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Essay/Term paper: The green party of canada

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The Green Party of Canada

Jarret MacDonald
Political Studies 102
G. Germain
March 31, 1997

Canada had nine registered political parties in the 1993 federal
election. Each one of these parties was trying to place their candidates into
Parliament as members. In this particular election there were the usual
dominating parties that ran, the Liberals and Conservatives. Also vying for
seats were seven minority parties which included the Green Party, the Christian
Heritage Party, the National Party of Canada, the Abolitionist Party, the
Commonwealth, The Canada Party, the Liberaltarian Party, the Marxist-Leninist
Party, and the Natural Law Party. Each of these minority parties had then and
still do have their own values, goals, and political expectations. Most
minority parties try to guide themselves along on the basis of these beliefs,
especially around election time when they work hardest to raise issues of policy
alternatives trying to make a mark on the political scene in Canada despite
their limited support and resources.
The Green Party of Canada is one particular minority party that
presented themselves to the political scene in Canada about 15 years ago, in the
early 1980's (Darfler). The small group of individuals belonging to the Green
Party is an interesting bunch. They're all ages and come from a wide variety of
views and opinions. Even together as a party they vary in their individual
values and beliefs compared to other political parties in Canada. The party
faithful is unlike most other parties in many ways, the most noticeable
difference is having tried to invert a system which is bottom-up, meaning that
all the real power and responsibility are held at the level of the local
chapters. This is unique to the Green Party because most political organizations
operate on a top-down basis, with a middle group within the party hierarchy that
is in charge of their own membership, income, policies and incentives (Darfler).
They together as a united party hold their own political sights for the future.
The Green Party members for the most part believe that it is time to take a more
sensible approach to running the affairs of the people and to do that we must
base our political and economic beliefs on fact. In Canada, the Green Party
values such things as ecological wisdom, social justice, grass roots democracy,
non- violence, decentralization, feminism, and future focus/sustainability
(htp.//www.green.ca). If you agree that the government should focus its
attention toward these values, then you yourself are probably Green. All of
these values are joined by a common value system which is determined by a set of
underlying theories about the nature of reality and the people placed in it. The
Green Parties political thought will probably never become entirely known as
"Greenism," unless it is to be a real force for change with majority support
(http.//www.green.ca). Could the Green Parties position on the Ideological map
play a part in why they do not and probably never will have majority support?

