[R-G] The Greens are right, right? - Murray Dobbin--Globe and Mail commentary June 16th
childst at douglas.bc.ca
Wed Jun 16 16:28:16 MDT 2004
Some interesting research and analysis here on the Canadian national
The Greens are right, right?
By MURRAY DOBBIN
Globe and Mail June 16, 2004
It is intriguing to watch the coverage of the Green Party in the
federal election because the conventional wisdom -- that it will take
votes from the NDP -- is confounded by the party's actual policies.
While the analysis is likely correct, a look at Green policies reveals
that this party is really a Conservative alternative, not a social
democratic one. Its fiscal, economic and even environmental policies
would be a near perfect fit for the old Progressive Conservative party.
In fact, the Greens are led by a former Tory, Jim Harris, and under his
direction have become the quintessential small government, pro-market
Their social analysis says virtually nothing about the structural
causes of poverty, and their solutions borrow from both the former PCs
and the Alliance. They talk about how a Green government would "enhance
the existing network of . . . school nutrition . . . and food-bank
programs . . ." to eliminate hunger in Canada. Those who study poverty
with a view to ending it see food banks not as a solution, but as a
symbol of everything that is wrong with the way governments approach
The party is committed to smaller government in a way that no other
party is, except the new Conservatives. With respect to the devastated
federal public service -- characterized by massive downsizing,
unprecedented stress levels, completely inadequate staffing to carry out
department mandates and years without real increases in pay -- the Green
Party has a single response, and it sounds a lot like Stephen Harper's:
"Reform the public sector to be more responsive and accountable." This
is union busting by another name, and seems to promise the continuation
of the right-wing assault on government employees. If you want the
public service to be "responsive," the logical solution is to return it
to functional staffing levels.
The Greens' fiscal policies are among their most reactionary and
problematic. They toe the Bay Street line by promising to "lower taxes
on income, profit and investment, to promote increased productivity and
job creation." As for addressing the problem of chronically high
unemployment, the party takes a page out of Paul Martin's book of
maintaining extremely low inflation -- Greens will still fight inflation
by putting people out of work unless unemployment rises above 10 per
cent. These policies have been notable failures for the past 15 years --
lowering wages, increasing the productivity gap with the United States
and creating mostly low-wage jobs -- and certainly have no place in the
platform of a party that pitches its appeals to social democrats.
Any increase in revenue from promised Green taxes on "harmful
activities" would be neutralized by lowering income taxes, the most
progressive and fair taxes we have. The Greens also call for an increase
in property taxes, a regressive tax. They are committed to using
surpluses to ". . . reduce the national debt." In other words, the party
is to the right of all the major parties, which are now committing
billions for spending on social programs that Canadians say they want.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the Green platform is the lack of
any commitment to using government legislation or regulation to
accomplish core environmental goals.
Here are just a few examples: "The Green Party will: Empower
[bioregional] stewards to seek intervenor status in legal actions that
impact the health of the ecosystem; . . . work with local environmental
groups to reduce pollution levels in the air, water and soil; promote
sustainability through education; and monitor the diversity of species,
the levels of pollution and the health of the ecosystem."These are not
the actions of a government committed to using its mandated power to
actually protect the environment. The party also supports the corporate
sector's position on self-regulation: "The Green Party will assist and
encourage Canadian companies to attain ISO 14000 certification, the
international standard for management." The ISO 14000 has been almost
universally condemned by the international environmental movement as
ineffective and unreliable.
Those Canadians thinking of voting Green because they believe it is
progressive had better do their homework. There is more to this party
than the user-friendly name would suggest.
Murray Dobbin is author of Paul Martin: CEO for Canada?
Tom Childs - Audio/Visual Resources
Douglas College Library
New Westminster, B.C. Canada
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