last fall). Prior to that, two decades of loose confederacy like what you describe accomplished almost precisely nothing in 95% of Canadian communities.

    What I am describing is certainly not “smoke and mirrors” from the party leadership. Since founding the Barrie EDA early in 2004, the Barrie Greens have raised – locally – over $125,000 in hard cash and spent – locally – that same amount on local, grassroots activity. This is far more than we could have raised were it not for the existence of the central party and the support and training they have provided, mostly for free. I know this because, in the 5 years prior to our founding, I was already active in the local small-g green movement outside the party, with far less organizational success.

    Since we ran a full 308-candidate slate in 2004, if every riding had been as active as Barrie, that would mean about $40 million worth of LOCAL activities. Of course, many ridings have not been so active, although some are even more active than Barrie.

    In any riding where this has not happened, it is entirely the failure of the local, grassroots people to organize themselves and take advantage of what the central party has to offer. You can’t push a rope, and you can’t blame the central office failure to act at the local level.

    The NDP is more organized than the Greens at the grassroots for three reasons:

    1. They have been in existence as a movement and party for decades longer than us.

    2. They were centrally organized from the very beginning.

    3. They are attached to a labour movement which predates them by decades and is, by definition, both locally and centrally organized.

    The Green movement does not have the organizational history of the labour movement, and the GPC doesn’t have the longevity of the NDP. It’s thus no surprise (nor shame) that we aren’t as locally organized yet as they. But don’t doubt it will happen, whether you are a part of it or not.

  41. Stuart Hertzog Says:

    Congratulations on your efforts in Barrie, Erich, and I mean that genuinely. But yours is one of the few strong EDAs. In Victoria, one of the strong Green areas, the EDA could not even get a quorum for an AGM recently. I was one of the five or six people that showed up.

    You’re a centralist, Erich. But many people are rejecting the old centralist political parties, and are even turning their back on the whole electoral process. I’m pointing to the future, while you are pointing to the past.

    I believe that the centralist version of the Green Party has failed, and that only by becoming a genuinely participatory democracy will the party ever grow in support to be able to protect the environment and living species, or ameliorate the effects of global warming.

    Elizabeth May and the centralists aren’t going to get us there.

  42. Erich Jacoby-Hawkins Says:

    You are simply wrong, and I hope you’ll stop making such mistaken statements or I’ll have to assume you are being deliberately misleading.

    Things are not merely “procedural concessions” if they are enshrined in our party constitution and by-laws. By definition, those are structural differences. Ways in which we are UNLIKE other major parties (and thus unique) which stem from our constitution and bylaws include:

    EVERY unit in the party is ultimately accountable to the membership, not to the leadership [article 6.1]

    There are no restrictions on EDAs (or other party units) signing up new members (most other parties only allow direct sign-up at the national level, and restrict the ability of local units to recruit members through controls on “official” membership forms etc.) [by-law 1.2.1]

    EDAs have the essentially unconditional right to choose their own candidates by their own procedures – this is unique among major parties, as all the rest reserve the right for the leader or central party to appoint some or all candidates, or screen out potential candidates based on secret, internal criteria with no right to appeal. [by-law 5.1.1]

    EDAs have total sovereignty over the funds they raise and how they spend their money. This is certainly unique among major parties, and very different from how the others are structured. [by-laws 8.2, 8.4]

    Party policy is set by the votes of the members in general meeting, and the election platform presented by the Leader and Cabinet must coincide with this member-approved policy. This, again, is completely opposite to how the other major parties operate. [by-law 6.5]

    What is also conspicuous, by its absence, is the almost total lack of any mechanism allowing the central party to coerce local EDAs or candidates in their spending, messaging, or any other local operational decisions. Obviously there is no article or by-law to cite since we don’t have such rules. The ability of the Leader to deny a potential local candidate is very constrained, and stems from the Elections Act. We are unique in having put heavy restrictions on the ability of the Leader to exercise this prerogative [by-law 5.2]

    The fact that you are either unaware that these are structural differences, or don’t even understand the difference between structural and procedural matters, further reduces my respect for the validity of your views on these issues.

    Where the structure of the GPC resembles (superficially) that of the other parties is mainly in areas where it (and they) must conform with federal election law, such as in the border of EDAs or the rules around money transfers or candidate nominations, or having a specific person in the role of “leader”. In those respects, we really have no choice. (However, I don’t find the Elections Act rules particularly objectionable or un-green).

    Over the past 6 years, our EDA has made countless decisions at the local, grassroots level about things like what messaging to focus on, how to organize, what activities to undertake, what local groups to support or partner with, etc. NEVER have any of those been questioned, hindered, or overturned by the central party. When it comes to local, grassroots activity, the central party sometimes provides support but never gets in the way. Have they every stopped you from doing something you and other grassroots greens wanted to accomplish at the local or regional level? In my experience, they’ve always been either permissive or supportive. Nevertheless, it is always up to us at the local level to actually organize and take action – as it should be. What’s been stopping you?

  43. Stuart Hertzog Says:

    You and I are not going to agree, Erich, so there’s no point in my trying to convince you. You and Brian Smallshaw must rest your cases, or develop your extensive writings on this site into a book. Whatever, comments on this posting are now closed. Thanks to everyone who took part.

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