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Why I'm Voting Green

The big parties are puny on the biggest issues.

Rafe Mair 12 Dec

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I don't imagine anyone cares how I'm going to vote, but in case anyone does, I'll be voting, as in the last two elections, for the Green Party. Hell, I don't even know who's running in my riding, but I'll vote for him/her anyway.

I'm told that I'm just "wasting" my vote. In fact, I'm even told that I'm frittering away my right to have an impact on public affairs. Indeed, to some, it's evidently little short of treason to vote for someone who hasn't a chance of winning.

Many years ago, there was a man named Everett Crowley who was opposed to the then poll tax in Vancouver. He ran for alderman (as councilors were then called) on the sole ticket that he would rid the city of this hateful tax on the right to vote. He was slaughtered in the election, but he tried again the next time. And the next time. And yet again he tried. He lost every time out. I don't remember how many elections the persistent Mr. Crowley contested, but it was likely close to a dozen until: whammo! He won! And the horrible poll tax was abolished! It was an old issue, but the public finally recognized it as the issue it was. And there's now a park in his beloved city named Everett Crowley Park.

The Green Party is the lineal descendents of Everett Crowley, and while they're going through their slow crawl out of political purgatory, I'm going to give them my little bitty vote.

And I want to protest.

Sorry Jack

Why would I vote Liberal? They're running this election on the "corruption ticket". That's not what they call it, of course, nor do they want any of us to think about the subject, but that's exactly where they are. They remind me of the recently deceased football great, George Best, who said "I spent a lot of my money on wine, women and gambling - the rest I squandered." A great line and it fits the Liberals who are utterly unable to make the moral distinction between spending the public's money wisely and honestly and giving that trust money to cronies or using it to bribe voters with.

Why not Tory, then?

The candidate in my riding is of the Christian Right. Standing alone, I suppose that's no big deal. He can believe in sun worship for all I care, in the religious sense. The trouble is, he's not alone in the Conservative Party. There are lots more where he came from. And to me, the Christian Right is scary as hell. They believe that every word of the Bible is the word of God and that their mandate is that we must all obey God's will - as interpreted by them, of course. Now, don't get me wrong. These people can think what they want, get nominations, run and get elected. I'm just not going to help them.

What, then, about the NDP? I like Jack Layton but, again, I don't much care for the positions of those who support him. These are challenging times and while I support the NDP in their fight against poverty and injustice, I don't hear anything from them as to how they will deal with the burgeoning crises we face with globalization. These crises - outsourcing jobs and associated problems - will have an enormous impact within the next decade and Mr. Layton has no answers. Neither do Paul Martin nor Stephen Harper but I can't support Mr. Layton just because he's as dumb as the rest of them.

Issues as big as planet Earth

But let me defend my choice in a positive way. And let me say, flat out, that I'm not a member of the party, nor have I ever been and I've never even attended a Green Party rally, much less a meeting. I won't vote Green just as a reaction to the three other appalling choices, but because they stand for something I stand for: the environment. We are in huge trouble around this sad, old globe of ours and much of it is irreversible. It's not just global warming and assorted human rapes of the atmosphere, though God knows that's bad enough. Read about the world's oceans. These enormous tracts of water are soon to be out of fish, for all practical purposes.

Don't take my word for it. Google Dr. Dan Pauly of UBC, considered one of the top scientists in the world, and follow the links. I'm not being lazy here - there are days worth of research available which will demonstrate out that not only are fish stocks all over the world in serious jeopardy, the causes many but that outrageous human activity is the biggest one. The evidence is voluminous, the sad part being that the words are all gloomy. If the situation is as serious as I say - and it is - how in the name of God could we trust any of the other two and a half parties in the race to do anything, given their appalling track records?

Or are we simply going to throw up our hands in abject surrender and let the kids pick up the pieces?

I'm one of those "keep right on 'til the end of the road" types.

Then, there's the question of fossil fuels. We've peaked, or soon will, the word "peak" in this connotation meaning that we are consuming more than we're finding .There is a book generally taken to be authoritative on this subject called The End Of Oil by Paul Roberts which, amongst other things, puts into serious question the oil reserves that we think we presently have.

For one thing, the Saudis have been exaggerating their reserves for decades. Other key calculations are probably optimistic, meaning we're much worse off that we think we are - which is pretty bad. (Paul Roberts, incidentally, far from being some long haired environmentalist badly in need of a bath, is a financier/banker specializing in funding the oil and gas business.)

Read The End of Oil and it'll scare the pants off you - not just because we're running out of oil and gas but because we have no plans to face the fairly near catastrophe.

Ask your Liberal, Tory or NDP candidate if he/she has read this book. Ask what their party's policy is with respect to weaning ourselves off the use of fossil fuels. See if you can discern anything remotely like a policy rather than just the usual barnyard droppings wrapped in the party logo.

Sending a message

The Green Party platform, on the other hand, has some positive proposals which actually deal with the environment as the number one issue, which it is - or ought to be.

My vote will be wasted in the sense that it won't help elect anyone. But it will indicate my opinion whereas. Moreover, those who vote for the Greens, help get them future election funding from the government to help fight another day. If my vote will help the Greens get their message out, that, in itself, is enough for me. For the way governments are polishing off the environment, someone has to keep on fighting for another day, in the hope, perhaps forlorn, that we'll wake up in time.

When I look at the political map before me - Paul Martin, Stephen Harper and Jack Layton - and the sorry lot they each lead - it's the ghost of Everett Crowley for me.

Rafe Mair writes a Monday column for The Tyee. His website is  [Tyee]

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