Letter: Amping up the power of the opposition

The (Green Party, Liberal Party) “contract” is a written agreement containing promises and having absolutely no legal weight.

A recent Capital News story discusses an attempt by local members of the Green Party and the Liberals to cooperate electorally to combine their vote shares and improve their chance of defeating the Conservative incumbent Ron Cannan (Kelowna-Lake Country Greens looking to a Liberal to represent them, July 7).

Unfortunately, the riding projections from threehundredeight.com that were quoted by the story’s author include polling data only up to June 9.  Two releases of statistics have since followed, the last putting Cannan’s vote share at 38.3 per cent.

That’s a full 19 points below the percentage of support he enjoyed in 2011.

Meanwhile, the NDP, sitting at 26.6, have gained 6 points since the release of statistics the Capital News used, overtaking the Liberals who are at 21.6 and falling.  The Greens, at 11.7, have also fallen slightly since the last release.

If, under a plan to co-nominate a single candidate, the Greens and Liberals were to combine today’s projected vote shares, they would have 33.3 per cent, which may put such a candidate within striking distance of the incumbent.

However, since a meeting on July 3, the small group of Greens agitating for pre-electoral cooperation have dropped the idea of co-nominating with the Liberals.  Now they’re promoting what they call “contractual endorsement” of the Liberal Party.

With this proposal, they aim to persuade a majority of Green members to nominate a Green candidate as usual.  What is unusual is that the candidate would tactically withdraw from the race and endorse the Liberals sometime after the two parties sign a contract laying out terms for the Liberals to represent the Greens on the campaign trail and in parliament.

The “contract” is a written agreement containing promises and having absolutely no legal weight.  Furthermore, the ability of Liberals to represent the Greens in parliament would be limited by the Liberal policy on vote-whipping.

If the Greens put on their tactical hat, they might realize that any contract with the Liberals would be unenforceable and would likely strike no policy agreements that they would not instantly have, without need of any contract, if they simply aligned with the significantly more progressive NDP.

Several important historical circumstances illustrate this.  Both the Greens and the NDP were opposed to C-51 and vow to repeal it, both opposed the Nexen-CNOOC deal and foreign ownership of natural resources by Chinese state-owned enterprises, both opposed the Canada-China investment FIPA.  The Liberals supported all these.

Moreover, it’s the NDP who are leading federally and are projected to win a minority government.  Again, it makes good tactical sense to endorse the NDP rather than the Liberals.

If the Greens did so in Kelowna-Lake Country, their combined projected vote share would be 38.3 today—instantly a dead heat with Cannan.

While there’s no saying how long these numbers might hold, whether they might increase to further threaten Cannan, or what the Greens might eventually decide to do, if all the stars align and they play their cards right, they could help engineer an end to the Harper government and the beginning of a new government promising electoral reform and fair representation for all.

 

Dianne Varga, Kelowna