Green and growing

My story about being a Green politician in Canada, and why it was the best thing I ever did.

Monday, May 14, 2007

What all the fuss is about in Canadian politics

The graph above shows three events. The first is the popular vote for parties in the 2004 Federal election resulting in a Liberal minority government (red). The second event shows the same statistics for the 2006 Federal election which resulted in a Conservative minority.

The third point shows the average of the three most recent polls that I have which show how Canadians might vote today (subject, of course, to sampling error in the range of +/- 3%).

The dramatic rise of the Green Party is almost without precedence in Canadian history. 200% growth in a little over a year. If the support grows by 200% again in the next year, that will be over 40%, which would mean that the Green Party would win almost every seat in Parliament.

It will be interesting to see how this develops.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Federal election may be a long way off

Garth Turner, in his recent blog entry entitled French Kiss, speculates that the next federal election may be as far off as 2009. This is due to the factors I mentioned in yesterday's blog (that no party stands to win anything) plus the newly anticipated changes in the Bloc Quebecois. Andre Bosclair has stepped down as leader of the provincial Parti Quebecois, and the BQ's leader Gilles Duceppe is widely rumoured to be looking at jumping from the federal to the provincial political scene. This would give the BQ even less incentive to call an election. The Liberals and the NDP do not have enough votes together to cause a non-confidence motion.

Imagine a parliament filled with parties who are trying to out-maneuver each other, not trusting each other, and yet, somehow, stuck in an eternal dysfunctional dance where no party wants to go to the polls, and yet they still need to maintain their adversarial positions. Such a dilemma. Let us hope for the best quality decision making that such an arrangement can have. If only they could agree on a few critical directions .. and then act.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Minority governments can be a good thing

In Canada, most political parties prefer a majority government. That way, the governing party can introduce legislation and not have to answer to or compromise for the opposition parties, except in the press. They can just push it through, and damn the torpedos.

Of course, the opposition parties currently take their title pretty seriously. It seems that whether a piece of legislation is good or bad or needs a little adjustment is irrelevant. Once a piece of legislation is introduced, then they look for how they can score 'points' with the voters. No piece of legislation is perfect, and most legislation requires a considered balance and trade-off between important objectives. Instead, they focus on bashing.

Minority government can provide some of the best quality governance possible. The key is cooperation, respect and communication between the members of parliament and their parties to agree to forge our country together, as a group. Not as the government, not as a united opposition, not as Canada's "new" government, but rather as the collective representatives of Canada's one and only government.

Unfortunately, we are not likely to get that kind of cooperation in the 39th parliament. Here is a simple example. Only a couple of months ago, the air was rife with election rumours. Why? Well, the Conservatives were up in the polls after their cowardly bashing of Dion, and they thought they could win a majority in the next election. That support evapourated in a hurry (as it should). But now, who will trigger the election? All of the parties are down in the polls compared to the 2006 election, and the Greens are up, up, up. So, with nothing to gain and everthing to lose, the opposition must play a game of pretending to oppose, hoping against hope that Canadians do not return to the polls until their numbers are up.

I wonder what quality of legislation will come from this standoff? I don't hold much hope.