Given the do little–talk a lot environmental record of the Horgan, supported by the BC Green Party, government over the past three years, it is hard to feel particularly optimistic about our ability to act on climate change or other environmental issues like failing tailings impoundments, the massive extinction of species.

I had great hopes that Dimitri Lascaris might win the Green Party of Canada leadership race and set an example to all Green Parties in Canada. Dimitri’s central election theme asserted that for the sake of our Earth and its peoples, we must reevaluate the fundamental failings of focusing on economic gain as society’s primary goal/operational strategy. I was especially moved by Dimiri’s claim that party efforts that are primarily about winning elections by adopting centrist goals are like treating metastasizing cancer with a daily aspirin. 

Given the urgent need to act on Climate Change, species extinction, the plastic poisoning of our oceans, the conversion of agriculture to poison culture and the ever increasing marginalization of most of humanity in favor of unspendable wealth for a few, it seems we just don’t have the time to wait for partisan politics to sort out the problems it has failed to address for the past 50 years –well it goes way beyond that when you think of the social and environmental destruction that has been the human trajectory—perhaps since the dawning of human societies.

So if partisan politics has not/is not going to secure the radical change we need to ensure some kind of justice for people and a healthy planet for all, what do we need? Or, are we past the point at which human beings and much of Earth’s life forms can survive for much longer?

I had great hopes that if Dimitri won the Green Party of Canada leadership he would end the centrist positioning that has been the Green Party theme for the past 15 years—a  theme that has not inspired people with a new vision about how we can look beyond short term economic goals and learn to come together as a society/people for the health and well being of our Earth and its peoples.

I didn’t have a chance to interview Lascaris, so I want to be careful not to put unintended words in his mouth, but it seemed clear enough to me that Lascaris was talking—finally—about the Green Party as primarily an environmental/social justice movement rather than just an election-focused political party.

Imagine what might have been the outcome if the antiwar movement had seen itself as primarily the basis of supporting another political party rather than focusing on the goal at hand—stopping the war that was poisoning whole nations and killing millions of people who didn’t want to be dominated by US economic interests.  

If the antiwar movement had been about electoral politics, many, many more soldiers, people, environments would have died just to promote the agenda of a few greedy sadists. Only as a movement focused on mobilizing the conscience of a nation was the antiwar movement able to end the absurdities and atrocities being committed to keep the people of Indochina from democratically choosing the governments and economic systems they wish to be governed by.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, the Green Party both federally and provincially is not significantly advancing our effort to deal with climate change nor significantly advancing all the other social and environmental values that we need to act on to avert social and environmental disaster.

If instead of focusing on partisan politics, the Green Party were focused on building a movement, we would be in a very different place from where we are today. If instead of focusing on trying to defeat the NDP, the Green Party of BC were focusing on how we can bring people of all parties together to work for our common good –as the peace movement welcomed people of all parties to commit to a world without war –we could have a Green BC—no matter what party is governing.

In this province the BC Green Party wasted half the election and many resources trying to generate resentment about calling a snap election—Why? Well, it seems clear to me, the Green Party election strategists looked at the PR referendum and at how effectively the no side used petty resentment about the wording being “too complex” –and decided to go and do likewise.  Under the thumb of big social media , milking petty resentment has become the #1 political tactic.  What the Green Party executive didn’t realize was that when the legal election was called just wasn’t capable of generating the kind of resentment that could blind voters to all other considerations.

And, it must be said that the BC Greens were entitled to some resentment over having kept their end of the bargain, then having the NDP trap them short-handed. But if the BC Green leadership had been anything like Lascaris, they would have long before the snap election been out promoting the case for urgent action on climate change and saving our rivers and building healthy communities with healthy, happy people.  They would have, long before the snap election, been out touring the province/ filling the internet with a series of graphic demonstrations of what we must do to secure a healthy social/physical environment for ourselves and for generations to come.  They would have been talking with people and building understanding of where we must go and taking input from communities in a way that convinces people that they are really being heard. They would have used the whole pre-election years to build understanding about the need for big changes in our priorities. They would have been in communities listening to people about what matters to BC citizens.  They would have had an election platform endorsed and formulated by people all over the province. They would have already had a chance to share with the people of BC what the party thinks we must due to save our Earth’s ecosystems and protect the well being of its peoples.

We, all of us, must learn to ask how we are going to save our Earth and the well being of its peoples—as the first question rather than how can we milk petty resentment in order to get elected to legislatures.

Once the resentment failed to build around calling the election, the Green Party was left standing in an empty field shouting “vote for me… because we’ll call elections at the end of four years rather than three.” Actually I would love to see an election after every throne speech!—that seems like an appropriate time to hear what citizens think of the party direction.

Though I have been critical of the Green Party in Canada under the centrist vision of Annamie Paul and the seeming inability of the BC Greens to see that a healthy province/world is more important than simply milking resentment in order to win a few seats in the BC legislature, I offer these criticisms only because I wish them great success in transforming our world into a more just, sustaining, AND sustainable place for us to live in and for our children to inherit. 

Happy Trails!

Norm Reynolds