The planet Earth is a huge planet, a matter of fact its mass is 5.98 x
10 metric tons (Cayne 95). Many people think that such a planet with this vast
size would be able to support just about anything, but how about 15 billion
people. The Green Party values the fact that the earth sustains all life forms
and to maintain that belief, the people must become educated about ecological
wisdom. They believe sound ecological principles must be the basis of economic
activities. Also, in order to ensure a high quality of life and preserve nature
in all its diversity, they feel that we must live within the physical limits of
our planet and at sometime practice conservation. Unfortunately, we are not
living within the physical limits of the planet as the Green Party suggests we
should. They advise us that we should be eliminating waste and learning to rely
on those resources that are renewable or can be recycled or a day will come when
we will not be able to sustain ourselves (Darfler). The trouble is that to
educate people to do this would take a substantial amount of money and the
present day government isn't willing to comply. In this day and age the human
population is exploding, with this population boom we are using up large amounts
of our finite resources. It has been evident for a long time that there is a
problem and it is only going to grow worse over time. It was best summed up by
Sir Edmund Hillary, "Environmental problems are really social problems anyway.
They begin with people as the cause, and end with people as victims." (Weston 1)
The Green Party of Canada wants to put all the worrying of the
environment to an end. They feel that we are consuming our capital when we
should be living off of the interest. The Green Party supporters want to
eliminate waste and learn to rely on those resources that are renewable or can
be recycled. Take the war in Iraq for example, this war was over a natural
resource which led to great environmental destruction, and this may only prove
to be the first in a long series of resource wars that are destructive.
Social Justice/ Responsibility is highly valued by the Green Party of
Canada. They believe that nobody should be held back from reaching their full
potential, as well every person has the right to lead a self-determined life of
purpose and dignity. Each individual must accept responsibility for not only
the earth, but also the rights of everything living on it. The relationship
between the people must reflect compassion, equality, mutual respect, justice,
cooperation, and non- coercion. These attitudes must not only reflect but also
guide our relations with others. The Greens believe this will lead people to a
much happier and productive life for everyone.
A Grass Roots Democracy is a system that the Green Party of Canada would
truly like to witness. This democracy would provide the citizens with a chance
to directly participate in the environmental, economic and political decisions
of their lives. The ideal way of doing this would be to hold Referendums and
Plebiscites to decide on what is best for the citizens of a particular district,
town, province or even the country as a whole. This was exemplified when
connecting PEI to the rest of Canada was a hotly debated topic, to decide
whether or not to build the fixed link bridge, the government of the province
held a provincial plebiscite to decide whether or not to build a bridge. The
majority voted yes, meaning that the bridge was to be built. This is a great
idea because a few politicians were not left to make a decision that will affect
The Green Party of Canada views the act of violence as a very
unprofessional way of settling disputes. Solving disputes with the use of
violence is also very morally unacceptable and ultimately self defeating to the
Green Party. The main qualities that will ensure The Green Parties ideal non-
violence world are flexibility, cooperation, respect, and fairness. We must
fully support all non-violent efforts to resolve conflicts around the world and
work to put an everlasting end to war. The vision of the Green Parties non-
violent world would include stiffer gun control than was imposed in 1995, a
drastic reduction in the military budget, a withdraw from the global arms race
and finally specific targeting of a Canada aid program to the poorest countries.
Unlike other political parties the Green Party of Canada believes in a
system of limited government that is decentralized. They feel that the
government should be turned back over to the provinces. In this governing
technique an overall context of ecologically sound and socially just values and
lifestyles would be evident. If a decentralized government was in place, the
decisions that effect common people in communities would no longer be made by
people in authority far away, rather by the community legislature council.
According to the beliefs of the Green Party, the community must provide
within the natural limits of the earth rather than people providing for the
economy. The Green Party also thinks that local self-reliance to the greatest
practical extent is the best way to achieve this goal. In our communities we
need to create values that are directed toward caring, personal enrichment,
cultural development and the appreciation of the natural world. The Greens
recognize that the whole community applies not only to people that live in one
community, but can also mean those people who share common interests.
A topic that has come a long way in the last few years is that of
feminism. The word feminism defined means: the theory of the political,
economic, and social equality of the sexes (Websters 418) . The Greens would
like to see a society where the moral code of cooperation and understanding
would replace the immoral acts of domination and control. Everyone would be
equal, meaning people would share and help one another instead of being told
what to do and how to do it. There would exist no difference between that of
male and female. Females and males would be equally represented in every aspect
of society (political, business, ect...).
The Green Party of Canada would also like to see a society where it is
concerned about the next generations and not just the present. The future focus
and sustainability issue would address the issues that unless the earth's
population doesn't do anything now the next generations will not have anything
to look forward to. Everyone has to take a stand and decide that they have to
preserve today for tomorrow. This is contrary to the other political parties
which think more short term thinking and planning.
The preceding eight values are at the forefront of the Green Party.
They work and plan their beliefs around them hoping the general population will
listen to what they value. Their main goal is not necessarily to win a majority
voice in the legislature but instead to have voice so that they can educate the
population. They want to establish a system based on a more basic assumption,
the need for survival. A social order based on the satisfaction of human needs
rather than on wants, would be much different from the world we live in today.
They see us as creatures, and can see no basic conflict between the needs of the
planet and our real needs.
You may now be asking where do the Greens, although not a political
power, stand on the Ideological Map. Their exact position on this map may be
best illustrated by a Green Party slogan, "We are neither left or right- WE ARE
The Green Parties values and goals are the best way to illustrate where
and why they are on the ideological map. On the left of the Conventional Left-
Right Spectrum is:

1. The full government ownership of the means of production
2. Extensive government regulation
3. Extensive redistribution of income

While on the right of the spectrum it contains:

1. No government ownership of the means of production
2. No government regulation
3. No redistribution of income (Gibbons, Youngman 12)

Also, over the years the terms "Left" and "Right" have picked up additional
ideological baggage to expand considerably their application in political
discourse and debate. The Left is now also associated with support for minority
rights, womens' rights, gay and lesbian rights, environmental protection and
foreign aid, whereas the Right is now also associated with military spending,
neoconservatism and liberaltarism.
I feel that the Green Party of Canada is indeed towards the Left of the
ideological Map. To prove where the Greens stand on the spectrum we must take
into account if and to what extent the party believes the above determing
factors. The Green Party, as indicated earlier, are very much in favour of
extensive government regulation. They feel that the Government should put
regulation on such things as nuclear power, the forestry and fishing quotas and
waste and most other environmental concerns. Favouring such regulation tends to
place the Green Party to the Left of the Spectrum.
Another feature that places them to the left is their belief in the
redistribution of wealth. The Green Party tends to view it as six children
having ten cookies. One child has five of the cookies, leaving one cookie for
each of the five other children, that's assuming that the children can share
fairly amongst themselves. This type of distribution is very typical, even
within grossly wealthy counties where the minority of the people holds the
majority of the wealth, leaving only little money for the large general
population. The Green Party believes that it is in the capitalist society that
forces the poorest people to place their own short- term interests above the
long term interests of the Earths ecology. The Green Party feels that if the
government doesn't start to put regulations on the wealthy now then we are
headed for disaster.
I do not feel that the Greens are so radical to say that the government
should control all means of production, although I do feel that the Greens think
that the government should be in control of some production. This would include
the production of such things as production facilities that are major polluters.

