Friday, July 13, 2007

What's the green game plan?

Steve writes approvingly of an apparent “unite the left” movement underway in the B.C. riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands. Apparently some local Green Party activists would like to see the party not run a candidate there, bur rather unite behind the NDP or Liberal candidate to defeat a particularly useless Conservative, Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn.

First of all, let me say I’d be pleased as punch to see Lunn out of a job. And the Liberals do have a great candidate for the left to unite behind in the riding in the form of a prominent former Green Party activist, Briony Penn. And the arguments made around vote splitting are certainly quite compelling.

But putting aside my partisanship for a moment and speaking more broadly, I have to wonder what the Green Party’s long term game plan is here. The initial May/Dion alliance, which I supported, was about two ridings. It was about getting Elizabeth May into the HoC.

It seems to have sparked discussion about vote splitting across the country though, and while as a Liberal I’m pleased when the discussion benefits my party, it has to be troubling for the Greens.

I don’t have the riding by riding vote totals, but Saanich-Gulf Islands has generally been considered one of the strongest Green ridings in the country, and in past elections has often been mentioned as a riding to watch for a possible Green breakthrough.

Given that, you have to wonder if they might not run a candidate in what may be one of their most winnable ridings, just where are they going to run candidates? And why even run anyone anywhere at all?

In a multi-party, first past the post electoral system votes are going to be split, it’s just the nature of the system. It happened for years with two parties on the right, Reform and Conservative. It will potentially be happening now on the Left with the NDP, Greens and Libs. It sucks, but without a merger or folding that's the way it is.

It may be realpolitik to step aside in contestable ridings like Saanich-Gulf Islands, but I’d wager it would also seem to neuter the effectiveness of the party. A catch-22 perhaps, but there you ago.

Whatever happens in this riding or others, it becomes increasingly obvious what the long term answer is: electoral reform.

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Anonymous said...

Saanich is a three riding race, with the Greens running a distant fourth. Lunn won it in a split.

There is also a large military contingent, thus the CPC does well there. Since this is Vancouver Island, the NDP can also exploit the peace vote.

This creates a dilemma for the Greens. Whether to support Dion's environmentally market friendly policy or go with the anti-militarist swing of the NDP.

Anonymous said...

It is intresting, the few weeks ago the Green Candiate in Calgary Nosehill wanted me to convince the Liberal Party and the NDP to not run a candidate against him.

I wonder if this is nation wide movement or just a quencidence.