Monday, April 20, 2009

More Greens Turning Red

Noel Burgon follows Monica Jarabek to Liberal party

When Green party leader Elizabeth May forged her vaunted Red-Green coalition with the Stephane Dion-led Liberal party, she must have imagined the matter would turn out very differently for her party.

Instead her bid to defeat Conservative deputy Prime Minister Peter MacKay led only to her embarrassment, and her party failed to win a single seat in Parliament -- failing even to keep the seat it had, occupied by Liberal defector Blair Wilson.

The vote-splitting between left-wing parties contributed to the Conservatives winning government again, although this was likely mitigated by vote-swapping schemes among these various parties.

To top it all off Monica Jarabek -- who received more votes than any other Green party candidate in the 2008 federal election -- jumped ship to the Liberal party. Now another key Green, Noel Burgon, has left the Greens to become a Grit.

"It's a lot like coming home," remarked Burgon, who formerly led the Young Liberals of Ontario.

"It's something to see two local Green candidates have gone to the Liberals," Burgon notes, but insists that he doesn't see a mass exodus from the Green party to the Liberals.

Burgon seemed to share the opinion that the Green party may be one left-wing party too many. "The left is getting crowded (politically)," he mused.

This is certainly a problem for the Green party. May's steering of the party -- which once held appeal for environmentally-minded conservatives -- inexorably toward the left has limited the party's ability to build an electoral coalition. By devoting the party to a single purpose -- defeating the Tories -- May has left conservatives who favour conservative fiscal policies but would prefer stronger environmental policy stranded with the conservatives.

Meanwhile, May's "non-endorsement" of Stephane Dion as Prime Minister (which actually was an endorsement) undermined the raison d'etre of her party. With no purpose other than to defeat the Conservative party, one wonders precisely what it was May imagines was going to keep promising candidates in her party.

The Liberal party has a better-recognized national brand, can muster greater resources in favour of its candidates, and is better poised to fulfil what May treats as the Green party's singular purpose.

It's only natural that Green candidates would abandon the party for the Liberals, especially when one considers that Elizabeth May has managed to erase any compelling reason for the Green party to even go on existing.

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