The last two things that support my theory that the Green Party is on
the left of the ideological map are the Green Parties stances on environmental
protection and foreign aid. Although most everyone is concerned about the
environment, why are they only concerned about the environment during their life
and not that of future generations. The Greens biggest emphasis is on the
environment of not only today but also the future. They believe that we have to
live in a "Conserver society rather than Consumer society." Almost all the
Greens beliefs are tied in with the environment some how or another.
Finally, the Green Party faithful also feel that large industrialized
countries such as Canada, should not spend foolishly on weapons, but rather give
money to the worst off countries in the world. The arms build up diverts money
and resources from the solution of so many of humanity's problems and the
increase of these sophisticated weapons system has made security an ever
receding mirage. I feel that this is evident enough to prove my point that the
Green Party of Canada is to the left of the ideological map.
There exists two reasons why the Green Party has yet to achieve major
status in Canada. The first reason for not achieving major status is because
the Green Party of Canada is still relatively new. The Green Party of Canada is
still a teenager, being only about fifteen years old. It is hard to educated
the people in a whole country in this short time. The more people that you
educate, the more people that will support your party, which inturn helps you to
fund the party to help educate even more people. It is somewhat of a step
program that relies heavily on the previous step.
The second reason why the party has yet to achieve major status in
Canada is because the Greens vision is too "perfect' and the general population
cannot bring themselves to vote for them. The population feels that although
the "Green Vision' may be great it would take to long to ever reach their goals.
A lot of their goals cannot be solved with money rather they need to be solved
the attitudes of the people. I feel that my two reasons why the Green Party are
not able to reach major status in Canada are very realistic, although it must be
emphasised that the Green Party will probably never become a ruling government.
To be the majority government is not the Green Parties main goal, above all they
only want to educate the people of their view. That is what we should be doing
for not only us, but also the environment.
The future of the Green Party cannot go down, only up. As the twenty-
first century nears, I feel that the environment is becoming a bigger issue each
and everyday. The Green Party will benefit greatly by remaining sensitive to
the social conditions in which it is operating (Gibbons, Youngman 169). No
other party attacks the issues of the environment like the Green Party does.
Although, the Party maybe in some jeopardy if the other political parties decide
to take a radical change of direction and narrow their scope so they focus much
more on the environment. This is to say that the Liberal Party may take all
their support and start to focus on the problems of the environment. This would
attract many people away from the Green Party since the Liberal Party has much
more power and influence over people. With a greater influence over people it
would inturn mean that they could change peoples attitudes and progress on the
environmental issues a lot more rapidly. I feel this radical change in a
majority party wouldn't happen, fearing that they would lose support for not
attacking such problems as economics.
The Green Party of Canada value many things, as do other parties. The
difference being that the Greens values almost always has an aspect of the
environment intertwined. These goals and values that have the environment
intertwined into them lead me to believe that the Green Party is on the farther
left than the centre of the ideological map. There exists two reasons why the
Green Party of Canada is not a major party in Canada. Besides the fact that
their goal is only to educate people, the reasons why they are not a major party
is because the party is still relatively young, being only fifteen years old and
the second being that they have a picture for a perfect world that is narrow in
scope. Finally, I feel that the Green Parties future is not going to see less
support, but rather improve as the environment around us declines. This is
unless one of the major parties in Canada decides to make a radical change and
focus much more on the environment, drawing support away from the Green Party.

Works Cited

Cayne, Bernard. The New Book of Popular Science: Volume 1. Toronto: Grolier
Incorporated, 1989

**Darfler, Bill. Green Primer. London, Ontario:

Gibbons, Roger, & Youngman, Loleen. Mindscapes: Political Ideologies Towards
The 21st Century. Toronto: McGraw Hill Ryerson, 1996.

Webster's. Webster's New Collegiate Ditionary. Toronto: Thomas Allen & Son
Limited, 1988.

Weston, J. Red And Green: The New Politics of the Environment. New Hampshire:
Pluto Press, 1986.

NOTE*** This was a republished article contained on the web site


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