[Marxism] Canadian Greens shift to the right

Richard Fidler rfidler at cyberus.ca
Sun Jun 27 10:50:57 MDT 2004

Fred Feldman (RE: [Marxism] Some doubts from an outsider....):

>> There is a big difference between Germany and the United States re
Nader and the Greens which Jose did not mention, although it is linked
pretty deeply to the other things he correctly noted. That is, the
Greens do not emerge by any stretch of the imagination as an alternative
to a working-class politics, even to a failed, fundamentally imperialist
workinhg-class politics such as that represented, at least in part, by
the German SPD.... <<


The U.S. Greens are certainly sui generis, in that they don't arise in
opposition to an established social-democratic or labour party, as they
do in many other countries such as Germany or Australia. But where they
do, they seem to have an inherent tendency to evolve toward the right,
which is wholly understandable given their non-class approach to
politics. The Canadian Greens largely developed as a reaction to the
right-wing politics of  New Democratic Party governments in a number of
provinces (and especially British Columbia, where the Greens polled 12%
of the popular vote in the last provincial election, in which the NDP
went down to crushing defeat). But in the current federal election
campaign the Greens have been exposed as a basically right-wing party.
Some former leaders of the Greens have deserted the party, most going to
the NDP which is experiencing a new élan under federal leader Jack
Layton and his more radical-sounding rhetoric. Opinion poll surveys
during the election campaign have shown the Greens dropping from some 6%
a month ago to 3% now. The election will be held tomorrow.

Here is a sample of some news and commentary on the current evolution of
the Canadian Greens.

- Richard Fidler

Blueing of the Greens

Fiscal conservative policies are causing friction within the Green

Dateline: Friday, June 25, 2004

Cheerful and ebullient, federal leader Jim Harris appears to be
propelling the Green Party of Canada towards national electoral
recognition. But behind the upbeat media interviews, trouble is brewing.
Harris's brand of right-wing, market-based environmental and economic
policies plus his unexpectedly ruthless internal party manoeuvering have
alienated many of the party's 'deep' Greens.

When the Alliance party absorbed the Progressive Conservatives, 'red'
Tories such as Harris had to make a choice between going along with
right-wing Alliance conservatism; leaving politics entirely; or joining
a more socially-centric and environmentally-aware party. Harris chose
the Greens, and quickly found that the naïve and inexperienced party
activists were no match for his political skills.

Within a year, he had moved into the inner circles and taken control.
Six of the ten Green Party federal council members quit; three
immediately were recruited by an eager NDP. Relying on the fact that
each vote is now worth $1.75 in federal support, Harris started
borrowing money against future income. He hired full-time recruiters to
find the 308 candidates needed to run a Green in each riding, and set
off on a national tour to encourage the troops and whip up public

full: http://www.straightgoods.ca/Election2004/ViewNews.cfm?Ref=67

Whither the Green Party? by Joan Russow

Former leader of the Green Party of Canada laments the market-based
approach of today's Greens.

Dateline: Monday, June 14, 2004

I left the Green Party because the German Greens when in government
sacrificed principle for power, and the Mexican Greens, when in
government, sacrificed policy for power. The German Greens sacrificed
the Green Party principle of non-violence when they supported the
invasion not only of Kosovo, but also of Afghanistan. The Mexican Greens
sacrificed policy for power when they formed the government with the
right wing PAN and abandoned their opposition to NAFTA. It became
increasingly difficult for me to claim that the Green Party was more
principled than other parties and that the Green Party if elected would
stand by their principles and policy.

I have become increasingly disappointed with the development of the
Green Party of Canada and its loss of broader socialist concerns, with
weakened opposition to militarism, with proposals for reduced
government, and with "market-based" environmentalism. However, it was
only after I was asked by the media to compare the Green Party Platform
with the NDP Party Platform that I realized how much the platform has
changed since I was the leader.

FLEXIBLE POLICIES AND PLATFORM I joined the Green Party because I
believed its policies were based on principles. Today, the party
proposes "regional interpretation of values". Worse, visitors to the
Party's website can now vote on the platform by choosing a thumbs up or
thumbs down icon, and a policy is deemed "endangered" and " re-evaluated
if support falls below 50%". The Green Party before had made firm
commitments to universal day care, Pharmacare and a publicly funded, not
for profit, non two tier health care system (while preventing
environmentally induced diseases and poverty related health problems} -
as has the NDP; Now, in the new Green Party platform there will be a
referendum on day care and Pharmacare, and could completely undermine
medicare though its proposal of "respecting the right of provinces to
opt out of federal and provincial initiatives without financial penalty.

VOLUNTARY COMPLIANCE While I was the leader of the Green Party of
Canada, we advocated a strong mandatory regulatory regime to drive
industry to comply with environmental standards. When I ran and won
against Jim Harris for the leadership of the Green Party in 1997, I
became concerned about his business of giving motivational talks to
corporations. Now in the 2004 in the Green Party Platform, the Green
party is "Encourage [ing] ISO 14000 Certification - Achieving progress
requires measuring performnce. The Green Party will assist and encourage
Canadian companies to attain ISO 14000 certification, the international
standard for management."

