Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Ottawa-Centre: Oh, We Got Greens?

One of my co-workers last week was grumbling about how the Green Party was left out of the upcoming election debates. So it occurred to me to have a look at the Green candidate in Ottawa-Centre.

As it turns out, his name is David Chernushenko, and his website is here. (They seem to be having server problems this morning; it happens.)

Well, he's apparently done a lot more grass-roots work, judging from the events he's hosted and attended. And while he doesn't have a blog, his site is certainly better maintained than, say, Richard Mahoney's. Information is easier to get to and is well organized. And there's a unique feature in that he links to other ridings where the Greens are fielding candidates. That speaks of a coordinated team effort in Ottawa, which is an element not commonly thought about by the other parties.

So does David really have a chance? Certainly. Like the Toronto Maple Leafs have a chance of winning the Stanley Cup, but based on history, the odds are about the same. (Okay, maybe David's chances are better, but not by much.)

The real trouble is that the Greens here in Canada cannot shake their reputation as a party on the fringe. And whenever they try to appeal to the mainstream, they risk losing their core supporters, such as Joan Russow. She really really comes down hard on them in this morning's Ottawa Citizen:
At least until after the 2000 election, the Green Party of Canada was proud to be associated with the long tradition of movements on the left. Now the GPC has abandoned the tradition of the left, by stating that "we are neither left nor right but straight ahead." A deputy leader in 2004 even derided statements of the left as "socialist rhetoric."

Since at least 2004, the GPC developed the notion of a "living platform." This creates the impression that the platform is emerging and evolving through contributors on the Internet, and raises a fundamental question about the nature of policy formation. If a Green party candidate is elected, to what principle, policy or platform would the MP be bound?
Ms. Russow is accusing the Green Party of abandoning its left-originated principles in favour of the pragmatic expediency practiced by the Liberals. That's a pretty low blow for a party on the edge, but it also illustrates the dilemma that keeps the voter from taking the Greens seriously.