There is still a lot of “hurt and confusion” amongst Green party supporters over the NDP’s decision last year to pay for leaflets and radio ads attacking the party, says federal leader Annamie Paul.
This sore spot could hinder efforts by some British Columbians who are urging the BC Greens and the BC NDP to play nice with each other during the provincial election.
The activist group One Time Alliance BC says it wants to boost both Green and NDP seats by cracking down on instances where vote-splitting ends up hurting one or the other party.
The alliance is proposing that Greens and New Democrats do not “vigorously contest the election of their counterpart” in provincial ridings where either party’s candidate is more likely to win if the other does not.
Asked about her thoughts on this Wednesday, Paul, who is running in the Toronto Centre federal byelection scheduled for Oct. 26, said she had previously met with the One Time Alliance and told them that she suspected Green party members were split on the idea of such a partnership.
“In the case of British Columbia, there is still a lot of hurt and confusion about the NDP’s decision to use American-style attack ads and literature during the 2019 (federal) race,” said Paul.
“The Green party is a relatively young party; we have lots and lots of former NDP members, we have lots who are very sympathetic to the NDP, and who have lots of friends in the NDP. So there’s still a lot of hurt and confusion about the decisions they made.”
One leaflet last election said the Green party has “good ideas on the environment” but “shares many Conservative values,” according to a report in HuffPost. The leaflet had a chart comparing Green, Conservative and NDP positions and said the Greens do not oppose cutting services and would not always defend abortion rights.
The Greens put out a blistering press release quoting members accusing the NDP of promoting “lies and misrepresentations” and engaging in “mudslinging” that was “cynical and desperate.”
“Let's be clear: The Green party has always supported family social services, will always support a woman's right to choose, and has proposed an increase in funding for abortion services,” it said.
Paul said she felt the issue was still a “challenge that we would need to overcome” if the Greens were to work hand-in-hand with the NDP.
Greens still feel “hurt and confusion” over NDP attacks last election, says leader @AnnamiePaul, a sore spot that could hinder efforts in B.C. to get the parties to play nice during the provincial election campaign. #cdnpoli
She also pointed to the Green party constitution, which requires the party to field and endorse candidates in every riding.
“It’s always great when Green party members come together, to talk about these things, to think about what direction we want to head in, and this is definitely going to be one of those topics. It’s very clear,” she said. “So I’m looking forward to being part of that conversation.”
The One Time Alliance’s main proposal is for the next federal election and would involve an NDP-Green collaboration in at least 100 ridings across the country, where both parties would refrain from running candidates against each other. The objective is to achieve a critical mass of MPs from both parties, who would then advocate for electoral reform.
The alliance says the Greens and the NDP are cannibalizing each other's support; the two parties had a combined share of 22.4 per cent of the vote in 2019, it said, but were rewarded with only 27 seats, or eight per cent, of the 338 in the House of Commons.
“No one is calling for a merger of the two parties. What we would like to see is maximum voter choice for voters under a proportional representation voting system. However, we can't get there with business as usual,” states the alliance’s website.
Paul said that as someone who is newer to the party than some longtime members, it was clear to her that the Greens and the NDP were not interchangeable. She accused the NDP of holding weak positions in Toronto Centre, a riding she also ran in during the 2019 election. Paul came fourth in that race, with the NDP's Brian Chang coming in second.
“When I was in debate talking about things like a guaranteed livable income, when I was in debate talking about a safe supply and decriminalizing illicit drugs, I was there on my own talking about those things — the NDP was not talking about those things,” she said.
“I believe that the pandemic, I believe the climate emergency, these things are major differences between us and the NDP (and) are becoming clearer and clearer to people in Canada, and we’re not where we were even a year ago,” said Paul.
“When it comes to the next election, I think it’s going to be a very clear choice and differentiation between our two parties.”
Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer