Saturday, August 30, 2008

Going Green

I haven't seen it on any of the big news outlets yet, but National Newswatch is reporting that former Liberal MP Blair Wilson is about to become Canada's first Green MP.

Admittedly, he won't sit as a Green MP. And this little bit of history will only last a few days. And getting an MP who no one else wanted in their caucus isn't a sensational catch. But, still, it's probably a good move by the Greens - they grab some headlines and (marginally) improve their case for being included in the debates.

As for the election implications - well, here are the '06 results.

Blair Wilson (Lib) 37.5%
John Weston (CPC) 36.0%
Judith Wilson (NDP) 20.1%
Silvaine Zimmermann (Green) 6.2%

Labels:

37 Comments:

  • The Globe has a CP piece.

    The other angle is this makes it pretty tough to deny Elizabeth May a spot in the leaders' debates.

    By Blogger A BCer in Toronto, at 11:26 AM  

  • Wow - blur of emotions!!!

    1. Holy cow, a Green MP?!

    2. That's amazing!!!

    3. I feel the way women must have felt about Agnes MacPhail!!

    4. Hold on... Is that the Blair Wilson I think it is...?

    5. Google says he was cleared of 21 of the 24 charges - I never heard that. You always hear when people are suspected of bad things, but rarely hear when the allegations go away.

    6. So, he's kicked out of the Liberals and with a week before an election is called he joins the Greens.....

    No Agnes MacPhail.

    Well, maybe he'll get re-elected and be an actual Green Party MP - that could be cool. Hope he's intelligent and wise, if so.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 11:28 AM  

  • Elizabeth May a spot in the leaders' debates.

    Ah, smart point! I wonder if that will happen.

    Seems a shame for the Greens to debut in the debates via Elizabeth May, the least of our federal leaders. But hey, it'd be great to see them at the podiums.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 11:32 AM  

  • Cleared of 21 of the 24 charges...but, what were the charges he was not cleared of?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:57 AM  

  • It didn't say; I was curious, too. Honestly, I have little to no faith in Elizabeth May's leadership skills and talents so I hope this doesn't end up a poor idea. We'll see.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 12:05 PM  

  • An eve of election conversion, but still an exciting one.

    By Anonymous daveberta, at 1:24 PM  

  • It will be interesting to see if May is allowed into the debates. Certainly, no Green MP has been elected but the Bloc was allowed into the debates in 1993.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:10 PM  

  • "Elizabeth May a spot in the leaders' debates."

    By that token would we have given John Nunziata a spot in the national leader's debate? What if he joined the Canadian action party, a fairly national party (you don't need to run in all ridings, clearly, since the Bloc is at the leader's debate).

    There should be a minimum threshold of the vote attained, or consent from all parties (or at least the Liberals and Conservatives jointly).

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 2:26 PM  

  • Marginally? What possible justification could anyone use for keeping her out?

    "By that token would we have given John Nunziata a spot in the national leader's debate?"

    What officially recognized by Elections Canada party was John Nunziata leader of?

    "There should be a minimum threshold of the vote attained, or consent from all parties"

    Heh.. that'd be a fun rule. I could see Layton and Harper not giving their consent to have Dion included in the debate.

    The inclusion of Reform and the Bloc in the 1993 shows that a) you can get in the debate with only one MP and b) none of them needed to be elected under the party banner.

    I suppose you can argue that "either you need to have 1 MP elected under your party banner or have 8 or more MPs in the House". Actually, I'm kind of surprised none of the party leaders have attempted that yet.

    By Blogger Mike, at 2:45 PM  

  • I think the Greens have showed me to my personal satisfaction that they draw enough "minimum votes received" nationally to be in the debates.

    By Anonymous jason bo green, at 2:51 PM  

  • They've always used the excuse that the Greens had no MP's so couldn't be in the debates.

    May's mission, obsessively, has been to be in the debates.

    Now, she talks too much, and if allowed.......she better get her talking points down pat.

    I don't think Smiling Jack will be pleased.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:28 PM  

  • Revenge is a dish best served cold. The Liberals wouldn't have Wilson back in caucus, and now he has given the Greens a chance to take voters away from the Liberals.

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 3:47 PM  

  • I'm not even happy that the Bloc are in the English debates, truth be told, so I'm weary of making them even bigger. If Bill Cassey joined a party would that party automatically qualify? I dunno.

    The Greens didn't crack 5% of the popular vote last election, have yet to elect an MP, and are unlikely to elect anyone during the next campaign regardless of whether or not May is in the debates.

