The Green Party of Canada is a Canadian federal political party founded in 1983 with around 9,000 registered members as of November 2007 . The Greens, as their name indicates, advocate green politics and are the largest party in Canada to focus primarily on green politics, though other parties have included environmental stances in their platforms.
The party's support has ranged between 4.5% and 15% since the 2006 federal election and has not polled below 6% in any opinion poll from 2007 onwards. In mid-November 2007 the Greens placed third ahead of both the Bloc and the NDP in a Strategic Counsel poll. In the 2006 election, the Green Party of Canada received 4.5% of the total vote but did not win any seats.
Elizabeth May is the current leader of the party. She was elected on the first ballot by 65% of voting party members on August 26, 2006.
On August 30, 2008, Vancouver area MP Blair Wilson became the first-ever Green Member of Parliament, after sitting for nearly a year of the 39th Canadian Parliament as an Independent. He had been a Liberal MP, but stepped down voluntarily from the caucus earlier in the parliament after anonymous allegations of campaign finance irregularities, of which he was later cleared after a 9-month investigation by Elections Canada. Wilson became a Green Member while Parliament was on summer break and thus never sat in the House of Commons as a Green MP.
On September 10, 2008 it was announced that all of the four major political parties in Canada "agreed to let Green Party leader Elizabeth May into the country's election debates for the first time. Opposition by two parties to the Green Party participating in the debates was reversed, prompting May to state that her "views are those of overwhelming gratitude to the tens of thousands of Canadians who protested vehemently".
About one month before the 1980 federal election, eleven candidates, mostly from ridings in the Atlantic provinces, issued a joint press release declaring that they were running on a common platform. It called for a transition to a non-nuclear, conserver society. Although they ran as independents, they unofficially used the name "Small Party" as part of their declaration of unity - a reference to the "small is beautiful" philosophy of E. F. Schumacher. This was the most substantial early attempt to answer the call for an ecologically-oriented Canadian political party. A key organizer (and one of the candidates) was Elizabeth May, who is now leader of the Greens.
The Green Party of Canada was founded at a conference held at Carleton University in Ottawa in 1983. Under its first leader, Dr. Trevor Hancock, the party ran 60 candidates in the 1984 Canadian federal election.
The Green Party of Canada is independent of other green parties around the world. However, all Green parties share the same philosophy. Its provincial counterparts in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia, support green economics, progressive social planning, and responsible and accountable governance.
The Quebec wing hosted the 1990 Canadian Greens conference in Montreal. But soon after that, Canada's constitutional problems interfered, and many Quebec candidates abandoned the Greens in favour of a Quebec sovereigntist party, the Bloc Québécois. There were only six Green candidates from Quebec in the 1993 election. In the spring of 1996, although the hopes of electing a representative to the BC legislature proved premature, Andy Shadrack in the interior of the province received over 11% of the vote. Overall, the party's proportion of the popular vote surged to a new high. Shadrack was also the most popular Green candidate in the 1997 federal election, scoring over 6% of the popular vote in West Kootenay-Okanagan.
British Columbia's Joan Russow became leader of the Green Party of Canada on April 13, 1997. Russow won 52% of the ballots cast in the 1997 leadership race, surpassing Ontario's Jim Harris (39%) and Rachelle Small (8%). Immediately upon attaining the leadership, Russow was plunged into a federal general election. Russow's campaign in 1997 set a number of important precedents. 1997 federal election was the first campaign in which the Greens conducted a national leader's tour, presented a national platform and a bilingual campaign. Previous campaigns, due in part to the party's few resources and, in part, to the party's constitutional straitjacket, had been characterized by policy and spokespeople operating, at best, province-by-province and, at worst, riding-by-riding. In her own riding of Victoria, Russow received just shy of 3000 votes and 6% of the popular vote.
Since its inception, the party has been developing as an organization, expanding its membership and improving its showing at the polls. In the 2000 federal election, the party fielded 111 candidates, up from 78 in 1997.
Candidates were not run in Newfoundland and Labrador, as a result of ongoing divisions over Joan Russow's refusal to endorse the Green candidate in an earlier St. John's West by-election. (The candidate in question supported the seal hunt and mining development, as most locals did.) This caused much uncertainty and friction between Newfoundland's Terra Nova Green Party Association and the Green Party leader as the party gradually adapted to the realities of functioning as a true national party rather than a disorganized federation of local activists.
The conflicts left Russow isolated and alienated from most members of the party. Volunteer efforts were substantially absorbed in provincial campaigns between 2001 and 2003, and the federal party became dormant between elections, as was typical in the past. Chris Bradshaw served the party as interim leader from 2001 to February 2003.
