Green Party of British Columbia

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Green Party of British Columbia
Leader Adam Olsen (interim)
President Murray Weisenberger
Founded 1983 (1983)
Headquarters 214-895 Fort Street
Victoria, BC
Ideology Green
Colours Green, Blue, Yellow
Seats in Legislature
1 / 85
Website
www.greenparty.bc.ca
Politics of British Columbia
Political parties
Elections

The Green Party of British Columbia is a political party in British Columbia, Canada. It was founded in 1985 and won its first seat in the 2013 provincial election. The party is headquartered in Victoria.

Principles[edit]

  • Grassroots Democracy
  • Sustainability
  • Social Justice
  • Respect for Diversity
  • Ecological Wisdom
  • Non-Violence
  • Gender Equality
  • Decentralization
  • Personal and Global Responsibility
  • Community Based Economy

Founding and early years[edit]

The first Green Party in North America was formed in British Columbia, Canada on February 4, 1983, registering as both a provincial society and a political party shortly before the 1983 provincial election in which it fielded four candidates and received 0.19% of the vote under the leadership of Adriane Carr. In a federal by-election in the riding of Mission—Port Moody the same year, Betty Nickerson was the Green Party of Canada's first federal candidate, but the party's official status was not yet recognized by Elections Canada. She appears in electoral records as an "independent" candidate.

Adriane Carr stepped back from active involvement in the party in 1985, and the party abolished the position of leader. Thereafter, it was represented in the media by three spokespersons. In the 1986 provincial election, the party won 0.23% of the vote and fielded nine candidates. In 1988, in response to a proposal to field only female candidates in the following election, Carr and her husband Paul George returned briefly to active involvement to defeat the proposal. From 1988 to 1992, the party was deeply divided between supporters of Carr and Greenpeace founder Jim Bohlen and its Ecofeminist Caucus. During this period, its internal politics were dominated by a compromise faction led by electoral reform activist Steve Kisby.

However, this period of relative stability ended with the party's failure to make a breakthrough in the 1991 provincial election, despite increasing its province-wide vote share to 0.86% and fielding a slate of 42 candidates.

The Parker years[edit]

In 1993, the party elected a new leader, then-21-year-old Stuart Parker who revitalized the party with youthful new members. He managed to take the party to running close to a full slate in the 1996 election, but was only able to garner only 2% support province-wide, despite receiving the endorsement of prominent environmentalist David Suzuki. Green hopes for a breakthrough in the Kootenay riding of Nelson-Creston with candidate Andy Shadrack yielded a result of only 11%. Parker's first term (1993–96) was characterized by near-continuous touring of rural BC which had, up to that point, negligible or highly intermittent organization outside of the Okanagan and Comox Valleys. This touring paid off in yielding on-going organization throughout the province, enabling the party to come just four candidates short of a full slate.

The direction of the party under Parker was set by many disgruntled ex-New Democratic Party of British Columbia members, and the policies of the party under Parker were notably leftist. During Parker's second term as leader, the party rose to a peak of 11% in public opinion polls between 1996 and 1999, almost exclusively at the NDP's expense. Although he was arrested in logging road blockades in 1993 and 1997, Parker's Greens actually invested more resources in opposing the BC Benefits package of welfare reforms and working on other social issues than it did on any significant environmental issue.

While remaining sharply critical of Glen Clark's NDP government, Parker spearheaded highly controversial negotiations to form municipal electoral alliances with NDP-affiliated parties in 1998 after vote-splitting all but wiped out leftist representation at the local level in Vancouver and Victoria in 1996. These negotiations, approved by Clark, yielded tripartite agreements between local labour councils, Greens and New Democrats in Vancouver and Victoria, leading to Red-Green coalitions contesting the 1999 municipal elections in both cities with the support of organized labour. Neither coalition formed government but both made substantial gains, resulting in the election in Victoria, BC, of Art Vanden Berg, the first person in Canadian history to run as a Green and be elected to City Council. In Vancouver, the coalition effort also elected Parks Commissioner Roslyn Cassells.

The Carr years[edit]

Adriane Carr, Party Founder, Leader (1983-1985, 2000-2006)

The party’s increased poll standing, new position on collaboration with its longtime rivals and impending electoral success attracted the attention of a number of prominent environmentalists, led by Adriane Carr, who began a campaign in 1999 to remove the party’s then leadership. The group conducted a bitter year-long public campaign that included an unsuccessful lawsuit against the party and later-disproven allegations against the party’s leader and board of directors including fraud, vote-rigging and even theft. Although the group was defeated at the party’s 1999 convention, it triumphed in 2000. Shortly thereafter, the party elected Carr as its new leader; since 2001, the party leader has ceased to be subject to annual review votes, the process by which Parker was removed. Following the 2000 convention, all of the party’s elected municipal representatives and some other members resigned.