    I think it's very debatable as to whether or not they should be included...hardly the slam dunk May made it out to be today.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:50 PM  

  • May should be allowed to join the debates. I find it pretty offensive that Canadians have pretty much abdicated the decision of which political parties are viable to a group of media companies.

    By Anonymous daveberta, at 4:11 PM  

  • - The Greens didn't crack 5% of the popular vote last election

    Neither did Reform (2.09%) nor the Bloc (0.00%) prior to the 1993 election. Nor the Conservative Party of Canada prior to the 2004 election, for that matter. :)

    - have yet to elect an MP

    Neither did the Bloc prior to the 1993 election.

    - and are unlikely to elect anyone during the next campaign

    I disagree. But that's the entire point of having an election and a debate. If we went on "what's likely to happen", why would we include Layton or Dion in the next debate? Neither is likely to be PM after the next election. The next debate should then just be Stephen Harper answering questions from Steve Paikin for two hours.

    By Blogger Mike, at 4:13 PM  

  • I met Blair Wilson once. I was impressed by his openness and determination. He's the kind of second echelon leader that the new Liberal Party needs.

    Unfortunately, the LPC leadership won't take him back. So, dion is going to lose a seat to harper.

    I guess that I will have to give BW a donation to help him out.

    BTW, Elections Canada found a small number of minor infringements. So, BW got a caution. Nothing quite like the in-out case.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 4:44 PM  

  • Duceppe did win a by election in 1990 for the Bloc, so both them and the Reformers had elected MPs in by elections prior to '93.

    Regardless, I don't have a problem with Elizabeth May being in the debates since she has pretty much endorsed Dion.

    Maybe there should be some more defined criteria. Say you meet any 2 or 3 of the following and you get in:

    -Have elected an MP in past election or since then
    -5% of the vote in the previous election
    -Running candidates in at least half of all Canadian ridings
    -Averaged polling number of at least 10% over the past year

    Those could obviously be tweaked, but there probably should be at least some rough guidelines for this sort of thing.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 4:49 PM  

  • " Duceppe did win a by election in 1990 for the Bloc"

    Incorrect. Duceppe ran as an independent because the Bloc wasn't registered with EC yet. Admittedly, it's a technicality, but look it up.

    I agree that there should be more formal criteria. But there isn't, and the informal rule we've all been operating under, due to the 1993 election, is that once you have an MP in the house, your leader gets to be in the debate.

    RE: Criteria

    "Maybe there should be some more defined criteria. Say you meet any 2 or 3 of the following and you get in:

    -Have elected an MP in past election or since then
    -5% of the vote in the previous election
    -Running candidates in at least half of all Canadian ridings
    -Averaged polling number of at least 10% over the past year"

    The Bloc wouldn't have met *any* of these criteria in 1993. Mind you, I wouldn't be upset if they were excluded. In 1993 Reform arguably would have only met #1 and #3, so they'd be excluded if you needed to meet 3.

    The last criteria is troublesome.. which pollsters do you include? The Greens could make a case for inclusion due to the last two, if the 'right' polls were chosen. Plus they meet the 2nd criteria, depending on how you deal with rounding. :)

    A far simpler rule would be based on how many paid members and or collected donations your party has. It'd account for both a party with enough popularity and deal with newly formed parties.

    That being said, it seems a little late in the process to be making up new rules.

    By Blogger Mike, at 5:05 PM  

  • CG: "I'm not even happy that the Bloc are in the English debates, truth be told, so I'm weary of making them even bigger."


    I'm puzzled about this. You'd rather take them out because you dislike having more than three parties, and the Bloc's the odd party out? (By that logic, the Dippers shouldn't be in the French debate)

    Now, the Bloc has some (very limited) appeal in the English Québec community. Even if they didn't have any, a lot of English Québecers are represented by Bloc MPs, I think it's fair to give them the chance to hear their MP's leader in their own language.

    Furthermore, the Bloc, like it or not, is a political force in the country, that has formed the official opposition in the past, that pretty much always wins the popular vote in the largest and second most populous province in Canada, and has had more seats than the NDP since 1993. I think that it's only fair to English Canadians both in and out of Québec to allow them to hear the leader of a very significant party that sometimes represents them, and otherwise are still elected in great number to their country's Parliament. That's not only in the interest of fairness to all parties, but also to English Canadians who want to learn about the ideas of a party that is 3rd in importance in Canada.

    So, yeah, I'm curious :).

