According to the world’s best scientists, we have less than a decade to tackle the climate emergency. Yet, despite lofty promises from Justin Trudeau, Canada’s emissions continue to rise. So, why is the Green Party — our supposed “party of climate action”— building its election strategy around “stealing votes that went to Jagmeet Singh’s New Democratic Party in the 2019 general election”?

By pinning its electoral hopes and dreams on flipping orange ridings, the Green Party all but guarantees Canada will fail to address the climate emergency. But if the NDP and Greens were to work together, putting the bold climate ambition that Canadians want — and the world needs — above partisanship, we could meet this crisis at the speed and scale required.

The two parties don’t agree on everything, but when we’re facing an existential threat like climate change, partisan divides must be overcome in service of preserving a livable planet.

Neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives have a credible plan to address climate change. Trudeau talks a big game but, time and again, fails to deliver at the scale we need. His recently announced climate plan replaces Stephen Harper’s 30 per cent by 2030 target with a plan to reduce emissions 32 per cent by 2030.

We can’t afford four more years of delay or denial. That’s why the NDP and Greens have a moral and strategic imperative to work together in the next election.
The NDP and Greens agree on far more than they disagree. Both parties oppose some of the biggest new fossil fuel projects. They both think we need stronger climate targets, and that we’re behind on creating green jobs. Their combined platforms from 2019 provide a compelling plan to reduce inequality while tackling the climate emergency.

But it’s not just that they can find common ground on policy. If they work together, they could win more seats and shift the balance of power in Parliament.

Doing the math on Elections Canada’s 2019 results, Liberals won by less than the combined NDP and Green vote share in six ridings — Burnaby North-Seymour, Halifax, Kitchener Centre, Kenora, Windsor-Tecumseh and Toronto’s Davenport. In another 14 ridings, the NDP and Green vote share came close to the Liberal vote. The numbers were similar in 2015. And that doesn’t account for the way strategic voting to stop Conservatives hurts both parties. In 2019, 45 per cent of Liberal voters considered voting NDP and 29 per cent considered voting Green. Most Canadians don’t identify strongly with any party, and climate voters would be better able to vote their conscience if presented with a plan to win.

Take Burnaby North-Seymour, where the Trans Mountain pipeline ends. In 2019, incumbent Liberal MP Terry Beech beat the NDP candidate by 1,585 votes. The Green candidate won 4,801 votes. Even assuming that some Green voters wouldn’t switch their vote to the NDP, a margin of this size in a riding where the pipeline and climate action were key issues would have likely meant that enough Green votes could have gone to the NDP to swing the riding. Even more so if that was based on a clear NDP-Green alliance to tackle those issues.

Green Leader Annamie Paul has announced she plans to run in Toronto Centre, a Liberal stronghold where her best chance would be the NDP standing down. When Paul ran in a 2020 byelection, she lost the race by 2,331 votes. The NDP candidate won 4,280 votes. The NDP could offer to stand down in Toronto Centre in exchange for the Greens standing down in Burnaby North-Seymour.

Why is the Green Party — our supposed “party of climate action”— building its election strategy around "stealing votes" that went to the NDP in the 2019 general election? asks @amarapossian #climatechange #cdnpoli

And that’s just one pair of ridings. If the NDP and Greens worked together under a climate emergency accord, they could both increase their seat counts. Combined with the Bloc Québécois — which remains strong in Quebec and has a stronger position on climate than the Liberals — they could swing the balance of power in Parliament in favour of a more ambitious climate agenda.

This has worked before. In 2019, Michael Kalmanovitch, the Green Party candidate in Edmonton Strathcona, realized he couldn’t win and that his votes might be the difference between an NDP and a Conservative victory. He dropped out of the race and threw his support behind Heather McPherson, who won the seat.

The simple truth is we have a very short window to tackle the climate emergency. We need political leadership, and the Liberals and Conservatives have proven they aren’t up for the job. Our best chance to preserve a livable planet is for the NDP and Greens to do something unthinkable: Put the common good ahead of their partisan ambitions.

Editor's note: In identifying the author, we should have made it clear that Amara Possian also ran as an Ontario NDP candidate in the 2018 Provincial Election.

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One of the problems or challenges facing such a strategy is evident here in BC where the NDP have enabled the continuing construction of the Site C dam. This is an unpopular decision with many NDP supporters but the suggestion to just switch votes to the Greens will permit the election of the Liberal to sneak up the middle. The previous agreement between NDP and Green parties, the ‘Confidence and Supply’ agreement, provided a model that worked, but would require the addition of a ‘No Compete’ clause prior to the election.

