Vote Green: And get what you do not want

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If you want to see another Harper government, then vote Green. A vote for a Green candidate is a wasted chance to vote for a candidate able to defeat a Conservative candidate. If the Green vote goes up, the chances of a Conservative majority increase proportionately.

Alice Funke at Pundit's Guide reports that in the last election the Greens gained at the expense of the Liberals in 102 of 108 Ontario ridings.

One million people voted Green in the last election. If they had voted Liberal, NDP or Bloc there would be fewer Conservatives members of parliament up for re-election. Under the leadership of Elizabeth May, the Greens have become more attractive to voters. In the 2000 general election the Greens got less than one per cent of the vote. By the 2008 election with May as the new leader the Green total vote had grown to 6.8 per cent, up from 4.5 per cent in 2006, and 4.3 per cent in 2004.

Why is a vote for the Green Party a vote for the Harper Conservative government? The First-Past-the-Post electoral system rewards "efficient" voting. A regional party like the Bloc can win 49 seats with 10 per cent of the vote, because its voters are concentrated in those 50 ridings. The Green Party wins no seats even if it grows to a similar vote total as the Bloc because its voters are spread thinly across the country. In the 2008 election, while damaging the chances of Liberals and New Democrats, the best the Green Party could do was finish second in five ridings.

The Canadian Greens have been reluctant to lobby for proportional representation (to replace First-Past-the-Post), which is the only way a vote for their party would make any sense at all. Instead Elizabeth May proposes a referendum on the issue.

The Green Party could be anointing Green New Democrat candidates, or Green Liberal candidates to ensure that Conservatives had less chance to win. Instead, it has chosen to send into battle candidates without a hope of winning a seat.

Vote splitting of progressives has caused the New Democrats to lose excellent members of parliament in Saskatchewan (the spiritual home of the party no longer has an NDP member) to Conservatives, who ensure that real environmental problems are ignored.

In Europe, the Greens work with other parties, enter coalitions, and participate in government. Greens have taken important ministries in Germany and France, for example. In France the Greens partnered with the Communist Party, and the Socialist Party of François Mitterrand. The French Greens have traditionally been part of the French left.

It is the capitalist organization of the production of goods and services, and exploitation of resources that is at the heart of the world ecological crisis. Yet in Canada the Greens proudly proclaim to be neither right nor left.

Green politics means first organizing in civil society, to ensure that no political figure can take the kind of anti-environmental stance now characteristic of the Conservative party. This is the tried and true method used by Canadian feminists to make an (unfinished) revolution in the treatment of women in Canada, including constitutional protection for equality under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It how rights for gay and lesbians were secured in Canada, and how Medicare was won.

All political candidates should be obliged to heed those well informed people, who think seriously about the future of our planet, and understand an ecological disaster looms. Until they do, a vote for the Greens means climate change, water shortages, air and soil pollution, and nuclear waste have a better chance of being dealt with by a government that does not believe there is a problem.

Do you genuinely care more about the environment than any other issue? Then the last thing you want as to do is see a Conservative government take power again. Paradoxically, a vote for the Green Party is a vote against the environment, because it helps a Conservative candidate.

Duncan Cameron writes weekly on politics and is president of


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