Friday, April 29, 2011

In the last days of the election, the lies (and knives) come out. Don't believe it.

The election is winding down, and as always, passionate (or desperate) supporters of the old-line parties are lashing out at everyone, even the Greens.

Although the HarperCons are known for their attack politics, at the local level, it is generally supporters of the NDP and Liberals who attack the Greens with lies or misrepresentations, to try and lure away our votes.

In 2004, local NDP volunteers were telling voters at the door that the Green Party environmental proposals were weak because they were all voluntary. Not true then, not true now, our platform combines stricter mandatory regulations with mandatory polluter-pay taxes.

In 2006 and 2008 adn even now, NDP in many ridings claimed their platform was “greener than the Greens’” based on a slightly higher grade from Sierra Club Canada in 2004. Yet in 2006, 2008, and 2011, SCC has consistently rated the Green Party’s environmental platform as the best. (This year we got the only A, while the NDP had to settle for a C).

In 2008, the Liberals distributed a leaflet in my riding (in the last week, of course), with an out-of-context quote from Elizabeth May, before she entered politics, which they tried to spin as an endorsement to vote Liberal.

Oddly enough, to the best of my knowledge, the local Conservative candidate (and his campaign workers) has never made a false statement about the Greens, at least not one that's made its way back to me. Quite the contrary, he has often mentioned policy areas where he feels we overlap, and has always included us when discussing the major parties. Although I disagree deeply with his party and leader, his actions toward us on the hustings have been faultless, 4 elections in a row. Not one attack or deliberate misrepresentation yet.

Yesterday, at Barrie North Collegiate, a student asked a question that has been posed to candidates in most elections, in one form or another. This time it was “If your party were not running, which of the other parties would you vote for?”

When asked a similar question in 2006, I answered that I would vote for the NDP candidate Peter Bursztyn, because he & I have worked together for many years (over a decade, now) on environmental issues in Barrie, for which we share a passion.

When asked in 2008 (with Peter not on the ballot), I answered that I would vote for Liberal candidate Rick Jones, because he & I had worked together for 3 years on the Mayor’s Taskforce on Affordable Housing, another issue of great concern to us both.

In 2011, of the other candidates, there is only one I have worked with in the community, and that’s Patrick Brown. I have nothing against the NDP’s Myrna Clark or the Liberal Colin Wilson, they both seem like good people. But I haven’t had the opportunity to work with either of them yet. On the Central file, I have not noticed either of them taking an active role in saving Central, something that is very important to me. (Neither has our Liberal MPP, Aileen Carroll, who has remained very publicly distant from it.)

So this time around, my answer was that I would vote for Patrick as a person based on his cooperation, if the question were just about a person. But, unlike the last two elections, I said I could NOT vote for his party – I have too much disdain for the Harper Conservative record and behaviour. Instead, I would vote for the Canadian Action Party – and in fact I did, in 2000, when there was no Green on the Barrie ballot.

So despite our successful collaboration on BCC, I gave a much weaker answer this time, as I was forced to choose a different party than the one of the person I’ve worked with. The question was "Which party?" And my answer was "CAP". Not Conservative. Anyone who reads support for the Conservatives in that is deluded or deceptive.

And in no way were any of those answers (in any election) an endorsement of another party - not by me, and not by the other candidates in their own answers. They were all based on the hypothetical “if you or your party weren’t running” question, and the answer isn’t an endorsement, but a way to show how you rank the other candidates or their party platforms. I rank the Conservative platform LAST, and I am not suggesting anyone vote for Brown. (Sorry, Patrick).

But since I don’t hate Patrick Brown as much as some Liberal supporters do, they are misrepresenting my answer as an endorsement of Patrick and the Conservatives. It is neither, and the mere fact that they are putting out this spin simply shows their desperation in the last days of the election, as they see themselves falling to third place. If they really want to win, they need to get back to showing us what the Liberals offer, not twisting the words of a Green.

This does illustrate for me, however, why many Canadians will never vote Liberal, even if they want to unseat Harper. Actions like these from Liberal supporters are just as toxic to the political process as anything Harper does. It seems that if they can’t beat him, they join him in his toxic attack politics. And that’s a great disappointment to anyone (like myself) who respects the former glory of the Liberal Party.

In the deepest, darkest days of the Irish "Troubles", the most vicious attacks of the IRA were not on their Protestant enemies, but on other Catholics who didn't hate Protestants enough, and dared to make peace with them. Canadian politics (thankfully) does not share that same violence, but I sense the same attitude, and it disappoints me.

I am still proud to say that, as a Green, I am willing to work with any other party or politician to achieve the common goals of Canadians, even if I disagree with that person or party's stance on most or all other issues. I will not let partisanship get in the way of positive action. If the other parties felt the same way, we would not have had the elections of 2006, 2008, and 2011. I'm trying to set an example for my children, one of cooperation rather than conflict. Sadly, I get attacked for that - but I won't change my course. I still believe cooperation will eventually win out over partisan bickering in my Canada.

p.s. I just had a nice friendly lunch with Liberal candidate Colin Wilson, just he and I (and his volunteer Joan, and my mom). I think Colin's a great guy and have nothing bad to say about him, and he agrees with me that attacking others just for not being negative enough isn't the way forward. I'd be more than happy to work with him in future, if he is elected to be our MP Monday, and he'd be happy to work with me if the situation were reversed. If our supporters could get along as well as we do, Canadian politics would only benefit.

p.p.s. I would also like to mention that in this election, Myrna Clark's NDP supporters in Barrie have been nothing but kind and considerate, just as she always has been herself.

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