Naturally we all know progressives who vacillate between NDP and Green votes, based on strategy. People who would mark Greens 1 and NDP 2 if they had a proper ranked ballot. People who assume all conservatives are operatives of the multinationals, though these days this may be more true given our federal oil-baron Conservative government that’s gotten away from its small c roots. So a fellow candidate heard some of this anxiety and asked me for a bit of a response, and I drafted this response. Feel free to read, share, consider, use.
I sometimes struggle with this too, however, there are some flaws in your friend’s logic worth pointing out, and some constructive ideas we can make, not to mention the NDP has not been true to its values, and its claims to be ‘green’ have been superficial and often the opposite.
1) With a rural Manitoban-born leader with an emphasis on being efficient and fiscally-conservative and supporting small businesses, our party is increasingly attractive to small ‘c’ conservatives, some of whom would otherwise vote PC.
2) Similar to number -1-, Greens are the only party actually working to reverse the destructive policies of both NDPs and PCs over the years, working towards an economy actually designed in accordance with ecological principles to achieve a sustainable, steady state economy. GDP and growth economics do not speak to quality of life improvements or diminishment.
3) About the east side boreal, and further to -2-, while the NDP has chosen one major pet issue, the east side boreal, and while it is vitally important, does this position of the bi-pole excuse the NDP for:
*approving and forwarding the largest suburban development in Manitoba’s history, Waverley West, built on farmland and extending Winnipeg’s infrastructure beyond sustainable distances and with density too low to support public transit, thus placing many more private vehicles on the road? Their promise it would be a ‘green’ suburb was total greenwash and their kowtowing to developers is no different from how PCs would act, as the family owning developer LADCO contributes money each year to both the NDP and the PCs.
*allowing the hog industry to grow massively in Manitoba from 1999~2007 with almost no regulation of the industry, to great damage to our water (there were many unpublicized lagoon spills), all the while conveniently ignoring the fact that hog factory farm workers were not even covered under the Labour Act, treated instead as casual farmhands? Only economics and grassroots opposition denied OlyWest a chance to open a major abbatoir in St. Boniface 4 years ago or so. And the moratorium only came once the price of hogs had crashed, after years of water pollution and with next to no animal welfare standards.
*reversing the requirement the PC government placed on major US polluter Louisiana Pacific when it came into the province to open an Oriented Strand Board plant in Swan River, namely that they would have to place pollution controls on their plant? Two years ago during the financial downturn, under economic blackmail by this corporation, the NDP gave them a temporary and later a permanent license to remove their scrubbers, leading to vast amount of SO2 and other pollutants spewing from this plant across the valley.
4) The Greens oppose a bi-pole being built at all, and support instead an integrated grid (smart grid) consisting of diversified energy production in the south of Manitoba, namely wind – which was not developed in line with the NDP plan in terms of actual megawatts (mw) generated – solar and other emerging technologies. Furthermore, consumers could become producers of energy, ideally creating energy neutral homes and institutions, with meters running backwards when production outstrips consumption, as is done in Ontario. The “smart grid” technology that Manitoba could develop could revolutionize energy production and be exported as knowledge economy throughout the world.
5) The fear-mongering that a vote for Greens is a vote for PC or simply around the PC government itself is based on our first-past-the-post system that rewards candidates receiving less than 50% of the vote with the entire seat. Gaining total power from only controlling the largest block but not a majority is not the logic of democracy, it is the logic of gangs. And yet, in the self-serving interests of power, unlike their federal counterparts, the provincial NDP has breather nary a word about electoral reform in 12 years of power. They’d rather continue the politics of fear and attack, saying voting Green is a vote for PCs, than to bring up electoral reform – either a 1,2,3 ranked ballot or proportional representation – and work in coalition with Greens once we’d inevitably gain 5-10 seats. That’s shameful!
6) Doer our “green” premier who delivered the NDP its 3 majorities, was out trying to sell Manitoba Hydro as ‘renewable energy’ in Wisconsin, which ultimately was opposed by local renewable energy providers of wind and solar energy, who will be unable to compete with cheaply-dumped Hydro energy from Manitoba. The Public Utilities Board confirms that we may have made deals to sell Hydro too cheaply, and we’re especially vulnerable since these deals are all in US dollars. More horrifically, former premier Doer has lacked any discernment in becoming a dirty tar sands oil salesman to the US as ambassador, despite the gross inefficiency of this industry in Alberta, the massive pollution, and the subsequent sicknesses and violations of treaty and Aboriginal rights downstream.
7) About the east side specifically: I think that while the PCs are trying to use this choice of the NDP to take the more expensive route, the NDP has put into place the East Side Traditional Lands Planning Act that allows for no new development to be put into place on the east side if it is not part of a First Nation’s traditional land use plan. This means that the PCs would have to repeal the Act and anyhow the communities on the east side could and likely would band together to oppose the bi-pole as it offers no benefit to the community and the easements McFadyen would likely have to pay would make it not so cheap to go east after all. This decision by McFadyen would likely be tangled up in the courts for a decade such that he will soon learn it is just as expensive to go east after all.
So in short, I think the election becoming a referendum on the bi-pole is a fake gloss over bigger issues like an overall energy strategy rather than just assuming the inertia of Manitoba Hydro’s engineering should run this province. And both the PCs and NDPers are endorsing this charade to avoid their true ignorance that we cannot keep relying on economic growth models that plunder the planet, externalizing the social and the ecological from their calculations. Only Greens move beyond the neoliberal, trade-based paradigm, and would work to bring the economy home.
With a simple ability to mark your first, second, and third, and fourth choices etc. on your ballot, we could start to vote FOR a positive vision, and cease to vote out of fear and against the straw boogy man that turns out not to be so very different from the one we ARE voting for. First Past the Post has given us a USA-style 2-party system and similarly the attack ads that we are seeing are symptomatic of this structural problem.
Finally, here’s an article I wrote imploring us to think beyond this and the next election to steer this large ship in the right direction in the long term:
~find resolve, get involved, evolve~