Alberta Politics

Five candidates run to lead the Green Party of Alberta

Photo: Green Party of Alberta leadership candidates Grant Neufeld, Romy Tittel, Marco Reid, Brian Deheer and James Friesen.

While the Green Party has succeeded in electing MLAs in British Columbia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, as well as MP Elizabeth May to the House of Commons, the party remains below the radar for most Albertans.

Janet Keeping Alberta Green Party
Janet Keeping

Five Albertans seeking to lead our province’s Green Party are hoping to change that.

Grant NeufeldRomy Tittel, Marco ReidJames Friesen and Brian Deheer have submitted their applications to run in the race to replace Janet Keeping, who has led the party since 2012 and announced earlier this year that she would step down. Members will select a new leader at the party’s annual general meeting in Red Deer on November 4, 2017. According to the party website, members can either vote in person at the AGM or cast their ballots online.

The party is far from the mainstream of Alberta politics on issues like the construction of oil pipelines, but it could be position to gain the votes of some environmentalist New Democrat voters dissatisfied with the Notley Government’s avid pro-pipeline advocacy and working relationship with energy industry leaders.

Somewhat ironically, a book published by former Liberal Party leader Kevin Taft, Oil’s Deep State: How the petroleum industry undermines democracy and stops action on global warming – in Alberta, and in Ottawa, could provide a savvy Green Party leader with the manifesto required to carve a small beachhead in Alberta’s political discourse.

No one expects the Greens to form government, and their potential for electing their first Alberta MLA appears to be slim, but the lack of high-stakes puts the Greens in a position to talk about certain issues – especially around the environment and development – that the mainstream parties will not touch.

The party ran candidates in 24 constituencies in the 2015 election and earned a total 7,321 votes across the province. Leadership candidate Brian Deheer had the party’s strongest showing in the last election in Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills, where he earned 2.8 percent of the vote.

More recently, Keeping earned 2.9 percent in the 2015 Calgary-Foothills by-election and Thana Boonlert earned 2 percent of the vote in the 2016 Calgary-Greenway by-election.

The Green Party’s best ever showing in a provincial election took place in 2008, when the party earned 43,222 votes, or 4.5 percent of the province-wide vote. In that election, property rights activist Joe Anglin earned 22 percent of the vote in the Lacombe-Ponoka constituency. Anglin led the party for a short period until it was dissolved in 2009 (it reformed in 2011) and was later elected as a Wildrose candidate in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, where he served as MLA until 2015.

The Green Party published a list of questions and answers posed to each of the five candidates:

3 replies on “Five candidates run to lead the Green Party of Alberta”

Dave, your photo caption has the names incorrectly aligned. James Friesen is at the right-hand end of the row of photos, not second from the right (I happen to be vaguely acquainted with him, as he had at one time been a Local NDP member). I also checked his photo on his FB page linked in your piece.

I applaud the efforts of the Green Party to advance reconciliation with Indigenous Canadians, something that is long overdue. The fairly recent heightened concern with regards to environmental issues, anti-development sentiments, and the increasingly apparent effects of climate change on the precariousness of Canada’s resource-based economy have all led to an increased interest in green politics. In particular, I think it is imperative that we evaluate the long lasting effects of our colonial-imperialist past. Imperial policy beginning in the 15th century was aimed at exploiting and exterminating Indigenous communities, who were faced with a reality of oppression and assimilation. Indigenous peoples were absorbed into the dominant western society, and were thrust into a merciless culture that forced non-conforming groups onto the margins of society. This toxic western influence as well as the loss of their various traditions and heritage amounted to what has appropriately been called a cultural genocide. Legislation regarding Indigenous peoples is seriously deficient in that it fails to take into consideration the philosophies and theoretical backgrounds of Aboriginal cultures. Due to the fact that definitions and/or labels employed by etic sources will inexorably lend their support towards what western science holds to be true, they cannot be applied to a culture with a fundamentally different philosophical framework. This is one of many reasons that current Canadian legislation regarding Indigenous peoples has proven to be ineffective. I look forward to seeing the expansion of a Green presence in Alberta’s political landscape.

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