Along with the WTO and so-called 'free trade", ISO 14000 is a
centre-piece of the corporate agenda. It is the corporate scheme of
voluntary compliance. In ISO 14000, polluters set their own
environmental management objective, and the means to attain it - with no
external evaluation. For example, one company claimed that it was
reducing greenhouse gases by moving more towards civil nuclear energy.
It is quite possible that Green Party candidates or the public may not
realize the implications of what the party is supporting through its
endorsement of ISO 14000.

In the 2004 NDP Election Platform, the NDP makes a commitment to reverse
years of government procrastination arising from collusion with
corporations and their agenda of voluntary compliance: the NDP Platform
calls for "overhauling the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to
reverse the current focus on voluntary action, and replace it with
mandatory pollution prevention measures for corporations and
institutions" and enforce the polluter pay principle.


I have joined the NDP because I think that the NDP is revitalized.

The NDP has made a firm commitment to re-introduce Lorne Nystrom's bill
which proposes some form of mixed proportional representation. Jack
Layton has promised that a commitment to some form of proportional
representation will be a minimum prerequisite for NDP support or a
minority government. It is in the interests of the Green Party to
support the NDP at this time.

Unfortunately, in many key ridings the NDP may lose because of the Green
vote. The promising option of progressives holding the balance of power
in a minority government becomes less likely.

The implications in this election are serious, particularly for issues
of militarism. In the USA, the Green Party appears to have taken a stand
to not endorse Ralph Nader because they realize the implications of
Bush's re-election.

Joan Russow (PhD) Former leader of the Green Party of Canada in
collaboration with David White former chair of the Green Party of
British Columbia

full: http://www.straightgoods.ca/Election2004/ViewNews.cfm?Ref=22

The Greens are right, right?

Murray Dobbin reviews the Green platform and finds them more right than

Dateline: Thursday, June 17, 2004

It is intriguing to watch the coverage of the Green Party in the federal
election because the conventional wisdom -- that it will take votes from
the NDP -- is confounded by the party's actual policies. While the
analysis is likely correct, a look at Green policies reveals that this
party is really a Conservative alternative, not a social democratic one.
Its fiscal, economic and even environmental policies would be a near
perfect fit for the old Progressive Conservative party.

In fact, the Greens are led by a former Tory, Jim Harris, and under his
direction have become the quintessential small government, pro-market

Their social analysis says virtually nothing about the structural causes
of poverty, and their solutions borrow from both the former PCs and the
Alliance. They talk about how a Green government would "enhance the
existing network of . . . school nutrition . . . and food-bank programs
. . ." to eliminate hunger in Canada. Those who study poverty with a
view to ending it see food banks not as a solution, but as a symbol of
everything that is wrong with the way governments approach poverty.

The party is committed to smaller government in a way that no other
party is, except the new Conservatives. With respect to the devastated
federal public service -- characterized by massive downsizing,
unprecedented stress levels, completely inadequate staffing to carry out
department mandates and years without real increases in pay -- the Green
Party has a single response, and it sounds a lot like Stephen Harper's:
"Reform the public sector to be more responsive and accountable." This
is union busting by another name, and seems to promise the continuation
of the right-wing assault on government employees. If you want the
public service to be "responsive," the logical solution is to return it
to functional staffing levels.

The Greens' fiscal policies are among their most reactionary and
problematic. They toe the Bay Street line by promising to "lower taxes
on income, profit and investment, to promote increased productivity and
job creation." As for addressing the problem of chronically high
unemployment, the party takes a page out of Paul Martin's book of
maintaining extremely low inflation -- Greens will still fight inflation
by putting people out of work unless unemployment rises above 10 per
cent. These policies have been notable failures for the past 15 years --
lowering wages, increasing the productivity gap with the United States
and creating mostly low-wage jobs -- and certainly have no place in the
platform of a party that pitches its appeals to social democrats.

full: http://www.straightgoods.ca/Election2004/ViewNews.cfm?Ref=35

And above all, don't miss the following rebuttal by Dobbin of the
Greens' response to his critique. Amusing:

Dobbin rebuts back

Murray Dobbin replies to Green party response to his article, "The
Greens are right, right?"

Dateline: Thursday, June 24, 2004

The Green Party has posted and distributed a rebuttal of my Globe and
Mail article entitled "The Greens are right, right?"

I have decided to spend a bit of time responding, in part because they
imply (and others state outright) that I am an NDP member or employee
which I am not. I have never been a member of the NDP and indeed spent
much of my activism in Saskatchewan criticizing NDP governments. My
response to the party is in bold lettering.

full: http://www.straightgoods.ca/Election2004/ViewNews.cfm?Ref=57

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