Greens riding wide opposition to oil pipeline

Party’s voter support, donors increase but oddly ignores real reason for surge

Published on August 11, 2014

Federal Green party leader Elizabeth May talks about the importance of voting during a speech at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Charlottetown Sunday. Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald

Wide opposition to a northern gateway oil pipeline from Alberta to Kitimat, B.C., is paying some apparent dividends for the Green Party of Canada. The 2,000-km Enbridge project recently received tentative approval if some 200 or more concerns are dealt with satisfactorily.

The Green Party has been a vocal critic of the project and opposition to the pipeline is largely responsible for a surge in fundraising success and interest in the party. That fact is oddly missing from a party press release Friday.

Instead, the Greens claim their support is increasing because of “the growing frustration from voters who feel their MPs are no longer listening to them.”

It seem like an unusual explanation, perhaps because the Greens don’t want to be portrayed as a one-issue party — the environment — and are now trying to convince Canadians there is much more to the party than meets the eye.

It’s smart politics with an election just over a year away and campaigning already revving up by all parties.

Enbridge claims that the pipeline and terminal would provide 104 permanent operating positions created within the company and 113 positions with the associated marine services. It seems like a small return for such a major and potentially risky venture. First Nations groups, many municipalities, including the Union of B.C. Municipalities, environmentalists and oil sands opponents all have denounced the project because of the environmental, economic, social and cultural risks.

Yet nowhere in that Green press release is a pipeline mentioned, or for that matter, any environmental issue. Instead the Greens claim Canadians are ready for a change and see the party as a meaningful alternative. No convincing argument is presented to validate that assumption.

The Nanos poll does provide some interesting numbers for the Greens. When potential voters were asked whether they would consider or not consider voting for each of the federal political parties, 31 percent said that would consider voting for the Green Party.

Financial reports recently released by Elections Canada show that the Green Party raised $531,404 in the second quarter of 2014, representing a 67 per cent increase over the same period in 2013. Conversely, both the Liberals and Conservatives saw their revenues decline relative to the same period in 2013.  

The Greens also saw significant growth in the number of donors contributing, with 7,546 donating to the party in second quarter of 2014 — an increase of 66 per cent over the same period in 2013.

The data provided does not break down support by province or region. It would be interesting to see the numbers in B.C. which would likely be skewed towards the Greens in donations and potential support.

It’s also quite a leap of faith to conclude that 31 per cent of Canadians “who would consider” voting for the Greens some 14 months before an election will actually cast their votes for the party which claims it is “poised to make significant gains in the coming election.”

The pipeline will be a key issue in B.C. and Alberta in the federal election. It will likely cost the Conservatives seats in B.C. while the government will retain its stranglehold on Alberta.

The real question is where those B.C. seats will go. The Green propaganda machine is cranking up with its own overly optimistic and likely unfounded predictions on those seats.

It should be noted that the federal Liberals and NDP also oppose the pipeline. So it’s not an issue the Greens can claim as its own although it’s trying hard to convince Canadians that is indeed the case.