Newly-elected Green candidate ready to step down in favour of Liberal

Gary Adams, who won the Green Party nomination in Kelowna-Lake Country, wants Greens to support the Liberal candidate.

Now that Gary Adams has been nominated as the Green Party candidate in the Kelowna-Lake Country federal riding, he’s ready to step down.

That’s because Adams simply ran in order to step aside and let local Liberal Party candidate Stephen Fuhr represent Greens, as well as his own party, when the federal election rolls around in October.

The “co-operation” deal – both sides insist it is not co-nomination – was approved by Lake-Country Green Party members at the local riding association’s nomination meeting Thursday night in Kelowna by their support for Adams.

“Our common goals on climate change, restoring our democracy, and diversifying our economy have been dramatically undermined in the last ten years under (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper, said Adams, adding he feels a broad coalition of voters, would be willing to support Fuhr in order to unseat Kelonwa-Lake Country) Conservative incumbent MP Ron Cannan.

Adams won the nomination with 58 per cent of the vote. His only challenger, Alan Monk, took 42 per cent of the vote. A third candidate Gary Blidook, withdrew before the vote and threw his support behind Monk.

The Green Party members who voted at the nomination meeting knew heading into the vote what casting their ballot for for Adams meant as he had made it clear that if he won, he would step down and no Green Party candidate would contest the election in Kelowna-Lake Country. While not specifically endorsing the plan, Green Party leader Elizabeth May had said she would leave the decision as to who represents local Greens in the upcoming federal election up to the riding association’s membership.

Fuhr, a retired Canadian Armed Forces fighter pilot, welcomed the vote result and its meaning, saying the cooperation “partnership” has the blessing of his party’s leadership.

But he made it clear prior to the nomination meeting that while he and his party share many of the Green Party’s views on issues like democratic reform, a transition to a more energy efficient and low-carbon emissions economy and a return to governing with “evidence-based” policy, the Liberal election platform and Green Party platform are not identical. And, as such, while he will consult with local Greens if elected, during the election campaign and following it should he be elected, he will not be the Green Party’s candidate or a Green MP.

The man behind the bid to have Fuhr represent the Greens in the race with Cannan and local NDP candidate Norah Bowman, UBCO professor Dan Ryder, has described the cooperation deal with Fuhr as a “a partnership, but not an equal partnership.”

Ryder has said he hoped the cooperation plan here would be looked at closely in other Canadian federal ridings as a way to try to unseat or defeat Conservative incumbents and candidates.

“It’s Green Party policy to cooperate with other parties, but implementing that is easier said than done,” said Ryder. “But our efforts here show that it is possible.”

Originally, Ryder had proposed co-nomination but that was rejected because Green Party membership rules did not allow it.

If Fuhr is elected, he will face what the Liberals call a “low-whipping” system of requiring its MPs to vote a certain way. They will only be required to vote with the party on issues concerning confidence motions, Charter rights and election platform promises. All other vote would be “free” votes for future Liberal MPs.

Because of that, the cooperation deal would see Fuhr consult with both the local Liberal and Green Party riding associations as he prepared to make up his mind as to how he would vote on issues.

He has already publicly stated he would support proportional representation for voting in future federal elections and higher environmental standards than the Liberals are recurrently proposing, both key Green Party objectives.

While the deal with the Greens is expected to bring Fuhr more support, he has said he realizes he will need the support of voters who, in the past, have not voted Liberal of Green in order to defeat Cannan because of the level of support the Conservative incumbent has enjoyed in the past.