Go Green

by | May 14, 2014


June 12 is Election Day in Ontario and people need to examine their priorities before they decide where to put their X.  If one of your priorities is one secular, publicly funded school system for each official language, then vote for the Green candidate in your riding.

Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner is making headlines this week because “Ontario Greens want Catholic, public school boards merged.” Schreiner’s election promise is economically appealing:

Schreiner says his party would save the province more than a $1 billion a year by merging the province’s public and Catholic school boards into one single system.

As Christina Blizzard points out, Schreiner is

willing to boldly go where no man’s gone before.

Or, perhaps more accurately, he’ll go where other politicians fear to tread.

Blizzard goes on to point out Schreiner and the Greens’ additional positive characteristics.  In response to Toronto Mayor Ford’s endorsement, Schreiner said,

“Thanks, but no thanks, The Green party is fighting against sexism and homophobia.”

Blizzard is correct:

[Schreiner] may be Green, but he certainly isn’t dumb.

Consider voting for the Ontario Green Party on June 12.

21 thoughts on “Go Green

  1. Randy

    I’ve voted Green in the last several federal and provincial elections. (If there had been a Pirate Party candidate in my riding, they would have received my vote instead). I don’t always agree with my candidate on everything, and it hasn’t made a bit of difference to the outcome, but I never felt afterward like I needed a shower. Small opposition parties without government experience have the luxury of standing for clear principles, and haven’t yet “learned” that change isn’t possible, so they might just do it.

    I simply don’t see any redeeming values in the big three parties. I used to vote NDP, but as Layton steered the federal party to the right (as Trudeau is doing to the federal Liberals) they made clear they weren’t the place for me. Provincially, I find it appalling that the three party leaders are seriously the people put forward by their parties to lead Canada’s most populated province. It’s an insult.

    I’m not committed to the old NDP ideas. But this country needs radical change, larger than simple band-aid reforms, to truly treat citizens equally, to step back and allow everyone their freedom, to grow into a mature country on our own two feet, and to secure our descendents’ long-term futures in an endangered world. You can tell that Harper wants big change, with his futile efforts to incrementally change the Senate. He’s not the only one.

  2. Joe

    I may vote green, but only because I’m in a locked in NDP riding… so no matter what I do, it will be a protest vote.

    1. Danny Handelman

      The more competitive each electoral district is, the higher the probability that the MPP will be in favour of proportional representation, as it increases the probability of being re-elected in competitive electoral districts.

      1. Joe

        Proportional creates its own problems. I have no issue with FPtP, I just have no illusions about it.

        1. Danny Handelman

          From the economic and environmental perspectives, proportional representation is better, as it eliminates the need for by-elections (the average cost of an Ontario provincial by-election is $3 million). From the social perspective, electoral inequality is lower, as it will lower the probability of a party having all of the power without the majority of the votes cast.

          1. Joe

            Proportional also leads to things like after the fact coalition governments, which often don’t represent what people actually voted for. They also tend to mean that more crazy fringe candidates get elected, and that geographical representation gets very skewed. Cities for instance, get huge representation, while more remote areas get nothing.

            Also, getting everyone to agree on the formula for proportional representation would require the kind of agreement that just does not happen in Canadian politics.

            As soon as you start talking about changing the system, the natives, feminists etc… all want their quotas and if you mean federal, then you have to deal with the provinces.

            So… not going to happen.

          2. Danny Handelman

            Under first-past-the-post voting, coalitions within or between political parties also occur. “Crazy fringe candidates” are in the eye of the beholder. Atheists would benefit if cities were more accurately represented, as population density and religiosity are inversely correlated. I prefer party-list proportional representation, as it is the most fiscally conservative (no need to establish electoral boundary commissions) and each regional vote cast has different weights between electoral boundary redistribution if there are electoral boundaries.

          3. Joe

            In canada, coalitions CAN occur, but they generally do not. The electorate doesn’t like them.

            And it doesn’t really matter what you prefer… you’d have to convince way too many special interest groups, who as I ‘mentioned, have no interest in what you consider fair representation.

            Meech/Charlottetown are good historical examples of why this sort of change simply will not happen.

        2. Peter E.

          The FPtP system,(with the help of electoral fraud),has created tyranny by minority in Ottawa. In a true constitutional democracy, majority always rules while protecting the minority. What we have instead is the complete opposite with just 24% of eligible voters deciding the direction of our country.

