Prevent a Harper majority

I spent the day at Mary Ann Grainger’s fantastic Campaign School.  It was filled with interesting tips, fun facts and inspiring speeches.  My mind is reeling.  I have a list of a dozen things I’d like to blog about.  But here’s one that’s really very important.

I joined the Green Party in late 2005 because not one of the other parties was talking about climate change, and the situation was clearly getting desperate.  Just over a year later, everyone is talking about climate change, the situation is even more desperate and Canadians seem poised to hand over a majority to the one leader who would torpedo any meaningful action.

The most recent Decima poll puts the Greens tied with the NDP at 13% of the popular vote.  This would be great news except that the poll also shows the Conservatives with 36%, 9 points ahead of the Liberals at 27%.  Worse yet an Angus Reid poll puts the Conservatives at 40%, and the Liberals more than 10 points behind.

I reassure myself that this is just due to the recent Conservative attack ads.  I’d like to be sure that in an election, Harper’s popularity would crumble.  But what if it doesn’t?

Remember, Stephen Harper is the man who called the Kyoto accord a “socialist scheme designed to suck money out of rich countries” in 2002.  He has said many similar things.  He’s also the man who wants to expand the production of oil from the tar sands five-fold to 5 million barrels a day to satisfy American demands, at tremendous environmental cost.  We cannot reduce our emissions at all with this kind of expansion, and indeed, Mr. Harper expects our emissions to rise at increasing rates, even as the other side of his mouth proclaims the necessity to address these same emissions.  The worst news is that in March of 2008, Canada will have an opportunity to legally withdraw from the Kyoto process.  This in turn might delay meaningful US action on climate change for another election cycle or two.

Our opportunity to prevent dangerous climate change has already passed.  Ask the families of the 35,000 Europeans who died in heat waves in 2003.  Ask the families of the victims of Hurricane Katrina.  Ask the refugees fighting for turf in drought-stricken Sudan.  Ask the populations of low-lying island nations evacuated to New Zealand.  Ask our own Inuit.  Our opportunity to prevent catastrophic climate change is slipping out of our grasp.

Let me make this really clear.  Whatever the differences in the approaches to global warming between the Liberals, NDP and Greens, they pale in comparison to the unmitigated disaster of a Harper majority.  Jack Layton told me on Friday that he reads this blog.  I also know some very active Liberals who do.  If we continue to bicker about every other thing, let’s all please be honest enough to acknowledge this one fact instead of giving Mr. Harper the opportunity to divide and conquer.

4 responses to “Prevent a Harper majority”

  1. Andrew James writes:

    Adriana: Fortunately, we live in a riding (and an area code) where a Conservative doesn’t have a prayer, so we don’t have to worry about strategic voting. It will be a different story in the 905 and rural Ontario. Proportional representation will eventually solve the problem, but (to paraphrase Rummy) we have to go to war with the electoral system we have.

    Coalition government is standard practice for parliamentary democracies in time of war. I’ve always thought that there should be some form of Liberal-Green and (*sigh*) NDP entente, at least until the immediate crisis of climate change is dealt with. I’m not sure exactly how it can be managed, except that it can’t involve being completely co-opted by the Liberal party as it currently exists. However it’s done, as long as Elizabeth is guaranteed the Ministry of the Environment, with a binding understanding as to the power she can exercise, I’d be happy.

    BTW: I often ask myself what I how I would have voted in Florida in the 2000 U.S. presidential election. If you recall, Nader took aroud 3-4%, whereas Bush “beat” (arguable, but still) Gore by a much, much slimmer margin than that. Probably I would have still voted for Nader, on the theory that Bush then didn’t appear to be as bad as Gore wasn’t good, if that makes any sense. To put it another way, Gore did have a lot of baggage, and to this day I can’t really trust the man, even if I accept certainly elements of his message.

  2. Ben writes:

    Is the green party really any different from the Conservatives? With their new green policies, I don’t see much difference. The root of all environmental problems is fiscal conservatism anyways, which the green party supports.

    You cast an evil shadow on the political landscape (not as bad as the cons maybe), and besmirch the word ‘green.’ Shame.