In February 2003, Jim Harris, in his second bid for the leadership, defeated John Grogan of Valemount, British Columbia, and Jason Crummey. Crummey was originally from Newfoundland and involved with Newfoundland and Labrador Terra Nova Greens.
During the 2004 federal election the Green Party of Canada made history when it became only the fourth federal political party ever to run candidates in all 308 ridings. When the ballots were counted, the Green Party secured 4.3 percent of the popular vote, thereby surpassing the 2 percent threshold required for party financing under new Elections Canada rules.
Momentum continued to build around the Green Party of Canada and in the 2006 federal election the Green Party again ran 308 candidates and increased its share of the popular vote to 4.5 percent, once again securing federal financing as a result.
The party's 2006 election campaign was disrupted by allegations made by Matthew Pollesell, the party's former assistant national organizer, that Harris had not filed a proper accounting of money spent during his 2004 leadership campaign, as required by law. Pollesell issued a request that Elections Canada investigate. Pollesell and another former party member, Gretchen Schwarz, were subsequently warned by the party's legal counsel to retract allegations they had made or face a possible legal action. Dana Miller, who served in the party's shadow cabinet with responsibility for human-rights issues, made public her earlier complaints that the party has violated election law and its own constitution and has also asked for an Elections Canada investigation. Miller had been expelled from the party after filing a complaint within the party in April.
A leadership vote was held at the party's August 2006 convention. On April 24, 2006, Jim Harris announced his intention not to stand for re-election as party leader. Three candidates officially entered the leadership race: David Chernushenko, Elizabeth May, and Jim Fannon. May won the leadership with 65% of the vote on the first ballot.
On October 22, 2006, Elizabeth May announced she would run in the federal by-election to be held on November 27, 2006 in London North Centre, Ontario. She finished second behind the Liberal candidate but garnered 26% of the popular vote. On August 30, 2008. British Columbia Independent MP Blair Wilson joined the party, becoming its first MP.
The August 2002 Convention adopted the Six Principles of the Charter of the Global Greens, as stated by the Global Greens Conference held in Canberra, Australia in 2001. These principles are the only ones included in the GPC constitution.
An emphasis on a green tax shift in the 2004 platform, which favoured partially reducing income and corporate taxes (while increasing taxes on polluters and energy consumers), created questions as to whether the Green Party was still on the left of the political spectrum, or was taking a more eco-capitalist approach by reducing progressive taxation in favour of regressive taxation. Green Party policy writers have challenged this interpretation by claiming that any unintended "regressive" tax consequences from the application of a Green Tax Shift would be intentionally offset by changes in individual tax rates and categories as well as an 'eco-tax" refund for those who pay no tax.
The Green Party of Canada platform does promote some policies usually associated with the left. It calls for an end to homelessness via subsidized housing, promotes a guaranteed livable income, and opposes private sector involvement in public health, education and prison services.
As early as 2000, the party had published platform comparisons indicating the reasons why supporters of any of the five other Canadian federal political parties should consider voting Green. The Greens have always had right-wing, leftist and centrist factions that have been ascendant at different times in the party's history. Many Greens also claim that this traditional left-right political spectrum analysis does not accurately capture the pragmatic ecological orientation of an evolving Green Party.
The ecumenical approach (expressing affinities with all Canadian political tendencies and making cases to voters on all parts of the left-right spectrum) has been advocated by those who believe their success can be measured by the degree to which other parties adopt Green Party policies. It has however not been discerned the degree to which this process has contributed to phenomena like the Liberal Party of Canada adopting several key items which also appear in the Green program, such as accelerated Capital Cost Allowance deductions restricted to sustainable technology only, and the adoption of the ecological and social indicators and green procurement rules Greens have long advocated. Neither have the relative degrees of influence been discerned which non-partisan environmental groups and the party's own Green wing have in developing the policies of the Green Party.
Under Elizabeth May's leadership, the Green Party has begun to receive more mainstream media attention on other party policy not directly related to the environment — for example, supporting labour rights and poppy legalization in Afghanistan.
Long-time environmental activist and lawyer Elizabeth May won the leadership of the federal Green party at a convention in Ottawa on August 26, 2006. May won with 2,145 votes, or 65.3 per cent of the valid ballots cast defeating two other candidates. The second-place finisher David Chernushenko, an environmental consultant, owner of Green & Gold Inc. and two time candidate, collected 1,096 votes or 33.3 per cent of the total, while Jim Fannon, real estate agent at RE/MAX Garden City Realty, four time candidate and founder of Nature's Hemp finished a distant third, collecting just 29 votes or 0.88 per cent of the vote of the vote. ("None of the above" finished last with 13 votes or 0.44 per cent of the final vote.)