With the high-profile changes at the top, the party was able to improve on its 9% poll standing at the beginning of 2000 and reached 12% of the popular vote in the May 2001 provincial election. In spite of that significant support, it won no seats in the provincial legislature - a fact which has been cited as an argument against the first-past-the-post system used in BC elections.

Although she had sponsored a series of resolutions at the party's 2000 convention condemning what many saw as the party's distraction with social and governance policy at the expense of work on environmental issues, electoral reform moved to the top of Carr's agenda as leader. Disagreeing with Fair Voting BC's decision to devote the movement's energies to backing the new BC Liberal government's plan to move forward with the Citizens' Assembly process it had developed in 1997, Carr founded a rival electoral reform organization called Free Your Vote to utilize the province's citizen initiative legislation (which technically allows citizens to force referendums on legislation if they gather a sufficient number of signatures).

Despite facing public condemnation from FVBC's Loenen, Free Your Vote recruited hundreds of volunteers for the province-wide effort, building a far larger citizen organization than either ECCO or FVBC. It also gained the support of many leftists, including the official endorsement of the BC Nurses' and other unions. The campaign also faced its share of difficulties, such as leaked internal memos from the party's organizing chair explaining that organizers knew the petition drive would fail, but were simply using it to build the party's organizational base. Although the campaign only submitted enough signatures in four of the province's 79 ridings, Free Your Vote was successful in mobilizing new support for reform. But it also appears to have hardened the party's support for a single model of proportional representation (mixed-member, closed-list) and public condemnation of others.

Following the failure of her preferred Free Your Vote, Carr focused her energy on a lively province-wide campaign opposing the 2010 Winter Olympic Games bid. But once the games were awarded to BC, the party was unable to find province-wide issues that resonated strongly with voters. Between 2003 and 2005, the party's presence was notably low key as Carr returned to the constant touring mode that had characterized Parker's first term.

In the 2005 provincial election, the GPBC's vote declined to 9% province-wide from 12% four years previously. Despite being rated highly for her debate performance by media commentators, Carr's performance was poorly rated by the public and her own vote share declined to 25% in her home constituency of Powell River-Sunshine Coast, 17% behind the victorious NDP candidate. Only in the constituencies of Vancouver-Burrard, West Vancouver-Garibaldi and Kelowna-Mission did the party's popularity increase.

These measures, it seems, were insufficient to quiet increasing internal dissatisfaction with her leadership. Prior to the first annual convention following the reinstitution of the practice requiring that leaders step down and run to succeed themselves each electoral cycle (this, along with annual confidence votes had been repealed in 2001), Carr announced her resignation on September 24, 2006. As predicted by those familiar with Carr's long-standing relationship with the newly elected Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May, Carr accepted the paid position of Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Canada and is a federal candidate in the riding of Vancouver Centre.

Today's Greens[edit]

The Green Party of British Columbia held a leadership election on October 21, 2007, after the resignation of Adriane Carr in September 2006. Christopher Bennett was appointed interim leader until the leadership election was held. Former Vancouver-Hastings candidate Ian Gregson was the first to announce his candidacy.[1]

Jane Sterk, a municipal councilor, university professor and small business owner, was elected leader of the BC Greens at their 2007 Convention at Royal Roads University in Victoria. She assumed the role from Interim Leader Christopher Ian Bennett.

The Greens maintain they receive support from all over the political spectrum. In the federal election of 2004, former Social Credit Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) and media personality Rafe Mair confounded many by openly supporting the Green Party. The Greens have often been labelled as openly right wing at the same time as being labelled openly left wing by opponents.

The Greens' strength is concentrated on Southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, The Okanagan, Sea-to-Sky region and in high density areas of Vancouver. In 1991, the party's strongest showing was 4.4% in Rossland-Trail; in 1996, 11% in Nelson-Creston, in 2001 and 2005, in Adriane Carr's riding of Powell River-Sunshine Coast where she received 27% and 25% respectively, and in 2009 in West Vancouver-Sea-to-Sky with 22%.

The Greens won their first ever seat with Andrew Weaver winning in Oak Bay-Gordon Head in the May 2013 General Election. Despite a slight drop in overall popular vote, the party climbed to 11.15% in the 61 ridings where they ran candidates.

On August 13, 2013, Sterk announced she would retire from politics after the 2013 Annual General Meeting, held on August 24, 2013.[2]

Leaders[edit]

  • Adriane Carr (1983–1985)
  • position abolished by 1985 convention

(Three Speakers were elected instead of one Leader during these years)

Election results[edit]

Election Candidates fielded # of seats won Total votes % of popular vote Place
1983 4 0 3,078 0.19% 7th
1986 9 0 4,660 0.24% 5th
1991 42 0 12,650 0.86% 4th
1996 71 0 31,511 1.99% 5th
2001 72 0 197,231 12.39% 3rd
2005 79 0 161,842 9.17% 3rd
2009 85 0 134,570 8.21% 3rd
2013 61 1 146,607 8.13% 3rd

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]