Green vs. NDP

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fixcanada fixcanada's picture
Green vs. NDP

Hello to anyone I hadn't messaged in my introductory post.

In that first thread, I mentioned I like a bit of the platforms of the Liberals, the NDP, and the Greens. But as I visit each party website and read about their policies, I find it hard to differentiate on more than a few areas of policy.

Given that I am a former libertarian who has since "seen the light" (for lack of a better phrase), I am what you might call a free agent looking for a place to belong. I'd like to get more involved on the left, and thought about joining a party - and the more I read the more I've boiled it down to the NDP or the Green Party.

So, my question is what, in your opinion are the greatest differences between those two parties - and/or why do you throw your support behind either/both of these entities? It may be sad to admit, but I find it easier to figure this out by being convinced through conversation - having visited both websites, read articles, completed quizzes, and watched youtube vids I'm still reeling from all the partisan propaganda. I would appreciate the fine folks here to lay it out straight for me on why 'x' party is the better your opinion, of course.

Thanks in advance.

(And for any alarm bells that ring with the idea that I was at one time a libertarian...the reason I don't consider myself one now is...well...simply put, I grew up.)

Issues Pages: 

Rather than NDP vs. Green, instead combine the two.  I think that it would be beneficial to have a Left Green movement including the Bloc in Canada.  If you add up the voter percentages for NDP, Green and Bloc there are more votes combined than the two old corporatist parties have.

As for differences:  In a nutshell, the NDP supports people whilst the Green Party supports environment.  Each party claims to support what the other is primarily noted for, but when it comes right down it the NDP will support people over the environment, and the Green Party will support the environment over people.

I don't think that it really matters because our First-Past-The-Post popularity contest ensures that the NDP, Green, and Bloc parties split the progressive vote just enough that they do not get elected.  I think that we need electoral reform:  Mixed Member Proportional Representation.

wage zombie

No party is perfect, and so being part of a party involves compromises.  Working together with other people involves compromises, and political parties need to allow broad ranges of people to work together.  But there are compromises.

These compromises can be worth it if the party has organizational strength.  It's very hard to win elections, and it's even pretty hard to win individual seats.

So for me it was a cost-benefit analysis.

Let me say first that I feel that the NDP is a pretty natural fit for me.  I would like bolder policies, and a bolder approach, but, of all the parties, it represents me the best.  So I guess that would make me partisan.

But beyond that, I'll make the cost-benefit analysis that I made when I started more actively supporting the NDP.

The NDP has more benefits--especially now that we are arguably government-in-waiting.  We could form a majority government in 2015.  That's huge.  But even when the NDP had 37 seats--that's still pretty huge.  To win 37 ridings is a great amount of organizational strength.

Look how long it took the Green Party to win 1 seat!  It's very difficult to do, and it requires a lot of organizational infrastructure/intelligence.  And it's worth working together with people to do, and compromising here and there, because it's very difficult to win seats.  And not being able to win seats means not having a certain kind of influence.

So now the Green Party has a seat, which was a huge accomplishment for them.  But, they have pretty much torn their party apart to do it.  They are broke.  They lost a lot of votes across the country, and I think they did not meet the threshold to get the per-vote financing.

So I would say in terms of organizational capacity (the benefit to working with others in a party), the NDP is well ahead.

Now in terms of the cost, or compromise...this factor is what could allow a smaller party with less organizational capacity to be a better choice.

Often big parties, with high capacity, are already owned.  No point in joining a party that's owned.

But beyond being owned, as they gain organizational capacity, parties tend to institutionalize.  Power networks develop, and processes become habitual and routinized.  Choices start being made out of tradition rather than innovation.

For the party member, or supporter, you or me, this process is generally poor, because often it means our interests and needs are less significant than institutional structures.

So...often a smaller party, while having lower organizational capacity, could be more attractive because it might involve less compromise.  It might be a lot closer to its members' interests.

However, I feel that the Green Party underperforms the NDP in this way, as well.  The Green Party has already been taken over a few times, by the Elizabeth May personality cult as well as the Jim Harris "tories with composters" crew.  Sure, the NDP is institutionalized, and there are power networks, and there is the overcautiousness, and a bunch of other compromises to make.  But, the Green Party isn't really so open either.

So, from a functional comparison, I view the NDP as being much more appealing.  Additionally I feel the NDP policies are generally a better fit for me, even if on some particular issues I prefer the GP plan.

babbler 8

Coming from a Libertarian point of view I assume you haven't shed your civil libertarian values. Honestly I don't find your conversion that surprising since civil liberties are about justice and are leftwing values. We just understand that so called economic libertarianism leads to more social injustice. As someone who considers themself a ardent supporter of civil liberties I have to say the NDP has been the leading political force for civil liberties in Canada throughout our history.

The NDP was formed from the CCF, who in their very first government in Saskatchewan put into law the Saskatchewan Bill of Rights, a law that broke new ground in protecting civil liberties. This was before universal healthcare, which is another thing the Saskatchewan CCF/NDP are known for. After becoming federal NDP leader, Tommy Douglas is also known for his opposition to Pierre Trudeau bringing into force the war measures act in 1970, the biggest threat to civil liberties since the second world war. This opposition is what prompted Jack Layton to join the NDP.

Today the NDP is still on the forefront of civil liberty protection, from their opposition to the omnibus crime bill, to protection of transgendered people from discrimination, to the support for the decrimilization of marijuana.

The Green Party in a lot of ways are a one issue party, or perhaps I should say one type of issue party. While the NDP is not primarily focused on environmental issues, we have still have had a really good record on the environment where we've governed provincially. The Greens on the other hand have no record in government and when they put forward a platform do not need to be realistic because they really don't have any chance of being elected. With the NDP we have to put in place the most progressive federal government ever in 2015, the Greens are only really in a position to draw attention to green issues. 


The Greens front for enviro-capitalism. They're essentially a competitor lobby organization for corporate industrial subsidies, favourable legislative policies, and lucrative tax incentives.  Likewise, all of our Federal political parties have their own niche and usefulness, depending on who pays the bills.

fixcanada fixcanada's picture

Thank you all for replying. I apologize for waiting so long to reply - I've been away from babble for too long; life comes with its share of distractions.


I like your idea on mixed member proportional representation - after a fairly exhaustive read on the various other forms of PR, I think I like MMPR the best. It's frustrating to live under a Conservative majority, knowing they obtained such by convincing roughly a mere quarter of the population to vote for them.

@wage zombie

Your reply had me feeling a bit down as you highlighted very well just how hard it is to win a seat. It makes the fight against the robo-cons seem that much harder to win. But you definitely made a strong case for the NDP, and wow an NDP majority in 2015...could it be? If so, that would make for an exciting time!

@babbler 8

Yes, the main attraction libertarianism held for me in the past was the issue of civil liberties - which I definitely hold onto...I feel people should be allowed to do as they please, so long as they do not infringe on anyone else's right to do the same. However, as I've grown older I've also learned that no person is an island, and we as a community need to come together, and build strong foundations in education, health, housing, and to take care of the planet too. I used to think a tiny/minimal government was the answer, but I've learned that the boot-strap crap usually spewed from the right is not applicable to the realities of life - especially not when you consider how rigged the game is in favour of the wealthy. I see the government as a necessary force for good.


I hadn't thought of the Greens in that way, but you've given me food for thought - you may be right...I'll keep what you've said in mind.

Thanks again, everyone!