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A Liberal Party – Green Party alliance?

Very interesting story in today’s Toronto Star about the interesting possibility that the 2 parties are going to team up on environmental issues against the Conservatives and potentially the NDP:

May was the most explicit, saying that Dion’s election as Liberal leader this month will help her party because realism dictates that the Greens, with no seats in Parliament yet, need to work with a mainstream, established Canadian political force….Dion, meanwhile, told reporters earlier that he wanted to “commend” May for previous complimentary words. As well, Dion noted that he had attended a meeting of the European caucus of the Green party last February, where he was favourably received for the work he’d done on the environment.

May is also quoted in here as praising Dion’s work as an environment minister, and pointedly being critical of the NDP for saving the Tories “Green Plan” from being defeated. Susan Delacourt goes on to speculate that nationally, this could mean that Liberals would end up helping Greens, and vice-versa “to block the Tories and NDP in ridings all over Canada in the next election, expected as early as spring”.

Why would the 2 parties enter this sort of arrangement? Theoretically, Dion can use May’s praise and her credibility with Canadians on the environment as a way to shield himself from attacks on his record as Environment Minister by the NDP and Conservatives. I would imagine May is hoping for Dion’s support in getting on the TV debates in return.. and Dion is probably well aware that May’s party has the ability to siphon of not only “Red Tories” or “Blue Green/Green Blue” voters to her, but a chunk of NDP votes as well, if the London North bye-election was any indication. Expect Dion then to publicly call for May and the Green Party to be included in the television debates.

Whether or not this “help” will translate into actively helping each other in the election remains to be seen. At the moment, the Greens have more to gain from the Liberals then vice-versa, I would think, unless as I said the Liberals think the Greens can drain votes from the Tories and NDP in key ridings that would allow them to win – a Machiavellian move as it were. On the other hand, everyone seems to universally like May, and everyone seems to agree she should be in Parliament.. so perhaps there’s more egalitarianism there then I’m giving credit for. (But can anyone seriously see the Liberals asking their MP in the Cape Breton NS riding where May is running to step aside so she has an easier time of winning it – an MP that had well over 50% of the popular vote in the last general election? I just dont see that happening).

A story to keep an eye on however.


11 comments to A Liberal Party – Green Party alliance?

  • Brian C.

    Certainly as a Green Party member, I see May often wandering off on her own and parroting thoughts that aren’t Green policy. May has often spoke of her political inexperience. Such an alliance would sacrifice support for the Greens in western Canada where the Green support is the highest and likely to grow the fastest. Not all green members would support a Liberal alliance. Mark Francis, is creating this alliance more important than the support of ALL your current Green Party members? The Green Party cannot support a leader who was environment minister during the lack of ACTION, not simply rhetoric, in reducing greenhouse gases in Canada.

  • Winston said:

    [quote comment=”79″]The liberals are taking advantage of Elizabeth May’s inexperience in politics. [/quote]

    While one can debate who would benefit and wouldn’t, I think you’re not giving much credit to May. She was an adviser to Mulroney after all on green issues, and she would be well aware of the political goings-on as a former head of the Sierra Club. I believe she is well experienced in politics, and anything that comes of this deal – be it good or bad for the Greens – will have little to do with her so-called inexperience.

  • Winston

    The liberals are taking advantage of Elizabeth May’s inexperience in politics. The merger will only benefit the liberals and will do nothing for the Green Party. It is a very bad deal that will leave Elizabeth holding the short end of the stick. The Greens will sink into oblivion, with the support that they have being absorbed by the liberal party.

  • Well Linda, Mark Francis is a Green Party member and a highly placed one to boot. I asked if this newspaper report on Green/Liberal cooperation was credible and he said yes.. and his post here would also indicate he thinks that.

    May in that newspaper article didn’t give A+ marks to the Liberals or Dion for everything he and they did while he was the environment minister, but she was making it quite clear they are much preferred over the Conservatives, and she didn’t have much good to say about Layton salvaging the Tories Clean Air Plan when it could have been killed already… so I’d say they’ve made their choice to support Dion – what comes out of it will be interesting to watch.