    By Anonymous jeagag, at 6:52 PM  

  • I wonder if Dion (or, more likely, his advisors) told Wilson to join the Greens? That way, Dion gets May into the debates, which is great from his perspective (I'm sure Harper would love to have someone else in the debates that will agree with him on everything), while Wilson gets a realistic chance to continue his political career. It will be really interesting to see if the Liberals run a real campaign against Wilson, or just a shell campaign as quid pro quo for helping get May into the debates.

    By Blogger Wes, at 7:07 PM  

  • jeag; The Bloc doesn't run candidates in any English ridings outside of Quebec. Obviously you can't really make separate rules for the English and French debates...it just always seems a bit odd to have Duceppe there for them.

    So, yeah, I don't think the Bloc's presence really makes much difference to the English debates, but there's no way to really justify excluding them.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 8:21 PM  

  • I don't think the Bloc should be banned from debates, I just think they should all be gunned down as traitors.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 8:23 PM  

  • So the Greens take a candidate the Liberals rejected for ethical reasons?

    A candidate the LIBERALS felt was unethical?

    What does that say about the Green ethics standards?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:46 PM  

  • CG: Interesting criteria. Since we're just spitballing, I agree with 5% limit, given German MMP precedent (one big problem with Ont. MMP proposal was 3% cutoff). I'd like to agree with an MP elected under party banner - Gilles Duceppe was a special case - was running as Bloc although technically Ind -don't know if you can legislate for that kind of thing ("hard cases make bad law").

    10% in polling?
    candidates in 50% ridings?

    Both seem too subjective - Bloc has official party status - had it when NDP lost it. British parliamentary democracy being what it is, it's about citizens in given riding(s) choosing MP(s). Enough MPs ensures status of party: government or official opposition or official party status. Or not.

    It is conceivable a party could have a plurality in parliament by running in just 49% or less of seats - think of Chretien's Ontario sweeps. So 50% rule can't work and given traditions, don't think any requirement to run in given number of ridings can.

    10% rule: polls are like tides, etc.. Plus, whose polls, etc.. Unworkable.

    Since in our tradition it's all about the MPs, could require only parties with official party status in parliament to debate - but NDP & PC were in debates in 1997, quite apart from Bloc & Reform in 1993. Instinctively feels wrong to ban party with support like NDP or PC, percentage of vote in previous election similar to regional parties Reform & Bloc, and with MPs, but no official status.

    So, at end of day, most restrictive possibility is 5% minimum and MP elected under party banner. Both can be debated - 5% can be objected to on same grounds as 50% - what if party targeted and won the 12 smallest ridings in Canada? Given multiparty races, not even necessary to pass 5% cutoff. Official party status but not 5% so not in debate? And Burkean objection to elected under banner rule: "owe electors my conscience", etc.. Who cares how became MP for party, what's important is MP, etc.. Philosophically fine point.

    Conclusion: need at least one MP (since official party status deemed too strict in past). And need to be more than fringe - have some sense party represents genuinely significant portion of public.

    I'd support 5% in last election & at least 1 MP. I said hard cases make bad law, so that smallest ridings thing is clearly ridiculous, however theoretically plausible. Only question then: does it matter if elected under banner or not? Undecided myself. Tend to think irrelevant - Burke by his words and Churchill by his actions clearly thought so. What do you think?

    Anyway, given Canadian precedent, no reason to keep Greens out of debates this time. And if do, should be on basis of 5% and possibly "elected under banner" criteria, and should make that explicit new rule. But since that's unlikely, Greens should be in. But probably won't, as consortium probably won't stare down combined CP-NDP-Bloc front. May be blessing in disguise for we Liberals - get credit from Green-leaning voters for backing Green inclusion without them actually getting in and avoid precedent which could bite us in long run - who knows what Green party will do to Canadian politics in long run, and who among established parties will win or lose?

    Final note: knowing Dion, he was/is completely sincere in wanting Greens in. Not just for short-term reasons of natural justice and political calculation but because he genuinely believes environment is issue of 21st century and as poli sci prof knows that best long-term guarantee of continued action is establishment of permanent Green electoral beachhead, pushing parties green whatever power equilibrium between them. See post-war Germany. Or Canada post-CCF: whoever thought conservative parties would support socialised medicare, election after election, back in the day?

    By Blogger Eugene Forsey Liberal, at 8:54 PM  

  • I've always thought there should be two debates (or 4, I guess, for English and French).

    The first would be a wide open debate - you'd let the Greens in and any party that was at least as legitimate as them (maybe 2% in the last election and 200 candidates or something like that).

    The second would be just the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition. A classic one on one free for all debate. Under parliamentary tradition the opposition leader is trying to replace the PM so this would be his chance to show he's up to the job. This would have created a bit of a mess the year the Bloc was official opposition but I think it's still the best system.