This has been tried before but the NDP were uncooperative. The Greens stood down for Singh to be elected but the NDP would not reciprocate for Paul in the bi-election. Horgan's election call in BC broke that condition of the Confidence and Supply agreement, again showing non cooperation.

Yes, the BC NDP showed themselves to be untrustworthy and power hungry. They are the big union flip side of the coin to the BC Liberals big corporate side. It's not just the deceit in trashing the cooperation agreement, but site C and the continual destruction of the remaining old growth forests as well as adding non-forest land into their protected land to inflate what's actually going on. For a short period of time in BC their was 3 party cooperation on a variety of issues and they wrecked that when the polls showed they'd win a majority.

The One Time Alliance (onetimealliance.ca) has been campaigning for the NDP and the Greens to work together much as Ms. Possian is advocating. It's great to hear an independent voice calling for the same thing. The two parties have a lot to gain by working together, but our electoral system works to create distrust and hostility between parties that have the most in common, because they are competing for the same votes. The Greens blame the NDP for lack of interest in collaboration, yet have implemented a constitutional clause to run a candidate in every riding that severely handicaps negotiations on collaboration at the riding level. It's time both party leaders to put People over Party and show some leadership on this file.

What a ridiculous premise.
Greens have three seats, one was Conservative, one Liberal and one NDP. Why would we target the seats of the party that has the fewest to choose from?
Greens are targeting the largest voting block in Canada, the ones who have completely lost faith in our inadequate democracy, non-voters. We also target bad policies, if parties will not stand up for better democracy through proportional representation or the elimination of poverty through guaranteed livable income we are going to address that during campaigns. We do not support the continued logging of old growth forests, fracking or new pipelines and we're going to address those issues during campaigns and every day in our daily activities.
Climate, housing, racism, poverty, student debt, reconciliation, democracy these are Green issues.

It may be a ridiculous premise, but it seems to be what your party is planning to do. So by your analysis, your party is currently planning a ridiculous strategy.

It's not our plan or intention and it never was.
In the Maritimes we never even mention that other party.

Exactly. Green seem to be here so other parties can eventually steal their policies. While Canadians are largely unable to follow the Greens to the ballot box because of the lack of proportional representation and having to vote to ward off Conservatives coming up the middle - leaving all left of centre voters - the majority in Canada, on the sidelines. We have a stupid system.

"Green seem to be here so other parties can eventually steal their policies."

And your problem with that is...?

The people of this country would not have had health and safety laws, minimum wage, paid vacations, unemployment insurance, or Medicare when we did, and perhaps would be waiting for them still, if other parties had not stolen those ideas from the NDP. Was that wrong?

Greens should *thank* the other parties whenever they steal Green policies, even if we judge them lacking by our own standards of ideological purity.

Huff and snort all you want for the cameras about policy and principle until your batteries are completely drained, it won't work. The cold, hard math of first-past-the-post will stomp your vote-splitting ass every time. We will never, ever get proportionality (or any other fine Green principle or policy) as long as Greens act out like kindergarten kids with petty grudges, even as the Arctic melts and the forests burn.

Math trumps principle. Period.

The federal Greens need to give us credible candidates in every riding they run in. If not, then don't run any candidates. In 2019 they ran a paper candidate in Vancouver Granville whose day job was as a West Side real estate agent in one of the world's most unaffordable housing markets. It gets worse. Elizabeth May not only confirmed this was so to the media, but explained that the Green Party workers in the riding were actually working over at Jody Wilson Raybould's riding headquarters. Jody won as an independent, but many wise pundits chalked that up to sympathy over SNC Lavelin and her shoddy treatment by Trudeau. Jody decided against running as a Green, which was profoundly unfortunate. But the party should never have put up a cardboard candidate as an alternative. The entire affair was a knock against the character of both the non-compete Green candidate and Jody, and nauseated voters like me who saw yet another needless vote split amongst progressives by dint of a lack of credibility or maturity in Green tactics.

I will NOT vote Green as long as they subject their would-be supporters to stupid political strategizing BS that ignores the electoral math, or prop up sacrificial candidates. Real adults would tone down their ego and drop their petty differences and work together with other progressive parties to build a better world. That is the only legitimate starting point before beginning any conversation about policy and principle on any topic, including the overwhelming need to address climate change ASAP.

Green Party, grow up!

thank you.
also, with the national NDP continually they are bought and paid for by the CPC, this would help speed a slide into a CON minority govt at very least

Good to see someone with same view as me. I note that the first comment out of Paul's mouth when she became party leader was that the greens were THE ONLY PARTY WHO CARED ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT. she lost me then and there, even though I voted green back in the mid 90's . Quite the careerist methinks.

it is simply a fact that ndp has been passing legislation and regulation to protect environment whenever in power for decades. ( Horgan is a BC ndp. therefore closer to an Ontario Liberal )

COOPERATE ON WHAT YOU AGREE ON, OR IS IT REALLY ABOUT YOU? and your personal career?

