Letter: Politics of desperation rather than cooperation

…the cooperation agreement struck (between Greens and Liberals) has less of a Kumbaya flavour than one of desperation.

To the editor:

Democracy was served.  Kelowna-Lake Country’s Green Party membership voted to nominate Gary Adams, who is the “cooperation” candidate.  The vote was 58 per cent to 42 with approximately 60 people voting.

Adams, the Green Electoral District Association, and Liberal candidate Stephen Fuhr have, through a memo of understanding, agreed that Adams will withdraw from the race, leaving Fuhr to represent the interests of both the Liberals and the Greens on the campaign trail and in Parliament if Fuhr is elected in October.

Should the federal headquarters of the two parties approve, a formal agreement might be inked.

Inter-party cooperation to unseat Harper and his crop of MPs is in the view of many people throughout all the opposition parties a highly desirable strategy.  What is anathema to many within the Green Party is that agreement has been reached to cooperate with the Liberals.

Alan Monk, another nominee for the Kelowna-Lake Country candidacy, pointed out that major policy differences between the Greens and Liberals, along with the uncertainty of poll numbers over the next three months, made alliance with the Liberals an imprudent path to pursue.

While being in favour of eventual withdrawal from the race to support a party with more electoral punch, he asked the voting members to wait and watch developments before committing to any one party.

Gary Blidook, a third nominee, expressed many of the same sentiments before withdrawing from the contest and endorsing Monk.

Having been involved in the early days of the efforts to secure inter-party cooperation, I believe it’s necessary to understand that the cooperation agreement struck has less of a Kumbaya flavour than one of desperation.

On the national stage, the Liberals have been progressively tanking in the polls for months, and locally, they have never been within striking distance of Ron Cannan.

At least as important, the Liberal policy of whipping its MPs is what allowed the Liberals to agree to cooperation from the start.

Although the proponents of cooperation today point to the new Liberal policy that would free MPs from whipping except on matters to do with the electoral platform, budget measures, and Charter issues, the policy was published only on July 16, many months after the Liberals envisioned “cooperation” as the opportunity for coercion.

Proponents also make much of the signed agreement outlining terms for political representation of the Greens, but as a non-binding contract, it’s as good as any set of promises made in a tight spot.

And they make much of the fact that one of the promises is that Stephen Fuhr will refer to evidence-based policy-making when trying to navigate policy differences between the parties.

As a test of this concept, one could think about the area of trade, where the Green Party supports fair trade, doesn’t support investor-state dispute mechanisms, and wants all existing bi-lateral trade agreements, including NAFTA, to be re-negotiated to observe principles that protect human rights, workers’ rights, jobs, community rights, and the environment.

The Liberals, on the other hand, have supported all the free trade and investment agreements that the Green Party find problematic, including the China-Canada FIPA, CETA and the TPP.

How will an evidence-based approach to policy-making work in the probable situation where the Liberals will want to ratify CETA or approve the TPP?

What does this concept actually mean in the complicated policy areas and zones of inter-party conflict Fuhr will be immersed in if he makes it to Ottawa?

Dianne Varga, Kelowna