    By Anonymous CW, at 9:07 PM  

  • National debates are for national parties. English or French. You want to be in the national debates? Run in 50%+ of the ridings.

    Did your party receiving money from Elections Canada? Then the taxpayer should see you in some sort of debate, whether National or no.

    Combine those two have you have your criteria.

    Hell, to be honest, other than the separation thing, I generally like the Bloc's policies, and I'm not in Quebec.

    As for the Greens, the specific criteria the consortium used last year, according to the response of the ombudsman for CBC on the Greens complaint was "The four most prominent parties with representatives in the house."

    If they maintain that definition, May still doesn't get in.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:41 PM  

  • Back in 2004, I came up with the following criteria for who I'd like to see allowed in debates (and keep in mind that I designed this in large part so the Greens would be allowed):

    Have at least one MP
    OR
    Run a candidate in every single riding

    At the time, I didn't consider the case of an MP crossing the floor to become a party's only MP. Since I'm opposed to allowing floor crossings, I guess I'd have say no, that doesn't count.

    In the last two elections, the Greens ran 308 candidates, which would get them in. But this time around, I understand they're only running 307. Sorry, Elizabeth, but you don't make the cut. :)

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 3:38 AM  

  • Wilson is toxic radioactive waste in west Vancouver. Even his father-in-law despises him.

    Stupid move by Tizzie-Lizzie. When the best you can do is accept someone who Dion rejected, you know you are in trouble.

    By Blogger Fred, at 10:18 AM  

  • CW said:

    "The second would be just the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition. A classic one on one free for all debate. Under parliamentary tradition the opposition leader is trying to replace the PM so this would be his chance to show he's up to the job. This would have created a bit of a mess the year the Bloc was official opposition but I think it's still the best system."

    I love your idea for the debates. I particurally like the one-on-one with the PM and Opposition Leader. [In every election - now and future elections.]

    Voters would be more concerned about that one than the one with "all" parties.

    Excellent suggestion - I think I will suggest it on some of the blogs I visit [of course I will give you the credit for suggesting it, with your permission.]

    By Anonymous Clown Party of Canada, at 11:32 AM  

  • 1. Why do we need formal rules on which party gets to debate. Stuff like the Duceppe case (and the optics importance of including the Bloc for national unity) is a perfect example of where discretion is important, and decisions subjective. If the decision to exclude/include one party is clearly egregious there will be an outcry. That there hasn't, and will not be an outcry over excluding the Greens demonstrates that they probably shouldn't be included.

    2. Somebody suggested Harper wouldn't want another left-wing party attacking them - clearly you don't get it. Harper would love having the Greens in the debate, because it helps split the left-wing vote. Historically that has happened in all of the pizza parliament debates from 1993 on.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 2:07 PM  

  • Joe Calgary remarked that he wouldn't want to be Dion in between Layton and May attacking Harper, and I think he's got an interesting point - they may well totally eclipse Dion. Who knows, maybe Harper will pull something to get her in.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 2:26 PM  

  • The Olympics include sports they think they can sell on TV. Debates invite whom the host networks choose, based on negotiations with the Parties. It's not about what criteria you or I would use to algorithmically include or exclude. (Would we have excluded the PCs in the aftermath of the Kim Campbell debacle?)

    The Greens under May have made it clear that they intend to be a proxy for the Liberals. That will likely be as important a factor in the discussions as the Greens poor electoral prospects.

    Other factors may include breadth of platform: does the Green Party have a comprehensive platform to debate? Does anyone in that Party actually know where they stand on Issues of the Day? (One Green Party operative posited to me that since Harris used to be associated with the Conservative Party, the Greens probably had a conservative economic policy too. But that's not the case.)

    If the Greens have something positive to contribute to the national discussion, great. If not, let's not debate the debate.

    By Blogger paul.obeda@, at 2:53 PM  

  • Of course the Greens have something positive to contribute to the national discussion.

    Elizabeth May on the other hand....

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 3:49 PM  

  • jason, your comment would have had a much greater impact by including some hint of exactly what you think the Greens contribute.

    By Blogger paul.obeda@, at 12:02 AM  

  • Paul, my comment would also have much greater impact with a swift kick to your nuts, but I held back on that, too. Like, what exactly is "positive" about what the Bloc brings to the debates? The separatists have a podium, give the national party of environmentalists the same respect. Or, get them both off - that's a compromise solution I can grow to love!

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 2:29 AM  

  • Let support eco aid the smart way to stop global warming.

    By Anonymous men overcoat, at 2:24 AM  

  • By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:55 PM  

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