On November 21, 2006, May appointed outgoing Green Party of British Columbia leader Adriane Carr and Quebec television host Claude Genest as Deputy Leaders of the Party. David Chernushenko, who ran against Elizabeth May for the party leadership, was the Senior Deputy to the Leader for the first year after Elizabeth May was elected leader.
Previous leader Jim Harris was first elected to the office with over 80% of the vote and the support of the leaders of all of the provincial level Green parties. He was re-elected on the first ballot by 56% of the membership in a leadership challenge vote in August 2004. Tom Manley placed second with over 30% of the vote. A few months after the 2004 convention, Tom Manley was appointed Deputy Leader. On September 23, 2005, Manley left the party to join the Liberal Party of Canada.
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No Green Party candidate has yet been elected to the federal or provincial level of government in Canada, but the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country MP, Blair Wilson joined the Green Party on August 30, 2008. He became the first Green Party elected official at the federal level. Wilson became a Green Member while Parliament was on summer break and thus never sat in the House of Commons as a Green MP. Members of the party have achieved municipal offices, though most were elected as individuals and not on Green Party slates or labels in local (at least officially) non-partisan municipal elections. However, some people have been elected with a Green Party affiliation identified directly on the ballot. The first two were elected in the 1999 municipal elections (20 November 1999):
Current Greens in office include:
Andrea Reimer was elected as a trustee on the Vancouver School Board in 2002 as a Green. Former Councillor Elio Di Iorio was narrowly defeated in his 2006 reelection bid in Richmond Hill, Ontario and former Councillor Rob Strang did not run for reelection in Orangeville, Ontario. The late Richard Thomas served as reeve of Armour Township, Ontario from 2003 until his death in 2006. There are about 16 other Greens elected to local governments in BC.
The Green Party was also not included in the leaders' debates for the 2006 election. The same reason was given, although some also believed the party's lack of visibility and meaningful input into Canadian federal budgets and bills was a factor.
On September 8, 2008, the consortium announced that they would once again exclude the Greens from the French and English debates for the 2008 election, to be held on October 1 and 2 respectively. The party had secured a seat in the House at this point (Blair Wilson), satisfying the necessary criteria used in all previous debates dating to at least 1993. (Wilson was not elected as a Green MP; however, the situation parallels that of the Bloc Québécois in 1993 — to that point, all its members had been elected as either Conservatives or Liberals or, in Gilles Duceppe's case, as an independent, before the group formally registered as a political party. The Bloc was nevertheless included in the 1993 debates.)
However, the consortium said that three parties (later identified as the Conservatives, NDP, and one other party) had threatened to boycott the debate if the Green Party was included, and that it had decided it was better to proceed with the four larger parties "in the interest of Canadians". Liberal leader Stéphane Dion supported May's inclusion in the debates but said he would also pull out if Harper withdrew. Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe said that while his party is against the Greens' inclusion, he would attend the debate whether or not they were included. The Green Party said it would sue to force the consortium to allow it to participate.
This was not necessary, however, because of the networks reversal two days later. Many people protested the threatened boycott of Layton and Harper by staging protests, and phoning in and emailing the networks and the opposing parties, prompting both parties to recant their position.
In the past, some Green Party members have been comfortable openly working with members of other political parties. For instance, GPC members Peter Bevan-Baker and Mike Nickerson worked with Liberal MP Joe Jordan to develop the Canada Well-Being Measurement Act that called upon the government to implement Genuine Progress Indicators (GPI). While the act was introduced into the House of Commons as a private members bill, it never became law. A small number of Greens who advocate the more cooperative approach to legislation object to the new rule not to hold cross-memberships, a tool they occasionally employed.
When May made the announcement that she would run in Central Nova, currently held by Peter MacKay, local Liberals would "neither confirm nor deny" that they had had discussions with May over ways to unseat MacKay. On March 21st, Dion said, "Madame May and I have conversations about how we may work together to be sure that this government will stop to do so much harm to our environment". The speculation was confirmed when Dion and May agreed not to run candidates in each other's ridings.
May earlier attempted to broker a deal with the NDP, by contacting Stephen Lewis to set up a meeting with party leader Jack Layton, who both rejected the notion outright. When the May-Dion deal was announced, it was criticized by the Conservatives and NDP.
There is currently no provincial Green Party per sé in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Terra Nova Greens were originally loosely affiliated with the federal party, but most supporters cut ties to the national party in 2006 (or earlier) over its opposition to seal hunting. TNG is not a registered provincial political party and seems to have been disbanded; its website has not been updated since 2000.
Canadian Greens Oppose the Military Option. (War for Oil).(Green Party of Canada)(War on Terrorism, 2001-)(Brief Article)
Jan 01, 2002; Ottawa. October 19, 2001. The Green Party of Canada is deeply concerned that the Canadian government, by participating in the...