  • Linda

    I heard this comment and thought it was a bit bizarre. Since, presumably, the idea would be to vote for the stronger candidate in any given riding — wouldn’t this result in the Greens pretty much just giving up all their support. NOT a good idea in a context where funding goes to parties based on their percentage of the popular vote. Also — personally I have a bit of difficulty seeing the Liberals as “Green” despite Dion’s rhetoric. (Oops, I just realized this is a Liberal friendly site) — well, for what it’s worth, my observations.

  • Perhaps both Dion and May are allies because they see the environment as an important issue. By all accounts, both Dion and May are individuals of conviction and integrity.

    This is, I know, a naive view and one that is inconsistent with the perceived Liberal tradition of winning at all costs. One can always hope.

  • There has been talk among Green members of making agreements with various parties before. It is controversial in the Party, as some of fear we’d be tainted by whatever ‘grey’ party we decided to cooperate with. Also, it paints the picture that we need help from another party to get anything done, and so on.

    The other viewpoint is the one expressed in the article: Getting needed law made trumps longer term ambitions.

    Even if there’s no formal electoral cooperation, Eliabeth perhaps sees more advantage in chopping at the NDP and the CPC than the LPC. Why would she want to hurt Dion? We’re not going to make government and neither are the NDP, so the best chance for a government favourable to climate change issues are is a Dion-led LPC.

    Many Greens are quite convinced that the Dion win represents a positive power shift within the LPC. This is one reason why Kate Holloway left the GPC for the LPC. She’s convinced that she can do more on that side.

  • This would be a smart move for the Liberals. The Greens have always contended that attaining political power comes second to achieving good environmental policies and practices. When a big, old-line party adopts GPC policies, Greens see victory – not necessarily at the polls but where it counts.

    In a situation where the lead of the CPC or LPC moves back and forth by 2%-5% and where that small percentage determines who will lead a minority parliament, any party would be smart to woo the Greens’ approximately 7% national support. Couple that with the Greens’ unimpeachable record on green issues and the surge in public awareness and getting GPC support makes even more sense.

    None of the big 3 parties have a particularly shining record wrt the environment. If Dion can convince May that he’ll adopt some key GPC policies and that a new Liberal government will be willing and able to carry out those policies, some GPC supporters could swing to the Liberals. That will be a tough sell.

    Re the TV debates, Dion could guarantee that May would get a seat simply by boycotting any debate that does not include the Green leader. Harper or Layton could do the same. Dion needs to be convinced that May’s seat at the debate will cost the NDP and CPC more than it will cost the Grits. Another tough sell.

  • I think the Grits are attempting to capitalize on a perceived surge in Green support (which is questionable considering the polls) as well as trying to provoke some vote splitting between Greens and NDP.

    I doubt it will result in much vote loss for the Tories however, since most Tories don’t do green very well. And more so, conservative types are more likely to be wooed by things like Senate reform and tax breaks than environment.

    Whether or not it will work is up in the air. The NDP have some pretty strong quotes by May should she begin to present a threat to their seats (she actually opposes abortion – which in my books helps her out but in NDP books makes her Satan – kidding).

    Still, it doesn’t hurt the Liberals to be having an ally (of sorts) during the election. Remember that last election the Grits got pounded relentlessly from both sides.

  • [quote post=”15″]Kyle Says:
    December 15th, 2006 at 12:20 pm

    Isn’t May running in Cape Breton, NS?[/quote]

    I believe you’re right – I’ve corrected the entry

    As for the TV debates – I’m just speculating where the Liberals would try to help the Greens out if there’s any truth to this story. That was my first guess.

  • Kyle

    Isn’t May running in Cape Breton, NS?

    I can’t see the benifit to the greens working with us, from the green point of view. From our point of view it sounds like a good idea. I don’t think the Liberal party calling for the Greens to be in the debate changes anything. They won’t be in the debates next time.

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