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Green Party Profile: Everything You Need to Know About Voting for Elizabeth May

The Green Party's ambitious platform puts the environment first. But some say the party still has blind spots.

by Steven Zhou
Sep 20 2019, 8:04pm

Photo via The Canadian Press

The Green pulled off a big by-election win in B.C. this year as one of their candidates took the Vancouver Island of Nanaimo-Ladysmith. It’s only their second federal seat, but signals a rise in their appeal. Currently, the party polls at around 9.5 percent nationally, not too far away from the NDP.

But wider appeal has also drawn closer scrutiny. The Greens often identify and market themselves as the ultra-progressive alternative to a stagnant Liberal-Conservative-NDP status quo. Their lengthy (lengthy!!) platform dropped last week and certainly backs up this claim with lots of extremely ambitious progressive proposals.

But as Green candidates endure closer inspection, some have ended up having to apologize (and even resign) for what many have pointed out as a blindspot on racial issues.

Party leader Elizabeth May took part in a town hall this month in Toronto where she addressed issues of intolerance and racism to a largely Muslim crowd. Though May unequivocally denounced any form of discrimination, she also implied during the Q&A session that the focus of the country should be on climate change, the core concern of her whole party’s existence.

In other words, racial issues are often a distraction and Canadians shouldn’t let trivial concerns blind them from the larger, unifying issue of climate change.

The Green candidate screening process has also been accused of allowing anti-choice and 9/11 truther candidates.

Economy and jobs

Unlike the other parties, the Greens’ rhetoric has not settled on fighting primarily for the middle class. They say this is an insufficient way to eliminate poverty—particularly child poverty.

The Greens want to implement an ambitious Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI) though the “Council of Canadian Governments” that will settle on a level of income for each province. This, the party insists, is the first step towards eliminating poverty altogether.

The Greens want declare housing as a human right and build “25,000 new and 15,000 rehabilitated units annually for the next 10 years.” This is on top of promises to increase incentives to build rented units, affordable housing, and energy-efficient housing.

They would also establish a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour while working with municipalities to set wages according to the cost of living in each locality.

Environment

Environmental proposals take up the biggest chunk of the Green’s platform, which is geared overall to address climate change and ecological degradation at every turn.

The party divides commitments into transitioning towards a green economy, facing climate change, and invoking ecological wisdom.

Some highlights of this hugely detailed section of the platform include cutting emissions by 60 percent by 2030, cancelling to Trans Mountain pipeline, a complete moratorium on fossil fuel extraction, a ban non-electric cars by 2030, seeing through a “just transition” for workers as they’re moved into green economic sectors, and so on.

Other commitments include much stricter regulations on the uses of pesticides, implement a national safe drinking water strategy, ban all single-plastics use by 2022, and expand protections of land and waters to at least 30 percent by 2030.

Crime and security

The Greens’ extensive platform doesn’t include separate sections on crime prevention. The party sees increasing standards of living and reducing extreme socioeconomic inequality as the most important pillars in achieving a more just and thus safer country.

They’ve been critical of the ways that both the Liberals and Conservatives have handled national security and are weary of giving intelligence agencies powers to engage in violent intervention with little parliamentary oversight.

They also emphasize immigration as a necessity and would seek to regulate border services by reintroducing “legislation to establish a Civilian Complaints and Review Commission.”

Indigenous affairs

The Green platform has perhaps the most lengthy and conscious commitments to Indigenous people. There is a bold (if abstract) promise to give Indigenous nations an “equal seat at the policy-making table.”

They also promise to enact the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to implement findings of both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. They would also “dismantle” the Indian Act.

This would mean a true nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples that honours their right to free, prior and informed consent (underpinning the UN declaration).

Importantly, the Greens would also introduce and implement an “Indigenous Lands and Treaties Tribunal Act” to decide on specific land claims, “ensuring that treaty negotiations are conducted and financed fairly and that treaty negotiations and claims resolutions do not result in the extinguishment of aboriginal and treaty rights.”

Healthcare

The list of promises here is lengthy, led by a proposal to expand Pharmacare to every Canadian within a year.

They also want to rearrange how Ottawa decides the amount of money for healthcare transferred to the provinces by basing the criteria “on demographics and real health care needs in each province, replacing the current formula based on GDP growth introduced by the Harper government and retained by the Liberals.”

The Greens weave in a lot of awareness of Indigenous rights throughout their platform. They promise to implement findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission within healthcare and help integrate traditional healing practices into Indigenous community healthcare services.

There are also promises to shorten drug patent protection periods, expand safe abortion clinics, end for-profit blood collection, and expand mental health and suicide prevention services.

Drugs

The Greens are committed to treating the opioid crisis as a healthcare issue and not a criminal one. This means investing in more supervised consumption sites in order to reduce harm.

They also emphasize that that “fentanyl contamination is why deaths are more accurately described as poisonings than overdoses.”

The party also stresses that all drug possession should be decriminalized, ensuring people can access a “screened supply” if necessary. The Greens also want to increase funding to local organizations to test drugs, while making naloxone (a drug that reverses overdoses) more available.

The Greens also criticize the Liberals’ handling of cannabis regulation, a year into legalization. They will lower cannabis prices to compete with illegal sellers of weed, allow CBD oil to be produced and sold as a natural health product, and remove the sales tax on medicinal cannabis products.

Student issues

The Greens want to eliminate tuition fees and forgive all existing student debt.

They also promise to ensure universal access to post-secondary education “by redirecting existing spending on bursaries, tuition tax credits, saved costs of administering the student loan system, and the hundreds of millions of dollars of student loan defaults written off every year.” The federal government would also give provinces more money every year to fund post-secondary schools.

The two percent limit on education funding increases for Indigenous students would also be removed as the Greens promise to “ensure all Indigenous youth have access to post-secondary education.”

Best case scenario

The NDP lose all momentum in BC and the Maritimes, ceding major ground to the Greens who end up taking a few seats there and finishing second in BC.

This propels the party to third place and to official party status (12 seats) as Jagmeet Singh and the NDP crash into fourth place. At least one Green Party MP starts standing out and Elizabeth May has an heir apparent with the party looking towards 2023 as being a real contender.

Worst case scenario

Jagmeet Singh’s stock rises with each debate and in the aftermath of the Trudeau blackface incidents, as Elizabeth May continues to have a hard time communicating her ideas through the debates and the media.

Green MPs with questionable, discriminatory opinions and online histories become exposed.

This results in Greens losing all federal seats, including May’s and they have no presence in Parliament.

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elizabeth may