Yes......we definitely should work together.......and even better, learn from each other which policies are best suited to addressing the climate crisis. But there are problems on both sides......the Green history of being essentially a right of centre party with climate on the agenda, the NDP history of ignoring climate issues when jobs or mega projects are at stake.

Site C is an open wound, declaring to all of us who fear for the future of the planet, that mega projects blind many social democrats to the real threat we are facing....but I think both parties have a lot of work to do to figure out what a green sustainable future actually looks like.

We've spent so much time and energy fighting pipelines, austerity solutions from the right, and the needs of a fantasy growth economy, that I don't think we yet know exactly where we want to go......or how to get there. Everyone asks 'how are you going to pay for this or that good policy?"....but we're still mathematical failures when it comes to understanding how we're paying for Site C, debt ridden fracking, or mountain top removal. If these ventures were truly profitable, they woulden't need government subsidies.........but do either the Greens or the NDP ever suggest we end all those subsidies and start putting that money into restorative jobs???

I've yet to hear even the ghost of that good idea from any of them....and if we continue putting our tax dollars into boondoggles like the Jumbo Mine, Site C or Coastal Gas Link..........does it really matter what our 'aspirations' are? Or which new leader spouts them?

If you think the Greens have been right of centre, you have never looked at their policies. Somewhat left of the NDP I would say. And that is one big reason the NDP has always failed to cooperate in any way with the Greens.

In the longer term, one thing this country really needs is proportional representation. This kind of discussion is basically all about trying to get around the glaring problems with our electoral system.

But we don't currently have proportional representation, and it doesn't seem like it's coming any time soon, so this kind of discussion is needed. Unfortunately, this is not IMO a recent strategy on the part of the Greens. I can see in the comments a lot of bad blood and grievances on both sides getting in the way--The Greens did this, no the NDP did that--but in the end, I think it traces to a long term approach by the Greens, which has generally targeted the NDP while often ignoring or co-operating with the Liberals. The Liberals have been happy to help in small ways, because if there's one thing that pleases them it's the vote split that the existence of the Greens (under our perverse electoral system) creates. If the Greens didn't exist in Canada, some Liberal would have had to invent them.

Which is not a comment on the inherent merit of the Greens. And in terms of their basic politics, it's actually good to see the Greens under Paul taking an approach that recognizes Green doesn't work without a left component. But the result is we have two quite similar parties competing for the same votes, which would be fairly zero-sum in a proportional system, maybe even a net positive . . . but under first-past-the-post it's a negative-sum game and it sure would be good if we could mitigate that some.

I agree in part with Rufus Polson. My thoughts are that the federal Greens would be better to work with the Federal Liberals to secure gurantees that the Green policies would be implemented if they support the Liberals where seats could be marginal. Until, and if ever, we get proportional representation, right now the Liberals are hungry, and the climate needs immediate action. Put aside career aspirations, and work for the climate. Such an agreement would be more likely to get my support than a Green - NDP agreement . Nevertheless, it is the climate that matters immediately, not egos.

Well said.
Right now we have two left-wing (ie. progressive) parties, one middle-right party and then the right-wing standard bearer (ie. Conservative party). As such, the Conservatives have an easy time of getting seats, as their single vote is the equivalent of three votes for the other three parties. The Liberals were is a somewhat similar position when conservative votes were split between the Conservative and the Reform parties.
A PR system will correct that imbalance much to the displeasure of the Liberals and Conservatives. After promising to eliminate the atrocious and outdated First-Past0the -Post system, Trudeau swallowed his lie, abandoned any attempt to introduce a PR system and succeeded in winning a minority victory.
Singh is in a strong position now to force Trudeau to legislate a PR voting system while he holds the balance of power. But Trudeau is hell bent on an election this summer (after the COVID pandemic has been controlled) and will happily march into battle under the FPTP system. So much for progress.

The Greens have tried for 30 years to get the NDP to agree not to run candidates in strong Green ridings and vice versa. The NDP has never agreed. End of THAT story.
Secondly with the BC and Alberta NDP not at all on side of green targets, the Greens see only bad things in any kind of partnership.

The Greens stood down for Jagmeet to get elected. No such favour was returned. It is not the Greens preventing cooperation.

Holding grudges and being petty is not going to win the Greens more seats, nor is it going to save the world. The Greens need to be the grown-ups, put aside whatever anger they have for what they think the NDP did or did not do, and act in the best interests of the country and the planet.

