by Barry Weisleder
Is the Green Party doomed to remain a fringe capitalist party in Canada?
Despite business media hype for Annamie Paul, the party’s new federal leader, the GPC failed to break through in the electoral district of Toronto Centre, a Liberal Party stronghold since 1993.
In Toronto, besides Paul’s defeat in the Toronto Centre by-election where she garnered 32.7 per cent of the votes, the Green candidate in the York Centre byelection on October 26 was trounced, receiving only 2.6 per cent — down from 3.6 per cent in the 2019 general election. The Green candidate actually finished in fifth spot, behind the racist, ultra-conservative People’s Party leader Maxime Bernier.
In Saskatchewan, the Greens were swamped in the October 26 provincial election, winning the support of just 2.36 per cent of voters. So bad was the result that the newly formed Buffalo Party received more votes than the Greens, despite running less than one-third the number of candidates.
In British Columbia, the Greens were huge losers in Saturday’s provincial election, winning just three of 87 ridings and seeing their share of the popular vote fall to 15.3 per cent, down from 16.8 per cent in the 2017 election.
Interest in the GPC rose among leftists when Eco-socialist Dimitri Lascaris captured 42.2 per cent of the votes cast in the party’s leadership election on October 3. But since the election of the conservative, pro-NATO, pro-Zionist Annamie Paul as leader, there is no evident electoral uptick for the party, much less growth on the left. Moreover, new rules governing debate on resolutions inside the GPC virtually preclude a repeat of the pro-Palestinian, pro-BDS policy upset in 2016.
Across most of Canada, the party remains a non-factor.
It holds no provincial seats in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. It has only one seat in the Ontario legislature where the party drew a smaller share of popular support in the 2018 Ontario election than it did in 2014. It holds just three seats in the New Brunswick legislature.
While the Greens are the official opposition party in Prince Edward Island, the province is so small that the mayor of the city of Oshawa governs over more people (170,000) than does the premier of P.E.I. (160,000).
Federally, the Greens won three seats in last year’s general election, which was its most ever. But in truth the party’s overall support is lower now than it was more than a decade ago. In the 2008 election the party got 6.6 per cent of the popular vote; in 2019 it received 6.55 per cent. Not much upward momentum is evident there.
Indeed, despite being a formal political party for nearly a quarter of a century, the Greens remain a fringe party in most parts of Canada.
Which raises the question: Why continue? Some of their policies appear to be similar to those of the New Democratic Party. And therein lies a clue.
The NDP is the only labour-based mass party in North America. Some capitalists support the Greens hoping to use it to split away some of the NDP vote – or even to force a merger between the working class NDP and the bourgeois Green Party. Such a move would weaken independent labour political action, even more than pro-business NDP leaders undermine it. The way to strengthen labour’s political might is to fight for socialist policies in the unions and in their electoral arm, the NDP — not to see the GPC as a vehicle for the left, much less for Eco-socialism.Conservatives would love to see the Greens hang around, creating three-way splits on the left that have paved the way to victory for Tories. And the Liberals seem not to be very worried. But don’t expect the Greens to change. Despite her defeat, Annamie Paul boasted that the Greens will be a “very competitive option” in the next election. The NDP can put an end to this political irritant simply by turning left — by fighting for a Workers’ Agenda.