          Funny how the despotic Harper railed against FPtP when he was in Opposition yet you won’t find a mention of it in his Orwellian named Bill C-23, the “Fair Elections Act”. Tyranny indeed.

          1. Indi

            This discussion of FPTP has great timing. I spent the last two weeks collecting and calculating data about the disproportionality in our allegedly representative government. Part of the results are being published here tomorrow morning in an article about why we (atheists, freethinkers, secularists, etc.) need to take electoral reform more seriously.

            In the article I deliberately refrain from suggesting any specific alternative, or from endorsing any particular party (though I did name some of those who were all for doing something about our broken electoral system right up until the moment it started working for them). However, I believe that the Greens are the only party in Ontario who a) support electoral reform, and b) have not pretended to support it then turned around and done nothing when they got into power (for obvious reasons). Of course, because they prefer free voting, you’d have to ask each particular Green candidate how they would vote on the topic if it comes up. I don’t know if they have any particularly coherent plan to actually do anything about electoral reform, though.

            The above also applies to the federal Greens.

          2. Indi

            In canada, coalitions CAN occur, but they generally do not. The electorate doesn’t like them.

            Nonsense. Our current federal government is not just a coalition, it’s an OBVIOUS coalition. Obvious for two reasons.

            First because prior to 2004, it was two parties – two partes who were in opposition on multiple points, and who had failed to come to agreements several times before. What do you think happened when the right united? Do you really believe that the two parties really had the EXACT same platform and principles before the merger? Nonsense. When they merged, they literally formed a closed-door coalition. Supporters of one party but not the other were basically told “accept the coaltion, or bugger off”, and had no power at the polls to say they wanted one half of the union and not the other.

            The second reason the coalition is painfully obvious is that we’ve SEEN it pop up in the Commons. We’ve SEEN the backbench MPs stand up and argue they were being silenced for the sake of maintaining a unified party front. The Conservative Party is actually a coalition of factions who lean economically right, factions who lean socially right, and numerous wingnut groups like anti-abortionists and gay marriage opponents. We’ve seen these factions rear their heads in Parilament; we know they exist.

            So what you’re saying is obvious nonsense. Coalitions do exist in Canadian politics, and – as the Conservatives realized – they are the only way to get elected (in 2000 the Alliance and Reform collectively got 4.8 million votes and 78 seats… in 2004 the CPC got 4 million votes and 99 seats – is this what you think democracy should look like?). The problem is that under our current system, the coalitions are formed behind closed doors, out of sight of the voting public, rather than out in the open. Right-wing voters don’t have a way to say they want to support economically right-wing policies but not socially right-wing ones. Under a proportional system there would be no need for the right to unite to form a watered-down party (in fact, they would have had more power before they did, because they wouldn’t have driven away the people who wanted some aspect of their backroom coalition but not others).

            And it doesn’t really matter what you prefer… you’d have to convince way too many special interest groups, who as I ‘mentioned, have no interest in what you consider fair representation.

            Meech/Charlottetown are good historical examples of why this sort of change simply will not happen.

            More nonsense, because electoral reform does not require a constitutional amendment. Any majority government could have made the changes at any point. Poilievre is, ironically, demonstrating how it could be done. Unfortunately, the “reforms” HE is proposing go the other way, and make Canada less democratic, not more.

  3. dusttodust

    This is off-topic as you’re probably talking about the Ontario Greens for the Ontario election but…

    I read through all the web offerings of each major party in the last federal election.
    ReformaCons…way too much religion…as expected.
    Green…acceptance and support of homeopathy.

    I was left with choosing from the other 2. I could find nothing to particularly object to in their offerings.

    I would probably never vote conservative anyway. Really not this current iteration.
    I wonder that Green would be a conservative-ish alternative.

    1. Danny Handelman

      The provincial and federal green parties have policies of not whipping votes. So, you would have to ask your particular candidate what their position is regarding a particular position.

      To my knowledge, with the possible exception of the libertarian parties and the Green Party of Ontario (in the context of the public funding of Catholic schools), each party does not mention the intention to reduce the religious subsidies (exempt from corporate income, property and parsonage taxes, tax deductibility of contributions, preferential sales and capital gains tax treatment, taxpayer-funded chaplains), which implicitly suggests that each party is in favour of religious subsidies.

