Canadian Politics from Canada's Centre

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Response to Decision Canada's Green Party Review

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I read the Green Party policy review we published at Decision Canada with great interest, but with a considerable amount of disagreement too. Since a comment would not be seen by most of the readership, I thought it would be appropriate to turn this response into a full-fledged post.
Generally, my criticism of the review is that it isn't so much an informative review as an argumentative critique. The difference is that a review would point out the good things too, and offer the background to each subject broached. I understand that that would have made the post much longer, but the solution wasn't to shorten the review and be flippant, but rather turn it into several, more in-depth posts. I'm guessing this was just an accidental digression, rather than intended, as you wrote, "Let’s look at some of their policies (from their policy document) in detail:".
As it is, there are quotations taken somewhat out of context and short rebuttals that are more appropriate to conversation than writing. Also, I'm not sure that the Green Party is trying to position itself as right of centre.

1) I'm not sure why Saskatchewan would be put in the have-not category by rescinding uranium mining permits, unless an inordinately high percentage of its gross product was tied to such mining. In fact, if that even is the case, rescinding such permits would simply demonstrate that it's economy is weak and needs development, because mining Uranium is not a stable, durable economic endeavour. Uranium's uses are in nuclear energy, which will eventually be phased out in favour of greener alternatives (makes sense the Greens would bring this up then...), nukes (whose spread is trying to be limited), and depleted uranium weapons (which are banned, or in the process).
2) “Improve Canadian energy security by implementing a plan to address the
economic consequences of higher oil prices." I'm not sure what the NEP is, but this just sounds like incoherent nonsense the average Canadian won't understand. What's "energy security"?
3) “Shift taxes on fossil fuels to earlier stages in the production cycle to encourage competition among companies to lower operating costs while reducing
Charging the taxes to the companies means higher initial costs, so weaker set-ups will go under or get bought by the bigger companies. Even though they will pass the buck to consumers, it's debt on their hands until they do.
Also, because of the awkward run-along phrasing (I hate sentences with several "to"s), the point of this policy came across mangled. The idea is for companies to be taxed on their pollution, so that they will be forced to become more environmentally friendly to keep their profits up.
4) "So, if I generate my own electricity, deal with my own wastewater, produce little garbage etc., I don’t pay taxes yet get the benefits of taxpayers? (police/fire/ambulance, roads/sidewalks etc.)" Again, acting silly to be humorous. How is the average Canadian going to generate his own electricity, deal with his wastewater, and so on? Besides, with current taxes on income, businesses and consumption, if people have no jobs and no business (ie, they're on welfare), they only pay consumption taxes, so there's ways to get the benefits of paying taxes without paying much of them.
5) "gender and pay equity" If I'm not mistaken, this refers to the fact that women are generally paid less than men for similar/identical work. Saying gender and pay equity is a repetition there to emphasize the equity in question (as opposed to protecting black or gay rights, for example), and also just to sound more intelligent, the way I see it. It's like when you write an English essay and rephrase the same idea 5 times to make a paragraph.
6) I agree entirely with you on this point. Seats to the most qualified. If that means 100% asian women, that's fine by me, so long as they're the most capable.
7) I agree that unpaid work needs to be recognized, period. Not just that of women.
8) “Decriminalize non-compliance and eliminate registration fees with the national
firearms registry for firearms designed specifically for hunting…” I can see why this would make it look right of centre, but by now I think it's become a centrist position, given that it's widely acknowledged that the registry is a sham. If it had been more of a partisan issue, I could agree with saying this makes them look right-wing, but it no longer is.
9) Hahaha touche! An interesting initiative that with some retooling, could help our arts community. As you say, it's not well-formulated.
10) We already have private health-care. I wonder when our politicians are going to wake up and get out of their denial? Maybe we could accost a few after their visit to their local private clinic? ;)
11) This is a preventive measure that is worth doing. I would formulate the tax on junk food to be specific to fast-food restaurants that serve abnormally large portions, because studies have shown that this is what's making us obese. Taxing tobacco has caused people to quit, especially youth who can't afford it. Increasing tobacco taxes will only help them quit faster (or steal sooner?... addictions can do nasty things to good people). The alcohol tax seems questionable, and I have to acknowlegde your point about healthy food and caloric intake.
12) Don't know enough about this to be truthful, but France has it, and they aren't exactly a model of good economics, to my knowledge.
13) Seems like your personal feelings on the issue made you miss the point. I know foreign MDs who have to work as "consultants" and do all sorts of legally sketchy/grey things to practice. This is because our ridiculously stupid immigration services seek to attract professionals, then fails to negotiate deals to have them quickly recognized by the appropriate professional orders. This is particularly true of MDs and engineers, from what I understand, and in particular here in Quebec. It's become such an issue that I've seen it covered in the mainstream media, which, given their pickiness in choosing subjects for coverage, is saying something. It's more about national discrimination, rather than racial/sexual issue.
14) This is a far-left position. When this is advocated as foreign policy, it's hard to claim the Greenies are right of centre. I agree it would be laughed down.

You presented some valid criticisms, and made a number of good points (particularly on the non-paid work). However, for a number of different reasons, your review is more of a one-sided critique that doesn't acknowledge the good points in the Green platform. Getting rid of uranium mining is a plus. Fighting pollution with taxes rather than eternally marginalized protests is a good shift. Ditto taxing tobacco and products that are generally bad for our health (though I'm not sure alcohol fits that description). A concern for the arts, however the policy may be misguided, is good to see (hell, even Harper's policies on day cares, and certain other issues have a good intention but aren't thought out all that well ... and as I pointed out earlier, Harper's leading the race because of policy. I pointed that out several days before the poll came out with him ahead, I might add.)
The Green Beans are still left of centre.


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