  3. Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu writes:

    Well Ben, I think you’d find the Green Party very different from today’s Conservatives. I’m not sure what “green policies” you’re talking about, but I’d be happy to engage you on this if you’d like to elaborate. I just blogged about the need for all parties (and I’ll include the Bloc here too) to present a unified voice denouncing PM Harper’s policies. We live in a country where four leaders believe in global warming and one doesn’t. We need to realize that too much squabbling allows the one lunatic to get his way.

    Let me explain how the Greens are different from the Conservatives. We would introduce a Guaranteed Liveable Income. We would withdraw from NAFTA and renegotiate our trade agreement with the United States. We have supported same-sex marriage for over a decade, beginning when no other party did. We would pull the subsidies for the tar sands. We would introduce a carbon tax to discourage energy waste, and balance it by a very progressive income tax reduction to protect Canadian families from energy poverty. We’d introduce proportional representation so minority voices are heard. We’d withdraw from Afghanistan. We would insist that our health care system be completely public. We do not support a reduction in business taxes. We would move toward 100% organic agriculture. We’d mandate very high efficiency standards in cars, appliances, lights and homes. We’d treat the Kyoto accord as the binding legal obligation that it is, and as a baby step to where we really need to go to protect our world.

    The Green Party is trying to deliver a liveable world to our children. Burdening them with enormous debt to pay for our excesses is not acceptable. We need to live within our means — economically as well as environmentally.

    I’m not sure what you mean by fiscal conservatism being the root of all environmental problems. A fiscally conservative government wouldn’t subsidize the tar sands. A fiscally conservative government wouldn’t bail out car companies that manufacture SUVs. A fiscally conservative government wouldn’t accept the insurance risk for nuclear power when private insurers refuse. Russia and China are famous for their unbreathable air, poisoned earth, toxic water supplies, droughts, floods and astronomic cancer rates — all attributed to human influence. How is fiscal conservatism to blame?

    I suspect what you mean is unfettered free-market capitalism, which is responsible for many, but not all, environmental problems. The Green Party likes its capitalism fettered.

    Sometimes free markets encourage efficiencies, which can lead to reductions in environmental impacts — when the price signals are right. There are two real environmental problems with our capitalist system, neither directly related to capitalism. The first is that we allow hazardous substances to be emitted at all. The second is that we as a society absorb the costs of these hazardous substances and let the polluters off entirely.

    The Green Party would ban avoidable toxins altogether. We’d set strict limits on the “unavoidable” toxins. We’d make the polluter pay the full cost of cleanup, healthcare, etc. on any toxins released to discourage pollution and to give our government the resources to deal with it. We would also invoke the “precautionary principle” which would force producers to demonstrate the safety of their processes and products prior to inflicting them on the public.

    These are all appropriate limits to free-market capitalism which the Green Party supports.

  4. Andrew James writes:

    “The root of all environmental problems is fiscal conservatism anyways, which the green party supports.”

    Well, this is a debatable proposition, to say the least. I don’t know if you’re getting at fiscal policy per se, or pro-free market vs. pro-government policies.

    I admit that looking at the last two major governing dynasties in Canada, Mulroney and Chretien-Martin, your fiscal policy argument holds up. The deficit ballooned under the environmentally-friendly Mulroney administration, while the Liberal record from 1993 to 2005 saw budget surpluses and environmental disaster. Apart from doing nothing re: GHG emissions, the Liberals downloaded enforcement responsibility for federal environmental legislation to the provinces – e.g. Klein in Alberta and Harris in Ontario. Just a horrid record.

    But I just don’t see the cause and effect. I think it’s just a co-incidence.

    One thing is for sure – voters want governments to foster economic growth. That’s why they’re deeply suspicious of the NDP. But growth isn’t necessarily bad for the environment. Developing technologies to re-cycle our waste products means economic growth. Consumers spending more on services and less on goods still can make for non-destructive economic growth. Building more high-density, environmentally-efficient housing on land currently occupied by lower density housing leads to economic growth. Government’s primarly job is to make sure the costs of environmentally-destructive products are fully internalized.

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