      The negative health effects as a result of government preferring to tax productive activity (sales, income, buildings) rather than unproductive activity (land speculation, financial speculation, pollution) far exceeds the adverse health effects of homeopathy, which does have a placebo effect.

    2. Theo Bromine

      The federal Greens publicly state their support for homeopathy, chiropractic, and other “alternative” medicine. Also Elizabeth May complained about Steven Harper not being at the Canadian Parliamentary Prayer breakfast (http://elizabethmaymp.ca/news/blogs/2014/02/22/places-you-will-never-find-stephen-harper/), and she attended the US prayer breakfast (http://o.canada.com/news/elizabeth-may-joins-obama-prayer-breakfast-talks-climate-change). On the other hand, I have so far been unable to find any indication that the GPO support alt-med (and I have looked).

      1. Danny Handelman

        The electoral district Elizabeth May represents has a relatively high number of atheists (I believe the wikipedia entry at one time stated that the 2011 census indicated that 33% of the residents are atheists). The adjacent electoral district of Victoria had more atheists than Protestants according to the 2001 census, and in the most recent election held there (2012), the Green Party candidate received 34% of the popular vote. The other Green Party of Canada MP is a Unitarian Universalist.

        1. Theo Bromine

          When selecting politicians, I think that it is more important for a candidate to be a secularist than an atheist. In this case, by “secularism” I mean the principle that no religion, religious belief, or practice should be accorded preferential treatment on the basis of being based on “tradition” or on a “strongly-held belief”. There are atheists who do think that religion should have special treatment (many Unitarian Universalists take that position).

          The Canadian Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast is a gathering “in the spirit of Jesus Christ”. The MPs who volunteer as organizers for it are able to use public funds to pay for their staff to do the work, and use parliamentary franking privileges to send mailouts for free. (The US Prayer Breakfast is rather worse in some respects – it is organized by the “Fellowship Foundation”, an international organization which was a key player in the design of Uganda’s anti-homosexual policies.) So seeing May support both of these events clearly demonstrates her lack of commitment to secularism.

  4. itj786uij768k8o9dyghdjmn

    The problem is that the Green Party is representative of not only some people with some very good ideas, but some people with fundamentally idiotic ideas.

    Getting rid of the Catholic School Board’s funding so that religious favour isn’t supported would be great, but let’s not forget that the Green Party’s also had its fair share of icky issues like posting about wanting to support things like alternative medicine and homeopathy on their main homepage. It’s since been removed from policy line when Elizabeth May got wind of it via backlash, but the Green Party represents a lot of other new-age bullshit like the whole “organic” food fad that basically exists to health scare over crop science advances. Mike Schreiner himself has ties to the organic craze, having co-founded an organic distribution company (WOW Foods).

    I’d like to vote Green because a lot of their ideas I am in favour of, but I’m scared of what would happen if they did manage to get to power and a lot of their unscientific new-age supporters managed to start pushing for things that I’d actually have to protest against. I’m much less scared of the Liberal party pulling something like this because the Liberals, while socially conservative, tend to be fiscally and legally rather centrist, and I’m less apt to see them fucking up healthcare by paying for homeopathy suddenly or something…

    1. Danny Handelman

      I would contend that the public funding of Catholic schools increases the probability of supporting pseudo-science or anti-science policies. The Green Party of Canada is more likely to support pseudo-science or anti-science than the provincial counterpart due to the federal legislature being more rural and religious than the provincial counterpart. As mentioned earlier, green parties tend to have policies of not whipping votes, so one would have to ask one’s particular candidate what their position is regarding the relevant issues. There is science indicating that there is a placebo effect associated with homeopathy.

  5. Sand

    I am a public school teacher and a pastor’s wife of a somewhat conservative denomination. I strongly SUPPORT merging the school boards. It is a family’s responsibility to share their values with their children. I recognize there are historical reasons for having a catholic system; however, our society has changed where this is no longer valid.

    Having only 2 systems would mean:
    -less redundancy in the systems–therefore, savings
    -children going to a school closer by, so, not as much time taken away in their day, less bus emissions, and a stronger sense of local community, as more children will know each other from school

    I don’t think it’s the governments or taxpayers’ responsibility to perpetuate the catholic church–it’s the church’s members.


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