Sorry, not buying that. Green parties here came into existence over The War in the Woods. The union-backed NDP was the problem and still is. Most of our ills come from the inability to move away from the kinds of resource extraction that cause us multiple problems from climate change, to diversity loss and water and air pollution. Mostly union jobs there and maybe now you see why the NDP cannot carry the banner. The Greens can and will.

The author of this opinion piece is putting all her eggs in a basket created by a sore loser, Jonathan Dickey, who has been roundly criticized for his lack of foresight and planning during the most recent election, and is, by the way, no longer a spokesperson for the party by any stretch. NDP climate activists within the party are wising-up about their party of choice, while others are continuing their knee-jerk support for a party that is much less climate-friendly than its their leaders would have voters believe. Maybe those who are Conservative, Liberal, or NDP will finally realize that if they care about the environment they need to make a different choice when then vote.

I agree with Dr. Possian. Indeed, I've been making the same argument for years. The resistance to making an electoral accord, I think, has come more from the NDP than from the Greens. However, with NDP provincial governments having such disappointing performances on the climate emergency, I think positions among Greens may be hardening. Nevertheless, an electoral accord must happen. The French Greens made an accord like this with the Socialist Party in 1997, and won 7 or 9 seats in the Assemblee Nationale as a result, along with a cabinet position in the Gauche Plurielle government. The Socialist-dominated government was, unfortunately, a disappointment on the nuclear file, which turned a lot of Greens off future alliances. Still, I don't see that the alternatives to an accord are likely to produce better results--certainly not in the Canadian case.

While I share the frustration with the slowness and low ambition of the federal Liberals' climate plan, I have to disagree with the claim that the NDP or Greens have a compelling and especially *credible* plan to tackle climate change. During the 2019 federal election campaign, Katherine Hayhoe and Andrew Leach graded the 4 main parties' climate plans. While the NDP and Greens received higher grades for ambition, the Liberals' plan was assigned a B for ambition but also an A- for credibility; the NDP's plan got D and the Greens' plan C-. The Conservatives' plan failed badly on both counts.

So I hope the Greens and the NDP can come up with more credible plans to meet the much needed higher ambition.

Reference re grading: https://www.chatelaine.com/living/politics/2019-federal-election-climate/

Anyone who gave any climate plan by the Liberals an A- for credibility is either a Liberal, bribed, or amazingly naive. As such, there's no point in citing whatever the heck they said.

I don't think Katherine Hayhoe or Andrew Leach fall into those categories.

I am very pleased to see that this article is sparking so much passionate discussion! I take that as an encouraging sign; that it is necessary, important and timely.

First though, the article is about federal politics, so I'd like to ask that people don't conflate provincial and federal parties. The BC Greens have had many fallings-out with the federal party, especially in the early years; the provincial NDP and Liberals in BC, Alberta and other provinces have had plenty of disagreements with their respective federal parties, and this will doubtless continue. Each province has its own poltical and historical baggage to carry.

Within the federal Green Party, the debate is as old as the party itself (1983; Hi Bill!). And if I had known back then that we would still be having the same debate today - basically, Realos vs. Fundis - I think I would have thrown up my hands in disgust and walked away. (As indeed many others have done, then and since.) But since I didn't walk away - at least not permanently - here's my $0.02, as a former candidate for *both* the federal Greens and the federal NDP:

As long as we don't have a proportional electoral system at the federal level, IMO Greens need to seek out allies wherever we can find them, at least on a limited-term expedient basis. Naturally, the ideological purists on both sides will vent their righteous indignation, but ecology trumps ideology. And the need for electoral reform is itself an area of consistent agreement between New Democrats and Greens.

I can appreciate the argument that union dependence on resource extraction can stand in the way of progress on climate change; but there is nothing to be gained from demonising unions and by implication their membership, and it is certainly no way for Greens to ever get elected in sufficient numbers to shift the momentum of climate change in anything like the required timeframe.

Instead, since climate change is the most pressing priority, then we need to seek out and build alliances across party lines. And we do not have the luxury of time to wait for all the other parties to become Green enough to meet our standards in every way!

The anti-union stance also ignores or denigrates the efforts of organizations such as Green Jobs Oshawa, which has support from grassroots labour (not necessarily their leadership); many environmentalists, and the broader community. We should be supporting such initiatives, instead of turning our backs.

A Green New Deal and a Green transition simply cannot happen if their proponents are innately hostile to organized labour.

And Greens holding ourselves up as "the only environmentalist party" is not only sanctimonious and untrue; it also confirms long-held public perceptions of us as a single-issue party, drives more potential votes away, and prevents us from being taken seriously when we talk of other things.

... Well, that's a bit more than $0.02 from me already. I may have more to say later, but in the meantime I will continue to enjoy the comments here!

Well said.