Strength in Numbers; Why the Greens and New Democrats Need to Merge
By: Fraser Passmore
Canada is said to have a so-called “multi-party” government, giving Canadians a wider range of options and opinions at the voting booth. Despite having a longer ballot of candidates, the Liberals and the Conservatives have always been far ahead of the rest and will continue to do so: especially in a first past the post system. Such power-hungry parties make it near impossible for smaller parties to get ahead or give them the proper representation they deserve.
One of the parties in the discussion is The New Democratic Party which is a social-democratic party that fights for a national pharmacare program, removing student debts, and taxing the wealthy among many others. Having existed for almost 60 years, New Democrats have been able to establish a loyal base across the country, residing mainly in large city centers where the cost of living is high and poorer people cannot get ahead. On the same side of the spectrum, there is the Green Party. A younger party in comparison has similar beliefs to the New Democrats, such as the pharmacare argument and working towards making post-secondary education easy to access. The difference is that the Green Party likes to focus more on the environment for many of their policies, as their name suggests, while also holding back on spending promises a little more than the New Democrats. Although the differences between them are minor, both parties represent working-class Canadians while usually ignoring big corporations and bribes.
The New Democrats and the Green Party collectively make up 27 seats out of 338 in the current Parliament. Given how many working-class Canadians there are across the country and the fact that we currently have a government with some concerning transparency issues, it is surprising that the number is not higher. Before I go into why first past the post sucks, it must be acknowledged that The New Democrats and the Greens are killing each other politically. As of now, they are two opposing parties who are both eager to win as many votes as possible. Yet at the same time, being so similar, it would make more sense to see what can be done to unite these two voters bases into one. Both party platforms would merge nicely into one another. Areas, where The New Democrats lack in the environment, can be filled by more Green promises, and the same goes for the Greens regarding spending promises. It is seeming as though the Greens want a mutual understanding between the two parties. The newly elected Green leader, Annamie Paul, has expressed her disappointment towards the attacks they received from the New Democrats during last year’s campaign. More recently, there was a by-election for the riding of Toronto-Centre, the riding in which Paul ran in 2019. Now that Paul is the leader, there were requests from the Greens that other parties should not run candidates as a courtesy to Paul. None of the parties agreed to this, even though the Greens did not run a candidate in Jagmeet Singh’s riding of Burnaby-South for his by-election in 2017.
Regardless of who is saying what, these two parties are wasting much time fighting each other when they should be coming together to get ahead. Since Canada uses the first past the post electoral system, which does not result in the proper representation across the country, smaller parties need to get larger. In early 2019, MacLean wrote an article about this very topic, a merger between the New Democrats and Greens resulting in a theoretical “Green Democratic Party”. This party would have at the time won about 59 seats out of 338, a large improvement from today’s 27. This is also a result of no vote splitting between the two parties, which is just as damaging as not having a proportional representation electoral system. In the Toronto byelection mentioned earlier, the Liberal candidate won with only 2,000 votes ahead of Annamie Paul. The New Democrat won 4,200. Paul could have won her race if those New Democrat voters went her way and stayed with a Green Democratic Party.
Much of the argument here is purely theoretical. There are questions behind who would lead a merger party, how the platforms could fit into each other, and the list goes on. What needs to be acknowledged is that clearly, the Liberals do not want electoral reform, so parties need to play by their own rules. If the New Democrats and Greens continue to fight each other, they will push more voters away and lose their chances of being able to make the rules themselves and remain a sliver of seats in the Parliament.
• https://www.macleans.ca/politics/ottawa/a-green-ndp-merger-it-could-be-a-big-hit/ • https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/10/08/news/greens-still-feel-hurt-and- confusionover-ndp-attacks-last-election-says-paul
• https://nationalpost.com/news/telling-the-ndp-and-greens-apart-here-are-five-sometimessurprising-ways-the-parties-are-different •https://enr.elections.ca/ElectoralDistricts.aspx?ed=2255&lang=e
*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.
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